Insights • Inspirations • Destinations • Design

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Six Places Not To Miss in New York City

Night Hotel
I’ve been staying here for years. It’s a sexy little hideaway (pictured above) that's perfectly located mid-way between the cool oasis of Bryant Park, the high-end stores of Fifth Ave and the lovely greenery of Central Park. It’s decorated entirely in black and white and can look a little like a Vogue shoot, but I love it. It’s very New York. The rooms are small but surprisingly luxurious, and I can often get a rate of $150/night. 132 West 45th Street.

The Strand Bookstore
Most New Yorkers know about this literary treasure trove but many out-of-towners and overseas visitors don't. It's where many stylists, designers, architects and indeed anyone who loves books browses for both new and second-hand titles. I know stylists who come here when they need to 'dress' a store, window, or even an apartment interior with piles and piles of books. It's spread over several enormous floors but despite the cavernous proportions and no-frills approach to interior design it's surprisingly welcoming. There are tables piled with the latest releases, entire sections devoted to architecture, interiors, gardening, fashion and of course classics, and even a mezzanine stocked with all the newest releases from high-end publishers such as Assouline and Taschen. It's not as inexpensive as Amazon, of course, but it still draws people in – and entices them to buy! Once you start browsing the shelves you won't stop, trust me. (Last time I was here I bought 72 kilos of architecture books, and then had to somehow get them back to Australia. In the end, United Airlines didn't even charge: what a lovely carrier.) There are also shelves where you can buy books for only $1. I bought Cecil Beaton, Somerset Maugham, Diana Vreeland, and a book on Vogue, all for $1 each. Well worth a visit. But leave a few hours – you'll lose yourself among the shelves. 828 Broadway, New York, NY.

Paula Rubenstein
Stylist Sibella Court cites it as her all-time favourite store in NY and it’s one of mine too. It’s a little Cabinet of Curiosities with all kinds of lovely vintage things. It’s also just around the corner from The Crosby Street Hotel and Balthazar, so you can have lunch in one or the other afterwards. 65 Prince Street, New York.

Mood Fabrics.
I've mentioned this place before in this blog, so I won't go into detail here, other than say if you want to pick up Ralph Lauren upholstery fabrics for a mere $12/yard (as opposed to the normal $200/yard), then include this address on your next schedule. I'm always buying fabric here – great Ralph Lauren pinstripes, beautiful houndstooths in flamboyant colours, and gorgeous summer silks in shades that would look perfect on vacation in Mexico, or Sydney, or St Tropez... There are three floors of fabrics (the size of the store will astonish you), and the endless aisles are filled with top-end, designer stuff. It's also the kind of fabric you could use for either dressmaking or interior design. Just too, too fab for words. (Pun intended.) 225 West 37th Street  New York.

Another favourite go-to place for a lot of New Yorkers, this store constantly surprises. The window merchandising alone (pictured below) is worth the trek uptown. It stocks fashion and accessories but I prefer the homewares, furniture and books section in the back. Unlike the fashion, which can be a bit bohemian for some tastes, the homewares are beautiful, whimsical, unusual and timelessly stylish. I always buy things here, from cute black-and-white ceramic doorknobs with "In" on them to gorgeous ruffled shower curtains and great books to give friends for Christmas. There's also a 'Sale' section downstairs where they throw all the mostly-sold-out stock, so wander down there for a flick through the bestseller items. 50 Rockefeller Centre, New York.

Fishs Eddys
This store, which is located in that extraordinarily creative neighbourhood surrounding the Flatiron Building, is classic New York. Crazy name. Crazier interior. And filled with Fish fans all hours of the day and night. (And, like them, I never fail to pop in whenever I'm in New York!) It's a back-to-basics kinda store that specialises in dinnerware and other kitchen accoutrements. But it's not fancy breakable plates or the kind you'd be too nervous to bring out. It's simple, whimsical, slightly humorous and entirely memorable stuff. Like these witty Floor Plan plates, which I've fallen utterly in love with and buy whenever I'm Manhattan – very fitting dinnerware for an design journalist! There are also dinner sets with the New York Times crossword, the New York and Brooklyn skylines and dozens of other fabulous iconic images and illustrations. Great for gifts. 889 Broadway, New York.

Next week: Paris.

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