Shopping in New York: the West Village

by shandana.durrani

Enjoy some boutique hopping in NYC's beautiful residential surroundings

As you will probably notice from this guide the West Village is my very favorite neighborhood in New York. Why? The blocks are beautiful, leafy and filled with gorgeous residential townhouses plus one-of-a-kind shops and charming restaurants. It’s a very pleasant place to spend a day wandering around and I am not the only person to think so, hence the high concentration of celebs who have made their home here - keep an eye out for Sarah Jessica Parker and Julianne Moore for example - and the pricey real estate that’s still flying high even during the recession. And the shopping here is also of an A-list caliber. In fact, there are few greater New York pleasures than boutique hopping and stopping into local cafes and restaurants along the way.

Greenwich essentials

I always make sure to stop into Flight 001 (96 Greenwich Avenue; +1 212 989 0001; where I can find everything from excellent luggage by brands like Mandarin Duck and Samsonite, stylish pill dispensers and wash bags, guidebooks from the likes of Wallpaper and other voyage essentials that are both fashionable and useful (I also always find great gifts here for other frequent flyers). Nearby at the Equinox Gym (97 Greenwich Avenue; +1 212 620 0103) - which is not so much a gym as the Prada of workout options - a very handy shop on the ground floor stocks everything from great leggings to sleek tracksuit tops and little numbers to throw on to show off a well-toned physique. This is the kind of fitness gear, from brands like Y3 and yoga-favorite Lululemon, that even Gwyneth and Madonna would approve of. Meanwhile, Mxyplyzyk (125 Greenwich Avenue; +1 212 989 4300; is fun for quirky house wares and funny greeting cards as well as all matter of things you didn’t even know you needed.

Over on Sixth Avenue, CO Bigelow is a pharmacy meets beauty emporium (414 Sixth Avenue; +1 212 473 7324; where I have done serious credit card damage in my day. Although harmless price-wise when you don’t buy everything at once, once you load up on lovely Diptyque candles, Mama-to-be stretch mark creams, and the pharmacy’s own line of creams and salves, you can spend a hundred bucks in the blink of an eye here. Interesting fact: both Mark Twain and John Belushi filled their prescriptions here back in the day.

Designer fashion

Then it’s time to head to 10th and Bleecker streets. Castor & Pollux (238 West 10th Street near Hudson; +1 212 645 6572;, a little gem of a shop, sells great classics like Swedish favorite Filippa K and a signature sweatshirt with intertwining horses that’s the weekend go-to of many a fashionable Manhattanite. I always make sure to stock up on basic v-neck t-shirts in buttery cotton at James Perse (411 Bleecker near 11th Street; +1 212 620 9991; before heading to Kid O (123 West 10th Street; +1-212 366 5436; for great children’s presents. The spot is unfortunately currently closed due to a recent fire but keep checking the website for the reopening date.

When Marc Jacobs opened an array of shops on Bleecker Street, including the offshoot for fashionable tots, it was the ultimate sign that the stretch was the new epicenter for Manhattan shopping. As much as I like the upper line of the designer you can find much better deals at Marc by Marc Jacobs (403 Bleecker Street; +1 212 924 0026;, his diffusion label where I have found items like stylish wellies and offbeat printed t-shirts in the past. I also like 7 for all Mankind (7 Bleecker Street; +1 212 255 2705; for its California-cool silky tops and vests as well as its well known denim line and sexy wedges, but men will prefer Rag and Bone (104 Christopher Street; +1 212 727 2990;, the cult jeans line that was founded in 2002. They also carry well cut blazers and cozy cashmere coats, and their full men and women’s collections.

Fashion editors also stock up on handbags at Lulu Guinness (394 Bleecker Street; +1 212 367 2120; before hitting pricey Bonpoint (392 Bleecker Street; +1 212 647 1700; for their print-worthy kids - it carries gorgeous printed dresses and delicate knits from the Parisian designer - and getting their sugar fix at Magnolia Bakery (401 Bleecker Street; +1 212 462 2572;, made famous by Carrie and her crew in Sex and the City. I prefer to take my shopping break at Café Cluny however, a jewel box of a restaurant (284 West 12th Street; +1 212 255 6900) where you can have a relaxed lunch or a pot of hot tea before resuming the shopping spree.

More expert advice on New York

For suggestions on where to stay in New York, see my New York City Hotels – Award winning expert hotel reviews, from cheap to luxury hotels in New York City page.

Read my overview on Shopping in New York City.


I am a travel and lifestyle journalist based in New York City. I am the co-author of the travel guidebook, Insiders' Guide to New York City and the author of another travel guidebook, Day Trips from New York City, both published by the Globe Pequot Press. I was Cigar Aficionado magazine's Travel Editor for more than 10 years and have written travel pieces for Condé Nast Traveler, Haute Living, Silverkris,, and I have also contributed lifestyle stories to Wine Spectator, Glamour, and the New York Press.

I have lived in Manhattan's tony West Village for 16 years and have been a New York City resident since 1992. I have partied alongside celebrities at area hotspots, dined at the finest establishments in the world and slept in some of the city's best hotels, all in a day's work.

My New York

Where I always grab a bite: I love Bonsignour in the West Village. It's a tiny deli popular with locals and celebs that has the best gourmet salads this side of the Mississippi. During the summer, I head here for the homemade strawberry lemonade. The coffee is great, too.

My favorite stroll: Although Central Park is lovely, I prefer smaller parks such as Battery Park in Tribeca and Prospect Park in Brooklyn. You never have to jockey for space. I also adore the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens. It's one of my favorite places to walk around on summer afternoons. Head there in April for the annual Cherry Blossom Festival.

Fiction for inspiration: Here is New York, E.B. White's love letter to the city. "Commuters give the city its tidal restlessness; natives give it solidity and continuity; but the settlers give it passion." Truer words have never been spoken.

Summer sojourns: Long Beach. It's only 50 minutes by train from Manhattan and well worth the trip. The beach and water are clean and you won't be judged for a little flab like you would in some other beach towns *coughTheHamptonscough*

Most breathtaking view: The view of Manhattan from the Dumbo waterfront can't be beat. The bright lights sparkle and you usually have the space all to yourself. It's a great spot to bring a date. 

Best spot for quiet interludes: The little garden behind St. Lukes Parish in the West Village. I love to sit on a picnic blanket and read a good book here. I never hear the foot or car traffic. 

Shopaholics unite!: I like small, eco-friendly boutiques such as Kaight and Ecovaruhuset, both in Manhattan. For department stores, head to Queens or Brooklyn. The Century 21 in Queens has a great selection (I recently bought a pair of stone-colored Frye boots for less than US$200).

City on screen: New York has been on celluloid more than any other city in the world, and with good reason. I won't name the ubiquitous New York–centric Woody Allen movies. Hardly my favorites. I prefer Rear Window, Midnight Cowboy and Breakfast at Tiffany's. Check out James Sanders' Celluloid Skyline for additional films using New York as a theme.

Don’t leave without...Heading to Wave Hill near Riverdale in the Bronx. The public gardens are really phenomenal and the views of the Hudson bring peace of mind.