When some or other real estate person dreamed up the new Manhattan neighborhood of NoMad (North of Madison) in 1999, it was mostly still wholesale bead shops and discount perfume outlets. Several trendy shopping and nightlife options later, the amorphous area between The Flatiron and Murray Hill has surprisingly not actually become overrun with upscale chain stores, but instead has cultivated a particularly appealing restaurant scene – while its main cultural attraction, the Museum of Sex, now curates some of the most fascinatingly provocative exhibits in the city.
We recently checked in to the area’s newest hotel, the James New York – NoMad, a you-would-never-recognize-it update of the old Carlton. The boutique hotel brand was actually launched with the opening of the James Chicago a decade ago, followed by a Soho NYC edition in 2010, which became an instant scene for its happening rooftop bar Jimmy (D.C. is on the way).
The NoMad outpost is a decidedly sophisticated overall experience, with none of the nightclubby vibes of some of its neighbors.
Here’s what we did.
Taking “understated style” to a whole new level, repro-retro mid-century style furnishings make for clean lines and casual refinement. All the rooms are on the large side for Manhattan – and the 640 sq. ft. James Suites are surprisingly reasonably priced, considering the apartment-like dimensions.
It’s literally built into your television at the James. The Four Bodies Wellness program, in partnership with Ruby Warrington of The Numinous, offers guidance in the physical, mental, spiritual and emotional well-being of guests, all before you even start your regular day. Especially great if you’ve just enjoyed a late night of cocktailing at The Seville (see below). We also did a sound therapy session, a tarot reading with Tara Carrara, and there’s even a dedicated meditation room downstairs, in partnership with Be Time.
Make the shopping rounds at Rei Kawakubo’s bleeding edge Dover Street Market fashion emporium, check out the vintage finds at Thrifty Hog, then get your Scandinavian design fix at Marimekko, before setting aside at least an hour to peruse the urbane reading selection at Rizzoli Bookstore. For a contemporary art fix, hit the 511 Gallery, Casey Kaplan Gallery and Ashione, the latter exhibiting museum-quality African art. Do not by any means miss the LEONOR FINI: THEATRE OF DESIRE, 1930-1990 exhibit at the Museum of Sex, a stunning survey of the feminist-surrealist’s provocative life and career.
Museum of Sex
You sorta knew this was coming: CBD room service. For those of you not familiar, cannabidoil is a legal cannabis extract that is known for its stress relieving qualities. And noted CBD chef Andrea Drummer has crafted an uncomplicated menu, from pear gorgonzola salad to spicy meatballs to caramel ice cream sundaes – so it’s well beyond “munchies” fare. And you can also order up beauty products like Ambika Ubtan Beauty Scrub and CBD For Life Eye Serum. You can even mellow out your canine travel companion with Bark Avenue Granpaw’s Dog Hemp Treats. Wooooof…
After 10 years as one of New York’s most innovative and exalted Italian restaurants, Scarpetta made the move from MePa to NoMad, and the new location has been jumping ever since. In an absolutely gorgeous space with marble bars, arched ceilings and moody lighting, indulge in exquisite handmade pasta dishes like duck & foie gras ravioli (almost indescribably delicious) and black tagliolini with lobster and chorizo – as well as creatively turned out duck, venison and seafood creations. The live jazz brunch is one of the best Sunday scenes anywhere, with everything from ricotta pancakes to strozzapreti with saffron and pork shank…and a whole lotta soul.
Indisputably one of NYC’s sexiest hotel bars, it’s possessed of a furtive basement location – yet somehow manages to be hopping from its 4pm opening time on. Combines plush, sensual style with great taste in music (The Ladies of Seville regularly man the decks), and lusty but unfussy cocktails – invigoratingly spicy margaritas, signature bourbon-vanilla manhattans – to rapturous effect.
Images, from top: Scarpetta; The Seville