City Slicker: New York - Bet your bottom dollar on Stateside fun

This city’s hard to beat for some pre-Christmas shopping with sights. Simone Kane offers ideas for new and returning visitors

Why visit?

The holiday season in New York is in full swing; the trees are up, the lights are on, and the store windows are full of eye-catching Christmas displays. And nobody loves New York at Christmas more than the Brits, for a little sightseeing combined with some seasonal shopping.

Plus you’ll get more bang for your buck right now. The reasonably favourable exchange rate, together with the prospect of plenty of pre-Christmas sales, means it’s possible to bag some real bargains.

Don’t miss

* The Brooklyn Bridge. Shake off the jet-lag with an early-morning walk across John Roebling’s masterpiece, the world’s first steel wire suspension bridge, which was completed in 1893. Start on the Brooklyn side of the East River for great views of Manhattan.

* The Staten Island Ferry, which carries about 60,000 people every weekday. Take the 25-minute off-peak ride on this busy commuter route for thrifty close-up views of the Statue of Liberty.

* Times Square. The bright lights and digital billboards are a must-see midtown landmark.

* Central Park. It has 843 acres of walking and jogging trails, green fields and lakes, as well as a zoo, children’s carousel, and the ice rink on which Ali MacGraw and Ryan O’Neal famously skated in the 1970 film Love Story.

* The Empire State Building. Take in panoramic views from New York’s tallest structure ( Or, even better, use its 102 storeys as the backdrop to your holiday snaps by ascending to the neighbouring Top of the Rock (

* Museum Mile. This stretch of Fifth Avenue from 82nd to 104th Streets, on the Upper East Side, numbers nine museums, including the Guggenheim and the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

* Yankee Stadium. Share in America’s favourite pastime or take a guided tour of the home of baseball’s New York Yankees.

* Grand Central Station. This Beaux Arts beauty isn’t just a commuter rail hub – look up to the Main Concourse to admire the constellations on the astronomical ceiling which was painted by Paul César Helleuin in 1912 and restored in the 1990s.

What’s new

Wall Street and the Financial District

It’s not just the traders who are heading to “FiDi” these days – this part of downtown is emerging as a vibrant neighbourhood in its own right, with hotel, bar, restaurant and shop openings. Andaz Wall Street (, World Center Hotel ( and W New York – Downtown (starwood are all new on the block.

Try new independent Christopher Norman Chocolates (christopher for a warming hot chocolate and take-home treats. And for more substantial sustenance, head to the eateries on buzzy, pedestrianised Stone Street – try Adrienne’s Pizza Bar (adriennes – while a good breakfast bet is the nearby Pearl Street Diner (212 Pearl Street). Two of the best stores for bargain designerwear are just around the corner, too – Century 21 ( and Syms (

The Ride

Take your seats for an entertainment experience that turns the streets of New York into a stage. An interactive, comedic take on the city bus tour, The Ride will have you laughing your way round the 75-minute route, featuring key central city sights accompanied by lots of facts. Watch the public’s reaction to seemingly impromptu street performances – and the gradual realisation that they are part of your entertainment.


The Plaza Athénée Spa

As part of a multimillion-dollar facelift, this classic New York hotel has transformed one floor of rooms into four sumptuous Asian themed spa suites – think grasscloth wallpaper, teak floors and ebony and bamboo accents. Each features a steam shower, dressing room and lounge chair, divided from the treatment area by floaty cream voile. You’ll find it hard not to drift off to sleep while being pampered on the silky sheets of the beds here.


The Lamb’s Club Restaurant and Bar

Treat yourself to cocktails and dinner in this elegantly executed homage to Gotham Deco. Set within the recently opened hotel The Chatwal in the theatre district, the restaurant has a red, black and chrome scheme and a glamorous ambience. Monochrome photos line the walls, recalling the Stanford White building’s previous incarnation as home of the theatre industry’s private club.

The excellent menu is a modern take on the bar and grill concept, featuring contemporary twists on classic American dishes.


Erica Weiner

Jewellery designer Erica Weiner opened her first shop in NoLita just a couple of weeks ago, a quirky showcase for her designs – necklaces, earrings and rings all for under £70. Her antique and vintage pieces from around the US include mourning lockets (with real hair), Art Deco engagement rings and Lucky Strike charms from the Depression era.


Insiders Secret

Melissa Smith, teacher

“Avoid large, touristy bars and clubs, where the cocktails are expensive. Instead, try more secret spots such as Death and Co, Little Branch and Pegu for classic, fresh-ingredient cocktails – and at half the price.”


Little Branch (001 212 929 4360);

Compact Facts

How to get there

Simone Kane flew from London City to New York with British Airways (0844 493 0758; on the business class-only service, fares from £2,185 return. BA flights from other London airports start at £347 return. She stayed with Leading Hotels of the World (00 800 2888 8882;, whose portfolio includes The Chatwal, The Plaza Athénée and The Greenwich.

Further information

NYC & Co ( Hg2 New York (

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
One father who couldn't get One Direction tickets for his daughters phoned in a fake bomb threat and served eight months in a federal prison
people... (and one very unlucky giraffe)
Arts and Entertainment
Sink the Pink's 2013 New Year's Eve party
musicFour of Britain's top DJs give their verdict on how to party into 2015
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Arts and Entertainment
(L-R) Amanda Peet as Tina Morris, Melanie Lynskey as Michelle Pierson, Abby Ryder Fortson as Sophie Pierson, Mark Duplass as Brett Pierson and Steve Zissis as Alex Pappas in Togetherness
TV First US networks like HBO shook up drama - now it's comedy's turn
Pool with a view: the mMarina Bay Sands in Singapore
travel From Haiti and Alaska to Namibia and Iceland
The will of Helen Beatrix Heelis, better known as Beatrix Potter, was among those to be archived
Arts and Entertainment
The Plaza Theatre in Atlanta, Georgia was one of the 300 US cinemas screening
filmTim Walker settles down to watch the controversial gross-out satire
Nigel Farage: 'I don't know anybody in politics as poor as we are'
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Recruitment Genius: Personal Trainer / PT - OTE £30,000 Uncapped

    £25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The fastest growing fitness cha...

    Investigo: Finance Analyst

    £240 - £275 per day: Investigo: Support the global business through in-depth a...

    Ashdown Group: Data Manager - £Market Rate

    Negotiable: Ashdown Group: Data Manager - MySQL, Shell Scripts, Java, VB Scrip...

    Ashdown Group: Application Support Analyst - Bedfordshire/Cambs border - £32k

    £27000 - £32000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Application Support Analyst - near S...

    Day In a Page

    Aren’t you glad you didn’t say that? The worst wince-and-look-away quotes of the year

    Aren’t you glad you didn’t say that?

    The worst wince-and-look-away quotes of the year
    Hollande's vanity project is on a high-speed track to the middle of nowhere

    Vanity project on a high-speed track to nowhere

    France’s TGV network has become mired in controversy
    Sports Quiz of the Year

    Sports Quiz of the Year

    So, how closely were you paying attention during 2014?
    Alexander Armstrong on insulting Mary Berry, his love of 'Bargain Hunt', and life as a llama farmer

    Alexander Armstrong on insulting Mary Berry and his love of 'Bargain Hunt'

    From Armstrong and Miller to Pointless
    Sanchez helps Gunners hold on after Giroud's moment of madness

    Sanchez helps Gunners hold on

    Olivier Giroud's moment of madness nearly costs them
    A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

    Christmas without hope

    Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
    After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

    The 'Black Museum'

    After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
    No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

    No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

    Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
    Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

    Chilly Christmas

    Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
    Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
    Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

    'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

    Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
    Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

    Ed Balls interview

    'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
    He's behind you, dude!

    US stars in UK panto

    From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
    Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

    Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

    What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
    Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

    Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

    Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect