What are obnoxiously fancy things to do in NYC?
January 5, 2014 12:54 PM   Subscribe

My girlfriend and I want to live like royalty for one night in New York City. What should we do?

As Christmas presents to ourselves and after realizing we both owned fancy clothes and rarely wore them anywhere, my girlfriend and I (both late 20s) would like to embark on a night of fanciness in NYC.

Example of things we're considering:
The Brandy Library
Renting a driver for the night to shuffle us around the city.
Getting a room at a the Waldorf Astoria
Drinks at Death and Co.

So, what NYC activity or establishment just screams "fancy" to you?

The criteria:
- We should be able to do said activity in a suit and a cocktail dress
- We'll be doing this on a Saturday night/Sunday morning in January
- We're willing to spend a couple of hundred bucks between us on an individual activity
- The more "old money" the feel, the better
- Bonus points if you know of a fancy place to eat breakfast the next morning.
posted by Blandanomics to Food & Drink (32 answers total) 65 users marked this as a favorite
Definitely have brunch at Peacock Alley, right in the Waldorf-Astoria. Very fancy!
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 1:02 PM on January 5, 2014 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Drinks at the Campbell apartment followed by the tasting menu at Eleven Madison park or the Nomad.

Warning, you'll be eating ramen for weeks after you EMP bill hits. So worth it.
posted by larthegreat at 1:03 PM on January 5, 2014 [6 favorites]

Stay at the Waldorf Towers if you can, not the regular Waldorf. Tower rooms are more consistently swanky, while some rooms at the W-A are a little tired. Sometimes you can find deals for the Towers with the phrase "concierge floor."
posted by Sweetie Darling at 1:04 PM on January 5, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Dinner at Le Bernadin -- have the sommelier pick your wine. This will cost more than a couple hundred (and possibly more than your cocktail dress - -cost more than mine when I did it)

Drinks at Bemelmen's Bar at the Carlyle
posted by hrj at 1:04 PM on January 5, 2014 [4 favorites]

Ooo, yeah, the Carlyle! Think about seeing a show at the Cafe Carlyle. Always excellent and the crowd just SCREAMS old money.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 1:05 PM on January 5, 2014

You can always, without shame, give a sommelier a price cap. Tell him you want a red / white to go with whatever you're eating (or something really interesting and not traditional) and hopefully under X amount.

Other than that, have fun.
posted by efalk at 1:12 PM on January 5, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: For cocktails, Lantern's Keep will feel much fancier than Death & Co. But for the real deal, nth-ing Bemelmans.
posted by neroli at 1:20 PM on January 5, 2014 [1 favorite]

The Waldorf is actually not the nicest hotel in NYC. I would look at the Plaza, which is much nicer.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 1:21 PM on January 5, 2014 [1 favorite]

It's more divey than swanky, but for a certain segment of "old money" Brandy's Piano Bar is a delightful way to close out an evening. It's a huge amount of fun.
posted by neroli at 1:26 PM on January 5, 2014 [3 favorites]

I was going to suggest the Plaza. Or the Algonquin, which I have a soft spot for, but I haven't been there for many years.
posted by trip and a half at 1:30 PM on January 5, 2014 [1 favorite]

The Plaza or The Four Seasons over the Waldorf.

Go shopping at Barney's or Bergdorf Goodman (at a few hundred bucks per activity you'll probably get a shirt or two).

Dinner at Per Se.

You can pick from Verdi or Strauss if you want to go see The Met, you've long missed The Ring Cycle; cheap seats start at $30 but you can easily spend ten times that. As much as I love opera, I can't think of anything more "old money", especially their black tie galas.
posted by Brian Puccio at 1:36 PM on January 5, 2014 [1 favorite]

I stayed at the Waldorf once and while the lobby is lovely the rooms are not swanky. They aren't bad and I'd stay there again but it wasn't swanky. Just a standard hotel room. Maybe the suites are swanky.
posted by interplanetjanet at 1:39 PM on January 5, 2014 [1 favorite]

Late night drinks at the Gansevoort Rooftop Bar.

I'd pick the Four Seasons Midtown over the Plaza. Waldorf is nice but old. Four Seasons is nice and new.

Get a sedan to drive you around instead of taxis. If you have an iphone you can use the Uber app.
posted by kdern at 1:39 PM on January 5, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Peninsula or Mandarin Oriental for the hotel - a suite, not a regular room; the Waldorf is not that great of a hotel, actually.

Death & Co is actually pretty laid back (although the drinks are tasty), as is Lantern's Keep. You wouldn't be the only person dressed up, but jeans would certainly not be out of place at either bar. The Carlyle has the most expensive drinks in the city, but not really worth it. I'd do bottle service or a nice bottle of champagne somewhere instead.

Le Bernardin or EMP would definitely be on my list, but you need to call way in advance to get a reservation on a Friday night for a 2 top (or eat at 10pm). And, it's out of your budget (about $1000 for two people with wine tastings). La Esquina's "hidden" dining room is pretty cool and delicious; it gives you that Goodfellas enter-through-the-kitchen experience.

Many of the best brunch places don't take reservations, and waiting is not really the feeling you're going for, especially waiting outside, in the winter. I'd go for a nice breakfast in bed at the hotel with a quality champagne (byo expensive bottle to save money).

Maybe the opera? Not everyone dresses up, but it is definitely a swanky place to be.

Anything you decide to do, make sure it's a "private" or "VIP" option where you don't have to wait in lines and get one-on-one treatment. This will make anything seem swankier.

Not to burst your bubble, but your budget isn't really in the realm of super fancy when it comes to NYC. $200/couple/thing is a standard night out for many NYers.
posted by melissasaurus at 1:44 PM on January 5, 2014 [20 favorites]

I worked at the Waldorf, and saw many of the rooms up close. The St. Regis has much more beautiful rooms. I haven't been in the Plaza in eons, so can't speak to its current state.
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 1:46 PM on January 5, 2014 [1 favorite]

Oh, yeah, I agree that this is going to cost you more than a thousand dollars.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 1:48 PM on January 5, 2014 [8 favorites]

Best answer: The bar at the St. Regis Hotel would feel pretty old money. Gansevoort rooftop is nice but won't feel old money at all.
posted by sweetkid at 1:59 PM on January 5, 2014 [1 favorite]

One of the Ritzs or the Trump places would be a good splurge hotel too.

Nthing Le Bernadin.
Try to get a reservation at Per Se.
posted by brujita at 2:34 PM on January 5, 2014

I can only speak to restaurants here, but La Grenouille is way more Old Money, not to mention romantic, than Eleven Madison, Per Se, or Le Bernardin, which strike me as more Patrick Bateman-y "fancy." All are fantastic, but unless you're total food nerds (nothing wrong with that!), you'll have a better time there IMO. Do a Google image search for each and you might get a sense of what I mean.
posted by STFUDonnie at 2:48 PM on January 5, 2014 [1 favorite]

When you say "hotel room" do you mean a standard room or a suite or what? Because I agree with the above commenters that a standard room at the Waldorf is not that impressive/exciting/fancy. If your budget doesn't stretch to a suite at the Plaza for the night then you should consider a suite at a boutique hotel rather than a standard room at a more fancy Big Name hotel.

If you could be more specific about your overall budget in general and your hotel room budget in particular we can give you better advice.
posted by elizardbits at 3:17 PM on January 5, 2014 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Great ideas all around. If your budget allows it, I add this one thought: tip like kings. Nothing else will make you feel so extravagant.
posted by amoeba at 3:47 PM on January 5, 2014 [7 favorites]

I haven't tried either of these places, but apparently the roast chicken at both the NoMad and Rotisserie Georgette is ridiculously indulgent (and priced accordingly--the NoMad's chicken is stuffed with black truffles and costs $79!).
posted by breakfast for dinner at 4:10 PM on January 5, 2014

The Campbell Apartment is a bar with a dress code on top of Grand Central.

The Russian Tea Room is a classic option.
posted by pmb at 4:10 PM on January 5, 2014 [1 favorite]

seconding tipping like kings. not only will you have a great time but whoever is serving you will have a great night as well :) please update us with what you decide to do so we can live vicariously!
posted by cristinacristinacristina at 5:28 PM on January 5, 2014 [1 favorite]

Death & Co. is awesome but not fancy.
posted by hamsterdam at 7:22 PM on January 5, 2014

Dinner at Per Se. Always and forever this if you want obnoxiously fancy that will make you glad you spent every penny. If you want to keep things on budget, how about the five course tasting menu of desserts at the Per Se Salon? After that, if you're really going for "old money", why not buy fantastic seats to a play on Broadway? (Sir Ian McKellan and Patrick Stewart in Waiting for Godot and No Man's Land!) I would look more into PDT for my speaksy-style cocktails rather than Death & Co (or, perhaps, Booker and Dax).

There's the fantastic (but now perhaps a bit cliched) Sleep No More, but the "play" itself is honestly not very conducive to cocktail dresses and fancy footwear. However, they do a nice dinner before the show occasionally where you would fit in smashingly in a suit and your companion in a fancy dress.
posted by conradjones at 7:40 PM on January 5, 2014 [2 favorites]

We had brunch at Isola once, and it was beautiful in the sunroom with chandeliers. It's not really "old money" but there were lots of fancy folks wearing their best brunch outfits. It was a nice atmosphere and not outrageously expensive.
posted by barnone at 11:08 AM on January 6, 2014

Best answer: And for folks saying this isn't possible with a few hundred bucks per activity, I disagree. It might not be the fanciest or most expen$ive night EVER, but for those of us who don't normally make an effort to do something specific while wearing fancy clothing, you can definitely have a great night out! It's more about the feeling of poshness than the specific pricetag.
posted by barnone at 11:11 AM on January 6, 2014 [1 favorite]

A helicopter tour is pretty damn fancy. I'm guess it's a couple hundred each. If you want ultra-fancy, book a private helicopter just for yourselves.
posted by cnc at 11:35 AM on January 6, 2014

Not sure how 'cool' it is but I really liked the Raines Law Room for drinks. They have a really low cap on the number of people allowed inside at once, the drinks are good, and the decor makes it feel really intimate. I found Campbell Apartment to be unbearably crowded.
posted by showbiz_liz at 11:52 AM on January 6, 2014 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks all, currently planning. Will check back in for those interested.
posted by Blandanomics at 10:24 PM on January 6, 2014

jean georges at one central south has a famously reasonably priced set lunch menu and is super sleek and fancy and a great way to sample high end cooking without breaking the bank at say eleven Madison.
posted by The Whelk at 7:55 AM on January 11, 2014

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