Tag Archives: New York

The 5 top things to do in New York this spring

1. Tim Burton at MOMA: Until 26 April
Tim Burton has just cemented his reputation as one of the world’s finest and most influential directors with his recent masterpiece Alice In Wonderland. Following on from classics like The Nightmare Before Christmas, Edward Scissorhands and Beetlejuice, Burton has created another trip into his own distinctive world and his fevered imagination is fully explored in this exhibition at MOMA. From early childhood drawings to never-seen-before moving image works, this is a fascinating insight into Burton’s mind. Throw in concept art, storyboards, puppets, maquettes, costumes and cinematic ephemera from his films and this is a must for any Burton fan. Find out more here

Hotels near MOMA:
Club Quarters Rockefeller Center
Warwick New York
Hilton New York

2. Whitney Biennial: Until 30 May
The Whitney Museum of American Art Biennial hasn’t got a theme this year, just a date: 2010. The exhibition represents a small portion of the world’s contemporary art production, including artists such as David Adamo, Julia Fish, Rashaad Newsome (and about 50 others). The Whitney chose the date to, “give the idea of time as an element of the Biennial and to demonstrate the influence of the past on 2010.” The Whitney is on Madison Avenue at 75th Street.
Find out more here

Hotels near The Whitney:
Hotel Wales
The Franklin Hotel
The Surrey

3. Tribeca Film Festival, 21 April – 2 May
Established in 2002 to revitalise Lower Manhattan after September 11th, the Tribeca Film Festival is now one of the most prominent and recognisable film festivals in the world. With Robert De Niro leading the way, it rarely goes wrong. The 2010 film list includes much-anticipated movies from Michael Winterbottom and Neil Jordan. Find out more here

Hotels in Lower Manhattan:
Duane Street Hotel Tribeca
Thompson LES
Soho Grand Hotel

4. Cirque du Soliel, Banana Shpeel: Until 3 May
Produced by the famous Cirque du Soleil, Banana Shpeel is a new twist on vaudeville, a theatrical mix of comedy and dance currently playing at The Beacon Theatre off Broadway until May. Mixing jokes with tap, hip hop, eccentric dance and slapstick, all linked by a hilarious narrative, it’s a visual treat. Find out more here

Hotels near Broadway:
Hotel 41 at Times Square
AKA Times Square
Millennium Broadway

5. Gossip Girl location tours: Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays
If you’re a fan of hit TV show Gossip Girl then you’ll love this tour of the programme’s top locations around New York. The characters are all glossy NYC socialites who love sex, drugs and intrigue and now you can see their playground. See the hotel where the Van der Woodsens live, the Constance Billard School for Girls where the characters are students and the Cooper Hewitt National Design Museum, scene of the Bass / Van der Woodsen wedding. Find out more here

Hotels in the Lower East Side:
Hotel on Rivington
Blue Moon Hotel
The GEM Hotel SoHo

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Top 10 Hotel Bars in New York City

1. Gansevoort rooftop
Fantastic rooftop bar in Manhattan, just moments from NYC’s main attractions, which is perfect for a sunny summer afternoon but avoid the Meat Packing Bridge and Tunnel crowd at the weekends.
See the Gansevoort rooftop.

2. The Library Hotel
Great bar for evening drinks or afternoon coffee. Take a look at the Library.

3. Gramercy Park
Great downstairs bar and up on the rooftop too. Find out more about the Gramercy Park hotel.

4. Soho Grand
Great for indie muso celeb spotting. Check out the Soho Grand.

5. The Peninsular rooftop
Great views of the city and Central Park from this rooftop bar. Check out the Pen here.

6. The Hudson
Indoors and outdoors – great daytime or evening, gets very busy later. See The Hudson hotel.

7. The Royalton
Really cool hotel bar in Midtown Manhattan between Times Square and the Rockefeller Center. Great cocktails and you can hang out with the wannabe beautiful people – my mate Tony loved the place! Click here for details of the Royalton.

8. The Bowery
A little old skool on the decor but great cocktails. The Bowery hotel.

9. The Mercer
Great for drinks and food, upstairs or down in the basement! See The Mercer.

10. The Rivington
I love the restaurant here and the bar is a lively place to enjoy after dinner. Take a look at The Rivington.

There are three new additions to New York that I have yet to visit –

The Standard New York in the Meat Packing District.
The Andaz on Wall Street.
The Crosby Street Hotel in SoHo.

I’d welcome any comments from people who have been to any of these!

For a Gekko’s other hotspots in NYC, see my New York Address Book.

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Fantastic aerial photos of NYC and Vegas at night

Here’s a link to some pretty amazing views of New York city and Las Vegas at night, taken by photographer Jason Hawkes.
Take a look at NYC and Las Vegas from above.
If you like what you see, check out his latest book, London at Night.

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Restaurant review: EN Japanese Brasserie, New York

Meal: Lunch on 16 April

Venue: 435 Hudson St, New York, NYC – If you’re looking to expand your Japanese culinary world outside of Sushi, then EN Japanese Brasserie is the place for you.

Gekko Spotters: Ryan and Helen

Japanese cuisine is as diverse and varied as they come, ranging from the simple to the exquisite, with sushi only making up a small speciality in this wide range of culinary delights. However, many of us will solely visit sushi bars and will therefore miss out on the classic Japanese cooking that is, in many respects, even more enjoyable. If you’re looking to expand your horizons or sample real Japanese food, then you need to visit EN Japanese Brasserie in New York.

En Japanese Brasserie

Located in New York’s West Village, EN Japanese Brasserie is an elegant and stylish restaurant, with warm woods, elegantly styled decor with a brooding but relaxed feel to it, interspersed with touches of Japanese flair to draw the eye. EN aims to emulate classic Japanese home cooking in a venue that closely replicates a classic Japanese home. Having spent some time in Japan, I have been lucky enough to stay with a number of Japanese families, and it is this experience that has led me to conclude that EN has the Japanese home dining experience perfectly replicated. A superb venue to enjoy some fantastic Japanese cuisine.

As in all Japanese restaurants, the staff need to have a firm knowledge of the food with a strong motivation to advise and direct the guests towards the meals that they would most enjoy. However, so often I have eaten in a Japanese restaurant having to guess which meals I’d like, and which dishes to avoid. Happily, the staff at EN relish this task and provided exemplary service. We were seated quickly and were talked through the diverse menu by a fantastic waiter who, quite simply, cared for our experience. As a relatively inexperienced Japanese diner, Helen settled on a fixed seven course menu for $45 which I decided to join her on. This menu included:

1. Edamame- soaked in dashi
2. Tofu Salad- mizuna greens, cherry tomatoes & Japanese turnips with yuzu dressing
3. Crispy fried chicken & vegetables- with aromatic rock salt
4. Saikyo Miso Black Cod- black cod marinated in saikyo miso, grilled
5. Kakuni braised Berkshire pork belly- in sansho miso, with a boiled egg, spinach & daikon radish
6. Jako Gohan- steamed Japanese rice mixed with tiny dried fish
7. Green Tea Ice Cream

For both of us, the highlights were the Berkshire pork belly and the crispy fried chicken. I’m a huge fan of Japanese crispy fried chicken, and this was no exception. It was cooked to perfection, beautifully moist with a nice crispy coating to add extra flavour and texture, with a hint of lemon. The pork belly was out of this world, tender and flavoursome, melting in the mouth. The only dish on the menu that I disliked was the rice dish at the end, which I felt was cliched and unnecessarily fishy (the tiny dried fish were not needed) and a bit too strong to enjoy so close to dessert. The image below is of the Miso Glazed black cod, which looked spectacular and tasted great:

Miso glazed black cod

Verdict: If you’re looking to expand your horizons and to eat real Japanese food, then EN Japanese Brasserie is perfect for you. I thoroughly enjoyed eating there, the staff were fantastic, the food was extremely tasty and diverse, and it was a joy to relax in the stylish interior. I can’t recommend this restaurant enough.

Ryan Visser

Find out more about EN Japanese Brasserie

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Picture perfect for a first-time New York tourist

There’s an unlimited amount of things to do in New York and choosing what to do as a tourist can be quite a tricky process. So here’s a simple tip for first timers, try and capture the photos below on your own camera and you’ll be sure to have a memorable trip.

Times Square

If you’ve come to New York to experience the bright lights of Broadway then Times Square is the place to be. Mixing art and commerce in a rather chaotic style, huge illuminating billboards advertise a host of known brands and tv shows, catching your eye from every angle. Plenty of places to eat, shows to watch and people to see, Times Square is the bustling heartbeat of New York. Expect to see plenty of other tourists here!

Times Square

Times Square

Central Park

Central Park is the most visited park in the United States, with approximately 25 million visitors per year. Luckily, the park spans 850 acres which means you can easily find a nice quiet spot to relax in the tranquility of the natural surrounds. Many Hollywood films have been set here and you often get that ‘I recognise this place’ feeling as you explore the park. If you have the urge to burn off those extra few rashers of bacon for breakfast, the park is a hotspot for joggers and is coincidently the finishing line for the New York Marathon too.

Central Park

Central Park

The Empire State Building

The tallest building in New York at a whopping 102 stories high, you can’t fail to miss this Art Deco skyscraper. For photo enthusiasts this is a great place to go up to the top and take some panoramic shots of the city. To get a cracking photo of the building itself, you’ll need to head up to the observation deck of the Rockefeller Centre (or ‘Top of the Rock’ as its called locally) where you’ll get a great view of the whole of Manhatten as well as an interesting insight into the contribution that the Rockefeller family made to New York’s impressive skyline.

The Empire State Building

The Empire State Building

The Statue of Liberty

This iconic landmark stands tall on Liberty Island in New York Harbour and is a must have for the photo collection. There are many ways you can get up close, including a trip to Liberty Island itself, but for the best photos try a helicopter ride round the city or jump onboard one of the Circle Line Cruises.

Statue of Liberty

Statue of Liberty

5th Avenue

5th Avenue isn’t just any old shopping street, it’s one of the world’s finest. It’s also consistently voted the world’s most expensive by a variety of sources. But don’t let that tag put you off. The big department stores often have sales and if you are lucky to have a favourable currency exchange, you can easily walk away with a bag full…or ten bags full.

5th Avenue

5th Avenue

View from the Rockefeller Centre

New York’s skyline is unique to say the least, an amazing combination of art deco and modern skyscrapers scattered amongst each other. The Empire State Building and the Rockefeller Centre “Top of the Rock” observation deck both offer stunning views of the city. For the arty types, you’ll find an odd compulsion to take a photo in black and white in the hope it comes out well enough to print and hang in your kitchen.

View from Top of the Rockefeller Centre

View from Top of the Rockefeller Centre

View from the Top of the Rockefeller Centre (B/W)

View from the Top of the Rockefeller Centre (B/W)

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Gramercy Park Hotel, New York – if it’s good enough for Jessica Alba…

The Gramercy Park Hotel, New York

The Gramercy Park Hotel, New York

Stylish, cool, opulent, lavish; just a few words to describe the super-trendy Gramercy Park Hotel, located on Lexington Avenue in the Gramercy District of New York.

So no surprise to find that two of the hottest (in every sense) US celebs Jessica Alba and Jessica Biel spotted hanging out there in the hotel’s 18th floor private roof club and garden over the weekend. Also no surprise that I didn’t make it on to the invite list to the private celebrity soiree whilst I was fortunate enough to be staying at the hotel to celebrate my Dad’s 60th that same weekend.
When you walk into the lobby of the hotel, the Ian Schrager design, synonymous with hotels like the Royalton, Morgans, Delano and Mondrian, hits you immediately. Dark and moody, lit with a huge chandelier hanging down as the centrepiece, Louis XV chairs sit beneath works by Cy Twombly and Damien Hirst amongst other notable artists.

The hotel staff are friendly and the news that my parents and I are to be upgraded to a deluxe double suite in recognition of our family celebration is music to our ears. As we make our way to our respective rooms, we realise the lifts only work if you insert your room card before pressing your floor button. Operating this in a light that was described by a fellow lift passenger as ‘unnecessarily dark’ is somewhat difficult, a difficulty that is significantly heightened after a few cocktails in the bar later on.

Kingsized bedding at the Gramercy Park Hotel
Kingsized bedding at the Gramercy Park Hotel

The rooms are luxurious with distinctive burgundy rugs laid on mahogany flooring and velvet drapery on show, together with a mixture of interesting art pieces and photographs scattered around. The bed is huge (note: I am only 5 ft 6” so it may be average to most) and is without doubt one of the most comfortable I have ever slept in. My room was street facing and it has to be said that you do occasionally catch the sound of a car horn once in a while, a sound that you grow accustomed to, given the number of taxis that drive around the city.

One of the Gramercy Park's many bars
One of the Gramercy Park’s many bars

As a guest you can enjoy drinks at any of the hotels three bars; the Rose and Jade bars downstairs, as well as the private Roof Club and Garden. Being one of the more popular spots for cocktails and private parties, reservations are an absolute must at weekends and drinks are at the higher price end (approx $18 -$20 for a spirit and mixer). The Roof Terrace bar has a retractable roof, and guarantees great views of Manhattan whilst you enjoy breakfast, brunch, lunch, dinner or just cocktails.

We were lucky to enjoy great weather so decided to take advantage of the sunshine in the private Gramercy Park over the road, available to local residents and hotel guests. The park has only ever been opened to the general public on 9/11 so this really is a great place to come and relax in a rather unique location. The hotel concierge is the only person with a key so he escorts you through and locks the gate. Don’t forget to take a mobile phone with you to ring the hotel unless you want to spend the evening sleeping on a park bench.

So that’s the Gramercy Park Hotel in a nutshell. A great hotel by all accounts, and with a lovely cake brought to my parents’ room to celebrate the birthday, we couldn’t have asked for more. Well, perhaps for me to have got stuck in a dark lift with one of the Jessicas…

Find the best rate and book a room at the Gramercy Park Hotel on Gekko
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