I’ve lived in this city for so long that truly nothing phases me anymore, and that’s a personal achievement of which I’m very proud. However, there is one exception to my inability to experience awe, and that is when Gingerbread Lane comes to town, when Bloomingdale’s is decked in twinkly lights and, of course, when drinking spiked eggnog and hot chocolate is not only acceptable, but encouraged. I’m talking about the most wonderful time of the year, people! The motherf*ckin’ holidays! Am I getting too excited? Whatever. One more thing this New Yorker loves about the holidays in this godforsaken city is the festive decor that takes over my favorite watering holes, hotels, and restaurants. If you, too, have no shame in your game and want to sip spiked eggnog under mistletoe, but don’t know where to go, I got you. These are the most festive holiday spots that you don’t already know about.
This is the type of place I usually avoid because lots of people and staying out past 10pm aren’t really my vibe, but I think I may just move in here between the months of December and March for the holiday themed pop-up. The Lobby Bar will be transforming into what the Dream is calling The Winter Rose Garden and what I call What Dreams Are Made Of. This particular pop-up is exciting because it’s the downtown hotel’s first foray into holiday festivities, and rest assured, they’re pulling out all the damn stops. I’m talking oversized rose walls (made with 15,000 red roses), red furniture, and more candles than Anthropologie. And obviously, they have a special menu of holiday-inspired cocktails. The Primrose Cider is my personal fave because it’s made with classics like sparkling rosé, Barking Irons Applejack, cinnamon syrup, lemon juice, and a rose ice cube. I mean, yum?
This is the only place in Midtown I’ll go without complaining about all the finance bros Juuling everywhere I look. For this holiday pop-up, which they’re calling Midwinter Nights’ Dream, they are seriously going all out, and I’m not mad about it. As much as I love holiday-themed alcohol, the actual reason I love this time of year is because of the genuinely cheerful atmosphere, and this place understands that. Obviously, they’re doing the red and gold ribbons, the hanging lights, and the gorgeous garland, but most importantly, they’re having a tunnel of light, because if you go to a holiday pop-up and didn’t post an Instagram of it, did you even go? As for the holiday menu, def opt for a Peppermint Mojito, which is a normal mojito, but served in an ornament! Is that festive af or what?
If you don’t remember from my last article where Magic Hour got a mention re: where to drink enormous drinks, let me just say that I love this place. For the holidays this year, it will turn into what I can only imagine is Nicki Minaj’s wet dream. It’s called Pink Holiday Playground and will boast ceilings covered in hot pink twinkly lights, oversized disco balls, and human-sized festive bears. Oh, and there’s also a carousel, because why not? Not that it’s a competition, but Magic Hour is playing to win and they got my vote. Also, my general policy at bars is to not eat the food, but I’ll make an exception for the Pink Dough Pie, which is not only meant for 12 people, but it’s also a delish boozy apple cider doughnut-pie hybrid (sold) filled with Honeycrisp apples and drizzled with a maple bourbon glaze, topped with pink sprinkles and pink chocolate balls. My love language is officially sweet pizza that will get me drunk. How do people even come up with this stuff?
Though technically neither a bar nor a restaurant, Club Wyndham earned its spot on this list because it is committed to spreading holiday cheer, like, for real. Don’t believe me? Check out the aggressively Instagrammable holiday suite inspired by, you guessed it, Buddy the f*ckin’ Elf. By the way, that movie was released in 2003, so if you don’t already feel old af, how about now? Just from looking at the photos of this suite, I can say with confidence that there were no cotton-headed ninny-muggins on this hotel’s design team, and that I am blown away. Because you are absolutely playing yourself if you think you aren’t already dead-set on booking this suite, I’ll let you know what’s included, starting with the full kitchen that’s stocked with the ingredients to recreate Buddy’s famous spaghetti and syrup dish. Honestly, I don’t really know if that’s a selling point, but I do love a hotel suite with a full kitchen. My personal favorite element of this suite, though, is the enormous living room that’s fully decked out in holiday garb (including an oversized Christmas tree). If that’s not festive, tell me what is. I’ll wait.
I am a Manhattan snob and generally don’t acknowledge the other boroughs, but Sunday in Brooklyn is the one exception. Running through the end of December, this beautiful restaurant that makes a case for minimalist design is doing SNOWday in Brooklyn. Yes, their holiday pop-up has arrived and I’m already on the L. I’ll get to the menu in a minute, but first I want to talk about the vibe of the place during this magical time. Some of these pop-ups go a little overboard (do a bar crawl one weekend and lmk which ones you think those are), but Sunday in Brooklyn is classy af. It’s how I imagine Aidan and Carrie would decorate his Suffern house for the holidays if they had stayed together. The place generally has kind of a rustic feel, but with the garlands hanging from the wooden beams on the ceiling and the wreaths in every window, it’s hard to stay away. I ordered the Scroogin’ For A Bruisin’ because I love a good Grease reference, but also because it’s delicious with scotch, baijiu, China-China Amer, pineapple, cinnamon, sesame oil, and brown rice. Those last two ingredients threw me too, but they’re only there to give the drink a little bit of texture, not to give it a salad dressing flavor.
Before this past Sunday, the only time I’ve ever been to The NoMad Bar was on a horrible date that ended with him telling me how much he misses his ex girlfriend. Awesome. Anyway, after hearing about this place’s new Holiday Spectacular cocktail popup, I decided to start positively associating it with two things I love: Christmas and alcohol. Honestly, they didn’t have to do much beyond the bar’s typical decor because it’s already pretty festive in a very chic way. Dark leather tufted booths, glossy wooden tables, the kind of lighting that only seems to exist in Woody Allen movies…etc. The one thing they’re doing differently for their Holiday Spectacular is the charming cocktail menu that’s separated by Naughty and Nice cocktails. Lol. I had one from each column and let my reaction determine which I am and, to everyone’s surprise, I’m nice! The Winter Wonderland, which is a milky punch—that tastes like pumpkin pie in cocktail form—is served in a snow globe. I can’t resist a snow globe. This is also a fun bar to hit up because the NoMad Hotel is a cool place to walk around afterwards, especially when you’re a little tipsy.
Images: Winter Rose photo by Edward Menashy; Midwinter Nights’ Dream photo Courtesy of Michael Kleinberg; Magic Hour photo by Sarah Kelley; Club Wyndham photo courtesy of Club Wyndham; Sunday in Brooklyn photo by Eric Medsker; The NoMad Bar photo courtesy of The NoMad Bar
Planning sucks, and bachelorette parties are a ton of work. So we’re taking all the guesswork out of planning a bachelorette party by breaking down top bachelorette destinations. Our guides will tell you where to stay, eat, party, how to get around, and give you a sample itinerary that you can follow. You’re welcome.
In light of the super sweet (just kidding) comments in our recent The Top 5 Overdone Bachelorette Party Destinations, we decided to offer a bachelorette guide in a city that is both home to most (don’t @ me if you don’t live here) and cooler than, say, Las f*cking Vegas. Am I building this up too much? Probably. It’s Brooklyn, specifically the Williamsburg area, where all the former Murray Hill bros who are now taking over Brooklyn live. Hurry, before it’s too late! Book your bach weekend in Brooklyn for a good time in a place as full of ironic mustaches as it is under-the-radar bars.
Now, Brooklyn is def on its way to dethrone Manhattan as the borough in which New Yorkers actually want to live, which is saying a lot considering there was once a time that taxis wouldn’t even go to Brooklyn if they were already in Manhattan. Rude. BK is f*cking huge, so there’s a lot of ground to cover, but not to worry, we have a guide for that!
How To Get There
If you live in the Tri-State area, congrats, you’re already there! You can take just about any subway from any borough into most parts of Brooklyn. Since we’re mainly focusing on Williamsburg, Greenpoint, and Bushwick, you’ll be going off the L, G, and M trains, mostly. You may have to walk a little more to get to where you’re going than you would in Manhattan, but that’s what ya do in New York, so deal with it. If you live in another state, there are two airports in New York (LaGuardia and JFK) and one in New Jersey (Newark Liberty—but like, Jersey). Flying into LaGuardia is the best bet because it’s closest to Brooklyn and traffic is literally always the stuff of nightmares. If you don’t want to spend all of your rent money on an Uber from the airport and have a ton of time to kill, take the E train. You’ll be waiting for the train in an oven (the station) and will have to transfer at least once, and it will take anywhere from 2 to 17 hours, but the amount of money you’ll save will (maybe) make it all worth it. Honestly, I’d just take a cab.
Where To Stay
New York is home to killer hotels, so def splurge on nice digs for the weekend. Our Betches-approved recommendation? The Williamsburg Hotel, which is walkable from the Bedford Ave L stop. We f*cking love it, it’s the perfect mix of yuppie and what BK used to be. It’s also right next to, like, everywhere, so you don’t have to spend a lot of money or time getting from place to place. The most amazing thing about this hotel, though, is its rooftop/pool situation. If you live in New York, you know that there is a shortage of pools here, so the fact that there’s one here is huge. And, even better, hotel guests get priority access.
We Stan a New York hotel with a pool. And because it’s right across the
street water from Manhattan, Williamsburg happens to have a few different subway lines running through it, so you can at least subway to your destinations and save money (because you’ll be wasted on the way back, so it’s better just to Uber). Also, if being #convenient and #efficient (hi) really excites you, you’ll be happy to know that you can walk to most restaurants and bars in the immediate area. More on this later on, y’all.
How To Get Around
New York is a walking city, so you really don’t have to spend a ton on transportation. Of course, there will be times when you’ll want to Uber (see: 3am), but for the most part, you can walk or take the subway.
Where To Eat
You literally have to book one of your dinners at Antica Pesa—specifically, your classy dinner when your group has gotten all dressed up. Like most amazing restos, Antica Pesa has two locations: one in Williamsburg and one (the OG) in Trastevere, a neighborhood in Rome. I mean, you know this place is legit if there are only two locations and one of them is in f*cking ITALY. If you’re a pasta fiend (welcome, sister), order the ragú d’antra. (But really, you can’t go wrong with any of the pasta dishes.) On keto or something? That’s fine—they have plenty of protein options, like grilled branzino and hand-cut beef tartare. Food won’t taste the same after this, and it will def be a meal to remember.
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Reservations have officially opened for NYC Summer Restaurant Week! We will be offering a $42 three course dinner menu from July 22 until August 16, Sunday through Friday evenings with selections like our Penne Pomodoro e Mozzarella, Insalata Vignarola, and Tiramisù! Click our story for more information #anticapesa
Obv, we have to include some killer brunch spots on this list, so I’m starting off strong and throwing out Sauvage. If you have Instagram/know a single human who lives in Greenpoint, you know what Sauvage is. If neither of these things apply to you, allow me to open your eyes to le best seasonal French food. This place is so bougie that this sentence exists on their website: “We are inspired by outsiders and the outdoors; by naturalists and botanists, farmers and wine-producers, and anyone who works to craft their own dreams, hewn from boundless creativity and restless energy.” Alrighty, then. The best thing on the menu is hands down the almond french toast. Everyone who eats it, eats it like Meg Ryan in Katz’s Deli in When Harry Met Sally.
Dceptive name aside, Extra Fancy is f*cking good and has serious ~vibes,~ especially if the weather is good. This Williamsburg locale is def not fancy—like, at all—but it has a huge patio with picnic tables/benches/bar out back and a separate patio for dining. This place kind of feels like if pubs were a thing in the U.S. The burger is fantastic, so if you’re a firm believer in calories not counting when you’re on vacation (which we all should be), order up.
Gemelli is another good dinner or lunch spot (that you’ll have to take the L to, but it’s worth it) that literally just opened, so you can tell everybody you discovered it (we won’t tell). With a green tropical-looking bar (appropriately dubbed “the green room”) and an outdoor patio, you’ll get the perfect Instas of your Mediterranean-inspired fare. Gemelli has enough on the menu that even the pickiest eater in your group will find something to enjoy, whether it’s a meatball sub smothered in cheese (that, dw, you can also get vegetarian), seared provolone served in a cast-iron skillet (think Italian queso), or pesto penne with homemade pesto. Oh, they also have a killer brunch menu.
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Other must-dine places include: Sunday in Brooklyn, Shelter Pizza, Xixa, Gran Eléctrica, Seawolf, or (yes) Smorgasburg.
Where To Party
AKA the most important part of the trip. Let’s start on a slightly off-beat note, shall we? House of Yes in Bushwick is a movie any day of the week, but on Thursdays they throw Dirty Thursday nights, which have themes like 90s night, Rihanna night, etc. On the weekends, their themes are a lot more out-there (in a fun way) and intense—as in, if you try to show up not fully decked out to theme, you can’t come in. This place is so f*cking fun and is a strict no-judgment zone, so you can get weird. Also, the bathrooms are incredible. You’ll see what I mean when you go there. Just, if you’re gonna go? Be cool. Don’t be that shrieking bachelorette party.
Schimanski is perf if the bridal party are still not over their rave days. This club/bar/event space has multiple rooms and hosts acts like Space Jesus, Keys N Krates, and Zhu.
Want to do something really out-of-the-box, yet still memorable (and a little bougie)? Go see a show by Company XIV, which puts on burlesque adaptations of classics like Alice In Wonderland and The Nutcracker. Everyone in the company is so hot and talented, and the shows are incredible. Think tons of skin, tons of glitter and rhinestones, and choreography you couldn’t replicate if you took a muscle relaxer.
Last and equally as great is Kinfolk94, which is the happy medium between a bar and a club. Like, you don’t have to dress up super fancy (but you can if you want), but there are awesome DJs who spin killer mixes of current hits and throwback jams. I’m not going to tell you how to spend your money, but if you’re bringing a big group, it’s probably better to coordinate ahead of time with Kinfolk and reserve a table so you can skip the line. The drinks are a tad expensive (as in, like, $12 for a cocktail), but not guess-I’ll-just-be-sober expensive.
Other fun af places to go out are Royal Palms Shuffleboard Club (if you want to cab way out to Gowanus), Freehold, Lot45 (which can be a little hit or miss, so go when they have an event like Drake vs. Kanye night), Baby’s All Right, and Elsewhere.
Thursday, Day 1
- Arrive in BK (even though you were prob only, like 20 mins away at work before this)! Drop your stuff off at the Williamsburg Hotel and get acquainted with your five-star home for the weekend.
- Walk ~15 minutes to Extra Fancy for dinner and sit on the back patio (the dining one, not the bar one). After dinner, either head to the bar part of the patio or back inside the restaurant for a few drinks before venturing to the next spot. You’ll want to be slightly buzzed before arriving, so knock ‘em back… responsibly, of course.
- Uber to House of Yes! Ok, so if you want a full HOY experience, you will have to be ok with wearing something fun to dinner because there will be no time to go back to the hotel and change before making the journey to Bushwick.
- The night will be similar to that episode of Sex and the City where they went to Trade, except HOY isn’t specifically a gay club. They are incredibly LGBTQ-friendly/supportive, though. Again, like I said, don’t be that bachelorette party.
- Get Artichoke Pizza (right next to HOY) after your night so you don’t die tomorrow.
- Goodnight world.
Friday, Day 2
- Late and leisurely brunch at Sauvage to recollect yourself after the latest night of your life.
- Once you are feeling like a slightly more functional member of society, head to The Brooklyn Barge, which is exactly what you think it is: a bar on a floating barge. The drinks are a tad on the absurd side price-wise, so if you want another reason to recover after last night, only get one or two drinks here and spend the rest of your time admiring the view, which is amaze.
- Head back to the hotel to lay by/go in the pool and get a little tan before the night begins in a few hours. Maybe get a facial in the spa while you’re at it. Or just take a nap.
- Get ready for dinner.
- Walk exactly two seconds to Antica Pesa and enjoy an amaze dinner/bottle(s) of wine. This is the place you’ll want to make emotional toasts and have actual conversations because while it’s def a vibe, it’s quiet. Like, your parents would like it.
- Take a quick cab to Théâtre XIV, where they have 10pm shows on Fridays and Saturdays. Or, if you’re too glittered out from House of Yes, head to Lot45 or any of the other aforementioned places before it gets too late to get in. Orrr, if you’re really feeling
friskyenergetic, you can go to the show at Theatre XIV and then walk to Lot45.
Saturday, Day 3
- Wake up and hydrate for Y7 yoga! It’s bikram and kind of feels like you’re doing yoga on the sun, but feeling the
poisonalcohol drain from your body is def worth it. Y7 plays amazing hip-hop music the entire time, so if you want to flow to something that isn’t the breeze rustling leaves, Y7’s got you.
- You will be drenched after Y7 and, if you’re like me, will be rocking a concerning shade of pink. Maybe rinse your face off at the studio before walking to Sauvage and if a 20-minute walk is too much for you after sweating out all of the calories you’ve ever ingested, maybe go to Sunday in Brooklyn instead. This is just as charming and delicious and a lot closer to walk to.
- Head back to the hotel to save the public from your stench and spend the afternoon by the pool.
- Dinner at Gemelli, where, if you’ve been saving an Instagrammable outfit (aside from your HOY one), this is the place to pull it out.
- Uber to Kinfolk94, get situated at your table and drink the night away! This isn’t the kind of place you’d like, run into Beyoncé, but it’s def a scene. So if you want a quiet night of cocktails and friends, this isn’t the place for you. It’s a good f*cking time, though.
Sunday, Day 4
- Blessed day! Uber to brunch at Randolph Beer in Williamsburg, which is a slightly industrial restaurant close to the hotel but not near any subways (you could take the bus, but like… no). As its name implies, they have a lot of beer, so if you want a pint to go with your pancakes, we feel you. But they also have amazing cocktails that you can get by the pitcher, so RIP in advance. This place also has graffiti all over the walls, so cheers to all your brunch Boomerangs.
- Head back to the hotel to gather your things and subway/Uber back to your life. Or continue day drinking in Brooklyn if you’re a local! Yolo.
Images: Thought Catalog / Unsplash; companyxiv, houseofyesnyc, gemellibk, sauvage_nyc, anticapesa, wburghotel / Instagram