From Times Square to the Met, New York boasts some of the world's biggest and most popular tourist attractions, as well as its fair share of history and culture. Is it possible to take in one of the world's largest and most vibrant cities in three days? The answer is an emphatic yes – and in fine style too, as Lucy Ford found out.
Getting there in style
Before your feet even leave the ground put them up with a glass of fizz in the new British Airways Club Lounge at Gatwick’s South Terminal. A large enough lounge to find your own private space within it, there is a fully stocked bar, hot and cold menu — and, of course, wonderful cake… If you want to stretch your legs before the long flight, wander around and admire the work from a long list of artists including Tracy Emin, Paul Huxley, Patrick Heron and Clare Woods.
Relax at 35,000 feet
Continue the luxury when you arrive on board by ‘turning left’. BA (www.britishairways.com) describes the seats in Club World as ‘your favourite armchair, bed, your dining table, and your office; all in one’ – and I concur. It was my first experience flying backwards and I had a wonderful view of one of the engines, as I tucked in to my mini smorgasbord, before having a snooze, wrapped in blankets courtesy of The White Company. Not too shabby.
When to rest your head in the city that never sleeps
The Peninsula New York is situated in the heart of New York City’s prestigious shopping, entertainment and cultural district: Fifth Avenue. Part of the Peninsula Hotel family, the group made history earlier this year when it became the first hotel brand to achieve Forbes Travel Guide five-star status across all ten of it’s properties.
The group’s first London site, overlooking Hyde Park Corner and the Wellington Arch, will open in 2021.
Upon arriving in their rooms, guests are greeted by snacks including popcorn, cookies, a bowl of fresh fruit and a chocolate Empire State Building. Another nice touch were the monogrammed shoe bags and Peninsula Hotel key ring souvenirs – ensuring I’d always remember my stay here.
Enjoying the amenities
The Spa at The Peninsula is the largest hotel spa in Manhattan. An urban oasis, it provides a sanctuary high above the hustle and bustle below. A 90 minute full body massage the morning after arriving is a welcome treat to help with the jet lag. The state-of-the-art fitness centre and pool, positioned on the 22nd floor, boast wonderful views of the city.
Time for a night cap
The Peninsula’s rooftop bar Salon de Ning on the 23rd floor is a perfect way to start (or end) your evening. Named after Madame Ning, a Shanghai socialite, it is a popular destination with both New Yorkers and travellers. The chic surroundings, inspired by Madame Ning’s eclectic New York penthouse, have two terraces and a cosy inside bar area. Enjoy a cocktail (or several) and take in a view that is said to be one of the best of Fifth Avenue.
The Peninsula New York has rooms from $695 per night, based on two sharing a Superior Room on a B&B basis. For bookings please visit www.peninsula.com.
A morning walk at Hudson Yards
New York continually reinvents itself, and Hudson Yards is a prime example of how that hapens. Officially opened in March 2019 and located on the west side of midtown Manhattan, this once run-down area is said to be ‘a new heart at the centre of an old city’ — it is estimated that 65,000 people will work, live or visit there everyday.
It also boasts the highest outdoor viewing platform in the Western Hemisphere that stretches 65 feet out ‘in to the sky’ and a glass floor that gives you a view straight to the ground…1,100 feet below.
At the centre of the area’s public plaza is a structure called The Vessel, designed by English architect Thomas Heatherwick. Compromising 154 flights of stairs and 2,500 steps, visitors have 80 viewing platforms to look from (and, thankfully, rest at) and take in the spectacular views.
Grab a sandwich and enjoy peoplewatching at The Highline
Take a leisurely walk along The Highline, an elevated oasis of gardens and art amongst the bustling city. Built on a disused freight train line, it is just shy of two miles long, stretching from the north of the Meatpacking District, through the Chelsea neighbourhood and up to the northern edge of West Side Yard.
Opened in 2009, the project has been an inspiration to many US Cities as an example of how to redevelop disused urban infrastructure, attracting over five million visitors a year. It’s a perfect place to grab a pastrami-on-rye sandwich from a classic New York deli — Katz’s, as featured in When Harry Met Sally, is further east in Manhattan, but you’ll find all sorts of options at Chelsea Market — then find a spot to sit down and watch the world go by.
Spend the afternoon at the Metropolitan Museum of Art
‘The Met’ is the largest art museum in the US — and without doubt one of the finest in the world. Spread out over three sites, it’s main building on Fifth Avenue, houses, by area, the world’s largest art gallery. Exhibits range from storage jar dated 3800-3700 BC to modern day contemporary art.
It is such a vast space that I highly recommend that you pre-plan your way around it. I spent an hour in just one part of the European Paintings section, staring at the Constables.
Seafood dinner at The Pool
If you like seafood, then you must visit The Pool. The restaurant, formerly known as the Fours Seasons, is located at the Seagram Building in Midtown. It is a huge formal space with tall ceilings and a square marble pool at its centre. With a menu that includes East Coast Oysters, Chilled Lobster Escabeche, Sea Urchin and a pasta dish with ‘squid ink and shellfish emulsion’, it’s a world away from a Friday night cod special at your local chip shop. Try the ‘Seared Red Snapper’, with blue crab, red shrimp and Cajun spices – melt-in-the-mouth delicious.
Sunset at The Empire State Building: New York’s ultimate observation deck
The iconic art deco beauty of the Empire State Building is a must-see when visiting New York. Open from 8am until 2am, there is plenty of time to take the tour and experience the views of Manhattan. I recommend going to watch the sunset and see the city’s vast grid of lights come on.
A little evening hustle and bustle in Times Square
They say, “When in Rome, do as the Roman’s do” but I’d bet that most native New Yorkers avoid Times Square. It is a busy and loud and a New York tourism mecca, attracting an estimated 50 million visitors a year. Slap bang in the middle of theatre land, it’s illuminating billboards, street performers, souvenir shops and constant frantic traffic, both pedestrian and motorised, have meant it’s sometimes referred to as “The Crossroads of the World’. It’s certainly an experience and definitely one to tick on your must-do list.
And finally, something to squeeze in before you head for the airport
Spend your last morning shopping — what else? — and you’ll likely end up with a couple of hours left before you need to jump in the taxi for the airport. Use that time to take afternoon tea in the Peninsula’s Gotham Lounge. Scones, finger sandwiches and petit fours accompanied by tea and champagne, are a perfect wind down from the bustling city outside. Note the artwork on the walls by legendary New York artist Keith Haring and the Michael Halsband photographs featuring Andy Warhol.
The New York City Pass offers prepaid admission at $132 for an adult and $108 for a youth (6-17) to a list of attractions including: Empire State Building, Metropolitan Museum of Art, American Museum of Natural History, Top of the Rock, Guggenheim Museum, Ferry access to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, 9/11 Memorial. Conditions apply. BA Club World fare Gatwick to New York JFK is £1460.62 return including taxes/fees/carrier charges — see www.britishairways.com.
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