A bite of the Big Apple
An international mecca that’s home to thousands of trendy restaurants, luxurious hotels, leafy parks, top theatres and enough designer outlets to keep discerning Carrie Bradshaw fans happy, New York City’s five buzzing boroughs offer something for everyone 24/7, all-year-round.
From the Empire State Building and Times Square to the Statue of Liberty and Brooklyn Bridge, its landmarks are among the most famous in the world. Everything’s conveniently within walking (or short subway) distance, with the magical island of Manhattan at the epicentre, The Bronx to the north, Staten Island to the south, Brooklyn and Queens over the East River.
Hot Hotels for Celestial Nights
From boutique hotels to luxury apartments, sophisticated stopovers include Midtown’s Gramercy Park, boasting Haute Bohemian heritage in spades and the recently-renovated Roosevelt, known as the ‘Grand Dame of Madison Avenue’. Downtown at The Ritz-Carlton, Battery Park, sweeping waterfront views command your attention at every turn, while The Ritz-Carlton, Central Park offers decadent afternoon tea. Both offer Ultimate Indulgence packages, including champagne and couples’ massages in your luxurious suite.
Feel like a star at Park Avenue’s celebrity haven, Loews Regency. Their Personal Shopper package is perfect for some retail therapy. For cutting-edge design and jaw-dropping views, the Hotel on Rivington’s the place to rest your head on up-and-coming Lower East Side, the place-to-be-seen for aspiring rock stars, fashion designers and a hotel-of-the-moment, The Bowery. Other supercool hotels include Midtown’s Ace, the Financial District’s Gild Hall, boutique Hudson and The Pierre on Fifth Avenue.
NYC’s undergone a hotel building boom lately. Starwood debuted its environmentally-friendly Element brand in Times Square, the Setai Fifth Avenue, a Capella Managed Hotel, brought luxury mix-used property, including a hotel and residences, to Fifth, while other notable openings include Sheraton’s Four Points, Long Island City and Hilton’s Conrad, with fabulous Hudson river views from Battery Park City.
The conversion of 1904 landmark Lamb’s Club on 44th Street recreates 1930’s art deco glamour at The Chatwal, while boutique-designed Ink48 boasts mind-blowing city views and an eco-friendly spa in a former printing house.
Fine Wining & Dining
Kick off with cool cocktails, like the classic Cosmo (Cosmopolitan) or must-have Manhattan, at hip hangouts The Flatiron Lounge in the Flatiron district, the Empire State Building’s Empire Room or rub shoulders with socialites, politicians, movie stars and moguls at the legendary Gold Coast’s timeless watering-hole, Bemelmans.
Midtown, the glass-walled Salon de Ning bar on Peninsula hotel’s rooftop features sensational high-rise views, while the Ava Lounge atop the Dream hotel flaunts multiple fireplaces. The Champagne Bar at The Plaza, where F. Scott Fitzgerald set scenes from The Great Gatsby, is frequented by the sparkling social set and has been graced by the Prince of Wales.
From exclusive eateries like West Side’s palatial, Michelin-starred Del Posto to innovative Japanese food at uptown celebrity favourite, Robert De Niro’s Nobu, when it comes to quality cuisine gastronomes are spoilt for choice.
Upper West Side contemporary eatery Boulud Sud serves Mediterranean-influenced fare. Gotham offers haute cuisine in Greenwich Village, while nearby One if by Land, Two if by Sea, set in a historic carriage house, consistently tops the list of the city’s most romantic restaurants. Water’s Edge in Queens offers spectacular skyline views.
Despite fears it could become a ghost town, the Financial District’s enjoyed a renaissance in the last decade, with new restaurants, shops and waterfront access transforming it into a lively, inviting neighbourhood.
In the former Cotton Exchange at historical One Hanover Square, elegant Bayard’s respects the integrity of centuries-old architecture, gracefully incorporating a modern twist. Also worth a pitstop are Broad Street’s stylish SHO Shaun Hergatt, classy Capital Grille and Cipriani Club 55, both on Wall Street, and SoHo’s David Burke Kitchen, offering wholesome’n’hearty modern American food.
Off to Broadway? Eat your heart out at Barbetta, NY’s oldest Italian restaurant. Central Park South’s Marea presents a fresh interpretation of distinguished Italian coastal cuisine, or eat your way through Italy’s regions at Eataly, an emporium encompassing the world’s largest Italian food and wine marketplace on Fifth.
Lights, Camera, Action! It’s Culture O’Clock
Arguably the Culture Capital of the world, NYC boasts hundreds of galleries, music and dance performances, festivals and public art installations. It also houses some of the world’s greatest museums, including Guggenheim and New-York Historical Society. Entertainment is king in the city that never sleeps. A trip to the Theater District to take in the bright lights is a NYC highlight. On Location Tours showcase recognisable sites from the big screen, such as How To Lose A Guy In 10 Days and Catch Me If You Can.
Passion for Fashion? Shopaholic’s Shangri-la Delight!
Bursting with chic boutiques, shopping’s the law in NYC. Home to more designer outlets than you can shake your credit card at, label queens after a fashion fix splash the cash in the glittering shops of Fifth. Chanel, Dior, Gucci… you’ll find them all here. For the iconic NYC retail experience, make for Bloomingdale’s 59th street flagship store, a fave for fashionistas housed in a giant art deco building. Macy’s is a must and don’t miss glamorous department stores, Bergdorf Goodman, Saks or UNIQLO on Fifth.
Shop-’til-you-drop at South Street Seaport, Barneys and unique boutiques along Madison Avenue. Head downtown to hip’n’trendy SoHo’s ultra-stylish shops or increasingly chic Brooklyn’s boutiques. Apple’s largest-ever store’s in Grand Central, while Upper West Side’s newly-launched Century 21 features private-sale high fashion at discounted prices.
Romance Reigns in The Big Apple
With skyline views and city lights to make anyone swoon, the numerous love affair-themed films set in this iconic city have endorsed its reputation for romance. Who can forget Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr’s plight in An Affair To Remember, on which Sleepless in Seattle was based, putting the Empire State Building firmly on the romance map? Make a date for dusk to watch the city illuminate here before setting sail on a Spirit City Cruise schooner from Chelsea Piers or sampling caviar’n’champers on a World Yacht Dining Cruise. Feeling green? Statue Cruises’ $7m Hornblower Hybrid runs on renewable energy.
Planning to Pop The Question?
With romantic settings a-go-go, whether it’s atop a skyscraper, on a promenade across Brooklyn Bridge or via the Yankee Stadium scoreboard, you’re sure to find the perfect place to propose.
A sunset stroll throughWave Hill public garden offers a serene setting, while Central Park’s Conservatory Garden’s a hidden treasure tucked away in acres of lush flora. Brooklyn, The Bronx, Queens and Staten Island offer beautiful botanical gardens and Brooklyn Bridge Park’s charmingly-restored 1922 Carousel appreciates to-die-for skyline views.
NYC’s at its most romantic when it snows. For the coolest of proposals, take to the ice at The Rockefeller Center… the perfect excuse for falling into your loved one’s arms! Engagement on Ice packages include victory laps for newly-engaged couples plus a champagne toast. Alternatively, light up his/her life with a special message on Broadway’s LED screens at the Crossroads of the World. Money no object? Get down on one knee at the Algonquin, where exclusive Martinis on the Rock contain a $10,000 diamond!
Couples flock here to wed and the list of unique venues goes on and on… with something for all tastes, even the zoo!
Renowned NYC institution, the Grand Ballroom at the Waldorf-Astoria is the place for large wedding parties. A testament to timeless elegance and the epitome of opulence, Central Park’s lavish Plaza hosted Donald Trump and Marla Maples’ nuptials and Capote’s famed Black and White Ball, dubbed the ‘Party of the Century’. Not forgetting the Public Library, setting for Carrie’s dream wedding in Sex & the City.
For a groom (and bride) with a view, secure Brooklyn’s River Café or Mandarin Oriental ballroom’s pretty Central Park panorama. Head for heights? Exchange vows in the Rockefeller Plaza’s meticulously-manicured garden, where 620 Loft & Garden comes complete with reflection pool and dramatic views. Back down to earth, Lower Manhattan’s refurbished marriage bureau offers a choice of chapels. The dream dress? Kleinfeld offers brides-to-be the world’s largest selection of designer gowns.
TOP PLACES TO GO & THINGS TO DO
Invest in a New York City Pass to explore the six must-see attractions and save a whopping 51%! Your pass includes entry to the Empire State Building, Metropolitan Museum of Art, American Museum of Natural History, MoMA (Museum of Modern Art), Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island… without all the queues! www.citypass.com
Along with the main sights’n’sounds’n’smells of the city, there are countless hidden gems to discover, likeTop of the Rock observation deck (www.topoftherocknyc.com) atop the 70-story Rockefeller Center, offering breathtaking 360-degree views, great for orientation and setting the scene for your quintessential New York experience
Take a hansome cab horse-and-carriage ride through Central Park (the city’s ‘green lung’) à la Sex & The City or take to the water and enjoy the city from a different perspective in a Water Taxi (www.nywatertaxi.com), the Staten Island ferry (www.siferry.com) for fabulous views of the famous NY skyline, watching fitness fanatics jog or cycle along waterfront areas or head to Ellis Island and follow in the footsteps of Will Smith, who brought Eva Mendes here on their first date in ‘Hitch’. Highfliers can escape the urban frenzy on an exhilarating private helicopter tour (www.flymh.com)
Head for Frédéric Fekkai (www.fekkai.com/salons/fifth-avenue), the king of the blowdry, on Fifth before dressing to impress and giving your regards to Broadway… taking in a spectacular show.
Make a beeline for Gansevoort Hotel (www.hotelgansevoort.com) where the hippest of New York’s hedonistic head for the Plunge pool/bar on rooftop oasis, or indulge at their Bliss Spa or The Prive, a fave for Hollywood heavyweights in the fashionable Meatpacking District.
For a unique culinary experience, secure a seat in the Outer Circle at New York’s only revolving rooftop restaurant at the Marriott Marquis (www.marriott.com) overlooking Times Square.
Check the city’s events calendar (www.nycgo.com/articles/annual-events-in-nyc-2011) [N.B. update link annually] before you go and time your trip according to your tastes. E.g. the biannual NYC Restaurant Week celebrates its 20th anniversary between 16th January–10th February 2012 [Summer dates tbc], while New York Philharmonic (http://nyphil.org/) offers free summer ‘Concerts in the Parks’ (11th–17th July 2012). 2012 celebrates the NY Film Festival’s 50th anniversary and The 9/11 Museum opens this year, too. Offering decadent brunch at its Oyster Bar, Grand Central Station celebrates its 100th anniversary in 2013.
For a truly dazzling experience, visit the legendary Diamond District on 47th Street and follow in Audrey Hepburn’s footsteps in Breakfast At Tiffany’s with a browse in illustrious Tiffany & Co (www.tiffany.com). It simply has to be on the agenda for the ultimate sparkler. Remember, diamonds are a girl’s best friend!
www.NYCgo.com – The official website for New York
Fly with British Airways: www.britishairways.com
New York has three main international airports: JFK, Newark Liberty and La Guardia and the quickest way to Manhattan is by taxi (make sure it’s authorised). Start your holiday in true New Yorker style – in the back of a Yellow Cab from the ranks outside. There are also bus, shuttle van and limousine services from all three airports. The Super Shuttle (www.supershuttle.com) shared van rides go direct to hotels or hire a classic car (www.classiccarhireworld.com) for your stay.
Family-friendly cruise line, Disney Cruise (http://disneycruise.disney.go.com) will make New York City one of its homeports in 2012.
Where to stay:
Loews Regency Hotel 4.5*
540 Park Avenue (at 61st Street)
New York, NY 10065
Tel: +1 212 759 4100
Supremely comfortable, contemporary but stately Upper East Side/Midtown hotel with an exemplary level of service which has ensured a loyal following. Fabulous shopping right outside your door.
Mandarin Oriental 5*
80 Columbus Circle at 60th Street
New York, NY 10023
Tel: +1 212 805 8800
Award-winning hotel in the beating heart of the city, boasting breathtaking Central Park views.
The Pierre New York 5*
2 East 61st Street at Fifth Avenue New York, NY 10065
Tel: +1 212 838 8000
Opened in 1930, the recently-refurbished, luxurious heritage and iconic US flagship of Taj Hotels enjoys a prime position on Fifth Avenue, overlooking Central Park.
Ritz-Carlton New York, Battery Park 5*
Two West Street
New York, NY 10004
Tel: +1 212 344 0800
Situated on Lower Manhattan’s waterfront, with striking harbour and Ellis Island views and conveniently close to cultural sites and historical landmarks, this luxury hotel’s recently undergone a $10m renovation and boasts bath butlers, valets, concierges and sensational spa treatments.
The Setai Fifth Avenue, a Capella Managed Hotel 5*
400 Fifth Avenue
New York, NY 10018
Tel: +1 212 695 4005
Enjoy luxurious splendour at this boutique hotel whose spacious guestroom and penthouses are among the largest in New York City. A veritable sanctuary in a prestigious location, indulge in its rejuvenating Chill Room, Aqua Lounge and Hammam after a hard day’s power shopping.
Where to eat:
20 West 64th Street
New York City, NY 10023
Tel: +1 212 595 1313
Just steps away from the Lincoln Center, Daniel Boulud’s latest restaurant serves vibrant Mediterranean cuisine from France’s Côte d’Azur, Spain, Italy, Greece, North Turkey and Africa.
Cipriani Club 55
55 Wall Street New York, NY 10005
Tel: +1 212 699 4096
It all began with Hemingway haunt, Harry’s Bar in Venice, and this famous street sports another glamorous outpost from the Cipriani clan, who’ve built a global empire of luxe restaurants, all serving prosciutto to celebs, models and the superrich.
David Burke Townhouse
133 East 61st Street
New York, NY 10065
Tel: +1 212 813 2121
Positively dripping in style and elegance, this Upper East Side townhouse is a hotspot serving up innovative and whimsical New American cuisine.
105 Hudson St at Franklin St
Manhattan, NY 10013
Tel: +1 212 219 0500
Co-owned by Robert De Niro, the guestbook here reads like a “Who’s Who” of Hollywood. Chef Nobu draws upon his classical training at sushi bars in Tokyo and his life around the world to create an innovative new trend in Japanese cuisine at his flagship restaurant.
One if by Land, Two if By Sea
17 Barrow St. bet. Seventh Ave. S. & W. 4th St.
Manhattan, NY 10014
Tel: +1 212 255 8649
Dine amid fresh-cut flowers, chandeliers, candles and soft, live piano music on elegant food in a converted carriage house. To top it all, it’s on one of the West Village’s loveliest streets.
Where to shop:
Barneys New York
660 Madison Ave at 61st St, ninth floor
Manhattan, NY 10021
Tel: +1 212 826 8900
The place for shoes, Barneys set the standard for the cool, upscale department store. It’s also the place to splash out on cutting-edge fashion, jewellery, cosmetics and home furnishings.
5th Avenue at 58th Street
New York, NY 10019
Tel: +1 800 558 1855
Shoppers delight at the museum-quality display windows of this landmark New York department store. Housed in an art deco building (a former Vanderbilt mansion), it boasts the epitome of elegant couture and high-end designer collections for men and women.
666 5th Avenue at 53rd Street
New York, NY 10103
Tel: +1 877 486 4756
One of the popular Japanese fashion retailer’s two largest global flagships, this colossal location boasts the best in basics for men and women.
Tiffany & Co
Fifth Avenue and 57th Street New York, NY 10022
Tel: +1 212 755 8000
The luxury jewellery store made famous by Audrey Hepburn is still the top spot for bracelets, earrings, rings, necklaces and, of course, engagement rings. Just don’t ask them to serve breakfast!