Lizzie Gore-Grimes spends a few days in New York’s Upper West Side and finds there’s loads to love about this lesser-known, leafy locale.
“The Upper Best Side” as it’s affectionately known by all who live above 59th Street, may not be the hippest hood in the city, but it has oodles of easy-going charm and appeal. Sandwiched between two of New York’s most beautiful parks, the area is home to cultural institutions ranging from the Lincoln Center arts mecca to some of the oldest Jewish delis in the city. The brownstone-lined streets are leafy and quiet, and even though you are only a few blocks north of the neon lights and jazz-ma-tazz of Times Square, you’ll find yourself in a serene hub of mom-and-pop shops and friendly sidewalk cafes.
Making it the perfect place to base yourself if you’re visiting for longer than an overnight. We were there, a gang of four, for four nights and found Hotel Beacon the ideal base. The well-known hotel is a neighbourhood favourite for a reason. Just a three-block stroll from Central Park, the hotel offers excellent value for generously-sized rooms and suites, many of which sleep up to four, and boast neat little kitchenettes – perfect to keep that bottle of post-shopping bubbly on ice. The staff are also especially friendly and helpful.
Roman and Williams Guild in Soho
The Upper West Side has really come up in recent years and offers lots of great options for eating out. If a taste of old-school Jewish fare appeals, you’ll love BARNEY GREENGRASS, where they’ve been serving up sturgeon and lox scrambles for more than 100 years. The area is also home to the world-famous ZABAR’S deli and grocery. For a quintessential diner experience, you can’t beat the METRO DINER on the corner of Broadway and 100th, with its traditional art deco fit-out and ebullient staff. For a boozy brunch or equally languorous lunch, JACOB’S PICKLES on Amsterdam Avenue, with its haute hipster rustic setting and Southern Comfort-inspired menu, is a great spot to while away a few hours drinking Dirty Aphrodites. For a lighter bite, nearby HARVEST KITCHEN offers a flavourful Cali-Mex-style menu with ingredients sourced from local farms and lots of organic options. In the evening, you’re spoilt for choice – from rustic Greek (KEFI) to superior sushi (SUSHI OF GARI), stellar seafood (CRAVE FISHBAR) and upmarket Italian (LEONTI).
When it comes to shopping, you’ll find lots of esoteric neighbourhood stores on your Upper West Side doorstep (we loved MAGPIE for eco-friendly homewares and accessories), but the main action is still downtown. If you only make it to one shop this visit – unlikely, I know – make it ROMAN AND WILLIAMS GUILD in Soho – easily one of the most beautiful lifestyle stores you’ll ever walk into. You could spend hours here, refuelling with delectable small plates and delicious cocktails in their restaurant LA MERCERIE between the mooching and marvelling.
In terms of getting your fashion fix, the narrow streets of Soho offer every covetable brand, from ACNE and ALEXANDER WANG to RAG & BONE and RICK OWENS, here for your delectation. Just make sure to book an extra big bag for the flight home.
Hotel Beacon, 2130 Broadway, beaconhotel.com. Rates from approx $174 (approx €160) for a double room per night, excluding taxes. Visit nycgo.com for your ultimate guide to the city.
This article originally appeared in the December issue of IMAGE. The Volume 1 (January/February) 2020 issue of IMAGE Magazine is on sale now.
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