Skip to content

Concierge Corner: Michael Romei, Chef Concierge at Mandarin Oriental New York

Concierge Corner: Michael Romei, Chef Concierge at Mandarin Oriental New York

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 a top local hotel concierge in New York City to get the inside scoop on all their expert tips.

Michael Romei, Chef Concierge at Mandarin Oriental New York

Why do you refer your guests to The Welcome Guide® and what makes it an important resource for you?
Romei- The Welcome Guide is a most comprehensive guide to all of the very best highlights that NYC has to offer. It is not only attractively designed and easy to review, but the information and content is excellent and most useful. Additionally, I find it to be much more current and seasonal vs. other guides of NYC. 

What are your best tips for exploring NYC like a local?
Romei- Depending on one’s schedule and time, it is truly wonderful to explore various residential neighborhoods such as the Upper West Side, Upper East Side and other areas that do not necessarily have famous landmarks or sightseeing attractions but “hidden gems” that local New Yorkers frequent. For example, the East Side neighborhood of Beekman Place not only contains historic homes such as the original home of Irving Berlin, who wrote the famous song “White Christmas,” but also there are parks and gardens with a lovely promenade walkway along the East River, weather permitting. Here, you feel as though you are truly in a local residential pocket neighborhood of Manhattan. 

What’s an excellent spot to capture a great selfie?
Romei- Washington Street in Brooklyn is one of the most Instagrammable photo opportunities in NYC. Located in Dumbo between the Brooklyn Bridge and the Williamsburg Bridge, one has a backdrop of a charming street and the bridge crossing the river together with the Manhattan skyline in the distance. There is a certain time of the day close to sunset when it is truly spectacular. 

What is the best suggestion you can give a first-time visitor?
Romei- First and foremost, consult your Hotel Concierge, who are true local experts and ambassadors of NYC. The Concierge can share valuable insider information such as helpful hints to save time and hidden “secret gems” of our city. Secondly, I would suggest planning a schedule that allows a first-time visitor to see only the highlights at first because, after all, we know you will likely be returning again. Third, consider hiring a private guide on a walking tour of at least one of the more historic neighborhoods, such as the Lower East Side, Wall Street, and Financial District, and experience firsthand knowledge and a tremendous education about New York City. This is an experience we offer our guests at Mandarin Oriental, New York. 

What should be on every visitor’s “bucket list” when visiting?
Romei- 1) If one has never visited NYC before and it is their first time, I would highly suggest seeing a classic Broadway Show that is so iconic to NYC. 2) Additionally, a Boat Cruise around the Statue of Liberty, walking along the Brooklyn promenade from across the East River to take in the spectacular view of the Manhattan skyline from afar both day and night. 3) A visit to a historic, famous NYC Deli to experience a real authentic “Corned Beef” or “Pastrami Sandwich on Rye.” 4) A Walk on the High Line: The former elevated Railway transformed into a modern sculpture garden while passing through areas known as Hudson Yards, Chelsea and the Meatpacking District.

The High Line (©Actionvance)
The High Line (©Actionvance)

If someone only had 24 hours in NYC, where would you send them?
Romei- I would highly suggest hiring a car and driver and mapping out a drive around the Island of Manhattan with some brief stops to view and see only the highlights: 5th Avenue/Rockefeller Center/Times Square and the Broadway Theater District, circumventing Manhattan via the West Side Highway and/or FDR Driver especially at Sunset, Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island from a Distance, Wall Street, Financial District, the Empire State Building and the 5th Avenue Museum Mile. At night, relax and enjoy delicious food and perhaps a drink or two at a restaurant with a spectacular view, such as our very own MO Lounge at Mandarin Oriental, New York

Where’s the best place to take kids of all ages?
Romei- There is a great off-Broadway show that many people for kids of all ages enjoy called The Gazillion Bubble Show. It has been playing for a very long time, but sometimes it is forgotten. The show takes place at the New World Stages Theater located at 340 West 50th Street. It is one hour in duration with no intermission. The show begins with pantomime clowns performing magic tricks and sometimes can be interactive. The highlight of the show is that, eventually, the clowns begin to blow bubbles to such an extent that the entire theater is completely covered in bubbles. Children and families absolutely adore this show. It has been performing for more than 20 years.

For a guest looking for a night on the town, what would you recommend?
Romei- Would highly suggest hiring a car and driver to be available as directed the whole evening or night. I would begin at either a fine dining restaurant or perhaps a restaurant that is more trendy, lively, and fashionable, depending on the preference. Followed by drinks at one of the many rooftop bars and lounges in our city, such as The Crown Bar, Dear Irving on Hudson, Refinery Rooftop, and Westlight in Brooklyn, among others. End the night or vice versa at one of the many speakeasy bars that are so popular for the moment: Please Don’t Tell, The Back Room, or The Little Shop, among others. 

Any suggestions for the best under-the-radar sites or uncommon things to do?
Romei- The Catacombs by Candlelight Tour of the original St. Patrick’s Cathedral located in the Nolita section of Manhattan at 263 Mulberry Street. The Original St. Patrick’s Cathedral has a fascinating history with the only catacombs of any catholic church in NYC. 

What is your expert tip?
Romei- Most guests and visitors tend to focus their program exclusively on Manhattan and/or Midtown Manhattan or famous sights. If time allows, experience the rich history of Lower Manhattan and trace your steps as George Washington did when he was sworn in as the First President of the United States at Federal Hall just diagonally across from the historic New York Stock Exchange. Just down the street is the historic Fraunces Tavern and Museum, where George Washington held his final luncheon for his Continental Army before departing from NYC to Washington, DC. Visit the outer areas of Manhattan too: An Italian American lunch or dinner on Arthur Avenue in the Bronx, a Food Walking Tour of the Chelsea Market, which was the original Nabisco Factory where the Oreo was invented. Take the boat to Governor’s Island and ride a bike without traffic while enjoying spectacular views of the skyline and harbour of New York City. Consult with your expert Hotel Concierge and consider to hire a private tour guide to learn the rich history, art and design of our great New York City.

New York Stock Exchange (©Aditya Vyas)
New York Stock Exchange (©Aditya Vyas)