The best ways to chill out in New York
PUBLISHED: 09:32 30 August 2017 | UPDATED: 09:32 30 August 2017
Despite its hectic reputation there are still ways to find a quiet spot in Manhattan. Vicky Mayer took a quick flight from Gatwick to find out more
It’s 7am in New York and I am sitting serenely cross-legged in Central Park. An hour-long sunrise yoga session is the one of the best ways to start your day in Manhattan and proves that there is more to life here than just cocktails and shopping.
New Yorkers are embracing the chance to chill out and enjoy nature wherever they can in a city that can sometimes feel like a concrete hell. So health conscious residents are now just as likely to be found enjoying the tranquil benefits of Central Park and a meditation class as shopping in SoHo.
To help tourists enjoy an equally chilled visit, Viceroy Central Park is offering its guests a new two-night Wellness Weekend Package, that not only includes your hotel stay but also the chance to try out a mindfulness class and a run or sunrise yoga session in nearby Central Park.
It certainly puts a new spin on the city but can you realistically find some inner calm in this manic metropolis? The trick is to follow the natives and combine all the fun shopping, sightseeing and dining out experiences the city has to offer with some down time away from the streets.
Arriving on Friday evening it’s always good to hit the ground running and after checking into our fabulous rooms at the Viceroy (think Mad Men for the 21st century), we walked a couple of blocks across to Lavo New York, a buzzy uptown destination that somehow manages to combine an impressive Italian restaurant - lobster pizza anyone? - with a late night club too. It’s the perfect spot to ward off your jet lag.
Clubs aside, we were looking for a calmer city experience and our gentle sunrise yoga class the following morning provided by the lovely team at Fit Tours NYC soon set us up for the weekend. Along with the perennially popular Central Park, the city’s 1.4 mile-long High Line gives residents and visitors alike space and greenery to escape the city fumes. It was our first stop after breakfast and the perfect place to rest up after visiting the Meatpacking district.
Our well-being quest continued that evening with a trip on a river cruise where we sipped G&Ts on deck at sunset as we cruised alongside the Statue of Liberty then stepped inside the boat for a great meal. Spending time on the water gives you an entirely different perspective of Manhattan and is well worth booking before you arrive. A cheeky nightcap at the Viceroy’s impressive roof top bar overlooking Central Park ended our day on a high note.
A weekend in New York always seems to fly by but by sticking to our plan of making it a chilled-out trip, somehow it seemed to last longer. Our last day in the city was the highlight of my trip. If you think mindfulness has taken off in the UK, wait till you get to New York. In the past two years dedicated meditation classes have sprung up all over the city and Manhattan’s frazzled citizens can’t get enough of them. At MNDFL on 60th Street we took a Sunday morning meditation class on how to handle your emotions better. Mobiles are banned here and sitting cross legged in a beautiful white room filled with ferns, it’s great to treat yourself to an hour of quiet, reflective time. Feeling chilled and positive, we ended our weekend at the Chalk Point Kitchen, a funky basement restaurant in the West Village where healthy eating is the order of the day. Giant organic salads are the popular choice here, washed down by matcha tea.
On the flight home I realised that while I hadn’t shopped up a storm on my trip, what I had bought home will last me much longer than a new dress – the ability to find some inner calm wherever you live.
• A two-night Wellness Weekend Package at Viceroy Central Park starts from £272 per night for a king-bedded room, a meditation session at MNDFL’s studio on 60th Street and a FIT Tour, choosing from a one-hour 5K run or Sunrise Yoga in Central Park. To book see viceroyhotelsandresorts.com/en/newyork
• We flew to New York with British Airways. Return flights from London Gatwick to JFK start from £379. To book visit: ba.com
• To get the most out of the city, get a New York city pass. See nycgo.com for details