Hot Destinations To Put On Your Bucket List: Ko Lanta, Thailand

 

In Audrey‘s Summer 2014 issue, we asked five tastemakers to give us a glimpse into their must-go destinations around the world. Here, Audrey EIC, Anna M. Park, shares one of her favorite places, Ko Lanta, Thailand.

Travel philosophy: Where next?

Why: An island two hours away from Krabi (an hour by car, another hour by speedboat) on the Andaman Sea, Ko Lanta has just enough amenities to make it a vacation without the massive crowds now ubiquitous in most Thailand beach spots.

ko lanta view

Stay: Pimalai Resort and Spa reigns over a stunning stretch of almost-isolated beach on a gorgeous cove. Sunsets are to die for and service is impeccable. We had just gotten off an all-day boat tour of the surrounding islands when we realized we had left our sandals in the boat. (The boat was long gone to the next hotel.) We informed the front desk and by the time we were only halfway to our villa, one of the hotel staff had our sandals in hand.

The two-bungalow villa at Pimalai Resort.

The two-bungalow villa at Pimalai Resort.

Eat: If staying at Pimalai, forgo the hotel restaurant and try the restaurant down the beach called Same Same But Different. At night, it’s dark so look out for their brightly lit bamboo sculptures in front. I’ve never seen a bartender take such care in making a mojito (a good one, too), and they’ll prepare the fresh fish of the day any way you like. Prepare for a wait if you don’t have a reservation.

Rustic beachfront restaurant Same Same But Different offering fresh fish prepared any way you like and the best mojito on the island.

Rustic beachfront restaurant Same Same But Different offering fresh fish prepared any way you like and the best mojito on the island.

Do: Rent a scooter and head over to the smaller island Ko Lanta Noi via car ferry. On the other side of the island, hire a long-tail boat to take you to Ko Talabeng, a breathtaking limestone island replete with hidden caves, deserted stretches of white sand and stunning coves. You’ll likely be the only ones around. Afterwards, get a $10 60-minute massage offered everywhere.

The deserted island of Talabeng -- pull up on your own little sandbar.

The deserted island of Talabeng — pull up on your own little sandbar.

Unforgettable: As we scooted around the island, we found a small handmade sign advertising food. After climbing down a hill, we found a rustic wooden platform perched precariously over a cliff. A young woman emerged from the adjacent shack — we could hear her kids inside — and took our order. Watching the sunset while slurping down the spicy, sour, ubiquitous tom yum goong soup in this gem of a find was heaven.

restaurant

 


This story was originally published in our Summer 2014 issue. Get your copy here. 

Hot Destinations To Put On Your Bucket List: Catherine Choi’s Algonquin Park, Canada

In Audrey‘s Summer 2014 issue, we asked five tastemakers to give us a glimpse into their must-go destinations around the world. Here, Catherine Choi, founder of family-oriented bags and accessories line SoYoung, shares her favorite place, Algonquin Park, Canada.

algonquin park

Travel philosophy: If you think you might need it, bring it.

Why: At this time in my life, with three kids under 10, a full-time business and a husband who also runs a full-time business while studying for an MBA, we need peace over excitement. So while we love architecture, shopping and exploring cities, getting away somewhere where we can unwind and unplug is the hands-down choice.

Stay: I am not an outdoorsy type, but I make an exception for Bartlett Lodge in Algonquin Park. It’s just magical: from the solar-powered pontoon that takes you to the lodge to the luxury platform tents where you sleep. And no eating out of cans here — they offer five-course fine dining at their restaurant. We’re totally unplugged there.

Eat: Incredible desserts at the lodge’s fine dining restaurant. I recall feeling frustrated at having to choose only one.

Do: Jump off the dock into the cool, clear water, dry off, lie there like vegetables, repeat. Bring a pile of great reads, sit in a Muskoka chair and read to oblivion with no interruptions.

Bring: I take my SoYoung large cooler bag with me on every trip as I am a big snacker. My current go-to snacks are kombucha gingerade tea with Snapea Crisps.

Unforgettable: My husband and I decided to take a canoe out one evening. The water was so still and clear and there was silence all around us except for the sounds of nature. We stopped paddling at one point and watched the sky turn a beautiful orange-pink while the sun disappeared into the water. It was breathtaking and perfect.

 

This story was originally published in our Summer 2014 issue. Get your copy here

Screen Shot 2014-06-09 at 12.02.48 PM

Catherine SoYoung Choi, founder of SoYoung, a Canadian line of urban, family-oriented bags and accessories, became an expert on children’s products through the tribulations experienced while carting around three young children and their associated paraphernalia. Choi holds a degree in commerce from McGill University and a master’s in things-to-bring-with-you-on-outings-with-children. 

Hot Destinations To Put On Your Bucket List: Geena Dabadghav’s Florence, Italy

In Audrey‘s Summer 2014 issue, we asked five tastemakers to give us a glimpse into their must-go destinations around the world. Here, chief technology officer of the online women’s travel magazine and community Girls That Roam Geena “Super G” Dabadghav shares her favorite place, Florence, Italy.

florence

Travel philosophy: Land somewhere and explore everything.

Why: The experience of Florence — the food, the people, the markets — is so unique that the combination of it all makes me want to return to live there.

Do: Florence is one of Italy’s bas- tions of art and culture. Here you can take in where sculptor Michelangelo and poet Dante Alighieri lived and are laid to rest. Marvel at the impressive artwork at Il Duomo di Firenze, Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore and the Uffizi Gallery. Explore the local boutiques and galleries along the Ponte Vecchio bridge. Eat and drink your way through Florence and work off the calories climbing the steps up Giotto’s Bell Tower.

Stay: Hotel Dante, a charming yet modern place to stay, tucked away just off Piazza Santa Croce. If you want to please your literary friend in love with E.M. Forster’s A Room with a View (and Merchant Ivory’s acclaimed adaptation thereof), the Villa di Maiano, which has been the location of several notable films, is the place to stay.

Eat: Ristorante Osteria Zio Gigi. I couldn’t get enough of their spaghetti and veal and beef meatballs, lightly covered in a tomato sauce. It’s indescribable — you just have to taste it.

Bring: To really get to know Florence, you must walk around and discover things on your own, as guidebooks and online research barely scratch the surface. Learn Italian enough to travel comfortably since only some of the locals speak a little English. Most of the locals are nice, so bring your sense of humor and adventure, especially when it comes to communicating, and expect to slow down. A meal in Italy is an experience and an art form that lasts for hours, topped off by some of the best gelato in the world.

This story was originally published in our Summer 2014 issue. Get your copy here

Jamaica-born Geena “Super G” Dabadghav is the chief technology officer of the online women’s travel magazine and community Girls That Roam. Dabadghav has tra- versed all over the world, from India, where her family originated and she lived briefly, to more than 15 countries, including Ethiopia, Japan and Honduras. An admirer of Middle Eastern food, she still wants to see Greece and hopes to live in Italy one day. geena

Hot Destinations To Put On Your Bucket List: Josie Ho’s Tokyo, Japan

In Audrey‘s Summer 2014 issue, we asked five tastemakers to give us a glimpse into their must-go destinations around the world. Here, actress Josie Ho shares her favorite place, Tokyo, Japan.

tokyo

Stay: The Cerulean Hotel is very nice. Or if you have a friend to stay with, that’s even better.

Eat: Go to Maisen located in Harajuku and Aoyama. It’s a restaurant that specializes in deep fried pork cutlet sandwiches and rice. I cannot explain how great it is — you must try it.

Do: Definitely explore the small streets in Harajuku. Walking around and seeing what you can find in the corners and crevices of the small streets is a fun adventure. If you like shopping, there are so many precious things to discover.

Unforgettable: The amount of crêpes on the streets of Harajuku is just simply incredible. There are so many options to choose from!

 

 

This story was originally published in our Summer 2014 issue. Get your copy here. 

josiehoNamed on Forbes’ list of the 20 Most Intriguing Billionaire Heiresses, Josie Ho, daughter of Macau casino magnate Stanley Ho, is not only a trendsetter in Asia, she’s a prolific actress and musician. Ho stars in the Hong Kong film 3D Naked Ambition, already released in Asia and hoping to come to the States later this year. She’s currently working on the Derek Kwok-helmed film Badminton, as well as her eighth album, Josie and the Uni Boys

Hot Destinations To Put On Your Bucket List: Trish Lee’s Bagan, Burma

In Audrey‘s Summer 2014 issue, we asked five tastemakers to give us a glimpse into their must-go destinations around the world. Here, bridal gown fashion designer Trish Lee shares her favorite place, Bagan, Burma.

bagan1

Travel philosophy: Why not?

Why Bagan: Only in the last couple of years has Myanmar, formerly Burma, opened up its borders to travelers, and the breadth of its beauty is still untouched by Western civilization. Bagan, the capital city of the ancient Burmese kingdom, is a vast plain dotted with 4,000 of the original 10,000 pagodas that were built between the 11th and 13th centuries.

 

bagan2

Stay: Kaytumadi Dynasty Hotel. The bungalow style hotel offers rooms that are a bit “rustic,” but you’ll really appreciate the kind staff, the privacy of the bungalows and the proximity to the ancient pagodas. Have breakfast in the garden where the ratio of staff to guest is one to one.

Eat: If Burma had a national dish, it would be mohinga. Rich in umami, mohinga is vermicelli rice noodles in a bouillabaisse made thick with white, flaky fish and a purée of lemongrass, garlic, ginger, onions and local spices. Any time of day it’s the perfect meal and widely available at most street vendor stalls.

bagan3

Do: Rent a bicycle. It’s probably a 1980s fixie, but no matter. Wake up at 5 a.m. and bike to Lawkaoushaung Temple to watch the breathtaking sunrise, away from the tour groups and crowds. After sunrise is the perfect time to visit Old Bagan and give alms in the form of a food donation to the Theravada Buddhist monks, who do not eat after noon.

Unforgettable: As I was riding my bicycle on a dirt road, a lanky young boy started riding next to me. When I stopped at the next pagoda, we started chatting. Though the 11-year-old had never been to school, he effortlessly conversed with me in English. I ended up spending the whole day with him. He took me to the tiny village he lived in, called Goh Lone (Nine Stones) by the Irrawaddy River. He could speak several sentences in over a dozen languages and showed me his collection of foreign currency that travelers had given him. His curiosity for life was palpable. When he introduced me to his family, the whole village, which consisted of about five homes, came running over to greet me. His aunt insisted I have some tea and roasted corn with their family in their one-room home built on stilts. I’ve never forgotten their generosity and warm smiles. Before I left, I asked my young companion what I could give him. He asked sheepishly for my lip balm … to give to his aunt.

 

 

trishleeTrish Lee designs bridal gowns for her eponymous line, Trish Lee San Francisco. Born and raised in San Francisco, the Burmese-Chinese American often helped her mother make dresses when she was young. “One of my fondest memories growing up in San Francisco is selecting fabric in the now very hip Mission District,” says Lee. “Back then, let’s just say it was quite a ‘colorful’ place for an 8-year-old girl, but I adored every second of it.”

 

This story was originally published in our Summer 2014 issue. Get your copy here

Celebrate Earth Day With 5 of Asia’s Most Beautiful Spots

Last year, Buzzfeed released a list called “27 Surreal Places To Visit Before You Die.” Since it’s release, the list has gained over 8 million views and for good reason. All of the locations are undeniably breathtaking.

In honor of Earth Day, we’re taking a closer look at the five locations in Asia that made it onto this list.

 

1. Zhangye Danxia landform in Gansu, China

location 1

The Danxia landforms are sandstone formations most known for, you guessed it, their vibrant color patterns.The are located in a remote region in northern central China. The mountains and hills retain such color because Danxia landforms are composed of red sandstone. Mineral deposits were compressed into rock for 24 million years thus gaining a colors ranging from deep red to yellow and green.

location 2 location 3

location 4

 

 

 

2. The Hang Son Doong cave in Quang Binh Province, Vietnam

location 6

The Sơn Đoòng cave is currently the largest known cave in the world and is located near the border of Laos and Vietnam. It is five times larger than the Phong Nha Cave which previously held the record for being the biggest cave in Vietnam. Although it was created 2-5 million years ago, the cave did not become public knowledge until 2009. Inside, there is a fast flowing underground river as well as cave pearls the size of baseballs.

location 7 Camp inside Hang Son Doong location 9

 3. Hitachi Seaside Park in Hitachinaka, Ibaraki, Japan

location 10

This popular tourist destination has been given the nickname “flower paradise” because the 32,000 square metres of flowers look amazing all year long. With each passing season, a different variety of flower will blossom throughout the Hitachi Seaside park such as the Nemophilas. The popular, blue flower blossoms annually during springtime.

location 11 location 12 location 13

 

 

 

 

4. Bamboo groves of Arashiyama in Kyoto, Japan

location 14

 

These Japanese bamboo groves, located in Northwest Kyoto, are a tourist favorite. The gorgeous line of bamboo not only looks beautiful, apparently it sounds beautiful too. Amusing Planet notes “The sound of the wind in this bamboo forest has been voted as one of ‘one hundred must-be-preserved sounds of Japan’ by the Japanese government.” The bamboo in this grove is still used to manufacture various products such as cups, boxes, baskets and mats in the area.

location 15 location 16 location 17

 

 

5. Kelimutu crater lakes in Flores Island, Indonesia

location 18

 

Kelimutu is a small volcano central Flores Island of Indonesia. It has gained popularity because the volcano has three craters- each contain a lake with a different color. The lakes periodically change colors from red and brown to turquoise and green, independent of each other. The lakes are named Tiwi Ata Mbupu (Lake of Old People), Tiwu Nua Muri Kooh Tai (Lake of Young Men and Maidens) and Tiwu Ata Polo (Lake of Evil Sprits, or Enchanted Lake). The scientific explanation behind the colorful lakes  chemical reactions from the minerals in the lake triggers by the volcano’s gas activity.

location 19 location 20 location 21

 

(Source 1, 2, 3, 4, 5)
(Audrey Source)

The Line Hotel in Koreatown

Story by Anna M. Park.

Los Angeles’ Koreatown is known for its food, drinks and even karaoke song rooms. What it’s not known for is hospitality, and I don’t mean the old-school waitresses at some Korean restaurants. That is, until now.

A collaboration between the Sydell Group (Ace Hotel New York City and Palm Springs) and celebrity chef Roy Choi, the Line Hotel has officially become Koreatown’s go-to place to stay and soon, to eat and play as well.

Taking residence in the historic midcentury building designed by Daniel Mann Johnson + Mendenhall (formerly a sad Radisson), the Line houses 388 guest rooms designed by L.A. artist Sean Knibb, featuring specially commissioned local art and nods to the surrounding ethnic enclave (stools in the shower, Korean snacks in the minibar). Knibb also designed the cavernous lobby, a mélange of materials and soothing hues with its textured paneling (actually made of T-shirts dyed in an ombre of indigo), raw concrete pillars and circular banquettes, a mix of highbrow — marble tables, tufted chairs — and organic, everyday materials. The lobby wall facing the street is now floor-to-ceiling windows with an outdoor patio, opening up the Line to the bustling street life of colorful locals and office workers alike.

Artwork made from discarded laundry detergent bottles and molded T-shirt paneling at reception continues the highbrow-lowbrow mix of the Line.

Artwork made from discarded laundry detergent bottles and molded T-shirt paneling at reception continues the highbrow-lowbrow mix of the Line.

The angular moonscape-like banquettes in the lobby.

The angular moonscape-like banquettes in the lobby.

It’s a philosophy that seems to permeate the hotel. Guests are constantly being welcomed, almost to excess, a departure that indicates that the Line is definitely not your typical Koreatown experience — it’s actually more of a modern Seoul experience, where customer service has become key in the last decade. Indeed, Choi wanted to duplicate the experience of a classic international hotel bar in Korea with his Pot Lobby Bar, now open.

Though Choi’s highly anticipated hot pot restaurant Pot, as well as the speakeasy-style lounge Speek by nightlife impresarios the Houston Brothers and Choi’s other restaurant Commissary (a “vegetable but not vegetarian” focused restaurant), has yet to open, there’s already plenty of activity in the lobby — a variety of people in suits meeting in the peri- winkle wood banquettes, stylish young women twittering in Korean, their eyes darting about as if trying to spot a lumi- nary. (Indeed, on this day, Choi rushes by, donning his signature T-shirt, slouchy jeans, cap and bright aqua sneakers.)

“We want our guests to immerse themselves in the neighborhood,” says Sana Keefer, in charge of culture/creative at the Line. “Not just stay in the hotel, but have the Koreatown experience.” To that end, specially commissioned Linus bicycles are available for guest use and the in-house mag, Here, features maps and local businesses like Beer Belly, the HMS Bounty and Soowon Galbi.

It’s a fresh attitude starting to take hold in Koreatown. Some may call it gentrification, but what makes these changes different is that much of the growth of the neighborhood is helmed by Korean Americans. (The Houston Brothers, as well as Angie Myung, co-founder of the lifestyle brand Poketo, which will have a store and streetside newsstand on the lobby floor, are Korean American.) “The good thing is that we have a large Korean American base, a youth base,” says Keefer (herself of biracial Korean heritage). A young, hip American hotel, that’s what they’re going for, she says, while embracing the community with its Korean-speaking staff and translations throughout. “It’s a tricky thing to pull off,” adds Keefer, “but so far so good.” Details Thelinehotel.com.

Screen Shot 2014-04-18 at 11.36.02 AM

Screen Shot 2014-04-18 at 11.36.12 AM

This story was originally published in our Spring 2014 issue. Get your copy here

Destination: Manila, Philippines

Story by Kristine Ortiz.

Often considered by many tourists as a place to just “skip over,” Manila is slowly changing such impressions by emerging as the heart of Philippine development and by reflecting a strong Filipino spirit (Haiyan relief efforts were still going strong here). It’s a place where you can now find the traditional and the modern side by side, from the quaintest coffee shops to the most luxurious high-end boutiques (Hermès, Louis Vuitton and Prada to name a few), if you just know where to look. Though it may not be perfect, Manila is one of the most fascinating places in Asia today. Here are some of my favorite picks.


EAT

xocolat

Xocolat
Satisfy your sweet tooth at this cozy Quezon City cafe, which specializes in everything chocolate. Some personal favorites include the Xoco Latte, Churros and Chocolate, and the Chocolate Fries. With its charming, hand-painted decor and too-cool outdoor seating (popular with nearby university students), it’s the perfect place to spend a lazy afternoon. Details: Xocolat.com.ph.

Conti’s Bakeshop & Restaurant
Open since 1997, Conti’s has combined traditional, homestyle Pinoy cooking with a contemporary dining environment. Expect attentive service and mouthwatering meals. Be sure to get the mom-approved fresh lumpia (my mother is a fan), lechon kawali (fried pork belly) and a generous slice of their famous cakes. Details: Contis.ph.

 


PLAY

intra

Intramuros Walking Tour
Former theater actor Carlos Celdran guides both locals and tourists alike on this two-hour tour of the “Walled City.” Undeniably entertaining and brilliantly thought-provoking, Celdran provides new insight into Manila’s history. As an added bonus, there’s free halo-halo at the end of the tour! Details: Celdrantours.blogspot.com.

19 East
Wanna hear what OPM (Original Pilipino Music) is like? Then look no further than 19 East. This music bar is the top spot to catch some of the best acts in the Manila music scene today. Besides the great music, this bar has a mean food and drink menu. Details: 19east.com

 


SHOP

Screen Shot 2014-04-14 at 3.55.23 PM

TeamManila
Started in 2001, this modern lifestyle brand has become a local favorite by taking cues from the distinct imagery that makes up life and culture in Manila. Expect to find prints, shirts and mugs emblazoned with the images of national hero Jose Rizal, jeepneys, Philippine catchphrases and iconography. Details: Teammanilalifestyle.com

Sunnies by Charlie
The brainchild of It-girl Georgina Wilson, Sunnies by Charlie is a too-cool boutique that features a quintessential Manila must-have — sunglasses. With on-trend offerings (we spotted some great Karen Walker and Prada dupes) that are also affordable ($12 or less), it’s hard not to pick up a pair or two. Details: Sunniesbycharlie.com.


STAY

soft
Sofitel Manila

This luxury resort is a true oasis amidst Manila’s infamous hustle and bustle. Looking to really treat yourself? Consider booking the 1,800-square foot Opera Suite, which features an incredible panoramic view of Manila Bay. Looking to indulge? Their buffet, Spiral, is hands down one of the best in town. Details: Sofitelmanila.com.

This story was originally published in our Spring 2014 issue. Get your copy here

Five of Asia’s Most Breathtaking Locations

Yesterday, BuzzFeed released a list called “27 Surreal Places To Visit Before You Die.” The list has already gained over 180,000 likes on facebook and for good reason. All of the locations are undeniably breathtaking.

We were pleased to discover that five of these locations were in Asia and we decided to take a closer look at all of them.

1. Zhangye Danxia landform in Gansu, China

location 1

 

The Danxia landforms are sandstone formations most known for, you guessed it, their vibrant color patterns.The are located in a remote region in northern central China. The mountains and hills retain such color because Danxia landforms are composed of red sandstone. Mineral deposits were compressed into rock for 24 million years thus gaining a colors ranging from deep red to yellow and green.

location 2 location 3

location 4

 

 

 

2. The Hang Son Doong cave in Quang Binh Province, Vietnam

location 6

The Sơn Đoòng cave is currently the largest known cave in the world and is located near the border of Laos and Vietnam. It is five times larger than the Phong Nha Cave which previously held the record for being the biggest cave in Vietnam. Although it was created 2-5 million years ago, the cave did not become public knowledge until 2009. Inside, there is a fast flowing underground river as well as cave pearls the size of baseballs.

location 7 Camp inside Hang Son Doong location 9

 3. Hitachi Seaside Park in Hitachinaka, Ibaraki, Japan

location 10

This popular tourist destination has been given the nickname “flower paradise” because the 32,000 square metres of flowers look amazing all year long. With each passing season, a different variety of flower will blossom throughout the Hitachi Seaside park such as the Nemophilas. The popular, blue flower blossoms annually during springtime.

location 11 location 12 location 13

 

 

 

 

4. Bamboo groves of Arashiyama in Kyoto, Japan

location 14

 

These Japanese bamboo groves, located in Northwest Kyoto, are a tourist favorite. The gorgeous line of bamboo not only looks beautiful, apparently it sounds beautiful too. Amusing Planet notes “The sound of the wind in this bamboo forest has been voted as one of ‘one hundred must-be-preserved sounds of Japan’ by the Japanese government.” The bamboo in this grove is still used to manufacture various products such as cups, boxes, baskets and mats in the area.

location 15 location 16 location 17

 

 

5. Kelimutu crater lakes in Flores Island, Indonesia

location 18

 

Kelimutu is a small volcano central Flores Island of Indonesia. It has gained popularity because the volcano has three craters- each contain a lake with a different color. The lakes periodically change colors from red and brown to turquoise and green, independent of each other. The lakes are named Tiwi Ata Mbupu (Lake of Old People), Tiwu Nua Muri Kooh Tai (Lake of Young Men and Maidens) and Tiwu Ata Polo (Lake of Evil Sprits, or Enchanted Lake). The scientific explanation behind the colorful lakes  chemical reactions from the minerals in the lake triggers by the volcano’s gas activity.

location 19 location 20 location 21

 

(Source 1, 2, 3, 4, 5)

The Ultimate Travel Guide to New York’s Meatpacking District

Story by Kanara Ty.

Before I went to New York City this past summer, I asked a colleague for some tips on her
favorite spots in Manhattan — best cheap eats? Favorite rooftop bar? She told me to completely immerse myself in the Meatpacking District, perhaps Manhattan’s trendiest neighborhood right now. While the name doesn’t exactly scream glitz and glamour, I assure you that you can’t just make one visit to the Meatpacking District during a vacation in the Big Apple — it packs a whole lot of punch with high-end boutiques (Alexander McQueen, thank you very much!), critically acclaimed dining destinations (Buddakan and Morimoto), and swanky nightclubs with the toughest doormen in the world (Wass Stevens of Avenue — we’re talking about you!).

Before it became one of NYC’s hottest social spots, the Meatpacking District was known for its various industries throughout the years. In the mid-1800s, you would have found carpentry and woodworking manufacturers. After the beginning of the 20th century, the neighborhood became a huge meat market, literally: approximately 200 slaughterhouses and packing houses abounded (hence the name), in addition to cosmetics, printing and automobile companies.

During the ’70s and ’80s, the area went into decline, transforming itself into an entertainment and nightlife mecca for the gay and bondage/S&M crowd. Interestingly enough, it’s alleged that the Mafia and some members of the NYPD protected some of these after-hours establishments, which allowed them to flourish. This included The Mineshaft, which was shut down by the Department of Health in 1985 at the height of the AIDS epidemic (20 years later, the space was reopened as a Chinese restaurant).

Despite, or perhaps because of, its lurid history, the Meatpacking District, is one of the most fascinating neighborhoods in Manhattan today. Here are some highlights.

____________________________________________

S T A Y

-Gansevoort Meatpacking NYC
It’s known as the Meatpacking’s first luxury hotel and remains an iconic location since it opened in 2004. The Gansevoort added a different kind of character to the grittiness of the neighborhood, helping to transform the area into a hip entertainment district. If you’re easily star-struck, beware — the hotel’s been featured on MTV and Vh1, and you’re sure to run into a celebrity or two (we spotted Will.i.Am in the lobby).
If you’re looking to go all out, consider booking the Gansevoort’s Duplex Presidential Suite. It’s the ultimate experience: the 1,700-square-foot duplex features 30-foot floor-to-ceiling windows, a state-of-the-art sound system, dining area, pool table, cardio machines, full bar and custom furniture. Our favorite part? The step-out balcony with extraordinary views of the Hudson River. Not convinced? Check out our Summer 2013 10th anniversary issue’s cover editorial with Rinko Kikuchi — trust us, it’s quite a treat. Details Gansevoorthotelgroup.com.

 

Screen Shot 2013-10-21 at 11.36.20 AM

____________________________________________

E A T
The Meatpacking District is a foodie heaven for those looking to experience something out of the ordinary. We’ve got two Stephen Starr restaurants on this list — enough said.

-Num Pang Sandwich Shop
Long after I’ve left New York, this Cambodian sandwich shop still lingers in my mind. I can’t forget the Five-Spice Glazed Pork Belly sandwich, topped off with some Ithaca Ginger Beer or Ginger Pineapple Ginger Tea. Also try their delicious Grilled Coconut Corn with Chili Mayo. Note that some of their sandwiches are seasonal, so be sure to check what’s available. For you non-meat eaters, the Roasted Cauliflower sandwich is flavorful as well. Details Numpangnyc.com.

-Buddakan
When you enter Buddakan, it doesn’t exactly feel like a restaurant. In fact, you think you might have walked into a large nightclub. The interior is just remarkable, with oversized chandeliers, high ceilings, golden bookshelves, and yes, even a banquet table enough to seat 34. The eats to check out? Duck and Foie Gras Dumplings, Dungeness Crab Sticky Rice, and Singapore Chili King Crab. Don’t forget the dessert — get the Sichuan Peanut Semifreddo. Details Buddakannyc.com.

-Morimoto
You know the name — Masaharu Morimoto is quite synonymous in celebrity circles with anything Japanese. Honestly? He lives up to the hype. All you need to do is get the Morimoto Omakase ($125 per person), and you let them take care of the rest. Details Morimotonyc.me.

-The Lobster Place
Fresh seafood right at your fingertips — and it’s prepared in front of you! I can only imagine my facial expression when I saw the fresh uni before me. But if you’re not sure what to get, go for the popular Lobster Roll. Details Lobsterplace.com.

Screen Shot 2013-10-21 at 11.39.43 AM

 ____________________________________________

P L A Y 

 

-Avenue
It’s got a reputation for being one of the toughest nightclubs to get into in the world — primarily because the doorman, Wass Stevens, is one tough cookie to break. If you can make it past the velvet ropes, you’re in for quite an experience. Basketball phenom Jeremy Lin was recently sighted here at a Knicks aftergame party. Details Avenue-newyork.com.

-PH-D
Located at the Dream Downtown hotel, people say this is quickly becoming one of the hottest new spots in NYC. The short moniker actually stands for Penthouse at Dream Downtown, which is the rooftop lounge at the hotel. If you can get in, you’ll feel like you’re in a secret garden with beautiful people, good music and a majestic view. Details Phdlounge.com.

-Provocateur Café + Nightclub
There’s something for everyone here: the nightclub for those who are looking for an evening of debauchery (drinking and dancing all night long) or the café for those who want something more chill (drinking and talking all night long). Be sure to check out their calendar for the most updated list of upcoming DJs if you’re into the EDM scene. Details Provocateurny.com.

 

____________________________________________

E X P L O R E 

-High Line
Despite all the clubs and eateries in the Meatpacking District, this was at the top of my list to check out. A cool public park, The High Line was transformed by some community residents from an elevated freight rail line facing demolition. The park was recently used for a top-secret Alexander Wang event (he gave away free clothes and caused all sorts of pandemonium). Check it out after dinner or for your pre-party — it’s a nice spot to walk off those calories and catch some good scenery.

 

This story was originally published in our Fall 2013 issue. Get your copy here