Constantly reinventing itself, New York remains one of the most dynamic cities in the world. From Manhattan’s center outwards, each enclave vies for attention. Every New Yorker has a favorite restaurant, coffee shop, pizza place, rooftop bar, museum and art gallery, and competition is fierce among the inhabitants of its various districts as to which holds the best of each.
The classy I.M. Pei-designed Four Seasons Hotel still draws New York’s most discerning visitors. Minutes from the cool, green calm of Central Park, this iconic hotel exudes luxury, with handcrafted furnishings, decadent marble tubs and magnificent views. If the short stroll to Madison Avenue’s shops doesn’t appeal, the hotel’s chauffeur can take you there in the Rolls Royce. The opulent Midtown flagship The Baccarat has Gilles & Boissier crystal-filled interiors and is wonderfully blingy. The lobby sparkles with a gleaming light installation of Baccarat Harcourt glasses, and the otherworldly Grand Salon, where hip bartenders sling craft cocktails such as the sake-based Far Eastsider, is kitted out in crisp leather, faux fur and grand objets d’art. A La Mer spa is within, and Michelin-starred restaurants Le Bernardin and The Modern are yards away. The Robert de Niro-owned Greenwich Hotel, just behind Pier 25 in cobblestoned Tribeca, is a short walk from the 9/11 Memorial. Rooms in this style haven include opulent touches such as Tibetan silk rugs, English settees and hand-laid Moroccan tile bathrooms. The subterranean Shibui Spa is a calm oasis and guests can borrow Bixby bicycles to explore the riverside paths and work off Chef Andrew Carmellini’s sublime menu.
The Lowell Hotel is an understated boutique gem, with impeccable service and individually designed rooms that are reminiscent of Paris. Tucked away on a leafy street on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, most of its guests are returning visitors who love its old-world glamour.
The Crosby Street Hotel has a quirky English feel courtesy of designer Kit Kemp, with eclectic combinations of colors and furnishings. The bar serves some of the city’s best cocktails alongside bistro-style food made with produce from its own rooftop kitchen garden. The Plaza, The Whitby Hotel and The Ritz-Carlton New York are all similarly well-placed and sumptuous.
Eat, Drink & Dance
At Oiji, Korean born chef-patrons Brian Kim and Tae Kyung Ku have created an intimate East Village hit, which continues to garner ecstatic reviews. Traditional Korean drinks such as Seoljungmae plum wine are paired with beautifully presented fluffy snow crab, jellyfish and honey butter chips. New York’s most authentic French brasserie, Balthazar is always bustling as is Lafayette, Chef Carmellini’s grand café and bakery, with gorgeous Roman and Williams interiors. For the best Italian, Via Carota in the West Village has quietly become the New Yorker foodie’s favorite restaurant. Feroce, by Francesco Panella of Antica Pesa fame, is in the Moxy NYC Chelsea hotel in the flower district and is a haunt for countless A-listers. Keep an eye out for the Sant Ambroeus coffee shops for Milanese fare and try the signature chocolate cake on Sotheby’s terrace. For the best pizza try Cozzolino and Procino’s offering at Ribalta.
If there is no time for The Hamptons, there is always the fabulous wooden schooner Grand Banks, moored at Pier 25 and reminiscent of the floating oyster barges that lined Manhattan’s waterfront two centuries ago. Chef Kerry Heffernan serves sustainably harvested local oysters and what many claims is the best lobster roll in New York.
For rooftop life, the palm-fringed, canopied space at The Delancey has beautiful frozen margaritas and views of the Williamsburg Bridge, and Le Bain at The Standard in the meatpacking district is where the young and beautiful drink Love Amid the Frostbite cocktails and soak in the hot tub. Salon de Ning at The Peninsula has a Hamptons-inspired look for its lively and bright alfresco lounge. The delightful murals at Bemelmans Bar in The Carlyle make this bar a style destination, and the best Negroni is rumored to be served at Pisellino, newly opened last May by the Via Carota team.
Do & Discover
It’s almost impossible to narrow down the range of things to do in New York. World-class museums, art galleries, theaters and shopping districts abound. Take a seven-minute ferry ride to serene Governors Island to cycle bike paths lined with outdoor art, then relax in a red hammock with Statue of Liberty views. Later, catch a revival or indie film at Metrograph or the Paris Theatre and then sip a Manhattan in candlelit jazz club Blue Note. Walk the Highline, an elevated linear park created on a former railroad spur on the West Side or stroll around Chelsea Market’s food stalls. Create your own perfume at Bond No. 9 and then waft around the Whitney Museum of American Art or the Guggenheim.
Celebrated for its pristine beaches, vineyards and estates, Long Island is the residence of countless artists and photographers drawn to its beauty and natural light. The stretch of beaches that dot the coast, a mere 90 miles from New York City, evokes a far simpler lifestyle than the hectic metropolis. Watch the Atlantic waves roll in, walk along the beach to find the perfect clam shack or sit with sandy feet at the ice-cream shop counter.
The Hamptons is more about who you know with a beachfront house on Gin Lane than swanky hotels, but there are a couple of real gems. The Maidstone Hotel was reimagined in 2018 and has some lovely little cottages to stay in, with East Hampton’s antique stores, galleries and boutiques nearby. The chic Topping Rose House is a beautiful 1842 revival style mansion, with a farm-to-table restaurant and lovely cottage suites. Shou Sugi Ban House is a super-luxe wabi-sabi wellness retreat with light-filled spaces. Executive Chef Mads Refslund, the co-founder of Noma, has brought an inventive, plant-rich menu to the garden restaurant. The retro Bay Burger near Sag Harbor serves old-fashioned fifties-style American food, with grilled-cheese sandwiches, hot dogs, superb milkshakes and soda fountains with free refills.
Scoop Du Jour is where the A-list bring their children for ice cream and Schmidt’s Market & Produce do outstanding salads as well as in-house catering for dinner parties – specialties include a classic lobster bake. Drive out to sheltered Louse Point Beach in Springs, beloved by Jackson Pollock and Napeague Beach in Amagansett, which is often deserted. Hire paddleboards out of Three Mile Harbor or take a guided nature tour through some of the area’s calmest waters. You can take the children crabbing at Sagaponack and Georgica ponds and then to buy luscious local peaches and cherries from roadside stalls or fill them with sweets from Dylan’s Candy Bar, owned by Ralph Lauren’s daughter. New York and its Long Island extension is a destination of dichotomies, enervating and exhilarating, humbling and inspiring, laid-back and frenetic. It has an endless supply of new, hip, world-leading restaurants, hotels, entertainment and culture, and the lure of its glimmering lights shows no sign of dimming.
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