My wedding anniversary was coming up and I wanted to surprise my darling husband… Now, let me just say it’s impossible to surprise my husband. Ok, not impossible. I did it once. For his 39th birthday because I knew his 40th would be too obvious. I had a surprise dinner for him with a bunch of friends. But that was a few years ago. Never before or since.
Because its so hard to surprise him, trying to plan a gift involving travel is doubly challenging. So I hatched a plan…
Where do we live? New York City! A place people come from all over to vacation, escape and enjoy themselves. There is fantastic food, entertainment, hotels and night-life. So what better place to plan a romantic get-away? I did some quick searches for properties with outdoor pools and roof-decks (we have an August anniversary) and narrowed it down to the Gansevoort Hotel and The Empire Hotel. For a number of reasons (location, availability and nostalgia) I ended up going with the Empire.
We checked in this past Friday, and although, I didn’t manage to keep it a surprise, he was very pleased with the concept when I presented it to him–and he even surprised me with an experience (more on that in a moment).
I got there first. When I checked us in to the Empire Hotel on Friday, it was kinda surreal. We are in this neighborhood all the time and pass by constantly…now we were guests. We were upgraded (sweet!) and given breakfast vouchers for the pool lounge (awesome!).
Once I settled in, my husband came over from work and we chilled out in the room before going to his surprise for me: a ballroom class at Fred Astaire! Now the back story is a few years ago we used to do these together all the time. It was so fun to rhumba, cha cha, foxtrot, hustle and swing together again–very sensual and reminded me of when we were first married.
Having worked up an appetite, we then went over to Ed’s Chowder House (back at the hotel). Hotel restaurants aren’t always that great. This is an exception…a big one. Ed’s Chowder House was fantastic. Everything we ordered was delicious, well-composed and every bite was a delight. My husband had a fried clam salad special that was incredible and for dessert, we ordered the banana cream pie. Simply, if you go, you must get that pie (see image above).
The next day, we hung out on the roof deck (see above image) starting at breakfast. It wasn’t too hot, so that was awesome… I read and my husband vacillated between his newspapers and the baseball game on his iPhone.
Around 2:30p we went to our room, got showered, changed and then went to a 4pm showing of We’re The Millers–it’s very funny and silly-stupid.
By 6:30 we were out of the movie and ready to go down to Rivington in the East Village for our 7:45 dinner reservation at Sauce. We were not anticipating how amazing this meal would be, especially after the dinner we had the previous night. I was given a Sauce gift certificate last Christmas by my staff and I have not had a chance to use it yet. Playing “tourist” for a weekend seemed like just the perfect opportunity…and it was. Let me tell you, this is another MUST GO place. The food is incredible, the atmosphere is very charming, the staff is warm and friendly and did I mention the food??? I had been told in advance about the polenta bolognese, and we honed in on on two appetizers: watermelon salad and a burrata–done and done!
The lovely surprise my husband and I had when each course arrived…more deliciousness after the next…was barely containable.
Later that evening we went back to our hotel for our final night “away.” All you parents out there will appreciate this: being able to watch the movie you want to see, when you want is truly a luxury. So my husband had been taking full advantage of the in-room entertainment: the first night with The Internship, and our final night he capped it with Star Trek and finally Iron Man 3.
Check out was a bit early, and we had a Sunday routine to return to (not to mention I had a blog post to write). We slept in a bit, and then adjourned to the roof deck one last time to enjoy our morning coffee savor the sun as a “guest.”
So, would I do this again? Absolutely! This “getaway” was the perfect balance of familiar/new. We tried places that we’d never been to before, enjoyed nostalgic experiences that brought us back to when we were just newlyweds and was so hassle-free (no planes, travel or boarding passes). Sometimes a perfect idea is so obvious… like literally in my own backyard… that it’s hard to envision it at first, at least that’s the way it is for me. But I think this may be the beginning of a beautiful new tradition.
Although it’s not for everyone, I wanted to share some helpful tips I learned to truly “getaway without going away” and enjoy the experience:
- Think like a tourist find a property that has attractions or features you’re excited about–for us it was a roof deck and an outdoor pool which is nearly impossible to find in New York City.
- Take the opportunity to check out a neighborhood you may not be 100% familiar with–although we stayed on the Upper West Side, an area we both know very well, I think next time we might try the Soho or Battery Park area.
- Commit to trying new places to eat, drink and explore–we ate at a new restaurant every night and found a new gem every single evening. It was fantastic and made us feel like we were someplace else.
- Take advantage of all your city has to offer. It’s not uncommon to find locals who have never visited their hometown attractions…now is your chance.
Quick side note, since this is a post about a romantic trip, I didn’t want to gloss over the obvious–amorous time. Hopefully it goes without saying, but those details have been intentionally omitted, I have spared you (and my husband’s modesty) some details not appropriate for this blog.