When it comes to travel and tourism, if any city can bounce back from a pandemic, it’s New York. Despite being hit hard and early by COVID-19, the city is consistently gaining momentum as visitors return, both domestic and international.
According to New York & Company, the city’s destination marketing organization, the number of visitors to New York is expected to increase from 32.9 million total visitors in 2021 to approximately 56.6 million in 2022, with international travelers tripling. That’s not bad since it’s only about 10 million less than in 2019, particularly given the lingering impact of the pandemic.
“New York City is known for constant renewal and reinvention,” says Fred Dixon, President and CEO of NYC & Company, the city’s destination marketing organization. “We invite New Yorkers and our global community alike to experience the vibrant offerings found only in NYC this year.”
For 2022, NYC & Company has highlighted on their website 22 reasons to visit. We embarked on our own reconnaissance mission to discover some of New York’s most exciting new hotels, restaurants and attractions that opened the past year that visitors to New York should keep on their radar.
The Thompson Central Park
The Thompson Central Park has taken up residence in the former Parker Meridien, just two blocks from Central Park, with fully redesigned public spaces, rooms (587 to be specific) and suites. Renovations to the lobby, bar and gym space are scheduled to be completed this year, along with 174 exclusive Upper Stories rooms with city views, enhanced amenities and a club lounge.
Locals and guests have continued to find their way through the lobby to the hidden hallway that leads to Burger Joint – a dive joint with graffiti walls that serves burger basics (including meat-free options) from a menu that’s handwritten with markers on pieces of cardboard. The mix of the stylish, upscale hotel with the nitty gritty Burger Joint is a perfect homage to New York.
The Arlo Midtown
Opened in Summer 2021, the Arlo Midtown offers 489 rooms a short walk from Manhattan’s Hudson Yards and Javits Center in midtown Manhattan. Designed by Meyer Davis, the hotel features an elevated design with a larger room format, though still small by non-Manhattan standards.
The welcoming lobby and public spaces lead to Nearly Ninth, a restaurant/bar from the Gerber Group that is pouring hot coffee in the morning and dishing up Italian fare, from pizzas to pastas, in the later hours. Their creative craft cocktail menu is worth exploring either at the ground floor lounge or, in warmer months, on the 26th-floor rooftop bar overlooking Times Square.
If you’re a theater fan, or just looking for a cool new concept near Broadway, CIVILIAN will fit the (play) bill. Guests are encouraged to download the hotel’s app to stage direct their stay. It provides guests with access to a mobile key, hotel and neighborhood information and much more. Guests can opt for a bare bones stay or select and pay for add-ons, such as Wi-Fi, early or late check-in/check-out, food and beverages and other amenities. (If you’re tech averse, don’t worry –there’s a human at the front desk who can help you get it all situated.)
Particularly noteworthy is the hotel’s permanent and rotating works of art from the Olio Collection, which features emerging and established theater creatives and contemporary Broadway photographers. CIVILIAN also donates a portion of its daily fees to American Theatre Wing to help support creatives affected by COVID-19.
Renowned French chef Daniel Boulud made his COVID comeback when he opened the doors to Le Pavillon, his new fine dining French restaurant, the same day New York allowed restaurants to reopen to full capacity (that was in May 2021, by the way). Bathed in natural light, the expansive contemporary dining room features 17-meter-high ceilings, blonde wood and a garden with flowers, olive trees, ferns and a built-in irrigation system.
Located on the second floor of One Vanderbilt, adjacent to Grand Central Station, it’s the perfect location for a special occasion meal or if you feel the need to treat yourself.
In December 2021, Manhattan West, one of New York’s newer shopping areas, welcomed chef Dani Garcia’s newest endeavor, Casa Dani, a Spanish concept spotlighting the flavors of Andalusia. Set inside the Citizens Culinary Market, Casa Dani’s bi-level dining space is lit with hues of warm orange and amber, and menu standouts include the pulled oxtail on buttered brioche, sundried tomato tartare and a selection of paellas and fideos (rice and noodle dishes).
Anyone who is not dairy intolerant should try the cheesecake, which is baked daily and garnished tableside with your choice of freshly grated cow, sheep or goat cheese.
For those who prefer to continue socially distancing or want a memorable dinner location for a special occasion, reserve one of the two rustic cabins that have been constructed in the courtyard of the Arlo SoHo Hotel. Seating up to eight, the cabins are part of Lindens, the hotel’s modern American restaurant that opened in late 2021. The experience is so charming that you’ll never want to leave the cabin.
Kyma Hudson Yards
A city can never have too many Greek restaurants (in my opinion), so the addition of Kyma Hudson Yards to the New York restaurant scene is a win for visitors to midtown. Joining its original locations in the Flatiron District and on Long Island, Kyma has a lock on seafood, including a wide selection of crudo, grilled octopus, branzino and much more. The dining room is spacious and inviting and was busy – even midweek – on a bitter cold January evening.
“Top Chef: Boston” finalist chef George Pagonis has created a locally-sourced, seasonal produce-driven menu.
Willow Vegan Bistro
Executive chef Guy Vaknin and his wife Tali opened this small casual eatery on 8th Avenue in Chelsea in early 2022 after gaining notoriety for their vegan Beyond Sushi venture that opened 10 years ago. The plant-based menu features American comfort cuisine, from buffalo cauliflower wings to vegan sliders and a vegan “tuna” melt for dine-in or takeout.
There’s been no dearth of observation decks opening around Manhattan in recent years, but perhaps none are quite as Instagram-ready as Summit One Vanderbilt. Designed to encourage you to question your “sensorial reality,” the Summit features a walk-through art experience designed by Kenzo Digital with glass ledges, floating balls and mirrored floors and walls (which is why wearing skirts or dresses is ill-advised), not to mention the gasp-worthy views of the New York skyline.
For an extra charge, a glass elevator will carry you to the building’s highest point 1,200 feet above neighboring Grand Central Station.
RiseNY is New York’s first simulation ride. If you aren’t sure what that means, imagine climbing aboard Disney’s Soarin’ Around the World ride but with a New York focus. The attraction, located in Times Square, also features an interactive museum that pays tribute to New York and its influence on fashion, radio, television, film, Broadway and more.
Don’t miss the opening film by award-winning documentarians Ric Burns and James Sanders that highlights the development of Times Square, the New York subway system and more.
Little Island at Pier 55
This bucolic free public park opened in May 2021, providing residents and visitors with a little extra green space to stroll along the banks of the Hudson River. In warmer months, there are live outdoor performances and cultural events in the central plaza, at a 687-seat outdoor amphitheater and at a smaller stage where visitors can lounge on the lawn and soak up the sights and sounds of New York.