When most US students think of staying in a hostel, chainsaws, rapists, kidnappings and being tortured are usually the first thoughts that come to mind. For this we can thank the past decade of horror films. On the contrary, though, I had a hostel experience this past weekend that rivaled many hotels I’ve been a guest at. Finding an economical place to stay in Manhattan is a challenging task. Finding an economical place the same day you need it is additionally challenging. Finally, finding this same spot in a good location is near impossible.
I seem to have a knack for finding accommodations in NYC last minute since this is the second time I have lucked out. At Rack Rate, on 55th and Broadway, I had (the picture above) a two bedroom shared apartment with an in-room kitchen and bathroom for $89 per night including tax…my jaw hit the floor. The closest comparable accommodation I could find was a $170 room at a La Quinta in in Brooklyn.
Clean, comfy, unique, inexpensive and a excellent location, what more could I ask for. The company that offers these great accommodations is named 1291. They offer a “boutique hostel” and have a club membership program I’m soon signing up for. Thank you 1291!
Check out their website at: http://1291club.com/
I often try to be economical (not cheap…), especially when traveling by myself. My $15
Fung Wah bus ticket to Manhattan and room at 1291 got me to the city for two nights
and back to Boston for almost exactly $200, which I think is a phenomenal deal. The
bus may have cut their cleaning budget to offer such an affordable ticket…but hey, it got
There are two people that largely dictate my actions, Economical Sebastian
and…Sebastian. Economical Sebastian is a 18 year old kayaker who camps, hitch-
hikes, shops at Wal-Mart and thinks the GAP is overpriced designer clothing.
Sebastian, on the other hand, is a 21 bachelor who’s taste and net-worth have more
disputes than the middle east. My mind is a door-man and he, unfortunately, rarely
allows “Economical Sebastian” into the party. When clothes, food, wine and fun hook
and reel me in I attribute most price tags to experience and indulge. A good cock-tail or
two simply helps subside the pain of passing around my ex-presidents.
My friends made a reservation for a sheik japanese restaurant named Morimoto in the
meatpacking district. Sushi, meatpacking district, hunger, Friday night…my eyes start to
tear when I instantly thought $$$. In a effort to save my wallet, I decide that I’ll go ﬁnd
a cheap salad or piece of chicken somewhere to ﬁll up before hand. By doing this, I’d
walk out of Morimoto after only a good cocktail and slice of sashimi.
Leaving my room and walking down Broadway, I soon ﬁnd myself by Madison Sq. Park staring through a fogged diner window at a worn and taped menu. After spotting a $7.99 chef salad and preemptively applauding myself, the clock hit nine and my door-man told Economical Sebastian to go home.
|Cask Ale at Bierra|
I immediately remembered reading an article in Food & Wine praising a rooftop brewery on Madison Sq. Park that sported a 420 sq. foot retractable roof. I smiled a skipped my way there. Managed and owned by Eataly (another fantastic spot), Bierra is a rooftop restaurant and bar that, yes, brews their own cask ales on site. Never having been exposed to cask ales before, I may have compromised my waiters tip at other tables for holding his attention for so long. After a good chat though, a glass of micro brewed cask ale, pork shoulder and brussels sprouts were on the way.
Cask Ales are unfiltered, unpasteurised beer that still contains live yeast, which continues to ferment the beer in the cask. Doing it this way creates a gentle, natural CO2 carbonation and allows malt and hop flavors to mature, making a richer tasting ale with more character than standard beers. I enjoyed it much more than most beers I’ve had. The natural carbonation is not as intense as in normal beer, allowing the cask ale to be a less filling and smoother beer.
The meal was great, I was full, thankful I had remembered and visited this gem and now off to enjoy a drink with good people at Morimoto.
Morimoto makes any man wearing a jacket feel like James Bond. The sleek and sexy
industrial design inspired me to sip on a vodka martini (I didn’t have the balls to say “shaken not stirred”) with my pinky out. After being seated, our waiter came along and tantalizingly detailed the menu. From exotically prepared meats to classic style sushi, my Bierra experience causally retired from my memory.
Can you say family style? Cause I can… “four appetizers, three entrées, two trays of
assorted sushi and a dessert will be just perfect. Please just bring dishes you’d recommend
in those amounts” I believe was our order. The food was very good.
What particularly stuck out was a tuna tartar paste spread over a slab of bamboo stuck vertically into an ice bowl served with black caviar and assorted dips. The cutlery used to eat it were triangle shaped ﬂat spoons, which you scraped the tuna off the bamboo with. It was a very tasty tartar, but served in a exotic and unique fashion that made it quite memorable. We just ﬁnished dinner, it’s was only 1:15am…club? The girl in our group left for home after dinner, leaving us three boys to discover our destinies.
Getting into a club as a guy is usually difﬁcult. Getting into a club with three
guys…without a table…forget it. I do not know how, but my friend must have known
every bouncer and manager south of central park. Every place we went was hassle
and cover free. I felt famous.
Our ﬁrst stop was at Catch, a seafood restaurant that holds a popular rooftop lounge. Being 6′ 3″, when I look across a club and see girls my height the obvious comes to mind. Runway models, duh? G&Ts and a few dance moves helped conﬁdently awe at some of the goddesses I was surrounded by. My highlight for this spot though was having one girl mistake me for Chris Hemsworth, and another girl ask me if I were famous then discovering she is my old friends girlfriend….he wasn’t there. Around 2:30am we decided to head someplace new. After jumping into a few spots near Catch
in search of good vibes, we snatched a cab and journeyed SoHo to Finale.
This place…YES!!! Everything was just right for my image of a club. Grafﬁtied plywood entrance into a paint splattered neon lit hallway leading to an industrial door that when opened overwhelmingly blinds the guest with lights and deafens them with bass. Everyone is young, beautiful, stylish and in the moment. A cold shiver of energy runs the crown of your head down your spine when you take your ﬁrst step in, and then, you throw your hands up let the sound waves take them away. Dancers swung on curtains, hoola-hoops and tables. LED boards lit the walls, letting the music take your ears and eyes. I’ll stop there, it was great.
The owners of Finale and Catch also own the club next door named Bow (EMM Group, Inc). You can see that entrance right below the character in the top hat and bow tie in the picture above. I only briefly ran into Bow to see the scene. It felt like more of a lounge style venue than club, but had an equally impressive crowd, DJ and impression as the other clubs.
For a few seconds at Finale I broke the trance and pulled out my phone to shoot a few short
videos. It doesn’t do any justice.
At the end of the night I had the opportunity to meet one of the owners, Mark Birnbaum, which was a