New York’s quirkiest areas

By Zach Udko

Photography by Zsolt Hlinka / Getty Images

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January 2017

If you’ve already tried and tested Midtown Manhattan or want to escape the crowds of Times Square, New York is home to plenty of other neighbourhoods that are ideal for curious minded travellers. From glamorous Meatpacking to trendsetting Brooklyn, local resident Zach Udko picks five of the city’s coolest districts.

Meatpacking District

Once a desolate set of abandoned factory buildings, the border between Downtown and Midtown on the west side of Manhattan has become the city’s most glamorous hot spot – thanks to fashion designers, trendy restaurants, and clubs surrounding the High Line


Towering over the High Line, each room at The Standard offers dramatic floor-to ceiling windows overlooking downtown Manhattan or the Hudson River. At night, this it hosts the most vibrant club scene in town at its slick discothèque Le Bain, featuring a seasonal plunge pool on the dance floor and a rooftop crêperie.

Book a stay at The Standard High Line >


The city’s most Instagram-worthy milkshakes can be found at Black Tap where they consider whole caramel apples and ice cream sandwiches suitable toppings for their candy-studded and cookie-crowned masterpieces.

  • Black Tap is known for its Instagram-worthy milkshakes
  • Bed down in style at the Standard High Line © Nikolas Koenig

    Live the high life

    Sitting pretty on the Hudson River, with the High Line running straight through the building, André Balazs’ hotel has cemented itself as one of the best stays in the city. Book a seven-night stay at the Standard High Life hotel.

    Book the Standard High Line
  • The Renzo Piano-designed Whitney Museum of American Art has a trendy new home in the Meatpacking District © Ed Lederman

    Art attack

    Showcasing many younger and less-established artists, The Whitney’s permanent collection comprises of 21,000 artworks – many of which have never been on display before.

    Explore curious NY


Since it moved downtown from its stuffy Upper East Side location last year, The Whitney Museum has wowed visitors with its impressive modern art collection and four outdoor spaces overlooking the Hudson River and Midtown Manhattan. Fridays between 19:00 and 21:30 is ‘pay what you wish’ – but be prepared for long wait times.


This charming Midtown neighbourhood is home to the gallery district, Chelsea Market, the Chelsea Piers sports complex, a significant portion of the High Line, and several LGBT establishments.


With one of the best indoor-outdoor rooftop pools in the city, Gansevoort Park is the perfect place to soak up a perfect view of the Empire State Building. Spacious rooms feature plush amenities such as Egyptian cotton linens and Cutler hair products infused with prosecco grapes.

Book a stay at Gansevoort Park >


Even meat-lovers have been lining up for chef Chloe Coscarelli’s shockingly satisfying vegan eatery by Chloe, where favourites include the shitake-bacon mac and cheese, and the Bourbon-BBQ burger with grilled pineapple and sautéed kale. Save room for Chloe’s famous raspberry tiramisu cupcakes, which helped launched her career when she became the first vegan chef to win a competition on Food Network.

  • Up on the roof: Chelsea’s Gansevoort Park Hotel

    Did you know…

    The Gansevoort’s rooftop is home New York’s first heated indoor-outdoor pool. Book flights from London to New York, plus a seven-night stay in the Gansevoort Park Hotel.

    Book flights and hotel


Catch some laughs at Upright Citizens Brigade, a comedy performance space co-founded by Amy Poehler. Nightly improv and sketch comedy (never more than $10) often feature surprise guests from film and television, particularly current Saturday Night Live cast members.

Find our cheapest flights to New York >

Soho and Tribeca

Cast-iron buildings, cobbled streets, and trendy boutiques abound in this pair of downtown neighbourhoods.


Formerly the Tribeca Grand, The Roxy Hotel resurrects Gotham’s 1920s Art Deco style, while its outstanding service ensures you never feel like a fish out of water; they even offer a ‘pet goldfish’ for your stay (by request). Sip a martini downstairs at The Django, a ritzy jazz club with live music every Wednesday through Sunday night.

Book a stay at The Roxy Hotel >


At Seamore’s, Michael Chernow repeats the same formula that exploded his Meatball Shop into a citywide sensation – but this time with seafood. Choose from a menu of seasonal fresh catches, pick your favourite sauce (the miso brown butter is delicious), and add three side dishes – all for $23.

  • The reel deal: Michael Chernow’s Seamore’s in Soho

    Try it for yourself…

    Seamore’s is open Tuesday to Saturday from 11:30 to midnight; and Mondays and Sundays from 11:30 to 23:00.

    New York’s cheap eats
  • You can ‘adopt’ a pet goldfish for your stay at Tribeca’s The Roxy

    Love film

    The Roxy Hotel has its own 99-seat movie theatre, complete with leather seats, surround sound, and a state-of-the-art projection. Look out for the weekly Monday film series curated by Submarine Films; plus the complimentary public screenings at the weekend.

    Book a stay
  • Online beauty and grooming service Birchbox chose Soho for its first flagship store


The popular subscription beauty and grooming service Birchbox recently opened up its first bricks-and-mortar store in Soho. Fittingly located in NYC’s hippest shopping district, customers can buy full-sized versions of their favourite samples, as well as customize their own boxes for $15 to $25.

Lower East Side

Once a working-class, immigrant neighbourhood, LES is now filled with luxury boutique hotels, galleries, haute cuisine, and an endless party scene that caters to artists, misfits, and fashion-forward night owls.


The spirit of Andy Warhol is alive and well at Sixty LES – his face even graces the bottom of the swimming pool. Sleek black mirrored walls, Sferra linens, slate showers, and illuminated light box headboards designed by Lee Friedlander lend an ultra-sexy vibe to this nightlife magnet.

Book a stay at Sixty LES >


Hailed as one of the city’s best by The New York Times, Russ and Daughters Café is the spot for bagels topped with pastrami-cured salmon, smoked whitefish, or caviar and crème fraiche. Wash it all down with a soda made from their heavenly homemade syrups – the blueberry concoction combines basil leaf, elderflower, vanilla and lime.

  • An impeccably designed room at the Lower East Side’s Sixty LES

    Something fishy…

    The Bromberg Brothers’ Blue Ribbon empire masterfully runs its two in-house dining at Sixty LES: Blue Ribbon Sushi Izakaya and the Blue Ribbon Beer Garden.

    Book a stay


At the Lower East Side Tenement Museum, you can step into recreations of 19th and 20th apartments and ‘meet the residents’ (aka costumed performers) who lived at 97 Orchard Street.


Once dwarfed by the allure of Manhattan, Brooklyn has earned the respect of all New Yorkers for its cool nightlife, cutting-edge cuisine, cultural events, parks, flea markets, museums… the list goes on…


Aloft New York Brooklyn checks all the boxes for the modern business traveller with in-room ergonomic workspaces, free Wi-Fi, Bliss spa products, and a relaxing rooftop bar to unwind.

Book a stay at Aloft New York Brooklyn >


In recent years, Brooklyn has won the inter-borough battle for best pizza, and two fierce rivals are slicing their way to the top. At Paulie Gee’s in Greenway, the Sake Mountain Way adds a kick of sake reduction to an adaptation of the Margherita, while an expansive vegan menu gets crafty with cashew ricotta cheese, pickled grapes, and ‘meatballs’ made from green jackfruit. The equally delicious Roberta’s in Bushwick works with more traditional toppings, but that doesn’t make their pies any less enticing.


After exploring the eclectic collection of African, European and contemporary art at the Brooklyn Museum, stroll through the tranquil Japanese hill-and-pond section of the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens. Located next door to one another in the Prospect Park neighbourhood, both attractions offer a combo reduced rate ticket offer.

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