Those that know me, are aware how much I love New York City and visit once a year. It’s a family tradition that started waaaaay back, when my grandfather sailed into New York in the Merchant Navy in the 1940s. Enchanted by his stories, a visit had been high up on my mum’s wish list since she was a young girl, my Dad eventually surprising my her with a trip in 1994 – romantic! They loved it so much, my mum couldn’t wait to take me and my sisters a year later, and the rest, they say, is history! Seeing as I lost my lovely mum 15 years ago, I like to think I’m keeping the tradition alive. Here are some things we did on our latest trip. Enjoy!


Where we stayed:

Our home for the week was the Art Deco-style Walker Hotel, a cosy prohibition-style place, with the perfect location on West 13th Street, just off Sixth Avenue in the heart of Downtown Manhattan close to Greenwich Village and Union Square.

The Art Deco-style rooms come complete with their own dial phone…

…and complimentary toiletries from C.O Bigelow, the oldest apothecary in the United States founded in 1838 in New York City! It’s still going strong on Sixth Avenue and a great place for a souvenir.


What we saw:

I’m mad for the West Village, a leafy haven in the middle of the crazy city, so of course a stroll around its quiet, cobbled streets to get our bearings was the first destination on the GPS… even though I’ve done it so many times before, I never get bored and always notice new details.

Like this tiny narrow ‘half house’ at 9 1/2 Jane Street, behind a gate up an alleyway in between two rows of houses. Cute!

The West Village is full of corner restaurants like this one. Sevilla Restaurant at 62 Charles Street has served up delicious heaped platefuls of seafood paella and jugs of sangria to hungry West Villagers since 1941. Inside, you’ll see remnants of its former life as the Talk of the Town Irish tavern, like murals, the original bar and wood-cut ceiling.

Just too many stunning brownstones…

And stoops. Oh how I’d love a stoop like this one.

Every Thursday night in Chelsea, the galleries have receptions for their new shows, which you can get dressed up and gallery hop around – and they give out wine. More information here.

For an evening with a difference, we bought tickets to Magic After Hours, a cosy show hosted by magician, Noah Levine, in the perfect setting – the oldest magic shop in New York called Tannen’s, which you discover in the least likely of locations at the end of a corridor on the sixth floor of an ordinary Midtown office building opposite the Empire State Building…

After a stroll through Central Park one day, we wandered over into The Plaza, for a nose inside. I’m a big fan of sneaking into places I’m not supposed to, and couldn’t resist snooping inside the Oak Room and Oak Bar with its amazing wood panelling and bar murals made famous in Mad Men.


Where we ate:

I’m a big fan of ‘secret’ style restaurants, like the Kuma Inn on the Lower East Side which doesn’t look like much from the outside. In fact, the doorway looks off-putting, but go through it and up the stairs…

Ta da! A a cosy restaurant perfect for date night serving delicious small plates of Filipino, Thai and Asian dishes!

When I return to New York, not only do I want to eat at all my favourite restaurants, I also want to try lots of new places – I’m willing to go anywhere! Pretty much any trip to New York is based around eating and drinking…

Tartine is a little cheap and cheerful BYOB Parisian-style bistro on a pretty tree-lined West Village street serving simple and cheap dishes like this – the world’s best spicy chicken and fries.

No trip to New York would be complete without sampling the burger and shoestring fries at the Spotted Pig, a constantly busy corner gastro pub full of cosy corners and busy right up until the early hours every night.

I love having drinks in the Rusty Knot. It’s a hip nautical-themed divey-style bar that feels like your grandfather’s basement, with fish tanks, ship paintings, wooden walls and red armchairs. It’s also right on the Hudson River, perfect for a late-night walk by the water to see the Statue of Liberty in the distance.

Where we shopped:

For me a highlight of any shopping experience in New York is a visit to the amazing Strand Books – with its famous ’18 miles of books’ as the slogan goes. I went a bit nuts, mentally racking up a list of at least 50 books I could easily have bought and shipped home to the UK. But I settled for an old Pulp Fiction style book from an intriguing looking rack and the New York Diner Map.

Meanwhile, John Derian in the East Village could be my favourite home design shop in the world – I could live in it. His signature decoupage plates and paperweights feature flowers, frogs, ships and gorgeous typography, and the shop feels like an elegant aunt’s Parisian apartment, filled with striped rugs, scented candles, cheeky art books, woodblock prints and colorful quilts. You’ll feel transported and inspired.

For souvenir sweets, you need to head to Economy Candy on the Lower East Side, a sweet emporium open since 1937.

If like me you’re a fan of hunting out the lesser known gems of a place, you’ll love Herb Lester’s collection of New York maps. Find out more here.

Goodbye New York City. Until next year! PS After New York, we took a road trip to Montauk on Long Island. Stay tuned for a post coming soon!

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  1. Always something new to find and enjoy – Strand Books, the candy store, great eateries of every kind… Have you booked your next flight yet?

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