The Radiance Tea House & Books -and- The Great Jones Spa
The title should actually be “oases,” since I have plural to share, but let’s just admit the correct form looks funny and doesn’t carry the same impact as the palm-tree, sunshine and calm that “oasis” does.
This was a much anticipated weekend for me, since not only was it extended (thank you, President’s Day), but one of my best friends and much-missed roommate from Chicago was visiting for the first time.
Beyond the hugs and laughter, booze and bars, shopping and strolling, was an overall fantastic NYC experience (I like to think phase one of her eventual move here). One of the places we visited (in addition to the New York Public Library – which was gorgeous and inspiring) was the Radiance Tea House & Books.
You all know I fear disappointment, and having been here once before with my Mom and Sister for a tea tasting that was absolutely fabulous, I was nervous that my second experience wouldn’t live up to my very high expectations.
Luckily I was wrong (and I don’t say that often).
The ambiance is tranquil, with moving water, soft scents, colorful accents and tea sets for sale and a book collection – all with Asian overtones. Charlotte and I shared a pot of tea for two and the best soup I’ve ever tasted. Not being one for extremely healthy bittles, I was skeptical of the all natural, gogi berry, fig, chicken, broth concoction, but my new age-y side came out and I tried it – to find it absolutely delightful and rival the dumplings for my favor.
Now, for the books that compare to this delightful experience are as follows:
- SHANGHAI GIRLS by Lisa See: Though this book is far from tranquil as it follows the struggles between sisters as they escape China and have to carve out new lives in the different world and culture of LA in the 1930s, it’s an obvious choice due to its Asian focus and the detailed description of culture and color, which immediately bring my rich Tea House experience.
- LOVE THE ONE YOU’RE WITH by Emily Giffin: The obvious is that much of this chic-lit novel takes place in NYC. But there’s also the deeper, underlying questioning we women tend to do upon making any big decision, and there’s no better solution than to talk things over with your best friends – hence this choice.
- I WAS TOLD THERE’D BE CAKE by Sloane Crosley: Another NYC setting, but this one depicts the city in all its reality, told in a fresh and real voice. Crosley’s essays are relevant, hilarious, often too relatable and she has that enviable skill to be an incredibly talented writer that at the same times makes you feel as if your own stories are worth sharing.
After Charlotte leaves early Monday morning, I lie in bed, drained from our activity and other debauchery. Luckily, I happened to be swept away on a wonderful date to the rejuvenating oasis of Great Jones Spa.
Armed with PRIDE AND PREJUDICE, a bikini and very pale skin (though luckily, Char and I had indulged in a nail session, so my fingers and toes were appropriately glowing) – we arrived at the “Water Lounge” around 3pm.
Needless to say, it was a decadent experience. Traipsing between the “River Rock Sauna, Chakra Light Steam Room, Thermal Hot Tub, and Cold Plunge” then relaxing in a chaise reading while wrapped in a fluffy robe it was the perfect way to spend a snowy day off work.
I plan to make this a yearly President’s Day thing – I have no doubt the company may change, but I’m hoping the experience remains the same!
Corresponding reading material:
- PRIDE AND PREJUDICE by Jane Austen: Though the Bennett sisters lacked the accommodations of the spa, there was plenty of innocent flirting taking place throughout the watery haven. There’s no better place to read about Jane & her Mr. Darcy than drinking tea under the lights of a fake palm tree.
- OLIVIA JOULES AND THE OVERACTIVE IMAGINATION by Helen Fielding: Why? Well because it’s fun, frothy and an escape from reality. Though Fielding does a nice job integrating bigger issues (9/11) into this frolicking tale. It’s an experience akin to reading The Economist (not kidding, my man friend did) at the spa.
- ROUGH COUNTRY by John Sandford: Though Virgil Flowers may not be an obvious choice, this hilarious mystery does take part near a women’s spa/camp in Minn. And Flowers is known for enjoying a relaxing time in his fishing boat, so I don’t doubt he would enjoy the sound of running water here.