Culture and excitement seem to come hand-in-hand almost daily in New York City. Whether it’s the melting pot of international communities, the wealth of events and exhibitions – or celeb-spotting at a swanky restaurant, the Big Apple never disappoints.
My first stop was to chat with Saffas In NYC (South Africans in New York City) founder Mosito Ramaili about their official Rugby World Cup watch party over the weekend in Brooklyn – which saw a record turnout of South Africans all over New York and surrounding areas watch the Springboks historic win over the New Zealand All Blacks!
I then returned to my hotel, the brand-new, ultra-modern Tempo By Hilton New York Times Square (1568 Broadway, New York, NY 10036 at 49th and Broadway). Including taxes, fees, and a $40 per night’ daily mandatory destination charge’ (which you are required to pay no matter what), my rate was USD 400 (R7,450) per night – which for New York, was a relative bargain for the level of finishings and service provided.
The location was unbeatable, with Times Square, Central Park, and Radio City Music Hall all within a short walk from the hotel. I couldn’t help but feel a rush of satisfaction when I checked the rates at the Times Square Edition directly across the street, which were more than 2x as expensive for a similar experience. New York hotels, even the bad ones, are not cheap. And the good ones are crazy expensive.
There’s also the issue of tipping. New York is the crown of tipping, so I prepare bills in all denominations: $5 (R92.78) for the guy who takes the luggage from your car to the front desk, $10 (R185.56) for the bellboy who carries the luggage from the front desk to your room. And some $1 (R18.57) bills for the people in the front who open the door for your Uber. It might seem excessive for visitors from Asia, Africa, and Europe – but in New York, tipping is expected. So much so, that at every kiosk and coffee shop, you are expected to tip, even if you were given an empty cup and got the coffee yourself!
There’s also the 18-25% tip expected at dinner, which can significantly add to your meal charge. Sometimes it’s added in, so check the bill carefully.
Tips aside, it was time to get dressed and head over to the official opening reception of the Basquiat x Warhol Exhibition at the Brant Foundation (brantfoundation.org). The exhibition runs until January 7 2024 and is a must-see.
The collaboration between Andy Warhol and Jean-Michel Basquiat presents the artists with a selection of masterpieces from their influential collaboration in the early 1980s, unseen together in New York for over 20 years – and is one of the most iconic collaborations of the 20th century.
Basquiat and Warhol jointly examine the socio-political upheaval – which mirrors the present time, past, and future. The exhibition traveled from Fondation Louis Vuitton in Paris, France, and has been specially curated thanks to Lead Exhibition partner American Express Platinum.
The next day it was time for brunch at Balthazar (80 Spring Street, New York NY 10012) and I went for the delicious Balthazar Burger for $29 (R534), while my good friend Jane Wang, ordered the Grilled Sullivan County Trout over a warm spinach, walnut, and lentil salad at a cool $37 (R682.52). The iconic restaurant is a favorite for celebs including Leonardo DiCaprio, Bill Nighy, Jean Conlon, and Anna Wintour.
It was then over to the plush Manhattan offices of EBIN New York, where I filmed an episode of my new reality show, “Fashion Moment” on The CW. Filming a reality show is very different than anchoring the news or working the red carpet. Since it’s unscripted, names and sequences are thrown at me quickly and I have to rapidly regurgitate the “script” in my head and deliver it concisely but naturally.
We are currently at the Top 15 Model challenge – and I’ve been highly impressed by how each girl carries herself in front of the judges. While everyone has been professional, there have been a number of catfights and drama and words exchanged during the competition rounds. I’m glad I’m hosting and not judging!
And that was this crazy week in the Big Apple! Until the next adventure!