Updated February 11, 2014—We asked Josephine Danielson, Chef Concierge at Four Seasons Hotel New York, to gather the savviest sight-seeing suggestions she could find—not just her own, but also those of other local connoisseurs, including some she works with every day at the Hotel. New York City pulses with energy day and night with its ever-changing arts scene, vibrant restaurants and a variety of shopping options.
Feast on This
For fabulous New York dining, head downtown to the Meatpacking and SoHo neighbourhoods. Shareable seafood dishes make up the menu at Catch, which includes signatures such as Dungeness crab spaghetti and Cantonese lobster. After dinner, head upstairs to the rooftop lounge for cocktails and panoramic views of the Meatpacking District. Located in the heart of the neighbourhood is STK Meatpacking, a modern steakhouse set in a chic lounge environment, complete with dramatic lighting and a DJ.
For a more intimate dining experience, head to Locanda Verde, a casual neighbourhood tavern that boasts soulful Italian cuisine. Enjoy an al fresco brunch on a sunny New York day, or try a specialty Italian beer at the inside bar. You won’t soon forget a dinner at SoHo’s Morimoto, a restaurant by renowned Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto that serves contemporary Japanese fare, including kakuni, a 10-hour prepared pork dish served with a soy scallion jus. For a change of pace, try The Dutch, where you’ll experience the neighbourhood’s bustle as you dine on comfort food and sip on a cocktail blended with one of the restaurant’s many types of whiskies.
The Flatiron and Union Square neighbourhoods also offer a variety of dining options with local and seasonal touches. ABC Kitchen features a changing menu that is locally sourced and globally artistic, while Tocqueville serves French-American cuisine with seasonal ingredients from the Union Square Greenmarket. Head to Gotham Bar and Grill for sophisticated cuisine without the fuss, or try the signature prime cuts at Strip House, one of the best steakhouses in the city.
Sip and Savour
The ECC (or Experimental Cocktail Club) on the Lower East Side is just that—if you’re looking for your average drink, you’ve come to the wrong spot. For example, try the Curious Prescription, made with reposado tequila, pear eau de vie, Manzanilla sherry, lime juice, habañero bitters and homemade salted caramel mescal syrup. Bar Boulud at Daniel is a perfect spot to grab brunch or dinner before the opera at Lincoln Center. The restaurant has a wide selection of French comfort foods and refreshing cocktails made with quality ingredients. For an appetizer, try the escargot. For brunch, the French toast is brilliant.
For the Strikingly Stylish
Men shouldn’t miss Bond Street’s Billy Reid, and women might want to check it out as well. The Alabama-based designer is noted for his modern menswear designs (the CFDA named him Menswear Designer of the Year in 2012), but his collection also features apparel and accessories for women. Shirt-maker Thomas Pink and Italian suit designer Zegna should also be investigated. In need of a trim? Try Martial Vivot. Opt for a shave, haircut or a full day of pampering.
Women will find whatever their hearts desire on Madison Avenue. Go for stylish, preppy attire at J.Crew, French designer fashions at Sandro or contemporary urban wear at Vince. Fivestory is a standout luxury boutique on the Upper East Side housing five fashionable floors that focus on pieces from New York’s finest designers, as well as international designers.
A must-shop for all New York visitors is Ralph Lauren’s empire of American luxury. The brand currently holds court on a solid block of Madison Avenue real estate, where you’ll find flagship stores for the men’s, women’s and home collections—not to mention neighbouring stores for children and babies. If your shopping spree spawns too many bags to carry on your walk back to the Hotel, Ralph Lauren offers a chauffeured vehicle that will take you (and your freshly purchased fashions) back to Four Seasons Hotel New York.
New York City boasts some of the best performing arts venues in the world. Carnegie Hall has been a New York icon since it opened in 1891, and Lincoln Center is home to the Metropolitan Opera, the New York Philharmonic, the New York City Ballet and Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola—a sophisticated spot to enjoy cocktails and great late-night jazz. For those interested in venturing out of Manhattan, BAM (Brooklyn Academy of Music) is known as the home for adventurous artists.
New York Nightlife
The café and nightclub Provocateur is the pinnacle of New York City nightlife. International travellers and locals frequent this spot for its luxurious and intimate setting (entry to both the café and the nightclub is guest list only). Another spot to toast with stars is at Top of the Standard on the High Line. This exclusive retreat radiates 1970s-style glamour, awash in glittering gold and boasting 360-degree views of Manhattan and the Hudson River. If you’re in the mood for music, head to the heart of Chelsea for a night at 1 Oak (the name stands for “one of a kind”), where DJs and surprise performers provide a soundtrack to the hip, stylish scene.
Countless cultural experiences can be found off the beaten path in New York City—especially at the numerous museums. Travel into the past at the Tenement Museum and hear the stories of immigrants living in 97 Orchard Street, a tenement built in 1863 on the city’s Lower East Side. Or explore early 20th-century German and Austrian art and design at Neue Galerie. Stop for an apple strudel at Café Sabarsky on the ground floor of the museum, where you’ll be surrounded by more period décor, including lighting fixtures by Joseph Hoffman, furniture by Adolf Loos and banquettes upholstered with a 1912 Otto Wagner fabric.
Delve further into the interplay of culture and fine art at The Studio Museum in Harlem, a museum devoted to promoting the works of black artists. For a dose of modern art, visit New Museum on the Bowery, which showcases collections of contemporary artists from around the world. You can attend screenings of programmes and films from the impressive collection at The Paley Center for Media. Families travelling with children should visit the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum, an interactive military history museum situated at Pier 86 on the Intrepid, one of the most successful aircraft carrier ships in U.S. history.
L. Raphael Beauty Spa at Four Seasons Hotel New York offers many soothing and rejuvenating treatments. Harness the healing properties found in ancient waters during the Dead Sea Detoxifying Body Polish, a head-to-toe skin renewing treatment using a sensual mango and sesame scrub. Following your toxin-releasing cranberry oil massage, a Dead Sea mud mask leaves your skin feeling refreshed and renewed.
New York’s theatre scene is abuzz with a line-up of new shows. Winner of six Tony Awards, including Best Musical and Best Score (thanks to famous composer and lyricist Cyndi Lauper), Kinky Boots at the Al Hirschfeld Theatre is not to be missed. Children will love seeing a classic Roald Dahl story come to life during Matilda the Musical, now at the Shubert Theatre. Experience Motown: The Musical at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre; featuring nearly 60 famous tunes by the likes of Diana Ross, Michael Jackson and Stevie Wonder, the production tells the story behind the defining record company. Or celebrate the revival of an old favourite, Pippin. After delighting Broadway audiences for the first time nearly 40 years ago, the show is back at the Music Box Theatre, putting a circus-inspired spin on the classic story of a young prince in search of adventure.
New York in a Day
Start off with breakfast at Bubby’s in Tribeca before going on a helicopter tour of the city. Then spend some time shopping at Bergdorf Goodman or Barneys—or take a walk through Central Park—and have lunch at Marea or Caravaggio. In the afternoon, visit The Morgan Library & Museum or indulge in a spa treatment at the Hotel. Finish off the day with drinks and music at Bemelmans Bar.