RETRO-COOL WEEKEND GETAWAYS
Rediscover Miami, Las Vegas and Brooklyn—with a nostalgic twist.
MIAMI: CHILL OUT WITH OLD- SCHOOL CHARM
It’s an Instagram-worthy scene—with no filters required: Striped deck chairs line two pristine pools where cocktails are served in panda-shaped mugs. Bob Marley’s “Could You Be Loved” headlines the playlist during the day, and celebrities like Pitbull and Miley Cyrus take over at night. This is the new Thompson Miami Beach, where you can take in ocean views from a 1940s-inspired suite (we’re talking geometric prints, midcentury furniture and a balcony overlooking the coast) while you nosh on a jumbo-shrimp cocktail from top chef Michelle Bernstein’s in-house restaurant, Seagrape. Think of it all as your own personal ode to the final season of Mad Men.
EXPLORE If you aren’t in town during Art Basel, get your culture hit at the Pérez Art Museum Miami (PAMM), which overlooks the impressive Biscayne Bay. Relive your childhood on Konstantin Grcic’s steel hanging-swing exhibit (#throwback), just one of the highlights of PAMM’s expansive 20th- and 21st-century contemporary-art collection. EAT Stop for lunch at PAMM’s Verde resto, where hanging gardens sway overhead as you dig into Chicken Under a Brick and gulp down frosty fruit-filled sangria. DRESS UP Ditch the flip-flops: A floor-length gown and bold lipstick are required at the Forge, one of Miami Beach’s oldest finedining hangouts. (Frank Sinatra and Judy Garland were regulars in the 1930s, natch.) Order the peppercorn-crusted filet mignon and listen to “Zou Bisou Bisou” on live piano while you select a glass of red from owner Shareef Malnik’s 25,000-bottle collection—Justin Timberlake and Jessica Biel purchased a (pre-baby) $6,000 bottle of liqueur for a birthday party here last year. DANCE You have to pass through a secret blue door to see the club that’s inside Bodega Taqueria y Tequila, Miami Beach’s newest hot spot. By day it’s a taco truck for surfers; by night it’s a bar the Kardashians would go to. Must-try: the Pico y Picante cocktail, a heady mix of cilantro, jalapeno, orange bitters, cucumber, tequila and mescal. It packs quite a punch. SARAH THOMPSON h
VEGAS: HANG OUT LIKE THE NEXT- GEN RAT PACK
It’s hard to imagine that the swish new SLS Las Vegas stands where the once-famous (then-gritty) Sahara casino stood from the 1950s until it closed in 2011. Today, the Frank Sinatra-led Rat Pack that once held court here has been replaced by a new generation—Joe Jonas was spinning at LiFe nightclub when I visited. The 1,600-room hotel (boutique by Sin City standards) is one of the first outposts of the “new Las Vegas,” which starts at the formerly desolate north end of the strip and reaches downtown. While there are roulette tables and slot machines chiming at the SLS, this Philippe Starck-designed property prides itself on its suite of L.A.-chic restaurants and killer nightlife. Dare we say it? Las Vegas isn’t just glitzy; it’s getting cool again. EAT Is it possible to have a hipster meal in Vegas? Almost. Stop by the SLS’s Moroccan-tile-clad Cleo and grab a table near the wood-burning oven for flavourful Middle Eastern shared plates. Be sure to order the Crispy Brussels Sprouts with Almonds, Lebaneh with Feta and Artichoke Flatbread. They’ll go fast. RIDE Take in a breathtaking panoramic city view on the High Roller at the LINQ, which is the world’s highest observation wheel. But this is no fair fare: Kanye plays as you take in the neon scene from a glass pod more than 160 metres up. SHOP Already had your weekend’s worth of logoed shopping? Head beyond the strip to the Downtown Container Park, where actual shipping containers have been repurposed into mini boutiques for local designers, artists and craftspeople—not to mention a hipster barbershop. DRINK Set beneath millions of draped crystals, the Chandelier bar at the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas is the place to start your night—or end it, if you can’t resist drinking your way through mixologist Mariena Mercer’s creative cocktail menu. You cannot leave without trying the surprising, spicy Verbena cocktail. ROCK OUT The City of Rock is a new permanent festival site (which translates into “Yay, no porta-potties!”) just off the strip that is home to the Rock in Rio festival this May, with headliners like Taylor Swift and Bruno Mars. The best part? The zip line that sends you flying right past the main stage. EXPLORE Take an evening tour of the Neon Museum Las Vegas to see the real old city. Literally. This downtown museum’s Neon Boneyard is a jumble of historic signs that have been cast aside but, luckily, not forgotten. If you’re staying at the SLS, give a special wave to the retro-chic Sahara sign. KATHRYN HUDSON h
BROOKLYN: PARTY LIKE THE ORIGINAL HIPSTERS
Since Brooklyn has been christened “the new Paris” and so many world-class cities are clamouring to become just like it, why not just head directly to Williamsburg—arguably Brooklyn’s coolest ’hood and the de facto homeland of plaid-wearing, craft-brew-sipping creative types. Drop off your bags at the McCarren Hotel & Pool (its 64 sleek ’60s-inspired rooms come complete with mirrored headboards) and head straight to the salt-water pool for the retro party that will be under way on any given hot summer night.
EAT Let David Naczycz, of Urban Oyster Tours, be your guide around the local foodie scene, which spans nearly every culture and dietary restriction. (As a gluten-free pescetarian, I was delighted when he directed me to an assortment of specialty mom-and-pop shops.) At Stinky Bklyn, try cheese (the Mohawk Mist, made from goat milk from New York’s Mohawk Valley, is a standout) paired with honey that’s harvested on the rooftops of local brownstones. Over at Greenpoint Fish & Lobster Co., the fish tacos (with corn tortilla wraps) are delish, and Vinny, the owner, will talk you into trying an oyster shot.
DRINK At Brooklyn Winery, sip a house-made Zinfandel at the rustic bar, which was constructed from recycled church pews and is in a room accented with ’40s-style wallpaper. The winery opened in 2010 in a space that was previously an abandoned nightclub. “Everything in this city was once something else,” says owner Brian Leventhal.
HANG OUT Grab a pint of locally brewed craft beer at 61 Local in Cobble Hill and get your creative juices flowing like the local writers who frequent hipster cafés and bars. You might even spot Jonathan Safran Foer, Nicole Krauss and Paul Auster, who call this borough home. They continue the literary tradition of former Brooklynites Henry Miller and Walt Whitman, whom you can learn more about via NYCgo.com’s self-guided literary walking tour of the area.
SWEET SNACK For a treat, stop in at Brooklyn Farmacy & Soda Fountain, which is located in an old pharmacy and serves classic 1950s egg creams: a delicious (and gluten-free!) concoction of club soda, egg whites and flavoured syrup. AVA BACCARI h
For a glimpse of the kind of place Brooklyn was nearly 20 years ago, head to Long Island City (LIC) in Queens. Just one subway stop from Midtown Manhattan, LIC is poised to become a hotbed of local culture, fusion cuisine and, of course, the trendiest renovated warehouses around. Case in point: the Paper Factory Hotel, a converted 19th-century paper mill that’s decorated with vintage typewriters and a winding book installation. Make one of the property’s loft-style rooms your home base while you check out the up-andcoming scene.
EXPLORE Discover the city’s top spots with the help of Big Apple Greeters. Let a local volunteer—like Dan Abatelli, who showed me around—point out the 1936 landmark PepsiCola sign on the East River, walk you through the block-long Hunters Point Historic District (an architectural oasis of marble-faced houses that date back to the Civil War) and take you to the much-touted Museum of Modern Art’s PS1, a contemporary-art exhibit set inside a former public school.
EAT On any given street, quaint ’70s-era family-owned Italian restaurants are scattered among offbeat hole-in-the-wall spots like Manducatis Rustica, where locals (like renowned fashion photog Tony Vaccaro) stop in for espresso in the morning and wood-fired-ovenbaked pizza in the afternoon. For dinner, head to the buzzy M. Wells Steakhouse, where Québécois chef Hugue Dufour’s converted garage space is a paleo-oasis of Flintstones proportions: Think steak with a side of foie gras (sans poutine). A second outpost, M. Wells Dinette, located down the street inside MoMA PS1, has (sort of) lighter options—like a spaghetti sandwich. A.B.
LONG ISLAND CITY: EXPLORE THE NEXT BROOKLYN
From top: The Vista terrace and a panda mug at the Thompson Miami Beach; the
hanging garden at PAMM; the Forge dining room; Bodega
Taqueria y Tequila
From top: The VIP check-in area and the pool at the SLS Las Vegas; the LINQ’s High Roller observation wheel; the Cosmopolitan’s Chandelier
bar; a vintage sign at the Neon Museum Las Vegas
From top: The pool and a lobby sofa at the McCarren Hotel & Pool; Greenpoint Fish & Lobster Co.; Brooklyn Winery; a server and drinks at the Brooklyn Farmacy & Soda Fountain
A Pepsi-Cola sign that dates back to 1936; the lobby of the Paper Factory Hotel; the Museum of
Modern Art’s PS1