Our resident graphic designer and brand strategist, Ange, has generously given us the inside scoop her latest trip to NYC.
New York New York! The granddaddy of all cities. The city that taught cities how to be cities. And I was so excited to be there for the second time to get to know it better. Some of what this designer’s eyeballs & tastebuds took in over six days...
First thing... The Jane Hotel was THE place to stay. Because it’s classy, its
got the character, it’s New York old & new, it has the history - the building first housed sailors on shore leave, in 1912 it famously sheltered survivors of the Titanic, now resurrected from squatters and dereliction to ‘Bohemian chic’ decor, it came complete with bell boys in pillbox hats.
It has the great Cafe Gitane on the ground floor where you can dine in. It has a ROOFTOP BAR, just fabulous on a balmy night to look across the Hudson River at Jersey lights or cozy up inside with couches and giant palm trees to enjoy your late-night night-cap... It’s handy to the new Whitney Museum and the High Line, walking distance to the gorgeous shops and eateries in the West Village AND it has to be the cheapest place in town. Cheap because the rooms are pod-like bunk and standard style cabins, all fashioned on a ship quarters so be warned - they are tiny, but full of ship-shape amenity, and the bathrooms are shared and down the hall. Couples should go for the pricier Captains Cabins which have en-suite bathrooms, king or queen beds, and river views and terraces. The Jane Hotel was a cost-conscious highlight because spending time in my room in New York, I think, should be comfortable but minimal.
If you stay at The Jane, start at Kava Cafe on Washington, just around the corner, look for the red coffee cup sign. Interior design inspired by 70’s Italy, terrazzo, marble, copper details & wooden detailing, international clocks - nice touch - but spot-on coffee
and has a great small place vibe to start your day. Cross the road to Nonno’s Gourmet Produce for any supplies you may need, open 24/7.
Hit the Whitney Museum, for 20th-century American art, some famous pieces here. The gallery itself is a masterpiece, with panoramic views of NYC and the start of the High Line - that’s the next stop but only after the gift shop!
To get a feel for New York is to walk the High Line. This park re-purposed an obsolete section of the New York Central Railroad. It’s a 2 - 3 km elevated park, greenway and rail-trail that’s become an icon of contemporary landscape architecture. You can take in elevated glimpses of the Hudson River, the city skyline, outdoor theatre performances, art installations and get up close to modern housing developments that exemplify creative urban 5 stars living juxtaposed to those that demonstrate NY’s rich history.
Twentieth-century buildings to take your breath away. This is what I came for.
The Flatiron Building, the distinctive triangular wedge shape... not unlike a nice slice of parmesan cheese! Nice segue to Eataly, a mega emporium of Italian eateries; a salumi bar, a wood fire pizzeria, a gelateria, a fresh veg market plus more, there are so many choices. Go here for breakfast lunch dinner, a vino, a cooking course, a gift or a decent espresso coffee (more on that later).
The Chrysler Building, as indelibly marked in my memory from many a superhero cartoon or the iconic photographic skyline of mid-century Manhattan, here it is in living colour, complete with Gotham City gargoyles. The foyer centrepiece in the Empire State Building, right behind the concierge. Check out the remarkable example of 1930’s Art Deco, the typography, and craftsmanship in the marble and gold leaf mural.
The new World Trade Centre metro station, at the Oculus, true to name is a total eye-popper. It sits at the base of the Freedom Tower, and a great metro exit to take if you wish to visit the September 11 Memorial Museum. Definitely take a walk around and under its spines to take in the full otherworldly experience. The Memorial Museum has some very moving exhibits, all presented in not your typical museum-like way. The memorial wall (pictured above) is a gigantic collection of hand-painted blue watercoloured squares, one for each person that died that day titled “Trying to Remember the Color of the Sky on That September Morning.”
Coffee in the US ain't good. Although... it now appears a few ex-pats have seen the business opportunity and set up a shop selling ‘Australian coffee’... If you didn’t suffer the 23-hour flight to hang out with Aussies (or order smashed avocado on sourdough or mixed fruit juices labelled ‘Fitzroy,’ ‘Northcote,’ ‘St Kilda’) or face the swamp-water that is the Americano, get thee to Casa Toscana. John Street, handy to the World Trade Centre, or Century 21 if you’re doing your obligatory bargain hunting. Great authentic Italian espresso & freshly baked focaccias and pastries that melt in your mouth, perfect breakfast or lunch spot.
Also, I had a good one from Balthazar, Spring St, Soho, the bustling, romantic brasserie serves traditional French fare from breakfast through supper every day, with brunch served on weekends, or just drop past the bakery for cake and good coffee.
Let’s face it, you can get nearly everything on the internet, and unique gifts for the folks at home is hard to send, so I opt for the artist made and for that the best gift shops are in the art galleries or museums. My picks where I found the best stuff and saw things that you don’t see at home were: The Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum (also on the favourite museum list), the Whitney, MoMA Design Store, The Guggenheim was good too.
Shopping... I stuck my beak into nearly all the big famous stores, I just had to see the names of fame. Some highlights were the Prada Soho store/gallery, the bizarre shopping frenzy in Bergdorf Goodman jewellery section - I witnessed
a cluster of ladies of a certain age and affluence commanding the attention of all the store attendants, I’m sure there were no bargains to be had there. While I didn’t strike any retail gold at Century 21, if you are looking for discounted designer merch, try your luck at Sak’s off 5th on E57th, I found a winter coat nearly half the ticket price that I saw in Bloomingdales...
Jacks Wife Freda, for great hearty, real healthy food, American- Mediterranean, great for brunch. Decent coffee. Reminded me of home...
Dough, 14 W 19th St - Doughnuts, to go out of your way for. YUM
The Coffee Shop, 29 Union Square W - wacky snake shape bar that winds around, you cant more seats at the bar! Also booth seating, very much like the Seinfeld diner...
Boqueria Spanish Tapas, go early before the In-Crowd arrive, we got there at 5.30 by seven it was a den of In Crowders crowding us in. Divine Barcelona-style tapas and drinks regardless of the bustle.
Villanelle, 15 E 12th St Greenwich Village. This is a new, modern and classy but comfortable place with top-notch locally sourced American/International offering. A perfect place to rendezvous with my American cousins.
There are many Barcelonas. There’s the catch-all Las Ramblas with its flower sellers and scammers, its sex museum and world-class opera. Arrayed along its western shore El Raval has a glorious temple to modern art rising above streets that are in places gentrifying...