Guilty Pleasures with Daniel Benedict

Ambassador to Leading Hotels

Omnivore: I like taking in everything I can

My travel cravings are a bit of a guilty pleasure… as much as I love exploring new cities and trying something new, there is always a side of me that wants to find a sunny, warm island with a deserted beach and a warm ocean - heaven!

My earliest travel memory is of a trip my family took to Florida when I was four or five years old. We had a great trip, but at one point I snuck away from my parents and ate an entire pineapple. We still don’t know who cut it for me...but I ended up getting sick, and it took a few years before I could stomach another pineapple.

I would spend my perfect day in NYC because there are truly endless possibilities. You don't have to dig too deep - there are so many options in NYC that are unexpected. Where else can you take a trapeze class in the morning, play tennis right next door, go horseback riding, go jet skiing, take a hip hop class, tour a world-famous museum… and end the day with an amazing dinner at a three-star Michelin rated restaurant? I would stay at the crown jewel of the Upper East Side, The Lowell. It really is perfect, and it's like nowhere else in New York. My most memorable moment in NYC was probably meeting President Bill Clinton and Bono, at the same time, at a dinner - wow!

The activities that can't be missed

1. The Top of the Rock Observation Deck - if you book in advance, they'll quickly whisk you to the top. The views are sensational.

2. A tour of Central Park…such a treasure in NYC!

3. The 9/11 Memorial waterfalls and reflecting pools - a place of peace and reflection in the heart of Manhattan.

Guilty Pleasures with Daniel Benedict
Guilty Pleasures with Daniel Benedict

My favorite places to eat

1. Per Se - I love everything on their menu. Everything! And the view is not too shabby!

2. The River Café is sadly closed right now due to Hurricane Sandy, but I am awaiting its reopening - their views are as outstanding as their food.

3. Buvette on Grove Street in the West Village is one of the yummiest spots in NYC. The croque-monsieur is sublime.

The places you should definitely see

1. The Frick Museum

2. Times Square

3. Bethesda Fountain in Central Park

Guilty Pleasures with Daniel Benedict
Guilty Pleasures with Daniel Benedict

My favorite bars

1. The Boom Boom Room, at the top of the Standard hotel is still my favorite bar - the views are the best in the city.

2. Bemelmans Bar is always fun and nostalgic. Great live music, too - Woody Allen plays there all the time.

3. The Bar at the Four Seasons makes me feel like the cast of Mad Men is going to walk in at any minute.

My hidden gems

1. Lord Willy’s on Mott Street has great, whimsical men’s clothing that is just dandy enough without being costume-like.

2. The Shibui Spa at the Greenwich Hotel is tucked in the hotel and is an oasis in the heart of Tribeca. The ceiling of the spa is from a 250-year-old wood and bamboo Japanese farmhouse and is illuminated with Japanese lanterns.

3. Shakespeare in the Park at the Delacorte Theater in Central Park is one of the most magical evenings one can have in NYC.

Guilty Pleasures with Daniel Benedict

The place I'm most excited to go next is a toss up between a sun-filled lazy trip to the Maldives and an island hopping trip through the Aegean Sea - big decisions!