Last week, I spent a beautiful (and hot!) weekend in one of my favorite cities in the world – New York. I haven’t always been in love with NYC. I started coming up to NYC at a very early age to visit family and to go to debate tournaments in the Bronx. Since then, I’ve been up many times to shop with friends and spent countless week nights visiting for work over the last 10 years. It wasn’t until I realized how amazing the food and health scene was in NYC, that I began to really love it.
There are countless neighborhoods to choose from when you go for a visit. I think I have probably stayed in almost all the popular areas of NYC one time or another. Now, before I pick an area to stay in, I always think about whether or not my travel requirements are met. I need to have access to a great organic grocery store, juice bar, healthy restaurants, a gym and yoga studio. I never want to spend my time in NYC in the subway station or stuck in traffic the whole time. I don’t know about you, but knowing that I have healthy eats and a place to work out right at my finger tips makes all my travel anxiety go right out the window.
So where do I stay? Union Square – Specifically the W Union Square. This is by far the best hotel for healthy travel to NYC. I’m not saying you can’t stay in other areas and be just as healthy, but staying here makes staying clean & fit on the road absolutely brainless!
I love that the W Union Square is not the most expensive hotel in the area and being a starwood preferred guest member makes it affordable. A cab ride from LGA airport gets you there in about 20 mins and it’s located smack dab in the middle of everything I love, including a Whole Foods that is right across the street/park. Staying this close to a store that stocks organic foods means I don’t have to overload my luggage with all my travel food and saves me room for things to bring back home.
Waking up at the W Union Square every morning was simple. The hotel gladly sends complimentary hot water to your room. I loved this because I could have my morning ritual of hot water with lemon, drink tea or make oatmeal without having to get out my comfy bathrobe and slippers. If you are not a tea drinker, they have complimentary coffee in the lobby every morning. Needless to say, this is a great touch. I can’t tell you how much I hate hotels that don’t provide a coffee or tea service!
The W has a functional workout facility called “Sweat” on the bottom floor. Hotel gyms must have a least a treadmill and free weights, but the W had a lot more to offer. Fresh towels, cleansing cloths, a bowl of green apples and filtered water was a bonus.
Down the street just a few blocks there are two fabulous (and many more) yoga studios. This time I tried The Shala based on a recommendation from my friend Max at Livingmaxwell.com. The class taught by Juilanna was rejuvenating and just the level I needed to start the weekend off right. Next time, I plan to try a class at the near by Jivamukti Yoga Center. I’ve been wanting to go there for quite sometime after hearing about it from a girl I met scuba diving in the Maldives last year.
To my surprise, “Olives” the restaurant at the W Union Square that serves breakfast also makes fresh juice. I was super excited to find this out, but since my favorite juice bar in the whole world is located just right around the corner, I went there instead.
That juice bar would be One Lucky Duck. This place really deserves a post all on its own…The food, the vibe, the juice, the smoothies, the packaged raw snacks… I really don’t even know where to start. I love it all and this is hands down my favorite place to dine in NYC. If I had one near me in Charlotte, I would go there every day. And if you want something more fancy, there is their upscale restaurant – Pure Food and Wine right next door.
Every week on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday, New Yorkers and travelers get to experience the Union Square Farmer’s Market. The market is located immediately in front of the W’s front door and is absolutely fabulous and full of biodynamic and organic food. I could have spent hours looking and talking to people about the interesting things being offered. One morning I did an early stroll through the market and did a few wheatgrass shots and picked up some fresh watermelon and raspberries for breakfast.
Just down the street from the W Union Square is an upscale organic restaurant called abc kitchen, recommended to me by my friends Liz and Brian. This place is by far one of the coolest places to get a drink in NYC. The decor of the restaurant is gorgeous and serene. They even have organic vodka and sell Organic Avenue fresh pressed juice!
One of the improvements I think the W could make (and many other hotels for that matter) is to carry environmentally friendly & natural bath products. Bliss is a super cute (& expensive) boutique brand, but the Environmental Working Group’s rating of this stuff is dreadful and has received some the highest hazardous ratings. Fortunately for me, I brought safe toiletries with me.
After a long day of hitting the NYC streets, there’s really nothing like coming back to the W hotel bed. I hear people buy these beds for their homes because they are so darn comfortable. Having a good night’s sleep with the hustle and bustle of the city just outside is hugely important to me. I slept like a baby every night with dreams of One Lucky Duck raw ice cream sundaes going through my head. Luckily for me, it was just down the block when I woke up.
Where’s your favorite place to stay, eat and play in NYC? I’d love to know!