Easy Escapes: Luxury New York

Could it be time for a Manhattan moment? Marie Claire's Travel Editor offers some tips on visiting the Big Apple in style

Could it be time for a Manhattan moment? Marie Claire‘s Travel Editor offers some tips on visiting the Big Apple in style

Why go? Because we love it! Last year over 12 million international travellers visited NYC – a record high – and we Brits were major fans. Yes, it’s all about those neck-cricking skycrapers, the incredible energy on the streets, the world-class sights and museums, those it-feels-like-a-movie moments and the wonderful shopping – even the well-known rudeness of New Yorkers gets you smiling…

When? Anytime, but spring’s a favourite – after the snowy chaos of winter and before the blanket heat of summer. For a guide to what’s on see here.

Blockbuster: don’t miss The Whitney, New York City’s latest landmark museum © The Whitney/Nic Lehoux

You really must… Go up the One World Trade Center, the tallest building in the Western hemisphere and the sixth tallest in the world. Opened in November 2014, it houses the One World Observatory (from £22; oneworldobservatory.com) on floors 100-102 where you can enjoy tremendous 360-degree views over Manhattan and beyond. Tickets are timed and it gets pretty busy in “the new symbol of America”, which has arisen out of the ashes of 9/11 – while you’re there you might also want to visit the memorial to this world-changing tragedy (911memorial.org).

On the art museum front, The Whitney (from £15; whitney.org) opened last May in a new waterfront building designed by Renzo Piano. It’s in the restaurant-filled Meatpacking District and right by the southern end of The Highline (free; thehighline.org) so you can easily build your day around a visit here – the galleries devoted to The Whitney’s Collection have plenty to enjoy including works by Edward Hopper, Jeff Koons and Jackson Pollock. Meanwhile in Chelsea catch the ‘Fairy Tale Fashion’ exhibition (until 16 April, fitnyc.edu/museum) which looks at fairy tales through the eyes of the fashion world.

You can simplify your sightseeing by getting a New York City Pass (from £96 for two days, newyorkpass.com) which can whizz you into over 80 attractions, and don’t forget that one of the best ways to enjoy New York is to simply go for a walk – you’ll always find something interesting (and a few characters). If you like architecture, Seeking New York – The Stories Behind The Historic Architecture Of Manhattan – One Building At A Time (£12.99; Pimpernel) is full of engaging tales unearthed by a policeman from Ohio who became fascinated with the city while on patrol.

Flower power: the Pop Art Signature Suite at The Loews Regency New York

Stay at: The Loews Regency New York (loewshotels.com), a slick, five-star hotel set on 21 floors on the Upper East Side. It’s at 540 Park Avenue at East 61st St with plenty of sights within walking distance, including Central Park and favourite shops like Macy’s and the Apple Store. The 379-room hotel closed in 2013 for a whole year of renovations costing $100m and it shows – if you’ve something to celebrate check out the six Signature Suites commissioned from top designers, including one in a classic 70s style and another referencing Op Art and Andy Warhol.

The hotel is famous for being the home of the “power breakfast”, which has nothing to do with super-charged granola and stems from the days when movers and shakers came here in the mid-70s to discuss ways to help the city recover from financial crisis. There’s obviously still plenty to sort out as it’s packed out on weekday mornings – but don’t worry, there’s a handy Italian coffee shop just round the corner called Sant Ambroeus (santambroeus.com) where you can grab breakfast. And if you fancy some high class styling or a spa treatment, The Loews Regency New York is also home to the Julien Farel Restore Salon & Spa (juilenfarel.com) run by celebrity stylist Julien Farel (Kate Moss, Salma Hayek, Rafael Nadal…). In March Luxury Rooms cost from £251 and Signature Suites from £589, room only. For more great places to stay in New York City see i-escape.com.

Dinner and dance in the sky: The Rainbow Room at Rockerfeller Plaza © Rainbow Room

Dine at: If you’re here on a Sunday, book brunch at the new-look The Rainbow Room (£95 a head excluding alcohol and service; rainbowroom.com). Originally opened in 1934, it’s set on the 65th floor of a skyscraper in Rockerfeller Plaza with terrific views and gorgeous art deco features. Everyone dresses smart (by American standards) and it’s best to go as a group or with friends. The menu is described as a “decadent à la carte brunch” and it’s certainly that, plus there’s a swing or jazz band playing along (but no dancing, if you want that go for their dinner-and-dance nights). Tip: there’s two sittings but for the first you can’t buy a drink before noon (but they come pretty fast after that!). For more great places to eat see Time Out‘s guide to the 100 Best Restaurants (timeout.com), and if you like to find quirky spots to drink and dine get a copy of New York – Hidden Bars & Restaurants (£12.99; jonglezpublishing.com).

Bring home: ABC Carpet & Home (abchome.com) offers a memorable way to combine two of our favourite pastimes – shopping and eating. Spread over six floors, this vast and colourful interiors and lifestyle store is full of fun buys and also has two restaurants, ABC Kitchen and ABC Cocina – the latter is particularly enjoyable with a buzzy crowd tucking into intriguing dishes like peekytoe crab fritters with chipotle mayo and salted caramel ‘impossible’ flan. If you like a bargain, they can certainly be found at discount clothing specialist Century 21 (c21stores.com), but go when you’re in the mood and not too rushed. For gifts to take back, the store at MOMA (moma.org) does a good line in things not seen elsewhere, including for children.

Transatlantic luxury: La Compagnie’s all-business class flights to Newark

Book now: Get there in style on the all-business class flights from London Luton to Newark with La Compagnie (lacompagnie.com). This French-run airline launched here last April offering club class comforts at prices that are considerably less than the cost of business class seats with the traditional carriers. Standard fares are from £1,100 return but there are also great offers, for example £850 return (or £1,500 for two people) if you book by 29 February. On board the silver and blue Boeing 757 there are just 74 nearly-flat-bed seats in pairs with all the expected comforts – champagne and French wines, a complimentary Caudelie amenity kit, a Samsung tablet loaded with movies (although not a great selection), a decent meal and chicly-dressed staff. Passengers also get lounge access at both ends so if you’re only going for a quick break it means you’ll arrive in good shape ready to make the most of your brief time in the city. Tip: passengers flying with La Compagnie can get 20 per cent off duty-free prices at Newark Airport – show your boarding pass first.

Info: A famous yellow taxi to/from Newark Liberty International Airport and Midtown costs around £50 and takes 45 to 60 minutes. Don’t forget you’ll need a visa-style authorisation (https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov/esta/). New York (£13.99; Time Out) is a comprehensive guide and see nycgo.com.

Lead image: © nyycgo.com/Julien Schaer

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