In the Western Hemisphere, there are few cities that can rival New York City — and that’s saying a lot. The city has reached global status, leading the way in finance, culture and media, and truly has something for everyone to enjoy. But there’s more to The City that Never Sleeps than the hustle and bustle of metropolitan life. And visitors shouldn’t just flock here for the tourist-friendly sights, either; to truly bask in the lap of luxury, do so in New York. From award-winning dining to five-star hotel amenities and chic nights out, get ready to set your sights on the best New York City has to offer.
From gilded doors to opulent lobbies, New York has been setting the bar for five-star hotels for centuries. For those looking to the finest rooms and suites in the city, there’s a myriad of choices. Really, the hardest decision will be choosing what neighbourhood to stay in. Whether you pick a hotel in Manhattan or venture into the up-and-coming areas of Brooklyn, the service and amenities at these upscale accommodations are hard to surpass.
Hotelier Ian Schrager, the man behind the “lifestyle hotel” concept, has always been adept at combining the hip and new with the upscale. At The New York EDITION, Schrager has taken over the former headquarters of the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company. The Clocktower, constructed in 1909, has 273 rooms and suites with oversized windows that frame the city life. The hotel is also home to the aptly named Clocktower Restaurant, a Michelin-starred eatery helmed by chef Jason Atherton.
However, for those looking to get out of Manhattan, the 1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge affords all the luxurious amenities expected in New York’s hippest borough. Located in Brooklyn Bridge Park near the Dumbo neighbourhood, the 10-storey building offers 194 rooms and suites overlooking the East River. The hotel also offers complimentary rides within a three-mile radius in Tesla electric vehicles for guests looking to explore the area.
Fifth and Madison Avenues are perhaps the two most famous shopping districts in the city. Tiffany & Co., Louis Vuitton, Gucci and more call Fifth Avenue home, with most stores concentrating between 39th and 60th streets. Madison Avenue sees the likes of Tom Ford, Alexander Wang, Hermès and Prada lining its streets, with the poshest stores being found in the Upper East Side.
However, if you are going to shop in the city, don’t forget to hit up the department stores. National retailers like Macy’s and Bloomingdales both have flagship stores in the city, but for some old-school department store charm, visit Bergdorf Goodman, the city’s ultimate luxury shopping destination on Fifth Avenue. If Harrods and Selfridges represent London and Le Bon Marché stands in for Paris, then Bergdorf is New York’s equivalent. You’ll find all the top designers here: Jimmy Choo, Alexander McQueen, Dior, Saint Laurent and more. However, what the retailer is best known for is its window displays, especially around the holidays.
Those looking for just-off-the-runway looks, head to Barneys New York on Madison Avenue. The high prices don’t keep the fashionistas away thanks to the store’s expert curation that feature brands like Stella McCartney, Band of Outsiders, Balenciaga and more. Barneys also gets into the window display game around the holiday season, but its pieces tend to delve into the avant-garde.
Between the shopping and theatre shows, make time to enjoy New York’s stellar cocktail culture. Like every major metropolis, there are bars for every kind of clientele, but well-heeled crowds still flock to some of the historic lounges in the city.
Grandiose hotels have always served as a venue for New York society to mix and mingle, and that remains true today. The Champagne Bar at the Plaza and the King Cole Bar at the St. Regis still ooze of sophistication, with plush and gilded settings that are hard to match. The Champagne Bar overlooks Fifth Avenue and the Pulitzer Fountain, where patrons can enjoy some of the finest Champagne and caviar. At the King Cole Bar, which has hosted everyone from Salvador Dalí to Marilyn Monroe, sip on specialty cocktails, including the Old King Cole, a mix of Tanqueray gin, Martini Rosso vermouth, Amaro Nonino and burnt orange peel.
Over at Rockefeller Plaza, the Rainbow Room is home to Bar SixtyFive, which calls for a cocktail chic dress code and offers amazing views of Midtown. But don’t let the view distract you from the extensive cocktail menu, which includes specialty drinks, signature cocktails, punches, and Champagne and wine by the glass.
feast on Fine Dining
New York is home to more Michelin-starred restaurants than any other American city. Seventy-two restaurants are currently ranked, whilst a scant five eateries claim the title of a three-Michelin-star establishment.
Masa is one of the lucky five, and for good reason. Helmed by chef Masa Takayama, Michelin claims it’s home to “the continent’s best sushi.” Also located in the Time Warner Center, chef Takayama’s omakase is served with an exquisite attention to detail rarely seen outside of Japan. The two-hour, multi-course dining experience comes at $595 per person (gratuity included), which is still a bargain considering the cost of a flight to the Land of the Rising Sun.
Located right next door to Masa is chef Thomas Keller’s three-star rated Per Se. Opened in 2004, Per Se is a reinterpretation of Keller’s equally famous The French Laundry in Napa Valley, California. Its nine-course tasting menu focuses on classic French techniques using the finest seasonal ingredients available with no single ingredient being repeated throughout the meal. Michelin writes that Keller’s cuisine is “at once timeless and of the moment, raising the bar with meals that express artistry, seasonality and sourcing that can seem hyperbolic.” Vegetarians can also partake with a nine-course vegetable tasting menu that is guaranteed to make you forget about the lack of meat. Both menus are available for $340 per person, and walk-in guests can enjoy a scaled down five-course menu for $195 per person.
Finally, there’s chef Eric Ripert’s Midtown institution, Le Bernardin. A New York Times critic’s pick, it opened in 1986 and has never lost its four-star status from the publication. It also holds the title of most James Beard Awards for any New York City restaurant and is constantly ranked as one of the best restaurants in the world. Four-course dinner menu starts at $160, whilst the chef’s tasting menu costs $225.
It would be a shame if you travelled all the way to New York and didn’t enjoy the city’s many cultural institutions. From visual art to dance and opera, there’s no shortage of things to mesmerise aficionados of all art forms.
Founded in 1883, Metropolitan Opera continues to be the premiere opera company in the United States and the largest classical music organisation in North America. It’s also one of several New York institutions that call the Lincoln Center of the Performing Arts home — others include the New York Philharmonic, the New York City Ballet and the Juilliard School.
A highlight from the opera this spring is the company’s production of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s Così fan tutte. The Met Opera updates the comedy about the sexes by setting it in carnival environment inspired by 1950’s Coney Island.
In a city packed with art museums and galleries, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum manages to cut through the noise. Focusing primarily on modern and contemporary art, it houses one of the most enviable collections in the world including works by Pablo Picasso, Paul Cézanne and Robert Mapplethorpe. However, take time to marvel at the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed building that houses all the art. It was Wright’s last major work before he died, and had its detractors who believed the building would overshadow the artwork.
Rest assured that for those looking to do a lot of spending in the Big Apple, New York has plenty of options. The sky is the limit — if your budget allows it.
Author: Daniel Guzman