The ‘city that never sleeps’ is famed for its frenetic energy, thrilling restlessness and endless sources of stimulation. But for the Holiday Goddess looking for some time out and a little pampering, New York also knows how to dish up self-indulgent luxury with a dose of serenity on the side.
Located in a former textiles factory in the heart of Manhattan, Aire Ancient Baths (88 Franklin Street, TriBeCa. Phone: 212-274-3777) celebrates the most precious of commodities in the city – space. Entry into the candle-lit Baths made of imported Spanish marble is a feast for the senses. Reservations are essential and bookings are limited per session to ensure the promise of serenity. The two-hour time slot allows enough time to soak in the baths – which include hot, cold, warm and salt baths, a jet spa and steam room – and soothe aching muscles and a lagging spirit with a massage. Treatments range from relaxing 15-minute massages to double-time red wine, champagne and olive oil ‘Rituals’. The Shibui Spa (The Greenwich Hotel, 377 Greenwich St. Phone: 212-941-8900) in Robert de Niro’s luxury Greenwich Hotel offers a combination TriBeCa chic and Zen luxury. Lounge under the roof of a 250-year old wood and bamboo farmhouse reconstructed in the hotel by Japanese craftsmen before slipping into the lantern-lit traditional Japanese bathing room and swimming pool. The Spa menu celebrates the Five Element theory in traditional Eastern Medicine with a range of face and body treatments including traditional Japanese Shiatsu and Chinese reflexology. After feasting on the Spa menu, head to the hotel’s Locanda Verde restaurant for an indulgence of the foodie kind. More a hair empire than a salon, Bumble and Bumble (415 West 13th Street. Phone 212-521-6500) is an architectural feat including a hairdressing school, shop, café, hair library and museum. In the flagship public salon on the seventh floor you’ll be treated to celebrity-style snip, colour and blow-dry with floor-to-ceiling views over the Hudson River. Afterwards, take your new coiffeur and whatever you have left in your wallet to lunch at the famous Pastis bistro before a shopping splurge in the Meatpacking District and a stroll along the High Line – a 2km elevated rail freight line transformed into a public park.
When it comes to culture with a capital ‘C’ no city dishes it up quite like New York. Of course there’s the Met, MoMa and the Guggenheim, but some of the smaller lesser known galleries and museums also offer an insight into the bygone world of famous business empires that Manhattan was built on – and respite from the chaos outside. The Frick Collection (1 E70th Street at Fifth Avenue) is housed in the Fifth Avenue mansion of one of America’s most successful industrialists and greatest art collectors, Henry Clay Frick. The art is amazing and so are the spacious rooms and tranquil courtyard gardens. Likewise, The Morgan Library & Museum (225 Madison Avenue at 36th Street) was originally the private library of financier, J.P.Morgan, and has been transformed into a special space dedicated to rare manuscripts, early printed books, American and old master drawings and prints. With an interesting program of musical performances, lectures, readings and video presentations it’s also the perfect place to soak up some quiet time.
New York is an easy city to get around but make sure you have a map with you at all times. Download the HopStop app for detailed subway, bus, train, taxi, walking and biking directions. For getting to and from the airport, SuperShuttle (phone +1 212-209-7000) offers door-to-door transfers at a fraction of the cost of a taxi.
- Tipping – for out-of-towners the art of tipping can be a minefield. But a few hard and fast rules can help – in restaurants double the tax; for taxis the going rate is usually $1-$2 and the same applies to hotel porterage. For professional services
- Taxes are added to the published price and an additional tip of 15-20% is expected, usually in cash. Note at hairdressing salons you are expected to tip each individual service provided.
- Make sure you book well ahead of time for everything from hotels to restaurants and day spas – it is New York after all.