Our friends over at the new website GloboMaestro ( pride themselves on providing insider information for locals and visitors alike from hotel staff in some of the U.S.'s top urban tourist destinations -- New York, Miami, San Francisco, and Santa Monica, CA. When we heard about the website, we casually asked Mark Jolly, a veteran travel writer and one of the brains behind GloboMaestro, for a few tips from his experts. We ended up with a half-dozen new ways to see some of our favorite cities.

Downtown New York: Secret Bars of the East Village

Expert: Laura Cooper Brown
Works at: The Bowery Hotel

The outermost clutches of the East Village -- known as Alphabet City -- are famous for having more bars, and more types of bars than most Manhattan neighborhoods. Among the latest (and hottest) is the secret rock and roll bar White Noise at 225 Avenue B (no website). It's found through an unmarked door next to a liquor store, up a flight of stairs. The space is all black wooden floors, black vinyl sofas and black velvet curtains -- even the chandeliers are dipped in black tar. But it's also glammed up with Swarovski crystal-covered animal skulls. If ever you needed a blast from this hood's outrageous past, this is it.

San Francisco: San Francisco's Best Italian (Just Don't Call It Italian)

Expert: Antonio Barrios
Works at: St. Regis San Francisco

Most visitors to San Francisco know about the dime-a-dozen Italian restaurants in North Beach. But few have ventured to La Ciccia, a little gem of a Sardinian restaurant in Noe Valley. La Ciccia's ( menu is distinct from "regular" Italian food -- after all, Sardinia is a Mediterranean island with its own unique culture and cuisine. The food here is organic and super fresh, and I often veer toward their homemade pastas like the fregula with ricotta and shaved tuna hearts.

But for the full La Ciccia experience, you must snag a spot at its quarterly farmer's table: that's when the restaurant closes its doors and does a special set menu for forty people. Expect some finger-licking suckling pig.

Miami: Venturing Beyond the Beach

Expert: Giselle Mueller
Works at: Mandarin Oriental, Miami

When you come to Miami, you have to hit the beach. Naturally. But what if I told you there was another way to experience our waters? The Miami River is one of the best ways to see the many sides of the city -- though many visitors barely realize it exists.

If you charter a small boat you can get a dose of just about everything -- from the glamorous villas of our A-list residents to the family fisheries that supply Miami's freshest seafood. You can also hop off right at the door to one of the finest fish restaurants in town: Garcia's (

Midtown New York: The Swedes Kick Starbucks to the Curb

Expert: Raphael Pallais
Works at: The Plaza Hotel

You're in Midtown Manhattan and you need a coffee break. Before you slip into autopilot and march to the nearest Starbucks, give FIKA ( a try. The original location of this Swedish inspired café is right behind The Plaza on an otherwise nondescript stretch of 58th Street.

Their coffee is exquisite: strong and smooth. FIKA imports its beans from Sweden's oldest and most respected roaster, Lofbergs Lila. Loving attention goes into every detail -- right down to the perfect heart-shaped design in the foam of your cappuccino. You'll also find Swedish delicacies like salmon marinated with juniper berries. Just save room for the hand-rolled truffles.

Uptown New York: Fifth Avenue Hideaway

Expert: Michael Bordenick
Works at: The Surrey

Everyone knows the uptown stretch of Fifth Avenue, nicknamed Museum Mile, is studded with New York's cultural treasures: the Met, the Guggenheim, the Cooper-Hewitt. But few know where to find the only sidewalk cafe on Museum Mile.

Seriously, on one of the most picturesque avenues in the world, there's nowhere else to enjoy a cappuccino and a pastry outdoors. The Heavenly Rest Stop ( is a little cafe tucked into the shoulder of a beautiful Gothic-Art Deco church. Seated out front, you can watch runners, bikers and sightseers cross paths by the Central Park reservoir.

Santa Monica: Mexican That Would Make My Mama Proud

Expert: Michael Andrade
Works at: Fairmont Miramar Hotel & Bungalows

Having grown up with a Mexican mom who cooked hearty dishes from her homeland, I can be a tough judge of Mexican restaurants. But in Santa Monica, there's one place that has stayed true to tradition, while still being innovative and creative.

La Serenata ( is the real thing. They make their own fresh tortillas and desserts daily, including chocolate soufflé with tequila sauce! And they're also dedicated to healthy-cooking (sorry, mama -- no lard used here). Seafood is the specialty: try the giant shrimp dressed in one of 30 homemade salsas.

Get more insider tips, watch videos, and ask your own questions at GloboMaestro (