The best area for your hotel stay is definitely Downtown. In Soho, James Hotel opened in September 2010 on Grand St, artfully designed hotel rooms with panoramic views and a frendly staff. Other great hotels in the neighbourhood are Soho Grand, 60 Thompson and André Balazs’ Mercer Hotel. In the Meatpackning District, Mercer’s sister Standard Hotel is a trendy hotel built over the High Line Walkway near Hudson River. In Lower East Side I would recommend Hotel on Rivington and the Bowery Hotel. Wanna pay less? Check out the Pod Hotel, in Midtown East.
One of the first places I stop by is Century 21. It’s a big outlet with last season’s designer’s collections, including European ones. If you spend some time to search through the different departments, there is a good chance to find some really good bargains. My latest findings were a pair of Chloe boots and a blazer from Elizabeth and James. For the guys: look for sneakers, outdoor clothing and designer underwear.
I spend most of my days in West Village and Soho. For a laid-back walk in the Village: Start on Bleecker street/7 Avenue and head towards Broadway. You’ll pass the Marc Jacobs shops, Intermix (designer clothes and accessories for the downtown city-chic girl) and Magnolia Bakery, the cupcake place from Sex and the City. If you take a peek into Perry Street on your left, there is Carrie’s apartment building… Don’t be surprised to see lots of tourists taking photos of these SATC-places, they are still very popular… Take a right on 6th Ave, and then left on Prince St.
In Soho, take a stroll around the neighbourhood, on the different streets like Mercer and Spring. On Broadway you’ll find many of the big brands: PINK, the Victoria’s Secret younger line (lots of bras, soft tanks and tees in all colours), beauty heaven Sephora, Ricky’s (lots of cosmetics and hair care brands at low prices plus a great supply of Halloween outfits!), and UNIQLO (a japanese clothing brand with cashmere in different Pantene colors). The best department store is the smaller Bloomingdales on Broadway, easy to navigate but still filled with all the american fashion brands. One of my favourite stores is J Crew on Prince St. They have a perfect mix of cashmere, adorable tees, preppy pants and jackets. Nearby you’ll also find Intermix with expensive trendy brands and affordable ones too.
At least one day I hang out on Fifth and Madison Avenues where the big chains and department stores are. Barneys (Madison/61th st) is the best place to find the bag-of-the-moment, plus there’s a good chance to spot some celebrities. And all the cool, new, hot brands are represented here. Saks Fifth Avenue is a department store were you can go if you don’t have much time, with all major brands represented. I love the american ones like Diane von Furstenberg, Alexander Wang, Alice+Olivia, Vince, Elizabeth and James. Plus a lot of jeans labels. And don’t miss Hanky Panky, the Lowrise are best undies ever – in all the colours you want. Henri Bendel is known for its extravagant window decorations. Go there for fabulous accessories and cosmetics.
Gap is all over the city and I always go there to shop priceworthy basic clothes, a perfect place to buy tees and tanks. The Flagship store is on Fifth Ave/54th. Banana Republic is close by with classic quality clothes. Closer to the Park you’ll find Abercrombie & Fitch, American leisure clothing for men and women. Don’t miss the georgeous instore models!
FOOD AND NIGHTLIFE:
When it comes to eating and drinking, SoHo and Meatpacking District offer the most trendy and stylish restaurants and bars. Pastis was one of the first restaurants to open in the Meatpacking, and a Sex and the City favourite lunch stop. Spice Market, just steps away, is famous for the small asian dishes – perfect to share, and exotic cocktails. For a party night, start with dinner at the Standard Grill and follow with drinks at the rooftop bar Le Bain, both situated in the cool Standard Hotel.
For breakfast I recommend Amy’s Bread on Bleecker at Leroy St or Le Pain Quotidien on 100 Grand St. On Sundays, all New Yorkers leave home for brunch with cocktails and the party tend to go on till late… Try any place on West Broadway or in the Meatpacking District.
Downtown Cipriani, 372 West Broadway in SoHo is a perfect italian choice for outdoor lunch and there’s also a good chance to spot a celebrity or two. If no table is available, try Felix next door or Novecento across the street. Mercer Kitchen of the Mercer Hotel on 99 Prince St is also great for lunch! Always busy but if you wait by the bar they’ll find you a table.
As for japanese food, Nobu has sushi to die for… order the Omakase menu (Chef’s Choice). Robert de Niro is one of the owners (105 Hudson St, vid Franklin St). Two other japanese restaurants in the Meatpacking District: Morimoto (minimalistic and stylish with exquisit lighting and food. Try the Kobe-beef carpaccio…) and ONO (in Hotel Gansevoort, with wallpapers of body tattoos). Top-of-the line tuna sashimi and fab drinks!
The most popular places in New York right now are the taverns and bistros. Hotel Americano in Chelsea is a great hangout for brunch and on warm days you can hang out by the rooftop pool. Spots like the Waverly Inn and the Lion are crowded every evening, often with celebrities hanging there for the great food and relaxed atmosphere. At Blue Ribbon on Sullivan St you almost feel at home, only with a great cook and friendly waiters. The legendary restaurateur Keith McNally is known for this kind of classic spots. Two of them are French Soho brasserie Balthazar and Minetta Tavern.
I love Italian food and New York definitely is the city of great trattorias and ristorantes… Bar Pitti and Da Silvano at 6th Ave are perfect for both lunch and dinner, with outside dining for perfect people-watching. If you want to have dinner like a true New Yorker I strongly recommend da Andrea – Italian food cooked with love. The Italian McNally-spot Morandi is busy and trendy, and his newest success is Pulino’s Bar & Pizzeria on the Bowery.
Mexican La Esquina is accessible by entering a taco diner, walk down the stairs and through the busy kitchen. Start with a drink at the top-of-the-line tequila bar and finish with a dinner of small tostadas, grilled corn and the absolutely fabulous ribs. Really great food and a unique experience!
STUFF YOU NEED TO BUY:
Cashmere!!! Fair prices at Century 21, Banana Republic, J Crew, UNIQLO and the department stores.
All-american brands like Rag & Bone, Vince, James Perse and Alice + Olivia.
Jeans brands like J Brand, Genetic and Current Elliot.
Wrap dresses at the Diane von Furstenberg store in Meatpacking District.
Lowrise panties from Hanky Panky; the celebrities’ favourite, it’s a must! You’ll find the small rolls in bright colors on counters at Scoop or the department stores.
Body lotion from Kiehl’s: Creme de corps. The best there is.
Shower creams from Philosophy (at Sephora), and other American beauty brands like Clinique and Dermalogica.
iPhones and iPads at Apple Store.