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An Insider’s Twelve Tips on How to Do NYC

Get the most of your no doubt too short time in the City That Never Sleeps.

By Shirin Borthwick
October 30, 2013
By Shirin Borthwick
October 30, 2013

This article is sponsored by our partner Dreaming of a trip to New York? Win NYE in NYC for you and a lucky friend thanks to

Stay in the centre of the action. To make the most of your NYC stay, choose digs that are slap bang in the middle of the Manhattan action. Affinia Manhattan is a good mid-priced option or if you're in the market for something special on the Upper East Side The Surrey is fabulous. For all NYC accom check out's range here.

If you like a spectacle, tap the costume and burlesque scene. Prohibition-era fashion and Gatsbyesque entertainment is the flavour of the decade in NYC, and you can easily get a hit of it by attending one of the regular parties hosted by Dances of Vice, Wit's End or the weekly Floating Kabarette at Galapagos in Brooklyn. Twice a year, Governors Island (a free five-minute ferry ride from lower Manhattan) comes alive with the Jazz Age Lawn Party hosted by Michael Arenella and his Dreamland Orchestra. Between Charlestons, you're likely to spot (and be spotted by) photographers like the Sartorialist, Bill Cunningham and many other notables in dapper ensembles (Baz Luhrmann was spotted by a friend last year). A visit to some legendary sources of thrift shopping like Brooklyn Flea, Beacon's Closet and Housing Works will be necessary for your costume. And just for fun.

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Nowhere does speakeasies like Manhattan. Enter Chinatown's creepiest alley, Doyers Street, and listen for the sound of music behind a pile of trashcans; that’s Apotheke. Concealed deep in a hotdog shop lurks the luxe cocktail bar Please Don't Tell. And you'd easily miss Little Branch but for the line of chic folk loitering outside its low-key entrance on a Saturday night.

Dress me up! New York's H & M, Anthropologie, Madewell and Urban Outfitters megastores are fabulous, but blogs are a great resource if you want to get off the beaten track of clothes shopping. Racked and Refinery29 give a heads-up on designer sample sales as well as new store openings and events like the Manhattan Vintage Clothing Show. The East Village, LES and Williamsburg have great boutiques if you like unique, offbeat pieces. Need vintage glasses to complete your Woody Allen vibe? Moscot and Fabulous Fanny's will have just the ones for you. Crafty? Visit M & J Trimmings for sequins and studs galore.

People are the key. New York is all about community. As the world's gathering-point, it attracts a very receptive sort of crowd. So make friends at bars. Get on OKCupid and talk to people. You might get invited to a party or find out about something cool happening just round the corner. It doesn't really matter where you end up, because everything that happens in NYC makes for a good story.

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Prepare to walk. And walk and walk. NYC is truly a pedestrian city, which is fantastic because it puts you in the thick of the action. At the risk of sounding like a grandma, make sure you have sturdy and comfortable shoes. Buy a wallet-sized subway map at a bodega and venture underground — the subway has some of the best buskers in the world, from Mariachi bands to break dancers to elderly beat poets.

Brunch! On the weekend, brunch is an NYC institution. The Spotted Pig, Hundred Acres, Kittichai and every trendy restaurant up and down the Westside have special brunch menus, often with bottomless cocktails ahoy, so you can sag out into the sunlight afterward, happy as a clam.

Casually go see high-profile musicians play for cheap. Check the line-up at Bowery Ballroom, Le Poisson Rouge and the Rockwood.

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Midnight diner meals are compulsory. Try Veselka, Seinfeld's Tom's or Katz' Delicatessen. Drunk? Order Disco Fries.

Harness the power of social media. From tuning into the Facebook feeds of your NYC-based friends, or friends of friends, to searching Twitter hashtags like #bestofnyc to simply liking a fan page about regular events like the incredible storytelling series The Moth, there's infinite platforms to give you info on what’s happening right now.

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Walk the High Line and explore its surrounds. On the top of the Standard Hotel you'll find Le Bain, a bar with one of the best views in town plus bartenders dressed as tennis pros, circular pink waterbeds, astroturf and Nutella crepes. It's also a hop from the Chelsea gallery district and many designer flagship stores.

If this list doesn't satisfy you, there's always tips from SNL's Stefon.

Published on October 30, 2013 by Shirin Borthwick
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