New New York

By | Category: Travel destinations, Travel tips & opinions

The Big Apple has been mesmerising visitors for years. Its pleasures are eternal but the particulars of where to stay, eat and play are ever in flux. CD Traveller breaks out their little black book…

WHY GO
A visit to the Big Apple is like walking through a film set: yellow taxis, Bloomingdales, the Empire State Building, Tiffany’s, Fifth Avenue, Times Square, Central Park, Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty. Furthermore there’s no bad time to visit: New York shines in all seasons.

empire_state
MUST SEE AND DO
Then: The Empire State Building
The most famous member of the New York skyline is arguably the Empire State Building (www.esbny.com). The views of the Big Apple from the Empire State Building – which was built in just 410 days during the Great Depression – are indeed jaw dropping. The drawback? The lines of tourists queuing to get to the observation decks on the 86th and 102nd floors.
Now: Top of the Rock
The Empire State Building does provide breathtaking views – the Wall Street skyscrapers and Statue of Liberty are all visible – but you can’t very well see Manhattan’s most iconic skyscraper if you’re standing on it! A better option by far is to take the elevator to The Top of The Rock (www.topoftherocknyc.com). This open air observatory at the top of Rockefeller Centre gives the Empire State Building a run for its money: it’s spared the crowds and offers 360 degree views of the city.
Meanwhile Sex and the City fans can follow in the footsteps of Carrie and co on a location tour –
see www.screentours.com/tour.php/satc/ for more.

liberty

BEST BITES
Then:

Pizza is an integral part of the NY food scene and nowhere serves this staple better than Grimaldi’s. Don’t be fooled by Grimaldi’s humble appearance: the thin crust pizza here is perfection.
Cheesecake is another quintessential New York eat. This creamy cake features on menus all over Manhattan but make for Midtown – home to the legend that is Lindy’s. Opened in 1921 by Leo ‘Lindy’ Lindemann and his wife Clara, Lindy’s has been synonymous with cheesecake since the 40s. Damon Runyon was a big fan and wrote the restaurant into his books as Mindy’s. The movie and musical Guys and Dolls, based on Runyon’s writings, immortalises Lindy’s in one of its songs.
Finally, for classic deli grub check out Carnegie Delicatessen & Restaurant – home of “the best pastrami and corned beef in town” according to noted New York critic Mimi Sheraton.
Now:
Looking for a classic US snack? Warm pretzels with Dijon mustard are cheap, utterly addictive and sold on every street corner.
Over on 18th Street, the line out the door at Cupcake Cafe maybe off-putting but it’s worth the wait for the designer cupcakes: you won’t be able to resist the key lime confections.
Alternatively channel your inner Carrie Bradshaw and hit Ono on Hudson Street, a hot spot for spirits and stylish dining: Giselle, Helena Christensen and Kim Cattrall have all supped on sushi in this swanky venue.

sex-and-the-city
AFTER DARK
Then and now:

As you would expect in the city that never sleeps, the nightlife in New York is legendary. When the weather turns warm, the city’s party people all head in the same direction: up. Plunge, the rooftop lounge at the so hip it hurts Hotel Gansevoort, rewards reveller who make the trek to the 15th floor with daybeds and loveseats where you can sit, sip and soak up the staggering views of the Hudson River.
Of course no visit to NY is complete without seeing a show on Broadway. Tickets aren’t cheap mind and can easily cost upwards of $100 which is why we love Times Square’s Tickets Booth. It opened eight years later than planned and cost nine times as much as expected, but the discount Broadway box office’s ‘stairway to nowhere’ – 27 ruby red glass steps climbing up its back – is a spectacle worth the wait selling cut rate, same day tickets to Broadway shows.

TOP SHOPS
Then: Bloomingdale’s

Selling everything from hi fis to high fashion, Bloomingdale’s department store is an NY institution. For fashion heaven, Bloomingdale’s can’t be beaten but be prepared to drop some dollars.
sicgit_nyc_anthropologie
Now: Anthroplogie
In more prudent times, Anthropologie is where it’s at. Forget Barneys and Saks Fifth Avenue, Anthropologie is the fashion, lifestyle and beauty store that is our first shopping stop. But the grown up sister of Urban Outfitters is much more than merely a place to indulge in some retail therapy: this Rockefeller store will entertain and thrill visitors with innovative displays.

BEST KEPT SECRET
Then: Century 21

This four level department store selling deeply discounted designer clothes, accessories and shoes was once the Big Apple’s best kept secret. Fast forward to 2010 and the secret is out: every New Yorker knows about this Cortland Street gem. It’s still the place to pick up a bargain but be prepared to trawl the avenues and aisles with tonnes of other tourists. To beat the crowds (and get the best deals) forgo the lie-in and arrive early – the store usually opens around 8am.
Now: Brooklyn
Right now, Brooklyn is where New York’s at. Younger and edgier than Manhattan, this once down at the heel neighbourhood has undergone an impressive renaissance and its superb shopping (wander to Williamsburg and Atlantic Avenue), galleries (the Brooklyn Museum has the best collection of ancient Egyptian art in the US) and gorgeous Prospect Park make it more than a match for Manhattan.
Don’t believe us? Just ask Sex and the City’s Sarah Jessica Parker. “Manhattan’s not what it used to be,” said SJP only earlier this year. “But the outer boroughs are pretty sexy.” Actors Michelle Williams, Emily Mortimer and Maggie Gylllenhaal all agree, having upped sticks and moved from Manhattan to Brooklyn. Clearly there’s more to Brooklyn than the bridge so why not get there before everyone else does.

SLEEPOVER
Wondering where to stay in the Big Apple? It can be confusing: around 5,500 new hotel rooms became available in 2009, with another 6,800 on schedule to open in 32 properties across the city this year. Fortunately CD Traveller has done the legwork for you.

ritz-carlton-new-york-battery-park_1
Then: The Ritz-Carlton New York, Battery Park
Its location gives it a head start: the Ritz-Carlton Battery Park is located on the New York Harbour, steps away from the ferries to Ellis Island and Lady Liberty and within easy reach of Wall Street and the trendy neighbourhoods of SoHO, TriBeCa and the Meatpacking District.
Despite its enviable location, leaving the salubrious surroundings of the Ritz isn’t easy: this Art Deco inspired hotel is the first word in luxury, the last and most of these in between.
Accommodation consists of 298 guest rooms and 39 suites – many of which are larger than most people’s homes – tastefully furnished in shades of sage, butter cream and beige. Regardless of whether you plump for a room or a suite, the finish is five star slick from the Frette-dressed feather beds to the Bulgari bath products and Bath butler who will draw you a scented bath. The Ritz, you see, has a way of figuring what you want before you have even thought of it: as such rooms come complete with telescopes for close-ups of Lady Liberty and curtains that slide apart at the flick of a switch.
Beyond the bedrooms there’s the elegant 2 West restaurant and bar serving new takes on all your American favourites, a sumptuous spa and 2,500 square foot fitness centre where you can work out against a backdrop of striking views of the Manhattan skyline and harbour.
The bottom line? The Ritz-Carlton Battery Park provides what we all need in these difficult times: good old fashioned glamour.
For hotel reservations and information visit www.ritz-carlton.com
hotel-gansevoort_1

Now: Hotel Gansevoort
For the perfect blend of style and substance check into Hotel Gansevoort. Entering the glamorous Gansevoort – named for a nearby Dutch-christened street – with its zinc coloured panels is like entering a fairytale, only this story doesn’t have a happy ending: you have to check out.
This popular oasis in the Meatpacking District boasts 187 rooms spread out across 14 floors. All bedrooms are kitted out with Flat-screen TVs, DVD players and complimentary Wi-Fi connection and feature a colour palette of neutrals and greys with a shot of blackberry. Light and airy, the generous sized rooms afford arresting views of the Empire State Building to the north and the Hudson River to the west.
The real must see, however, is the hotel’s heated rooftop swimming pool (with underwater music!) and Plunge bar. People watching here is among the best, so do make the effort and dress up. Downstairs the hotel has a Japanese restaurant, a 4,300 square foot full-service spa and onsite fitness room amongst other amenities. In short, if luxury and glitz are what you’re after, you’ll want for nothing at this chic, urban retreat.
For hotel reservations and information visit www.hotelganesvoort.com

Getting Around
Then:

Most of the city is compact enough to walk around and the easy to navigate grid system means that New York novices can find their bearings in just a few days.
Don’t fancy pounding the pavements? New York’s subway system (www.mta.info) is the fastest and safest way to get around the city. It’s cheap too, at only $2 per ride. That said, it’s worth splashing the cash and climbing into the back of a Yellow cab at least once during your stay: hailing a cab is a rite of passage in New York that has stood the test of time.
Now:
A new addition to New York’s transport scene are bicycle taxis – aka pedicabs – which have proved popular with the city’s constant influx of visitors. The rickshaws (www.manhattanrickhaw.com) are unashamedly touristy but they are green.
For further information about New York, including accommodation, visit the city’s tourist board website: www.nycgo.com

If you enjoyed this post, please consider subscribing to the RSS feed to have future articles delivered to your feed reader.
Tags: ,