There really is no place like New York. Buzzing with constant energy, it’s easy to see why it’s been named the city that never sleeps! Whether you are planning a long weekend away, or stopping off as part of a bigger trip, here are a few insider tips that the guide books don’t mention to help you plan an unforgettable stay in the Big Apple.
1) DRINKS WITH A VIEW
When you arrive in New York, the first thing you are going to want to do after dropping off your suitcase is hit up a bar with the best views of the city. Manhattan is famous for its rooftop bars, and there are so many to choose from. For the best views head to 230 Fifth, a little touristy, but the perfect spot to gaze up at the Empire State Building and indulge in your first cosmopolitan of your trip. If you fancy more of a party scene, check out Hotel Chantelle located in the Lower East Side. In the summer months the roof retracts and you can party until 4am in the open air. Other great rooftop joints include Le Bain at The Standard, Bar 54 and Jimmy. Check em’ out!
Le Bain at The Standard
2) WHERE TO EAT
There are SO many restaurants in New York, from trendy underground haunts to tiny quirky joints serving pizza by the slice to rival that of Italy. For a special occasion you have to book Beauty & Essex. Don’t let the name fool you, this is one of the hottest and classiest spots in town. It’s also one of the hardest restaurants to find as the front is disguised as an antique pawn shop. Quirky! The food is American tapas with a twist. Be sure to order the Grilled Cheese with Smoked Bacon & Tomato Soup Dumplings. A-mazing! For a cheap and cheerful bite, and not to mention the best burger you will ever have, head to the chilled out but buzzing Burger Joint hidden behind a red velvet curtain in the Le Parker Meridien hotel. The hotel may be posh, but this hidden gem is the opposite – a great casual spot! There is often a line (it is SO worth it), but try and go at off peak hours if you can, for a late lunch or an early dinner. For more inspiration on the best hidden bars and restaurants check out our Pinterest board here.
Beauty & Essex, Lower East Side of Manhattan
3) WHERE TO HAVE BRUNCH
Brunch is a rite of passage in the US, especially in New York City. If you’re in town on the weekend and fancy a boozy bottomless brunch head to Paradou in the trendy Meatpacking district. This is a popular spot so be sure to book before you go. It gets pretty rowdy with big groups so do not expect a quiet meal for two. The drinks keep flowing and the pulled pork sliders are the best I have ever tasted! If you are after a more casual and quiet affair without the booze, check out Penelope in the Kips Bay neighborhood. This is a great local spot with sensational brunch options – go for the buttermilk pancakes. For one of the most famous brunch restaurants in town (thanks to Gossip Girl) make your way to Sarabeth’s on Central Park South. A very popular spot, with a few more tourists than the other two but still a great choice for a delish start to the day!
Sarabeth’s on Central Park
4) WHERE TO SHOP
When heading to the Big Apple, shopping has to be on your agenda. You need to be strategic when planning your day so that you don’t have to travel too far with too many bags – if you are anything like me, that can end up being quite painful. So pick an area and conquer it! I would begin a day’s shopping on 5th Avenue at around 43rd street — this is just two blocks from The New York Public Library and Bryant Park. Walking along 5th towards Central Park you will be in shopping heaven, from upmarket designer stores to a massive Forever 21, Urban Outfitters and loads more. Once you hit Central Park, head east towards 3rd Avenue and 56th street to the infamous Bloomingdales. Visiting from outside the US? Be sure to go to the visitors section before you start shopping, as you can get a 10% off voucher when you show your non-American ID! On a separate shopping day head to Soho, a melting pot of every variety of fashion you can think of and such a lovely area to get lost in. And of course, no trip to New York is complete without getting your Bloomingdale’s little brown bag!
Bloomingdale’s 59th Street, Lexington Avenue
5) WHERE TO PARTY
When planning a night out in an unfamiliar city it is often hard to know exactly where you should go. For a trendy but more expensive night out head to the Meatpacking District. This area is littered with epic clubs, bars, restaurants and quite likely some famous faces. Head to Catch, a popular glitzy spot where you can party with New Yorkers until 4am Monday-Saturday! If you are looking for a more chilled scene head to one of my favorite haunts in the city – The Standard Biergarten. This is a super laid-back beer garden which has long communal tables, ping pong and a fun vibe. If you are looking to party all night and prefer a less pretentious atmosphere to Meatpacking head to the Lower East Side. Your night will most likely be cheaper and less stressful getting into the clubs. Check out No Fun, Nurse Bettie and Pianos – party the night away New York style!
The Standard Biergarten, 848 Washington St