It’s an exciting 24-hour destination – but you need to plan carefully to make the most of a short trip here.
You might not fly here for just one night, but New York is an exciting stop-over on a trip to the States and if you plan carefully you can easily fit in several of this city’s must-see landmarks in a one night/ two-day trip. Also, with cruise lines like NCL operating from the Hudson dock, it’s the perfect one night destination before heading for the high seas.
Stick to Manhattan if you’re strapped for time, it’s perfectly sized for walking and walking is the best way to get a sense of the city; from the views across the harbour at the tip of the island – take the free ferry to Staten Island for the best views of Manhattan skyline – right up to the 800 acres of Central Park.
Plan your walk to cover some of the city’s key areas:
Wall St and the commercial district at the tip of Manhattan – queue for a ticket for the Stock Exchange visitors’ gallery
Stylish SoHo (an abbreviation for SOuth of HOuston street – pronounced House-ton, expect looks of distain if you mispronounce) and Greenwich village, with quirky boutiques, hip hotels, happening bars and the uber-swish loft apartment of wealthy Manhattanites
The edgier Meatpacking district, the latest up and coming area since Greenwich and Soho up and came
Fifth Avenue for shopping, Broadway and Times Square for street-life and bustle
New York is a song that unfolds in your head as you walk, a simulated Woody Allen film set that feels hyper-real because it’s all so familiar.
One night in New York: What to do
The Sheraton on Seventh Avenue is within sight of the bright lights of Times Square and Broadway, well placed for MoMA, the Rockefeller Centre and Fifth Avenue shops, and an easy walk to Central Park. Expect to pay about $200 a night, but ask about deals and discounts
The alternative: W in Times Square is a hip midtown hotel, great for the theatre district. Or take your copy of The Collected Dorothy Parker and sit in the Algonquin Hotel (59 West 44th Street), home to the Algonquin Round Table most famously associated with the writer, though in later years she said she didn’t actually spend much time there as it was so expensive.
Butter, downtown on Lafayette St has a stylish arched interior that manages to be intimate and spacious at the same time – ask for a cosy banquette along the wall.
The alternative: It’s easy to eat on the go, pick up a breakfast ‘caw-fee’ and a doughnut from a street stall as you go; put together a posh picnic at upmarket deli Dean & Deluca or, for a classic New York experience, pick a diner at random and enjoy the staff repartee.
Note: You may want to read Anthony Bourdain’s behind-the-scenes account of the New York restaurant scene in Kitchen Confidential before venturing out to eat – you may never eat mussels again.
Enjoy the world-famous Bloody Marys and martinis at the posh King Cole Bar at the glamorous St Regis bar on 55th street, just off Fifth Avenue.
The alternative: The Ear Inn has been popular with its Soho locals since the early 1800s and the dark wood décor and retro feel has changed very little in the meantime.
Fifth Avenue for designer names, department stores, American favourites like Gap and, for European tastes, H&M. And, of course, Tiffany’s. Stand outside with takeaway coffee and a pastry – evening gloves optional.
The alternative: Greenwich Village is packed full of quirky boutiques but can be pricey.
The hottest shows on Broadway right now are – still – The Book of Mormon, Dear Evan Hansen and Hello Dolly!; queue up at the Times Square ticket booth to get on-the-day deals.
The alternative: The iconic Blue Man Group has shows running all over the world, see them at their original home in the Astor Place Theatre on Lafayette St. Combining multi-media theatrics, music, lighting, mime and comedy, it’s an amazing experience that should not be missed.
The Empire State building is the classic destination, once the tallest building in the world and the site of romantic meetings from Sleepless in Seattle to An Affair to Remember.
The alternative: ‘The Rock’ at the top of the Rockefeller Centre, close to Times Square, has uninterrupted views of the city and a great view of the Empire State! Back at ground level, skate on the famous ice rink in winter; take a tour of neighbouring NBC studios or Radio City Music Hall.
The ‘big three’ are MoMA, the Guggenheim and The Met, with impressive international collections.
The alternative: Skip the European treasures and head for the Whitney Museum of American Art at 945 Madison Ave.
Two more to do
Crafty New York: Visit Purl Patchwork on Sullivan in Soho for gorgeous fabrics and sewing classes, and Purl next door for wool
Take the Sex and the City bus tour
What’s everyone in Manhattan talking about right now?
Bars: 10 Downing, Scarpetta, Monkey Bar
Hotels: Ace, Standard, Cooper Square
Shops: The entire Christopher St area, Dossier in Fort Greene, Partners and Spade in Noho (North of Houston – remember, House-ton!)
Don’t go without
The Luxe City Guide to New York, insider info on the best places to eat, drink, shop, spa, see and stay packed onto a slimline compact fold-out card; the ready-made half-day shopping shopping and activity itineraries will save you weeks of research.
And finally, if you’re nostalgic for home – though why you would be overnight I’m not sure – the New York outpost of Soho House is at 29 9th Ave