They got it wrong when they dubbed it the city that never sleeps. New York is actually the city that never stands still. It’s both ever-changing and always recognisable. If you’ve never been before, it will feel instantly familiar. If you have been a dozen times, you will still find something new to discover – and that is just the way we like it.
The first thing that dazzles you at Crown Shy restaurant in downtown New York is the gorgeous lobby. The second is the amazing olive bread. Thereafter the delights keep coming, courtesy of James Kent, formerly of the acclaimed Nomad (Sydney) and Eleven Madison Park. Start with a range of small plates but leave room for the roast short rib with chimichurri.
Amanda Cohen is a rule breaker. She banned tips from her restaurants, has a wine list showcasing female winemakers, and there’s no meat whatsoever on her menu. Oh, she’s also one of NYC’s best chefs. Dinner at her restaurant, Dirt Candy, is a memorable experience; be warned that some of the dishes, like her Korean-fried broccoli, are utterly addictive.
Every small plate at French yakitori restaurant Maison Yaki costs less than $10, but it doesn’t mean this laidback Prospect Heights diner is a cheap night out. The Japanese-French fusion fare is so good that you’ll keep ordering “just one more”. The snails with shiso butter are a highlight, but remember to book well ahead if you want to experience this Brooklyn classic.
From its subterranean location to its elegant booths, Slowly Shirley in Greenwich Village ticks all the boxes for a sexy cocktail bar. Order up a Plum Tuckered (a moreish blend of gin, whisky, plum sake and Aperol) and something to nibble from the sophisticated bar menu and settle in for the evening.
They may take their wines seriously but in all other respects, the team at La Compagnie des Vin Surnaturels are a laidback bunch, who turn up wearing tracksuits on Tuesdays and Hawaiian shirts on Thursdays. With 600 bottles available at this Lower Manhattan boite (box), you’re guaranteed to find a drop to suit your mood.
Where to go for pre-dinner drinks in Midtown? The Salon at 701 West – atop the Times Square Edition hotel – is a seductive emerald-toned space with velvet drapes, leather armchairs and jewel-toned sofas. Sure to get your night off to a good start.
From May through to November this year, New York Botanical Gardens will become an outdoor gallery showcasing the work of eccentric Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama. This landmark exhibition includes 16 new works alongside her beloved polka-dotted pumpkins and one of her brain-bending infinity rooms.
Of course you have visited the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) before; but have you been since its recent expansion? Not only has the amount of floor space increased by more than 30 per cent, but the entire collection has been rehung in a way that is getting rave reviews for the interesting juxtapositions it offers.
MOMA’s cutting edge offshoot, PS1, is not the only reason to head out to Queens. This is also where you will find the Noguchi Museum, showcasing the work of Japanese-American sculptor Isamu Noguchi. With 2,500 metres of exhibition space, this is a serene place in which to admire Noguchi’s elegant works.
It’s no surprise that stressed-out New Yorkers are big on wellness. The trend of the moment is sound baths: meditation sessions accompanied by the mellow tones generated by crystal bowls. The idea is to induce a state of deep relaxation. Try it at MNDFL, a meditation studio with outlets in Greenwich Village and the Upper East Side.
Why settle for a simple spa treatment when you can have a “personal recharging session” at the Equinox Hotel spa. The 2,500-metre wellness centre offers a comprehensive menu of massages and facials, but what makes the Equinox a must-visit is cutting-edge treatments that include an infrared sauna and cryotherapy.
Few things are as relaxing as a day spent at a Korean bathhouse, alternately soaking in heated pools and sweating it out in salt rooms and charcoal saunas, before finishing up with a muscle-melting massage. New York has plenty to choose from, but guests love the Sojo Spa Club just across the river in New Jersey for its rooftop pool with a view of the Manhattan skyline.
If you like to be right in the middle of things, The Whitby is your kind of place; with Central Park, MOMA and shopping temples such as Barney’s and Bloomingdales all within easy reach. As with every one of Kit and Tim Kemp’s stylish boltholes, The Whitby is all about eye-catching interiors and relaxed, but faultless, service.
Prefer some old-school luxury? The century-old St Regis is an NYC icon, with its opulent interiors and the butler service that comes free-of-charge to every room. A drink at the King Cole Bar is a Manhattan ritual, and the house car – a Bentley, what else? – is on call for drop-offs within a 10-block radius.
One of Manhattan’s most atmospheric places to catch a late-night gig is The Django, a cellar club tucked beneath Tribeca’s Roxy Hotel. From Wednesday to Saturday, late-night sets kick off around 10.30pm. With vaulted ceilings, vintage lighting and craft cocktails, The Django has all the ingredients for a memorable night out.
There never seems to be enough hours in the day to tick off all of New York’s attractions; thank heavens for the Empire State Building. This much-loved landmark is open until 2am, which means you can leave it at the bottom of your to-do list, safe in the knowledge that this one will literally keep until later. An added bonus: night owls get to avoid the crowds.
Hankering for some art after hours? Manhattan’s newest gallery, Fotografiska – an outpost of Stockholm’s famed photographic museum – is known as much for its late-night openings as for the regularly-rotating exhibitions that can be found across its six storeys. Perfect after-dinner fare.