Dylan Jones: If you ask me

Click to follow
The Independent Online

If you ask me there is no more romantic place to be at Christmas than New York. There is never any embarrassment here about overt consumerism, nothing coy about the way the city collectively invites itself to celebrate the season as though it were one big department store obliged to empty itself before Santa starts taxi-ing on his sleighway.

There are so many Christmas trees here at this time of year and Manhattan feels so gentrified, so twee, you almost expect George Bailey to come bounding out of the snow, a heartfelt message for mankind gripped tightly in his heavily branded cashmere mitten. The tree in the lobby of the Carlyle Hotel last week looked like it had been built by a Hollywood set designer, which, given the amounts the best hotels lavish on "holiday", it probably had. Opposite, where The Mark has just reopened, even the trees are covered in tiny white bulbs, and the hotel likes them so much they keep them there all year round.

Everything in New York is designed and pruned to be perfect. Your Christmas tree like your teeth, your cosmetic surgery or trophy spouse says so much about you, and like the new camera that won't take a photograph until the subject is smiling, your tree needs to suggest happiness, prosperity and appropriate provenance.

Every building looks as though it could be a shop if it put its mind to it, every wreath an invitation of some sort. Bloomingdales was draped almost entirely in bulbs, making it appear less like a luxury supermarket and more like an illuminated handbag. The Pixarification of the city now means that SoHo and the meat-packing district are closer to the Upper East Side than they've ever been, and you have to go burrowing around NoLita or Chinatown to remember what New York was like before the developers started reading interiors magazines.

For tourists this was a great Christmas to be in New York. Not just for the snow and the decorations and daily arrival of unfeasibly fashionable restaurants (where it usually takes so long to get served that many go out of fashion by the time you get your coffee), but for the rather wonderful fact that the exchange rate is still so good that whenever I tried to buy something I got cashback instead.

Dylan Jones is the editor of 'GQ'

Comments