The hottest places to visit in New York

Words by
Sphere Life

1st March 2016

There’s no better time to visit the Big Apple than now, when the worst of the winter weather is over and the steamy summer is yet to come

Whether it’s the famous skyline or the iconic cocktails served in bars open till 4am, New York has a draw like no other city, with around a million visitors from the UK each year (more than any other nation). If you’re among them, these are the hottest things to put on your to-do list.

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SLEEP Central Park bursts into life in spring, the lungs of the city awash with Japanese cherry blossom and milky white magnolia. A stone’s throw away is an equally decorative hotel — the Baccarat (baccarathotels.com). The first in the French crystal maker’s portfolio — whose other brand, 1 Hotel, also opens this spring — it will be followed by more in Dubai, Doha and Rabat. No expense has been spared. A huge feature fire flickers at the entrance and the lobby dazzles with a crystal wall installation. Public spaces, bedecked with custom-made furniture and artwork sourced by Parisian Frédéric Chambre are elaborate. However, where the hotel really excels is the bedrooms: entry-level rooms are huge, with four-posters and monogrammed linen from Mascioni. Mini bars are as well equipped as a Dean & Deluca store and wallowing in the shower is a treat, with the Maison Francis Kurkdjian Paris toiletries.

More aimed at the stylish business traveller is Edition (editionhotels.com). The easy-on-the-eye staff are cool and can be a little relaxed — luggage takes a while. For the views, though, it’s worth it. Rooms are compact, but tastefully furnished, with delicious Le Labo products.

The-New-York-EDITION_-Clocktower_Credit-Elliott_Kaufman
Exterior of the New York Edition hotel

Exterior of the New York Edition hotel

The soigné destination still keeping the Upper East Side clientele happy with its home-from-home feel and luxurious fittings 
is The Mark (themarkhotel.com). This is old-school comfort — the marble baths are vast, the toiletries nattily designed with illustrations by Jean-Philippe Delhomme and the penthouse is one of the most luxurious places one can stay in the Big Apple, with five bedrooms, 8m-high ceilings and a grand piano. Dig deep: it will set you back $75,000 a night.

EAT Another of The Mark’s selling points is The Mark Restaurant by Jean-Georges. Groups of Upper East Side octogenarians, vowels honed by countless European jaunts, deconstruct bowls of fusion food. The less abstemious tuck into the famous truffle pizza (worth every calorie). Also on the hotel hit list is The Clocktower — the Edition’s restaurant by Jason Atherton. The Amish chicken is to die for, then decamp to the bar for a post-prandial snifter and a game of pool. Or head downtown to buzzy restaurant Dirty French (dirtyfrench.com), in the Ludlow hotel. Neon lights and kitsch ephemera belie a serious kitchen with a high-end flourish. The mushroom millefeuille is a triumph — wash it down with vodka martinis.

The New York Edition's spiral staircase credit - Nikolas Koenig
The New York Edition's spiral staircase

The New York Edition's spiral staircase

For a more laid-back vibe, make for the Lower East Side. The focus at Tijuana Picnic (tijuana-picnic.com) is well-executed Mexican with a gastronomic twist. Don’t miss out on the sensational range of mezcals (and the Mojitos).

DRINK NYC is the home of the speakeasy and they’re still the go-to places for cocktails — so book ahead. Please Don’t Tell (pdtnyc.com)is Lilliputian — wash down sliders and hot dogs at the tiny bar with a Benton’s Old Fashioned, made from bacon-infused bourbon. Dead Rabbit (deadrabbitnyc.com) is busy — and with good reason: it won the World’s Best Bar in the Tales of the Cocktail 2015 final. Come for communal punch or a Heretic, made with gin, mezcal, muscat, pine and elderflower. Death and Co (deathandcompany.com) may take a while to get into, but the delicious concoctions make it worth the queue. Try a punchy Wild Sheep Chase, made with pisco, vermouth, crème de fraise and absinthe.

SHOPApartment by the Line (theline.com)is a concept store set out as real people (very stylish real people) might live, while the place for quirky and artisanal scents is Aedes (aedes.com). For fashion, women should head to Totokaelo (totokaelo.com), an edgy store selling brands such as Jil Sander. For a wonderful edit of pieces by designers such as Nathalie Trad and Mallarino, check out Five Story (fivestoryny.com). For men, the stores are Carsons (carson-street.com) and the fabulous Dover Street Market (newyork.doverstreetmarket.com).

The south end of the High Line
The south end of the High Line

The south end of the High Line

DO Make like a New Yorker and hit the spin studios — Peloton (pelotoncycle.com) is a newish gym with heart-pumping classes. Otherwise, Sunday is about a fabulous walk.And where better than on the High Line, the old freight-train track that runs through the Lower West Side. Hop off when you reach the new Whitney Museum (whitney.org).

For the musically — and musical — inclined, beg, steal or borrow a ticket to Hamilton (richardrodgerstheatre.com), the hip-hop Broadway show about the founding fathers.

Among the art openings this spring, the Met Breuer, the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s newest building, will provide extra space for 20th and 21st-century art. The 14th Factory, orchestrated by artist Simon Birch, will transform 120,000sq ft of the historical,former JP Morgan Building into a collaborative, immersive installation. And for those in town until 15 May, a must-see is Warhol by the Book, the Morgan Library & Museum’s exhibition of the artist’s often-overlooked books.

British Airways (ba.com) flies to NYC up to 17 times a day, with prices starting at £411 return.