An insider's guide to New York City
I <3 NY
New York City is often referred to as the city that never sleeps, and rightfully so. Immortalised in song and celebrated innumerable times on the big screen, so much has been said about this iconic city, yet no one tribute has managed to adequately depict the true energy, creativity, and dynamism that runs right through the very heart of it. From the polished Upper East Side to the gritty downtown, each neighborhood in this urban island is teeming with its own unique personality. There’s always something new to discover that makes New York City a cultural, gastronomic, and sartorial playground unlike any other.
The New York EDITION
Located in the historic clock tower overlooking Madison Square Park is the New York edition of well, The Edition Hotel. Hotelier Ian Shrager has successfully brought old-world luxury into the modern era, marrying traditional refinement with contemporary amenities amidst chic, sophisticated interiors. Fusing old with new, a striking sculptural grand staircase of lacquered steel lies inside what was once the tallest building in New York. Beyond the hotel’s plush space affording floor-to-ceiling views of the city, what I like about it is its central location. The New York Edition is a stone's throw away from Chelsea, Union Square, the Meatpacking District, and Greenwich Village. The moment you step out of its doors, you’ll find yourself within walking distance of the city's best restaurants and shops.
Baccarat Hotel & Residences
If you ever wanted to live in a glass or crystal house, this may be the closest you’ll get to it — right in the heart of Manhattan, no less. The Baccarat Hotel & Residences, the first hotel and global flagship for the historic crystal maker, offers nothing less than the luxurious amenities you’d expect from a legendary brand. From its glass façade to the mesmerising crystal chandeliers and figurines strewn throughout its interiors, the hotel itself is such a visual delight. Take a break from a museum visit (the Museum of Modern Art is sited right across from the hotel) and shopping (5th Avenue is a few steps away) and treat yourself to the hotel’s Spa de La Mer, the skincare brand’s first spa in the United States. I personally prefer enjoying a drink or two from one of the 15,000 pieces of Baccarat stemware at the hotel’s Grand Salon.
If you’re like my grandfather, who’d say that he eats with his eyes, then dinner in Atera is a must for you. Venture a little further downtown and block off a generous portion of your evening to enjoy the gastronomical delights created by Chef Ronny Emborg and his team. Atera offers not only a feast for the taste buds, but one for the eyes as well. Each dish is a work of art, masterfully executed using only the finest seasonal ingredients, each meticulously selected by culinary artisans.
The Spotted Pig
Hailed as New York’s first gastropub when it opened in 2004, The Spotted Pig is a local favourite that has become almost as famous as the celebrity diners who frequent it for its British and Italian cuisine. In a city filled with famed restaurants and a notoriously short tolerance for dining establishments that don’t quite hit the mark, the 12-year-old restaurant has certainly earned its loyal following. Chef April Bloomfield has gained numerous accolades for her seasonal menu, including a Michelin star that the restaurant has held for 11 years in a row. Don’t let The Spotted Pig’s no-reservations policy deter you. It’s definitely worth waiting for a table at this three-story joint in the West Village.
Please Don’t Tell
Decades have passed since the prohibition era, but the speakeasy scene is still well and truly alive. These hidden bars have been secretly sprouting all over the world and New York has been a forerunner in the movement. I’ve walked through dingy looking back alleys and coffee shops to find some of the best cocktails in New York. One of the most popular speakeasies in the city is ironically named Please Don’t Tell, but fans of the well-known bar clearly find it hard to keep their lips sealed. Here's a tip: Walk through popular hotdog joint Crif Dogs and enter the vintage phone booth to find yourself in an intimate bar decked with only six tables. Here, you'll get to knock back classic cocktails with a twist — all enjoyed with hotdogs from its equally popular neighbour.
What I love about Santina is how it transports you out of the Meatpacking District, right underneath the High Line park to be exact, and straight to the Italian Riviera. Cute, colourful, scallop-edged umbrellas line the restaurant on the outside. Step within its glass walls and into a charming scene of vibrant multi-colored chandeliers, sea blue sofas, and potted plants. This coastal Italian restaurant in NYC was created by Major Food Group forces, Mario Carbone, Rich Torrisi and Jeff Zalaznick, with a menu focused on seafood and vegetables. It’s also a great brunch spot for light dishes that are heavy on flavour.
Of all the neighborhoods in NYC, the Meatpacking District is one that draws both locals and tourists alike. Slip on a pair of flats and walk by an endless stream of specialty shops, landmark establishments, must-try restaurants and outdoor bars. My favourite spots? Top of the Standard, Gilded Lily, No.8, and Tao.
Whitney Museum of American Art
Just last year, the Whitney Museum moved from its Upper East Side address to a new, modern residence in the vibrant Meatpacking District. The Whitney’s new home, named the Leonard A. Lauder Building and designed by architect Renzo Piano, was conceived as a laboratory for artists with both indoor and outdoor galleries and beautiful views of the High Line, lower Manhattan, and Hudson River.
In the year since it opened its new doors, the museum has already had over a million visitors who come to view some of the best American art from the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. The new building not only serves as a great cultural addition to the surrounding neighborhood, but incorporates the urban landscape as a striking visual backdrop. Step out onto the museum’s spacious terraces to enjoy mesmerising views of the Manhattan sunset.
Sleep No More
There’s not a single boring moment to be spent in the Big Apple. Broadway plays, concerts, sporting events and stand-up comedy shows are just a few of the many entertainment options to choose from. But if you’re looking for a completely different experience, Sleep No More is the answer. Punchdrunk, pioneers in the production of the immersive theater experience, have designed a show that brings life-like experience in a dream-like setting, In their radical staging of Macbeth, audience members don masks (and a veil of anonymity), and are given free reign to decide what to watch and where to go as they embark on a non-linear journey through performance installations. As Felix Barrett, founder and artistic director of Punchdrunk describes it, Sleep No More is a visceral experience for both the mind and the body, with each audience member experiencing the show in a completely unique way.
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About Raia Gomez
Raia Gomez is a fashion stylist and editor. Originally from Manila, her lifelong love for fashion has taken her to cities all over the world to work with the best talents in the fashion and entertainment industries. Join her on Instagram, Twitter, and The Finest Print, where she profiles inspiring international innovators and influencers.
- Image: Cover image by Getty Images; Other images courtesy of respective establishments unless otherwise stated
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