Privilege Blog

The Privilege[d] Guide To Manhattan – Professional Edition

One month you storm Manhattan on an adventure, sleeping in boutique hotels, waking to wander the streets of Soho. Next time you might visit friends and family, camping out on a living room sofa. But sometimes, of course, you have to work.

How to make the most of business travel? The top trick to compensate oneself is hospitality points. Probably the most generous program is Starwood Preferred Guest. SPG to its friends. Hotel brands included range from Sheraton Four Points to Westin and St. Regis. Although I am now for all intents and purposes unemployed I can remember the ways of a professional. And I can certainly use loyalty points like it’s my job.

I spent my most recent trip to Manhattan at the Parker Meridien in Midtown Manhattan. It’s a Starwood hotel. You can tell we’re in midtown from the view. I expected to see the Mad Men falling icon pass my window at any moment.

View From The Room

This is not a quaint spot. The ambiance is very Swedish airport. But the bed is extremely comfortable, the bathroom large and streamlined, the living area spacious. Especially when, as is common with loyalty programs, they upgrade your room.

A Profoundly Comfortable Bed At The Parker Meridien

The service is also remarkably personal and warm. The New York service industry respects its professionals, and their attitude returns the respect to us, the customers. Don’t you love New York waiters?

Hard work, of course, will make us hungry. On business trips, especially given the associated jet lag traveling East, I rely on early morning meals to support mental function. Breakfast at Norma’s in the Parker Meridien is, as electronics gear salesmen have said for decades, “Insane!” I recommend it. Highly. The crispy French Toast, covered in crunchy caramel, will make your eyes roll back into your head with joy.

The Parker Meridien in New York
Breakfast at the Manhattan Parker Meridien

Another compensation for business travel is the congenial company of colleagues. Even without an expense account, L’Absinthe, a quietly sophisticated bistro on the Upper East Side, is a wonderful spot to eat. Witness the sole meunière. In California, this would have arrived with pedigreed almonds. We would have known the exact location of their original tree. Or the dish would have been accompanied by cilantro-mango puree. Let us agree that New York does classic best. How about that lemon squeezer? Do you think it could keep lemon juice out of one’s eyes? You know, that squirt, then “Ouch!”?

Sole Meuniere at L'Absinthe on Manhattan's Upper East Side
Sole Meuniere At L’Absinthe
Glasses on Table
One Of The Reasons We Couldn’t See Straight

Let us also agree that sometimes when one meets up with long-distance colleagues, one finds one has more in common than previously suspected. Between Maxminimus, Reggie, Boy Fenwick, and me, 5 pairs of tortoise shell glasses had washed up on the table by the end of the evening. Wine and martinis only partially responsible.

All business travel requires a goal, and metrics for success. The true strategic imperative for this Manhattan trip was, of course, the purchase of some Belgian loafers.

Approaching Belgian Shoes

My Aunt Priscilla used to wear navy with kelly green piping. This entire recent initiative was spawned when ADG suggested that I had to return to my roots and purchase a pair. Their product managers have got the offering strategy equivalent of Coke, Diet Coke, Coke Zero, Cherry Coke, and Cherry Vanilla Diet Coke, down pat.

The Lay Of The Promised Land

But in the end I could not quite shake my color-phobia. Change, as all strategists know, comes hard to established systems. I ordered the pair below. In something like six months, apparently, I may get a call. Or not. Artisans provide less certainty than machine production.

The Shoes I Chose

Luckily an expert consultant was available to review my decision-making parameters.

ADG of Maxminimus, The Blog
The Feet Of Gentlemen

He and his senior partners, Reggie and Boy Fenwick, were shoe experts. I was in good, um, hands.

It’s wonderful to achieve a management objective. Networking with colleagues always a pleasure. But don’t neglect, as you rush from meeting to meeting, to look up. Seize the moment, allow the random rush of a city to surprise you. Behind the buildings there is always sky over Manhattan. This year, blue sky with chance of snowflakes.

Aerial Snowflake

To Reggie, Boy Fenwick, ADG, and Beauteous Daughter, I send my thanks and much affection. Next time in California.

Le Parker Meridien New York. Central location, great breakfasts, no-nonsense decor.

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43 Responses

  1. Sounds like you had a wonderful trip and I love the shoes you picked out!!
    Such fabulous suggestions, I will have to keep them in mind for my jaunt to NYC in the spring.
    Hope you are having a marvelous week!!

  2. OH I love ADG’s shoes! I never buy suede shoes for fear of ruining them in the rain.

    You are so right about the Mad men icon!

  3. Oh.How.Fun!

    I’m eagerly anticipating our upcoming NYC Christmas visit. My husband has never been during the holidays, can’t wait to show off New York in her Christmas outfits.

    I think I missed you by a few weeks, the last time we both visited.

  4. I’m missing NY at the moment – had some hot apple cider today and it made me think of the Union Square farmer’s market. My brother lives in Manhattan, but the apartment is tiny so we spend a couple of nights on the convertible (!) and a couple of nights in a hotel. So we’re always looking for new places to try – thanks for the recommendation.

  5. I love this post! It sounds like a wonderful trip in terrific company. And I do like to see “my” city through a visitor’s eyes. And SPG is a great program – they really do know how to treat their guests, don’t they? Our trip last week was made much better by a stay in one of their hotels. We had a lovely stay.

  6. I think I need to find a reason to pay my nephew (a NYC resident) a visit! Totally agree about business trips. I also recommend signing up for SPG and any other hotel points plan one might use.

  7. 1. I love those shoes.

    2. I second your sentiment about hotel points. We had to pay for three of our nine nights in Paris, so stayed at budget places. The rest of the time was at the Hilton Arc de Triomphe, with the big, warm, quiet room and the free breakfast in the executive lounge and that is definitely the way to go.

  8. OMG – the SHOES. I want the black ones with the pink trim. I MUST have them.

    And we travel on points, both airline and hotel. Hooray for Beloved’s business travel.

  9. Dear Ms Lisa, I do love a luxury hotel which I judge by the softness of the sheets and the fluffiness of the towels – mind you a beautiful bathroom with gorgeous bath products are also, in the words of Ms FF, Key. I laughed to see your photo with all the glasses. I am long sighted so always have to take my glasses off at a table so I can focus on my fellow diners. What fun going shoes shopping with such elegant men. Most Australian men would rather visit a dentist rather than accompany a lady shopping let alone offer considered opinions on which pair of shoes to purchase. What a glamourous life you lead!

  10. I love Navy and Kelly green-Aunt P sounds like fun. Your trip looks fab. Don’t forget to visit Australia. How’s your Christmas shopping shaping up? Tell all. xxx

  11. How fun that you met up with those guys in NYC! The Belgians you picked are very nice. Your posts on New York make me want to visit – this time of year would be so amazing there.

  12. I know this is definitely not professional, but all I could think of (after a very long day) when I saw the foot picture….is the Sesame Street song “One of these three is not like the other, one of these three just isn’t the same …” ;)

    Looks like a lovely trip. I am sure you recieved an ab workout from laughing as well with your companions.

  13. Don’t those gentlemen have beautifully shod feet? A pleasure to see a bright sock in between a trouser hem and a lovely shoe. Your posts are such fun to read and always so instructive.

  14. My Nana had the navy with green piping too. I had hoped to inherit them when she passed but, alas, my Aunt Carol snapped them up faster than you can say “buuut I’m a size 9…“. Also, “6 months” in Blegian speak is anywhere from 6 days to a year and a half. I’m into month 15 of my fuzzy leopards. Good thing they’re worth it…XXOO

  15. Lisa m’dear:
    What a marvelous post, and what fun to see and read the recap of your visit to New York, and the photos from our visit to la Belgiques and L’Ansinthe! I had forgotten about the tortoise shell mayhem at the end of it! Such fun, and what a delightful time was had among the merry revelers. Boy and I are still talking of it! As ever, Reggie

  16. It’s nice to travel business-class but sometimes you get more of the flare of a place when you book into less expensive digs. Variety is the spice of life!

  17. I’m with you on the color – 25 years ago, I would have snapped up a pair of green w/ yellow piping in a New York minute – but those ostrich (they *are* ostrich, no?) are TDF.

  18. Our family loves the Parker Meridian, especially Norma’s for breakfast. Have you tried their little hide-away burger joint? The burgers are inexpensive and delish. I don’t remember what it said, but I remember my adolescent son packing the do not disturb sign.

    I shall try Absinthe the next time I am in Manhattan.

    Can you recommend a place for a nice lunch in Soho?

  19. My goodness…Who is that puckish little pinstriped man? I see trouble brewin’ from the Belgian get-go. Instigator? Cogitator? Or just…Tater?

  20. Oh, you made a beautiful choice, but why the long wait on the shoes? Do they measure the foot and tailor it to you?

    I love the photo of the gentlemen’s feet and noticed that they all cross their legs right to left…

  21. OK – related to this post on a few too many levels. I am not, however, a business traveller but appreciated the tips. I am however a tortoise glasses wearer (more than one pair I dare say) – laughed out loud on that one – and an occasional Belgian shoe wearer (I’ve discovered I like a bit of a heel – easier on the back). But the funniest thing – I own those exact same pair of shoes – you will love them – they are incredibly versatile and go with EVERYTHING. I’ll be back soon since clearly we are on the same page.

  22. Love this post. I had a pair of the navy with kelly green piping in college–seeing them in your post almost makes me want them again! Just not sure I could pull them off these days, much too addicted to a leopard belt which would certainly clash. It sounds like you had a wonderful time!

    xo Mary Jo

  23. Oh I love Belgian Shoes and now I’m hankering for some in lime green and Yves Klein blue.

    Isn’t Starwood the best? The Parker’s sister hotel, The Parker in Palm Springs is absolutely divine and you can visit using points!

    Miss W xx

  24. Absolutely love this post, although how did anyone see to take the tortoise shell photo without wearing said shells?! Like many others I am amazed at the vision of the three gentlemen assisting the lady in selecting her Belgians, any cobbler worth his salt would be delighted at that photo of the feet so elegantly clad, it is splendid.

    You are the bomb, seriously so.

  25. Lily – I hope you have a wonderful time in NYC. My trip was so much fun.

    Tabitha – ADG is sui generis.

    mater – if you go let me know, we’ll meet up:).

    Patsy – Oh have a WONDERFUL time! Christmas in Manhattan is the best. Maybe we’ll all meet up there some day.

    Stephanie – It’s fun to live somewhere that gets a lot of tourists, I agree. You feel a real ownership.

    Nelle – I don’t have fuzzy talents;). Ostrich!

    DocP – Absolutely. Oh nephew? Hello?

  26. class factotum – I can see you in the leopards:). Go hotel points.

    Jan – They are exceptionally comfortable. I can’t think of why Beloved’s points can’t take you to Manhattan:). Just think of the pork! Mario Battali!

    Linda – Love good towels and sheets. Also love the company of male shoppers. Those three are more glamorous than I!

    FF – Australia is so far away! You come here!

    Jen – It really is special in December, Manhattan. Thanks for the shoe approval.

    Rhonda – Very professional. I think Sesame Street ALL the time. And I laughed so hard I almost fell over.

  27. Sensible Footwear – Those gentlemen are true dandies, in the best sense of the word. Caused me to up my game:).

    Allie – I only wish you could have come with us. Manhattan might never have recovered.

    Hostess – They were all talking so fast I couldn’t keep up. They bought or picked up shoes for themselves too…

    SSG – Aw, thanks. You are such a good photographer, I really appreciate your remark.

    Reggie – Mayhem! Revelers! Merriment! Thank you.

    Rose – The one inexpensive place in Manhattan that I really like is in Chinatown. Fun to walk out into that world in the morning.

  28. ChristineB – Ostrich, yes. I am glad you like them. Who knew I’d get serious feet with age? You too?

    Anon – I saw the lines for the burger place, but wasn’t tempted, since I make a decent burger myself. But I read that it’s very, very good. Do try Absinthe, it’s from a bygone, and lovely, era. I haven’t had lunch in Soho, only dinner and breakfast:). My favorite dinner was at Balthazar – it might be that the lunch is good too.

    ADG – Tater? Gator?

    Mama Henley – Thank you very much, for the writing and the shoe compliment:). New York was wonderful.

    Terri – They make the shoes by hand, apparently whenever the spirit moves them…

    A Farmer’s Wife – So glad you enjoyed it. Imagine the related conversation.

  29. quintessence – you have the same shoes? That’s wonderful. Great to have the reinforcement on my decision. Especially if you’re a tortoiseshell glasses maven too.

    Colleen – Well that’s the best thing then. Thank you.

    Mette – I take your approval very seriously. Thank you.

    Mary Jo – That is wonderful that you had a pair in college. Now, of course, they make Belgians in leopard:).

    MissWhistle – I can see Belgians, in those colors, in Los Angeles. Or Palm Springs, for that matter. Maybe I will have to try the Parker. Thank you for the idea.

    TPP – Due to a martini and some wine, my vision was not at its best anyway:). So you just point, squint at the blur, and hope.

  30. That’s Not My Age – Oh lord, I always miss comments. Middle age, that’s all I can say. If you’ve got the points, the Parker is a great choice. Convertibles wear thin, literally and figuratively, I know.

  31. Lisa I adore the shoes you chose. Love to see the city at night all lit up!

    Our gentlemen friends are the best company you could keep!!

    Do come and enter my $200 Giveaway from Fifi Flowers!

    Art by Karena

  32. Sounds like a great day, and that pileup of glasses is the funniest thing I’ve seen all week. Once, after a design & decorating thing at the Merchandise Mart in Chicago, some of us hit the local dive. Our server looked around the table, saw four of five of us wearing the same hornrims, and said to the odd man out “What, they ran out of specs before you got there?”

  33. Why isn’t anything in Wal-Mart free yet, if they’re lowering prices every day?

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