Posted on by Felicia da Costa

New York, New York…
Last time I spent time in the Big Apple was seven (7!) years ago, and while we plan to go every year, we just never actually went. Until now. My brother lives there and I just could not make up any more excuses nót to go.Way too long of a journey to take the kids (imagine the jetlag, both ways) for a long weekend, but man did I dread traveling without my family. My amazing husband simply ordered me to go and spend some precious quality time with my little brother, while he watched the kids for a few days. And so it happened that I booked a less-than-50hrs-stay in the city… Off I went!

Getting there:

Well, the days when you could actually enjoy booking a last minute trip as the prices were last minute low are long gone. As I wanted to leave within two days after booking and only had three days, I did not have much of a choice. Direct flights were insanely expensive, so I ended up choosing British Airways because of their timetable and prices. Going there I had a less than two hours layover in London, and on the way back four hours (which seemed a lot while booking but proved to be perfect as the flight out of JFK was seriously delayed.)
I was not particularly impressed by the service nor friendliness of the staff, but the fact that I could enjoy a glass of wine and two movies in silence made up for that quite well!

 Where to stay:

After some research I decided to stay at the Ludlow hotel in the Lower East Side. Quite close to Chinatown, where my brother lives, and ideally located for long strolls though town. And right across from Katz Delicatessen– always a must.

What to pack:

Believe it or not, but I only took hand luggage! Very much unlike me, but I figured that waiting for my suitcase would take up so much time it would be a waste. So I checked the forecast, thought of the different outfits I would need for this city trip and only took the bare essentials with me. True, no shopping (ok, you can always buy an extra suitcase to check in on the way back!), but it did save me quite some time and it did feel so light in every sense of the word!
I packed comfortable shoes for all the walking, and decided not to take heels for dinner, but nice sandals. As I am always cold, I also brought two sweaters/vests and a pair of jeans. And of course a few nice pieces for dinner and drinks- after all, you ARE in New York, right?
A little bag with makeup, a magazine and some toiletries and that was it!
Just a tip: if you roll up all your clothes you can take so much more! I could not resist shopping in the end so I did have some spare room because of this trick…

What to do:

Luckily, I could just follow my little brother- I had my own tour guide! To be honest, I did not even think about things to do and places to go, as I was just so looking forward to spending some time with him and catching up.
We ended up walking 18km+ every day, so I actually saw a lot of the city ánd had free workouts!

Day 1:
After quite a long journey, I arrived at the Ludlow hotel at 3PM.
My brother picked me up and we went to Chinatown to see his home. I had never been in that area before and loved it.
We had the best dumplings EVER at Lam Zhou– everything is handmade on the spot and amazing…True gem!
We checked out Little Italy before going to Nolita, where we had fresh juices (try the watermelon!!) at Seamore’s– such a cozy little place, perfect for people watching.
We then walked to the East Village, where we stopped for a superb Bloody Mary (never had one like this before) and some fresh oysters at Wayland. Great spot, as the sun was out and they have these cute tables at the huge windows, so it felt like a Mediterranean holiday…
As I was crashing by then, we had quite an early dinner at Rintintin in Nolita and shared the fried zucchini (wow!), a Dark ‘n Stormy and an Americano.
Off to bed!

Day 2:
We started the day at El Rey in the Lower East Side– try their chia pudding, pita hummus  and fresh hibiscus juice. Cute little place with friendly people. No wifi which actually was quite relaxing!
It was a bit cloudy but walked all the way to Brooklyn anyways; a little rain never killed nobody…
I had never been there before so it was really cool to feel the local vibe, and I loved it. I bumped into the most amazing vintage store in Williamsburg (Arbor Vitae Vintage Clothing, 309 Bedford Ave) where I found amazing pieces for amazing prices (hello Alice and Olivia dress! Hi Levi’s!), after which we stopped for velvet cupcakes at Martha’s Country Bakery and did some extra browsing at 10ft single vintage as well.
We decided to take the subway to West Village, enjoyed an organic ice cream at Van Leeuwen and spent quite some time at the APC store. As I was also doing research for Littles List (we cherry pick and rank for your little one(s)!) I had to check out Yoya Kids Store and it was amazing. Do visit this wonderful store!! I so wished I had brought a huge suitcase…
We also went to the High Line Park in the Meatpacking District-a public park built on a historic freight rail line elevated above the streets. So cool! The view is amazing, and they made wooden benches on wheels on the former tracks. Lounge away…
As we were pretty tired we went back to the Ludlow where we enjoyed drinks at their Dirty French before heading for dinner at the Standard Grill– very buzzy and extremely friendly staff.
After that we wanted to go for drinks but my jetlag started to kick in…

Day 3:
Rain! Lots and lots and lots of it… So what better place to go and drink away the ‘sorrow’ than Balthazar? An oldie but goodie in my opinion! We had two Bellinis and eggs Benedict and just talked the morning away. Bliss!
We then started walking towards Federal Plaza (impressive!), had drinks in Antique Garage in Tribeca, stopped for the best bagel ever at Kossar’s Bagels and Bialys (this, my friends, is a place you cannot skip. Get yourself a bagel and enjoy it while doing lots of people watching in Seward Park).

As my flight was at 8:45PM I had to take a cab from the hotel around 5PM, but not before we had a proper farewell drink at Cafe Petisco. You should know that I am an absolute piña colada lover- and that is exactly the reason my brother took me here. Because, ladies and gents, I had the most awesome version EVER. They call it a Coco lada and it is mind blowing…. My new favorite by far.
I took a cab from the hotel and had quite some time to have a glass of wine at the airport. You only get 30mins of free internet at JFK so make sure to buy some extra time online (I bought it at Boingo). My flight was seriously delayed because of turtles crossing the runway (true story!) so I was really happy with the longer layover in London.

Au revoir New York- until we meet again!


Personal Rating:

New York on a whole:

Needless to say, a city this big cannot be covered, nor explored in only 50hrs or so. However: I love the vibe. I was so inspired by the shops, the boutiques, the endless people watching and the beautiful views over the water(s). The city never sleeps, that’s for sure. But: its greatness is also its weakness, at least that’s what struck me during this brief visit. I felt like NYC also represented the current state of the world, actually- how depressing that may sound. So much garbage, so many horribly smelly areas, so many people digging in the garbage bins, looking for food. So much food going to waste at the end of every day- and everyone seemed in a hurry and not very friendly or into small talk (the only exception being the staff at the wonderful Kate Spade shop in Soho!). And that’s just the thing I have always LOVED about the States; I prefer small talk over no talk at all. So that is why I did leave with a tiny knot in my stomach.
But: New York is special. Very special. The buildings, the surrounding waters and all the bridges, the parks, the unexpected patches of green throughout the city, the melting pot kind of vibe. I will be back!


The Ludlow served its purpose quite well. It was exactly located where I wanted to be, decorated nicely and had a funky breeze. The staff wasn’t really helpful nor friendly; I’d call it a bit indifferent. If they would just be a tad more relaxed, the hotel would be perfect. That being said: If you are looking for a charming (little) place to sleep, crash after shopping and before going out for dinner, with beautiful (smallish) rooms (with GREAT amenities) and a very cool bar, fireplace, rooftop terrace (no service) and restaurant, this is a really good option. The vibe is sexy yet cozy, they offer reasonable prices and you can explore a big part of the city by foot. I would definitely go there again.

Child friendliness:

This was an adults only trip! So more on this later.