August 31, 2011

New York: A honeymooner's guide

The Big Apple is a city of contradictions. From the affluent Upper East Side to the bohemian beat of Greenwich Village to the perennial hipness of TriBeCa, this multi-faceted city-that-never-sleeps offers couples the chance to sample some of the world’s most exciting cuisine, culture and art scenes.

From the opulence of Fifth Avenue to the grittier underbelly of Hell’s Kitchen, you'd be hard pressed not to find something to pique your interest in New York, no matter what your pleasure. We look at the top five must-do activities for newlyweds in NYC.

Savoy Restaurant

For authentic farm-to-table fare right in the middle of the bustling metropolis, book a table at the charmingly rustic Savoy Restaurant.

Housed in a 1830s Federal-style townhouse, Savoy, with its front windows opening onto a cobblestoned intersection, exposed wooden beams and two roaring fireplaces, make it a welcomed burrow for couples, particularly during the city’s colder months.

This SoHo eatery has been faithfully patronaged by gastronomes seeking fresh yet original dishes for over two decades, with chef and owner Peter Hoffman’s focus being on high quality ingredients sourced from local farmers and purveyors.

Savoy offers daring variations on meat, poultry and fish classics, including standouts like salt-crusted baked duck, sautéed organic veal and roasted halibut in clam broth.

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.

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.

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.

Hotel Giraffe

The perhaps somewhat oddly named Hotel Giraffe is nevertheless a sophisticated yet cosy den for newlyweds seeking refuge from the clamour of the city.

Located in the heart of NYC’s historic district, Union Square Park, Madison Square and Gramercy Park are only a brisk walk away.

The hotel’s 73 guestrooms and 21 suites are inspired by the rich lavish colors and textures of the Modern Period and maintain the sophisticated luxury of the 1920s and 30s, with high ceilings, velveteen upholstered chairs, sepia photographs, Juliet balconies and French windows.

At night candles softly light the hotel’s lobby and spotlight the baby grand piano, while cafe tables and clusters of plush sofas create a quiet area for a private tête-à-tête.

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