New York notebook

Big, bold, busy, glamorous New York City is endlessly fascinating. It can also be frustrating, even for a confident and experienced traveller.

There’s no lack of excellent tourist information available, but if you want to experience the new hip and happening venues, the red-hot restaurants and the best of the classic Italian and Jewish delis – you might need a little help from true insiders.

WYZA has persuaded a chic New York couple, two Australian ex-pat art directors and a youngish actor/writer to share some of their favourite hot spots. A couple of serious foodies, who make it their business to check out the hottest eating venues, have kindly opened their constantly updated little black books for us too. Reservations should be made in advance for any sought-after restaurant. Try lunch or even breakfast if you can’t get a table for dinner.

Time spent in vivid NYC is too precious to waste on anything ordinary like a bland hotel in a boring area.

With sweeping views over New York's SoHo, this gorgeous room at the Crosby Street Hotel is a ray of sunshine to wake up in!

Everyone walks here. Pack those trainers. And it makes a difference to have great shopping, good restaurants and a cutting-edge gallery just round the corner. Learn to use the Subway, at least in the daytime. It’s horrible but usually not dangerous, and it gets you to where you want to go in half the time of a cab stuck in traffic.

The Crosby Street Hotel in SoHo is my favourite place to stay. Renowned designer and owner of London’s Firmdale boutique hotels, Kit Kemp, brought her fabulous sense of style to this 86-room hotel within a former industrial building. Discreet, but informal service from friendly staff is exemplary. A relaxed dinner among the gorgeous people in the colourful restaurant/bar is a highlight.

Exciting places to eat and drink plus boutique shops and pampering salons lurk behind the cast iron facades in the surrounding streets of SoHo and nearby TriBeCa.

SoHo streets are famous for their fashionable shops and art galleries

Famous Balthazar is on the corner. This bustling, very French bistro and bakery, is owned by Keith McNally, who also has the must-try Augustine. Other recommendations are Le Coucou in the hotel 11 Howard recently voted best new restaurant, and old-school Jewish-reinvented Russ & Daughters Café  where Neil Perry raves about their wild salmon and cream cheese bagel.

Located at the lower east side of New York City, Russ & Daughters Café have an appetising menu

Shopping in Soho covers everything from Uniqlo and COS to Chanel and a vast Prada store. Saturdays is a fashion destination for stylish men and serves great coffee too, while chic women like Village in nearby TriBeCa for unique and trendy clothing.

The Whitby Hotel recently opened in Upper Midtown Manhattan on West 56th Street at 5th Avenue. It’s Firmdale’s second hotel in NYC and also designed by Kit Kemp. Many of the 86 bedrooms and suites have private terraces. There’s an orangery and a small theatre. Australian designer Sharyn Storrier-Lyneham’s gorgeous fabrics have been used throughout.

This part of Manhattan is home to many splendid department stores and close to Central Park, The Museum of Modern Art and other New York landmarks.

The hottest place right now — The Polo Bar from Ralph Lauren, is just around the corner. The Modern, a lofty two Michelin star restaurant at MoMA overlooks the sculpture garden with a separate entrance.

If art is your thing, tour with an expert. I joined a small group led by art critic Merrily Kerr of New York Art Tours visiting some Chelsea galleries. Merrily also organises private art-focused itineraries.

Make sure to head to Chelsea Galleries to see the stunning artworks on display

Eataly, near the Flatiron Building, an upmarket Italian food precinct with restaurants, food stalls coffee and kitchenware is also highly recommended.

Everyone loves the Highline walkway planted with trees, grasses and wildflowers. From here you can access the Chelsea Market and the Whitney Museum. Take the stairs near the Meatpacking district for a sunset cocktail at the Standard Hotel rooftop bar. There’s live music and spectacular views across the Hudson to New Jersey.

(Feature image: Paper Cat / Shutterstock, Inc)

Have you been to New York? Where are your favourite spots?

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