Chaotic last-minute shopping and plummeting temperatures aside, there are scores of opportunities to have a smooth, memorable experience in New York at Christmastime.
Expect the city’s ever-evolving mix of venerable institutions and imaginative new establishments to be in full holiday swing as soon as December rolls around, setting the stage for an enchanting season ahead.
Staying on Fifth Avenue means being within striking distance of the riveting store displays by Bergdorf Goodman, Barneys and Saks Fifth Avenue, as well as quite a few sights, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art and Central Park. Still among New York’s most iconic hotels, The Plaza, a National Historic Landmark, has over 100 years of impeccable service under its belt and spares no expense in highlighting the season’s festivities. Baccarat Hotel is opulent yet tasteful, and naturally puts an emphasis on allowing guests the opportunity to sample Baccarat crystal at every turn, whether it’s the imposing chandeliers in the halls, or the champagne flutes at the bar. Turn the corner, stroll for a few blocks, and arrive at the Rockefeller Center, which puts on display one of the biggest annual attractions of Christmas in New York. This year, a 72-foot-tall Norway spruce will be decorated with over 50,000 LED lights, and will be on view through January 7.
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New York is a melting pot of cultures and traditions, and as such, notable dining experiences, no matter the cuisine or concept, are not difficult to locate. Given the overwhelming selection, choosing where exactly to spend a precious evening often proves to be the bigger challenge. A meal at Daniel Humm and Will Guidara’s Eleven Madison Park may cost quite a pretty penny, but the jury is in and it remains a bucket-list restaurant for many. Guests have the option of taking in an eight- or ten-course menu at the main dining room, or enjoying snacks and cocktails at the bar. More casual, but equally remarkable, James Beard Award recipient Missy Robbins’s Lilia in Williamsburg offers hearty and well-made Italian fare in a laid-back, convivial setting. With New York’s wealth of classically trained chefs, French is done particularly well here, as evidenced by the enduring success of institutions such as chef Eric Ripert’s three-Michelin-starred Le Bernardin, where the exceptional seafood has drawn in patrons for decades. At the relatively new Le Coucou, the interiors designed by Roman and Williams are as magnificent as the food. Natural light floods into the space through large triple-hung windows, further highlighting the restaurant’s stunning bar.
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Top of mind for any design-inclined shopper, ABC Carpet & Home is one of the city’s most beloved upscale shelter boutiques. It houses a mammoth collection of just about everything one could need for the home, from furniture, antiques and accessories to rugs, carpets and textiles, and it has also expanded over to Brooklyn’s Industry City with a 25,000-square-foot showroom. But while you’re at its flagship location in Manhattan’s Flatiron district, you might consider dining at the retailer’s spinoff eateries ABC Kitchen, ABC Cocina, or abcV, three beautifully designed spaces with menus helmed by chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten. The place to discover obscure designers and independent labels, the Apartment by the Line takes showcasing products in context to another level. Its pitch-perfect execution leads some to wonder whether some of its pieces are for sale (the answer is always yes). Private appointments can be accommodated upon request, and are encouraged for clients and interior designers who require a more thorough and intimate shopping experience. And then there is The Future Perfect, which is home to a carefully curated selection of furniture and accessories that bridge the gap between modern and collectible. Perhaps more accurately described as a gallery than a store, here you’ll find limited edition accessories and one-off pieces alongside contemporary art.
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Photography: All courtesy images