2016/04/26

On a luxury stay in NYC, NOLA & Florida

Overview

2 days in NYC, 3 days in NOLA, then a drive by car to Florida’s Panhandle (Port Saint Joe), further to USA’s oldest city, Saint Augustine, and finally to Miami Beach for 2 days, that sums up my latest trip to the USA together with my husband. As always, we had made sure that we preferably stayed in luxurious hotels and dined in gourmet restaurants if they are available on the one hand and offer value for money on the other hand. We are striving for the best while vacationing, but we do not have money to pour down the drain.


NYC: Meatpacking District/NOLA: Royal Street/Miami Beach: view from room



NYC

Hotel

NYC is my husband’s favorite city, and therefore we go there quite often. And believe it or not, we chose the same hotel as 6 years ago, and this for the 4th time! After the 3rd time, we were determined to stay at another one. But despite a thorough research we could not find what we had been looking for. We simply could not find an equal alternative to the hotel we first went to in 2010, and it still looks as new as at the time when it had been open for about a year. And which hotel is it? It is the CrosbyStreet Hotel, belonging to the Firmdale group! I will go more into more details at a later point in time, but here are a few details in advance. It is located on a quiet cobbled street in the vibrant SoHo neighborhood and it has constantly been under the best hotels on TripAdvisor for years, at the moment it is #10 and has the rating “Excellent” (5 points). This hotel is modern, stylish and offers every luxury a demanding traveler may request (also have a look at my review of our first stay).


Crosby Street Hotel: Restaurant

Restaurants

This time we decided to dine in a newer, hip, rather casual restaurant, the Gato, and in a New York institution, the more formal Gramercy Tavern. We did enjoy both although the experience was quite different. By the way, Gato is a NoHo restaurant and ranks as #44 on TripAdvisor, Gramercy Tavern in the Flatiron District is #15 on TripAdvisor.

NOLA

Whereas my husband already knew the city, it was my first time there. I did like the Lower French Quarter, but was disappointed by the famous Bourbon Street. There were few jazz clubs and many places selling cheap alcohol! The walk along the Mississippi and the ferry crossing to Algiers was nice as well as the ride with the streetcar through the Garden District and the succeeding stroll there.


New Orleans: Royal Street

Accommodation

I can say in advance, it was very tough for us to decide on the perfect hotel for us in NOLA as all the luxurious hotels outside the French Quarter – we wanted to be a bit away from the hustle and bustle of the Bourbon Street – did receive mixed reviews on TripAdvisor.

Therefore, we settled for the Q&C Hotel in the Central Business District. This is not exactly a luxurious hotel, on TripAdvisor – it ranks there as #10 – it is said to be mid-range, and I can confirm this assessment. The location is great and if you are into industrial chic, this is the place for you. For us it is not the ideal choice, but it keeps more or less what it promises.

Dining

We dined in Compère Lapin (Tripadvisor #134), a new, trendy spot, in GW Fins (TripAdvisor #2), a more traditional restaurant, and in the fine dining restaurant August (TripAdvisor #8). All the meals were delicious although the accompanying experiences differed a lot. I can recommend the former and latter without reservation.

I am a huge fan of good bakeries and I found one in NOLA: Willa Jean (TripAdvisor # 117), a new hot spot serving delicious breakfasts and wonderful baked goods.

Restaurant Willa Jean

Florida’s Panhandle

From NOLA we drove by car to Florida’s east coast with a stop in Florida’s Panhandle. While the drive was scenic, there is not much to find as top hotels and restaurants are concerned. We made a stop in the quaint village of Port Saint Joe and spent a night in a decent B&B, the Turtle Beach Inn (TripAdvisor #2 B&B), and had a really tasty pizza in JoeMama’s Wood Fired Pizza (TripAdvisor #3).


Turtle Beach Inn

Saint Augustine, Florida

This city in northeastern Florida is the oldest in the USA, founded in 1565. Its historical district is like an outdoor museum, nice to look at, but a little bit artificial. Nevertheless, we liked our stay there. By recommendation of our B&B owner we did an Old Town TrolleyTour (TripAdvisor # 12) and consider it a good thing. You get an overview of the attractions and learn a bit about the history of the city.


Saint Augustine

B&B

As the first class hotels in Saint Augustine did not meet our expectations (mixed reviews on TripAdvisor), we settled for a B&B: The Cedar House Inn (TripAdvisor #1 B&B) and were very satisfied with our choice. This B&B offers a perfect location, beautiful premises and last but not least an excellent host, it really was a treat!


Cedar House Inn

Restaurants

We opted for a more casual restaurant, Catch 27 (TripAdvisor #60), and a more formal one, Collage (TripAdvisor #3), which were both in the old city and which we both considered as good.

We also had drinks twice in the Ice Plant, a hip bar located in a former industrial building (TripAdvisor #14). It was fun!

Miami

Miami Beach – where we stayed – is famous for its buildings in the Art Deco style. We made the Art Deco District Walking Tour and learned not only about this special architecture, but also about the history of Miami Beach. This is an interesting thing to do also for people who are not much into architecture.

A must-see when visiting the area is the SouthBeach Boardwalk with beautiful views of the ocean.


South Beach: Art Deco building

Hotel

The last three times we stayed at hotels in Miami: FourSeasons (TripAdvisor #3), MandarinOriental (TripAdvisor #4) and TurnberryIsle (TripAdvisor #1 Aventura).

This time we wanted to be in Miami Beach, and that in South Beach directly by the sea. We wished to stay at a large ocean front room and were not ready to spend 1,000 Dollars or more. This narrowed the choice considerably, top hotels as The Setai or the Ritz-Carlton were no longer possible. Finally, we opted for the Metropolitanby Como (TripAdvisor #1) because of the good reviews on TripAdvisor and due to the fact that we had made good experiences with the Como Group in the past and were not disappointed. Our Ocean View Suite (see my post) was fantastic, the onsite restaurant really good and the staff very friendly and helpful.


Metropolitan by Como: view from room


Restaurants

We chose modern, trendy spots for dinner, and that in 2 hotel restaurants. Once in our hotel, the Traymore (TripAdvisor #38), and were thrilled by the offered. The other time we went to Vintro Kitchen (TripAdvisor #18) in the Vintro Hotel and enjoyed it very much there.

As a fan of baked good I also took a look at bakeries and found a fantastic place: Rosetta Italian Bakery (TripAdvisor # 1 Bakeries). As a bar I recommend the LivingRoom Bar in the Hotel W South Beach offering a good atmosphere and gorgeous cocktails.

Date of stay: April 2016
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