By Amanda Feldman Jay
Photos courtesy of Baccarat Hotel New York

If you can believe it, we are already into month two of 2021 and month 11 since “quarantine” became a part of our daily vocabulary (but who’s counting?). Much like everything else in the past year, an exciting Valentine’s Day may seem like a thing of the past and just another excuse to polish off a bottle of wine collecting dust on your wine rack, but it does not have to be. Whether you are a Valentine’s Day lover, hater, or somewhere in between, we all deserve to treat ourselves from time to time. If you want the ultimate treat, a night or two at the oh-so-glamorous Baccarat Hotel is just the thing.

Sandwiched between Fifth and Sixth Avenues on 53rd Street in New York City, the Baccarat is one of the only luxury Midtown hotels currently open. The first hotel and global flagship of the 250+ year old Baccarat crystal brand, this property is quite literally dripping in dazzling crystal. From the opulent sconces and chandeliers throughout the public areas to ensuite accents, fixtures, and red lacquer minibars filled with – you guessed it – Baccarat crystal stemware in each of the 114 guest rooms and suites. You will instantly feel like you’ve stepped into a life-size jewel box.

A natural romantic retreat for Valentine’s Day or any other special milestone celebration and accented with signature red roses to accompany the crystal decor property wide. The Baccarat is just as well suited for a glitzy Galentine’s getaway. I opted for the latter, as I knew my girlfriend would appreciate the splendor of the design-driven experience more than my husband. Whichever you choose, the Baccarat is currently featuring several offers, “More Amour” and “Love and Luxurious” packages which include lavish extras such as sweet welcome amenities, Baccarat crystal keepsakes, in-room meals, and more.

Upon our arrival, we were safely checked in and then promptly whisked up to our gorgeous quarters evocative of a French chic pied-à-terre, complete with Mascioni jacquard linens, Maison Francis Kurkdjian Paris bath amenities, and some of the plushest hotel robes I’ve ever had the pleasure of enveloping myself in. I will admit I am a tough critic when it comes to comfy robes and these Italian-made robes de chambre certainly did not disappoint. After settling in, we popped a bottle of bubbly, cracked open the crimson box of chocolates next to the bedside and toasted to a Saturday well spent! Is there anything more leisurely than sipping champagne from crystal flutes while eating artisanal chocolates in a cloud-like four-post bed?

We then traded our robes in for swimsuits and waltzed our way down to the indoor pool to enjoy a change of scenery, but not before poking our heads into the social spaces and salons on the main floor to marvel at the 17 awe-inspiring chandeliers and other custom crafted pieces from the brand’s archival and contemporary collections. The typically bustling Grand Salon and Bar with culinary programming from the property’s two-Michelin starred Culinary Director, Gabriel Kreuther, emitted a hushed museum-like ambiance, with food and beverage service temporarily halted during our visit due to COVID-19 restrictions. Though I’m sure it is undoubtedly a special place for dining – which I can’t wait to return for whenever that day comes! When else will you have the chance to enjoy uniquely private access to this opulent treasure trove? The public spaces are currently only accessible to guests and residents for observation and photos.

After our self-guided Parisian-inspired tour of the main level, we stepped down into the Côte d’Azur-esque pool area with a 55-foot sunken marble swimming pool and dreamy cabanas with daybeds. Should you choose to further indulge in relaxation, just off the pool lies the Spa de La Mer, the first dedicated US-based spa from the legendary skincare brand La Mer.

The Baccarat itself has plenty to offer, including all-day in-room dining from the property’s award-winning culinary team. I highly recommend ordering breakfast in bed! It would be perfectly appropriate to never step foot outside the crystal palace until you absolutely have to for checkout, but if you’re staying for a few days, you can get a fill of more leisure and culture nearby. A handful of museums and attractions in the city are open with timed tickets for entry to ensure safety. If you plan to visit multiple spots, consider purchasing a CityPASS, which will offer you prepaid admission to the city’s most revered arts and culture institutions with up to 40% savings. Choose from the C6 option if you’re staying a while or feeling ambitious or the C3 package is for a shorter stay, with the option to visit six or three attractions of your choosing, respectively, from CityPASS’s robust network of partner institutions.

The Museum of Modern Art, designed by Yoshio Taniguchi. Entrance at 53rd Street © 2006Timothy Hursley

Opposite the hotel is The Museum of Modern Art, or MoMA (which is valid with the C3 CityPASS). The iconic museum, with extraordinary exhibitions and some of the most notable collections of modern and contemporary art in the world, recently unveiled a grand expansion. A cool $450 million project with more than 40,000 square feet of additional gallery space built into the existing structure. A trip to the museum is warranted if you’ve not yet experienced the reimagined MoMA for yourself. Currently on exhibit are diverse collections and art forms inclusive of Haegue Yang’s Handles installation (on through Feb 28), Shuzo Azuchi Gulliver’s Cinematic Illumination (on through Feb 2021), Collection 1880’s-1940’s, Collection 1940’s-1970’s, Collection 1970’s-present, and much more.

Top your European-style holiday off with a lovely traditional afternoon tea. Most afternoon tea services in the city, including one held in the Baccarat’s Grand Salon, are not currently operating, but the local boutique tea chain Prince Tea House with seven locations in NYC has managed to continue the tradition, offering their signature French made teas accompanied by three tiers of homemade mini desserts and pastries with clotted cream and jam as well as assorted tea sandwiches. Head downtown to the East Village location to enjoy your light bites and refreshments on beautiful china in the fresh air. If you would rather cozy up with it indoors, place a takeout or delivery order and the experience will come to you via a cardboard tier and tea bags with your blend of choice. Should you choose to trade tea for champagne, you may take the “tiered” experience up a notch with a caviar and champagne “moment” add-on offered in-room at the Baccarat. The hotel’s own Caviar Three Tier includes chives, crème fraiche, shallots, egg white, egg yolks, blinis and 30 grams Golden Ossetra, served with a bottle of Piper Heidsieck Champagne.

It’s not too late to change your mind about Valentine’s Day if you’ve already written it off this year. Make it a day or weekend to celebrate love, friendship, health, happiness, and all of the other things you’re grateful for. And if you can add a little glamour and pampering to make up for last year’s lack of it, go for it. You deserve it!