New York: The Strong, Silent Type
From the clatter of the subway and the bustle of restaurants, to a “Coming through!” just as you’re getting your bearings on the sidewalk, New York can be cacophonous for visitors. But step away from the action, and you’ll discover plenty of hideaways where the sounds melt away. These are some of the best places to hear yourself think.
AIRE Ancient Baths
86 Franklin St.; beaire.com
Wash off that city grime and treat yourself to a sumptuous massage at this luxurious candlelit spa in SoHo. Comprising of six thermal baths and a steam room, Aire invites guests to explore the subterranean baths for two hours, luxuriate in a massage or body ritual, or splurge on a personalized wine bath. Phones are prohibited, and low voices are encouraged. Lie in the saltwater flotarium, allow your ears to dip below the surface, and feel your cares drift away.
1048 Fifth Avenue; neuegalerie.org/cafes/sabarsky
Modelled on a Viennese pastry shop, this isn’t just another museum café. With banquettes upholstered in Otto Wagner fabric from 1912, and an array of mouthwatering pastries (including traditional Sachertorte and apple strudel), this period boîte will make you feel as if you’re in a time warp.
135 W. 45th St.; timessquare.centric.hyatt.com
Here’s a pro tip New Yorkers know: When you want to get away from it all, whether to kindle a romance or hash out a business deal, go up. On the 54th floor of the Hyatt Centric Times Square, this wood-clad bar gives guests a bird’s-eye view of the busiest block in the world, yet it feels worlds away. Take in panoramas of the Chrysler Building and Lower Manhattan while sipping a handcrafted cocktail. In winter, the rooftop oasis transforms, with seating in climate-controlled domes reminiscent of snow globes.
41 E. Seventh St.; burpcastlenyc.com
The name may seem boorish, but don’t let that dissuade you. The impressive tap list at this Belgian bar tells you that beer is taken very seriously here — so much so that patrons are urged to whisper their orders. Originally, back in the ’90s, talking was frowned upon, but the rules have relaxed a bit. Conversation is allowed, but speak softly or you may get a glare from across the rough-hewn bar.
City Opera Thrift Shop
222 E. 23rd St.; cityoperathriftshop.org
Usually, you walk out of a store with a purchase, but here you walk away with an experience. Less crowded than any Fifth Avenue department store, but with similar labels, it’s where many well-heeled New Yorkers unload their second-hand goods, including clothing and housewares, to benefit Lincoln Center. Formal stock is well worth browsing; you can pick up a designer gown or tux for a fraction of the cost of a new one, without salespeople hovering to earn a commission.
The Met Cloisters
99 Margaret Corbin Dr.; metmuseum.org
Walk into this 1.6-hectare (four-acre) outpost of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and step back through the centuries into the art and architecture of medieval Europe. It’s easy to get lost among the walled gardens, arched walkways and intricate tapestries within the space. The museum is both indoors and out, making it an ideal setting to bring a book or journal, find a spot that suits you, and sit for a spell in the castle-like enclosure. Located in Fort Tryon Park, in north Manhattan, the Cloisters offers a respite from the tourist trail.
West 249th Street and Independence Avenue; wavehill.org
Leave Central Park to the hot dog vendors and cyclists. This idyllic, 11-hectare (28-acre) public garden, overlooking the Hudson River and the Palisades cliffs, contains 15 separate areas, with trails meandering throughout. Open year-round and designed with quiet reflection in mind, the gardens provide an ideal place to stroll, read or contemplate. A snow-dusted winter day is also a fantastic time to visit when you’re in search of tranquility.
Read more about New York in re:porter Issue 68.