New York City, known as “the City that Never Sleeps”, is one of the world’s most exciting cities and is a perfect city for an Ultimate Weekend Getaway. Here you will find some of the world’s best hotels and restaurants, fabulous luxury clothing boutiques, world-class museums, a vibrant cultural scene and unsurpassed nightlife. Although you could spend a week or more in the city and never scratch the surface, our luxury weekend itinerary seeks to highlight the best the city has to offer over a long weekend.
For this Ultimate Weekend Getaway, we recommend staying at The Surrey, an intimate boutique hotel located in a residential neighborhood of the Upper East Side far away from the tourist masses. The hotel, built in 1926, is New York City’s only Relais & Chateaux hotel and offers ultra-luxurious residential-style rooms. For this Ultimate Luxury Weekend, we recommend their spacious Ultra one-bedroom suites that feature Duxiana beds, separate living rooms, marble bathrooms and deep soaking tubs. Unlike most hotels, here you will find delicious the room service offerings since the in-room dining and mixology menus are provided by Michelin-starred Café Boulud and Bar Pleiades. The hotel is also well known for its exceptional contemporary art program, which is curated by art expert and historian Natasha Schlesinger.
The Surrey // 20 East 76th Street // website
After getting settled into The Surrey, we suggest exploring the Upper East Side and Central Park.
The Upper East Side is home to tony mansions and upscale residential buildings with livered doorman and the luxury clothing boutiques of Madison Avenue, including Barneys New York, Isaia, Lanvin, Pucci, Dolce & Gabbana, Jimmy Choo, Prada, Celine and Tom Ford.
On the Upper East Side you will also find a concentration of world-class museums along Museum Mile, including the enormous Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Guggenheim Museum, the Frick Collection, and the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum.
Designed by Frederick Law Olmstead, Central Park offers over 800 acres of open meadows, ponds, lakes and winding paths. If you feel like a late lunch or snack, get a window seat at the Loeb Boathouse Central Park, which is located in the middle of Central Park and overlooks a beautiful lake filled with boaters.
Before heading to dinner, if the weather is nice, visit the Surrey’s Private Roof Garden, located on 17th floor overlooking the Upper East Side and Central Park, for one of their signature drinks. During cooler weather, we suggest the Bar Pleiades, the Surrey’s chic bar and cocktail lounge featuring creative cocktails in an intimate Art Deco space. It is one of the best hotel bars in New York City.
Bar Pleiades // 20 East 76th Street // website
For dinner, we suggest Le Bernardin, our favorite fine-dining seafood restaurant in New York City and arguably America’s best seafood restaurant. The three Michelin-starred restaurant, helmed by super-star chef Eric Rippert, is elegant and sedate without being overly formal. Although the restaurant offers a handful of meat dishes, seafood is the star of the show. Le Bernardin has an excellent wine program and head sommelier Aldo Sohm, one of the best sommeliers in NYC, can help you find a perfect bottle of wine from the restaurant’s extensive wine list. We highly recommend the tasting menu which is the best way to truly experience Chef Rippert’s exceptional talent with seafood. Recent standout dishes include his famous tuna carpaccio with foie gras, an appetizer of flash marinated hamachi in a yuzu vinaigrette, and main dish featuring lacquered lobster tail with a lemongrass consommé. Save room for the delicious desserts created by pastry chef Thomas Raquel.
Le Bernardin // 155 West 51st Street // website
For an after-dinner drink, we love the Bemelmans Bar, an intimate and sophisticated Art Deco bar in the Carlyle Hotel with leather banquettes, a fabulous black granite bar and a distinctive New York style mural covering the walls. The atmosphere is sexy and sophisticated and provides nightly jazz performances. A perfect spot for a romantic drink.
Bemelmans Bar // 35 E 76th St. // website
You will find one of the best breakfasts in New York at Sarabeth’s East, where we highly recommend their delicious eggs benedict with smoked salmon and amazing breakfast bread basket filled with feather-light home-made muffins.
Sarabeth’s East // 1295 Madison Ave (at 92nd Street) // website
After breakfast, we suggest heading downtown to Chelsea, where you will find dozens of art galleries, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the High Line, a public park built on a historic freight rail line elevated above the streets on Manhattan’s West Side, and the Meatpacking District, an area filled with trendy boutiques and gourmet food markets, cobblestone streets and a vibrant club scene in the evening.
Start at the High Line, which runs from West 34th Street, between 10th and 12th Avenues, to Gansevoort Street in the Meatpacking District. New York City was an early adopter of the recent trend of converting abandoned urban properties and areas into dynamic public use areas. The High Line, loved by New Yorkers and visitors alike, is a serene pathway landscaped perennials, grasses, shrubs and trees cutting through the dense urban environment of Manhattan’s West Side.
The High Line // website
Work your way to the end of the High Line at Gansevoort Street where you can explore the Meatpacking District’s trendy boutiques lining the cobblestone streets and nearby Chelsea Market with its large selection of restaurant and food shops. Chelsea is also home to the Whitney Museum of American Art and some of New York City’s best art galleries, including Gagosian Gallery, Matthew Marks, David Zwirner and Barbara Gladstone Gallery.
Gagosian Gallery // 555 West 24th Street // website
Matthew Marks Gallery // 523 West 24th Street // website
Barbara Gladstone Gallery //515 West 24th Street // website
David Zwirner // 519 West 19th Street // website
After spending the morning in Chelsea, cross town to the Union Square area where you will find Union Square Park, host to New York’s largest greenmarket, as well as Gramercy Tavern, one of our favorite NY City restaurants.
Gramercy Tavern, operated by legendary restauranteur Danny Meyer and located in historic landmark building near Union Square, feels like a refined California tavern with the more casual Tavern portion in the front (reserved for walk-ins) and a slightly more formal dining room towards the back. Chef Michael Anthony serves a market-driven seasonal menu. Some of our favorite dishes from a recent menu included a warm lobster salad with fregola, sweet peas and basil; mushroom tortellini with nettles and Pecorino; and a delicious pork loin and shoulder dish with hazelnuts and blackberries.
Gramercy Tavern // 42 East 20th Street // website
After lunch, we suggest spending the afternoon exploring two of the most interesting neighborhoods in New York City -- Greenwich Village and Soho (short for “South of Houston”).
The tree-lined streets of Greenwich Village, among the most beautiful in New York, are filled with small restaurants and cafes, boutiques and beautiful brownstone homes. In the center of Greenwich Village is Washington Square Park, a small park filled with a mixture of New Yorkers and an ideal spot for people watching.
Soho, once the center of New York’s bohemian art scene, is a bustling area filled with trendy boutiques, gourmet food stores and cobblestone side streets. Soho is also home to many beautiful turn-of-the-century buildings, including the 1904 cast-iron Little Singer Building and the 1909 Edwardian baroque-style Police Headquarters.
Before dinner, head to ZZ’s Clam Bar, a very tiny dimly lit speakeasy in Greenwich Village where you will find some of the New York City’s most creative cocktails. The tiny bar is elegant and sexy with gilded Queen Ann chairs, black and blue-checkered floor tiles, marble tabletops, exposed brick and an intimate mahogany bar. The cocktail menu features a handful of creative cocktails, each identified by a particular flavor profile –pineapple, cilantro, pistachio, coconut etc. – and served in a unique vessel (for example, their delicious coconut cocktail is served, naturally, in a coconut). The bar offers mostly raw seafood-based small plates that pair nicely with the drinks. Although primarily known for its cocktails, the excellent small plates earned ZZ’s Clam Bar one Michelin star. Note that, with only four tables, reservations are essential.
ZZ’s Clam Bar // 169 Thompson St. // website
For dinner, we think that some of NYC’s most creative dishes can be found at David Chang’s Michelin 3-star flagship restaurant, Momofuku Ko. The tiny restaurant seats only 22 diners at a U-shaped chef’s counter that wraps around the open kitchen. Each of the dishes in the 12-course tasting menu are personally served by Chef Chang or one of his sous chefs, who provide an explanation of each dish. Recent standout dishes included soft boiled egg, sturgeon caviar, fingerling potato chips and onion puree; Black Bass served in a consommé with shiso; an amazingly rich foie gras with lychee, pine nuts and Riesling jelly; and a delicious chocolate mousse with olive oil and bergamat. Momofuku Ko has an excellent wine list but we recommend the beverage pairing, which is one of the best in New York City, that may include wine, beer, cocktails and champagne.
Momofuku Ko // 8 Extra Place // website
Union Square Park hosts New York’s largest greenmarket and is a great spot for noshing and people watching. The Flatiron District is home to Madison Square Park and many beautiful buildings, including the triangular Flatiron Building and the pyramid-topped New York Life Building and Metropolitan Life Tower with its elegant clock face.
The Madison Square Park area also is home to Eataly, a massive food emporium operated by the original Eataly in Italy and famous chefs Mario Batali, Lidia Bastianich and Joe Bastianich. Here you will find over 50,000 square feet of fresh produce, pastas, cheeses, coffees, meat, seafood and six thematic restaurants.
Eataly // 200 Fifth Avenue // website
For lunch, we love Enrique Olvera’s refined Mexican restaurant, Cosme. Olvera, who is widely regarded as the best Mexican chef in the world today, has elevated Mexican fine cuisine to a new level. Opened in 2014, Cosme offers a contemporary Mexican-inspired cuisine that utilizes local and seasonal ingredients. Cosme is not a traditional Mexican restaurant and the inspirations for Olvera’s dishes may come from Copenhagen or Lima as much as from Mexico. Don’t miss his Uni tostada, avocado, bone marrow salsa, cucumber and his famous Husk Meringue made with burnt corn husk leaves and filled with a corn mousse made with corn puree that is blended with heavy cream and mascarpone cheese.
Cosme // 35 East 21st Street, New York City // Website
After lunch, we suggest exploring Midtown, where you will find some of Manhattan’s iconic sights, including the Empire State Building, the classic Grand Central Terminal, the Chrysler Building, Rockefeller Center and, if you must, Times Square (which we try to avoid as it has become a tourist magnet with little redeeming qualities). Here you will also find some of New York City’s best shopping along Fifth Avenue, including Bergdorf Goodman, Saks Fifth Avenue, Fendi New York, Harry Winston, Henri Bendel, and Lord & Taylor.
For tonight’s dinner, we recommend Eleven Madison Park, our favorite New York restaurant. Eleven Madison Park is known for its exceptional food and wine and, especially, its attentive service. It is no surprise that it has been ranked #3 on The World’s 50 Best Restaurant list in 2016. The restaurant, located in a beautiful Art Deco space across from Madison Square Park, feels grand but intimate with each diner feeling like the whole restaurant staff is there just to make their dining experience extraordinary. Every aspect of the service has been carefully choreographed to make it flawless but special, almost whimsical.
There is no printed menu, just a conversation with the captain who will solicit any aversions and discuss the few options during multi-course tasting menu. For the caviar course, the course is brought to the table in a picnic basket that the diners unpack to find an extraordinary course of caviar with crème fraiche. One of our favorite dishes from a recent dinner was the restaurant’s refined riff on a lobster “bake”, with lobster, clams, sausage, shrimp and baby corn cooked in a bouillabaisse sauce that is then poured onto a special slate placed in the middle of the table. The wine list is exceptionally deep, particularly with Old World wines, and the wine service, led by Jon Ross, EMP’s exceptional head sommelier, is flawless. On older bottles, the restaurant will employ a centuries’ old technique of removing the neck of the bottle with red-hot tongs.
Eleven Madison Park // 11 Madison Park // website
On Sunday mornings, locals take the opportunity to sleep late so you will have the city all to yourself. This is a great time to explore the city by Citi Bike, NYC's bike share program, since there will be little traffic on the streets. Consider heading down to the Lower East Side where you will find quiet streets, cute restaurants, small boutiques and dozens of art galleries that are open on Sundays (unlike the art galleries in Chelsea).
For brunch, you will not find a more authentic New York City brunch than Russ & Daughters Café’s platter of thinly sliced Nova smoked salmon, cream cheese, tomato, onion and capers served with a chewy bagel. Over 100 years ago, Russ & Daughters opened as an “appetizing” store in the Lower East Side selling smoked fish and other “appetizing” foods designed to be served on bagels. The store has become world famous, selling arguably the City’s best smoked salmon and fish. On the 100th anniversary of the original store, Russ & Daughters opened the Café which offers the classics for which Russ & Daughters is famous in a lunch-counter like setting, with an open kitchen, expert smoked salmon slicers cutting the finest slices of smoked fish, a soda fountain bar that offers homemade sodas, egg creams, shrubs, and superb cocktails and the servers outfitted in the iconic white Russ & Daughters lab coats.
Russ & Daughters Café // 127 Orchard Street // website
There are few cities in the world with the breath of art and cultural experiences as New York City – from cutting edge art galleries to world-class museums; from fringe performance pieces to hit Broadway shows; from modern dance groups to the world’s best ballet troupes; and from upcoming bands performing in underground venues to the leading symphonies and operas companies. For this afternoon, we suggest either attending a Broadway play (most plays have matinees on Saturday afternoons) or visiting one of New York City’s world-class art museums.
The hottest play at the moment is the hit musical Hamilton, a hip-hop musical chronicling the life of Alexander Hamilton from his arrival in America as an immigrant orphan to war hero and ultimately Treasury head. Although tickets are tough to find (and very expensive), the play is the best in years and we believe is well worth the effort and cost.
If you are more interested in fine arts, New York City offers many options. We suggest visiting one of the “big three” art museums – the Metropolitan Museum of Art (the Met), the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) or the newly moved Whitney Museum of American Art.
The breath and scope of New York City’s art scene is staggering and, to make the most of your visit, we recommend a private tour led by Natasha Schlesinger’s ArtMuse. Natasha, an award-winning independent art historian and art consultant who has worked in the field for 22 years, will curate a personal tour of New York’s finest decorative and fine arts.
ArtMuse // website
The Met is the largest art museum in the United States with a collection of over two million pieces consisting of works of art from classical antiquity to modern art, including El Greco’s The Opening of the Fifth Seal (1608-14), J.M.W. Turner’s The Grand Canal (1835), Edgar Degas’ The Dance Class (1874), Vincent van Gogh’s Self-Portrait with Straw Hat (1887), and Claude Monet’s The House of Parliament (Effect of Fog) (1903-4).
The MOMA is one of the largest and most influential museums of modern art. Here you will find exceptional modern art, including Paul Cézanne’s The Bather (1885-87), Vincent van Gogh’s The Starry Night (1889), Henri Matisse’s The Dance I (1909) and Paul Gauguin’s Te aa no areois (The Seed of the Areoi) (1892).
The Whitney, which recently moved to a new home in the West Village/Meatpacking District, focuses on 20th and 21st century American art. Some of the most famous pieces include George Bellow’s Dempsey and Firpo (1924), Edward Hopper’s Early Sunday Morning (1930) and Jean-Michel Basquiat’s Hollywood Africans (1983).
One of the most unique and magical places in New York City is The Cloisters, a branch of the Metropolitan Museum of Art dedicated to medieval European art, design and architecture. The Cloisters, located in Fort Tyson Park in northern Manhattan, was designed to resemble a cloister from Medieval Europe. Seamlessly incorporating medieval art and assembled with original sections from actual Medieval cloisters from throughout Europe, the Cloisters feels as if you have been transported to a beautifully preserved medieval European monastery filled with original art, including beautiful stained glass windows and elaborate tapestries and recreated medieval gardens. A visit to the Cloisters is a truly magical experience.
The Cloisters // 99 Margaret Corbin Dr. // website
For one of America’s best dining experiences, it is worth making the trip to Dan Barber’s Blue Hill at Stone Barns, located in Westchester County about 30 minutes north of Manhattan. The restaurant is housed in an old stone barn on an 80-acre working farm that was formerly part of a Rockefeller estate. Here you will be served dishes made with produce and meats sourced from the restaurant’s own farms. We highly recommend the multi-course tasting menu that can be upwards of 30 separate courses (many a single bite). Chef Barber works with farmers to grow amazing produce, including the most amazing carrots, and has bred a special wheat for his breads. The meal will often start with a presentation of raw, home-grown vegetables are define the essence of the vegetable – you are unlikely ever to taste a vegetable quite as fresh and perfect. Chef Barber, who was received James Beard Foundation’s Outstanding Chef award in 2009, is a perfectionist who has a deep respect for the ingredients and creates dishes that somehow concentrate the essence of the flavors. This is a dining experience not to be missed!
Blue Hill at Stone Barns // 630 Bedford Rd, Pocantico Hills, NY // website
ABC Kitchen. Superstar chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s ABC Kitchen in the Flatiron district takes advantage of the nearby Union Square Greenmarket to offer a highly seasonal locavore menu. The space, located at the ABC Carpet & Home department store, is casual and decorated in a chic city-meets-country style, with antique wood beams and kitschy chandeliers. The restaurant is long and narrow and has a very lively (and crowded) bar in front. There is a small bar in the rear of the restaurant if you want a quieter drink. The service can be stressed at times but the food is very good. Some of our favorites include their famous crab toast with lemon aioli, roast carrot and avocado salad and any of their wood-fired pizzas. This is an excellent choice for a weekend brunch, a quick lunch or a casual dinner. website
Agern. Agern, which means “acorn” in Danish, is a New Nordic restaurant opened by Claus Meyer, a co-founder of Noma in Copenhagen and helmed by Gunnar Gislason from Iceland. Located in the Grand Central Terminal, the restaurant décor reflects a Scandinavian aesthetic with blond wood tables and cool colors. The service is excellent with very professional servers who deftly guide diners though the unusual Nordic menu. The multi-course tasting menu highlights the chef’s creative talents and may include a delicious beetroot baked in a crust of salt and ash and rabbit with carrots and lobster mushrooms. website
Charlie Bird. Charlie Bird is a small hip restaurant in a narrow space in the South Village/Soho area. The lively crowd comes for a vegetable-centric menu and casual décor. The seasonal menu may include farrow salad with roasted pumpkin, pistachio and mint, an excellent roasted chicken and sides of crispy brussels sprouts and roasted sweet carrots with yogurt and dill. website
Estela. Located in the northern part of Soho, Estela is a casual spot that serves exceptional Mediterranean-influenced small plates. The lively restaurant has a relaxed vibe, with a nice bar, wooden floorboards and small marble tables. Chef/co-owner Ignacio Mattos offers a constantly changing menu of very creative small plates. Recent standouts included burrata served over a “salsa verde” made of celery, cilantro, sorrel, and green garlic and accompanied by charred bread, a plate of fried arroz negro with squid and romesco, a delicious plate of ricotta dumplings with mushrooms and pecorino, and for dessert a luscious panna cotta with honey. The excellent wine list is managed by wine director and co-owner Thomas Carter, who worked as the beverage director at Blue Hill at Stone Barns. website
I Sodi. Rita Sodi’s small Tuscan restaurant in the West Village is one of our favorite casual restaurants and is a true gem. The space is very narrow and has only a handful of tables so reservations are essential. The menu, which spotlights the cuisine of Tuscany, changes weekly but you can always find their excellent branzino and fried artichokes on the menu, as well as exceptional home-made pastas. The wine list includes a well curated selection of excellent reasonably priced Italian wines and their Negronis are a house specialty. website
Le Coq Rico. This New York outpost of the famed Parisian restaurant focuses on poultry, particularly chicken. For a casual evening, sit at the long-counter that runs the length of the alley kitchen where you can watch the French chefs work. We recommend the restaurant’s signature 90-day old Plymouth Barred Rock chicken for two and butter-laden potato puree. website
Little Owl. Little Owl, located on a quiet street in the West Village, is that cute only-in-the-know neighborhood restaurant that everyone wants to have on their block. Unfortunately, since it only has 10 tables, reservations can be hard to get but, if you are planning on being in the neighborhood, it is well worth stopping by to be put on their waitlist for one of the walk-in tables and they will call you when it opens. The restaurant is very cute, with small café-size tables and an antique tin ceiling. The Mediterranean-influenced seasonal menu is short but very creative and their wine list is well chosen and reasonably priced. The gravy meatball sliders and the pork chops are stand-out dishes. website
The Nomad. The NoMad restaurant, located in the NoMad Hotel, is one of our favorite restaurants for casually-elegant food. This more casual sister restaurant to Eleven Madison Park is owned by Chef Daniel Humm and Restaurateur Will Guidara. The restaurant is comprised of a series of rooms surrounding a glass-enclosed atrium and serves refined casual dishes complemented by the restaurant’s excellent wine and cocktails. website
Pearl & Ash. Pearl & Ash, which is located on Bowery in the Lower East side, is one of the best restaurants/wine bars in NYC for wine lovers. Given the emphasis on wine, it is essentially a wine bar with excellent food. The restaurant is casual, with wooden tables and an assortment of trinkets filling the wood compartments lining the wall. The menu consists of a number of very creative and delicious small dishes that are designed to be shared and that pair well with wines. Pearl & Ash has an exceptional wine list – it is very deep with an incredible selection of well-aged wines from great producers, as well as a very large selection of unusual wines that you are not likely to find elsewhere, all without hefty mark-ups. Consider ordering one of their 35 varieties of Champagne which, if requested, will be opened by sabering off the top! 220 Bowery. website
Semilla. Semilla (Spanish for seed) is an 18-seat restaurant located on a low-rent block in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn that serves a market-driven vegetable-forward prix fixe menu of small dishes with a heavy emphasis on vegetables, with seafood and meat playing a supporting role. The small restaurants prepares a single tasting menu that features the dishes that are complex and packed with flavor. We suggest orgering the excellent wine pairing, which features very unusual or undiscovered wines. The restaurant feels like the first incarnation of now-famous Momofuku Ko. website
Untitled. Even if you are not planning to see the exhibits at the new Whitney Museum, it is well worth a trip to the Whitney’s in-house eatery, Untitled. Like the Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney brought on Danny Meyer to work his magic to develop an excellent museum restaurant. Untitled, which is run by the folks who operate Meyer’s Gramercy Tavern, serves up very good vegetable-centric food at reasonable prices. The restaurant design is simple but impressive, with enormous floor-to-ceiling glass curtain walls and an open kitchen running along one side. The menu, which gives equal play to vegetables, fish and meats, is creative and exciting. website
Upland. Upland, which is located in a neighborhood just north of Gramercy Park called Kips Bay, offers California-inspired cuisine in a spacious, chic restaurant with a vaguely California vibe. Chef/owner Stephen Starr’s menu was inspired by his California roots and includes fabulous pizzas cooked in a wood-fired oven, a huge hen-of-the-woods mushroom that has been deep-fried and served with Meyer lemon and cloumage cheese (it is delicious -- earthy, crispy outside, creamy center), crispy confit duck legs (a wink at Buffalo Chicken Wings) and an awesome porchetta with delicious crackly skin. Upland has an excellent wine list that includes many delicious reasonably priced wines. website