The owner/designer of The Gentlemen's League luxury handbag collection shares his tips for getting thet most out of a visit to The Big Apple
Where's the best NYC neighbourhood for visitors to stay?
The new happening neighbourhood right now is called Nomad, between 23rd St and 32nd St from Fifth Ave to Sixth Ave. It's centrally located and has hotels, restaurants, bars and is steps from a small, beautiful park.
What's the best way to get around?
Subway is always fastest as traffic has got a bit crazy but if you want to stay above ground, then Uber is the best way. There are additional car service phone apps as well, some to ride share which makes it less expensive.
What are the most overrated tourist destinations in New York?
Times Square and Rockefeller Center. New Yorkers typically avoid these two spots as much as possible.
Where should we go instead?
The West Village is filled with beauty and history and has cafes and stores, or Chinatown for interesting and quirky sites.
Any top tips to help us avoid looking like a tourist?
Never openly carry a guidebook or wear I Love NY T-shirts! Or eat at a hot dog cart in Midtown.
Do you have a must-see in each of New York's five boroughs?
Manhattan: The Oculus, the new state of the art transportation hub by World Trade Center site, a sculptural masterpiece. Or if you're visiting in spring/summer, The High Line is so special with views, plantings and sculptures.
Bronx: The Bronx Botanical Gardens.
Brooklyn: Walking across the Brooklyn Bridge is the iconic thing to do. Beautiful views and they sell great ice cream cones on the Brooklyn side or there's Juliana's for pizza and a fantastic bakery called Almondine featuring French breads, croissants and pastries.
Staten Island: Tibetan Museum and Gardens. The best part is to take the free, 25-minute Staten Island Ferry there, which gives great views.
Queens: Chinatown with hidden food stall markets that are excellent.
Where can you get a great view of the city?
One World Observatory is highest building in the western hemisphere and is right near World Trade Center site. It has the biggest, most extensive city view. Or the rooftop bars at Met Museum, and Williamsburg's Reynard Hotel or the new William Vale Hotel have astounding views of Manhattan, plus great interior restaurants. And of course the already mentioned Highline and Brooklyn Bridge.
Where's your favourite place for breakfast?
The Wild Son near Whitney Museum has healthy but semi-indulgent great breakfasts and lunches in West Village; Sadelle's in Soho is a high-end old world deli with great smoked salmon and bagels etc; Dimes in Lower East Side has very healthy breakfast bowls; Egg Shop in Nolita does creative egg dishes and Buvette in West Village is charming and leans toward French.
Where should we go for a cheap dinner?
Chinese food at Great NY Noodletown is a local legend and if it's soft shell crab season — don't miss it. Plus it's open til 3am. The secret is to order slowly or everything comes at once.
And what about for fine dining?
River Cafe on the Brooklyn side of the East River has re-opened and you're privvy to extraordinary views of Manhattan while you dine — it's just over the Brooklyn Bridge.
Where should we go for a cocktail?
King Cole Bar in the St Regis Hotel in Midtown is iconic and gorgeous. There are many speakeasy kind of bars downtown that are great fun, including The Dead Rabbit in the Financial District, Apotheke in Chinatown, Angels Share in Greenwich Village, and the Nomad Bar next to Nomad Hotel in the Nomad neighbourhood!
Best dive bar?
Jimmy's Corner on 44th St is the best Midtown dive. International Bar on First Ave, as well as 11th St Bar in East Village, are great downtown dives.
If we want to dance, where should we go?
Provocateur in Gansevoort Hotel is swanky; Mehanata on Lower East Side is an eclectic Bulgarian lounge with dancing; The Boiler Room is casual gay bar with a great juke box in East Village; and the legendary Pyramid Club has 80s dance parties on weekends.
Where's the best market?
Chelsea Indoor Market has many places to buy all kinds of international food as well as places to dine, from casual to slightly higher end. Eataly in both the Flatiron neighbourhood or the newer huge one in Tribeca has lovely offerings, both for shopping and dining. Also the Union Sq Farmer's Outdoor Market with local fare is open Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday.
Where should we go for shopping?
There are the big department stores of course like Bergdorf Goodman and Henri Bendel but Nolita has more boutiques and fun shops, just east of Soho and north of Houston St. Walk up and down a few side streets like Mott and Mulberry and see what appeals.
What are the best museums or galleries?
Aside from the obvious legends - Whitney, Metropolitan Museum of Art, MoMA, Guggenheim — I'd also suggest the Neue Gallerie on Upper East Side featuring Austrian art, with a great Viennese Cafe, Sbarsky, for lunch/snacks. The New Museum in Soho offers more avant garde artists.
What's your favourite daytrip to get out of the city?
Dia:Beacon is a wonderful big gallery available by shuttle from Manhattan or by train from Grand Central Station. Plus Beacon is a delightful town with boutiques and cafes. An outdoor excursion is Storm King Art Center, about an hour outside NYC, a lovely park filled with American and European sculptures. Hudson, NY is two hours away and is a lovely upstate town with fun shops and great dining in a beautiful setting. Greenport, Long Island, is a village on the North Shore. It's on the bay not the ocean, but it's much lower key than the Hamptons. A fishing village with quaint streets and shops.
Do you have any last insider secrets you'd like to share?
My friend Debra, who helped me with the dining questions, has a fabulous dining concierge service called eatquestnyc.com (it's global too!). There's a charge relative to what's being asked, but she knows where to go for any occasion or location — cheap, fancy, secret, Manhattan, the boroughs etc etc. She's a great resource and customises anything, from ideas for one meal to an entire list covering multi interests.
Seth Stevens is the owner/designer of The Gentlemen's League, a luxury handbag collection.