New York never sleeps, that’s why it’s my favourite place for a long weekend as I can pack so much in. Some people say the reason New York is such a technicolour melting pot of energy is that people live in very small spaces, so inhabitants spend a lot of time on the streets, others say that there is a mineral bed under the city. I feel it’s the minerals. I feel so alive when I get off the plane that when I come through the Jersey tunnel, the city dazzles me every time with its razzle-dazzle flash and panache. It’s usually around 8 pm, 1 am in London, but as soon as my feet touch the street, I am ready to go.
My son lives on the Lower East side. I have lived in many neighbourhoods, Upper East Side, Tribeca, West Village but my heart belongs to the Lower East Side and my favourite hotel is The Bowery. I arrive to see him playing football on the street with his English friends. For an instant game of football, you should go to Pier 40 on the Highline or Pier 5 in Brooklyn.
Our favourite family restaurant is Freemans on Freeman Alley, so we start our weekend together there. Or you could get an early dinner and go to the McKittrick theatre, and participate in ‘Sleep No More’ which is still running after 4 years. It’s an immersive theatre experience, with ghostly realistic sets, a sad single bed with nothing but notebooks and memories, a leafless forest: creepy but compelling. McDuff’s hanging is the finale but if you can’t stomach it, you could just grab a cocktail at Gallow Green on the roof, where actors serve you in character.
Saturday is our art/shopping/theatre day. It’s a ten minute walk to Noho Star, a long breakfast, and then we scour record shops on East 6th st, buy jeans at Frame Denim or 3XI, vintage at Beacons closet and head to the meatpacking district to see what’s on at Gagosian, Hauser, and Wirth, the new Whitney Museum and a great gallery for new emerging artists, Redbird NYC.
It’s a tradition that we go to the biggest sports shop in NY, All Sports, as my son always seems to need a new tennis racket. We like to play tennis at East River Park under the Manhattan Bridge. I have been playing here since I was eighteen.
We then head to Union Square, where there is a farmers market on Fridays and Saturdays and buy a picnic lunch, cheeses, salads, bread, salami, wine and take the subway up to the Upper West side to have lunch with friends in Central Park. I love New York in the fall as the leaves turn and the city reminds me of the novel, Washington Square by Henry James.
After lunch we head for the Guggenheim. I find the design of this Frank Lloyd building difficult , one is always looking at the collections as if on a spiral sidewalk. I often join a school group and sit on the floor like an old student.We then walk down the Highline, this is a must! We sometimes go to Chelsea Pier to play various sports. In the evening, we often go to the Public Theatre which always attracts amazing actors. Our favourite new find for dinner is Café Altra Paradiso, (where I fell off the vegan wagon) – the steaks here are delicious.
I nip out to buy flowers at Le Bouquet, a crazily creative flower store. I then head to my guilty secret, a Cryotherapy chamber at Cryoguru. I have been obsessed with cryotherapy since my brother brought the first unit to the UK. I am an insomniac and it makes you sleep deeply but also gives you incredible energy and clarity which is why a lot of New Yorkers go in every morning before work. Cryotherapy means being in minus 120 for three minutes, which sounds like hell but it’s so worth it.
Then we went for breakfast at the vegan restaurant at the Butchers Daughter for juices and muesli.
Sunday is always our Brooklyn day. We cycle over the Brooklyn Bridge and head towards the Brooklyn Flea and the Dumbo flea. We always find something but the bicycles become a problem when we find a chest of drawers. We like to eat lunch in Williamsburg at Chefs Kitchen.
My favourite part of the weekend is when we go to Red Hook. With its wide cobbled streets and shuttered huge warehouses, it’s like an opened out Amsterdam. We end up on the beach, gazing across the water at the Statue of Liberty saluting us. Red Hook is so different to the rest of NY, there is an abundance of space and lack of people, big American cars made in the 50’s flash by. Red Hook still seems to still be in another century. It’s a place where artists and craftsmen work and live. We always eat at the Sunset Grill by the beach, lobsters and jerk chicken..It has a Miami beach vibe.
After dinner, you can check out Le Boudoir, a hidden cellar speakeasy in Brooklyn, accessed by a secret passage, modelled after Marie Antoinette’s boudoir. Go easy on the absinthe or you will never make it home.
If you go to Brooklyn on Friday or Sat night, do not miss Sunni’s, my favourite pub in the whole city.The atmosphere is wild and it’s always packed due to a fabulous bluegrass band plays most nights. We dance in the back room, you will too.
You won’t be able to cram all this in unless you’re on speed but I hope that some of my tips are useful!
Lucien – 14 1st Avenue
Il Buco – 47 Bond St
Freemans – Freeman Alley
Balthazar – 80 Spring St
Cafe Mogador – 101 Saint Marks Pl
cafe Olrin – 41 St Marks P
Cafe Altra Paradiso – 234 Spring St
Noho star – 330 Lafayette St
Bar Pitti -268 6th Ave and then go to Grom which is just around the corner for the best Gelato in the whole of NYC – 233 Bleecker St
Estela – 47 E Houston St
Blue Stone Lane – 55 Greenwich Ave / 2 E 90th St, New York / 30 Broad St
Two Hands – 164 Mott St
The Butcher’s Daughter – 19 Kenmare St / 581 Hudson St
Blue Ribbon ( there are lots of them but this one is the best for fried chicken!) – 28 E 1st St
Joes Pizza – 7 Carmine St / 150 E 14th St
Union square farmers market – open Mon, Wed, Fri & Sat, offering produce, cheese, bread, flowers & more.
Beacons Closet – 10 W 13th St / 23 Bogart St / 74 Guernsey St
Tokio 7 – 83 E 7th St
Screaming Mimis (Vintage costume) – 240 W 14th St
3XI – 15 Mercer St
Sleep No More – 530 West 27th Street,
Barrow Street – 27 Barrow St
New York Theatre Company – 619 Lexington Ave
Public Theatre – 425 Lafayette St
New York Knicks
New York Rangers
Whitney – 99 Gansevoort St
Redbird – 584 8th Ave
Hauser & Wirth – 548 W 22nd St
.BEAUTY AND HEALTH
Dress Hair Salon by Miwa
Mareies Nails – 155 Prince St
Aire Ancient Baths – 88 Franklin St
Cryo guru – 67 Liberty Street
Juice Press – 10 E 53rd St
Joanne Vargus – 501 5th Ave