Wonderland.

A POSTCARD FROM NEW YORK

Today New York fashion week gets Spring 2012 off to a start. In honour of the new season, Wonderland asked Juliet Kinsman, editor-in-chief of luxury travel agency Mr and Mrs Smith, to serve up some NY recommendations.

Juliet says: Culture, shopping and round-the-clock entertainment – adventures of a lifetime await in this cosmopolitan be-a-part-of-it city. You want it – you’ll get it. This city never sleeps and nor should you.

STAY

Ace Hotel in the NoMad neighbourhood, is one for the creatives and young at heart – some suites have turntables or a Gibson guitar, Smeg fridges are loaded with beer kegs and munchies. The higher you go, the better the view; glimpse the Empire State from the upper levels. Its gastropub is almost reason enough to stay: the Breslin takes style cues from low-key 19th-century saloons and serves up the best lamb burgers in town. As for the lobby – spaces don’t come much more sociable. DJs spin many evenings, and on Sundays bands play live. Film fanatics can enjoy independent and under-the-radar screenings plus Q&As with directors. Double rooms from $129 excluding taxes and breakfast.

Meanwhile, down on the Lower East Side, the Hotel on Rivington is another hip hotel with style and substance. The only high rise in the ’hood, guests can expect some awesome vistas from its higher-up boudoirs. Double rooms from $205 excluding breakfast and taxes.

If girlier, more colourful interiors are your preference, the pretty modern-art-packed Crosby Street Hotel is a breath of fresh air on this cobbled SoHo street. Double rooms from $475 excluding taxes and breakfast.

SHOP

Fifth Avenue has all the obvious department stores and flagships, but we love the quirky one-off boutiques downtown too. Great summer sales feature in July and August: for who’s discounting when, visit nysale.com. Exploit Manhattan’s easy-to-navigate street grid and pound the sidewalks through the tenement terrain of independent emporia in NoLiTa to the big-named loft-space boutiques that line the cobbled streets of SoHo. Boys, have a butcher’s at Dave’s Quality Meat at 7 East 3rd Street in the East Village for latest-issue collectable Nikes from $75; (212-505-7551; davesqualitymeat.com). Girls, get to grips with your inner sex goddess: seek out luxe silky lingerie at Kiki de Montparnasse at 79 Greene Street (212-965-8150; kikidm.com). For serious designer deals go to Century 21 bright and early and trawl the third-floor European section for the likes of Antik Batik, Humanoid and Marlene Birger at a snip. On weekends, cross the Brooklyn Bridge to find an outpost of the fabulous Brooklyn Flea – it’s not only fun to walk over this glorious construction – but you’ll find thrift-shop treasures and cunning contemporary crafts in the Forte Greene and Williamsburg sites (brooklynflea.com).

REFUEL

Pop-ups? Pah. It’s all about ‘secret’ bars – hidden behind graffitied doors, phone booths, hot dog stands and neon employees-only signs, they’re everywhere. The trick is getting a reservation – you’ll need one. A kitsch taco take-away fronts the coolest tequila bar in NYC, La Esquina at 106 Kenmare Street (646-613-1333; esquinanyc.com). Don’t be deceived by cool cocktailerie Apotheke’s Chinatown-restaurant looks at 9 Doyer Street (apothekebar.com). For Bloody Mary-fuelled brunches head to subterranean speakeasy the Mulberry Project at 149 Mulberry Street (646-448-453; mulberryproject.com). Or book a table at perennially popular Freemans on Freemans Alley. Our top tip: the hot artichoke dip (212-420-0012 freemansrestaurant.comom). Balthazar, Schiller’s and Pastis are some of the city’s best bistros and now they have a sister pizza joint. Pulinos at 282 Bowery (212- 226-1966; pulinosny.com) serves fantastic food and drink in their signature effortlessly-cool way. For a hip but yet trad Meatpacking District chophouse, the Standard Grill is a modern classic under Andre Balazs cutting-edge hotel (212-645-4100; thestandardgrill.com).

RELAX
Take a break from pounding pavements – head to the Boathouse in leafy Central Park and go for a row or borrow a bike. Or wander the river-view, recently extended, High Line park built into an old elevated railroad, just west of the Meatpacking quarter. It’s not just the exhibitions at the Metropolitan that make this giant museum worth an afternoon, but also its skyscraper-framed view over leafy Central Park from the art-enhanced roof terrace. And the Empire State Building may sound like a tourist trap – it is – unless you time it right. On a clear day, splash out on a queue-jumping express ticket and do your math so that by the time it to get to the top it’ll be a sunset-kissed city at dusk. If you’re in the mood to be pampered, get your hooves beautified. Nor should you pause in NY without kicking back for a mani/pedi – there are parlours every few blocks, and it costs a fraction of what it does back in Blighty.

DON’T MISS…The Met Museum is as worth an ogle for the building and steps out front as it is for its exhibits; must-sees are the permanent Tiffany glass displays and, until early August “Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty” which honours the late fashion icon with a celebration of his career; metmuseum.org.

Mr & Mrs Smith produces best-selling hotel guidebooks and provides an expert booking service for a cherry-picked selection of over 800 boutique hotels around the globe.

A POSTCARD FROM NEW YORK

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