In most cases, a New York City hotel is not just there for hosting overnight guests. Plenty of New York’s hotels have top-tier restaurants, great live music options, and/or worthwhile shopping. With more and more boutique hotels popping up in New York in recent years, there is no shortage of hotels to look into for an entertaining evening stop-by.
Downtown caught up with representatives from three recommended New York City hotels:
What was the first restaurant you ever worked at?
The Williamsburg Hotel’s Adam Leonti: The first restaurant I ever cooked at was called the Italian Heritage Center located in Portland, Maine.
Marmara Hotels’ Luis Febus: Bayard’s on Hanover Square.
The Knickerbocker’s Christopher Engel: I have always dreamed of being a chef. I started at the age of 13, working three or four times a week after school in a little restaurant in Wilhelmsdorf, Germany called Taunushof. The first real restaurant I worked at after getting my culinary degree was at the Michelin-starred restaurant Tiger Palast in Frankfurt, Germany. Tiger Palast is one of Germany’s best restaurants, and the Executive Chef Martin Göschel is one of the most important people I’ve met during my career.
What is your favorite item on the menu there?
The Williamsburg Hotel’s Adam Leonti: My favorite thing on the menu back at Italian Heritage Center was the Roasted Chicken with Rosemary and Lemon. At my upcoming restaurant, Harvey at The Williamsburg Hotel, I love all the freshly milled pastas.
Marmara Hotels’ Luis Febus: The Curry was always my favorite, Everything from Arctic Char to Tasmanian Sea Trout was featured.
The Knickerbocker’s Christopher Engel: The restaurant has since closed, but one of Chef Martin’s signature dishes — and by far my favorite dish — was his Focaccia Wrapped Pauillac Lamb Loin with Eggplant and Gremolata. It was truly a perfectly-balanced and memorable dish!
Where’s the best place to keep warm in your establishment?
The Williamsburg Hotel’s Adam Leonti: The best place to keep warm at Harvey is by the wood oven.
Marmara Hotels’ Luis Febus: Right by one of the chic fireplaces in our OneOneFour Lounge.
The Knickerbocker’s Christopher Engel: The St. Cloud rooftop bar and lounge has transformed its indoor Club Room into Après at The Knick — an Alpine lodge — creating a cozy respite from the winter weather and providing guests with the opportunity to experience an urban retreat within its four walls. A special crafted menu includes cold weather-inspired favorites from Chef Charlie Palmer and myself, along with exclusive cocktails from Resident Cocktail Curator, Eben Klemm. Après at The Knick will transport guests from the cold New York winter to a plush European ski lodge. A custom-designed White Birch arch bids guests to enter and cozy up with faux fur rugs, throws and pillows, surrounded by faux pine trees for an intimate ambiance.
What is coming up for your establishment in the near-future?
The Williamsburg Hotel’s Adam Leonti: Harvey will be a grain and vegetable-focused restaurant, located on the hotel’s lobby level. Building upon the success of the recent pop-up, Brooklyn Bread Lab, I plan to focus on freshly milled grains for pastas, breads and pastries. A special daily selection of local meat and fish will continue the agricultural story from the lab. Harvey will also provide room service for guests and I plan to sell to-go flour and bread from the hotel’s bar.
Marmara Hotels’ Luis Febus: We’re teaming up with Cocktail Master Johnny Swet to create our seasonal, exclusive cocktail Program, and Joe Ginsberg will be furnishing our lounge and bar.
The Knickerbocker’s Christopher Engel: Après at The Knick is now open for the ski season and will close at the end of March. The Knickerbocker is also offering an over-the-top Valentine’s Day package. For $10,000, two guests can enjoy a romantic one-night stay in the hotel’s most luxurious suite, the Caruso Suite. They will be greeted with champagne, chocolate covered strawberries, and a bouquet of roses. For her, an in-suite blow-out with the hotel’s beauty team, NOMI Beauty, and an expert lingerie fitting will be arranged, and for him, a luxurious hot-towel shave. The couple will also be treated to dinner curated by Chef Charlie and myself in-suite, and breakfast in bed the following morning.
When not busy with work, how do you like to spend your free time?
The Williamsburg Hotel’s Adam Leonti: I usually spend my free time swimming.
Marmara Hotels’ Luis Febus: In the kitchen — I’m a chef at heart! When time permits, I love taking cooking classes and spending the day creating “edible art.”
The Knickerbocker’s Christopher Engel: During my free time, I like to spend time with my girlfriend. We like to do fun activities such as fishing, and go-kart racing, but sometimes we just stay at home. My favorite time of year is when I travel to Norway on a fishing trip with my brothers.
Other than your own, what is your favorite restaurant in New York?
The Williamsburg Hotel’s Adam Leonti: Bamonte’s Italian Restaurant in New York.
Marmara Hotels’ Luis Febus: Ahh, it’s a toss-up between Café Boulud and Il Pesce at Eataly Flatiron.
The Knickerbocker’s Christopher Engel: Easy question, quick answer: Restaurant Bâtard in TriBeCa.
Finally, any last words for the kids?
Marmara Hotels’ Luis Febus: “Learn compassion. We start life with a very selfish outlook — we want what we want. But compassion is about realizing we are no more important than everyone else, and we aren’t at the center of the universe. Someone annoys you? Get outside of your little shell, and try to see how their day is going. How can you help them be less angry, less in pain?” –Leo Babauta
The Knickerbocker’s Christopher Engel: Be passionate for what you’re doing and try to show what makes you special. Take risks, and when you fail you will only come back better and stronger. And one last “German thing,” since we are known for our punctuality, early is on-time, on-time is late — always be on-time and show your greatest effort!