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An Insider’s Guide To NYC: Concierge Off-Duty Avita Williams

Concierge Quickfire:
1. Coffee or Tea?
2. Morning, noon, or night?
3. Truth or Dare?
4. Peanut butter or Jelly?
Peanut butter
5. Car or Subway?
6. Shuffle or Press Play?

As a native New Yorker, Avita Williams has found herself doing what she loves most: sharing the best of the city with guests as a concierge in NYC. A self-proclaimed people person, Avita says this is the perfect job for her, as she will gladly strike up a conversation with a stranger any minute. Avita shares some insider tips with us at the Refinery Hotel about what she likes to do when she’s not behind a concierge desk.

1. Where is your favorite place to be when you’re not at work?
Well, I simply love the High Line. There’s something so special about it. It stretches up from 12th Street to 30th Street, so it runs through the cultures of the neighborhoods. You’re down in Chelsea and then you end up right here in Midtown, so you kind of get this mix of people. That’s why I love it. I love the people of New York. One minute I’m meeting an artist, the next minute I’m meeting someone who does something off the wall. I can literally just meet all those people on the High Line.

2. What is your idea of a perfect Sunday in the City?
I start my day at Sarabeth’s, a restaurant here in the city. There are four locations, but my favorite is the one by Central Park. In the afternoon I’d make my way over to Long Island City. It’s in Queens, but it’s right over the bridge. It’s not far at all! When it’s nice outside I like to enjoy some outdoor entertainment. I love a great rooftop, especially the one here at the Refinery Hotel. Skyroom also has a great rooftop, they’re both really fantastic. Eataly over by the Flatiron Building also has a great rooftop; that place is super fun. Williamsburg in Brooklyn is also a great area to explore. Brooklyn Bowl and The Whiskey Brooklyn are two of my favorites.

3. What are some hidden gems in the Garment District that you enjoy?
I’ve worked in the area for some time, so I know a couple of hidden gems. There are some really great parks over here. There’s a lot of places for people to just enjoy food. There are a lot of restaurants that are hidden gems in this area. Rifiki’s food truck, which serves Halal food, has the best Basmati rice I’ve ever had in my entire life. Something that people don’t expect to see in this area is the giant sized button and needle right where the Fashion District and the Garment district meet. I always wonder, why isn’t this in all the brochures?! It’s a hidden gem that’s right there out in the open. I love photographing it throughout the year. There are so many ways to capture its beauty.

4. Where is the best place to get a cup of coffee?
For coffee I love to go to Carve. It’s a really great place to grab a quick cup of coffee. The soup there is amazing! When I have some time, which I don’t always have, I like to go to Russian & Turkish Baths. Not the typical place to grab a cup of coffee, but it’s definitely a place you need to spend a few hours relaxing. When you go there you don’t even feel like you’re in New York City. They have fantastic coffee and tea there, and the atmosphere is amazing. You just get to lose yourself the whole day. I love when I get the guests who want to do something that nobody else is doing. I always tell them they’ve met the right person.

5. You can’t spend any money for the day, so where do you go?
You can’t spend any money, go to the park! You go to Union Square, Washington Square Park, or Central Park. You can stop by Strawberry Fields or a Wishing Fountain. You find yourself a penny and you throw it in there and hope for some dollars to come your way. I’ll share a little secret… You can go online and find restaurants that have free tastings, usually on Saturdays and Tuesdays. Restaurants do it all over the place. Without spending a dollar, you’ve had a full and exciting day in the city. Go for a walk, go to the park and find a great free tasting at a New York City restaurant. My advice is walk. Winter, spring, summer, or fall!

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