One of my favorite cities in the world- New York! I wanted to create a local’s guide to the city covering just a few hand-selected, most authentic places, the “can’t miss” spots that make NYC so amazing, outside of the standard Statue of Liberty or Broadway visits. The combination of dynamic and superior cuisine, fabulous shopping and unique experiences, along with that sizzling New Yorker attitude and fast-paced lifestyle is hard to find in such high concentration anywhere else in the world. I travel to NYC several times a year, and continue to discover new and intriguing highlights with each trip! The top two neighborhoods on my watchlist right now are the East Village and Midtown.
While still considered “up and coming”, the East Village has been undergoing a renaissance in the last several years, turning gritty into sexy with a few rockstar hotels, some cool dive bars, and diversified cuisine. Where to sleep? The Bowery Hotel is retro glam and effortlessly cool, while the new and more modern Standard has a great location in proximity to several Bowery bars and restaurants. Dine in the garden at Narcissa in summertime, take a Thai cooking class with the owner at Ngam, stop by Mermaid Inn for the freshest seafood and oysters, or stand in line at Ippudo to taste some of the best ramen EVER! End your nights at the not so secret speakeasy PDT (“Please Don’t Tell”), or Mother of Pearl, where you can sip on Polynesian cocktails in a tiki-inspired atmosphere.
In contrast, Midtown has long been known for its mix of a serious, number-crunching business crowd, skyscrapers and a handful of tourist lures like the Empire State Building and Times Square. But lately, this area has been reinvigorated with the launch of several brand new luxury hotels, and if you are in the know, this very central location can make for an amazing weeklong getaway in the city. Stay at the ultra-chic Baccarat hotel, where you will be pampered in overstated, tasteful decadence, and surrounded by tons and tons of handcrafted French crystal. The color palette is serene and muted everywhere except their primary bar, which hosts its guests in a rich ruby red, grand room with checkered floors. This is your spot to see and be seen after spending the day picnicking in Central Park, studying art at the MoMA across the street from your hotel, and dining at The Modern restaurant. During the summer, find yourself some tickets to Shakespeare in Central Park, or take in a movie screening outdoors at Bryant Park. When I’m in the mood for retail therapy, I walk uptown on Madison Avenue for a mix of everything from boutique to upscale.
While I currently love watching the transformations in East Village and Midtown, my NYC local’s guide wouldn’t be complete without mentioning some of the amazing things you can do, see and eat elsewhere in Manhattan. While this is by no means an exhaustive list, it will give you a glimpse into both the luxurious facade and seedy underbelly that gives this city such a special spot in my travel heart.
Off the beaten path recommendations:
For something funny and very different – Batsu! a live Japanese game show that takes place in a small theater under Jebon Sushi & Noodle restaurant. Competitors participate in a variety of comedic challenges in this full-contact comedy. Audience members are also encouraged to participate which can lead to an even more hilarious and unpredictable evening.
Sleep No More at the McKittrick Hotel – This renovated vintage property is home to an unusual, one of a kind, interactive theater experience that is not for the faint of heart.
For a no-frills, true Russian bath experience, go to Russian and Turkish Baths on East 10th street, which has been open for 120 years!!
Aire Ancient Baths in Tribeca – Perfect day spa spot for a romantic retreat or fun friends outing.
Not to be missed are the following hotspots and eateries:
Grand Banks – Oysters and drinks on a boat off the pier in Tribeca
Momofuku – There are several in the city, all great!
Meatball Shop – Yum!
Luxe Tip: A helicopter tour above the city is a truly special activity, only second to a FlyBlade helicopter that takes you out of the city to Montauk on Long Island, where you must stay a couple nights on the beach at Gurneys.
Interested in heading to NYC? Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we would love to help! Our relationships with the top hotels in the city will ensure a fabulous stay in the city!
Written by: Katie Frederick Jacobson, Ever After Honeymoons
Images by: Baccarat | New York Times | Business Insider | Bowery Hotel | Vogue | Gurneys | TripAdvisor | Sleep No More | NYhabitat | thousandwonders |