Follow the fashionistas away from tourist trail
ANY fashionista worth her Louboutins will lap up the urban chic exuded by the hip Meatpacking District, located in South West Manhattan, alongside the Hudson River.
Sparse modern buildings spring from cobbled streets punctuated with graffiti-style artwork in this uber cool area that still retains a few of its historic meatpacking houses.
The jewel in the Meatpacking District's crown is undoubtedly The Gansevoort Hotel.
This luxurious venue, which boasts 187 spacious guest rooms and 23 stylish suites, lives and breathes understated chic.
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Sophisticated and minimalist, the guest rooms offer breathtaking panoramic views and promise to equip you with everything you might need for an indulgent stay. Surprisingly spacious by New York standards, they have been impressively designed in a fusion of leather and fabric.
I was greeted by a fully stocked mini bar, a complimentary bottle of wine and bed-sheets embroidered with my initial (a flattering first). Such thoughtfulness reflects the general attitude of the staff here at the Gansevoort who can't do enough to ensure guests are happy and content.
Favoured features included a Sony iPod stereo, a plasma TV, DVD and alarm-clock radios.
The bed, laden with plush goose-down pillows, gave me the best night's sleep I have had in a long time, aided by the automatic blinds.
My bathroom was more like a mini-spa with complimentary toiletries, fluffy bathrobes and an extra deep tub to soak in - heaven after a long day pounding the streets.
If you want to truly unwind head to the in-house spa for a Jacuzzi, beauty treatment or yoga class.
The Gansevoort Hotel's pièce de résistance was, absolutely, its heated rooftop pool, enjoyed by guests from day-to-night and installed with underwater music anchors. Alongside it sits the stunning cocktail lounge where I enjoyed a Bloody Mary to kickstart my day.
When you manage to prise yourself away from the hotel, walk the scenic High Line, an astounding transformation of a disused railway, and graze in foodies' paradise Chelsea Market. For details visit www.hotelgansevoort.com
Make like many New Yorkers and head to Brooklyn for an alternative view of the city. The Brooklyn Bridge is a must for some great Kodak moments and it leads you to the coveted neighbourhood of Brooklyn Heights. This peaceful tree-lined suburb has homed some of America's most famous literary figures, including Tennessee Williams and Truman Capote, and retains an exclusive air.
Visit Dumbo (an acronym for Down Under Manhattan Bridge Overpass) to lap up its village vibe and sip a mocha in Dumbo General Store (actually a cool coffee shop with quirky interior design). The Galapagos Gallery was a delightful discovery enticing passersby with a free cinematography exhibition. Williamsburg is fast becoming Brooklyn's equivalent to East London's Shoreditch.
The streets are swarming with hipsters and there is an abundance of trendy bars and restaurants. It is also a vintage shoppers' paradise with some of the best second-hand clothing boutiques in the world, notably Beacon's Closet and Buffalo Exchange.
For an affordable alternative to a hotel try the Lefferts Manor Bed and Breakfast, located near Prospect Park and the Brooklyn Botanic Garden.
This friendly, family-run guesthouse provides a homely haven with a country charm.
There are five decent sized guest rooms, in this brownstone townhouse, each individually decorated, emulating the feel of a boutique hotel. Our beds were made up with sumptuous patchwork quilts, for a quintessentially American feel.
Breakfast is freshly made everyday (the pancakes with maple syrup and strawberries were mouthwatering) offering guests the chance to sit back and plan their next move.
Charismatic owner Mark Osborne is only too happy to advise on where to go and what to see, arming guests with maps and lending guidebooks.
Room rates for two people start at $99 in low season.
For details visit www.leffertsmanorbedandbreakfast.com