New York City

Overview

From Andrew Harper

New York is often seen as a dynamic, inspiring and ultimately exasperating city. But as an autumn stroll through Greenwich Village or a quiet drink in the King Cole Bar can attest, it’s eminently possible to come here for a nice, relaxing stay. Boutique hotels tend to open with a splash then shutter with a whimper, but a handful of classic addresses still delivers stately but comfortable surroundings and uncanny levels of service.

The grandes dames of Fifth Avenue, The St. Regis and The Peninsula, frequently cater to a midtown business crowd, while more intimate Upper East Side retreats like The Lowell, The Carlyle, and the Plaza Athénée are perfect for lovers of Central Park and Museum Mile. The Mandarin Oriental, a sleek tower of glass suspended over Columbus Circle, is the most notable debut of the past decade.

Hotels

All recommended hotels in New York City

Manhattan, United States
Crosby Street Hotel
Crosby Street Hotel

Visually striking boutique hotel in vibrant SoHo. The interior combines modern design with comfortable furniture, print wallpaper and colorful fabrics.

New York
Four Seasons New York
Four Seasons New York

Dramatic I.M. Pei-designed 52-story modern hotel between Madison and Park avenues, convenient to the Midtown business district.

New York
Hotel Plaza Athenee New York terrace dining
Hôtel Plaza Athénée New York

Distinguished hotel along a quiet, tree-lined residential street on New York’s Upper East Side. The overall aesthetic is that of a European townhouse.

New York
Mandarin Oriental, New York
Mandarin Oriental, New York

Sleek contemporary hotel affording panoramic views of Central Park or the Hudson River from floors 35-54 of the Time Warner Center on Columbus Circle.

New York
The Carlyle, A Rosewood Hotel
The Carlyle, A Rosewood Hotel

Renowned 188-room hotel located in the most desirable quarter of the Upper East Side, a block from Central Park near museums, galleries and specialty shops.

New York
The Greenwich Hotel
The Greenwich Hotel

Distinguished 88-room hotel in Tribeca, one block east of the Hudson River, owned by Robert De Niro. Dignified and reassuringly unglitzy, the property has a masculine, worldly décor.

New York
The Lowell
The Lowell

Refined 72-room hotel with a serene residential atmosphere, set along a tree-lined street between Madison and Park avenues close to many of the city’s most notable museums, galleries and shops.

New York
The Mark
The Mark

Upper East Side boutique hotel housed within a 1927 building that underwent a flamboyant makeover by French designer Jacques Grange.

New York
The Peninsula New York
The Peninsula New York

Classically styled 239-room Midtown hotel in a 23-story Beaux Arts-style landmark building near Rockefeller Center and 57th Street shopping.

New York
The Plaza Hotel
The Plaza Hotel

Landmark hotel in iconic 20-story building. The 282 Beaux Arts-style accommodations offer a high standard of workmanship and design.

New York

Dining

All recommended restaurants in New York City

Ai Fiori

The latest offering from chef Michael White is located in The Setai hotel on Fifth Avenue (White also presides over Marea and Osteria Morini). Ai fiori means “among the flowers,” and this large, tranquil space is bright with floral arrangements that add an air of romance and celebration. The menu changes frequently, but look for pastas such as the luscious Trofie Nero, Ligurian- style squid’s ink pasta, with a pleasantly tangy ragout of squid and scallops. The equally outstanding main courses may include laurel-crusted cod with brandade, black truffles and porcini; or an outstanding veal chop with new potatoes, prosciutto and sage. There are more than two dozen wines by the glass.

Setai Hotel
400 Fifth Avenue
New York City, NY 10018
United States
$75. Four-course menu, $89; seven-course chef’s tasting menu, $125
Babbo

This wonderful Italian restaurant is set in a townhouse on a quiet side street in Greenwich Village. The dynamos behind its success are chef Mario Batali and partner Joe Bastianich, whose empire includes several other top New York spots. The downstairs is lively; upstairs is more subdued and is one of the most attractive dining rooms in the city. Among the antipasti, the warm lamb’s tongue in a vinaigrette with brown beech mushrooms and a three-minute egg is particularly good. It’s hard to choose a favorite from the primi courses, but the beef-cheek ravioli with squab liver and black truffles is a classic. Among the main courses, grilled branzino (a white-fleshed fish) with radishes, olives and lemon-oregano jam is a standout.

110 Waverly Place
New York City, NY 70003
United States
$80. Eight- course tasting menu, $75; eight-course pasta tasting menu, $69
Gotham Bar and Grill

In a city where restaurateurs leverage their success the way investment bankers leverage their holdings, we fervently admire Alfred Portale. He stands steadfast in one place and continues to create wonderful food that is straightforward and delicious. The dining room is comfortable, sparely elegant and attractively lit. The menu changes seasonally, but among the starters, you can almost always find a tuna tartare. There will usually be a risotto among the second courses, and a recent offering was tagliatelle with Maine ruby red shrimp, ramps, English peas and asparagus. Among the third courses, the grilled New York steak is served with a rich marrow-mustard custard and a Bordelaise sauce.

12 East 12th Street
New York City, NY 10003
United States
$90
Gramercy Tavern

This place is a longtime favorite of mine, but the kitchen lost its way a few years back. Now under the direction of chef Michael Anthony, it is better than ever, with a menu of first-class contemporary American dishes. The handsome space has a lively front bar area where you can order casual meals — especially pleasant at lunch — and the main dining area. The menu features starters such as smoked trout with a cipollini onion purée and pickled onions. Main courses might include flounder with cucumber, radishes and asparagus gazpacho; or pork loin and belly with caramelized onions, baked potato and prune sauce. The far-ranging wine list has 28 selections by the glass.

42 East 20th Street
New York City, NY 10003
United States
Three-course menu, $88
Jean Georges

Although star chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten oversees a global empire of restaurants, the quality here never falters. The dining room is a minimalist space with flattering lighting and large windows facing Columbus Circle. The menu changes regularly, but you can always count on the best ingredients prepared in surprising ways. Look, for example, for dishes such as sea urchin with black bread, jalapeño and yuzu; black bass crusted with nuts and seeds in a sweet-and-sour jus; and for carnivores, caramelized wagyu beef with Gorgonzola puffs and pickled ramp fondue.

Trump International Hotel
1 Central Park West
New York City, NY 10023
United States
Three-course menu, $108
Keens Steakhouse

Founded in 1885, this is one of the most atmospheric restaurants in Manhattan, with dark paneled walls hung with portraits and its ceiling festooned with rows of clay churchwarden pipes, the legacy of the famous Pipe Club, whose members included luminaries such as Teddy Roosevelt, J.P. Morgan, Stanford White and Gen. Douglas MacArthur. The menu is a carnivore’s delight, with steaks and chops of all varieties, favorites being the New York sirloin and the famous mutton chop. The wine list, with more than 150 bottles, is well-priced, and there is also a fine selection of single malt whiskies, the perfect digestif.

72 West 36th Street
Manhattan, NY 10018
United States
$100
La Grenouille

New York was once home to numerous classic French restaurants, but tastes changed, and one by one, they faded and died — with a single exception. Ensconced in its own townhouse, La Grenouille is better than ever. The elegant and romantic dining room has silk-sheathed walls, plush banquettes, perfect lighting and the most lavish floral arrangements in New York (the work of the owner, the debonair Charles Masson, whose parents started the restaurant in 1962). The cooking is superb, and while the menu abounds with French classics, there is room for innovation in the seasonal daily specials. Perfectly executed signature dishes include fluffy pike quenelles; flaky, tender grilled Dover sole in a gentle mustard sauce; and, of course, the stuffed frogs’ legs Provençale. The dessert soufflés are justifiably celebrated. The wine list is wide-ranging, and the staff’s advice is worth heeding.

3 East 52nd Street
New York City, NY 10022
United States
Three-course menu, $98
Le Bernardin

This recently redesigned dining room houses the city’s finest seafood restaurant. A Midtown oasis run by delightful owner Maguy Le Coze, it attracts business tycoons brokering their deals. They also come for chef Eric Ripert’s extraordinary food. The innovative menu is divided into three categories: “Almost Raw,” Barely Touched” and “Lightly Cooked.” Among the highlights are layers of thinly pounded yellowfin tuna with foie gras and toasted baguette with shaved chives and extra-virgin olive oil; seared langoustine with mache, wild mushroom salad and a white balsamic vinaigrette; and sautéed Dover sole with basmati rice mixed with almonds, pistachios and barberries, all in a cassis sauce.

155 West 51st Street
New York City, NY 10019
United States
$125 prix fixe
Maialino

Located in a corner of the Gramercy Park Hotel, this terrific restaurant has a lively front bar where you can eat casually, and a slightly more formal main dining room with linen-covered tables. The wide selection of salumi presents several possibilities for starters, or you can just order the grande selezione (much sourced right in New York and some made in-house). The antipasti range from tripe to a plate of addictive fried artichokes with a pungent anchovy dipping sauce. The many pastas include the tonnarelli with sharp Pecorino cheese and black pepper, and the spaghetti carbonara, with black pepper, egg and guanciale. Among the main courses, do not miss the suckling pig if it is available. Lunch is especially pleasant, with the sun pouring in the big park-facing windows. Reservations are desirable, but you can walk in for seating at the bar and in the front — if you are prepared to wait.

2 Lexington Avenue
New York City, NY 10010
United States
$95
Veritas

This contemporary American restaurant remains dependably excellent. Chef Sam Hazen has created a menu of dishes that pair beautifully with the extraordinary wine cellar of more than 75,000 bottles. Many came directly from the wineries, and you will likely not encounter them anywhere else, so just perusing the list is a pleasure. The menu changes regularly, but look for starters such as crab salad with lemon jam, black olives and arugula; or lobster with bone marrow. Main courses might be striped bass with an eggplant confit, sweet peppers and sauce vierge; or a pan-roasted veal chop with short-rib ravioli and watercress.

43 East 20th Street
New York City, NY 10003
United States
$80