New York is often seen as a dynamic, inspiring and ultimately exasperating city. But as an autumn stroll through Greenwich Village or a quiet drink in the King Cole Bar can attest, it’s eminently possible to come here for a nice, relaxing stay. Boutique hotels tend to open with a splash then shutter with a whimper, but a handful of classic addresses still delivers stately but comfortable surroundings and uncanny levels of service. The grandes dames of Fifth Avenue, The St. Regis and The Peninsula, frequently cater to a midtown business crowd, while more intimate Upper East Side retreats like The Lowell, The Carlyle, and the Plaza Athénée are perfect for lovers of Central Park and Museum Mile. The sophisticated Baccarat Hotel set in the first 12 floors of a 50-story tower is the most notable debut of the past decade.
The Oculus — officially the World Trade Center Transportation Hub — features a striking design by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava. From the outside, it appears to be a giant white seashell. Inside it is a cathedral-like space with towering 160-foot ribbed walls that culminate in a ribbon skylight. The Oculus ties together 11 subway lines and the PATH trains to New Jersey. And it has an appealing array of shops and food venues. It is an uplifting design in a place that was once grim wreckage.
The Neue Galerie
The Neue Galerie, occupying an ornate 1914 mansion owned by Mrs. Cornelius Vanderbilt III, has a sensational collection of early-20th-century German and Austrian art and design. The star attraction is Klimt’s shimmering “Adele Bloch-Bauer I,” featured in the recent film “Woman in Gold.” The elegant Café Sabarsky, housed in the former music room of the mansion, serves the best Viennese tortes this side of the Atlantic, as well as fine savory dishes. Closed Tuesday and Wednesday.
The Theater District
The Theater District does not rank among New York’s top dining destinations. Nevertheless, it is possible to have a satisfying meal within walking distance of a Broadway show. A decade ago, Charlie Palmer moved his flagship restaurant, Aureole, from an Upper East Side townhouse to its current flashy space. Farther north, ViceVersa is a smart, contemporary Italian restaurant. Finally, hidden in an unmarked brownstone in the heart of the district, Bar Centrale is popular with people in the business.