Insights • Inspirations • Destinations • Design

Monday, September 22, 2014

Glamour In Manhattan: Travel Insights

Unlike Paris, New York doesn’t seduce you with its Haussmanian sophistication or its seductive wardrobes and ways. It doesn’t have the history, dignity and grace of London, nor the sunny glamour of Sydney—although it does have its own unique sheen. What it does have is confidence and unending energy, and with that drive and determination New Yorkers have built one of the most thrilling and inspirational destinations in the world. If you're feeling tired, overworked, in need of new direction or creative/business ideas, or just want  a glamour boost, this is the city for you.

Most of the creative professionals I know go to New York several times a year, and not just because they can claim the trip on tax. It's stimulating, reinvigorating, inspiring, and enlivening. 

A week here will turn you into a new person. 

Furthermore, New York is going through enormous aesthetic changes at the moment as New York entrepreneurs revive once-staid neighbourhoods with glamorous new hotels and spectacular new stores.

Three of these rapidly changing neighbourhoods are the Flatiron, the Garment District and the Upper East Side. All three are going through a kind of revival, although the Flatiron is attracting the most attention. Named for its ironic (and much-loved) cheesegrater-style building, this bustling quarter has become the city's new design hub, with gorgeous home stores, edgy hotels, and whimsical boutiques. (Don't miss the Marimekko fabric store, the elegant new J Crew store, which has a mini bookstore, and Rizzoli's stylish new bookstore due to open in spring 2015.) 

Here are a few travel insights to help you discover the most memorable sides of Manhattan.

Oh – and my lovely publishers have said to tell you that if you'd like to buy the new New York in Style book directly from them, they'll give you a 30% discount.  
Just go to and enter the promo code NYSTYLE30 on checkout.


Of course, if you really want to know where the great little fashion museums, design stores, fabric stores, vintage Chanel stores, flea markets, fashion boutiques and fabulous restaurants and bars are, come on our Gardenesque Tour in late April 2015. Numbers are limited to 15 people per tour, and we've already had serious interest from five times that number, so it's likely to fill up quickly.

Alternatively, you could book the New England tour (see previous post), and tack on a few days in New York before or after the New England tour.

My favourite month to experience Manhattan is late April, when the streets burst into blossoms and the park break into bulbs – it always surprises me how many flowers there are here in spring and how a metropolis of skyscrapers can be softened by all those beds of perennials down below. 

{Our Gardenesque tour is scheduled to see New York in April – when the city is at its best.}


The NoMad was one of the first to inject a modern dose of glamour into the rapidly changing and newly fashionable Flatiron 'hood. Other places, such as the Shake Shack, The Ace and Eataly had already moved in, but The NoMad seemed to pave the way for a whole lot of new high-end retailers and businessman. (Even Rizzoli's new bookstore is moving downtown to the Flatiron quarter.) Service can be a bit off-hand at the NoMad, but the fabulous interiors and furnishings are worth it.

Other new hotel openings schedule for 2014 include: The Archer Hotel, which will pay homage to its Garment District location with a mix of fabrics (6 Times Square;, the Knickerbocker Hotel, which will re-open to show off its glorious, Beaux-Arts architecture, literary links and distinctive mansard roof (142 West 42nd Street;, and the new SLS Hotel New York – another newcomer to the NoMad/Flatiron neighbourhood  444 Park Avenue. But perhaps the most anticipated newcomer is the luxurious Baccarat Hotel, which opens late 2014. Housed in a 45-storey glass tower opposite the MoMA, it’s the first US Baccarat Hotel and likely to be as shiny and fine as its sister restaurant in Paris. 20 West 53rd Street.

If you want to fork out for a truly memorable hotel room, book into the F. Scott Fitzgerald Suite at The Plaza. Designed by Oscar-winning costume designer and Baz Luhrmann’s other half, Catherine Martin, this dramatic Art Deco space was inspired by Scott and Zelda, both devoted patrons of The Plaza. The suite features photos of the duo, Scott’s complete works, documentaries and movies, and beautiful coffee-table books that evoke languorous summers on Long Island and New York in the roaring twenties. 768 Fifth Avenue.


The NoMad's Library Bar (above left) is one of the most beautiful spaces in Manhattan. 
Other must-sees include Balthazar in SoHo (above right), Benoit, Caffe Storico, Harlow, Eleven Madison Park, and The Lion

We'll also be visiting a few secret and extraordinarily beautiful rooftop hideaways with gorgeous views on our Gardenesque Tour. {}

Quite possibly one of the best sources of vintage Chanel in New York is Jewel Diva, situated within the equally wondrous New York Showplace. It’s a tiny stall, barely bigger than a Chanel earring, but the owner is clearly well connected when it comes to vintage designer jewellery—and clearly informed. You can tell she knows her stuff: the last time I visited she was carrying a lot of vintage Chanel pendant necklaces, which are very ‘in’ at the moment. She also stocks Dior and many other fine French jewellery pieces, some of which date back to the 1920s. Her tagline is ‘From deco to disco, Victorian to modernist, Haskell to Chanel’, which sums it up, really. 40 West 25th Street – but check hours, weekends are often closed.

Other great places to source gorgeous things include Ralph Lauren's Home store (above), where you can find elegant accessories to luxe up your flea-market finds, Anya Hindmarch’s new Upper East Side store (which now offers a bespoke handbag service), the D&D Building (a fabric lover’s mecca), and ABC Carpet and Home (a must for interior design lovers). {All details in New York book}

New York is mostly a city where you try and get high in order to look down, but here's one place where it pays to look up! A signature feature of the Fifth Avenue skyline, The Pierre's ornate Mansard roof (above, building on left) is an architectural treasure. It was once the most glamorous ballroom in Manhattan—and a place for high society to escape Depression-era New York. The ballroom was shuttered in the early 1970s and forgotten about for nearly twenty years. Lost to time, it was regarded by Pierre staff of as a kind of ‘grand attic’ to shove unwanted furniture. It was finally sold in 1988 to Australian heiress Lady Mary Fairfax, who converted it into one of the most opulent private residences in the city. (It included a 3500-square-foot ballroom, a Belgian marble double staircase, a 20-foot-high Palladian windows, a curved 23-foot ceiling and huge terraces overlooking Central Park.) It was later re-listed for US$70 million; at that time the highest price ever for a New York residence. It was such a symbol of wealth that the makers of the film Meet Joe Black cast the penthouse as the residence of Anthony Hopkins’ character. To locate it, look for the French-style Mansard roof on Fifth Avenue. 2 East 61st Street.

Hundreds more New York insights are available in the new book New York in Style out next week, or on our Glamour & Grandeur Tour – 


  1. I've only been to New York one time, and even so I noticed the city does have a unique energy and vibe. I loved visiting and want to go back, but I don't think I'd want to live there permanently--it would overwhelm me. I enjoy your posts on New York because you talk about places that are different from the usual "what to see in New York" articles.

    1. That is something I have to agree with! NYC is an awesome place and I cannot compare it to anything. But I don't have the energy to live on the run or the budget to be able to stay there permanently. We stayed a week there and managed to find a cheap-ish hotel on but our planned budget still wasn't actually enough to live without planning. Maybe if you live there, you don't eat that much outside and don't have to pay for museum entrances, but still...

  2. Those Oscar de la Renta black and white shoes are too cute! Great post as always. Have ordered my book! Thanks for the discount voucher.


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