Dear hearts: New York City! Is there any other place on earth that gets your heart pounding as much at its mere mention? Where the right to shop is almost as sacred as the right to bear arms?
Where better to start than in the oh-so-quaint West Village, with its tree-lined streets, brownstone houses and chic designer and independent boutiques – terrific for both guys and gals. Just don't get trampled by those darn Sex and the City tour groups though – yes, they're still around: thanks Carrie.
Begin your shopfest at 37 Greenwich Avenue (corner of Charles Street) at Jonathan Adler (001 212 488 2803; jonathanadler.com). Jonathan's a dab hand with mud, turning out all manner of flamboyant pottery, and he has plenty of juicy fruity homeware to go, too. Pop out right and sashay on down to Zachary's Smile (001 212 924 0604; zacharyssmile.com) at number 9 for a fine collection of old and new pieces reworked with vintage fabric. What these gals can do with an old scarf or bedsheet is inspired...
Continue down to Christopher Street and if you look diagonally across the village square, you'll see CO Bigelow (001 212 533 2700; bigelowchemists.com) at 414 Avenue of the Americas ye oldest drug store in the US, with cult supplies of pongs, pharmaceuticals and personal care.
Alternatively, twirl right into Christopher Street. First on your right, get caught in flagrante at Aedes de Venustas (001 212 206 8674; aedes.com) at number 9, a baroque jewel overflowing with the best in hard-to find-scents and candles, including Serge Lutens and Frédéric Malle. Come out smelling of roses, or jasmine, amber or musk, and step into elegant Albertine (001 212 924 8515; albertine-nyc.com) at number 13 which features a stand-out crop of new American womenswear designers alongside lovely custom jewellery.
You can tell a man by his shoes, they say. Redeem yourself by crossing for Leffot (001 212 989 4577; leffot.com) at number 10, stocking a Who's Who of artisanal men's shoes – Ed Green, Alden, Gaziano & Girling and more – ready to walk or custom-made.
A Man and A Woman (001 212 929 6156; manandawoman.com) at number 14 serves up hot-right-now designers such as Jason Wu for both sexes; then squeal like a child at the window of Le Petite Puppy (001 212 727 8111; lepetitpuppynyc.com) at number 18. You'd have to be Cruella De Vil not to want an entire litter of their adorable small-breed pups – but remember, a fluppity is for life, not for accessorising.
Ten minutes later, and laden with Brussels Griffons, catch your breath at Jeffrey's Grocery on the corner at 172 Waverly Place, a throwback purveyor of viands, also serving life's essentials such as cocktails and champagne to complement your oysters and lobster. Greenwich Letterpress (001 212 989 7464; greenwichletterpress.com) is just a couple of doors along at number 39 and specialises in letterpress-only stationery, cards and invites.
Cross the teeming intersection with 7th Avenue and continue along Christopher Street to the next intersection to find Freeman's Sporting Club (001 212 255 5509; shop.freemanssportingclub.com) at 327 Bleecker Street, which upholds the proud tradition of American men's tailoring, with nearly everything hand-sewn in the Big Apple itself. Next, head right up Bleecker Street and go all girly for the baubles in Lucite and dazzle hues at Alexis Bittar (001 212 727 1093; alexisbittar.com) at number 353, before picking up perfect men's tees at James Perse (001 212 255 5801; jamesperse.com) at number 361. Nip up to Marc Jacobs (001 212 924 6126; marcjacobs.com), the unsigned cheapie accessories outlet at number 385 (corner of Perry Street). They should just rename this stretch "Marc Jacobs street": every second store carries his name, including the rather jazzy BookMarc (001 212 620 4021) at 400, full of designer tomes.
Phew, bet you could eat your body's weight in cupcakes by now. Well, it just so happens that the famed Magnolia Bakery (001 212 462 2572; magnoliacupcakes.com) is across the road, but one look at the lardies lining up outside should be enough to convince you what a terrible idea that would be. Instead, if you've timed it right for the cocktail hour, leg it back to Perry Street, whirl right, then left onto Hudson Street and hike down two blocks to Employees Only (001 212 242 3021; employeesonlynyc.com) at No. 510, which is open from 6pm (look for the “Psychic” sign).
Settle in for an evening of exemplary martinis, but remember: one is good, two at most, three, you're under the table, four you're under the host. Bottoms up.
Grant Thatcher is the editor of LUXE City Guides, the cult pocket city guides and mobile apps for the busy, fun-loving, sophisticated luxury traveller. For more information, see luxecityguides.com