New York is without a doubt my favourite city in the world. This was my first time visiting solo but it was a no brainer; there’s always something to do in NYC!
I like to stay somewhere different each time, choosing The Ludlow Hotel for this trip. Located on the Lower East Side, it’s within walking distance of my favourite areas in Manhattan. I had the nerve to request a quiet room only to play Burna Boy – Anybody on repeat every morning.
Usually, I avoid flying before 10 am but the 8:25 am flight to JFK is 100% worth it! I landed just after 11 am and my room was ready by 1 pm, so after a quick shower, I headed straight into Soho for a late lunch. I nearly fainted when the bill arrived and I realised I’d spent almost £50 on three plates of tapas. The exchange rate is at rock bottom but London would never!
My top priorities (aside from eating) were stocking up on Differin and buying all the beauty products that aren’t available in the UK. This also meant buying a few packs of Mike and Ikes, Carrot Cake Oreos and other calorific treats. If it wasn’t for my dinner reservations I would have grabbed a pizza slice and slept. Instead, I headed out for the night.
Eating and Drinking in Manhattan
As a huge Sex and the City fan, Tao has been on my bucket list for years. It didn’t disappoint either. The vibe is insane…the music, the low lights etc. I had several dining areas to choose from and opted to sit at the Sushi Bar. The cocktails were amazing, as were the Tempura Prawns and Orange chicken. Honestly, the service could have been better but I thoroughly enjoyed myself. I was also ridiculously tired and ready to jump in an Uber.
I was up at 5 am the next morning with flu-like symptoms and made the strangest room service request: a fork and a cup of hot water. My mood lifted after taking flu meds and eating my leftovers. I took a leisurely stroll through Union Square Market before having brunch at Cafeteria (another SATC spot). NY men are relentless with the catcalling and it’s so much more noticeable as a solo traveller.
I momentarily paused my ‘MegFabulous v Food’ adventure to visit Strand Bookstore which may just be my favourite bookstore ever (sorry Foyle’s)! Proudly boasting an impressive ‘18 miles of books,’ Strand is the place to visit for every kind of book imaginable. I had to control my urge to buy everything that caught my eye and settled on Austin Kleon’s ‘Keep Going’ to complete the trilogy and a notebook. Another cool bookstore that I always visit is Bookmarc on Bleecker Street which specialises in coffee table books and Marc Jacobs merc. I made sure to buy the Dapper Dan memoir and a Marc Jacobs Sharpie because why not?!
Later that evening I headed over to Pinch Chinese in Soho for a late lunch. Definitely my favourite restaurant during this visit, if you’re heading to NY, add this to the top of your list! The dining atmosphere is trendy but relaxed, very Soho, with 90’s R&B playing in the background. The guy a few seats away was giving us a beautiful rendition of 702 Steelo, God bless him! As cool as the ambience was, it was food that really stole the show; soup dumplings that explode perfectly in your mouth and duck ragu noodles. Imagine a Chinese take on spaghetti bolognese, that’s the best way to describe the noodles. Minced duck with firm noodles. It was so good I wanted to cry. I’ve already recommended it to at least three people since I got back, it’s that good.
As a firm believer in two-course meals for each sitting on holiday, I went to Morgenstern’s for ice cream. Now I can’t remember if I decided on the salted caramel or the butterscotch but lactose intolerance aside, the ice cream was delicious!
Sightseeing in NYC
What do you do when you’ve seen most of the tourist attractions and hate Times Square? You visit the cool, edgy, off-piste places like The Vessel. The spiral staircase landmark is in Hudson Yard right by the Highline, very eye-catching and impressive when you’re up close. Flexi-tickets are $10, allowing you to arrive at any time and scan your ticket on entry. I visited just before sunset, providing the perfect views as I climbed the stairs. It’s definitely not for those with Vertigo as the reflective surfaces enhance the dizziness. I promise it’s not as bad as it sounds but I saw a few panicky folks especially as I got close to the top.
Top of my priority list was catching up with a friend who I hadn’t seen for years. Ironically despite its late-night reputation, finding a nearby restaurant with kitchen open past 10 pm was not easy. We settled on Bar Primi which is just a few blocks from The Ludlow on Bowery so super convenient for fresh pasta and cocktails. I opted for the spicy paccheri whilst my friend chose the squid ink campanelle; both were delicious and the generous portions meant we were sorted for breakfast the next day. Tiredness started kicking in so after a quick stroll around the area to find a bar we called it a night. I had all hopes of turning up in NYC but my body clock had me in bed by 10 pm every night. Tragic.
My Unofficial Sex and the City Tour
As a self-proclaimed SATC Stan, I appreciate several landmarks that aren’t obvious unless you’ve seen each series a million times over. Carrie Bradshaw was the first thing that came to mind when I was wandering through Greenwich Village, especially Bleecker and Perry Street. I laughed to myself when I passed Il Cantinori, where Carrie got stood up for her 35th birthday. I too felt like I was ‘dating New York City’ as I strolled up 5th Avenue and headed to the Guggenheim. Now you see why I was eager to try Tao! Stanning aside, I think it’s pretty cool that most of the places still exist and can be enjoyed for their unique qualities beyond their feature in the show. Maybe next time I’ll tick Eleven Madison Park of the list too.
Why New York Will Always Have My Heart
New York is definitely my happy place. This may sound weird but it’s somewhere I can escape and just zone out. Despite the intensity of the city, no one actually cares about your presence and you can almost disappear in plain sight. As a big city girl, the sirens and honking are like ASMR. The expense of accommodation and just existing there make it less than ideal for frequent visits, but I hope to return soon, maybe with friends so we can party. New York 2020?
Top New York 2019 Memories:
- I spent my entire time walking into doors because they open/close in the opposite direction in the UK.
- Being called ma’am by random teenagers on the street. I know it’s polite but damn it makes me feel old!
- Despite the negative rep, NYers are WAY more friendly and polite than Londoners.
- How easy it is to blend in because no one cares. Most people assumed I lived there and I didn’t correct them.
- Never being 100% sure whether people are high or just crazy…
- Extra foodie spots I didn’t mention in the post but are worth the visit:
- Economy Candy for floor-to-ceiling sweets. The liquorice laces (plain and sour are 10/10)
- Breakfast at Dirty French. Worth it if you’re staying at The Ludlow, their take on an English breakfast is the perfect comfort food.
- Supermoon Bakehouse, a cool, futuristic bakery that does an amazing kouign amann.
- Mah De Zar, another bakery in Greenwich village famous for its brioche donut which lives up to the hype.
- Milk Bar. Get the ‘milk bar pie’ formerly known as crack pie for a very good reason. I took a slice home (to London) with me along with their apple pie truffles.