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Mike Yardley: A stylish slice of New York City

Mike Yardley,
Publish Date
Tue, 10 Jan 2023, 3:34pm
Photo / Supplied
Photo / Supplied

Mike Yardley: A stylish slice of New York City

Mike Yardley,
Publish Date
Tue, 10 Jan 2023, 3:34pm

As one of the world’s most electrifying cities, with a head-swirl of alluring attractions, don’t bite off more than you chew, when planning a swing with New York City. The Big Apple is best enjoyed in bite-sized chunks. Ruthlessly choose a select platter of experiences and take the time to savour them. On my last visit to New York, I opted to focus on exploring the city’s staggering spoil of cultural draws.

One of the hottest tickets in town is One World Observatory, that crowns the sky-piercing One World Trade Center. You’ll rapidly be whisked up to the 102nd floor in less than 60 seconds. Immersive, floor-to-ceiling LED technology in each elevator serves up a virtual time-lapse, recreating the development of New York City’s feted skyline from the 1500s to the present day. From the main observatory, the 360 degree horizon-searching panoramas, are vast and wondrous. An ingenious touch is the Sky Portal, where you can step onto a 14-foot wide circular disc, which delivers a jaw-dropping view, using real-time, high-definition footage of the streets below. (The Edge is another sky-high observation deck that’s turning heads in Hudson Yards.) The 9/11 Memorial Museum and the Ground Zero reflecting pools are equally unmissable, if you haven’t experienced them before.

Head Uptown, to Central Park and the iconic museums, starting with the dinosaur-sized American Museum of Natural History. (Yes, dinosaurs are included.) You probably won’t bump into Ben Stiller, but the feverish popularity of the movie brand, based on this museum, have spawned a Night at the Museum tour, where you can see the real exhibits behind the characters that featured in the blockbusters, including Rapa Nui, the cheeky Capuchin Monkeys and the colossal Tyrannosaurus-Rex.

Another excellent guided excursion is the Theodore Roosevelt Tour, which showcases why this visionary leader is universally regarded as America’s first Conservation President. (Robin Williams certainly did a cracking impression.) When you’ve had your full of natural wonder, take a leisurely walk across Central Park by Strawberry Fields, to the Upper East Side, where 5th Avenue, from 82nd to 104 street, is lovingly lauded as Museum Mile.

The Guggenheim is probably best known for its eye-catching exterior, than for the masterpieces that it contains. Frank Lloyd Wright’s striking modernist dome design is a triumph, but after walking the grand curvaceous ramp to enter the building, you’ll be treated to a plethora of works from the modern masters, including Picasso, Kadinsky and van Gogh.

Widely considered as one the world’s leading art galleries, The Met (Metropolitan Museum of Art ) spans 5000 years of humanity, with a spell-binding collection of over two million works. You’ll have to pick and choose what you want to peruse, unless you’re in town for a week, but, for me, the unmissables are the New American Wing and the Egyptian Treasures. You’ll never know what surprises are in-store, because The Met also complements its permanent collection with dozens of temporary exhibitions. For a spectacular skyline view, overlooking Central Park, revive yourself after you’ve walked your legs off, with a restorative drink at The Met’s Roof Garden.

I still think one of the best ways to survey Manhattan’s architectural majesty, is to hop on board a New York Harbour cruise. Circle Line Cruises, not only serves up ravishing skyline vistas, but zips you across to Lady Liberty and Ellis Island. To accentuate the experience, commune with Lady Liberty, with a tour right up to the statue’s lofty top. Back on land, head down 12th Avenue’s Hudson River waterfront to delight in a treasure trove of big boys toys at the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum.

Home to the legendary Intrepid aircraft carrier, that survived multiple kamikaze attacks in World War II, the museum boasts over 30 restored aircraft, a wealth of interactive, high-tech, multi-sensory exhibits. I loved exploring Growler, the only American guided missile submarine open to the public. Other stand-outs include the British Airways Concorde and the Space Shuttle Enterprise. www.visittheusa.com.au

Dreaming of indulging in a splashy, effervescent stay in the Big Apple? Lording above Midtown Manhattan in a 60-storey limestone skyscraper, The Langham, New York, Fifth Avenue beckons as a world-class sanctuary of luxury in the heart of the metropolis. Located on Fifth Avenue and 36 Street in the Fashion District area, your prime location is in easy reach of so many iconic attractions, from Times Square and Broadway to the Empire State Building, just two blocks away.

With 234 guest rooms and suites, The Langham has created a new benchmark in luxury accommodations with the addition of three penthouse suites, with extra bedrooms, vast living and dining areas, and a custom design by French home décor company Roche Bobois. This luxury hotel straddles the line between the more ornate, old school five-star spots found further uptown and the lifestyle hotels that are so en vogue these days.

The ethos is definitely understated and sophisticated, but unmistakeably elegant, thanks to touches like the multi-million-dollar art collection that draws heavily on the vibrant works of American artist Alex Katz. Pleasingly, for Kiwis who prefer to travel in more casual attire, there’s also no pretence. You’re not going to feel self-conscious about what to wear or dressing up. With its residential vibe, this Langham property feels more like a high-end apartment building than a hotel—albeit one with a Michelin-starred on-site restaurant.

Upon entering The Langham, New York, Fifth Avenue you are greeted with the luxury hotel brand’s trademark pink roses and elegant ginger flower aroma, a soothing reminder that details are not overlooked in the Midtown hustle. A recent overhaul of the lobby and lounge area has brought a new glamour to the neighbourhood. The lobby centrepiece are two oversized paintings by contemporary American artist Alex Katz — injecting playing vitality and colour into the glossy space. The artist’s work is prominently featured throughout the New York City hotel as well as in guest room corridors and even in some of the rooms and suites. New York’s subway is good but nothing beats a ride in the hotel’s house car, available on a first-come first-served basis.

Guest rooms are beautifully-appointed and undeniably spacious by Manhattan standards (they average about 750 square feet). The hotel celebrates its prime location, taking full advantage of the elevated vistas. I fell in love of the sweeping views of the city’s skyline through my suite’s floor-to-ceiling windows, lulled to sleep by the neon-lit curves of the shiny Chrysler building.

Room décor is simple and chic, with white linens, grey accents and Italian walnut furniture. Luxury amenities are laid on lavishly, like Swedish Duxiana beds, Italian linens, flat-screen TVs, Nespresso machines, robes and slippers. Suites have complimentary bottled water and sodas, full kitchenettes with Miele appliances, including washers and dryers. My marble bathroom was bigger than many New York apartments, with pampered accoutrements like in-mirror televisions, deep-soaking tubs and rain showers.

Fancy a workout? The ultra-contemporary Fitness Centre features Peloton bikes, cardio equipment from Technogym’s popular Excite line, including stationary bikes, treadmills and elliptical machines. There are free weights, weight machines and fitness balls. Best of all, Fitness on Demand, where you can try virtual fitness classes for a guided workout in your own time.

The Langham is home to acclaimed chef Michael White’s Ai Fiori. The restaurant features cutting-edge Mediterranean fare inspired by the French and Italian Riviera. In this sophisticated but not stuffy space, enjoy dishes like risotto with butternut squash and cranberry beans or pan-seared sea scallops, cauliflower purée with farro and walnuts.

Alongside the hotel’s exemplary fine dining, the cherry on top of this sparkling establishment is the new Langham Club, located on the 4th floor. It is not bank-breaking to upgrade for club access, which entitles you to a vast range of privileges including all-day refreshments featuring five culinary presentations. A lavish buffet style breakfast kicks offs the daily proceedings, followed by mid-morning snacks, light lunch snacks, afternoon treats, before settling in for evening cocktails and canapes. A premium bar service operates throughout the day, including champagne. It is a wondrous haven of indulgence, with dedicated club attendants raising the bar on exceptional service. But across the hotel, from the front desk to housekeeping, service is ultra-attentive, disarming and outgoing. It’s really where you want to be in NYC. https://www.langhamhotels.com/en/the-langham/new-york/

If you’re planning your first ever visit to the metropolis, Big Bus New York serves up the Big Apple in perfect slices, on its uptown and downtown hop-on, hop-off tours. Whether you want to capture panoramic views of icons like the Empire State Building and Brooklyn Bridge, or dive into the city’s famous neighbourhoods, it’s a stress-free way to hop about. www.bigbustours.com

I flew to New York with Hawaiian Airlines, via Honolulu to JFK. Flights depart Auckland three times weekly on Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday and Hawaiian Airlines connects to 15 US mainland cities. Treat yourself to Extra Comfort, which is very reasonably priced. Hawaiian Airlines’ Extra Comfort seats on the Airbus A330 offer considerably more legroom, priority services and enhanced amenities to make your long-haul travel experience decidedly more comfortable. www.hawaiianairlines.com

Travel to the USA with Cover-More Travel Insurance, which has you covered with added safeguards, over and above the typical travel cover, for the likes of medical treatment. Their Options Plan Single-Trip policy offers a host of built-in benefits and protections, including cancellation and rescheduling costs if you are diagnosed with Covid-19. Check out the full range of protections and tailor the level of cover to your requirements. Cover-More’s 24 hour global assistance centre is just a phone call away. https://www.covermore.co.nz

Mike Yardley is our resident traveller on Jack Tame Saturday Mornings.

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