Take a new look at New York

by vwright

Why spend your time in Manhattan queuing to see the usual sites with the other tourists, when you can take a bite out of the real Big Apple by hanging out where real New Yorkers go?

New York City has a smell, sound and spirit that cannot be duplicated. One visit is never enough.

On your first trip you are obliged to visit all the typical tourist attractions. That means a trip to Ellis Island, a wander around Wall Street and a ride up the iconic Empire State Building elevator, fantasising that your very own Mr Big will be waiting for you at the top.

By your second trip you will want to discover the real city, and to do that you must find out where the locals hang out. So  I’ve put together a list of quintessential New York locations - places that showcase a different aspect of my favourite city, from old school to new chic.

First stop for me whenever I’m in town is the iconic and elegant Central Park Boathouse. With its fantastic views and relaxing atmosphere, it is perfect to wind down after a long flight or to rest weary hands and feet after a midtown shopping spree. Just sit back relax and enjoy the view from the sun-drenched patio.

For a fun lunchtime venue I heartily recommend the Cowgirl Hall of Fame in Greenwich Village. This tex-mex restaurant is great fun and lives up to the mantra that everything is bigger in Texas. Be aware, though, if you ask for a large coke you are going to get a 32oz sugar high! It’s not very Sex and the City and you won’t find many trendy Manolos or Jimmy Choo wearers in here, but you will have a great time.

Getting into a good restaurant can mean a long wait for a table so I’d advise logging on to www.opentable.com to check availability and make a reservation. It saves a great deal of time, energy and shoe leather.

So where to go? Gotham Bar & Grill in Greenwich Village offers fine dining without being stuffy or pretentious. It is classic New York and the food never disappoints, offering old-school class with Michelin star food.

If you want the best steak in town you have to head to the Craftsteak Restaurant in the Meatpacking District. Very chic and elegant, this restaurant prides itself on knowing the provenance of each piece of beef served at the restaurant. Whether you order red meat, poultry or fish the food is delicious. I recommend you order a side of the mashed potato!

For a more relaxed evening head to the Minetta Tavern in the Village for excellent food and drink in a tavern atmosphere. Be sure to try the $26 black label burger as it is worth every single cent.

The Blue Ribbon Brasserie in Soho is small and popular with the locals and has the one of the best bars in the city. There is usually a long wait for a table, unless you get there early. The good news is that it is open until 4am so a late-night booking is always an option.

If you’re just after drinks and some hors d’oeuvres then there’s only one place to go... the iconic Bubble Lounge in Tribeca. As the name suggests, this is the ultimate champagne and sparkling wine experience with more than 300 varieties! Although slightly sedate during the week, it is packed during the weekend with a fun crowd.

If you're on a budget but want to stay near the Village then book in to the Gershwin Hotel in Chelsea with its fabulous roof terrace.

If you're looking for somthing a bit more upmarket then try the Hudson Hotel in Midtown. Rooms are laid out sparsely with simple linens separating the bathroom form the bedroom. And it also has a roof terrace.