New York, New York it’s a helluva town.
Sex and The City, Saks Fifth Avenue, Bloomingdales… It is the ideal shopping & dining weekend jaunt from London, the problem is that by the time you arrive on the afternoon flight and navigate the city in a yellow taxi (of course), the day has gone… Until now.
I was invited by Norwegian Airlines and NYCGo to test out their London to New York route in their Premium cabin.
The caveat? Check in is at 4am (Yes. a.m.) and if like me, you live in Central London, it means a super early wake-up (or the party circuit all the way to the plane). However, this is completely rectified by a 7 hour power nights sleep on the plane, meaning that actually by the time you arrive (at 9am thank you), you are awake, recharged and have an entire day to spend in New York.
While we stayed for 4 days, should you want to arrive at 9am, you could (if you were a hardcore traveller) leave again at 11pm the next day and still be at home in time for work on Monday morning…. rested and ready. Like a Champion.
Even better? As a low-cost airline… you expect a Low-cost service. Wrong. In my opinion, the premium cabin and service is far better than a lot of the conglomerate airlines and more importantly…. for a fraction of the cost.
Super spacious (almost lay down seats) and I mean it genuinely when I say that I am a convert and will definitely be doing this NY journey from now on.
As the song goes, In a New York minute, everything can change. (Extra points if you can tell me which show that was used on… if you know me at all, it’s a pretty easy guess).
It is easy to forget how vastly it has grown (and rebuilt) and just how many skyscrapers there are.
If you need proof, I would suggest you take yourself on a little trot up to the new One World Observatory because if you’ve ever wondered what New York looks like from 102 floors up (or what your 190bpm heartbeat sounds like in your own head from sheer palpitations)… it is just as impressive (a little daunting) as you might expect and a fitting tribute.
To Stay. I have been to New York a hand-full of times and have ALWAYS stayed in Manhattan. Why? Well because I am a stickler for what I like. The London or The Mandarin Oriental have been my go to… However, this trip totally opened my eyes to the ridiculously cool that is Brooklyn and more specifically Williamsburg.
I stayed at The Hoxton in Williamsburg and having stayed at The Hoxtons in London and Amsterdam, you might arrive at the conclusion that I am a fan…. You’d be correct.
Why? Well someone once told me that the success of Apple was down to their consistency. That you could walk into ANY Apple store and know exactly where you were and exactly what to expect without being told.
Now, I can’t remember if this was my Mother or a tech-company chief but either way… it has stuck with me in how to build a brand and this is NO exception.
Instantly, you feel like you know exactly what you’re going to get. It’s achingly cool with a good modern European restaurant and grill, serving good, relaxed food with a “sure whatever” level of trendy. The bar/lounge is a hangout for cool/artsy types and the decor looks like it has been plucked out of Surface Magazine or a Tom Dixon Catalogue and just as I expected… there was a bike left by chance at the top of the stairs (just like in every Hoxton i’ve been to).
What you might not know is that this particular Hoxton sought out 150 “Hox Friends” (local professionals) who all had the first ever nights sleep in a room each. In exchange? They had to leave a hand-full of their own books in the room for future guests that they thought would really show New York and Brooklyn in their way for travellers. I absolutely love this idea, as if your room and experience has been curated by a native New Yorker.
So, shout out to you Creative Operations Director Jemma Davis for my copy of 111 Places in New York That You Must Not Miss.
We also got a little show-tour of the new TWA hotel, due to open in Spring 2019. Totally in keeping with the 70s airport style and even has a little ticker board (absolutely not what they’re called). Think of the film Catch Me If You Can with Leonardo DiCaprio… and then you will invisage EXACTLY what I mean.
We were invited to experience Restaurant Week 2019, with hundreds of restaurants throughout the City rolling out special prix-fixe menus. Think of it as a way to experience the best bits of each place for a Friends and Family price. New York is FULL of restaurants and what you might call “eats” if you wanted to talk like a millennial…
Leuca is a trendy Italian restaurant in Williamsburg from Chef Andrew Carmellini’s NoHo Hospitality Group. The food is authentic italian fare with an industrial and arty design.
The Lambs Club.… Ok, I am just going to say it… I love an old old-boys-style sophisticated supper club. No, I don’t mean pipes, canes and chauvinism. I mean burgundy leather banquettes (also just a great word to say), 20watt candlestick light-bulbs and pictures of a million starlet/crooners from the 30s who all look fairly similar. I always think in this situation, best to always say “Humphrey Bogart or Ingrid Bergman” and hope for the best.
The owner Chef/Partner Geoffrey Zakarian was devilishly charming and the food was in keeping with that old New York luxury.
10 Corso Como is a great and super central Italian restaurant founded in Milan by renowned fashion editor and publisher Carla Sozzani (editor-in-chief for all Italian Vogue’s special issues No Big Deal) and started the restaurant last year with an adjoining art exhibition space.
Obviously if you pop cream, parmigano, burrata and truffle on a plate, I will always be your friend and this is no exception. Tip; Go for the Agnolotti di la tur (la tur cheese, black truffle).
I would still suggest places like Tao, Momofuku, Legacy Records, The Seville under the New Scarpetta in Noma, Carbone, Robertas Pizza which you will literally hear mentioned every hour almost.
Finally, where I am heading next time I go… The Chef’s Table at Brooklyn Fare
“If you haven’t had a bagel in New York, have you even been?” This is gospel there and given that I eat maybe 1 bagel every 4 years, this was not an opportunity I was prepared to miss. We went to Bagelsmith but actually, there are a whole host of “best” bagels in New York including; Sadelle’s, Barney Greengrass and The Bagel Store, but show me The Best Bagel in NY and I will show you 100 New Yorkers who say there’s a better one…. I mean I am willing to commit to the search
Should you (like me) always prefer a bit of everything (Meze to my family), a Food tour of Chelsea Market might be absolutely your bag. This incredibly famous building (which is where the Oreo was invented, do you mind) is now home to dozens of food stalls, casual restaurants and shops. Including “The best Tacos in New York” Los Tacos No1, Incredible Seafood Market Lobster Place, and Cull & Pistol Oyster Bar, Doughnuttery, Beyond Sushi (for actually delicious Vegan Sushi) , Seed & Mill Halva and even a secret seafood taco bar Los Mariscos through a secret door.
It also shares block space with one of New York’s most established hot spot restaurants Buddakan that I went to a few years ago. It may not be as tough to get a table now as when it was featured in Sex and The City, but it is still just impressive with it’s decor.
“Ok Zoe, but what if we’re not entirely lead by a search for food and gin?” Fughetabaaaot it! I got you buddy! (New York accent dependant).. Ok Lets not pretend I can pull that off.
There are a million things to do in the city that never sleeps, so lets start with what will instantly come to your mind… Times Square Broadway.
We went to see the new Broadway show – The Prom. It “follows four Broadway relics as they travel to Indiana, after reading about a student who wasn’t allowed to bring her girlfriend to prom” We laughed, we cried, we started incessantly using the term, “Give it some Zazz” (You’ll have to see it to know why) and we drank wine from what I can only describe a giant flask… This is still New York and they don’t do things by half.
If Art is your fodder, then The Museum of Moving Images has a permanent exhibition on Jim Henson (Creator of The Muppets) including 300 objects, puppets, designs etc of his work and another A Whole Different Ball Game is a selection of more than 40 playable sports video games spanning the last six decades.
Honestly? If it was me, I would still always go to MoMa if I am in New York as it really is the Big Dog of Museums/Galleries and is perhaps the most important collection of art in the city. Or, currently The Whitney are doing an Andy Warhol exhibition which is highly acclaimed.
There is also the unexpectedly fab chocolate tour. Why unexpected? Well… I like chocolate, sure… but I’d rather have a steak ordinarily. However, this was actually a lot of fun, in large part due to our awesome tour guide Paula from A Slice of Brooklyn stopping at delicious Jacques Torres Chocolates, The Chocolate Room, Raaka Chocolate and LI-Lac Chocolates for more chocolate than Bruce Bogtrotter could handle. FYI they also do a Pizza tour and a bar tour (which I am 1000% doing next time)
After 17,000 calories of chocolate there is only one thing you’ll want to do… (assuming you’re not bouncing off the walls)…Hit the spa for a massage/facial. In our case it was the award winning Oasis Day Spa on Park Avenue. I had a swedish massage and if you haven’t… i’ll leave you with this note…. You leave feeling like EVERY muscle has been forced into relaxation.
If you want to see some history, do The Walk on the Highline a 1.45-mile-long elevated park and rail trail created on a former New York Central above-city Railroad. I know… it’s far. I felt as if I had done the Duke of Edinburgh in arctic conditions, but it is very interesting.
While we were there, we were also invited to visit the new Century 21 Next Century collection. It is their new curated store with focus on high end avant-garde and high-fashion designers. We did our best Dale Winton impressions and went on a bit of a spree for an hour or so. Because you always need to squeeze in a little bit of shopping each day.
My absolute must do? The NYC Ferry…. Take. The. Ferry. Why? There is nowhere that will give you a better view of Manhattan and all of the Bridges than the water. My Tip? Do it in the Summer…. We were there in -15C weather and I won’t lie to you… It was pretty hardcore.
It’s actually quite magical at Sunset to see the light bounce off all the buildings including one world, the Empire State and if you look into the distance, The statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. (Another trip that is an obvious tourist trap but pretty impressive for any visitor)
Go To Brooklyn. I have always stayed in Manhattan and what a ridiculous idea that was. I have essentially fallen a little in love with Brooklyn and with dozens of restaurants, hotels and hot spots now choosing across the river…
Brooklyn… I’ll be back for you soon. (Ok….You too Manhattan. Kisses.)
So, which is my favourite of all? That’s my secret i’ll never tell. XOXO
For more information on New York City and to plan a trip, visit http://nycgo.com