The Roundup

Big City Romance

by Team Fathom
Photo courtesy of QC Spa of Wonders.

There are a few places — both new and tried and true — that beg a visit during these cozy, indoor months.

Spa Time

Strip down and sweat together.

The new Bathhouse Flatiron is taking reservations. (The fantastic original outpost, with dry and wet rooms and a plunge pool and great cafe, is in Williamsburg.) Catch the 15-minute aufguss sauna ritual if you can stand the heat — it’s pretty entertaining.

Mudéjar-style lair Aire Ancient Baths offers candle-lit thermal baths and massages in Tribeca. During a two hour session, guests wade and swim in various pools, hang out in the steam room, and retreat to private spaces for rituals and massages. This place is sexy and subterranean.

It's not romantic like Aire or cool like Bathhouse, but the recently South Brooklyn behemoth World Spa is a spa adventure. Saunas and steam rooms are inspired by Russian, Scandinavian, Japanese, Moroccan, and Turkish bathing traditions, with a few extras — salt room, snow room, infrared room — thrown in. There are lots of groups (a mix of co-worker outings and birthday parties) but also lots of spaces (pools, hot tubs, banyas) and dining options. You can easily spend the day here.

Add a little suspense to your date by taking the ferry to Governors Island and checking into QC Spa, a maze of water features, treatment spaces, and relaxation rooms inside of the island's old coast guard buildings. The pièce de résistance is a big heated outdoor pool with crazy views of downtown Manhattan across the water. Cirque-style poolside performances happen on Tuesday and Friday evenings through March.

Photo courtesy of Gray and Davis.

Small Shops

Put a ring on it. Then feather your nest!

Drop dead over vintage showpieces and quiet stunners at jewelry store Doyle & Doyle. By appointment only in Union Square. Seriously special stuff.

Talk about engagements casually and try on all the jewels at Gray and Davis in the West Village.

Live out your cottage core fantasies at The Six Bells, where country crocks, patchwork quilts, and plates shaped like lettuces are on display in cozy digs.

On a similar, slightly more Shaker note, there's Salter House, where you can find lovely broomsticks, pewter tableware, and prim nightgowns.

Coming Soon is on the other end of the decor spectrum completely. The Lower East Side shop carries colorful and zany side tables and towels and absurdist / Man Ray-esque objects like a candleholder shaped like a slice of toast and candles shaped like pats of butter. (Sold!)

Photo by Jonathan Pilkington / courtesy of Spygold.

Clink Glasses

Find a special place to make a toast.

Greywind is chef Dan Kluger's sophisticated greenmarket-driving dining room near Hudson Yards. It has high ceilings and lots of space for lively groups of friends to share plates. To the right of the bar and just down the stairs is his dark and cozy Spygold cocktail bar, where precision drinks, “placebos” (a fun name for non-alcoholic drinks), and bites are served to small parties perched on banquettes or couches flanking a fireplace. The menu highlights seasonal fruits (martinis with apples or pears) and vegetables (rum cocktails with beets or butternut) and whet the appetite for elegant crudité, chips and caviar, and classy bowls of toffee popcorn.

Gem Wine, once a boozy waiting room for tables-in-waiting at wiz-kid chef Flynn McGarry's restaurant, Gem, moved around the corner this fall and took over as the coziest date place on the Lower East Side. We think it has to do with table lamps (cloth lampshades!), which create a warm glow against the small wood tables, the wicker baskets, and the generous pours of amber wine.

Who would have thought that a neighborhood natural wine bar on a residential street in Brooklyn's Clinton Hill would become one of the best meeting places in the city? The nearly year-old kitchen at Place des Fêtes pushes out ambitious little dishes (sardine toasts with kosho and cultured butter, maitake mushrooms with black garlic fudge, pork ribs with caramelized honey), unusual wines, and streamlined cocktails. The atmosphere is cozy and lively.

Share Plates

A transporting meal always feels like a grand gesture.

Pretend you’re living in Gilded Age splendor at Cafe Carmellini at The Fifth Avenue Hotel in Midtown— especially if you nab a table on a Juliet balcony overlooking the tree-filled atrium. (They were designed for mischief.) The menu is as elegant as the surroundings — a meunière here, scattered osetra there.

If Rome feels a little too far for dinner, head to SoHo and Roscioli, which has done an impressive job of recreating many features that make the via dei Giubbonari original so charming — a dining room in an intimate basement, a well-stocked bottega on the ground floor.

Let’s not forget oldies but goodies, like One if By Land, Two If By Sea (people can’t help but propose here) and the always sexy Raoul’s.

NOMA alum Mads Refslund spent years and frequent flier miles before opening Ilis in Greenpoint. The space, a former rubber factory, is dramatic but surprisingly warm, dominated by an open kitchen where teams of chefs prepare and serve plates almost too pretty to eat. We were struck by the menu — a handmade book with notes about special ingredients (eel, mushroom, etc.) and anecdotes about how the kitchen team procured them. In addition to the tasting experience, diners can add on snacks from a rolling bar cart — delicate seafoods on the half shell. Do NOT sleep on the giant surf clam flask (a whole clam bound with beeswax and twine with an opening at the top) filled with a cold elixir of dashi, clam, and tomato juice and dusted with sumac. Cheers.

Also in Greenpoint, the unassuming and totally charming Chez Ma Tante is a perfect date night spot for romance or platonic love. Their newish Evening Apéro Hour (5-7 p.m. Monday-Friday; 4-5 p.m. on weekends) is ideal for mini martinis and snacks (boquerones, pâté) as pre-gaming for tried-and-true patron favorites and new dishes (kedgeree, fennel sausage, skate frites).

Great Stay

Our lesser-known romantic hotel picks.

The Lowell
Uptown’s five-star stunner with elegant fireplaces, a concierge ready to unlock the city for you, and over-the-top dining rooms for meals, tea, and cocktails. Feel your way around all the cashmere, marble, and polished oak.

Nine Orchard
So many cool NYC design people came together to create this beautiful hotel (case in point: Tyler Hays made the porcelain toilet paper holders) in a century-old bank building on the Lower East Side. Get dressed-up and order martinis in one of the half-moon booths in the elegant Swan Room.

The Marlton Hotel
The rooms are comically tiny but the living room fireplace is cozy as hell, the morning lobby scene is totally wild (picture O.G. Village residents and their lap dogs having tea); and the prime downtown location is a no-brainer for a spontaneous sleepover after a fun night on the town.

Fouquet’s New York
A quiet stretch of Tribeca. A screening room with overstuffed chaise lounges. A secret/not-so-secret bar behind a door in the lobby wall. That whiff of Frenchy Frenchness. In short, it’s got everything you want in a glamorous hideaway lair.

We make every effort to ensure the information in our articles is accurate at the time of publication. But the world moves fast, and even we double-check important details before hitting the road.