It is not referred to as the greatest city in the world for no reason, however visiting New York can be somewhat overwhelming when you don’t have at least a vague plan. After spending some time exploring & learning the city, I can confidently offer advice based on the mistakes I have already made for you. For people that may be visiting New York for a shorter period of time, I have compiled a list of suggestions to ensure you get the most out of your experience in the city.
If I can only convince you to get one thing done during your stay in New York it should be to visit Sleep No More. It is an experience that is almost too difficult to put into words, however it is also always the first thing I try to explain. It is an interactive theatre installation & social experiment, set up by the British troupe Punchdrunk, sprawling across six floors of The McKittrick Hotel in Chelsea’s gallery district.
According to the fictitious description on the website, “Completed in 1939, The McKittrick Hotel was intended to be New York City’s finest & most decadent luxury hotel of its time. Six weeks before opening & two days after the outbreak of WWII, the legendary hotel was condemned & left locked, permanently sealed from the public.”
From the moment I “checked in”, I was completely immersed into a wonderland of curiosity. The audience are ushered to the vaudeville Manderly Bar & served absinthe & cocktails before being handed a mask & led into an elevator & told to not speak for 3 hours.
It is a truly unique re-enactment of Shakespeare’s Macbeth told through mediums that until I saw them, I never knew existed. Triggered by smells & sounds as well as the incredibly detailed set, you are instantly hit with a sensory overload evoking what I would most accurately describe as fear through uncertainty. In the beginning I found comfort in following other masked strangers into rooms but then going off alone, being the first person to explore a new area of the set & discover a new character was exhilarating & my curiosity outweighed my fear. You are encouraged to be as inquisitive as possible & I consciously tried to do that, as the deeper you asses the detail, the more exciting the experience becomes. However upon doing research for this article, I realised that there is so much more I missed out on. It is an experience that is constantly evolving & one you could visit every week for a year & slowly unravel it’s dark subtext. Go alone or go with company… it doesn’t matter, you will be separated.
The McKittrick Hotel, 530W 27th St, New York, NY
From faux-hotel installation experiences to actual accommodation… I was able to sample a few different living environments in New York’s various burrows, one of them being at The Westin New York Grand Central. Opening in 2012 after an $80 million renovation, this hotel comes highly recommended for a number of reasons. My room was located on the 39th floor boasting one of the premiere views of the city & the convenient midtown location allowed for easy travel to everywhere I wanted to visit.
Modern design is consistent throughout the rooms & the public spaces, as well as a list of amenities that are very enticing to a short stay traveller. The hotel features a rooftop vegetable & herb garden 384 feet above Manhattan, which supplies ingredients for the catering as well as their own renowned bar & kitchen, The LCL. They offer weekly guided runs throughout the city & New Balance gear rental for the travelers that feel as though the American meal portions are getting to them. They also do ‘Westin Wednesdays’ featuring special events such as coffee tastings, cheese tastings, cooking demonstrations & wine tastings curated by the Food & Beverage Manager, as well as NYC travel tips Q&A sessions, hosted by the Travel Ambassador.
At the end of the day, in a city that has so much to offer you don’t end up spending too much time in your hotel, which is unfortunate because it is an aesthetically beautiful hotel to stay in. The desirable location & easy access to transport, makes The Westin New York Grand Central a practical choice for your stay in New York.
The Westin New York Grand Central, 212 E 42nd St, New York, NY
People always say that in New York you are always “spoilt for choice” & this phrase will not be entirely understood until you have spent some time there. It wouldn’t be right to spend a weekend in New York without visiting some of the incredible shopping districts the city has to offer. As previously suggested by James, shopping in the 5th avenue department stores such as Barneys & Bergdorf Goodman are a must, however also make sure you discover the boutiques on the Upper East Side on Madsion Avenue. The Rhinelander Mansion opened in 1986 & is the flagship Polo Ralph Lauren Store in Manhattan. It is one of the most spectacular stores in the city covering two sides of the street & an entire block for both. With a classic 1890’s Beaux-Arts facade, every room is carefully designed to best showcase each collection, redefining the standards for shopping in the city. It is a shrine to menswear & arguably the most timeless label in the world.
The Rhinelander Mansion, 867 Madison Ave, New York, NY
In New York you can buy beer from almost anywhere… delis, chemists, bodega’s & American Apparel & they all stock New York’s proudest, independently owned, craft brew, Brooklyn Lager (American Apparel doesn’t actually stock beer). “Brooklyn Brewery makes beer. Good beer. Not only does it taste good & make your meal better but we like to think that since its founding in 1988, Brooklyn Brewery has brewed flavourful beers that enrich the life, tradition & culture of the communities it serves”.
The tour covers the incredible history of the brand, delivered in a causal presentation by one of the Tasting Team. Interesting fact – The co-founders Steve Hindy & Tom Potter first began brewing their home-brew together in 1984 & enlisted the help of the world renowned graphic designer, Milton Glaser to create their logo, whom was previously responsible for the iconic representation of pop-culture, “i Love NY”.
Set aside an afternoon to head over to Williamsburg & drink some beer, I highly recommend it… & make sure you ask your guide about the fancy chandelier.
Brooklyn Brewery, 79 N 11th St, Brooklyn, NY