Catch the red-eye home or spend a few extra days in New York? With this much on offer, it’d be crazy not to stay a while
Where to stay
The city that never sleeps might be a slight misnomer. New York is home to some of the world’s most stylish (not to mention expensive) hotels on the planet. Perennial favourites include the Gansevoort in the cobblestone Meatpacking District, with its rooftop swimming pool and industrial-chic rooms.
Studio 54 co-founder Ian Schrager more or less invented the boutique hotel and his Paramount has a prime Midtown location (a minute’s saunter from Times Square), even if its Philippe Starck-outfitted monochrome rooms are rabbit hutch-sized. Meanwhile, the Soho Grand reflects its chic neighbourhood, via spacious penthouses, Frette-covered beds and optional rent-your-own goldfish.
Where to eat
New York’s cornucopia of cultures has bequeathed it a mind-boggling array of cuisine to satisfy any taste, budget or diet, while its obsession with newness and fashion means its dining scene is constantly reinventing itself.
Current trends include ‘old-money’-style richesse bistros (Cherche Midi with its Gruyère-and-bacon marmalade prime-rib burger), gourmet power-brunching (try the frog leg wontons at East Village gastropub Alder), plus vogues for uni (sea urchin roe, available in All’onda’s bucatini or Sushi Nakazawa’s sushi) and haute vegetables (Narcissa’s carrots Wellington).
What to see
New York is one of the world’s great serendipitous cities and taking your shoes for a destination-free stroll will throw up all manner of discoveries. Out-of-towners could spend hours roaming Central Park, or the 2.3km High Line ‘linear park’, until recently a derelict elevated railway track.
You could traverse most of Broadway’s 21km, from the Upper West Side to Battery Park – or lose yourself in one of New York’s atmospheric neighbourhoods, whether it’s the steaming noodle shops of Chinatown, the brownstone-lined lanes of Greenwich Village or the hipster-clogged cafés of Brooklyn’s Williamsburg.
New York etiquette
“In the UK there can be a culture of being self-deprecating for fear of being seen as too arrogant,” says Takeout founder and chief executive Judith Clegg. “[But] in New York, people can be very straight-speaking. It’s not considered boastful to say you’re very good.
“I’ve had American colleagues tell me off [for being too modest in meetings] – they felt I was underplaying the business’s strengths, and given our competitors were talking in a much more bullish way, we wouldn’t put ourselves on an equal playing field. It doesn’t mean over-exaggerating but talking to your strengths.”
For the flight
New York resident Malcolm Gladwell (his trademark Afro bob is a common sight in West Village coffee houses) has written some of the business community’s most oft-cited books of recent years, such as Outliers (which laid out his “10,000-hour rule” – the amount of practice needed for success) and David and Goliath (being an underdog/misfit can be good).
For fiction, Tom Wolfe’s Bonfire of the Vanities, Jay McInerney’s Bright Lights, Big City and Bret Easton Ellis’s American Psycho all shine light on 1980s yuppie Manhattan, while Toni Morrison’s Jazz and Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man are both searing evocations of Harlem’s Jazz Age.
So many movies have been lensed in Manhattan that a random water hydrant, delicatessen, apartment building – or simply that magnificent art deco skyline itself – may prompt serious cinematic déjà vu. Take your pick from the peerless oeuvres of Martin Scorsese, Woody Allen or Spike Lee – all of whom have created some of the most memorable NYC scenes in celluloid history. Meanwhile, the Matt Damon-narrated Inside Job offers a lucid explanation of 2008’s financial crash, which, lest we forget, started here.
Prime your iPod playlist for the seven-and-a-half hour transatlantic hop with the many musical genres New York helped birth: jazz (Miles Davis, John Coltrane), punk/new wave (Blondie, Talking Heads, Ramones, Patti Smith), disco (Chic, Saturday Night Fever soundtrack), hip hop (Jay Z, Public Enemy, Beastie Boys) or erudite 21st-century indie (The Strokes, Vampire Weekend, LCD Soundsystem). To say nothing of Madonna and Lady Gaga. Flicking through the latest issue of New York magazine will unveil any cultural events happening during your stay.