By Emma Krieger
From the affluent Upper East Side to the bohemian beat of Greenwich Village to the perennial hipness of TriBeCa, the multi-faceted city of New York offers newlyweds the chance to sample some of the world’s most exciting cuisine, culture and art scenes.
In the city-that-never-sleeps, you’d be hard pressed not to find something to pique your interest, no matter what your pleasure. We look at the top places to dine, stay and experience for newlywed couples in NYC.
Experience: Staten Island Ferry
There’s no better way to take in the city’s soaring vista than via the Staten Island Ferry.
The ferry departs from the southernmost tip of Manhattan near Battery Park, and as it makes its way to Staten Island offers sweeping views of Lower Manhattan and landmarks like Ellis Island, the New York Harbor and the Statue of Liberty.
The ferry is so iconic that it is constantly referenced in films and TV shows, both past and present, including I Love Lucy, Sex and the City and Working Girl and was even the subject of a 2003 documentary called Ferry Tales, which follows the conversations of women in the powder room during the morning commute from Staten Island to Manhattan.
Better yet, the 25-minute journey is free of charge.
Experience: The Metropolitan Opera
There is something very “old-world glamour” about an evening at the opera; ladies resplendent in their pearls and long satin gloves, gentlemen dashingly decked out in tuxes.
And nowhere is opera more revered than at New York’s Metropolitan Opera House.
The Met, which plays host to some 220 opera performances annually, has seen the likes of Luciano Pavarotti, Enrico Caruso and Placido Domingo, and divas Renata Tibaldi and Beverly Sills, grace the stage.
While offstage, conductors James Levine and Andre Previn enjoy celebrity status, and directors like Franco Zefferelli and Julie Taymor have been met with thunderous applause for their richly conceived operatic interpretations.
But even if you attend the opera sans these stars, an evening at the Met is always an enchanting affair.
Dine: The Mark Restaurant by Jean-Georges
With a focus on fresh, local produce, French, Michelin-starred chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten showcases simple, yet wholly satisfying fare at Madison Avenue’s The Mark Restraunt.
It doesn’t get more New York than a burger, but Vongerichten’s additions of black truffle dressing and a slice of gooey Brie cheese tip the straightforward dish into indulgence territory.
Equally as down-to-earth-cum-decadent – black truffle pizza with Fontina cheese. There is also the ubiquitous kale salad if you’re after something lighter, but with Central Park at the restaurant’s doorstep working off lunch or dinner with a quick stroll shouldn’t be a chore.
With the restaurant (and hotel) overhauled in 2010 by one of the world’s most famous interior designers, Jacques Grange, who at one time or another has boasted a clientele including Karl Lagerfeld, Princess Caroline of Monaco and the late Yves Saint Laurent, the surroundings are impressively sleek and shiny without being too overwhelming.
The restaurant’s impressive wine collection is housed behind a glass corridor in the main dining room and showcases a nice assortment of accessible vinos from around the globe.
The Mark Restaurant by Jean-Georges is located at The Mark Hotel.
Tip: Grab a ‘lunch-to-go’ gourmet picnic basket created by Vongerichten, hop on one of The Mark’s stylish custom pushbikes and head to Central Park for the quintessential New York honeymoon activity.
Experience: Chelsea Wine Vault
Fancy a free tipple? The Chelsea Wine Vault in the Meat Packing District uncork their finest vino every weekend from 1-5pm for complimentary tastings.
The cavernous, brick-walled wine shop is home to over 3,000 local and international wines, which is an impressive collection for a store that was an afterthought for its owners.
Frustrated by lack of storage for his personal wine collection, Don Kurt teamed up with Dan and Sara Barteluce to launch Chelsea Wine and Storage in 1997, which offers rented storage for space-challenged wine collectors. This then led to a ground-level retail area – à la Vault.
Kurt’s personal stock still lurks below the shop, as does wine lists of nearby eateries, and is definitely not for sale, but there are plenty of labels available to satisfy the most passionate oenophile.
Stay: The Iroquois Hotel
At just a hop, skip and a jump to Times Square, for the action-seeking newlyweds, staying at the Midtown-located Iroquois Hotel ensures you’re right in the heart of Manhattan.
After a $13 million renovation in 1997, The Iroquois still retains the plush luxury accorded to its decor and furnishes.
With Italian-marble bathrooms, Frette linens and bathrobes and Molton Brown bathroom products your hotel suite is the perfect retreat after a busy day hitting the New York streets.
Or tuck up in a corner of the hotel’s library with one of its leather-bound classics from Charles Dickens or Mark Twain.
Thankfully, you won’t have to venture too far for a romantic meal with the hotel’s Nouvelle French restaurant Triomphe downstairs; afterwards, head next door to Lantern’s Keep for a nightcap.
Further amenities include a 24-hour fitness centre with Finnish sauna, private yoga or Pilates sessions, and complimentary WiFi, and should you want to keep up to date on the happenings of the city, a daily copy of the New York Times.
Dine: Hakubai Japanese Restaurant
With a tick of approval from the New York Times no less, who deem it “rarefied” and “excellent”, Hakubai Japanese Restaurant, located in Manhattan’s bustling Midtown, offers foodie-loving honeymooners the chance to sample some unique yet traditional Kaiseki cuisine.
The pared back décor allows the offerings from Executive Chef Yukihiro Satofood to take centre stage, as an effortlessly synchronised procession of dishes are laid out by the attentive and deferential Kimono-clad wait staff.
The fresh, seasonal cuisine is artfully arranged in hand-painted porcelain bowls and lacquered boxes which enhance the colours and textures of the fare. Those who aren’t afraid to sample the more adventurous dishes must try the sea urchin (or uni).
One of the joys of dining at a restaurant of a particular cuisine is the chance to travel to that country (in this case in a yellow taxi cab rather than via air travel) and as you descend the stairs into the bowels of this subterranean establishment it certainly feels like you’re dining in Tokyo rather than the Big Apple.
Tip: Newlyweds should opt to dine in the private tatami rooms.
Hakubai Restaurant is located in The Kitano Hotel, New York.
Stay: Hotel Hugo
After hitting the streets of Manhattan at full pace, being able to retreat to your own private oasis each night is a must.
When it opened its doors in mid-2014, Hotel Hugo was deemed New York’s hippest new boutique hotel. Nearly 12 months on and it’s more than lived it up to that initial summation, with its two-story rooftop bar being a major draw card for Manhattanites and out-of-towners alike.
Set in the up-and-coming Hudson Square locale, Hotel Hugo is an easy stroll to SoHo, Tribeca and the meatpacking district.
The hotel’s décor gives a nod to SoHo’s warehouse heritage with its exposed concrete and pipes, which is offset by marble floors, stylish lobby chandeliers and plush custom-made Italian furnishings in the rooms.
After the best vantage point to take in the views over downtown New York and the Hudson River? Head to the aforementioned rooftop bar, where you can sample one of their signature cocktails by Brit Ben Scorah of Bill’s Food and Drink.
Or, head street level and dine at Hotel Hugo’s al fresco restaurant – Il Principe – where you’ll be treated to some amazing modern-classic Italian fare.
Tip: Hotel Hugo provides Vespas for complimentary hire to explore Manhattan on if you’re brave enough to take on New York City traffic.