Explore New York City

Ask the Expert: Richard Branch, Concierge at 1 Hotel Central Park

"Plan ahead! New York City is full of exciting things to do and has so much rich history. As the city continues to get back to “The City That Never Sleeps,” restaurant reservations are needed, and timed tickets may be required for attractions."

Expert Tips From a Concierge Expert

Nobody knows a city like the local concierge team. With the inside track on all the best places to dine, shows to see and things to do, they're a wealth of knowledge for all travelers. We talk with local hotel concierge in New York City to get the inside scoop on all their expert tips.  

Richard Branch, Concierge at 1 Hotel Central Park

WT: Why do you refer your guests to WhereTraveler, and what makes WhereTraveler an important resource for you?
Branch: I refer guests to WhereTraveler because, along with the expertise of hotel concierges, WhereTraveler magazine helps guests feel that they have a small piece of a large city right in their hands. It helps break down key parts of the city that may feel a bit intimidating for some. It also keeps me refreshed on things to do outside the city and updates or changes to existing events or restaurants.  

WT: What are your best tips for exploring NYC like a local?
Branch: It is always fun to explore NYC by foot, but if you decide to take a yellow cab, be sure to provide cross streets or landmarks as your destination for a smooth ride.  

WT: What should be on every visitor’s “bucket list” when visiting?
Branch: Central Park, of course! Become one with nature in the most tranquil part of NYC. Walk, bike, run or row while taking in the beautiful landscape, streams and wildlife. After you explore the park, be sure to come to Jams Restaurant at 1 Hotel Central Park to enjoy the Greenhouse cocktail. You will thank me later! 

Central Park New York | WhereTraveler
Central Park  (©Kelly Sikkema)

WT: Where’s the best place to take kids of all ages?
Branch: Little Island is one of the newest highlights of the city. While enjoying views of the Hudson River on this floating oasis, families can enjoy live events in the open-air amphitheater, “The Amph,” plan a picnic on the main lawn or come to enjoy many fun art installations on the Playground and throughout the park. It’s a free park, but time tickets are required after noon.  

WT: For a guest looking for a night on the town, what would you recommend?
Branch: Enjoy fantastic live jazz and entertainment at The Django Jazz Club. Once you enter, you’ll feel transported into a Parisian underground speakeasy. Styled with vaulted ceilings and exposed brick walls, you’re sure to have a memorable evening.  

WT: What’s an excellent spot to capture a selfie?
Branch: Brooklyn Bridge Park has some of the most majestic panoramic views the city has to offer, from the downtown skyline to the Statue of Liberty and on to the Manhattan and Brooklyn Bridges. Stop by Harriet’s Rooftop at 1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge for the perfect spot for selfies! 

Brooklyn Bridge Park New York | WhereTraveler
Brooklyn Bridge Park (©Martijn Vonk)

WT: Any suggestions for the best under-the-radar sites or uncommon things to do?
Branch: If you’re unable to fly to your favorite European countries, this Uptown Manhattan medieval art and architecture space at The Met Cloisters Museum & Garden is just a 45-minute subway ride from Midtown. Tucked into Fort Tyron Park, this museum is home to over 2000 works of art from the 12th-15th century. There are gorgeous chapels and over 300 species of plants planted in traditional medieval style throughout the gardens. Art lovers will rejoice!