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10 Bites of The Big Apple

Aerial view of Manhattan skyline at sunset, New York City, USA

1. Peak hipster and gentrification haven’t yet tarnished still-buzzy Brooklyn. Get your bearings on a Get Up and Ride Brooklyn Classic Bike Tour (getupandride.com), which explores Bushwick, Williamsburg and Greenpoint over 3.5 hours ($79), or go the whole hog with a five-hour odyssey, visiting the world’s largest rooftop farm, local coffee roasters and more ($99). Pausing for selfies on Brooklyn Bridge, naturally.

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Get Up And Ride Brooklyn

2. Have your nails done while slugging a stiff drink at The Beauty Bar, where burlesque artist Lefty Lucy administers “Feminist Manicures” (the middle fingernail is painted a different colour). Afterwards, wiggle along to soul, funk, punk, disco, bygone classics and one-hit-wonders after catching a comedy or burlesque show in the back room. (231 East 14th Street, +1 212 539 1389; thebeautybar.com)
3. Overlooking the Hudson River, and designed by architect Renzo Piano to the tune of $422 million, the Whitney Museum of American Art boasts more than 600 artworks from 400 artists, including mega-weights Willem de Kooning, Josef Albers and Cindy Sherman, across nine storeys of vast, column-free galleries. With its arsenal of art, outdoor terraces and chef Michael “Gramercy Tavern” Anthony’s restaurant and café, you can easily lose a whole afternoon here after tramping the High Line and before sampling the Meatpacking District’s infamously hot nightlife. (99 Gansevoort Street, +1 212 570 3600; whitney.org),

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Whitney Museum of American Art


4.
The rooms at hipster magnet The Ludlow may be bijou but that’s where the modesty ends – en suite bathrooms are a stylish, zeitgeisty mélange of marble, brass and theatrical lightbulb mirrors, while the lobby bar is all exposed brickwork, comfy leather sofas and roaring fireplace. Also, despite the buzzy location, we found zero street noise – bonus. Rooms from $295. (180 Ludlow Street, +1 212 432 1818; ludlowhotel.com)

1538 The Ludlow Hotel

The Ludlow Hotel

5. Where to start shopping in the city that sells everything? Cut to the chase with a Self-Directed Shopping Tour courtesy of Shop Gotham (shopgotham.com). Whether you’re on a mission to find the city’s best vintage stores or searching for retail therapy in a specific neighbourhood, let their sartorial insiders sniff out the very best. Bespoke half-day itineraries cost $65, and they also offer sample sale tours from April to June and November and December inclusive.

6. Cocktails with a view don’t come much better than at the small-but-perfectly-formed Spyglass, which has a fantastic eyeful of the Empire State Building from its outdoor terrace. Reserve a seat in time for a sundowner tipple and watch the city melt from day to night. (Archer Hotel, 47 West 38th Street, +1 212 730 0538; spyglassnyc.com)

view from spyglass

View from The Spyglass

7. Few scents can prize me away from Tom Ford’s Tobacco Vanille but Le Labo’s Santal 33 is a delicious diversion. Created by two Frenchmen in New York, Le Labo prides itself on the simplest and most natural handmade/hand-plucked/hand-poured ingredients, its core 15 classic fragrances available in several varieties and incarnations including travel size, perfume oil and solid options. Poke your nose into any one of their four New York stores in Nolita, Madison, the West Village and Ace Hotel. lelabofragrances.com

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Drinks at The Late Late

8. There are no toucans, hurleys or diddly-aye music at Irish pub The Late Late, which is much too cool to conform to the usual Oirish pub trappings. This understated take on sheebeen chic – some chintz wallpaper here, a Guinness cocktails menu there, an artisanal Tayto sambo in one’s mouth – is the brainchild of Dubliner James Morrissey and Florence + the Machine guitarist Rob Ackroyd. I left my usual vodka martini comfort zone for the Hornet’s Nest and, boy, did my tastebuds party: Makers Mark, Connemara honey, chipotle, angostura bitters and brandied, salted cherries. (159 East Houston Street, +1 646 861 3342; thelatelate.com)

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The Late Late Bar

9. Pretend you’re living the Manhattan dream at The William, which feels more like an apartment than a hotel. It has 33 big and bright guest suites, each of which boasts a Nespresso-machine-kitted kitchenette, Apple TV and L’Occitane toiletries. Terrace suites are marvelous for obvious reasons, and there’s Raines Law Room, a renowned speakeasy bar, and also Shakespeare pub, downstairs. Rooms from $315. (24 East 39th Street, +1 646 922 8600; thewilliamnyc.com)

10. For one of the most unnerving pieces of theatre you’ll ever see head to McKittrick Hotel, home of Sleep No More; a thrillingly immersive, interactive, site-specific work by Punchdrunk theatre. It’s Shakespeare as reimagined by the likes of David Lynch and Alfred Hitchcock, where the audience wears commedia dell’arte masks and walks freely between some 100 rooms as scenes happen simultaneously. Rifle through diaries, drawers, chase characters down stairwells – and hope that a cast member whisks you off into a private chamber. To describe it in greater detail would be to spoil the experience and so my two-word summary is: just go. (530 West 27th Street, +1 212 904 1883; mckittrickhotel.com).
This article first appeared in the April/May edition of Cara magazine, the in-flight publication from Aer Lingus. Aer Lingus flies from Dublin to New York up to three times daily and from Shannon daily. 

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