Sister City, New York, US
06 September, 2019
On New York's Bowery, Sister City masters the sought-after mix of chic yet low-key design, great food, affordability and a rooftop with views across Manhattan.
In a city where real estate is like a revolving door, it can be close to impossible to keep up with every new restaurant, bar and hotel opening, and even harder to know which ones are worth checking out. On the Bowery, the vein linking Nolita and the Lower East Side, Sister City is a spot that draws a consistent crowd without being too scene-y, all the while mastering the sought-after mix of chic yet low-key design, great food, affordability and a fantastic rooftop with views across Manhattan.
Sister City's minimalist style is exactly what lends it so much of its charm - expect crisp white and dove grey striped duvet covers, compact wooden valets and mid-century-modern recliners. The more you poke around, the more you'll discover, such as clever cubby holes under the bed to prevent the inevitable disaster zones that hotel rooms tend to become - Scandi and Japanese design inspiration is definitely apparent here. Each room has views that beat looking out at a grey wall in Midtown by miles; depending on the side of the hotel you're located on, you'll be able to look over the spectacle of the Manhattan and Brooklyn bridges, the Empire State Building or the Freedom Tower. As for room sizes, there are Single and Queen rooms for under $200 a night, as well as bunk rooms with living areas. For a small upgrade charge, larger King and Corner rooms are up for grabs, as well as Terrace rooms offering a breath of fresh air.
What's for breakfast?
Floret, the hotel's downstairs restaurant, has a huge indoor dining space as well as a peaceful patio punctuated by greenery, striped awnings and earth-toned seats. Start the day with a variety of beverages such as melon, lime and ginger juice and an oat-milk cappuccino à la Leandra Medine before moving onto solids. The toast selection alone is to die for, with grilled slices of baguette topped with whipped ricotta, stone fruit and honey as well as Jerusalem bagels served with pistachio, labne and za'atar. Those with a sweet tooth will love the crunchy coconut granola served over Greek yogurt and the banana-macadamia pancakes available during weekend brunch. To prep for a big day of pounding the downtown pavement, the soft scramble prepared with brown butter and served with parmesan, quinoa, wilted greens and garlic toast is a no-brainer.
How about lunch and dinner?
Floret serves food all day long, so it's also your go-to for lunch and dinner. The sleek indoor space made up of long wooden slats contrasting with retro dark-leather banquettes is great for cosying up inside, while the outdoor terrace is strung with light bulbs for those who want to take full advantage of any time they can spend outside without a coat. Seasonal flavours command the lunch and dinner menus, so keep an eye out for fresh produce and seafood in creative main dishes. The creamy risotto with aubergine and roasted beefsteak tomatoes is to die for, as is the whole crispy dorade with sesame and lime. The Atlantic peekytoe crab with avocado, scallion and green apple is great for a twist on an East-Coast specialty. For something on the warmer side, a top appetiser on the menu is the Japanese aubergine with crispy shallots and peanuts. After testing out everything that catches your eye, you'll sleep like a baby.
Is there a bar?
Last Light, Sister City's rooftop bar, is a summertime favourite among the Ganni-clad NYC crowd and offers one of the best views over the city, sweeping from the Financial District all the way up to the Empire State Building, while offering a close-up vantage point over Soho and the neighbouring New Museum. There's indoor and outdoor seating, meaning blood-orange sunset nights and chilly evenings admiring city lights are both fair game. As for cocktails, the simple yet creative mixes here are the go-to - Tiki Torches is a tropical mix of aperol, gin and coconut, Glow Sticks comprises cachaça, sherry and berries, and frozen slushies include an icey take on a Moscow mule. If you need something to hold you over until dinnertime, the nibbles here are bound to impress. We love the pillow-soft pretzel with pimento cheese, crusty toast with ricotta, English peas and mint and, for something fresh and light when a larger meal is pending, the hamachi ceviche topped with lime, radishes and sweet potato crisps.
Each room is kitted out with a portable Bang & Olufsen speaker, making dance parties while you get ready a regular affair. There are also understated Public Goods bath products in large pump bottles in the showers to save on waste, which we're keen on. Once you're out of your room, there are a multitude of airy sitting areas, including the breezy outdoor terrace at Floret, that serve as perfect spaces for remote workers. Grab a portable charger from the check-in desk and settle in to plug away for a few hours. The roof bar also has several event spaces, so brand pop-ups, hen parties and the like can book a room with a view to celebrate.
Things you should know
The snacks and other treats at the check-in desk shop are too good to overlook. Bang & Olufsen's portable Beoplay speakers - just like the ones in each room - are for sale (and are incredibly hard to resist buying after having blasted wake-up tunes every morning of your stay), as well as mini portable chargers and thick issues of Kaleidoscope magazine. For those who find themselves feeling peckish late at night or before they hop in a cab to the airport, make the most of the shop's edible offerings that include cool-ranch kale chips, artisanal popcorn with pink Himalayan salt and gourmet chocolate bars in flavours such as lemon coconut cream and bananas foster. The cans of Crosscut Coffee's maple nitro iced brew are also a fan favourite for when you're on the go.
Within a short walk you'll find…
Absolutely everything. There truly couldn't be a better located hotel; the boutiques of Nolita are straight across the street and pave the way to the high-end Soho shops. Head straight up the Bowery if you want to explore the New Museum, NoHo and the bars of the East Village. For something that's less than twenty steps away, check out Plantshed, a café-meets-flower shop that sits opposite Sister City and is an Instagram post waiting to happen.