An Underground Beauty Escape in NYC
by Cait Rohan
Taking an excursion to NYC or planning a weekend in the Big Apple for the future? The lush Le Parker Meridien hotel seems miles away from the Midtown hustle outside but still boasts prime proximity to top 5th Avenue shops, Central Park, and some of the city's finest dining. Le Parker Meridien has no lack of amenities itself though, especially when it comes to beauty services.
After indulging in on-site eateries like upscale New-American plates from Norma's or ultra-luxe tea, coffee, or cocktails from Knave, and shopping at nearby Saks or Bloomingdale's, take a well-deserved beauty break at the hotel's Underground. The basement-level pampering and wellness oasis includes a spa, nail salon, blowout bar, gym, and gourmet eatery. Visit one or all five before heading back to the plush, modern rooms, complete with "Times Square" sized TVs and Central Park views. 119 W. 56th St., 212-245-5000; for reservations: 800-543-4300
Upon entering what feels like an abandoned mine shaft decorated to house a runaway queen, be prepared to pick a soundtrack for your spa treatment. The music menu offers up soothing versions of everything from “twilight pianos” to “young divas,” while the waiting room boasts a musical accompaniment of its own—a real, chirping canary. To ensure the ultimate in relaxation, swig back the offered shot of moonshine before entering a private room named for Prohibition-era cocktails like the Sidecar, Gimlet, Bee’s Knees, Rusty Nail, Stinger, and Salty Dog. Moonshine’s services of strictly 90- or 60-minute facials or massages (plus waxing upon request) may seem limiting, but specialists allow you to put an “X marks the spot” on the part of your face or body that needs the most attention. 212-708-7444
Amongst Marie Antoinette-meets-1960s-mod décor (think—all sorts of sleek white accented by pops of yellow, chandeliers made from kitschy blow-dryers, marble countertops, antique-style mirrors, and geometric designs), you’ll discover Drybar’s signature $40 blowouts. Choose from set styles like the Manhattan (sleek and smooth) and the Mai Tai (messy, beachy hair). Blowouts at your service (and fast!) plus complimentary wine, tea, or champagne make you feel like a princess, but girlie gossip magazines, chick flicks on loop, and iPod chargers bring you back to a best friend’s sleepover (that is, if your best friend was an expert at wielding the curling iron). 212-561-5392
Instead of the sterile environments of most mani/pedi places, tenoverten boasts exposed brick walls, rainbow-ordered polish options backlit by soft white lighting, and sleek, communal limestone tables where patrons sit side by side (but not too close). Atmosphere is only part of the package here—expert nail gurus shape, clip, and polish your fingers and toes into pretty submission. For some added fun, dress your digits in the Parker Polish Set, a collaboration between tenoverten’s in-house polish line and the hotel, consisting of an orangey hue called Le Parker Meridien and a poppy pink dubbed Parker Palm Springs (also for sale at $18 each). Everything from snappy manicures to luxe, in-depth pedicures, to polish changes is on offer here. 212-767-1010
Bathed in slightly purple lighting, Gravity makes going to the gym an ethereal experience. In addition to the usual trainers, group fitness classes, and state-of-the-art machines, Gravity guests can bask in a rooftop pool with views of Central park and a sundeck. But time-pressed Manhattanites will be most impressed by “The Quickie” workout—a personalized workout system designed to whip patrons into shape in about 20 minutes a few times a week. The Quickie utilizes the help of a trainer and the computer system Fitlinx, plus nine machines, to ensure a highly customized workout. Saunas, streamrooms, laundry service, and personal TVs add to its gym-of-the-future feel. 212-708-7340
As its name indicates, Petit Blue Dog Café is a smaller version of the wildly popular Blue Dog Café and Blue Dog Kitchen Bar gourmet sandwich and healthy juice shop. In addition to ultra-healthy options like organic oatmeal, quinoa, vegan smoothies, juices, and grass shots, sandwiches run the gamut. Stick with the wellness theme by ordering the raw sandwich (yellow squash, zucchini, alfalfa sprouts, avocado, and tomato with shallot lime); or err on the side of indulgence with the meaty sandwich (ham, fresh mozzarella, Italian salami, black forest ham, roasted peppers, and balsamic vinaigrette on a baguette) or tarragon chicken salad sandwich (served with avocado and havarti cheese on a baguette). 212-459-1240
Fashion shoot: December 2013 issue of Los Angeles Confidential magazine.