There is a saying that you should always be yourself, unless you can be Carrie Bradshaw. In which case be Carrie Bradshaw. Because there is nowhere as sexy as New York.
Fast, furious, old, bold and always in the spotlight, New York is the place of parties, egos, seen to be seen’s and big time rollers. But it’s damn good. Home of the best brunches, lunches, art houses and party people. The perfect long weekend for a winter month.
WHERE TO STAY
If you haven’t made your mind up whether you are heading North, East, South or West then stick yourself near the middle of the compass. Located in Midtown’s fashion district, it’s a hop, skip and a jump from Bryant Park Metro Station, Times Square and 5th Avenue. The Refinery is stylish without being flamboyant, straight without being business boring and with a roof top bar which comes alive at night with an outrageous view of the lit-up Chrysler Building – the perfect place for a nightcap.
Interviewed a while ago, Robert De Niro was quoted as saying some people think “New York’s a great place to visit, but I wouldn’t want to live there. I say that about other places”. And to stake his claim he built this Tribeca Hotel which sits somewhere between ‘Old Country Club’ and ‘Downtown Design Den’. Bobby delivers charm close to the party parts. 88 Rooms, a very good Italian restaurant and a Japanese Architect. Just make sure this A-list hang out is on the company credit card.
If you’re looking for something young, sharp and a little cheaper that the suggestions above, The Ace is well worth a look. With artists in residence, bands amping up in the foyer (we had an acoustic set in candlelight when we visited) and the options of king beds or bunk beds, there is something for everyone. The Breslin Bar attached to the hotel serves up a pretty good burger and is a great place to visit before or after a Knicks game (See below).
WHERE TO EAT
A speak easy replete with excessively large bar populated with attractive couples and too many bottles to be legal. But the bar is the least interesting thing for us. Because it’s the mixture of locally sourced ingredients (we are talking New York State over Manhattan island before you get too concerned) and American fare – it offers combinations of flavours both familiar and unexpected. Beware the waiters think big when taking orders, so hold off and you can always ask for more dishes. It was launched in 2012, so by New York standards its probably dead but in our book there is life in the old dog yet.
No. 9 Great Jones St. New York, NY 10012
Don’t turn your nose up too much – New York belonged to us for a bit. April Bloomfield who learnt her thing at The River Cafe is a co-owner. Take a walk down the High-Line and have a good ogle into Soho’s apartments before settling here for a good bloody Mary and Burger. And if you think you’ve seen Matt Damon, it probably is Matt Damon. Bloomfield is also the talent behind The John Dory and The Breslin at Ace Hotel.
There is far more to do in New York than we have time for here but here are some highlights. The MET Opera might be old school but it’s proper New York and they like to have fun in their productions – who would have thought Old Rigoletto could have a spicy Casino theme? Drop the tourist guise, glam up and trot out to the Lincoln Center – if you choose to dine at the Opera House, ask for a window seat.
Don’t go straight there – head to Sarabeth’s for a decadent brunch beforehand, then wander across Central Park to the Frick. If Auree were to live in New York, the Frick Residence would be it. The wallpaper could do with a makeover (it’s a little dark) and it’s crying out for a new kitchen but the location couldn’t be more perfect and the art is to die for. Old Henry knew his stuff and had the money to own it – Bellini, Rembrandt, Vermeer, Gainsborough, Goya, and Whistler. Make sure you book tickets beforehand, you’ll feel like the owner as you skip the queue. More time on your hands? The Whitney, MET and Guggenheim aren’t far away so you can drown yourself in brushstrokes.
Knickerbockers – the stuff of many a man’s childhood nightmares but in this case, bad trousers are replaced with big trainers and baggy tops. If you find yourself in New York on a Sunday night, get some tickets to a Knicks game at Times Square. Hot Dawgs and Beer (make sure you take your passport as they will rightly flatter you about your age) and plenty of cheerleading.
New York by foot | Earn your dinner
Start early walking down from central Manhattan, if you’re quick (sneakers, not heels) you will cover Soho, Noho, Chinatown and East Village. Walk the streets, smell the smells. Katz for a late brunch (where Harry met Sally) – get table service, the waiters are grumpy as and you’ll loved them for it. Head for Wall Street and howl like a wolf before a poignant stop at Ground Zero. If you want to take some sea air, you can also hop on a Staten Island Ferry and see that Lady of Liberty up close or walk across Brooklyn Bridge and into Brooklyn itself. You can walk along the Hudson and there are lots of shops to explore. Hop in a taxi from there and head to Williamsburg – dungarees and beards are very in vogue here and be sure to check out the shops on the main street which range from haberdasheries to hat shops – Goorin Brothers particularly took our fancy. Then hop back across the river in time for tea.
Tips indeed – and lots of them, suck it up because it’s just what they do – if you came to New York to save money, you picked the wrong city.
Get your flights right – get the red eye and maximise your time. If you’re one of those Air Miles staticians, Tuesdays may be better to get your flight home.