How I Staycation: New York City

updated Sep 11, 2019
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(Image credit: Jacqueline Harriet)

“Staycation” may seem like a made-up word for people who don’t have the time or energy to plan an actual holiday, but hear us out: A vacation in your hometown doesn’t have to suck. In fact, it can be pretty wonderful. Consider: You save on airfare and transportation, you don’t have to worry about outsourcing care of pets or plants, and you can sleep in your own bed (if you want). Win-win-win!

This month, we’re exploring how five different people staycation. Read on for ideas and inspiration for planning a few days off without leaving your area code.

I met Hitha Herzog a few years ago through her husband, comedian Seth Herzog, and we immediately hit it off. She’s bright, funny, and easy to talk to. Many people know her from television, where she’s appeared as an on-air contributor for several news shows. She’s also a professor at Parsons and author of the book Black Market Billions: How Organized Retail Crime Funds Global Terrorists.

As an over-scheduled New Yorker, I knew she’d be the perfect person to share how she makes time to enjoy a quality staycation. Here, she talks about the time she made a special effort to slow down, book a hotel room, and focus on connecting with her best friends.

(Image credit: Mandarin Oriental)

Choosing the City Over the Beach

My life is pretty much running at Mach 5, 24/7, which means I don’t really get the chance to slow down and experience all New York City has to offer. So, to get to be in vacation mode here is the best feeling. Instead of focusing on the everyday hustle and bustle, I can enjoy my city through new eyes.

For a recent staycation, I had just come back from a trip to Vienna, and my two best friends, who live on opposite ends of the country, were in New York City for 36 hours. We decided to staycation in New York instead of getting in a car and driving to the beach like we’d normally do. It was the best decision ever.

Not only did I get to feel like I was worlds away (even though I was only a few subway stops from home), but I also got to relax and concentrate on having a great time with my friends — no plane tickets, passports, or pricey car rental agreements needed.

You might not consider staying at a swanky hotel a typical staycation activity, but from a logistics standpoint it was a dream. And the arrangements came together so easily, since it only took a few clicks to reserve our room and make this staycation happen. That almost never happens when trying to organize a group vacation with three people across two different time zones.

(Image credit: Mandarin Oriental)

Splurging on a Special-Occasion Hotel

We had decided weeks before we were going to stay put in Manhattan and wanted to book a suite at a five-star hotel. We had initially thought about the Four Seasons, but looked online and realized the suites at the Mandarin Oriental were much cooler.

It might seem strange to book a hotel room for a staycation, but when you think about all the amenities that come with it, it just made so much sense. We also had access to their incredible 75-foot-long pool, which makes you feel like you are swimming in the sky. It’s quite extraordinary. And, when you mix in your two best friends with an endless supply of Chips Ahoy chewy cookies, it’s totally on!

Prioritizing Quality Time with My Best Buds

I don’t get to see my besties often, so when we get to hang, the priority really is spending time together, which is another reason why booking a hotel was so great. I didn’t need to spend energy cleaning or preparing my home to host them; we just rolled into the hotel, dropped our bags off in our rooms, and concentrated on connecting with each other.

That often meant just hanging out in our room, laughing like crazy, and munching on several bags of sweet treats. At one point, I think I may have busted into the mini bar for Pringles and indulged in some late-night swimming. I also slept until 7 a.m., which is a major indulgence for me.

We did leave the hotel, though, I promise! We had an amazing dinner right up the street at The Smith. I go there a lot, but it was a completely different experience to go there as part of my staycation.

Taking Time to Indulge

My biggest piece of advice for making your staycation a success is to treat it like any other vacation, which means indulging in things you wouldn’t normally do if you were at home.

Do like my friends and I did: Book a fabulous room with the best sheets with the highest thread count, and splurge on the suite with the most marvelous view of the city. Then, raid the mini bar.

Or, if you’re not a hotel person and the idea of sitting around a hotel room isn’t your thing, book yourself a massage at the hotel spa in the middle of the day to mix things up. Or take yourself out to lunch, and have a glass of terrific wine. It really is vacation, only without the hassle and stress of traveling. You do you!

Thanks, Hitha!