Get Away: a NYC Hotel, a Spooky Philly Attraction and a New Place to Stay in Richmond

Plan a trip to one of the three spots in our travel column

Photo by Ron Cadiz

New Digs in New York City

Tucked in Turtle Bay, a neighborhood on the east side of midtown Manhattan, The Bernic is a new 22-story hotel with an at-home-in-the-city feel. Opened last November, each of the hotel’s 96 rooms features plush linens, heated tile flooring in the bathroom, a flat-screen TV with Apple TV technology, a book collection curated by Strand bookstore, and art inspired by the nearby United Nations headquarters, reflecting cities of the world (London, Sydney, Dubai and Shanghai, to name a few). Seventy-five of the rooms have a balcony.

Northern Italian-American fare fuels the hotel’s Allora Ristorante, where “Maccheroni Alla Mugnaia,” a dish crafted with a single strand of pasta, is a work of art. The rooftop bar Allora Alto offers small bites and old-world Italian cocktails with a view. Enjoy a sunny afternoon there, or gaze out at the bright lights of the big city on a starry night.

Rates at The Bernic start at $159 per night. 145 E. 47th St., New York City; 212-754-9700,

Photo by Elena Bouvier

Get Spooked

Two places of interest were on Charles Dickens’ bucket list when he visited the United States in 1842: Niagara Falls and Eastern State Penitentiary. Opened in 1829, the Gothic prison’s design—based on the belief that convicts needed time alone to discover their good nature—included skylighted cells located in seven cell blocks spread out like the spokes on a wheel. Through exhibits and tours, this Philadelphia slammer-turned-museum offers a fascinating look at both the history of incarceration and its current state.

The sobering Prisons Today exhibit highlights several reasons for the United States’ incarceration rate (the highest in the world), the effect it has on our eligible electorate, and how race and early life experiences impact a person’s chances of landing behind bars. Actor Steve Buscemi, along with former officers and inmates, narrates a free audio tour that includes details on why the buildings had central heat and hot water before the White House, and provides a glimpse into the stories behind infamous inmates Al Capone (and his “posh” cell), “Slick Willie” Sutton and Pep the Dog, an imprisoned canine. Added in May, a guided tour of the hospital wing that’s offered several times a day reveals how the prison handled a tuberculosis outbreak and mentally ill patients. 

A daytime visit to Eastern State is daunting, but the museum’s popular Terror Behind the Walls haunted house will scare you straight. Consistently ranked a top Halloween experience, including “#1 Haunted Attraction in the U.S.” by Forbes in 2013 and 2014, the spooky experience can be “enjoyed” on select evenings from Sept. 22 through Nov. 11.

Eastern State Penitentiary, 2027 Fairmount Ave., Philadelphia; 215-236-3300, $10-$14. Terror Behind the Walls: $19-$45 if booked online ($5-$6 more at the door).

Photo courtesy of Graduate Richmond

Back to School

Release your inner college kid at Graduate Richmond, the newest addition to Graduate Hotels’ portfolio of collegiate-inspired properties. Opened this summer near Virginia Commonwealth University, the 205-room hotel’s public spaces serve up design inspiration from Richmond native and three-time Grand Slam tennis champion Arthur Ashe. 

Named after the park where Ashe honed his early tennis skills, the Brookfield café serves craft coffees in the early hours, and grill favorites later on. Just outside the café, don’t miss the chandelier made from frames inspired by Ashe’s eyewear. Take the elevator to rooftop bar Byrd House (a nod to Richmond founder Col. William Byrd II) for Southern-style fare and boozy slushies poolside.

Similar to sister property Graduate Charlottesville, guest rooms incorporate a touch of preppy plaid. Each room also includes a striking print of an American foxhound—Virginia’s official dog—and an old-fashioned rotary phone that will befuddle today’s college students. Room types vary from standard queen and king up to family suites with bunk beds.

Graduate Richmond rates begin at $160 per night. 301 W. Franklin St., Richmond, Virginia; 804-644-9871,

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