Rediscovering New York: The ultimate guide for dining, drinking, and exploring the city that never sleeps.

Welcome to the ultimate New York City guide. Here is my New York journey through past and present. Keep reading to get to all my recommendations on where to eat, drink, stay, visit and shop! I’ve also created another blog post dedicated to all my looks with links to all the pieces, check it out HERE.

My recent visit to New York City stirred up many memories. I was there for fashion week, but I also took the opportunity to catch up with family and friends. Engaging in meaningful conversations with taxi drivers, I found myself reminiscing about my younger years when I lived in Manhattan after graduating from FIT, majoring in Fashion Design. As a true downtown fan, I never quite fit the mould of the Upper East Side elite depicted in “Gossip Girl,” yet a hint of Carrie Bradshaw’s spirit resided within me. I loved fashion, but I also loved the underground music scene, and NY was the place for both. 

Before getting engaged in my late 20s and moving to a building on 11th Street in West Village, I resided on MacDougal Street in Greenwich Village for many years in my early 20s. My humble abode, a pre-war, rent-stabilized sixth-floor walk-up, featured a kitchen that doubled as a bedroom and living space, where kitchen cabinets were used to store my clothes and shoes. I transformed the second room (the official “bedroom” that looked more like a closet) into a makeshift studio, that I used to create my art for upcoming exhibitions and design clothes. It was small, but some of the best years of my life were spent there, and I loved every minute of it.

Nightlife back then was different. From 1999 to 2007, I hung out at indie and rock’n’roll spots like Sway, Beatrice Inn, Bungalow 8, Lit, Mercury Lounge, Rockwood Music Hall, CBGB’s, Pianos, and Snitch, to name a few. I even worked as a promoter at Snitch twice a week and had one night called ‘Burning Down The House’ at the more conventional club on 27th Street. My partner and I used to book bands and invite friends to hang out and enjoy free drinks at ‘our table’. It was a fun gig that helped me pay the bills while working full-time as a fashion designer. Later, I discovered places like Rose Bar and The Cabin Down Below. The Cabin was an underground rock’n’roll bar in the East Village (similar vibe to Beatrice Inn and Sway, just much smaller) frequented by creatives, artists, musicians, and their entourage of model girlfriends and boyfriends. The hotel party scene was only just emerging, and places like Tribeca Grand Hotel, Bowery Hotel and Soho Grand spring to mind. After a night out, grabbing a cheap slice of pizza or a falafel was a must before walking up those six flights of stairs at 4:00 am and waking up at 7:30 am to go to the office – where I worked as a designer. Pit-stop breakfast on the way would cost me $2.50, which included coffee and a bagel with cream cheese.

In November 2010, I married, moved to London, and became an adult. (more or less)

New York has always been expensive, but it feels even pricier now. I was shocked to pay $4.50 for two apples at a convenience store, plus the machine asked for a tip: suggesting 18%, 20%, 25% or 30%. A matcha latte or cappuccino costs around $8. Similarly, the cost of taxis has doubled over the years, and you might think twice about hailing a cab that might set you back $50 from the Meatpacking district to Central Park. Despite the cost and beyond fleeting changes, New York’s vibrant energy is unbeatable. There’s just something about the city that never sleeps.

Now that I’m in my early 40s, my tastes and lifestyle have slightly changed. I prefer sitting down for a meal and enjoying a glass of wine over the vodka-based cocktails of my youth. Despite my love for speakeasy places and dive bars with live music, I find myself going to upscale restaurants more often now. The ones everyone knows about, and there is nothing ‘underground’ or ‘speakeasy’ about them, thanks to social media and Google, which didn’t really exist back then.

I could go on and on about my time in NY as a true New Yorker, but let’s dive into what you’re really here for!

Below are my current recommendations for New York, including restaurants, bars, places to stay, visit, and shop. I hope you find my list helpful for your next visit to the city. A lot of them are based in Downtown Manhattan, since that’s where I mainly used to go when I lived there!


I stayed in two different hotels in New York. Both locations were close to Soho, with the second (The Nomo Hotel) being slighlty closer. However, New York is easy to navigate on foot, so nothing is really too far. I always loved Soho, Nolita and West Village, and these were all neighbourhoods I used to go to when I was living in NY.


Located in the Meatpacking district, with a lot of luxury stores and just a block away from the High Line, Chelsea galleries, Whitney Museum and the River, as well as many trendy clubs and restaurants. My corner room was perfect, with stunning surrounding views!


The Nomo is on Crosby Street, close to Soho and the Lower East Side, surrounded by boutiques and coffee shops. This one was half the price compared to the other hotel, so something to consider if you’re on a budget. The rooms are so lovely, with gorgeous views too (I stayed on the 17th floor).

Here are some other recommendations to give you some more options depending on what you’re looking for:


A refined, sophisticated and simplistic hotel, located in the Bowery at the crossroads of the city’s most vibrant neighbourhoods. Nolita, Soho, West Village and Greenwich Village (to name a few) are all within walking distance.

Wythe Hotel

A boutique hotel situated in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. It’s housed in a converted factory and has brilliant views of the city!

The Soho Grand

A luxury boutique hotel located in the heart of Soho.

Crosby Street Hotel

Another luxurious boutique hotel located in the heart of SoHo, offering stylish accommodations and exceptional service.

If you’re more into pure luxury without much edge, then I can recommend the following:

The Ritz-Carlton

Located by Central Park.

The Plaza Hotel

A historic icon that’s also close to Central Park.

The Peninsula

A luxurious hotel with a world-class spa, and panoramic city views.

Four Seasons Hotel, New York Downtown.

A luxury hotel with impeccable service and stunning views in Lower Manhattan.

The Langham

A chic luxury hotel on Fifth Avenue in Midtown Manhattan.

The Carlyle, a Rosewood Hotel.

An iconic luxury hotel on the Upper East Side known for its timeless elegance and legendary entertainment venue, Café Carlyle.

If you’d rather have a whole apartment to yourself, Sonder has a great selection to choose from; it’s much better than Airbnb as it’s basically a hotel but in an apartment building.


New York has so many great food spots as well as coffee shops, bakeries, cocktail bars and speakeasies – the list is endless. I’ll start with the classic, must-visit restaurants that never disappoint!


A modern Italian-American restaurant known for its innovative dishes and warm hospitality.


I had the loveliest meal here, a true classic in NY. If you go be sure to get the Caramalised Banana Ricotta Tart for dessert, it was so good!


Loulou Petit Bistro and Speakeasy is a cosy French restaurant located in the heart of Chelsea, serving French classics for lunch, brunch and dinner. The speakeasy on the lower level offers an extensive list of classic cocktails and a lively atmosphere for the evenings!

Tavern On The Green

Located in Central Park, Tavern on the Green is a great restaurant for lunch or dinner, offering a seasonal menu of local and artisanal food. It’s such an Iconic spot, and has featured in many movies!

Waverly Inn

Tucked away in a quaint West Village corner, The Waverly Inn is perfect for dinner during the week with its cosy, charming interiors, and is also open for brunch on the weekends. The menu offers a selection of high-end spin-offs of American home-cooked classics.

Extra Virgin

A neighbourhood spot also located in West Village, so good for brunch! The menu consists of inventive Mediterranean-style food.

Chelsea Market

The perfect place for on-the-go food, situated in the Meatpacking District. There is a variety of different restaurants and food stalls within the market, so there’s something for everyone!


Old-school, chic bistro serving French food. It’s been there as long as I can remember!

La Mercerie

Reimagining French cuisine, La Mercerie is such a lovely restaurant with great food. It’s also connected to an interior shop called Roman and Williams Guild, where you can buy everything from tableware to furniture!

Casa Cipriani

Casa Cipriani’s is another gorgeous restaurant option in New York, with elegant interiors and a terrace that overlooks Brooklyn Bridge and the East River. The food includes a selection of Italian favourites and the famous vanilla meringue cake!


A classic French bistro serving iconic dishes in a bustling atmosphere.


A cosy Italian trattoria offering homemade pasta and rustic fare.

La Esquina

A hidden gem serving Mexican street food in a trendy speakeasy setting. Used to be my favourite when I lived in NY! You will need to make reservations and don’t be put off by a run-down taco spot: magic happens downstairs once you pass the door-men and go through the kitchen.


A sleek and sophisticated Japanese restaurant known for its sushi and innovative dishes.


A fusion restaurant blending Asian flavours with a modern twist.

Casa Cruz

A stylish brasserie serving Argentine-inspired cuisine in a chic setting.


A contemporary American restaurant, known for its inventive dishes and lively ambience.

Sant Ambroeus

A beloved NYC institution serving Italian-inspired cuisine for lunch.

Silver Linings

A charming neighbourhood spot, offering comfort food with a modern twist.

The Nines

A trendy gastropub serving elevated pub fare and craft cocktails.


Located at The Mercer Hotel. A chic café featuring a pop-up collaboration with Valentino.

Lola Taverna

A cosy Greek taverna serving traditional Mediterranean fare.


A trendy spot serving modern American cuisine in a relaxed atmosphere.

Charlie Bird

A lively Italian-inspired restaurant featuring seasonal ingredients and a vibrant atmosphere.

Dirty French

A hip brasserie serving French-inspired cuisine with a Downtown edge.


A classic Italian-American restaurant known for its old-school charm and delicious pasta dishes.


A chic Indonesian restaurant offering modern interpretations of traditional dishes.

Freeman’s Alley

On the Lower East Side of New York, Freeman’s is a cosy Tavern offering simple, rustic dishes.


In the heart of Manhattan’s Meatpacking District, Catch NYC features modern renditions of classic dishes in a streamlined, shareable style within a lively atmosphere. The menu includes simple, yet elegant, seafood, sushi and steak.

Standard Grill

Also located within the Meatpacking District, serves great food. I ate lunch there twice and had dinner there too whilst staying at The Standard Hotel next door. Amazing atmosphere and the Branzino was delicious.

Joe’s Pizza

Lastly, not forgetting Joe’s Pizza, an old-school, classic pizza spot in New York. It’s definitely a must if you’re in NY!


New York has so many cool cocktail bars and speakeasies, whether you want a glass of wine or a fun night out with live music, there’s something for everyone. Below are just a few of my favourites:


A wine bar in West Village, perfect for relaxed date nights with friends. I used to live just around the corner so it used to be one of my go-to’s.

Death & Co

Known for it’s innovative cockatils and speakeasy atmosphere.

Please Don’t Tell (PDT)

Accessible through a phone booth within Crif Dogs, offering unique drinks and a hidden vibe.

The Back Room

One of only two speakeasies in New York City that operated during Prohibition and is still in existence today.

Employee’s Only

A popular bar with inventive cocktails and a lively atmosphere. This is another bar I used to go to a lot when I was living in NY, and it never disappoints!

The Other Room

A chic neighbourhood wine bar in a stylish and intimate setting.

Gitano Jungle Room

Located in West Village and offers a unique dining experience in a tropical setting, serving Mexican-inspired cuisine. It’s technically a restaurant, but they have a really cool bar and lounge where you can sit back and enjoy delicious cocktails.

Paul’s Cocktail Lounge

A retro lounge bar, part of The Roxy Hotel, opened by DJ Paul Sevigny (Chloe Sevigny’s brother).

Le Bain

The Standard Hotel’s cocktail bar which has the best views and cocktails!

Birdland Jazz Café

On West 44th Street, a great option if you’re into jazz. There’s always someone cool performing, and it feels really old-school New York. 


If you’re looking for a quick coffee, or baked treats, here are a few of the best coffee shops/bakeries in NY. I could go on, but there are too many to mention!

Magnolia Bakery

I used to live two blocks from this bakery, such a cute place. If you go make sure to try the infamous banana pudding, it’s one of the most delicious treats ever!

Café Leon Dore

Offering a curated menu inspired by Greek culture including traditional Greek coffee, frothy iced drinks and pastries, on Mulberry Street in Downtown New York.

Cafe Gitane

A charming Downtown café serving coffee and food, with a French and Mediterranean style menu.

Ruby’s Café

Bringing Australian café culture to NYC, Ruby’s café offers casual, locally sourced cuisine, speciality drinks and coffees.

Stumptown Coffee Roasters

A renowned coffee roastery and café offering meticulously sourced and expertly brewed coffee in a stylish and inviting setting.

Two Hands

A trendy Australian café known for its relaxed vibes, vibrant atmosphere, and delicious brunch offerings in the heart of NYC’s Little Italy. Although I’m hearing rumours that they might shut this location down but keep the others.


New York always has so much to offer in terms of things to do, if you’re planning a trip to the city any time soon, I would definitely recommend going to see:

The Vessel in Manhattan, part of the Hudson Yards Development, such an impressive piece of architecture everyone needs to see – I’ve never seen anything like it! It’s an extraordinary spiral staircase centrepiece of Hudson Yards, imagined by Thomas Heatherwick and Heatherwick Studio, where you can enjoy wonderful views of the city from a variety of heights, angles and vantage points. There’s many photo ops on the spiral staircase, and don’t forget to go up to The Edge building for iconic NYC views.

The Oculus is another must-see whilst in NY. It was designed by the infamous Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava and is home to the World Trade Centre PATH station with trains to New Jersey, connections to 12 NYC Transit subway lines and dozens of dining and shopping spots. The main floor is bustling with shoppers and visitors as well as weekly programs such as markets, art exhibitions and musical performances.

The Whitney Museum of American Art, a modern and contemporary art museum in the Meatpacking District. There is also a rooftop bar offering the most amazing city views.

The Guggenheim is also incredible. If you’re in the mood to visit little galleries, then head over to Chelsea!

The Metropolitan Museum of Art is another iconic place to visit in NY!

If you’d like something completely different, then visit The Cloisters, a museum in Upper Manhattan’s Fort Tryon Park, showcasing medieval European art and architecture. It’s a branch of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, featuring sculptures, tapestries, manuscripts, and architectural elements in a monastery-like setting with scenic gardens and views of the Hudson River. It doesn’t feel like New York!

And of course I have to mention both the High Line which is super cool and let’s not forget about Central Park! Both iconic parts of New York to visit.

Broadway in New York City is famous for its live theater shows. It’s where you can see world-class productions, from beloved classics to cutting-edge new shows. With its bright lights and vibrant energy make it a must-visit destination for theater enthusiasts and tourists alike.

Since I went for Fashion Week, I mostly attended shows and events for work whilst I was there. I also had the chance to see my family and catch up with old friends which was so lovely, especially spending some time with my Grandmother who just turned 96 in January!


One of the neighbourhoods I adore is the West Village, along with Nolita. I’ve spent ample time in both areas and even had a boutique when I designed clothes under my own label. Another favourite is the Meatpacking District. While it was once a fish market, it gained prominence when Alexander McQueen and Stella McCartney opened their flagship stores there. Since then, it has flourished with an array of high-end shops and is home to Soho House New York.

Below are a few of my favourite stores I always go to when in the city, from luxury fashion, to boutiques showcasing many incredible emerging and independent designers.

Khaite – the store in NY is so gorgeous!

Oak + Fort

Forty Five Ten


Kirna Zabete

IF boutique


The Frankie Shop 


Acne Studios (pretty big store in SoHo)

Dover Street Market

Opening Ceremony


That wraps up my nostalgic trip to New York! It’s always a pleasure to be back, and I had the best time catching up with family and friends, as well as attending some amazing shows and events for Fashion Week. I hope you found this helpful, and if you’re planning a trip anytime soon, be sure to message me over on my Instagram if you visit any of the places mentioned!

Sign Up
I'll drop you an email with new content and edits from time to time.

No spam, ever.