At least once a year, globetrotting girl-about-town Ana Silva visits New York for her annual dose of culture – and to lend a helping hand to the American economy, of course.
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Our most recent trip took place just before Christmas, one of my favourite times of the year to visit New York. Surprisingly, the weather was lovely, with cold crisp mornings but a cheek-warming dose of sunshine. The Christmas shopping had been taken care of during my recent trip to Palm Springs and LA, so this trip was solely dedicated to… me! Just the way any hedonist likes it. With my husband working during the three weekdays we were there, I had plenty of time to investigate. Staying at the W New York on Lexington Avenue is a great base in midtown – only two blocks from Madison and 5th Avenues, and seven blocks from Bloomingdale’s. New York certainly doesn’t disappoint in terms of cool hotels, but this happens to be my home away from home. Taking advantage of the complimentary Acura Car Service for W Guests (in effect, a driver in a super-cool SUV), I started my day in Union Square and worked my way up town.
Union Square is home to one of New York’s best Christmas markets, the other being the market in Bryant Square. It’s worth checking out for that all-American Christmas feeling. In terms of shopping, I have three main shop recommendations – Filene’s Basement (designer bargain heaven), Designer Shoe Warehouse (ditto) and newcomer Nordstrom, which has finally opened its first store in the city. Nordstrom Rack is located immediately next to Whole Foods Market, and I loved the $39.99 cashmere jumpers! A visit to Woodbury Common, one of the best outlets in the US, followed the next day.
As any retail junkie will know, food is an essential part of a shopping trip in New York. Indeed, it would be impossible to visit the city without dining at Asia de Cuba @ Mondrian Hotel – it would be like going to Rome and not seeing the Vatican. Other revisited haunts included the always-fabulous Buddakan, French salon-style restaurant/café Balthasar and the obligatory final-day brunch at Pastis. We also went to Sushi Samba for sushi, ceviche and caipirinhas, and were thrilled to learn that it is opening its first restaurant outside the US in London. Drinks-wise, we particularly enjoyed the Martini Bar @ Standard Hotel and Whiskey Blue @ W New York. However, the hedonistic highlight of the trip was meeting some special New York friends at what must be the city’s best-kept secret; Raine’s Law Room, home to the city’s most fabulous, truly exclusive cocktails. Be warned, it isn’t easy to find the unmarked door, but once you do, prepare to take a step back in time and indulge in the most glorious way possible. Bookings have to be made in advance and confirmed 24 hours beforehand; for more information go to www.raineslawroom.com.