I first fell in love with New York when I was twelve, and my mum took me to NYC for an exhibition she wanted to see at The Met. We visited the MoMa, went shopping at Bloomingdale's and had our portraits drawn in Central Park (I like to think that my taste is slightly less touristy now). I've been an NYC devotee ever since, and am fortunate enough that my 9-5 in fashion brings me back to The Big Apple regularly. With New Yorker friends who have their fingers on the pulse of what's going on in the city, and a bit of luck stumbling upon real gems, I have amassed a compilation four pages long of my favourite spots. To spare you the bore of going through all that literature, here are my top picks for NYC in 2017.
From the team that brought you The Bowery, the new Ludlow Hotel has all you need for a comfortable stay in NYC. It’s conveniently located in the Lower East Side, close to bars, restaurants and shopping. In addition, it offers easy access to Brooklyn if you fancy spending a day or evening in Williamsburg. The Ludlow’s newly opened restaurant, Dirty French, offers excellent food and the bright, airy rooms will make you want to stay longer.
New York Times Arts section over your morning coffee. Feel like a New Yorker, as you peruse the array of exciting activities the city has to offer.
The space at Vandal is so cool, you’ll never believe the food is incredible, too. The TAO group opened this Street-Art and Street-Food restaurant last year, and bookings way in advance are still necessary. Check out the extensive art, fill up on ceviche and Balinese Branzino, and, on your way out, take a selfie with the enormous pink bunny.
Old Hollywood done right, this restaurant inside the old-school, atmospheric Metrograph cinema is beautifully designed with vintage furniture and palm plants. The menu is simple but delicious and my “Tender is the Night” cocktail would have delighted F Scott Fitzgerald.
New-wave French food is served to our table nestled in a pink velvet booth under neon lights. WTF is “new-wave French food”, you ask? It means a whole chicken, duck gnocchi, blackened broccoli salad and a French rosé that had us singing along to French hip hop.
I loathe queuing. Brunch most weekends finds me slightly hungover and very hangry. So you can imagine my dismay when Freemans’ maître d’ refused to seat us until all members of our party had arrived. Luckily, this gave us a terrific head start on the brunch cocktails at the bar. We’d had a few Freeman’s Cocktails (rye, pomegranate, orange bitters) by the time our friends arrived much later. Freemans is cosy, noisy, and taxidermy-heavy and offers a Shakshuka to cure any hangry stomach.
The concept here is obvious choose your meat, plus three side dishes, reminiscent of casual Southern dining. Harold’s is non fussy but upscale, and we enjoyed lobster, scallops, hanger steak (my foodie friend hailed this as one of the best steaks he’s ever had), with sides of asparagus, mac + cheese and Japanese sweet potatoes. Excellent wine list – we’ll be back to enjoy the cabernet sauvignon.
The “new” Whitney (opened in 2015) building took 34 years and $422 million to come to fruition, and well worth every year and every penny. The architectural structure is a sight from the outside, and inside displays art works from the 20th and 21st centuries. The airy space is a fantastic place to catch an exhibition or two (we saw pieces by Carmen Herrera and the art/ immersive cinema Dreamlands exhibit when we last visited), as well as dine at their first floor “Untitled” restaurant. Spend warmer months on their impressive rooftop.
After you’ve spent the morning wandering along the High Line, and have lunched in Chelsea Market, be sure to take your own private tour through Chelsea’s famous galleries. See works from Warhol, Damien Hirst, Richard Serra, as well as lesser-known and up-and-coming artists as you stroll your way through Chelsea. My favourites include the Gagosian, David Zwirner Gallery and Steven Kasher Gallery.
For an unique experience be sure to attend this immersive theatre experience. Audience members don masks, and silently follow actors through a Macbeth-like immersive play. The set, props and actors are believable, so skip that extra cocktail at the bar or the experience will be truly terrifying. Creepy, thrilling, and quite a lot of fun – be sure to wear comfortable footwear as you’ll be exploring the full 5 story building throughout the eve.
Started to make opera more approachable, Gramercy Opera is geared towards the young and the non-opera savvy (or the savvy, you cultured thing, you). Gramercy Opera offers music that’s light, comprehendible, and an evening filled with fun, drinks, and a chance to meet other opera newbies. Make sure to check their events for your visit, and get your ticket to their Belle Nuit Gala on May 11. You will see me there in my finest enjoying New York City’s greatest talent!
Head to this market in Williamsburg for artist stalls, antique furniture and some of the best vintage on this side of the Atlantic. After you’ve worked up an appetite, head to nearby Smorgasburg for Brooklyn’s food stall heaven (only open during the summer months).
Worth a visit, even if your budget doesn’t extend to luxury designer threads. A beautifully curated store in the Meatpacking District, you can find unique pieces by Dries, Chanel and Lanvin (among many others) that no one else at home will be wearing. Staff are helpful and knowledgeable, and The Standard is steps away for a drink before or after a big purchase.
Make a reservation at this Speakeasy and enter through The Burgery bar downstairs. Very dark, very intimate, very sexy. We spent many hours here sipping menu cocktails and off-menu libations the friendly mixologists were happy to create for us.
Although this rooftop is a great place for brunch, we prefer it for night time activities. New York’s young, fun Lower East Side crowd congregates here for a good time on Thursday – Saturday nights in the summer. The DJ encourages all guests to dance on the gorgeous rooftop dancefloor.
This is the place to party in NYC Located in the 11 Howard hotel, the space operates as an elegant lounge, but by 11pm becomes a raging party room. Great music that will keep you dancing until New York’s 4am last call…
The first time I came here was with a fake ID, but The Jane is a classic and is still every bit as good today as it was that many moons ago. Split into a dimly lit, wood carved bar area (designed to feel like an old-world train car) and a separate ballroom, you can decide whether or not you want to have an intimate drink in the bar or dance to old-school hip hop in the ballroom. With antique furniture that begs to be danced on, titanic ceilings, and an enormous disco ball at the centre of it all, the ballroom is lavish enough to look just like one of G&T’s settings for a party.
Escape the Big Apple’s mayhem with a visit to this light-filled yoga studio in Chinatown. A little tightly-wound, I can’t stand being instructed in a breathy voice or with ridiculous instruction; nothing gets me more stressed than being told at a yoga class to “Be a butterfly in your heart, ahhhhhh”. Down-to-earth, practical instructors will give you a good stretch and help you relax.
No mention of butterflies.