New York City is one of the few places in the world that exceeds everything you expect from a vacation. As soon as you arrive, you can feel the undeniable energy; it’s a city alive and thriving.
The Big Apple goes far beyond the bright lights of Times Square, and when you plan your visit ahead of time, you can check multiple boroughs off your bucket list in as little as three days.
NYC is effortlessly glamorous, and when this glamour meets wellness, it’s an entirely different experience. Think of the kind of vacation that would make Carrie Bradshaw swoon and you’re on the right track.
Start the trip well-rested
Begin your trip as you mean to go on, starting at Vancouver International Airport. When you fly with Cathay Pacific, spend time in the airline’s YVR Business Class Lounge; a relaxing pre-flight space where you can help yourself to salads, drinks, and order a wonton soup at The Noodle Bar.
New York minutes are precious, and to prevent yourself from losing any, opt for Cathay Pacific’s direct, red-eye flight. Arriving well-rested before New Yorkers even make their commute to work gives you a head start on your first day.
Get a post-flight workout in (sort of)
Most people would roll their eyes at the mere thought of working out right after they land in a new city (I often would, too). But if the 40 muscles being worked are on your face and you can lie back and chill, now that’s a different ball game.
FaceGym, located in Saks Fifth Avenue, will open your mind to a high-energy, non-invasive experience that awakens, tightens, and tones facial muscles you never knew you had. Each treatment is customized to suit your needs and as soon as you have one, you’ll discover why it’s a celebrity favourite.
Treat yourself to a classic mocktail at L’Avenue afterwards, and embrace upscale NYC dining as you ponder over the Parisienne-inspired menu.
Discover treasured local luxuries
Over on West 17th Street, you’ll find one of the city’s most dynamic environments at the Rubin Museum of Art. Here, you can explore galleries filled with enchanting Himalayan art and join a Mindfulness Meditation workshop which takes place once weekly. I’m new to meditation and found this to be an inspiring session; it’s an incredible contrast to the bustle of the surrounding NYC streets.
After this, lose yourself in sheer bliss at the New York Botanical Garden. It’s a legendary museum of plants with poetry tours, heritage-style dining at Hudson Garden Grill, art installations, and endless photo opportunities. This retreat to nature is close to the city, yet it feels completely tranquil. To get there, simply take the Metro-North Railroad from Grand Central Station.
Buy a CityPASS and make your way to The Met Cloisters in Fort Tryon Park for a cultured guided tour covering art, architecture, and holistic plant remedies dating back to medieval Europe. At times, in the lush gardens, you might question whether you’re actually in New York City.
Sleep in a natural sanctuary
Upon first consideration, you probably couldn’t imagine finding accommodation that feels like an urban oasis in NYC. It’s the dream that 1 Hotel Central Park brings to life. When you enter the lobby of this 18-storey building, you meet the hotel’s signature scent which can only be described as a refreshing rainforest aroma.
As the hotel is focused on sustainability, you’ll see lush greenery in the lobby and surrounding areas. In your room, you’ll find furniture made from reclaimed wood, recycled glasses, and hangers made with recycled paper (former love notes included). Expect to sleep in serenity because you’re not likely to hear as much as cars passing on the streets outside.
The same goes for 1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge, a 10-storey waterfront property located close to some of Brooklyn’s best spots. The hotel is renowned for its unparalleled views and rooftop area that’s home to a cocktail bar and plunge pool. Starting your day here as you look out to the Statue of Liberty is a surreal and wondrous experience. Pro tip: Spend one night at 1 Hotel’s Manhattan location and two nights in Brooklyn to experience the best of both boroughs.
Dine where New Yorkers do
Food is a massive part of the NYC experience, and eating like a local will give you a real sense of the culinary scene. The West Village is home to one of the city’s best farm-to-table restaurants, Blenheim. It has been around for 12 years (under a different name for five of those) and maintains self-sufficiency through the owner’s 150-acre farm in Upstate New York. I had the best gazpacho soup I’ve ever tasted here, and the desserts were heavenly.
Another spot where you’ll find locally-sourced ingredients in the most drool-worthy seasonal dishes is at Jams restaurant in 1 Hotel Central Park. The menu here changes every week so you can expect something new and creative with each visit.
An East River view at The Osprey makes indulging in American eats and handcrafted cocktails even better. If you plan your visit around NYC Restaurant Week, the biannual foodie event by nycgo.com, you can snag amazing deals on three-course meals at these restaurants and hundreds of others.
Join Instagrammable fitness tours
No matter where you travel in the world, capturing stunning photos is key. But in NYC, there are ways to do this and get a workout in at the same time. Fit Tours NYC make exercising on vacation a wonderful thing by offering historical tours combined with different types of workouts, from one to two hours in length. Venture out on a walking/yoga tour over the Brooklyn Bridge led by local fitness experts and take epic snaps along the way.
You can take a spin class anywhere, but when you’re in NYC, hop on a bike for real and discover Brooklyn from a local’s perspective. Brooklyn Bike Tours‘ founder, Tony Mantione, will take you out for a cycling adventure around several neighbourhoods where you’ll stop for lunch at a coveted pizza eatery, a famous dessert spot, and vibrant public murals. Few tours exist that incorporate working out, cultural exploration, food, and art, but this one does it in the most unforgettable way.
Vessel, the new centrepiece at Hudsons Yards is another photo-perfect place to get active by climbing up the landmark’s spiral staircase. Every step is worthwhile because you get to take in the city from different heights and equally breathtaking vantage points. It’s very, very cool.
Catch the city by night with a cocktail
There’s no shortage of bars in NYC, but the best ones are on the water. Feel as though you’ve been transported back to the 1920s in a Gatsby-esque yacht when you depart for the sunset champagne cruise on Yacht Manhattan. Take in 360-degree views of the city from the deck (or your seat) with a drink in hand. You don’t need to do a day trip over to Ellis Island because the views of the Statue of Liberty you’ll see are extraordinary — she even lights up before the yacht docks into the harbour.
Ever had drinks on a schooner? Pilot, an oyster bar on a vintage boat docked at Pier 6 in Brooklyn is your chance. The 1924 wooden racing schooner was the longest-serving pilot ship in US history, and now its got the coolest vibes, refreshing cocktails, an impressive wine list, and gorgeous views of the skyline.
Shop for designer labels like a local
As one of the world’s fashion capitals, New York City has an abundance of stores with the potential to upgrade your style game. Of course, a trip to the city that never sleeps wouldn’t be complete without a spot of shopping, and if you’re looking for designer labels at ridiculously affordable prices, you’ve got to shop like a local. It’s worth leaving some space in your suitcase and visiting one of the four Beacon’s Closet vintage stores across NYC.
Fly back to Vancouver in comfort with Cathay Pacific and start dreaming of your next multi-borough vacation. How about Queens, The Bronx, and Staten Island?