The City That Never Sleeps. The Big Apple. The City So Nice, They Named It Twice. Whatever you want to call it, one thing is for certain: New York is a city quite unlike anywhere else, renowned for its art, architecture, museums, theatre, food and general greatness. So, when myself and my colleague Siobhan were invited for a whirlwind four day trip, we couldn't wait to experience the delights of NYC for ourselves...
More than just the wonderful luxury hotels dotted around the city, a visit to New York is all about the experiences on offer. Slightly bleary eyed but super excited, we spent our first night enjoying the bright lights, bustling crowds and brilliant billboards of Times Square, followed by dirty burgers at the iconic Hard Rock Café. Siobhan's first visit to New York, I don't think she stopped looking up in awe the entire evening. Then again, nor did I!
Another day, we head to the south of Manhattan Island by the famed Subway, a wonderful experience that made us feel like locals. My top tip would be to get the journey up on your phone with Google Maps, as it will tell you which entrance and exit to use - don't underestimate how helpful this can be! Making it to the area, we visited the 9/11 Memorial. Quiet, respectful and beautifully done, this understated mural is truly moving and tastefully remembers the victims of this tragedy. Though we didn't have time to go into the museum, I can image it is also a profound and touching experience. While in this area, we also couldn't miss out on a sighting of the Statue of Liberty herself! Taking the ferry, we got some amazing views of this iconic monument, as well as of the Manhattan skyline from Liberty Island.
A city of artists, musicians and thespians, one evening we were treated to tickets to the truly unique Blue Man Group Show in the downtown Astor Palace. Words can't quite explain this one-of-a-kind show (seriously, you might have to Youtube it!) in which blue-painted men play various instruments to amazing music - from drums covered in fluorescent paint, to PVC pipes. Immersive, messy, marvellous and like nothing you've ever seen before, this crazy show is great for families and involves plenty of audience participation and possible paint coverings - the first four rows are even given ponchos to protect them! Of course, there are a world of other shows in New York (including the magical musicals on Broadway) and the Elegant Resorts Concierge are on hand to help to arrange whatever you might fancy.
If there's one more pastime that New York is synonymous with, it's SHOPPING, so our last morning in the city was spent mooching around the countless stores along iconic Fifth Avenue and in the Rockefeller Centre. Thanks to my seven-year-old daughter waiting expectantly at home, most of my time was spent in the mind-blowing American Girl Place doll shop (it has a full beauty salon for dolls!?), but we also visited Tiffany & Co, Saks and more! Of course, Central Park is another must-visit when in the city, originally opened in 1857 and 843 acres in size! The final day's rain didn't dampen our spirits and - Ritz-Carlton umbrellas in hand - we explored a portion of the astonishingly large and gloriously green space.
Views of Manhattan from Liberty Island
Incredible street art in The Bushwick Collective
The Williamsburg Bridge from Brooklyn
Flowers for sale outside The Mark
Crossing the East River
As well as the delights of Manhattan, we were able to head over the East River to Brooklyn, via the iconic Williamsburg Bridge. With two lovely locals from our Concierge company showing us around, we embarked on an amazing Culinary Experience. This began in the Bushwick Collective area, a neighbourhood known for its amazing street art and graffiti. Looking around, I seriously couldn't get my head around just how talented some of these artists are! We were also told that every year on the 1st June, the walls are painted white to make way for new masterpieces to emerge, keeping the artwork fresh and new. After a dreamy dinner, we walked along the up-and-coming Domino Sugar Park riverfront area, the site of the former Domino Sugar Refinery, before drinks on an amazing rooftop bar with unbeatable views of the Manhattan skyline. Feeling completely safe the entire evening, it was great to experience yet another area of this captivating city.
What's your definition of luxury?
As with everything else in New York, there are no rules when it comes to luxury hotels, with a spectacular amount of choice in both style, size and location.
Our first resting spot, the Mandarin Oriental, New York has simply breathtaking views over Central Park from its restaurant - where we enjoyed a wonderful meal, complete with a unique dessert of asparagus and raspberry Swiss roll! The hotel also houses The Office NYC, a charming speakeasy bar that is accessed through the kitchen. entering it, I felt like we'd gone back in time! As well as the prime location and chic design of the Ritz-Carlton Central Park, the food was amazing here. The incredible Club Lounge puts on five separate food presentations per day - from sensational breakfasts to lovely lunches to evening hors d'oeuvres and cocktails.well worth the upgrade! Four Seasons also house two gorgeous hotels in the city - one in Midtown and one Downtown - where we enjoyed a good nosy around and delicious meals in each.
Ultra-glamorous, celebrity favourites include the Parisian-style Baccarat Hotel and The Carlyle, A Rosewood Hotel in the Upper East Side. We also stayed at The Mark (in an amazing two-bedroom suite!). The place to be seen, this is where Meghan Markle - the Duchess of Sussex - recently held her baby shower. Homely and quirkily designed by Jacques Grand, I can certainly see why this hotel is good enough for royalty. As well as charming carts selling flowers outside, the hotel also houses super cute pedi-cabs that take guests to the best shops, galleries and museums nearby - handy!
With a wonderful location, 1 Hotel Central Park is a luxuriously rustic and eco-friendly hotel. Inspired by nature, green plants and wood dominate the décor, while there is very little single-use plastic - room keys are wooden, door signs are written on stone, toiletries are refilled in ceramic containers, and other reclaimed materials used throughout include corrugated iron and nails. There is also a 'farm-to-fork' focus with the dining here, as well as plenty of plant-based options. Other less conventional properties include The Refinery in the Garment District, which was once a hat museum back in the Prohibition-era. While looking around, our guide explained that, once, a guest didn't emerge from his room for two days, prompting housekeeping to enter. They found him deep in the creation of a mural covering the walls. Wowed by it, the wall art still remains today! Heading to the ultra-trendy cobbled streets of Soho, we also explored the Crosby Hotel, characterised by floor-to-ceiling windows and rooms that are all completely different in style and décor. This list is just a handful of the unique and luxurious hotels in the city and we'd be happy to help you find the very best one for you!
No matter how many times you explore the streets of New York, it is guaranteed to surprise and delight you with something different. I, for one, can't wait for my next visit. how about you?
Mandarin Oriental, New York: Premier Central Park View Room
The Ritz-Carlton, New York Central Park
The Carlyle, A Rosewood Hotel: The Carlyle Suite
To book your luxury New York escape, call our Luxury Travel Specialists today.