justine ash

5. 09. 2016

in a new york minute


Standing in the rain on a SoHo street I found myself in the place once reserved for magazine images and Sex and the City re-runs. It was everything. The buildings, wise in years and full in stature seemed to envelope all that hurried along the cobblestone streets below. I was in awe. This place, held so close to many a New Yorker’s heart, had just firmly planted itself within mine.

Our sojourn to New York definitely lived up to all expectations. The city that never sleeps, I loved it all (well, apart from the mystery cup of liquid spilt on me in the subway. According to one New Yorker though, many have faired far greater atrocities while on their daily commute, so I guess I got off lightly). The rich tapestry that is NYC, the good, the bad and the ugly, although at times claustrophobic, proved to be as magnificent as I’d hoped.

For two weeks we called the West Village home. We instantly fell in love with the tree lined streets, the beautiful brownstones, the laid back atmosphere and quaint cafes. To say we would stay there again in a heartbeat would be an understatement. After exploring the island of dreams, I can definitely say I’m a downtown kind of girl.

I thought I’d share a few of my favourites for those planning their own NYC adventure. If I had one tip for those who haven’t yet had the pleasure, pack your walking shoes and get ready to walk every block and laneway. All is not what it seems and the best treasures are often tucked away – yet always worth searching for.

"this place, held so close to many a New Yorker's heart,
had just firmly planted itself within mine"

r e t a i l  t h e r a p y 

West Village down Bleecker Street through Greenwich Village and into Soho. My husband will attest that we did this many, many times. We always found new stores, walked different side streets and found hidden gems each time. I purchased a few pieces from the beautiful COS store in SoHo (which I’m happy to hear has recently opened in Melbourne) I seriously could have spent a fortune. I just loved their range – timeless pieces with a modern edge.

Prada in SoHo is a minimalist’s dream and one worth a definite look for anyone who admires visual merchandising. Spread over multiple levels, the products are showcased perfectly. Think sparse open spaces with illuminated white surfaces.

The Apartment by the Line is a fully shoppable, curated apartment also located in Soho. Take the lift and be prepared to be impressed as soon as the doors part. The space is pure perfection with its pared back interiors, luxe furnishings and high end designer pieces. You are able to purchase everything you see, right down to the clothes that hang in the perfectly curated closet.

Beautiful designer stores are also in abundance within the famous shopping precinct that takes in Fifth and Madison Avenue. (I may have donated many of my hard earned pennies to Gucci on Fifth Ave). This area is also home to the bigger department stores like Barneys, Bloomingdales and Saks, which are a must visit – if not for the shopping, then for the architecture and visual merchandising alone. 

d i n e  &  s i p

Buddakan, Chelsea
We dined here twice. A huge space with a great vibe. Boasting absolutely beautiful interiors an impressive bar and delicious food, I would have to say this was my favourite.

Sant Ambroeus, West Village
Amazing Italian, dimly lit cosy interior or alfresco dining for the obligatory West Village celeb spotting – just be sure you don’t show you noticed them – so very un- New York.

The Place, West Village
Head underground into this quaint eatery (the dusted scallops will blow your mind). Two small terraces provide sunshine soaking while the fireplace and wood accents provide a homely feel.

Ofrenda, Greenwich Village
Popular with the after work crowd. Happy Hour (4pm – 7pm) features half price margaritas – enough said.

The Egg Shop, LES
Eggs anyway you can imagine. A tiny Lower East Side cafe, with a laid back hipster vibe and an instantly recognisable street frontage that has adorned many an Instagram feed.

Lupa, Greenwich Village
Beautiful rustic Italian with an extremely impressive wine list. With over 400 varieties to choose from we sought assistance from the knowledgable sommelier. Highly recommend.

The Butchers Daughter, West Village
Great smoothies and delicious avo smash, and for those so inclined an abundance of vegetarian and vegan options.

The Rooftop Bar Gansevoort Hotel, Meatpacking district
Amazing view and great champagne. Some would say ‘a scene’ so go early if you want to avoid lines and the hundreds of dollars (you are required to spend on beverages) to secure yourself entry post 10pm. 

c o f f e e  &  m o r n i n g  f u e l

Buvette, West Village
A tiny french inspired cafe with amazing coffee and delicious breakfast options. They steam the eggs on the coffee machine and everything is made behind the marble bar right in front of you. 

Cafe Cluny, West Village
Good coffee, friendly staff, seemed to be popular with tourists and locals alike. Offers a variety of breakfast options.

Bluestone Lane Collective, Greenwich Village.
For any Australians missing home or our coffee, this cafe features an Australian menu, the staff are Australian and at the time we were there, so were all the customers.

These cafes are popular, so be prepared to line up on weekends and make sure you book if you’re planning on Sunday brunch.

h i g h l y  r e c o m m e n d

Take in sunset at the Top of the Rock
Go late afternoon so you can experience day, dusk and night. Be prepared to see the city transform into a light show before your eyes.

The New York City Library
Absolutely breathtaking architecture, this was a real pinch myself moment. A stunning building rich in beauty as it is in history.

Central Park
Hire a bike and tour the beauty that is Central Park. Highly recommend talking a break and having a beverage lakeside at the Boathouse Cafe.

One World Trade observation level & Memorial Pools
The observational level (100 floors up) provides the best birds-eye view of Manhattan. The 911 Museum is an amazing and extremely emotional experience. The two pools created where the towers once stood are a beautiful legacy for those who lost their lives on the day we will never forget.

Explore the West Village
The shopping (Ahh that Diptyque store), lovely cafes and restaurants and of course the famous Magnolia bakery. Cupcakes. Yep. Hence all the walking…

Wander SoHo
Those gorgeous cobblestone streets and designer shops. It really is the nicest place to get lost. A few of my favourite streets to wander were Wooster, Broome & Sullivan.

The Manhattan bridge
Take the subway to Brooklyn then walk back to Manhattan across the bridge. Great views of the city and of the Brooklyn Bridge (also a lot quieter than the Brooklyn bridge, but with equally great views).

The High Line
An elevated park built along the section of a disused railway line. Walk from one end to the other and take in great architecture, views of the street and beautiful gardens.

Hudson River
Take a walk or sit and read by the Hudson River. Extremely busy on the weekends with exercising locals, so for a quieter visit try mid week.

New York City really is the concrete jungle where dreams are made. Once was never going to be enough – I’m counting down the days until we can return.

Until next time, safe travels xo