Including the niche shops you need to know about
Heading to the Big Apple for a short week and want to hit the usual landmarks as well as the stylish restaurants and shops off the beaten track? Here’s your ultimate New York City guide…
Where to stay in New York
Where? Moxy Times Square, Midtown
Best for: Affordable luxury in a trendy setting. The newly opened Moxy is ideally located just a short walk away from Broadway and Times Square, and yet still offers an intimate experience. That’s not to say it’s boring though, as you’re given Insta-worthy experiences at every corner, from kiosks and split-flap boards in the lobby, and quirky art displayed throughout the hotel to a carousel on the Magic Hour rooftop bar. The rooms themselves make incredible use of the space. Designed with ‘urban camping’ in mind, they include furniture that can be folded up and stored, cubbies for extra storage, and a walk-in rain shower with those trademark NYC tiles – and a cheeky ‘no diving sign’ for good measure. Oh, and a TV with Netflix. Camping just how we like it (rates start from £100 per night, you can book here).
Best for: Eco luxury and amazing views. If you’re looking after expansive views of the East River and Manhattan skyline, as well as a hotel that is environmentally-conscious, then you’ve found the right place. Designed by local artists using native greenery and reclaimed materials, 1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge offers a little haven in the heart of the trendy Dumbo neighbourhood. If you’re not out exploring, weather permitting, take a dip in the rooftop pool which offers even more breathtaking views (if you can believe it), or enjoy the market-driven comfort-food-with-a-twist at the hotel’s The Osprey restaurant (rooms from around £500 a night, book here).
Where? The Chatwal, Midtown
Best for: Classic Manhattan glamour. If you want to push the boat out a little, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a hotel more luxurious than The Chatwal. Originally built in 1905, it was revamped with no expense spared, from the mirrored bathrooms to the luxe suede walls and built-in cabinets wrapped in faux leather resembling classic luggage to fit in with the glamorous early 20th-century travel theme. Other chic amenities include a butler service, spa and restaurant (rooms start from approximately £713 per night on a room only basis, book here).
Where to eat in New York
Where? Legasea, The Moxy Times Square
Best for: A fun and sustainable take on seafood classics in the hip setting of The Moxy hotel. They are renowned for their cocktails (try Thyme Will Tell, you won’t regret it) and they sharing platters, so it would be a crime not to order the spicy crab beignets (pictured), grilled octopus, fried buttermilk chicken box and seafood marinara pasta. Oh and the double layer cheesecake, because when in New York (dishes from around £10 for a starter and £20 for a main, reservations here).
Where? O Ya, Kips Bay
Best for: The best sushi you’ll ever have in your life, ever. This upscale Japanese restaurant quite literally blew us away with its inventive Grand Tasting menu, comprising of no less than 24 dishes, including a mind-numbingly good warm eel with Thai basil and pickled cucumber, Maine sea urchin with aji amarillo vinaigrette and foie gras balsamic chocolate kabayaki, claudio corallo raison cocoa pulp sip of aged sake, all accompanied with refined sakes (tasting menu from around £135 per person, reservations here). Extra fun fact for you: this is Blake Lively and Ryan Reynold’s favourite restaurant, and they actually had their first date in O Ya’s Boston branch.
Where? Baar Baar, East Village
Best for: Indian food with a twist. Forget Indian food as you know it, because Baar Baar is about to completely surprise you. The modern and colourful yet rustic setting is worth the detour alone, but the food is where the party is at. Every plate tells a story, and the Kashmiri duck & apricot Kulchas bread, cauliflower with curd-rice mousse, monk fish curry and avocado achar and yogurt tell us that we need to book a return ticket to Baar Baar pronto (dishes from around £7 for a small plate and £20 for a full plate, reservations here).
Where? Tavern On The Green, Central Park
Best for: Epic brunches. First there’s the unbeatable setting, smack bang in the middle of Central Park, with gorgeous floor-to-ceiling glass windows to really maximise the view – it really is no wonder it’s been an iconic landmark since 1934. Then there are the cocktails – no brunch is complete without a Bloody Mary – and the delicious food. Do yourself a favour and order the roasted figs with goat’s cheese and honey, followed by the salmon burger with fennel salad and sweet potato fries, you’ll thank us later (dishes from around £12 for a starter and £18 for a main, reservations here).
Where: The Pig Bleecker, Greenwhich Village
Best for: Smoked meat, BBQ dishes and modern Italian fare. The Pig is known for its meaty dishes, and it does them well. The pigs in doughnuts, pecan candied bacon and buffalo chicken wings are all mouth-watering, but the lasagna with smoked dug ragu and cavatelli with asparagus are equally delicious (dishes from around £10 for a starter and £20 for a main, reservations here).
Where to drink in Brooklyn
Where? Otway, Prospect Heights
Best for: Market-driven seasonal dishes with a healthy twist. Otway is one of Brooklyn’s best kept secrets, a paired-back and intimate restaurant offering simple yet creative dishes. We loved the cold crab salad with herbs in a sourdough crepe, hanger steak au poivre with cracked wheat and spinach and duck breast with honey glazed parsnips with wild rice (dishes from £10 for a starter and £20 for a main, reservations here).
Where? Maison Premiere, Williamsburg
Best for: Oysters, Absinthe cocktails and seafood. You wouldn’t think to go to Brooklyn for New Orleans fare, but there you have it. Dressed as a Southern speakeasy, the bar offers just what you need after a busy day exploring. Try the Maison Absinthe Colada for a retro twist on a classic (cocktails from around £10, reservations here).
Where? Du’s Donuts, Williamsburg
Best for: Doughnuts of course! Is there a better place to eat doughnuts than New York? The answer of course is no. And if you want an immense choice of fillings, toppings etc, Du’s Donuts is the place to be. Flavours change daily, and you can expect anything from cinnamon apple to chocolate raspberry and pina colada (doughnuts from around £2.50).
Where to shop in New York
Let’s be honest, there’s no shortage of shops in New York. From high end stores like Saks Fifth Avenue to independent vintage stores in the village, there is something for everyone. For the high end side of things, try 5th Avenue, hope to Bergdorf Goodman, Tiffany & Co, Saks and many more, and Madison Avenue is home to all the big designers. Macy’s is also an institution, and a great idea if you want to shop American designers, as they tend to be cheaper than in the UK for obvious reasons.
For vintage finds and antiques, Brooklyn and Williamsburg are hard to beat (although if you don’t want to venture that far, Artists & Fleas in Downtown NY is a great mix of local artists and vintage clothes), while Greenwhich village is hipster boutique heaven, as is Elizabeth Street in NOLA.
If it’s food you’re after, try Union Square Market or the boutique food stores of Chelsea Market.
What to do in New York
NYC landmarks: Never been to New York? Then we do encourage being a tourist and visiting those landmarks so familiar from films and TV shows. We’re talking The Empire State Building, Statue of Liberty, the Guggenheim Museum and more. There’s no cheaper (and faster as it saves you queuing to buy tickets) way to do this than with a City Pass which gives you access to six attractions, with a 42% saving. For more information or things to see and do in New York City, visit nycgo.com?
Hidden gems: If you’re after something a little different though, then there’s no better way to explore hidden New York than with LOCALIKE New York. After a short series of questions about your personal preferences (say if you enjoy shopping, antiques, specific foods etc), it gives you a comprehensive itinerary which fits in perfectly with the amount of time you’re in the city. We loved the recommendations of antique markets and secret ancient baths. Personal itineraries start at $79 (approximately £59) for one day, click here for more information.
Broadway musicals: Just like going to London without seeing a musical in the West End, going to New York is a bit of a waste if you’re not going to spend an evening on Broadway. From Aladdin to Wicked, Chicago to Hamilton (and there are even Mean Girls and Pretty Woman musicals in the works), you’ll be spoiled for choice. More info and tickets for Broadway musicals here.
The free stuff: New York needn’t be expensive, some of the best parts of the city can be explored for free. Make sure you dedicate at least half a day to walking around Central Park (the Cherry Hills fountain, Bethesda Terrace and Loeb boathouse are a must for any self-respecting rom-com fan), head to Greenwich village for charming brownstone houses and independent shops, and the High Line, a park walk along a disused railway, gives you a really different perspective of the city.
Brooklyn and Williamsburg: Stay an extra day and explore the arty neighbourhoods of Dumbo and Williamsburg across the river, where you’ll find artisan coffee shops and bars, hip restaurants, vintage stores and much more.