New York City


Two weekend’s ago, Adam and I packed our bags, hopped in a cab and headed 30-some odd blocks uptown to the check into the Michelangelo Hotel for a staycation. An Italian family-owned 4-star hotel (with other locations in Florence, Milan and Rome) it feels like a taste of Italian luxury but smack dab in the middle of New York City. Think, lush velvet couches and grand staircases and decadent marble bathrooms… all while you’re 3 blocks from Times Square and 8 blocks from Central Park.

The funny thing about a staycation just a 20 minute cab ride from where you actually live is that it really does feel like a vacation. It forces you out of the “comfort zone” of the your usual neighborhood and into exploring your city like a tourist. And relationship-wise I think it gets you out of your usual at home routines. Meaning in the evenings instead of zoning out and watching TV, both scrolling on our phones, we went out and taste-tested cocktails at a hidden jazz bar. Another night we watched a movie but did it with a side of room service pizza (the best pepperoni pizza I’ve had in a long time – and I like to think of myself as sort of an expert in this arena), popped prosecco and turned the evening into a date night in. I took luxuriously long bubble baths and Adam indulged in endless in-room espresso. We lingered over leisurely breakfasts in the hotel cafe, flipping through The New York Times and not rushing anywhere. All of it just felt like such a treat.

And if you’re not a New Yorker looking for a staycation – you can’t ask for a better location to be a tourist. While you’ll be in no shortage of things to do in surrounding areas of the hotel, below are a few of our Times Square area tips:

  • Get in line early at the TKTS booth (under the big steps in Times Square) for same day discount tickets to all the biggest Broadway shows.
  • Head to Black Tap for hilariously oversized milkshakes. Honestly this place is kind of worth the hype though because the burgers are solid and even the plain milkshakes are delicious – although Adam recommends going all the way with the Frutti Pebbles shake.
  • Stroll through the start of Central Park. Hit up the Strand Bookstore kiosk (on the South-Eastern corner), swing through the Central Park Zoo to see the sea lions, and circle back for ice skating at Wollman Rink.
  • Duck into The Rum House to escape the tourist crowds and stay for the classic cocktails and live jazz.
  • Visit one of the world class museums just a hop and skip away from the Michelangelo. My favorites are the Met and the MoMa – but the Guggenheim is great too and the Natural History Museum is perfect if you’ve got little ones

A big thank you to the Michelangelo Hotel for hosting us for the weekend – as always all opinions are completely my own.

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The Steele Maiden: Day Trip to Montauk

Believe it or not (and I’m firmly in the camp of denial), there are only a few weekends of true, pre-Labor Day summer left. How that happened is always a mind boggling question – but if you are anything like me, you intend to soak them up. One of my favorite weekends of the Summer was the one that Adam and I spent road-tripping out to Montauk (at the very end of the Hamptons). Since I never got around to sharing some of our favorite spots from that trip I figured I would do it now – while you still have time to get out there!



There are a few ways to get all the way out to the ‘End of the World’ as Montauk is lovingly nicknamed by us New Yorkers – but we chose to drive. It’s our preferred mode of transport (Adam loves to drive in a way that few people I’ve ever met do) and I love the convenience of being able to pack 2 books and 3 pairs of shoes and not worrying about the weight of schlepping them. Win, win. If you don’t have the luxury of a car and don’t want to rent one, there’s the Hampton Jitney bus or the train. Weekend tickets tend to book up so buy ahead and if you’re driving I suggest leaving bright and early. We did so and avoided almost all traffic, making it from Manhattan to Montauk in about 2.5 hours.


When we plan a day trip we like to make a pretty good plan of attack (there is less of a luxury of ‘wandering’ the way we do on longer trips) so we went straight to the very end of Montauk first and then worked our way inland throughout the day so that by the end, we were already pointed out of town. First up was Montauk Lighthouse in Montauk Point State Park which was a complete gem of a spot. We didn’t bother going up to the lighthouse itself because we were there for the views and the rocky coastline. We ended up having the beach nearly to ourselves and wandered along the rocks in the morning sun. Well worth the $8 parking lot fee.

Later in the day we made a pit stop at Gurney’s Montauk (as I described in this post). It’s a little more of a “scene” than our style (for example: the parking lot was full of fancy, shiny cars and when the young valet kid brought around Adam’s loud af Subaru with no front bumper, grinding the gears because he clearly had no idea how to drive a race car – we both just burst into laughter. Like how did they even let us into this place?! We tipped him nicely for trying his best and left the place in our usual cloud of smoke.) – but if you’re looking for a glam place with a beachside bar to relax and hang with friends this is it. You can rent a cabana to yourselves to gain access to their beachfront without actually staying at the resort.


The Lobster Roll back on the main road into town is a true, East Coast family-run seafood joint serving up no frills fare and the lobster rolls did not disappoint. Worth the line outside for sure. For dinner/drinks/music the ultimate Montauk scene lives at the Surf Lodge. Regrettably the place was completely booked and we couldn’t get in even to the bar without having had a dinner reservation. Learn from our mistake and book ahead. Our back-up was to head over the Montauk Brewing Company, because it has all of their homegrown beers on tap, obviously, but also because it had a backyard style hang-out area that offered some shade.

Any other favorites in Montauk? I’d love to get back out there in the remaining weeks of Summer or early Fall!

The Steele Maiden: Day Trip to Montauk The Steele Maiden: Day Trip to MontaukThe Steele Maiden: Day Trip to Montauk The Steele Maiden: Day Trip to Montauk The Steele Maiden: Day Trip to Montauk

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The Steele Maiden: Gurney's Montauk with Kendra Scott

This weekend, Adam and I took a road trip to the End of the World (aka Montauk – the Eastern most tip of Long Island). Jewelry brand Kendra Scott was hosting a pop-up shop party at luxury resort Gurney’s Montauk all weekend and had graciously extended an invite – so we decided to make a day of it. And what a day.


Gurney’s is one of those places that looks like an actual postcard.. or you know, Instagram gold. Especially when the skies are as perfectly blue as they were on Saturday. With private cabanas, hammocks, an on the beach bar and DJ – it felt like all of New York’s Lower East Side had been transported to Montauk. Which, to be honest, was a little bit more of a scene than I’m usually in to – but when in Montauk right?

I wore this postcard print dress for the occasion and Kendra Scott jewels (naturally), Adam wore a nearly matching Hawaiian shirt (we inadvertently do this more often than I’d like to admit) and we both went straight for the Montauk Summer Ale.

The Steele Maiden: Gurney's Montauk with Kendra Scott The Steele Maiden: Gurney's Montauk with Kendra Scott The Steele Maiden: Gurney's Montauk with Kendra Scott The Steele Maiden: Gurney's Montauk with Kendra Scott The Steele Maiden: Gurney's Montauk with Kendra Scott The Steele Maiden: Gurney's Montauk with Kendra Scott The Steele Maiden: Gurney's Montauk with Kendra Scott The Steele Maiden: Gurney's Montauk with Kendra Scott

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The Steele Maiden: How Much it Really Costs to Live in New York City

When I asked what you all wanted to hear more of about New York your answer was a resounding ‘your everyday life!‘. And so I figured to begin, I’d go ahead and address the (expensive) elephant in the room. How much does it really cost to live in New York City?

I can’t tell you how many times Adam and I have been in a social setting outside of NYC and had someone has hinted, with wide eyes, at how much it must cost us to live in this city. Or even flat out asked us how much we pay for rent (side note: unless I’m offering up that info or in turn you’d like to tell me how much your mortgage costs.. this question can be skipped) But nevertheless, I get it – this city is one of the most expensive places to live in the entire country (San Francisco actually takes top prize) so it stands to reason that people are curious about just how much we pay and more-so why anyone would want to pay for it?!?

I have two things to say about that. One – it’s expensive to live here so you better damn well love it. If you’re paying an arm and a leg in rent and spending all your time complaining about it.. then leave. There’s some kid in small town Illinois who would kill to take your spot. I dreamed of living here since I was a pre-teen and almost 9 years after first moving here I still think the sun rises and sets with this city. It’s what routinely softens the blow of the expense of it all. And secondly – if you really want it, be willing to make sacrifices. There were times when I was 22 and broke, living in a studio apartment, working two jobs, eating cheese quesadillas for dinner and selling clothes at Buffalo Exchange just to make my rent each month. It never made me want to leave, it just made me want to work harder. Back to point number one. Get it?

The Steele Maiden: How Much it Really Costs to Live in New York City

So here it is – a realistic look at what New York City costs me. To note: this is specific to me – you can live for a lot less (and I have) and you can obviously live a lot more extravagantly (looking at you Beyoncé). But I think for an average person in their 20s/30s without kids, this is a fairly good average.

Rent: Ouch. Here’s the big one. I live in a one-bedroom, walk-up (meaning no elevator.. or dishwasher.. or laundry…) building in the East Village. Average rent for an older apartment like ours downtown will set you back anywhere from $2,250-$2,750 a month. Because I’ve got a roommate that I share that one bedroom with, I luck out a bit as opposed to having to cough up the money for a bedroom all to myself. And if you head uptown or to Brooklyn you can easily get yourself some better amenities or more space for that same money. Or of course you can jump up to the $2,800-$3,300 range and secure a balcony or a walk in closet. I love our current neighborhood and the fact that we are within walking distance to most of downtown Manhattan and my office – but as we look for new apartments I’ll be sharing what we find and where we end up!

The Steele Maiden: How Much it Really Costs to Live in New York City

Transportation: Here’s the great thing – you can ride anywhere you want in this city for $2.75 on the subway or bus (a monthly pass for unlimited rides is $121). You can catch a a crosstown cab for around $15 with tip or buddy up and take an Uber Pool double the distance for just $5.

Because of that East Village apartment, I am lucky enough to walk to work so I personally spend about $30 a month on transportation (a handful of subway rides and maybe a cab or two) which is a considerable savings if you compare what a monthly car payment, insurance and gas cost you out in the suburbs. Adam actually does drive to work in New Jersey so he’s got $5 a day in tolls and gas, but his car is paid off and we park for free on the street.

Food & Drink: Admittedly, a big portion of my money after rent and regular monthly bills seems to go towards food and drink. The great thing about this city though is that you can eat and drink on a dime and still get something great. Or you can reallyyyy #treatyoself and splurge.

An average cocktail is $14 (more if you’re paying for a rooftop view or a hotspot ambience) but you can also find $5 beer and $1 oysters at a great happy hour like the one at Mermaid Inn. Same goes for food – an average dinner for 2 at say, a delicious Italian spot in our neighborhood will run you about $75 before tip (appetizer, two glasses of wine and two entrees), but the $17 large pizza we get in our neighborhood is damn good too. Top dollar steaks or hole in the wall ramen that will knock your socks off. You choose here.

I’ve found grocery store costs to be slightly higher but if you make use of Trader Joes, local farmer’s market and small grocers I’d say these costs can end up being comparable to elsewhere in the country. Except for cereal which is inexplicably almost $7 a box in Manhattan. Why, New York, why?

The Extras: You can easily get a huge armload full of beautiful fresh flowers at any corner bodega for less than $20. But in a good neighborhood a soy chai latte will set you back $6 from Starbucks. Views from the Top of the Rock cost $34 but entry to the Met Museum is technically a donation (so if you can only pay $1 they’ll still let you in). Tickets to see a late night show like Jimmy Fallon are completely free as long as you can grab a spot when the seat lottery opens up and there are major deals on same day tickets for Broadway shows if you wait in line in Time Square. This city has a million things to offer. It’s all about finding which of it falls within your budget – and then getting creative for the rest.

The Steele Maiden: How Much it Really Costs to Live in New York City





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Winter Date Ideas in NYC - What to Wear and Where to Go

I get it. It’s cold outside and your Netflix subscription feels like a safe bet. I’m guilty of it too. But don’t let Winter be an excuse to forgo date night. New York (and honestly every place if you get creative) has a million awesome options worth leaving your couch for. Here – my top 15 Winter Date Ideas in NYC plus an outfit idea that is date-friendly but also warm (shivering is not sexy).

Winter Date Ideas in NYC - What to Wear and Where to Go

  1. Museum Hopping – There’s no shortage of options here but our favorites are the Met for room to roam and the MoMa or Whitney for modern art. Perfect for a freezing cold afternoon.
  2. A Night at the Theater – Going to the ballet is one of my all-time favorite special date nights. Use it as an excuse to get dressed up and head to Lincoln Center.
  3. Go Sledding – Wait for the first big snow and head to Central Park. Even if you don’t actually go sledding, snow ball fights and a long walk through a freshly blanketed park is a pretty memorable day date.
  4. Hot Chocolate Crawl – Skip the bar and hop along a map of the city’s best hot chocolate spots instead. Max Brenner in Union Square, Serendipity on the Upper East Side and City Bakery in Flatiron are all great.
  5. Arcade Challenge – Stock up on quarters and hit up a classic arcade. Go head to head in Pacman, Pinball and the rest while you drink cheap beer. Barcade in the East Village and Two-Bits Arcade in Lower East Side are my favorites.
  6. Grand Central Glamour – Turn back time by taking a trip to Grand Central. Take in the beauty of this classic New York architecture and then grab oysters at the Grand Central Oyster Bar.
  7. Star Gaze – Twice a month (weather permitting) Columbia University opens their observatory for star-gazing. Is there anything more romantic?
  8. Skyline Gaze – If you’d rather stare at the skyline then the stars, then you need to head to the roof. While most aren’t quite as good in the Winter, 230 Fifth has plenty of heaters, cozy blankets and unbeatable views of the Empire State Building. It can get crowded/touristy on weekends and is on the pricey side – but for the views and a drink or two it’s a pretty awesome weeknight date.
  9. Comfort Food – Winter is perfect for getting your comfort food on. We love S’mac, Ivan Ramen, Meatball Shop, or Spaghetti Incident for a hearty meal that’s an alternative to take-out when it’s cold.
  10. Indoor Blooms – While the Brooklyn Botanic Garden is tough to beat in Spring, there are plenty of greenhouses that are worth visiting in Winter too.
  11. Ice-Skating – There are several outdoor rinks in the city but my absolute favorite is Wollman Rink in Central Park. Pro tip – wait for an evening with light snow. Most people don’t think to go but the rink stays open and skating hand in hand while snow falls against the backdrop of the city skyline is pure New York magic.
  12. Catch a Movie – First of all, get MoviePass. It’s only $9.95 for unlimited movies and nearly every theater we go to is included. Including places like NiteHawk in Brooklyn where you can get dinner and drinks while you watch the movie or the Angelika and Film Forum in the city that play awesome independent films.
  13. Find a Fireplace – There are quite a few cozy bars downtown that have a roaring fireplace. Order a hot toddy and snag a seat by the flames. Bowery Hotel in the East Village is a good standby.
  14. Have a Staycation – You all know, I’m all about a hotel staycation in your own city. If it’s not in the budget, you should at least head to a hotel lobby for a drink (case in point: Bowery Hotel in the previous suggestion). They’ve always got great decor and even for a couple of hours, you can feel like you got away. I love Gramercy Park Hotel, Soho Grand and the Standard.
  15. Live Music – There’s honestly amazing live music everywhere in this city, but two of Adam and I’s favorites are Jazz Standard in Gramercy for incredible classic jazz or Arlene’s Grocery for dive bar bands.

Winter Date Ideas in NYC - What to Wear and Where to Go

And if your next question is great – but what on earth do I wear that works for cold-weather but also looks cute.. I got you. I love these velvet jeggings as an alternative to jeans (that are super warm!), sleek booties that can withstand a bit of slush and aren’t as treacherous as heels on snowy streets, and a big faux fur coat that feels less boring than your everyday parka.


Winter Date Ideas in NYC - What to Wear and Where to Go Winter Date Ideas in NYC - What to Wear and Where to Go








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The Steele Maiden © 2012

Fashion, Travel & Lifestyle. Based in NYC.