Booking a trip to the Big Apple? If you’re only in it for the short haul, Downton New York is one of the coolest places to start. Boasting everything from towering sky scrapers and colonial architecture to boho boutiques and gritty meat markets, this lower part of Manhattan is a buzzing hub of activity just waiting to be explored. From Tribeca’s trendy dining scene to the wonders of Wall Street, here’s our essential list of places to visit in Downton New York, all doable in a short 48-hour window...
Splurge At: Four Seasons Hotel
Located at the crossroads of Tribeca and the bustling Financial District, the Four Seasons Hotel New York Downtown is set within a towering 82-floor building, just a block from the World Trade Center. Like the financial district itself, this bronze-tinged palace — with 189 rooms set over 24 floors — is swanky in design, with high, imposing walls and eccentric finishes. A giant bronzen conch sits on a stone slab in one corner of the giant L-shaped lobby, whilst towering marble pillars sit in the other. Bedrooms are spacious and comfortable, with giant beds, floor-to-ceiling windows and at 18 floors up, with sweeping views of Downtown New York. There’s a gorgeous spa with an indoor pool, and it’s also home to the only New York City outpost of Wolfgang Puck’s CUT, which serves fresh fruit and posh sandwiches by day and sizzling steaks by night.
Set amongst a swell of zany bars, restaurants and street food markets, this is a neighbourhood that’s buzzing with new activity, with plenty of must-see sights all within walking distance from the hotel. The 9/11 Memorial is a short five-minute walk, Tribeca less ten minutes, and Soho’s shopping district is around 20 minutes by foot. Walk to Battery Park in just 12 minutes and in less than fifteen minutes you can be sauntering along the sun-polished waterfront of the Hudson River.
27 Barclay St, New York, NY 10007, rooms start from $599
Save At: The Jane Hotel
Set in the leafy West Village, just blocks from Sarah Jessica Parker’s front porch, this ultra-trendy West Village budget hotel is as eccentric as they come: think stuffed animal heads, sparkly glitter balls and potted palm trees. Lobby staff wearing vintage bell hop uniforms hole up at the ornately carved reception desk. On first glance, you’d think you’d been transported into a mysterious Wes Anderson film – the setting is a mirror image of the Grand Budapest Hotel – and the rooms are all styled with a nautical theme: choose from pod-like bunks and standard cabins with shared bathrooms to pricier Captain’s Cabins. Historically, the survivors of the Titanic stayed here whilst awaiting the inquest of the 1912 sinking. The designers have kept the worn historic look, with an added touch of boho-chic. The ballroom is particularly grandiose, with its enormous fireplace and hanging chandeliers offset against art-adorned walls, throwback furniture and a vintage burgundy colour scheme, and here you’ll find the Manhattan’s cool, creative set ordering Negronis and reading the New York Times. The space hosts a variety of theatrical events and private functions, and there’s also Roof Bar that boasts stunning views of the Hudson River.
113 Jane Street, New York, NY 10014, rooms start from $105 for a standard cabin with a shared bathroom
Nestled in the heart of the Manhattan’s bustling Meat Packing District, this ‘coastal Italian retreat’ takes inspiration from the neighbourhood’s rich history – this part of New York used to be known as the coast of Manhattan, where the first farmers markets once stood – with a colourful, flavoursome menu of vegetables, fish and fresh pasta. The décor is a little more South Beach than southern Italy, with splashes of poppy hues, potted palm trees and candy-coloured glass chandeliers dotted around the room. Cocktails are served up in pretty porcelain pineapples, whilst plates are small – well, American small – and designed to be shared. Be sure to try the signature Cecina – Italian chickpea pancakes – served with spicy tuna tartare; rock shrimp; avocado with tomato and almond pesto; nebrodini mushroom and lamb tartare. Stop here for lunch then head out to explore the district’s illustrious delights.
820 Washington Street, New York, NY 10014
Eponymously named, Marc Forgione stands at the helm of this trendy Tribeca hotspot. A homegrown eatery framed by brick walls and rustic cedar, this urban hangout is the epitome of New York cool, with distressed tables and high stool seating, silhouetted by soft candlelight. As the son of renowned chef Larry Forgione, Marc’s food, like his father’s, is innovative and bursting with flavour, championing locally sourced, seasonal ingredients. His ‘New American Cuisine’ features the likes of BBQ baked olde salt oysters; chilli lobster with Texas toast; Creekstone Farms 28 day dry aged côte de Boeuf serves with pommes boulangère and glazed carrot; and the show-stopping plate of Snowdance Farms chicken under a brick served with Yukon potatoes, broccoli rabe and pan drippings. A serious flavour sensation that should soar to the top of your dining list.
134 Reade Street, New York, NY 10013
Set over three sprawling floors, this mega-restaurant in the heart of the Meat Packing District specialises in sumptuous Asian seafood platters. It’s where the beautiful people come to sink their teeth into Cantonese-style lobster and jumbo shrimps. Seafood here is exquisite, but there are also some delicious meat offerings, including the likes of Wagyu short rib tacos and freshly steamed bao buns filled with crispy strips of chicken.
21 Ninth Avenue, New York, NY, 10014
The Butcher's Daughter
For the health conscious foodie, The Butcher’s Daughter’s plant-based eatery prides itself on being a “vegetable slaughter house”, so if you’re after a veggie fix, this West Village hangout is the place to head (every blogger, model, street style star worth their salt has instagrammed brunch here). They serve a range of delicious smoothies, salads, and health-inducing veggie platters, as well as a selection of wines and bubbles, to cater for the less hardcore healthistas.
581 Hudson Street, New York, NY, 10014
Splattered in street art – courtesy of British street artist Hush – this edgy urban hangout serves up a mean Miss Demeanor cocktail (Bacardi, lime juice, Angostura bitters), alongside a selection of tasty small plates. The menu is inspired by global street fare, so tuck into an array of tasty morsels, including the likes of grilled Chilean seabass tacos; char siu pork sticky rice dumplings; and salsa verde street pizza with sliced tomatillo, homemade green chorizo, crumbled feta and a scattering of cilantro pesto. The latest place to be seen.
199 Bowery, New York, NY 10002
An oldie but a goodie. Another trendy hotspot in the Meat Packing District, the rooftop at the top of The Standard is still one of the best cocktail spots in the city. Boasting dramatic views of Manhattan’s iconic skyline – which are particularly breathtaking at sunset – this hipster hotel sits on giant concrete stilts above Manhattan’s famous High Line, and is one of the neighbourhood’s most popular hangouts. Rub shoulders with the cool set, sup on smokey mescal margaritas, and then head downstairs to the Standard Grill to sample the bustling brasserie’s sizzling, meaty fare.
High Line, NYC, 848 Washington Street, New York, NY 10014
Set in the heart of Tribeca, Tiny’s quaint three story townhouse is the perfect pit stop for an early evening cocktail. Dripping in old school elegance, rooms are adorned with white tiles, iron fireplaces and exposed brickwork, offset against vintage wooden and marble-topped tables, antique wallpaper, original tin ceilings and custom-built leather banquettes. Hole up at the copper-topped bar to work your way through their classic cocktail list.
135 West Broadway, New York, NY 10013
The Blond At 11 Howard
For a touch of Scandi style in the heart of Soho, cocktails at 11 Howard’s boutique bar, The Blond are an absolute must. Dark and sultry with gold flickers, draped fabrics and splashes of sumptuous velvets give the space a seductive edge. Curl up on the giant sofas and work your way through the moreish cocktail list.
11 Howard Street, New York, NY 10013
The Dead Rabbit
Voted as the best bar in the world in last year’s coveted bar awards, this sinful siren – which includes a taproom and a communal punch-serving Parlour – is one darn good place to grab a drink. Nestled in the heart of the Financial District, The Dead Rabbit is a speakeasy-style saloon, with all the vintage gimmicks you need for a long, drawn-out whisky drinking session. Rub shoulders with Wall Street traders and work your way through their epic cocktail list. The Laughing Hyena with dark Guatemalan rum, white oat American whisky, pimento bitters and Greek yoghurt comes high up on our wish list.
30 Water Street (nr Broad Street), New York, NY, 10004
Once a baron wasteland of industrial warehouses, Tribeca is now home to endless rows of achingly cool restaurants, dingy late-night bars and celebrity-owned lofts – Natalie Portman, Beyonce and Jay-Z, and Hugh Jackman are just a few of the A-listers who live in the area. The Tribeca Film Festival – founded by another famous local resident, Robert de Niro – takes place each April, which brings a wealth of world-premiere movies to the Tribeca’s cinema-worthy streetscapes. The architecture is beautiful, with renovated loft spaces and towering red-brick buildings, and there are plenty of galleries, designer boutiques, cafés and hipster hangouts to stumble upon whilst walking around the area.
Meat Packing District
A serious contender for the most glamorous neighbourhood in Manhattan, the Meatpacking District is known for its vibrant nightlife and exclusive door policies, where sun-drenched insomniacs party until the early hours in hot tubs while knocking back fruity cosmopolitan cocktails. But by day, it’s a surprisingly low-key affair, with its myriad boutiques, galleries, markets, cafés and trendy brunch spots, making this edgy enclave a wonder to explore. Wander up to Chelsea Market where you’ll find a whole host of boutiques and moreish food spots, as well as a whole host of arty bookstores, furniture shops and local artist galleries.
Whitney Museum Of Modern Art
After nearly 50 years on the Upper East Side, the Whitney Museum opened its new location in the Meatpacking District. The new building designed by Pritzker Prize–winning architect Renzo Piano, is an architectural dream, boasting 220,000 square feet spread over nine floors. Here you’ll get your fix of 20th and 21st century American art – it holds an impressive collection of over 15,000 pieces including paintings, sculptures, drawings and photographs by nearly 2,000 artists, including the likes of Alexander Calder, Willem de Kooning, Edward Hopper, Jasper Johns, Louise Nevelson, Georgia O’Keeffe and Claes Oldenburg. But the museum’s real reputation rests on its ever-changing roster of temporary – and sometimes controversial – art shows.
The High Line
Built on a once-abandoned elevated rail line, the High Line is a sprawling 1.45-mile long park that snakes over Manhattan’s far west side. With places to sit and people-watch, patches of grass, seasonal blooms and fascinating architectural features throughout, it’s a great place to relax or to take a quiet stroll, and makes for an envy-inducing photo backdrop.
High prices, soaring skyscrapers and high blood pressures are a common feat in New York’s famous Financial District. And whilst it may rush at lightning-speed during the day, there are some quiet, under-the-radar spots where you’ll be free of fast-talking moguls and business boys in suits. After a quick wander down Wall Street, head to the cobbled paves of Stone Street (the first paved street in Manhattan), where you’ll find a selection of quaint bars and restaurants with a distinctly European vibe. Beaver Street is home to Delmonico’s, one of the oldest restaurants in Manhattan, and even if you don’t stop for a bite to eat, the vintage interiors are well worth a peek. Of course the Stock Exchange and World Trade Centre Memorial form high on the list of sightseeing, but if you want a slice of history, be sure to visit the South Street Seaport district, which dates back to the 1600s, and boasts stunning riverside views.
One World Observatory And Memorial Fountain
At 1,250 feet, One World Observatory stands as the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere. On floors 100, 101 and 102, you’ll experience breathtaking, panoramic views that stretch across the entire city, from Brooklyn to the Bronx. This is the place to soak up all of New York’s iconic sights in one fell swoop.The 9/11 memorial fountain is situated just outside the building and features two peaceful water fountains. Each installation represents both the north and south towers of the fallen World Trade Centre, with names of those who lost their lives scribed into stone around the perimeter of the fountains. Be sure to also take a look at the Oculus, which is just outside the One World Observatory. It’s a mind-boggling glass-and-steel structure designed by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava, which represents a dove in flight. It replaces the PATH train station that was also destroyed during the 9/11 attacks.