The View from the Lower East Side

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For some reason it looks as if I have ombré hair. Also, I need a haircut. Stat.

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Our budget view from our room. Not too shabby.

Way back in January, when the weather was warmer (!?!?) and there was hardly any snow on the ground, we decided to take an extended weekend trip to NYC. As usual, there were no plans beyond stuffing our faces and meeting up with friends and family.

We have a ‘secret’ go-to spot that we like to stay at whenever visiting NYC. Apparently these days it is not so secret because there was no availability. So I did what any normal piggy would do — I googled some of our favorite places to eat in the Lower East Side (our fave part of town) and then did a search for hotels nearby. Which is how we discovered Hotel East Houston–a place we have walked by many times but always thought was out of our price range for what we like to pay for a place to sleep. Tip: In early January, when all the tourists have cleared out, hotels are crazy cheap, or I guess by New York standards, crazy affordable.

After our bus ride to the city, then ramen and coffee with Sly’s friend, then a short subway ride and walk to LES, we arrived at our hotel, checked in, and were told about the rooftop deck. “It’s probably a bit too cold to go up there…” At that point I had stopped listening. Rooftop deck was all I needed to hear.

The deck was freezing cold, but what a view. I couldn’t stop staring at it.

The rest of the night went by in a New York City blur — dinner at Contra, drinks with friends we haven’t seen in years, running through the cold streets when one bar closed to find another bar that was open. People watching like crazy and being as loud and obnoxious and as drunk as possible. Cab rides back to the hotel at 4:30am.

It’s one of those weird and rare moments in life where you feel like you are exactly right where you should be.

Previously documented trips to NYC can be found here


Hotel East Houston // $120-$250/nt depending on season // Smaller boutique hotel with an awesome rooftop deck and killer view. Smallish NYC-sized rooms with modern decor and a somewhat frosted glass wall separating the bathroom from the sleeping area (at least in our room which was a Queen room). Furnishings were a bit banged up but the room was really clean and more than comfortable for the two of us. The more expensive rooms have a dead-on view of the Empire State Building and Chrysler Building, but the cheaper rooms face a quieter side street and still have something of a view (if you crane your neck a bit). Since this is our favorite part of town, the location of the hotel could not be beat: close to subway, close to so many of our favorite eats (like right down the street), and walking distance to Whole Foods. We both agreed that if we didn’t mind shelling out the dough, we would stay here every time we visited. Their normal rate is not too bad considering the location and that it’s NYC, but we usually like to spend our money on food over hotel whenever/wherever we travel.

Totto Ramen // $15-$20 // There are two locations now for this popular ramen joint–the original (super duper tiny) location and a new (bigger) location a couple blocks away. The line was ridiculous at the original location (and we were eating during off hours) so we walked to the newer restaurant and were seated right away. The ramen is definitely tasty but honestly I would not wait in line for it. There are too many other amazing places in NYC to try/eat.
Amy’s Bread // $5-10 // Cute neighborhood coffee shop and bakery with lots of choices for baked goods and good strong coffee. Super crowded at the front, but decent amount of seating in the back. The front/line area gets really congested with people ordering, but moves fast. Place your order then move to the back where there is room to breathe.
Contra NYC // $55 5-course tasting menu // Our rule of thumb whenever we visit nyc is to try one newer/fancier/trendier restaurant. Contra appealed to us because it was new, not too hard to get reservations (yet), in an area we liked (walking distance from hotel), and offered an experimental daily changing menu for $55, which for NY is pretty cheap. A more accurate way to describe the tasting menu is “starts at $55” — we tacked on a few extra dishes not included in the original tasting, bread, and drinks, and before you knew it we had ourselves a pretty nicely sized tab. The food was good, some dishes were amazing, others needed a bit more time to fine tune, but overall we would go back again.

Flatiron Hall // This place is huge. Lots of seating. Lots of beers on tap. More than one bathroom. Super friendly (maybe too friendly?) doorman. Closes early, or at least it closed early (midnight? 1am?) when we were there, forcing us out into the cold and to an unmarked bar in K-town on the 5th? 6th? floor of some office/apartment building (name unknown) where we spent the remainder of the night/morning. Across the street is the Flatiron Room. Swankier. Loungey-er. Jazzier. Whiskier. We had reservations to go there afterward, but they too were closed.

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