Here Mag traveled to NYC’s Meatpacking District for a much-needed staycation. Here’s the scoop on the neighborhood’s best places to stay, dine, and visit.
When I get off the E train at West 14th street, I’m mentally preparing for a schlep down the long avenues toward my destination, New York City’s Meatpacking District. My perception of the Meatpacking District until now has been ritzy, vaguely European, and out of the way. But before I know it, the overcast sky has opened up, the sun illuminating dozens of deep red umbrellas across the cobblestone plazas. Impressively, there is a total of 30,000 sq. ft. of public space in Meatpacking—a major feat of urban planning completed in 2019, thanks to Meatpacking’s Business Improvement District (BID) and Jeffrey LeFrancois, its director. The walk from 8th Ave to the heart of Meatpacking might seem like a trek at first—everything feels much wider in this part of town. That said, I’m looking forward to seeing how businesses have capitalized on all the extra space now that outdoor dining is the norm.
Another recent project by the Meatpacking BID was the addition of weatherproof steel planters to cordon off the car-free streets. Lush foliage cascades out of the planters, taking naturalistic landscaping cues from the nearby High Line. “We wanted to add a human scale to the street,” says Jeffrey LeFrancois of the planters designed by Ken Smith Workshop. Meatpacking’s unusually wide sidewalks and streets are perfect for outdoor dining, a trend we’ve collectively embraced over the last year. It’s hard not to feel like you’re in Europe as you sip on an iced coffee under one of the red umbrellas, enjoying a constant stream of chic shoppers and cobblestone stretching out in every direction. It’s Jeffrey’s hope that visitors rediscover how accessible Meatpacking has become since launching projects like adding bike lanes and re-paving the iconic stone streets. It’s all these infrastructural changes that give the neighborhood a completely new vibe in 2021.
With attractions like The High Line, Chelsea Market, The Whitney, and now Little Island all within walking distance, the Meatpacking District markets itself. This past June, the BID hosted The Leaf Festival of Flowers, where brands and design workshops created intricate floral arrangements to be displayed in Meatpacking’s plazas and around the neighborhood. Take it from a lifetime New Yorker: Meatpacking is the best staycation spot this summer.
Very Fresh Noodles
Before my check-in at the Gansevoort Hotel, I stopped by Chelsea Market for a quick bite. The diverse range of cuisines means there’s something here for everyone, from Japanese-Mexican fusion at Takumi Taco to classic Italian subs at Cappone’s. I opted for Very Fresh Noodles, a popular hand-pulled noodle spot with tasty interpretations on Chinese dishes. I had the vegan Dan Dan Noodles with tingly Szechuan spices paired with their refreshing in-house hibiscus lemonade.
Gansevoort Hotel & Rooftop Bar
The Gansevoort Hotel is Meatpacking’s premier luxury hotel, boasting a centralized location, a rooftop pool and bar, a gym, and luxurious suites, you’ll feel perfectly pampered during your stay.
Walking into the Gansevoort lobby, I was met with an authentic Banksy overlooking the reception desk. After checking in, I explored the hotel, visiting Coffee & Cocktails in the lobby while noting the hotel’s impressive art collection. The evening whisked me away to the rooftop bar, where I enjoyed a cocktail and a live DJ set as the sun set over the Hudson river. I could get used to living like this.
After rooftop drinks, I went to Willow, a vegan bistro in Chelsea just minutes from the hotel. The oyster mushroom “calamari” were crispy and light yet meaty, and the buffalo “chicken” sandwich was peak vegan comfort food. The portions were generous; I hardly finished my main dish, so expect to bring home leftovers.
When I stay at a nice hotel, I need to use their immaculate bathtub and revel in how clean everything feels. I fixed myself a bubble bath with the L’Occitane toiletries and sipped on some complimentary sparkling water. Donning the ultra lush hotel robe, I enjoyed the street view from my 10th floor suite before falling victim to the ravenous sleep you can only find under freshly laundered, perfectly crisp hotel sheets.
My second day in Meatpacking starts with an iced oat milk latte from C&C in the hotel lobby. After caffeinating on the adjacent plaza, I’m headed to ARTNOIR’s From a Place, Of a Place at The Meeting Point Gallery. The show is part one of a series spotlighting the work of emerging artists of color. The works here tell stories of identity and geography, with references to Meatpacking’s own history. I’m especially moved by Layo Bright’s kiln formed glass sculptures of heads overgrown with plants, glazed in metallic pigments. Then there’s Dianne Smith’s photomontages using archival prints of the Meatpacking District to reel you back into the present location. There are delicate paintings by Daphne Arthur made of smoke, plus an equally eye-catching mixed media sculpture that Francheska Alcantara made by affixing bars of Hispano Cuaba soap on white tile. Don’t miss out on this thought-provoking exhibit from a brilliant roster of contemporary artists.
For brunch, check out The Chester, an American bistro on the ground floor of the Gansevoort Hotel. With the feel of a neighborhood gathering place, it’s the ideal spot for after-work drinks.
Or, just across the street from the hotel, Catch serves seafood, cocktails, and has a separate vegan menu; there’s also a large lounge area and bar on the roof, so you can keep the party going all night.
After a bit of retail therapy at the flagship Theory store on Gansevoort Street, I walked towards Hudson River Park to enjoy the view of Little Island from afar. Then, I headed to The Whitney to check out Dawoud Bey’s retrospective and catch a glimpse of Day’s End, a new installation on the Hudson. My two days in Meatpacking felt like the cultured European vacation we all deserved after 2020, and I can’t recommend enough that you book an extended stay to discover all the neighborhood has to offer. Whether you’re visiting for the first time or you’re a seasoned New Yorker, treat yourself to the perfect day (or two) in the New Meatpacking.