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Thanksgiving weekend is upon us, and that means New York is at its prime. With changing leaves and typically brash New Yorkers suddenly filled with holiday cheer, the city hums with life at this time of year. Autumn bids its last farewell in the form of pumpkin pies and warm apple cider, while fairy lights and bedazzled Christmas trees begin to twinkle along 5th Avenue.
Hop on a last-minute flight and head to Frank Sinatra’s playground for a long weekend of autumnal strolls through the West Village and bargaining your way through Black Friday sales at Saks. If you try hard enough, you might even get to crash a local’s Thanksgiving dinner.
Upper East Side
If you’ve ever watched Gossip Girl (come on, we know you have), you know that the Upper East Side is the go-to spot for a dramatic Thanksgiving meal complete with chic Bottega Veneta dresses. Stay at The Mark, this glitzy neighbourhood’s coolest boutique hotel where Anna Wintour makes her debut before heading to the Met Gala every year. With a Jean-Georges restaurant, Frédéric Fekkai hair salon and personal shopping services at Bergdorf Goodman, this hotel is the ideal spot for a glamorous weekend away. French designer Jacques Grange, whose clients have included the likes of Yves Saint-Laurent and Karl Lagerfeld, has designed every detail to perfection, so you’ll be in heaven the second you set foot on The Mark’s iconic black- and white-striped floors. We won’t sniff at the Ladurée treats left by each bed in the evenings either.
The hotel is just a stone’s throw away from Central Park for romantic evening wanders (and giving the ice skating rink a go if you’re up for it). It’s also just off Madison Avenue, so you’ll be in a prime location for people-watching and winter coat shopping. Stop by Sant Ambroeus around the corner to pick up a latte for fuel. We recommend stopping by the Ralph Lauren mansions (one for women, one for men) five blocks down. The shops’ holiday decorations, complete with frosty pine trees, chandeliers bedecked with sparkling icicles and giant teddy bears, will have you giddily setting up an impromptu Christmas card photo shoot upon arrival. For an artistic afternoon, head to the Neue Galerie, an Austrian and German museum set in a townhouse facing the park. Head up the spiral staircase and you’ll find yourself face-to-face with Gustav Klimt’s Woman in Gold. For something more contemporary, check out the Upper East Side’s Lévy Gorvy Gallery, also set in a stunning townhouse.
Home to the legendary Friendsgiving dinner, the West Village is one of our favourite spots in the city this time of year. Residents take to festively decking the steps leading up to their impressive brownstones, and the quiet tree-lined streets carry a dusting of red and orange leaves. Adorable boutique versions of shops from Annick Goutal to Marc Jacobs’ Bookmarc bookshop line Bleecker Street for laid-back gift shopping. When you start to feel a bit peckish after a morning of exploring on foot, stop by Buvette (which has sister locations in Paris and Tokyo) to warm up with a steaming croque monsieur.
As for a place to stay, the sweetest boutique hotel in the area has got to be the Walker Hotel Greenwich Village. Its charming brick façade and toasty light buzzing behind its bay windows instantly beckons guests inside. The art-deco bedrooms are spacious and many offer incredible views onto the One World Trade Centre. For maximum cosiness, head to the hotel restaurant, which has a roaring fire with rustic stacks of wooden logs on either side.
Soho – a shopper’s dream come true on Thanksgiving weekend. To spend the day like a pro, start with the eggs Norwegian at Balthazar before hitting the boutiques on Mercer, Spring and Greene Streets. We suggest avoiding Broadway on Friday if you don’t want to get trampled. To end the day, stop by the Blond at 11 Howard for the best moscow mule in the city (they also have free wine and prosecco on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays 6-7PM).
Our top pick for staying in Soho is the Crosby Hotel, so decompress here before heading back out for dinner. The lobby and drawing room are triumphs in interior design, with a flurry of textiles, a mauve and white colour scheme and quirky canine art. Each bedroom has its own theme, with unique floral patterns, huge sunshiny windows and fresh bouquets in every room. This boutique hotel is certainly Soho’s most charming, and you’ll probably have to be forced to leave at the end of your stay.
Being in Flatiron will allow you to be close to the heart of the Thanksgiving action while avoiding getting stuck right in Midtown. You’ll be close enough that you can venture to Bergdorf’s and Bloomingdale’s to partake in the Black Friday frenzy, but will also have a slightly calmer recluse to return to in the stunning area surrounding Madison Square Park.
Stay at the Nomad Hotel, a Parisian beaux-arts retreat where you can chill out after a mental day of seeing the Thanksgiving parade and managing to snag that pair of Gucci boots for 70% off in your size. This hotel has one of the cosiest libraries in the city where you can cuddle up to a book on New York-inspired cocktails, a bar that brims with stylish locals in the evenings, and the Parlour, an inviting dining area decked out in dark oak and deep red velvet. The bedrooms evoke romantic French glamour with standalone bathtubs and baroque panels.
When you manage to pull yourself away from the variety of oh-so-cosy options in the hotel, head a few blocks south to Gramercy Tavern for a spontaneous holiday meal. If you can’t manage to snag a booking in the restaurant’s dining room, the Tavern only takes walk-ins, and you’ll still be able to indulge in their Thanksgiving chocolate bourbon pecan pie. Need we say more?
If you’re looking for an authentic and chilled last-minute holiday, take the time to explore the East Village. The area is teeming with must-try bars such as Mother of Pearl, Death & Co. and Please Don’t Tell, which you can only access by entering a secret code into a phone booth at a hole-in-the-wall hot-dog restaurant.
When you’re not stumbling upon hidden treasures in the evenings, the neighbourhood is packed with laid-back cafés, vintage shops and record stores reminiscent of the area’s rock’n’roll days.
We recommend staying at The Bowery Hotel. A hotspot for the East Village’s cool crowd (and a few celebrities sneaking in and out), its Italian restaurant, Gemma, has unbeatable burrata, while its vintage-style bar is the perfect place for a pre-party tipple. As for the bedrooms, we’re head-over-heels for the industrial floor-to-ceiling windows that guarantee a wicked view over downtown NY. Our favourite part? The immense marble bathtubs that also look out over the city – the best possible way to prep for a night out, in our opinion. The hotel also has a prime location a few blocks away from the New Museum for a Sunday well spent.
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