Sleeping in New York Part II: The Viceroy

Posted by Krista on September 7, 2015

After some time out in the suburbs with my cousin and her husband, I headed back into the city for the final few nights of my stay. Do you know what I noticed about the New York City subway system? There are barely any escalators and the stairs are very steep. Now of course, London’s underground is much further underground, so escalators are necessary. But the steepness of the stairs? As I schlepped my fairly large suitcase around New York City, I nearly broke both legs a number of times. We are talking stairs that are seriously on a 45 degree angle. London does a better job at planning for volume.

The Viceroy is on W 57th street, just two blocks south of Central Park. There’s a Duane Reade right on the corner in case you need to stock up on essentials. (I always do.) And most importantly, The Viceroy has an awesome rooftop bar with a great view northwards across Central Park.


I liked my room here A LOT. The cabinetry alone was gorgeous. The tilework in the bathroom was also gorgeous. In short, this is a gorgeous, gorgeous hotel, and it smells gorgeous too. (Although there are many people online who complain about the signature scent, I kinda liked it.) Here’s what else I liked and disliked:

What I liked…

  1. I liked the doormen and the chilly blast of AC that greeted you when you stepped within 10 feet of the hotel entrance.
  2. I liked the gym a lot. It is a great, fully equipped hotel gym.
  3. I loved the rooftop bar.
  4. I loved the room decor.
  5. I really loved the location and the proximity to the subway.

What I didn’t like…

  1. I did not get the warm fuzzies from the hotel staff at all, unlike The Thompson where they seemed like hip, interesting people that I’d like to hang out with.
  2. I didn’t like the hotel restaurant. I had a late lunch there one afternoon and my pasta dish was distinctly unmemorable.
  3. I didn’t like the nightclub atmosphere with the separate entrance for the rooftop bar.

All in all though, this was a high quality hotel and I would be delighted to stay here again. I would just make sure I ate elsewhere!

I booked my stay at The Viceroy New York on, which is rapidly becoming my new favorite place to book hotels. (The information seems better organized than what you find on Expedia.) This was an all-in price of $285 USD, which again is a great value for Manhattan. Note that this was one of those non-refundable rates. 

Sleeping in New York Part I: The Thompson Guildhall

Posted by Krista on September 6, 2015

I had a couple of things to do inside and outside of New York City back in July during my stay, so I spread my visit across two different hotels, one downtown and one uptown. You might know that I’m also quite in love with hotels and struggle with more than four or five nights in the same one — I get bored — so variety is key!

My first hotel was The Thompson Guiildhall, down on Wall Street, which turned out to be very convenient to the Women’s World Cup Parade. (Yey Team USA!) It was also convenient to the World Trade Center Memorial, where I spent a couple of hours one morning. (And then returned to the hotel and had a glass of wine.)

Although The Thompson was a tiny bit worn around the edges and the bathroom wasn’t my favorite — it was super small — I loved the decor of my room and the huge ass TV. I don’t normally watch a lot of TV when I travel (or at all, really), but I am totally in love with the Property Brothers and was eager to do a little gorging.  (The amount of HGTV I watch when I’m in the States suggests that maybe I should get into property.)

What I liked and didn’t like:

  1. The glass of prosecco they poured me upon arrival.
  2. The location and the little coffee shop on the corner.
  3. The proximity to multiple bagel shops.
  4. The convivial bar.

What I didn’t like:

  1. The bathroom was a tad basic for my tastes. I like a bit more space. I know this is NYC but…
  2. They do this thing where they have mini gyms on each floor. One treadmill and one elliptical and some free weights. I like how they are trying to maximize their space, but it’s a little weird to be in such a small room with one other person. I felt like I was invading on their workout.
  3. In general, everything was a little run down and worn and torn. Not by a huge amount, but dings on the walls, scratches on the furniture, etc.
  4. Wine at the bar was not cheap. (This may be a greater New York City problem, of course.)
  5. It was practically impossible to get a taxi to Penn Station when I left the hotel on a Sunday afternoon, and I made my train by the skin of my teeth. The doorman and I were both at our wits’ end. He promised it’s never normally like that but…

Would I stay here again? Maybe…while the hotel was convenient for my needs at the time, I probably would stay more in Greenwich Village/Soho next time or more midtown. It’s definitely a quality property though so if you have a lot of business to conduct in the Wall Street area, I’d give it a go.

I booked the Thompson Hotel on Hotwire at the bargain price of $183 USD before taxes. With fees, it was $232 USD, which I think is extremely reasonable for a hotel of this quality in Manhattan. Read my post on how I save money on hotels using Hotwire

Last Minute London Lunch/Dinner Reservations with the Uncover App

Posted by Krista on August 30, 2015


Last night, after I got home from dinner with A Girl Has to Eat, I checked Twitter and saw this tweet from the lovely James Ramsden, one of the proprietors of Hackney’s Pidgin

What is wrong with people?? When I need to cancel a reservation, I cancel a reservation. I can think of two times in my (relatively long) life where I haven’t done this:

  1. When I had food poisoning and skipped a massage at Kobkhun Thai on the Essex Road because well, you don’t even want to know. It was a dark four days in my life and I never want to ever have food poisoning ever, ever again.
  2. When I skipped a business appointment because I was in recovery from a very, very bad, bad bad email mistake that I will tell you about one day over cocktails.

I think James’ tweet says it all. Last minute cancellations and/or no-shows are a challenge for the restaurant industry, particularly if you don’t take credit cards or tickets before a booking. The rent is too damn high, my friends, to allow for no shows.  (Sorry, I’ve always loved the Rent is Too Damn High guy. I think he’s right!)

There is a partial solution for the industry. My friend Ollie told me about  Uncover, the last minute dinner reservations app, during my 50 coffees with 50 people experiment. (The experiment is temporarily on hiatus in August but more to come soon, I promise).  Through my own research, here’s what I understand about how Uncover works:

  1. Uncover curates a highly selective list of cool places.
  2. Restaurants on the list let Uncover know when they have last minute cancellations or  no-shows.
  3. You make your same-day or next-day reservation through the app.

Uncover invited me to try the app in return for a £50 credit at the restaurant of my choosing. A Girl Has to Eat and I already had plans to meet up and wanted an early dinner, so I checked out what was available centrally. Antidote in Soho had a table for two available at 6:30 so I pounced on that and we I ate and drank our way through our £50 of the menu. (This is a bit of a lie because A Girl Has to Eat held herself to one glass or sparkling rose. I had that and another glass of wine, which was an eye-watering £13 for a 175 ml glass.)


The Uncover app is very easy to use and the restaurants available are definitely some of the nicer, hipper and more happening places. I am just doing a quick flip through right now as I write this and there are tables available at The Opera Tavern, Fera at Claridges, Locanda Locatelli, Coya, and one of my personal favorites, Rex & Mariano.

If I had any criticism, it’s that the app doesn’t let you have two bookings on the same night. I had this crazy idea to do a progressive — starters at Antidote and mains at Duck & Rice — and Uncover just wasn’t handling it. I guess that makes sense to me and my idea was more of an “advanced” one, but apps like Uncover make progressives so very very possible so why not let people do it? (Maybe require that there be two hours between bookings or something like that.) Progressive dinners, my friends, are the future.Why not let me spend more at more restaurants in the same night??

The PR for Uncover encouraged us to pay with the app — there’s a new payment facility — but from what I can tell, it’s fairly limited right now so we didn’t have a chance to try it out.

All in all, if Uncover can help the restaurant industry recover bookings and revenue lost through no-shows and last minute cancellations, it’s a very good thing. You should download the app and check it out. At the very least, it’s a very well curated list of establishments so it will help you separate the wheat from the chaff when you’re looking for a great night out. Uncover is currently offering £10 off your bill if you book a restaurant with the app and send them a photo of your receipt. Give it a shot.

Download Uncover
Get £10 off your bill

Disclosure: Per the above, I received a £50 credit towards my meal at Antidote in return for writing about the app. I love writing about technology and hope to do some more app reviews in the future. Any suggestions would be very welcome. 

My Week in New York City

Posted by Krista on August 22, 2015


I am the most disappointing New York tourist. “Where are you from?” they ask me at the beginning of every tour and every interaction where I haven’t had to say the word DAWN. (The only word that still give me away.) “Long Island,” I say. And then they look away because they know I won’t spend any money!!! They’d rather that I was from Omaha. They want me to buy a t-shirt. Or a key ring. Or something.

But I don’t care. Because I LOVE NEW YORK. And I am in it! And I am LEGIT. It’s a always a little weird when I go back. Because I know where I’m going. Even though I really don’t know where I am going because I haven’t spent much time in New York since like 1992, I still know that Penn Station and Macy’s are at 34th Street. I still know that Grand Central is on 42nd. I still know that Central Park starts at 59th.  These are small things to know, but they are important landmarks on your mostly north/south traverso of Manhattan Island.

One week was not enough time! I need to go back Here’s where I ate and drank and cried while I was in town:

Where I ate and drank…


Long Island Bagels, Wall Street: OK, these weren’t my favorite bagels — Lou’s were better — but their jet-lag friendly opening hours and relative proximity to my hotel, The Thompson, made Long Island Bagels a no brainer. (And, well, I’m from Long Island so there’s that.) Free wifi too! I went here twice for salt bagels with veggie cream cheese. The Verdict: Good. But not the best.

Lou’s Bagels, Wall Street: One morning, when I had a little more time on my hands, I went to Lou’s Bagels. The queue was out the door and down the street. Great sign! I had — surprise — a salt bagel with veggie cream cheese. (I sweated the salt out while I was in town, I promise.) The Verdict: Very, very good.


Grand Central Oyster Bar, Grand Central: My first time. Totally not what I expected. It’s like one big dive bar. The staff fights with each other in front of you, for real. It’s WEIRD. I should have remembered what it was like to hang around Grand Central when I was a kid. Slightly scary. (It’s really much improved now.) BUT! I still stuffed my face with oysters and wine, although I wanted it all to be a little more — how shall we say — neat and tidy and calm? The Verdict: You should probably go here and maybe you’ll like it here and maybe I’ll like it more the next time I go.

La Villetta, Midtown East: My friend Monica knows the owner so we caught up over low-carb entrees while Monica told us about her upcoming triathlons and her 3rd child, born just a few months earlier. I mean, I know I’m pretty lazy, but I felt really lazy after this meal because I do not plan on running any triathlons anytime soon and I haven’t even had one child yet, forget about three. So I ran for 20 minutes on the treadmill the next morning and went clothing shopping for my cousin’s kids later in the day. That’s about as close as I will get.

Five Senses, K-Town: Kristin was in town from LA so Shin and I met up for lunch with her in K-town. Korean pancakes…they get me every time. And this was an excellent version thereof. Stuffed — and I mean stuffed — with seafood. I was going to order a main dish but decided instead just to eat all the pancake. The Verdict: Loved it.

Bar at Bergforfs, Midtown West: On a hot day, I needed some cool shopping. I popped into Bergdorfs, conveniently located around the corner from my 2nd hotel, The Viceroy, and massaged the expensive candles that Leonid from Bob Bob Ricard loves. (I like them too but the budget right now sadly does not allow.) Given my “Summer of Krista” financial situation, I did not buy anything except one glass of Albarino in the very pleasant bar upstairs. (With free wifi.) The Verdict: Expensive, but good if you need a breather.


Gramercy Tavern, Flatiron District: After stocking up at, uh, all the same stores they have in London, I dropped into The Gramercy Tavern for a late lunch. The staff were awesome. My food was good and the vibe was good but…I don’t know. I had higher expectations of the food and the atmosphere. I expected there to be more flowers? The Verdict: It’s nice.

Excellent Dumpling House, Chinatown: Heh heh heh. After my foot massage (keep reading), I wanted a snack so I got some pretty excellent dumplings from the aptly named Excellent Dumpling House. I ate them back at my hotel while watching reruns of The Property Brothers. Bliss. The Verdict: Cheap. Not so cheerful. But I liked my dumplings.


John’s of Bleeker Street: My college friend Doug and his wife met me for the real deal New York pizza at John’s of Bleeker Street. This place is a little scuzzy — I really can’t recommend the loos at all — but the pizza did the trick. Terrible beer and wine selection. Cash only. Totally suspect ATM in the back. The Verdict: Great pizza. Just wish it was nicer.

Where I cried…

9/11 Memorial: I organized a tour of the facility through the official 9/11 memorial museum and I cried. They do a great job with negative space. Negative space I think says it all. The Verdict: You should go here and you should take the tour but be ready to be overwhelmed by all the things left behind. And the negative space.

Renew Bowery Foot Massage: Because I can’t write about 9/11 and leave things on a sad note, I also cried when I went to Chinatown for a foot massage after a long day of walking. William — apparently the teacher — realigned my spine but only touched my feet. It HURT so bad — I cried — but it hurt oh so good I felt like a new person the next day. I was bummed when a regular came in and William left me with his student to do my other foot. The student did a good job, but William was much more awesome. The Verdict: Go, but be ready to cry if you ask for and get William. (Who you really should ask for.)

I love New York! I feel like I am among my people there…when I don’t feel like my people are in London, that is. I need to get back more often! Much more often!

{Sponsored Post}: A Great Getaway Begins With An Excellent Destination

Posted by Krista on August 19, 2015

Beach area

Whether you’re the adventurous type when you decide to get away, or you simply enjoy relaxing with a favorite book while soaking up sunshine, your perfect getaway begins with finding the right destination. The best way to approach looking for a getaway destination is with flexibility. Be sure to look at several options and make an informed choice by comparing the destination’s quality ratings, making cost comparisons and looking at the benefits of several different places.

The best way to start is to make a wish list. Decide what activities you’d like to do on your getaway and choose things that will be of interest to each person going along on your trip. It’s smart to plan both indoor and outdoor activities in case weather is a factor. It’s always good to have options!

Outdoor Activities Can Be Found To Thrill Everyone
There are so many outdoor activities that can be enjoyed once you’ve found a great destination. It’s a matter of choosing which activities mean the most to you and are most important for you to do while you’re on your trip. Some activities can be done anywhere; others need a specific location to do them.

Choose from great outdoor, land-based options like:
– Cycling
– Walking and hiking
– Running
– Horseback riding
– Camping
– Attending festivals and special events

Activities to choose from at a water-based destination include:
– Kayaking
– Canoeing
– Snorkeling
– Scuba Diving
– Fishing (fly fishing, or deep-sea fishing, depending on the destination)
– Whitewater rafting
– Tubing
– Crabbing
– Swimming
– Surfing

Types Of Travel To Consider
Some of the types of adventures to consider for your perfect getaway can include visiting beaches, coasts and islands. You can search for luxury travel or budget travel, depending on your budget for the trip. You can also look into family travel if the entire family is going along, and consider wildlife, nature and adventure travel to please the more adventurous ones in your group.

If seeing famous sights is on your horizon, by all means plan for days to spend sightseeing. If seeing animals is a part of your plan, try to find the places that will offer you the best chances of seeing what you want to see. Ocean destinations will offer the best chances for whale and seal watching, for example.

Crucial Tips To Remember When Planning Your Trip
One of the most important things to remember is not to schedule every moment of your trip. You don’t want your dream getaway to be compartmentalized, with you trying to stick to a strict schedule. Doing this can turn the trip into a frustrating endeavor. Be sure to schedule some down time for everyone to rest and recuperate from adventures. Relaxation should always be in the schedule!

You can find many great ideas, tips and suggestions by searching in helpful places like the Outdoor-Traveler FB page. Taking the advice of expert travelers and travel agencies experienced in creating exciting and memorable vacations can save you frustration and the extra work you would put into doing all the research and planning on your own. Helpful hints and suggestions for great travel destinations are readily available when you know where to look for them.

This is a sponsored post, which I occasionally accept to cover my hosting, backup and domain costs.