— Life —


Photograph via Firmdale Hotels
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How many of you’ve had high tea at the Whitby Hotel in New York City? If you’ve never been, put it on your list of things to do the next time you’re in the city. Many of the patrons are familiar faces who’re uber chic and discreetly seated at corner tables. Since my lunch date had to cancel, I went alone and incognito as my fashion icon, Rene Russo’s character in The Thomas Crown Affair.

Many women wouldn’t dream of going somewhere, alone, especially someplace chichi like high tea at the Whitby, but go girlfriends!

My husband died seven years ago, so I’m used to doing everything alone, even traveling to other countries. Yes it would be nice to have someone with us, but to deny ourselves a fun experience is in essence, sentencing ourselves prisoner in solitary confinement. Even if you’re uncomfortable with the idea, make a deal with yourself to eat at a five-star restaurant. Alone. Without a book. Enjoy the atmosphere, the food, the people watching or make friends with the waitstaff, and if you get uncomfortable–I promise no one else is giving you a second thought–focus on your food or something on your phone. I wouldn’t have missed the Whitby’s warm scones with cashew butter—as smooth as a baby’s behind–for anything!

Photograph by Brenda Coffee

The Whitby is a colorful, sophisticated celebration of contemporary art and design combined with classic European elegance. I love textiles, old and new, so I wanted to see the embroidered, dining room chairs.

Photograph by Brenda Coffee

The bold, sophisticated patterns and the intricate workmanship took my breath away! Whether it was the embroidered, padded fabric columns in the restaurant, the stunning embroidery on banquets, pillows and dining chairs or the mixed media painting in the lobby, the Whitby made my heart sing.

On my way to the Whitby, who should I spy while waiting for the light to change at Madison and 56th, but iconic makeup artist, Sandy Linter. Talk about chic! Sandy was wearing a “chubby” silver fur—real or faux I don’t know—but we met in the middle of the street, going opposite directions and had time for an air kiss and a hello! That’s the second time I’ve run into Sandy on the streets of New York. The first time she joined me for lunch at a quaint neighborhood restaurant not far from her apartment.

Photo from Roman and Williams Guild

Another place to try in New York City—alone or with a friend—is Roman and Williams Guild at 53 Howard St. in Soho. Recently opened by husband and wife designer team, Robin Standefer and Stephen Alesch, the Guild’s La Mercerie serves classic French pastries and breakfasts, an all-day menu and cocktails.

Photo from Roman and Williams Guild

The rest of the 7,000 square-foot site has a flower shop by Emily Thompson, a furniture store that celebrates quality and craftspeople, a library stocked by the publisher Phaidon, plus it’s the best place to while away three or four hours like Carol Dietz and I did. What a fun place to get to know the fashionable, former Art Director at the New York Times.

Whether it’s high tea or going to the movies, don’t be afraid to go somewhere alone. You never know who your next-door table mates will be. Remind me to tell you about sitting in a little restaurant alcove next to Billy Joel and his wife!

Love, Brenda


  • Rossina DeMontoya February 3, 2018 at 8:18 am

    I like going to nice restaurant by myself, I enjoy my food and background music and relaxation, I like to take my time enjoy a cup of coffee and special dessert without comments. I enjoy going shopping and shows everywhere you go is people
    But I also enjoy from time to time the company of friends and family.

    • 1010 Park Place February 3, 2018 at 11:50 am

      I love that, Rossina! You’re comfortable with your own company and not self-conscious which is enviable. My mother wasn’t comfortable… even in her own skin, so I learned a lot from her. She wouldn’t be pleased to know she was a role model for how I didn’t want to be. Thanks so much, Brenda

  • [email protected] February 3, 2018 at 9:14 am

    Brenda I visit NYC every year with my mom and sister. Can’t wait to try the Whitby for high tea next time.
    As far as dining alone, I have no problem with doing it.

    • 1010ParkPlace February 3, 2018 at 10:45 am

      Another woman who’s comfortable with herself!! Brava! And how fun to share NYC with your mom and sister. You’ll love the Whitby! xoxo, Brenda

  • Lorraine C. Ladish February 3, 2018 at 9:25 am

    I love doing things by myself. The Artist´s Way recommends we have an artist´s date all alone at least once a week. I live for those moments. Thank you for sharing.

    • 1010ParkPlace February 3, 2018 at 10:47 am

      Hi Lorraine, Thanks for bringing that book to my attention. I’ve been aware of it, but haven’t read it. Just looked it up, and it’s definitely something I’d love. Interesting that you “live for those moments.” I’ve been single for so long, I’ve forgotten what that feeling is but understand it. xoxo, Brenda

  • Rena February 3, 2018 at 9:31 am

    I have never traveled alone, but it’s on my bucket list. I’m married and love traveling with my husband, but to take off alone across the country stopping when I want and writing when I can would be amazing.

    • 1010ParkPlace February 3, 2018 at 10:52 am

      I wonder how many husbands would understand that? Or if we role reversed, and our husbands said they wanted to take a trip by themselves… I think an alarm bell would go off in my head. My late husband wasn’t crazy about me going off alone. In fact, he was dead set against it and we had words when I went to Mexico to interview some dangerous characters… That I understood, but I did it anyway. It can definitely be a tricky road to walk, but well worth it. xoxo, Brenda

  • Sue Burpee February 3, 2018 at 9:53 am

    Okay…now you’ve inspired me. I’m going to get dressed up and go for lunch downtown, somewhere cool, and interesting. I remember when I first retired from teaching, my husband was ill for months, diagnosed the day after my retirement party, so my first months of “freedom” were stressful and not fun. But the next fall, I took myself down to the historic area of our city, ambled around, explored small courtyards I’d never seen before, bought a coffee, sat in a cobbled square sipping it and writing in my journal. “This is what I thought I’d be doing when I retired,” I said to myself. And never did it again!
    So…this time…maybe it will be lunch. Thanks, Brenda.

    • 1010ParkPlace February 3, 2018 at 10:59 am

      I’m glad I could help you resurrect some old plans and ideas, Sue! I also love going into interesting stores that usually don’t call my name because I’ve met the most interesting people and walk away with new perspectives.

  • Jamie February 3, 2018 at 10:06 am

    Those chairs are fab!

    • 1010ParkPlace February 3, 2018 at 11:01 am

      Aren’t they though, Jamie? I should have posted a closeup of one of them. I took that photo but somehow, it got deleted. The trim around the edges was stunning as well. I can only imagine how much $$$ a yard they were. Since they’re the show pieces of that room, I’m certain they have lots of extra chairs and/or fabric in storage in case of a needed refurbishing. Thanks for stopping by! Brenda

  • 1010ParkPlace February 3, 2018 at 10:39 am

    One of the things I like about you is you’re adventurous and comfortable going places alone! xoxox, Brenda

  • 1010 Park Place February 3, 2018 at 11:50 am

    You’re definitely a travel pioneer!!

  • Mamavalveeta03 February 3, 2018 at 12:32 pm

    I always go to movies by myself, and frequently eat lunch alone. I call it “ ME Time”!

    • Brenda Coffee February 6, 2018 at 4:44 pm

      Brava, Val. That doesn’t surprise me about you! xoxox, Brenda

  • The Style Crone February 3, 2018 at 2:33 pm

    Beautiful post! I love going places alone. I call it a “self date,” and I’ve been doing this since the 70’s. I don’t plan to stop any time soon!

    • 1010ParkPlace February 6, 2018 at 11:25 am

      A “self date!” Love that, Wendi! Thanks for stopping by! Brenda

  • Missi Baker February 3, 2018 at 3:48 pm

    Over the years, I often travelled alone with work-related trips and never hesitated to dine alone in great restaurants. (And I’d refuse the concierge’s subtle sexist efforts to seat me in a remote table!) I enjoy the rare chance for solitude without the obligation to listen to companions and, instead, soak up the atmosphere, people-watch, and savor my eclectic food choices. Retired now, I still head out from my rural home on occasional day trips to larger cities seeking time with me…

    • 1010ParkPlace February 6, 2018 at 11:30 am

      Hi Missi, I’m like you… I decline tables by the kitchen and those that are out of the way. They wouldn’t do that to a man. Atmosphere and people watching are so much fun and a great part of the dining experience. From time to time I see women, reading a book, while eating out, and it makes me sad. They bring the book because they’re uncomfortable being there by themselves, but that book does them no favors… They don’t get used to dining alone and they miss the entire experience. Love your comment, Missi. Thanks so much, Brenda

  • Gigi Schilling February 3, 2018 at 5:49 pm

    I also go out on my own everywhere. Have no problem whatsoever. And I even have a joke: not only I can pay for my dinner and my drink, but at over 50 no man will think that I am there to pick up guys haha which I am not!!!

    • 1010 Park Place February 5, 2018 at 4:29 pm

      You’re a hot woman over 50… If you’re sitting at the bar, I’d imagine men try and hit on you.

    • Gigi Schilling February 5, 2018 at 4:44 pm

      1010 Park Place haha thanks…. but I’d never seat at the bar alone… i always seat at the restaurant.

  • Joyce February 3, 2018 at 6:44 pm

    Brenda….thanks so much for sharing! Hubs semi-retirement takes us to many small towns. While he works…I’m on my own….for many enjoyable adventures. People watching! Is a favorite…along with art journaling.

    • Brenda Coffee February 6, 2018 at 4:49 pm

      Now that sounds like fun, Joyce. You have the best of both worlds: some alone time to explore and time with Hubs! Brenda

  • jill Anthony February 4, 2018 at 2:11 pm

    Brenda, these photographs are fabulous! What gorgeous places! I enjoy doing things alone and my fave thing to do alone is to go to the movies. I can hunker down in the seat with my Junior Mints and totally let the movie take me away.

    • Brenda Coffee February 6, 2018 at 4:50 pm

      I’m with you on that, Jill. Besides, since you can’t talk during the movie, it’s not the most social event, anyway. Junior Mints!!!! LOVE THOSE! xoxox, Brenda

  • Linda Barnby February 5, 2018 at 3:58 pm

    The Whitby is divine! I will put a visit there on my to-do list when I am in NYC again. Your photos are beautiful. I have never had a problem dining alone. I have traveled alone on vacation several times and that can be a wonderful experience because it’s so easy to meet people every where you go. I’ve been married for decades, but still occasionally go off on a jaunt on my own. Refreshing!

    • Brenda Coffee February 6, 2018 at 4:57 pm

      Hi Linda, In an earlier comment to Rena, I was wondering how many husbands might be a little concerned/worried if their wives announced they were going on a vacation by themselves? My late husband was one of those, but if I went with girlfriends or on a business trip, it was different. When I role reversed, I understood, because I would have wondered if there was another reason he wanted to go on a solo vacation, even though we had a solid marriage. Thanks for your great comment. Brenda

  • LA CONTESSA February 6, 2018 at 10:10 am

    This TEA HOUSE looks SUBLIME……………..
    OH New York……….will I EVER SEE YOU AGAIN?!!!!

    • Brenda Coffee February 6, 2018 at 5:00 pm

      Elizabeth, Have you ever been to the Winter Antiques Show in NYC? We’ve already missed it for this year… In January… Perhaps next year! xoxox, Brenda

  • Mithra Ballesteros February 7, 2018 at 8:26 am

    I’ve invited people dining alone to join me. What are your thoughts on that?? Is it too bold??

    Also, I’d forgotten that Firmdale has hotels in NYC! Gotta go! Their hotels in London blow me away.

    • 1010ParkPlace February 7, 2018 at 1:18 pm

      Hi Mithra, What a sweet thing to do! The Whitby’s website is under the Firmdale umbrella but I didn’t look at their other holdings. Having seen the Whitby, I’m sure the others are wonderful, so thanks for confirming. After James died, I spent a few days at my best friend’s house in another city. While she and her husband were at work that first day, the house was too quiet, so I took my computer and went to Starbucks. There was another woman, about my age, who looked a bit like I felt… out of place, unsure of the future, so I asked if she’d like to join me. We had a great visit and had lunch the next time I was in town. I’ve also met two women while I was walking down the street in NYC. I had drinks with one and dinner with the other. Since then, both have become wonderful friends. I had dinner with “Fifi” the last time I was in NYC–blogged about her as well https://1010parkplace.com/fifis-shoulda-coulda-woulda-retirement/ The other woman went to Italy with me last fall, and we text/talk on a regular basis. I think these “hookups” are a chance thing. If you keep that in mind, plus who’s paying the check, I say go ahead. All of my experiences have been delightful. xoxox, Brenda

  • Donna Robinson February 7, 2018 at 12:08 pm

    After 29 years of marriage and 3 years alone, I’ve become accustomed to solo life. While I love my friends, there’s a freedom that’s empowering with being single. I recently drove from Portland to San Francisco and on to Sonoma – all while listening to the music I wanted. From drinks at the Fairmont, an evening visiting SFMOMA, cooking classes in Sonoma and wine tasting, I had and amazing time and met wonderful people I wouldn’t have if I hadn’t been alone. I even had a couple ask if they could join me at dinner since I was having way too much fun alone talking to the waiter. My friends call me courageous for being adventurous on my own – I call it living life!

    • Brenda Coffee February 7, 2018 at 1:30 pm

      Oh, Donna! You’re my kind of woman! I also talk to the waiters and have a wonderful time doing so! At the end of this month I’m going to New Orleans. While I’m in NOLA I’m going to visit as many places as possible to eat, drink, listen to music, talk photographs and look at antique stores. I’m also planning to rent a car and drive three and a half hours to a small town to meet a woman I know online. I don’t think it’s courageous. Maybe back in our mother or grandmother’s day, but you’ve already said it so well: It’s called living life! We don’t have to have a partner to do that! Brava! Thanks for your wonderful comment. Brenda

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