Last year in 2020, Jetblue had a giveaway where you could nominate a healthcare worker to win two roundtrip flights. One of my friends, a public health nurse, that I nominated won a pair and with the tickets expiring at the end of 2021, we were brainstorming where to go and decided on New York City. We have both been to NYC when we were younger but neither of us have explored the city in at least the last decade.
Actually picking dates for our trip was a bit of a hassle. Instead of just going online and picking flights, my friend had to e-mail a representative at Jetblue our preferred dates, airports and flights and they would check if there was availability for this special type of ticket. It took a couple rounds and we we not able to get our preferred dates but some a week before. We ended up flying out to NYC via Newark Airport in New Jersey and returning via JFK Airport in New York. Both were direct flights.
For the flights out, we took a rideshare to Terminal 5 of LAX. We both had CLEAR but TSA Precheck had almost no one in line so we decided to skip CLEAR and just go straight into the Precheck line. Because I have status with American Airlines and they have a partnership with Jetblue, we were able to board with the Mosaics and Mint (First Class) Cabin passengers. This was something the AA-Jetblue partnership just announced maybe a week or two before so it was great timing. It allowed us to put our bags right above where we were sitting.
The great thing about Jetblue is their economy seats have a lot of legroom, more so than other airlines. If you pay up to an “Even More Space” seat you will have tons of legroom. For someone like me at just under 5’3″, the regular economy seats are perfect and the “Even More Space” seats are almost too much legroom. Of course, if you can afford it, the Mint seats are just amazing and I highly recommend them for transcontinental flights. No matter what seat you are in though, Jetblue has free “Fly-Fi” or Wi-fi and free movies and shows to watch though you will need to bring your own headphones or purchase some onboard.
We took a morning flight and arrived in Newark Airport around 5 PM local time. We decided to get a rideshare to our hotel and for Newark Airport, the rideshare pick-up area is the same as normal passenger pick-up. The ride ended up costing us about $52 (before tip) which was not bad considering the ride took I think about an hour or more.
Hotel 50 Bowery
50 Bowery, New York, NY 10013
We chose to stay at the Hotel 50 Bowery in Chinatown area. The hotel is a Joi de Vivre hotel that is part of the Hyatt group of hotels. I booked pretty early back in June while this trip started in October. Because of that, I was able to get three nights for a total of about $912 (after taxes and a daily destination fee) for a High Floor Manhattan Bridge View Room with Two Double Beds. We were actually on the 20th floor which I believe is the highest floor of the hotel with the exception of the rooftop where they have a rooftop bar called The Crown.
The hotel was on the newer side and probably aimed at Millennials. There was no dining establishments other than the rooftop bar that was only open nights and late nights. Instead room service was provided through partnerships with local establishments that you could order through a QR code and in the lobby they had a pickup stand for food deliveries. On the second floor they also had free coffee and tea during the daytime and a lot of seating both indoor and on an outdoor patio. The area also had plates, plastic utensils and a microwave for those who had food delivered. We saw a lot of people working on laptops in this area on Monday.
The room itself was pretty nice. It was not too small and the bathroom was pretty spacious. We had floor to ceiling windows and a great view of the entrance to the Manhattan Bridge. At night, I did wish there were maybe a few more overhead lights but it was not too bad. There were also a ton of channels on the tv and a handheld clothes steamer in the closet.
The small drawbacks are the hallways and elevator are very dimly lit for a certain vibe but in the elevator this made seeing the floor numbers on the buttons difficult. Also, since we were just under the rooftop, we could hear the bar activity above us until well into the night. Otherwise though, the location was great. It was in the heart of Chinatown so we were surrounded by a ton of restaurants and tea places.
After arriving at the hotel, we checked in and got ourselves settled before changing clothes and seeing what looked good nearby for dinner. Since we had other plans, we were looking for a place that of course looked like it had good food but also was not too busy so we could eat quickly and get going. We ended up settling on a place just around the corner from our hotel called Yunshang Rice Noodle House.
Yunshang Rice Noodle House
53 Bayard St, New York, NY 10013
The restaurant seemed more modern and it was maybe about one-third full. You can probably tell from the name but they specialize in rice noodles. For the rice noodles, you basically choose a soup base, your protein and then if you want to add anything else.
After you order they bring out your meat and other included ingredients plus your noodles. When ready, they bring out the individual pots of soup base. I went with the Tomato soup base with lamb and my friend got the original with pork and fish ball. Both were delicious and everything was served pretty quickly. Assembling your meal is quick too. You add the protein and other ingredients and then add the noodles. If you are dining-in you can also get a refill of noodles if you are really hungry. We found the original amount to be quite filling though.
After dinner, we took the Metro to the Flatiron District to try to get seats at Thyme Bar. Also, as a side note, you do not need a metro card to take the subway. Instead you can just use Apply Pay.
20 W 23rd St, Cellar, NY 10010
We had originally meant to try and reserve a tasting table here but we just kept forgetting to actually do that. By the time we remembered there were only early slots left and we were not sure we would be able to get there that early since we were flying in that day. Instead we figured we would just try to walk-in and order a la carte.
The Thyme Bar is actually a speakeasy (which we forgot) and so we were a little confused finding the place but luckily there was an event next door with a security guard outside who directed us to what looked like a little café next door. Once you enter, there is a staff member checking reservations or adding you to the waitlist. When we got there, she told us there was no availability but there would likely be a table open in about an hour. I gave her my phone number and she said she would text us. I think their system is linked to Resy so when I gave her my phone number it also pulled up all my details since I have a Resy account.
We ended up wandering around the area including the nearby Harry Potter store and after about 40 minutes I got the text that our table was ready. When we went back, there were about three other groups waiting as well. The receptionist checked our vaccine cards and IDs and then led us down a set of stairs to the bar which is in a historic pre-war cellar.
So Thyme bar is known for their cocktail presentations which are a bit off the norm. On their menu they even indicate how elaborate a cocktail set-up is. My friend and I were set up at the bar so we were able to see a lot of the preparations. For ourselves, we decided to start with the more elaborate to the less elaborate. The cocktails ranged from about $18 to $30.
For our first round we went with the
El Silencio Mezcal, Chatpata Soda (Jasmine, Wasabi, Green Tabasco, Smoked Salt), Pandan Lime
Primrose & Rye
Chocolate Mint Infused Rye Whisky, Cherry Wine, Smoked Corn Silk Maple Syrup, Lemon
The Chatpata Fizz was started off with a lot of smoke and was super impressive looking when they placed it in front of me. The drink was refreshing and came with a piece of crispy salmon skin. The only problem was the metal straw was difficult to maneuver in the strange stacked pebble shaped glass. My friend’s Primrose & Rye looked more like a table decoration but was also an interesting drink.
For the second round we ordered
The Bloomist Cloche
Johny Drinks Exclusive Blend Bourbon Infused Roasted Barley, St. Germain Elderflower, Kaffir Lime, Amaro Montenegro
Gynoecium Old Fashioned
Peanut Butter Bourbon, Peychaud Bitter, Tonka, Thyme & Rosemary Macron
I had the Bloomist Cloche which was much easier to drink than my last one. The ice cube was turned into a popsicle with chocolate. My friend had the Gynoecium Old Fashioned that was a really unique tasting old fashioned and came with a little dessert.
For the last round, we decided to go for the more “basic” drinks
Patron Tequila Reposado, Grand Marnier, Paolo Santo, Mango and Tamarin Chutney, Lemon
Eucalyptus La Caravedo Pisco, Violet Cordial, Charcoal Burnt Coconut Milk, Pineapple Juice
I really liked the HWYL cocktail but it was too tall. The “glass” it was in was about a foot tall and then you used a straw. I had to keep tilting it downwards to try to drink it. As for the Eucalyptus Watercolor, when reading the description I thought it was too strange but it blended nicely and nothing stuck out as a weird flavor.
All in all, we spent way too much here on cocktails but it was a very interesting experience. We also order fries which were crisp on the outside but very soft on the inside. I think there was also a 90 minute time limit as the waiter very courteously informed us as we neared it. So if you decide to come here, keep that in mind. Also, it is a very intimate setting so I would not recommend it for large groups. They would probably have to split you up anyways.
Prince Street Pizza
27 Prince St A, New York, NY 10012
After Thyme Bar, I wanted pizza because drinking always makes me hungry. I looked up what places were in between the bar and our hotel and found Prince Street Pizza so we decided to stop there to get a few slices to go. My friend told me when we got there that there’s actually an outpost in Hollywood too… So I guess I did not have to try it in NY but it was probably better at the original shop anyways.
We got there around 11ish. The line wasn’t too long and once we got to the front to order our slices, we got our food quickly. We each got two slices. We tried the spicy pepperoni. I really like the crust on this. I did not realize it was spicy (we just kind of pointed at what looked good) and so was a little surprised. We also got some Neapolitan slices. Loved the sauce on mine but wish the crust were crispier. Of course it was very greasy pizza.
They had a little outdoors patio but our hotel was only a short walk away so we took ours to go. It was a great way to end the night!
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