Seen on countless movies and TV shows, NYC is one of the tourists’ favourite. The city’s smart design, imposing architecture, the myriad of stunning sights to visit and infinite entertainment and dining choices make this place feel like the centre of the world.
The Big Apple is where business, art, tradition and progressive culture collide to house and host millions of people. Its diverse nature and authentic spirit ensure everyone feels equally welcome, safe, included and free.
Hoping to see the world’s finest urban attributes and enjoy all the delights that this magnificent city boasts, we headed to the east coast. Eager to check whether NYC lives up to its outstanding reputation, we settled in Four Seasons in Manhattan. Curious to see first hand why this place is the most visited US city, stealing the hearts of 60 million travellers each year, our 3-day expedition began on July 25th, when we landed at JFK.
Located at East 57th Street, between Madison and Park Avenue, the prominent hotel offers 5-star experience and is everything we dreamed of and more when planning our trip. Just a short stroll away from the city’s all-stars such as the NY’s headliner, Central Park, the historic Rockefeller Center and Fifth Avenue, one of the fanciest streets in the US, Four Seasons abounds in luxury and elegance.
When the renowned architect, I.M. Pei, designed this 52-story masterpiece, he set out to create an eclectic space immersed in natural light. This spectacular lodging resembles a work of art for its astounding attention to detail and a museum, with its impressive high ceilings, soaring windows and open space areas.
Being grand like the city itself, the second tallest hotel in NYC offers a variety of different luxurious accommodations to fit all tastes and parties. There are 368 guest rooms and then, there are 15 extraordinary suites ranging from studios, junior, terrace and specialty suites to apartment-style suites. The rooms differ in size and price but share the enviously stylish design and foster an inviting, residential atmosphere making the stay here a memorable, one-of-a-kind affair.
Since my entourage counted a group of three, we stayed in the Comspmopolitan junior suite, but the amazing hotel staff was more than willing to give me a tour and show why this place is said to be one of the most extravagant hotels in Manhattan.
The chic, inimitable interior is what all suites have in common. Whether you’re a businessman sending out emails while enjoying the early morning sun and breathtaking city views, or a family of four on a sky-high glam vacay, refined elegance is all you’ll find everywhere you look.
The cool aesthetics of the city’s skyscrapers bring the perfect balance to the wooden panelling, authentic artwork and hand-knotted rugs, creating a warm and cozy atmosphere despite the contemporary, clean design of the space.
Custom furnishings such as handmade, lighted pedestal beds, Japanese tamo ash furniture, cerused oak executive desks and a make-up area polished with English Sycamore and unique mirrors and seating speak in adjectives and unapologetically evoke praise.
Whether you decide to have breakfast in bed while indulging in the cinematic views of the Manhattan skyscrapers or dream of having an early dinner on your private furnished terrace overlooking Central Park and Hudson River, ordering in using an iPod placed next to your bed is not just a perk but Vogue-worthy dining.
The architects considered bathrooms another opportunity to remove the guests from reality. From Italian quarried marble that looks like the gelato you’d have in Rome, to ginger, onyx clads found in the specialty suites, the elegant and sleek design of sinks, showers and bathtubs meets the future in the shape of one way smart mirrors with built-in screens for your convenience.
Japanese toilets, once again, prove the designers didn’t cut corners when conceptualizing the space. Famous for being more elaborate than others of their kind, these high-tech toilet seats take pride in their cool features and can offer an entirely hands-free experience.
The kids were, of course, fans of the big-screen TV and comfy, king-sized bed. My wife and I didn’t mind it either for it was the perfect way to unwind after a long day of sightseeing and roaming around. We also loved the walk-in closet and the warm lighting in the suite. The NYC skyline is one of the most enchanting scenes you’ll ever see. Cosmopolitan junior suites sit on the 18th up to the 22nd floor. The height provides the captivating Manhattan views and ensures a peaceful and restful sleep environment.
The concierge informed us of various amenities such as housekeeping twice a day, daily newspaper delivery for old souls and unlimited use of Health Club, including steam and sauna. Other standouts involve the Rolls-Royce ride and kids amenities so incredible that will make you want to have a few more.
The hotel provides a babysitting service, strollers, bottle warmers, cribs and rollaway beds. You can childproof your room and get toys, games and DVDs for the little ones. And that’s not all! Upon request, the staff creates a custom NYC tour for families, from museum and theatre recommendations to other entertainment options and restaurant reservations. Talk about family-friendly hotels!
If you find yourself in need of some TLC during your stay, the L. Raphael SPA will exceed your imagination. Once you set foot in this spacious retreat, you’ll realize you need stuff you didn’t even know you needed.
With 8 treatment rooms, 2 relaxation areas, 2 whirlpools and 2 saunas, this place will invigorate your body, revitalize your mind and feed your soul like no other! Famous for its impeccable service, signature treatments and VIP clients, the place is a haven of serenity, tranquility and comfort.
Fit to get A-listers red carpet ready, elite athletes for their peak performance, relieve jet leg in travellers, or cater you and your partner with a romantic tandem massage, L. Raphael gives away the secrets of erupting volcanos, Cote d’Azur, Dead Sea and Sweeden.
The master of its craft, the L. Raphael team, knows a thing or two about aromatherapy, dream-like relaxation, how to treat tired feet after miles of sightseeing covered and ease the awe-inflicted neck tension. The massage I got here gives the Thai a good run for their money and brazenly beats all others.
An innovator in skincare, L. Raphael SPA is your beauty and wellness oasis in tune with the diversity and glamour of the city. A frontrunner in the field, the health club appeals to anyone seeking the royal treatment, holistic healing and sharp service. Chewing up its competition means no competitive pricing, but it’s beyond well-worth it.
The Garden restaurant is where the architecturally stunning space meets the fierce loyalty to exquisite service, to deliver you another out-of-this-world indulgence Four Seasons boasts.
The scene of the marvellous Grand lobby and floor-to-ceiling windows undeniably make this phenomenal diner an eatery with a view. The gorgeous African Acacia trees bring drama to the elegant interior, leaving you wondering about the almost Zen-like ambience in the busy Midtown.
The alluring décor, health-conscious dishes and the polished waitstaff is your breakfast at Tiffany’s-chic and sophisticated, yet laid back and fun.
The VIPs on the menu are: Catskill smoked salmon bagel, stuffed French toast, Ora King salmon tartare, and Wagyu hanger steak.
My kids went mad for Silver Dollar pancakes, chicken fingers, and the chocolate chip cookie ice cream sandwich.
Being a city of 800 languages, The Big Apple is as cosmopolitan as it gets. Therefore it’s no surprise that a multilingual concierge can cater almost anyone in their mother-tongue.
The moment we arrived, we felt like we had entered the home of a life-long friend. The striking appeal and faultless service make this place talked about for all the right reasons! The staff pays lavish attention to each guest,# and the astounding level of intelligent service ensures everyone has an exceptional stay. Right from the get-go, it was quite obvious that Four Seasons not only protects against the hustle and bustle of the metropolis but provides an epic experience to anyone who drops by.
Throughout our visit, the concierge and the staff were more than attentive, taking the initiative to do everything we could wish for – if only we were that imaginative! Without being pushy or annoying, the team greeted, tended and assisted us with such kindness and care, adding to the list of, ‘Why to rush back,’ in the holidays to come.
Our kind of New York
The Four Seasons concierge drew up a list of attractions to visit during our 3-day stay. It perfectly complemented the outline we’ve put together and, much like the city, our tour turned out magical and memorable.
Yellow taxicabs are a quintessential part of the NYC lifestyle. The two founders of the Yellow Cab Company, Rockwell and Hertz, chose the vivid colour because it stands out in the packed streets.
They figured it made the taxis easily visible for anyone hailing during the rush hour when cars choke the roads. What sets yellow apart from other vibrant colours is the fact that it was the favourite colour of Rockwell’s wife.
Over the years, the legislation helped yellow cabs become one of the symbols of The Big Apple. There are currently around 13 000 yellow taxis in the city.
In a true NY fashion, we hopped into one to zip us from JFK to Four Seasons. It was the perfect way to start our journey.
Said to be the best Afgan food in the city, we hit the one on 2nd Avenue to get lunch on the day we arrived (another one is located in Hell’s Kitchen). The spinach fritters, lamb kebabs and a fabulous homemade salad dressing make the 30-minute wait worthwhile.
Highly recommended for everyone with a taste for authentic flavours, excellent service and a cozy atmosphere.
Who doesn’t like a good stack of pancakes and Oreo milkshake?
Despite the long line, iHop won’t disappoint you for its quick and friendly service, affordable prices and freshly made food. This place has a great menu with an extensive list of morning bites to help you start your day feeling like a boss. The portions are massive, the food is terrific and the awesome staff won’t let your glasses get low.
If you want to try a proper American breakfast, this fabulous eatery scores points with kids and hits home with its take on traditional cuisine.
Alongside the New York Stock Exchange, Times Square tries out for the NYC headquarters. By bringing home over $23 million in advertising revenue annually, it’s hard to say who praises the enchanting city’s hallmark the most – New Yorkers, the businesses, or 50 million tourists that drop by each year.
We hit the triangle-shaped intersection to shake hands with The Big Apple and stand where the US once celebrated its victory in World War II, where traditional New Year’s countdown takes place, where performances abound and the economy thrives.
Entirely smoke-free, the area houses MTV’s headquarters and ABC’s ‘Good Morning America’ which broadcasts live from its office at 44th and Broadway. It also starred in numerous motion pictures and inspired tunes, books, artwork and photoshoots.
The most visited attraction in the world houses the Times Square Visitor Centre and Museum, open to the public, free of charge.
Overcrowded as you would imagine, this captivating destination blinds with its beauty, intricacy and lights. In fact, it’s thanks to those illuminated billboards that the square is visible from outer space.
As we stood in the heart of NYC, surrounded by selfie sticks and skyscrapers, overwhelmed with awe and wonder, we could see why people from all over the globe fall in love with this fantastic place.
Open Bus Tour
The all-around town double-decker bus tour is an iconic way to cruise through NYC and see the most prominent landmarks. Times Square, One World Trade Center, 9/11 Memorial, the Brooklyn Bridge, Central Park, the Empire State Building, Queens and Chinatown are some of the sights we knew of from the movies and magazines and now finally, got to see in person.
To say that we were blown away would be an understatement. The city’s jaw-dropping architecture and its ambivalence towards history and tradition was something we’ve never seen before. The magnitude of its influence on global politics, business and culture, makes this place alluring as much as repulsive for the pressure, rush and excitement you feel in the air here.
The most interesting bus tour takeaways
-Central Park is bigger than life, the Vatican and Monaco. This verdant treasure in the heart of Manhatten is the most visited inner-city park in the US. Once covered in glaciers, the area kept large boulders (bedrock) as a tribute to its monumental history. This majestic place credits its authenticity to 57 sculptures, 36 bridges, 7 lakes and 7 fountains. It features Cleopatra’s granite obelisk, 2 zoos and numerous picturesque landscapes that will sweep you off your feet.
-Built on the land where Geroge Washington once slept, the bridge connecting Brooklyn to lower Manhattan is the world’s first steel-wire suspension bridge. It officially opened in 1883, but a year later, 21 elephants walked the Brooklyn Bridge to prove to America the innovative marvel could safely transport its commuters.
-Out of all US schools, NYU sends the most students abroad and is the absolute favourite among international scholars, being the university with the highest number of foreigners in the whole country. It takes pride in setting up the first dentistry on wheels in the state and hosting the Strawberry Festival when the staff bakes the largest strawberry shortcake in NY. Woody Allen, John F. Kennedy, Jr., Angelina Jolie, and Tom Ford are just a few legends that attended the school and smashed their career goals.
-The amazing Hudson River houses warehouses and businesses as well as millions of seahorses and one-of-a-kind Floating Science Barge. The estuary used to moor a chapel and a church, still mourns the never-built Hudson River Bridge and keeps its secrets in The Catalogue of Fisherman’s Tales in its Maritime Museum.
-If Queens wanted to secede, it would be the 5th largest city in the US. Boasting the Civil War-era Fort Trotten Park and the stunning Sunnyside Gardens Park, it’s famous for the world’s first road paved for cars. And, the borough loves its music too. The finest pianos ever made were built here, in Astoria, by Steinway & Sons. The musical giants like 50 Cent, Louis Armstrong and Tony Bennet all grew up in Queens.
The Museum of Natural History
Eager to get a grasp of humans, animals and plants, we visited this startling complex of 28 buildings and over 45 exhibition halls. Being into nature as much as we are, this place was a mandatory stop on our Big Apple tour.
The four of us were among 5 billion visitors who come to this place each year looking to learn, explore and discover the world we live in. Astonished by the size of the greatest dinosaur fossil collection in the world and amazed by the opulence of life on Earth and beyond, we were thrilled to take in everything this phenomenal landmark offered us.
Everyone agreed that nature has never felt closer indoors and that archeology never sounded more fun than here. The museum is bound to make you smarter and spark your interest in biology, anatomy, astronomy and science.
The Central Park Zoo
Find it at the southeast corner of Central Park for a wonderful whimsical adventure with your kids. The relatively small size of this place doesn’t steal a bit of its beauty.
We loved the educational exhibits set all over the Zoo, telling you fun facts about its inhabitants.
The sea lions are in the Central Garden.
On the left side of the Zoo, visit the Tropic zone, hot and humid as you would imagine. It’s a poetry of colours that fly around you and get kids pumped.
Up north, we saw snow monkeys, snow leopards, Red pandas, Grizzly bears and penguins.
Right from the Central Garden, there is a Delacorte clock and 4-D theatre. We were all fond of the Clock and the animated animal quintet playing tunes every 30 minutes.
The greenery makes the best backdrop for trending Insta photos and they did a lovely job of displaying the animals by providing many different viewing angles. The environment the animals are kept in seems to suit them very well.
Swinging by the Apple Store on Fifth Avenue was everything but a regular visit to a computer store to get a new charger. It was more like going to an out-of-this-world gallery to see the tech masterpieces that changed the world as we knew it.
Artcihectually bold and brilliant, this awe-inspiring structure was one of our favourites for its spectacular design and revolutionary spirit. The enticing big glass cube is a treasure to behold and aesthetics to admire. Much like its products, the futuristic building reigns supreme and adds to the excitement of living in this particular time.
I took my kids to this eye-catching shop because I knew it would dazzle them, inspire them, spike up their creativity and overwhelm them with the appreciation for evolution, innovation, and excellence.
Museum of Illusions
With over 13 interactive exhibits, this place played tricks on us everywhere we looked. Educational as much as confusing, this outlandish spot evoked curiosity and admiration in all of us.
The Ames Room is a real-life Alice in Wonderland experience. The Anti-Gravity Room is where we defied gravity – or at least that’s how it seemed. Infinity Room is, you’ve guessed it, the illusion of infinite space. Head on The Platter is, of course, a deception of the hidden body.
The Chair illusion, Rotated Room and Bottomless Pit blew our minds and made us all question our senses. Brilliant and intriguing, we loved the installations, games and puzzles.
Everyone’s favourite, this majestic museum is a must-see attraction in NYC.
Grand Central Station
We’ve heard so much about the world’s busiest train station, we couldn’t wait to check it out. Being travel addicts that we are, we’ve lost count of how many airports and stations we’ve been to, but no train terminal can compare to this one.
Renovated multiple times, the gorgeous historic building wins the hearts of 22 million visitors a year with its intricate design and splendid appeal.
While you watch the commuters of different paths rushing to get on and off the train, you can see life happening right before your eyes. To pause for a second and observe everything as if we were in the theatre was a terrific experience because this is everything but your ordinary station.
Here, the soaring ceilings tell tales, a 20-million dollar clock tells time, oysters are your pre-ride snacks and fizzy drinks are served in elegantly restored lounges.
We began our journey eager to learn more about one of the greatest cities in the world. NYC counts no days but hours, and I swear the clocks tick faster here than they do online. Over the 72 hours, we explored this glorious, cunning and baffling metropolis. We met the past more than once and got the idea of where the Western population is heading.
The Big Apple is big on diversity, so there’s something for everyone here. Whoever you are, you are bound to find anything you need with opulent chances it will match your taste. This simple fact will make you feel noticed, cared for and valued.
However, as you walk through the packed streets and see just a glimpse of the sky engulfed in skyscrapers, you couldn’t feel smaller, more invisible or more insignificant.
This paradox impressed and puzzled all of us.
Elaborate in detail, abundant in opportunities and always on the go, The Big Apple is a fierce city to live in and an exciting place to visit. It dazzles with its historical landmarks, unique style and a voracious appetite for progress and change.
Much like our family, it honors tradition, lives in the present and looks forward to the future.
Thank you New York, we hope to come back soon!