New York

We always have a great time in the Big Apple but wow, do the hot places change quickly (we went to two restaurants that had opened in the last 2 weeks alone!) Here are our latest and greatest places:

Shopping: Madewell, 486 Broadway, NY 10013 (www.madewell.com)

Owned by the J Crew brand, Madewell is the younger, hipper sister to it’s more sedate sibling. Alexa Chung stepped in as guest designer last season (it’s a perfect match) but where it really comes into it’s own are the jeans. Think Topshop’s range crossed with the design of J Brand. In other words, a great fit and they don’t break the bank.

Shopping: John Derrian, 10 East 2nd Street, NY 10003 (www.johnderrian.com)

There is nothing quite like the pleasure of visiting the quirky interiors emporium that is John Derrian and Company. Filled with decoupage plates and paperweights as well as furniture, prints, imported French quilts, table linens and other ephemera, Mr Derrian manages to combine wit with great taste. All of of his items are handmade in his studio in New York and you’ll be sorely tempted to buy and take most of them home.

Shopping/Eating: Eataly, 200 5th Ave, NY 10010 (www.eatalyny.com)

This is the real Little Italy – a corner building filled with all the best Italian food you can imagine created under the watchful eye of the renowned chef Mario Batali. You’ll find delicious gelato, smoked mozzarella (and over 400 types of other Italian cheese), pizza hot from the oven, organic bread, meat and fish. You can buy to take away or eat at one of the 11 restaurants, from the roof garden to formal dining. All the food is made on the premises every day and the choice is almost overwhelming. It really is a gourmet experience to wonder at.

Spa: Rescue Beauty Lounge, 34 Gansevoort St, 2nd Floor, NY 10014 (www.rescuebeauty.com)

Whilst it is true that you can get a mani/pedi on practically every corner of Manhattan, the hygiene of some beauty parlours can leave a lot to be desired. For a professional, long-lasting finish, go to Rescue Beauty Lounge in the meatpacking district where Ji Baek and her team will transform your nails using their own range of nail polishes and creams. If it’s good enough for the top beauty editors of New York, it’s good enough for us (and if you have time afterwards, visit Jeffreys on 449 West 14th Street, between Washington & 10th Ave, which has the best selection of designer clothes and shoes in town).

Gardens: The Highline, from Gansevoort Street in the Meatpacking District to 34th Street, between 10th & 11th Avenues (www.thehighline.org)

A brilliant example of modern urban regeneration, the Highline was an old train line from the 1930s that ran at first floor level and lay abandoned for years. Newly redone and opened last year as a public park (due to generous sponsors such as Diane von Furstenberg whose offices overlook the Highline), it is a long pathway winding around gardens, outside theatres and pop-up cafes with a wonderful view over the Hudson River. Definitely not to be missed.

Discount Outlets: Century 21, 22 Cortlandt Street, NY 10007 (www.c21stores.com) and Barneys Warehouse Sales (www.barneys.com)

If you have stamina and time to rake through the sale rails, you can find plenty of bargains at Century 21. There are floors and floors of sportswear, handbags, beauty products, shoes and designer clothes, all at heavily discounted prices. Without doubt, however, the best bargain hunting ground is the Barneys Warehouse sale held twice a year (look at the website or ask in store for dates) where you’ll find last season’s designer shoes and clothes at up to 80% off, especially in the last few days. (For the best vintage clothes, head to the Lower Eastside on Rivington Street for shops such as Edith Machinist and Narnia).

Hotels: The Crosby Hotel, 79 Crosby Street, NY 10012 (www.firmdale.com)

Tim and Kit Kemp founded a sucessful recipe for boutique hotels in London with branches such as the Convent Garden, a firm celebrity favourite. Their first New York hotel, The Crosby, has a great location behind Soho and captures the same comfortable but cool vibe. The rooms are substantial (rare in New York where rooms can be hardly bigger than a broom cupboard) and there is a popular sunny terrace outside on which to eat and drink.

Hotels: Flats for rent (www.skycityapts.com)

Hotels in New York can be expensive so a great way to save money, especially if you plan to be there longer than a couple of days, is to rent your own apartment. The choice is wide – you can find a studio in Greenwich Village or a three bedroom apartment in the Upper West Side – and best of all, you should feel right at home.

Bars/Restaurants: The Rose Bar, Grammercy Park Hotel, 2 Lexington Avenue, NY 10010 (www.grammercyparkhotel.com), Boom Boom Room, The Standard Hotel, 848 Washington Street, NY 10014 (www.standardhotels.com) The Breslin Bar & Dining Room, Ace Hotel, 16 West 29th Street
New York, NY 10001 (www.thebreslin.com) and Maialino (also at Grammercy Park Hotel).

The latest trend in New York dining is to eat and drink at one of the many Hotel hotspots. The Julian Schnabel designed bar, The Rose, at The Grammercy Park Hotel (don’t get there too late otherwise the door policy becomes a nightmare) and the Boom Boom Room at the trendy Standard Hotel which has great views over lower Manhattan, are our first choices for drinks. For dinner, The Breslin Bar & Dining Room at The Ace Hotel, similar to it’s owners’ other restaurant The Spotted Pig, is a laid-back gastropub that doesn’t take reservations (and with a menu focusing on pork, it isn’t for vegetarians). For more formal dining, head to Ma Peche at the Chambers Hotel (see below) or Maialino, a high-end trattoria, again at The Grammercy Park Hotel.

Restaurants: Cafe Cluny, 284 W 12th St, NY 10014 (www.cafecluny.com)

Somehow New York always seems the perfect place for brunch. Whilst others might prefer inns such as The Spotted Pig or bistros such as Pastis and Balthazar, we love the elegant Cafe Cluny in the West Village (so convenient to pop along to Marc Jacob’s shops on Bleecker Street afterwards). Set up by the ex-wife of the extraordinarily successful New York restauranteur Keith McNally, it is inspired by the Abbaye de Cluny monastery in France and serves delicious classics such as hangar steak, beet salad and duck confit.

Restaurants: Momofuko, 171 1st Avenue, Ny 10003 (www.momofuku.com)

This popular Asian noodle bar (think an upscale version of Wagamama) has a long communal wooden bar and a hip, laid-back atmosphere (unlike it’s partner restaurant, the more formal but equally great Ma Peche). The food is delicious, with a menu including spicy chicken ramen, steamed buns and the popular apple pie cake truffles. If you make a visit to the New Museum of Contemporary Art (at 235 Bowery), it’s a perfect stopover for lunch.

Bookshop: McNally Jackson, 52 Prince Street, NY 10012 (www.mcnallyjackson.com)

Forget Barnes & Noble, for a look at what New Yorker’s are reading, head to this ‘Daunt’s’ like bookshop near Broadway. Everything looks enticing and the staff are incredibly friendly and informed. Whilst American books aren’t cheap, they are often printed ahead of the UK, especially if it is an American author so you can get ahead of the game.

And the rest: Brooklyn

Many New York visitors come to Manhattan and never make their way over to Brooklyn. It’s a pity because they are missing out, as areas such as Williamsburg have become increasingly sought after, and it is, after all, only a quick subway or taxi ride away. We recommend a visit to the beautiful Brooklyn Botanic Gardens (www.bbg.org), 52 acres of amazing fauna, followed by a walk along the picturesque Brooklyn Heights, taking a quick detour via the chocolate shop Jacques Torres (www.mrchocolate.com) and ending up with a splash out meal at the River Café (www.rivercafe.com) with it’s incredible views of the Manhattan skyline.

— Francesca
6th January 2011

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