The most obvious place to seek serenity in any city is within the leafy confines of a park. New York has no shortage of open green spaces, and plenty of clandestine pockets of calm.
Known as the lungs of the metropolis, Central Park has many secluded spots within its 840 acres of vastness. Lose your thoughts on the elm-tree line Mall and Literary Walk or go into hiding in the secret garden within the Conservatory Garden or retreat into the historical museum at Belvedere Castle.
Tiny pockets of serendipity exist between the city towers, like a segment of the Berlin Wall on east 53rd between Fifth and Madison or the Creative Little Garden in the East Village or Jefferson Market Garden in Greenwich Village. The High Line is too popular to offer solitude however the disused railway, converted into a sky-park, offers an interesting saunter amongst the street performers, art installations and has plenty of places to flop with a birds-eye view into the cacophony below and surrounding buildings.
Way uptown in Fort Tyron Park The Cloisters houses the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s (The Met) medieval art collection within an exquisite medieval monastery. Overlooking the Hudson it’s not on the tourist trail but worth the trek if only to languish in the medieval gardens and admire the unicorn tapestries which appeared in the Harry Potter movies. Established in 1902 in the Bronx, the New York Botanical Gardens were cleverly planted to be blooming all year round. Green thumbs should allow for a lengthy visit to fully inhale all 50 gardens and regular exhibitions.
Downtown the Skyscraper Museum gives architectural buffs some perspective of the scale of Manhattan compared to other mega-cities of the world without even having to step out onto the pavement. The hefty entrance fee of $20 into the magnificent Frick Museum usually keeps the crowds at bay but is a small price to pay to enjoy the many European masterpieces and tranquil gardens in relative peace. The Museum of the City of New York celebrates the city and its wonderful history without the crowds. Unknown to many, The Met has recently opened its doors on Friday and Saturday nights and you might find yourself alone with Henry the 8th’s armour or the jewels from Cleopatra’s reign. While at the Met, rest your feet in the oriental gardens in Astor Court or pop up to the rooftop garden on the 5th floor; that’s if you can find the entrance many struggle to locate, which means more space to spread out.
Relishing in the city from above provides a sense of calm and located 18 storeys above the chaos the rooftop lounge at the Gramercy Terrace Hotel offers an oasis with those heart-stopping views which beckoned you to the Big Apple in the first place. There’s many rooftop bars to sample, and Salon De Ning, perched above the Peninsula Hotel, is the epitome of oriental drama meets big city glamour. Imagine sipping your cocktail of choice while everyone below scrambles home during peak hour.
Keeping a lower profile, hotel lobbies offer anonymity which in itself is very liberating, especially if you aren’t staying there. The vast lobby at the Ace Hotel is sectioned up into intimate spaces by retro lounges designed for a leisurely slouch with a caffeine fix by your side and laptop perched where it was originally intended. The Paramount Hotel near Times Square has a chic lobby whispering for a quiet drink or secret rendezvous. Or there’s the exquisite Bemelmans Bar at The Carlyle where the amber coloured walls are adorned with artist Ludwig Bemelman’s depictions from the Madeline children’s books. Go on a Monday night and you might catch a glimpse of Woody Allen warming up his clarinet for his regular Monday night gig next door at Café Carlyle; if you’re lucky enough to secure a ticket it definitely won’t be quiet but well worth the acoustic accost.
For more details check out www.nycgo.com
- The least busy time to visit with the best weather is during the Fall (Autumn) and between Memorial Day and Thanksgiving. Winter is ideal for theatre-goers and museum buffs.
- Restaurant Row (west 46th between 8th and 9th) in the Theatre District caters to theatre-goers but if you go during the shows you’ll dine at leisure.
- Request a hotel room on the highest floor possible for the least amount of traffic noise but always enquire if there’s an operating elevator.
- Indulge in a power nap in a sound-proof honeycomb-shaped sleeping pod at in Midtown’s Yelo Spa.
- For the ultimate view head to the top of the Rockefeller Centre because it will include views of the Empire State Building and be less busy.
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