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Empire State of Mind: The Best of New York

The Big Apple. Gotham City. The Empire State. The City That Never Sleeps. New York wears many hats, and no matter what you want to call it, there’s no denying it pulls off every damn one of them. 

It’s hard to put a finger on what makes New York the greatest city in the world, but in the words of singer-songwriter and true New Yorker, Alicia Keys “there’s nothing you can’t do, now you’re in New York.

Amidst a cacophony of sights and smells, don’t fall into the many tourist traps and miss out on some of the best parts of this often-loud, always-dirty, constantly-pulsing city. Skip Times Square and make the most of your New York minute with our local-approved travel guide.

STAY


Langham Place Fifth Avenue

A few blocks over from the Empire State Building, on Fifth Avenue, sits this polished 60 story limestone tower. Voted the best hotel in the city, this luxurious space is a no brainer. Just a few highlights of the spacious (for NY!), sun-drenched rooms include Italian Walnut furnishings, plush bedding, oversized soaking tubs and luxurious marble bathrooms. Pro-tip: book an 8th floor or higher room to escape the noise of the street and wake up to views of the iconic Manhattan skyline through your very own floor-to-ceiling glass windows. 

1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge

Make your stay a guilt-free one in this waterfront eco-luxe accommodation. The sustainable boutique hotel pays homage to Brooklyn’s past through its use of recycled materials and artwork, whilst also committing to the borough’s future through its green design. From the local artisan-crafted rooms with all-natural themes, to thoughtful touches that seamlessly bring the outdoors inside, this is the most serene stay in all of NYC. Oh yeah, don’t forget the Brooklyn Bridge just outside your window.

Public Hotel

From the creator of the boutique hotel category (no biggie…), comes Public Hotel on the Lower East Side. Editing out the more redundant features of traditional hotel living, such as bellmen and room service, Ian Schrager has once again reinvented his idea of luxury hospitality to make way for a fairer price. As the name suggests, the hotel centres around the idea of public spaces. With a massive lobby doubling as a social gathering place, ground-level garden, communal work spaces, and a rooftop bar with 360-degree Manhattan views, Schrager aims to allure a sense of community with guests and locals alike and we like it.

Hotel Americano

This modern minimalists haven, nestled within Chelsea’s gallery district, seamlessly fuses Mexican architecture with Japanese serenity in the perfect Manhattan setting. Boasting a rooftop deck with a plunge pool that doubles as a hot tub in winter, wrap-around river-to-skyline views, an airy ground-floor eatery and two subterranean bars, this boutique hotel is the perfect launch pad to explore Manhattan.

EAT


Sadelle’s

The scene is a crowded rustic den in Soho. There’s a deli man carrying a baton of bagels across the store floor, shouting “HOT BAGELS!”. Welcome to Sadelle’s: a must on any visitors list for the classic NY bagels and lox experience. Be sure to try star pastry chef, Melissa Weller’s famous Chocolate Babka. After all, having been perfected over many years to strike the perfect balance of chocolate flavour and buttery pastry, babka is never the wrong order!

Roberta’s Pizza

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Let’s be honest, a trip to The Big Apple is not complete without trying a slice of their finest delicacy. Yes, I am talking about an overly-large, extra-cheesy, just-the-right-amount-of-grease slice of NY-style pizza. And dare I say, the slices at Roberta’s are amongst the cities finest. This trendy Brooklyn pizzeria is a crowd favourite, and for good reason. Aside from its always buzzing atmosphere, eclectically dressed waiters and rooftop garden, the slices are so. damn. good. So throw on your best hipster outfit and catch the subway down to Roberta’s in Brooklyn.

The Odeon

In case you hadn’t heard, The Odeon is a New York institution. Its slew of diners include a melange of supermodels, high-profile journalists, Hollywood A-listers and regular people alike. As one of the longest-standing establishments in a city where places come and go quicker than you can say ‘unique New York‘, the food here is tried-and-true. Despite its star-studded lineup, expect no bravado, just classic French bistro fare done exceptionally well. Did we mention Lena Dunham has its neon orange logo tattooed on her backside?

DRINK


The Dead Rabbit Grocery and Grog

Named the World’s Best Bar, this 19th Century style cocktail bar is the perfect place to settle in after a long day of exploring. With something for everyone, stay on the ground floor for its grungy interiors and impeccable beer selection, or head upstairs for some of the cities best mixology in its oh-so-posh cocktail parlour. Its graphic-novel-eseque menu, detailing tales of the Financial District’s history and origins of each drink, is the perfect way to squeeze in your history-fix for the trip, sans dull history professor!

Death & Co.

So apparently there’s death in the air in New York bars, but with drinks this good we are totally down for it. The drinks at this gothic East Village haunt are so lethal they have launched the careers of many of the cities greatest mixologists. Whilst there will most definitely be a wait before you can walk through the imposing wooden door, pop your name down and head out for dinner before returning to a tiki drink served in a skull mug on a bed of flaming fresh flowers in your own luxuriously cushy booth.

Maison Premiere

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As if there weren’t enough reasons to head to the hipster hub that is Williamsburg, this elegant bar straight out of New Orleans can be added to the list. Specialising in oysters, absinthe and craft cocktails to match, the well-lit, highly gram-able, marble-filled space ticks all of our boxes. Pro-tip: enjoy a glass of vino on the lush vine-covered patio (see what we did there?)

Sweatshop Coffee Brooklyn

Attention coffee snobs: this one’s for you. Whilst New York is synonymous with a host of great things (bagels, hip hop, and breeding superheroes), brewing good coffee is not one of them. That’s where Sweatshop comes in. Indulge your flat-white loving needs with the small comforts of home (avo toast anyone?) at this trendy, light-filled, coffee joint run by two Melbournian-turned-Brooklynites. We know you came to see New York, but a taste of home in the form of sweet, sweet coffee beans can never go astray, right?

DO


The Obvious

Whilst we are all for getting the local experience, in a city like this there are a few joints that are tourist-populated for a reason. This is our list of cliche things that are worth checking out at least once in your lifetime.

  • The High Line: go on a weekday for less crowds.
  • Central Park: people watching over a packed picnic lunch.
  • The Museum of Modern Art/The Metropolitan Museum of Art/The Guggenheim: museum hop across these classic New York institutions for all things art and culture.
  • Fifth Avenue: from Bergdorf’s, Barneys and Bendel’s, let your inner Blair Waldorf out for the day.
  • The Top of the Rock: for a view way more gram-worthy than the Empire State Building.

The Not-So 

Gallery Hop in Chelsea

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This neighbourhood is known for hosting some of the most unique art in the city. Most galleries are open to the public, so put on your best walking shoes and spend the day hopping between art-filled industrial spaces and converted warehouses. Insider tip: Thursday night is opening night for most galleries, aka free wine night. You’re welcome.

Smorgasburg

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Eat your way across the world at Brooklyn’s famed open-air flea food markets. With over 100 vendors plating up a diverse range of seriously good (and affordable) dishes, this is the perfect weekend food-stop that’s not AppleBees.

Bushwick Street Art

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Catch the subway to Bushwick and wonder the streets to get a glimpse of some of the cities most famous street art. Stop at one of the many trendy coffee shops that populate the area, or pop in to ViceVersa Vintage for some second-hand finds along the way.

Abandoned City Hall Subway Station

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The very first subway station; City Hall station, opened in 1904 but closed relatively shortly after in 1945. Since then, it has become somewhat of a mysterious and intriguing part of the city. Adding to the mystery, tours run by the New York Transit Museum are limited and tickets sell out fast, so if you’re wanting to head underground to witness this opulent glimpse into New York’s past, we recommend planning ahead.

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