Discover: The city that’s so good, they named it twice! (part 1)

The only city I can be talking about is New York City.  My love affair with New York began 17 years ago when The Domestic King took me for my 21st birthday (I told you he was the best Papa in the world!).  And to this day my passion for this incredible city hasn’t waned one bit.

Since that long-weekend back in 1995, I’ve been fortunate enough to be a regular visitor. Whilst the City has changed in many ways, the excitement I feel as I walk through the exit doors at JFK hasn’t changed at all.  Everything I want to share with you about NYC would result in the longest post on earth, so I’m splitting my guide to NYC over a few separate ones.

I’m kicking the first one off with where to stay.  I’ve selected hotels at different price points. Manhattan is an easy city to navigate, so unless you really want to be near a certain attraction, I don’t think it really matters where you actually stay.  Just pick one that takes your fancy and which fits your budget.

The Ritz Carlton Battery Park (Downtown).  I’ve been lucky enough to stay here on a few occasions in one of the harbour facing rooms, which have spectacular views of the Statue of Liberty. With exemplary service, luxuriously appointed rooms, the best hotel beds I’ve ever slept in and delicious food, this is one of my must-stays at the top-end of the budget.  And if you really fancy a splurge, book a Club Room – you won’t be disappointed.  From $405 a night.

6 Columbus (Midtown).  Located just off Columbus Circle (hence the name!), 6 Columbus is within a cat’s whisker from Central Park, the shops at Columbus Circle and the Lincoln Center. If you like trendy boutique type hotels, then you should think about booking 6 Columbus.  Off the lobby is Blue Ribbon Sushi Bar & Grill, which serves delicious Japanese food.  Guests are also able to access Above 6, an exclusive indoor/outdoor rooftop lounge, overlooking Central Park.  From $180 a night.

Gansevoort, Park Avenue (Midtown East & Murray Hill).  Located on Park Avenue South, just a couple of blocks north of Madison Square Park (home to the original Shake Shack) and not too far from the sublime 11 Madison Park restaurant – is the wonderful Gansevoort.  The Empire State is just a few blocks away and can be seen from many of the rooms. Unsual for NY hotels, are the size of the rooms; with most measuring a quite spacious 400sq ft.  Like it’s sister hotel in the Meatpacking District, this hotel boasts a roof-top pool.  But, this is not just any roof-top pool, oh no!  It’s a heated indoor-outdoor rooftop pool, coupled with a trilevel bar, giving this hotel serious glamour!  The glass floors extending out over Park Avenue provide a birds-eye view of the chaos below…although be warned this is not for the acrophobic! And if you need some more glamour, then hop in one of the chauffeured Porsches, which will chauffeur you around some of Manhattan free of charge!  From $285 a night.

The Standard Highline (Meatpacking District).  The Standard is a stunning glass high-rise hotel, with wonderful views over the Hudson.  There’s a very cool bar on the 18th floor that offers full-circle views of Manhattan.  And if keeping fit is a priority, there’s a well-equipped gym and free-bicycles to go cycling along the Hudson.  It’s a hop and a skip from Pastis and the superb Highline – more about both of these in future posts!  If being near some of the coolest night and fashion spots are important to you, then this is the hotel to pick.  From $275 a night.

Ace Hotel (Midtown).  This reasonably priced hotel is not far from 5th Avenue, the cavernous Macy’s, The Empire State Building and the New York Public Library.  It is also home to The Breslin, a super restaurant from April Bloomfield and Ken Friedman, founders of the Spotted Pig.  With free Wi-Fi, a gym, some rooms with a Smeg fridge, this hotel is pretty perfect!  Oh, and did I mention a photobooth in the lobby?  From $199 a night.

Crosby Street Hotel (Soho).  This fantabulous hotel is the Firmdale Group’s first foray overseas. If you’ve never come across some of Firmdale’s other hotels, then the best way to describe the design would be classic, contemporary, English elegance, with a bit of kitsch thrown in.  If you’re there on a Sunday night, keep it free to snuggle up in the 99-seater screening room.  If you fancy a hotel that feels like you’re staying in a friend’s large, luxurious home, then look no further than The Crosby Street!  And if eco-friendly is important to you, you’ll be pleased to know that The Crosby has been awarded The Leed gold award for the greenest hotel in New York state.  Just a few steps from Spring Street and Broadway, The Crosby is the perfect location.  From $505 a night.

Hotel on Rivington (Lower East Side).  The Lower East Side is the area du jour, and the Hotel Rivington is as hip as the neighbourhood it’s located in.  Located in an area that has copious cafes, restaurants and bars, foodies will be in their element.  A short-walk from The Rivington is Katz’s Deli (more in another post on this NY institution!).  The views from the floor-to-ceiling windows are incredible – gazing out at the iconic buildings, whilst soaking in an oversized tub, is pretty special.  With complimentary Wi-Fi and cookies at turn-down, this is a great hotel to pick if you want to stay in an area that’s less touristy and a bit more “real”.  And with the hotel’s restaurant, CO-OP, serving delicious mac ‘n’ cheese – what’s stopping you?  From $245 a night.

Smyth Tribeca (Tribeca).  If you’ve seen Kim & Kourtney Take New York (I’m ashamed to say that I have seen this!), then you’ll be very familiar with this hotel.  With slick interiors (think homage to Mad Men), a young vibe, an apartment-style feel to the rooms and amazingly helpful front-door staff, the Smyth is a dream stay.  Being in Tribeca, it’s very close to pop over to Brooklyn, pay your respects at Ground Zero, walk down to Battery Park to take the ferry over to Staten Island, or sample the many restaurants in this area.  From $259 a night.

The Franklin (Upper East Side).  If museums are your passion, then seriously consider staying at The Franklin.  Located on East 87th, it’s very close to “Museum Mile“.  And if haute-couture fashion is your thing, then never fear, as Madison Avenue is an easy walk away.  The Franklin is a gem of a hotel on the Upper Eastside, both cosy and inviting.  The moment you step through the door you feel as if you’ve come home.  Despite the rooms being small, ok very small, they are extremely well-appointed: Bulgari toiletries, iHome docks, free Wi-Fi and delicious Frette lining.  If you’re a coffee lover, then you will adore The Franklin, as they provide espressos and cappuccinos 24/7.  And if that wasn’t enough, they also include continental breakfast (with pastries from a local bakery) in the price of the room, a cheese and wine reception every evening between 5pm and 6.30pm and to work off all that cheese and wine, there’s free passes to The New York Sports Club.  Amazing value I would say!   From $199 a night.

Mandarin Oriental (Midtown).  The Mandarin in NY is everything you would expect from this first-class hotel chain.  Sumptuous rooms, a bar with incredible views, and one of the most well-connected concierge teams in NYC.  The Mandarin is conveniently located at Columbus Circle in the Time Warner Center, and just a short-walk to Central Park, the shops of 5th Avenue and the Lincoln Center (home to the New York Philharmonic, New York Ballet and the Metropolitan Opera).  Also nearby is the famous Carnegie Hall.  The Mandarin also boasts a 14,500sq ft spa overlooking the Hudson River – the perfect place to recharge after walking for miles!  If money is no object, or you’re looking to celebrate a special occasion, then I wouldn’t hesitate suggesting you make a reservation here.  From $695 a night.

This is just a small selection of hotels I would recommend, my list could go on forever.  Other hotels which I would highly recommend are:  The Royalton, The W Downtown (in fact any of the Ws), The Conrad, Soho House, The Mark, The Hudson (albeit offering tiny rooms), The Intercontinental in Times Square, The Plaza and Pierre for more old-world charm, The Mercer in the hub-bub of SoHo and The Gramercy Park Hotel, to name but a few!

Domestic Princess tips:

  1. If you’d prefer to stay somewhere a bit more homely, and possibly more reasonable, check out onefinestay.com (apartments start at $135 for a 1 bed) and AirBnB also have some brilliant apartments to rent.
  2. Take a look at lastminute.com and travelocity.com and see if they’ve got any top secret hotels available.  If you’re not comfortable taking a punt on where you might end up, copy and paste the description into google and nine times out of ten, you’ll be able to workout which hotel it is.
  3. Jetsetter.com is also a great source for NYC hotels – often having secret sales too. They have a sale on Hotel on Rivington next week!
  4. Check around a few different websites – different websites can charge vastly different prices for the same type room.  Trivago is a great comparison site that I use.
  5. When making bookings, check the price includes tax.
  6. The best prices are not always on a hotel’s website, so call the reservation department and see if you can negotiate a better rate, or include Wi-Fi if it’s not included, or breakfast (rarely included in the price of US hotel rates), or an upgrade to the next grade of room.

If you’ve visited NYC, please share your favourite places to stay in the comment section below.  And NYers, please be ready to share your must do activities, the most delicious places to eat, where to find the best coffee (I’m not talking Starbucks!) and anything else NYC related.

Do you love NYC as much as me? Have you stayed in any of my recommendations?  And do you have any good tips to share on getting deals at hotels?

As I’m finishing this post, I’ve just heard that NYC is experiencing another terrible storm – stay safe NY, I love you!

With much Big Apple love
The Domestic Princess
xoxo

Perfect Swimwear

If you haven’t already booked your summer holiday, I expect you’ve started thinking about where to go.  So, with that in mind, I thought I’d help you figure out your perfect holiday wardrobe, starting off with swimwear.

Most people are filled with anxiety when selecting their beach attire.  Not surprising really, as you’re going to be exposing a lot of flesh and who doesn’t want to look their best?  So, here’s my guide on choosing the perfect swimwear for your holiday, including the hottest styles currently available.

Before even stepping foot into a shop, you need to know your body shape, so you can select the most flattering bikini or swimsuit that works for your type.  There are several categories of body shape to consider; in fact, most people fall under two.

Determining your shape

  • Little or no waist, with your shoulders approximately the same width as your hips would be classified as an athletic figure.
  • Narrow hips, coupled with noticeably wider shoulders will make you a triangle.
  • If you have a slight upper body with substantially larger hips, this is known as pear shape.
  • Below 5ft 3ins with everything in proportion would classify you as a petite.
  • If you have an ample bust, generous hips, but a smaller waist, then you are blessed with an hour-glass or curvy figure.
  • If you’re carrying weight around your middle with a generous bust, then you’re probably going to fall into the apple shape category.

Selecting Swimwear

Athletic Shapes

Girls with this kind of shape can afford to be plucky in their choice of swimwear.  If this is your shape, you can pretty much wear anything.  So, choose styles that are bright, bold and make people look at your amazing figure!

If you’re athletic shape, you’ll want to try and create a waist, so look for bottoms that have a belt.  And if you’re looking to boost your boobs, opt for a halter-neck style top.

  1. Colour block bikini, bikini top, £26 from Next
  2. Baku Suit With Frilled Deep Plunge & Padding, £85 from ASOS
  3. John Lewis Bassa strip top, £10 from John Lewis
  4. John Lewis Bassa stripe bottoms, £8 from John Lewis

Triangle Shape

As a triangle shaped woman, think about drawing attention away from the shoulders and towards the lower half of your body.  Look for bottoms that have embellishment:  ruffles, a skirt, rings, a belt, ties, bold prints.

  1. Plain tie-front bikini, £10 from Warehouse (also available in black and aqua)
  2. Resort ruffle bandeau swim dress, £29 from Very.co.uk
  3. Melissa Odabash Paris bikini, £212 from Net-a-Porter

Pear Shape

Around 60% of women in the western world are pear shape.  Pears are complete opposites of triangles, so what we’re looking to do here, is distract attention from the bottom half and draw the eye up the body. A pear shaped lady needs to look for a top with lots of detail, padded cups to boost your boobs and balance the body out, together with bottoms that offer full coverage and a high cut leg.

  1. Orange Seafolly Goddess bikini, £97 from Selfridges (also available in indigo, black, lapis, sable and white)
  2. Blue ruffle bikini, £22 from Next
  3. Ted Baker one shoulder swimsuit with buckle £65 from ASOS

Petite Shape

This is another shape that is quite easy to dress.  What you’re looking to create with your bikini is a cleavage and to lengthen the body with a high cut bottom.  Avoid large prints as these will just overwhelm you.  Petite ladies can get away with triangle bikinis and should look for vertical stripes to elongate their bodies.

  1. Geri floral bikini, £38 from Next
  2. Striped swimsuit, £109 from Harrods
  3. Ruffle bikini, £59.99 from Mango (also available in coral)

Hour-Glass or Curvy Shape

The majority of bikini and swimsuit styles available will suit the curvy girl, the exception being a bandeau top, as it lacks the necessary support a curvy girl needs.  Hour-glass girls typically have a bra size exceeding a C cup, so you should be looking at tops that have under wired support and / or side boning, which will help give you a lovely shape.  This is one of the categories that I fall into and since discovering Heidi Klein about 6 years, I have been a loyal devotee to their fabulous bikinis for girls with more up top!  This is the bikini I’m currently sporting when needing to don swimwear.  They’re not cheap, but I’ve still got my first ever Heidi Klein bikini that I purchased back in November 2006 and it’s still got plenty of life left in it!  Freya and Fantasie also have good options for the hour-glass girl.

Halter-neck tops, or wide-strapped tops are also very flattering on hour-glass ladies.  Look for good coverage on the bottom and go for plain dark or bright colours.

  1. Laguna wide strap bikini, £210 from Heidi Klein
  2. Black Goddess bikini, £22.98 from New Look
  3. White halter-neck swimsuit, £149 from Harrods

Apple Shape

An apple shape lady is looking to disguise her midriff and to make it look smaller than it actually is.  Look for swimwear with a high percentage of Lycra, which will help hold you in and smooth out your silhouette.  A new trend this season is the ‘70s “blouson” swimsuit or blouson tankini, as they don’t cling tightly to your tum, but blouse over; it’s really quite flattering.  Also, choose a top that either has a built-in bra, or one that lifts and supports your boobs.

  1. Resort shape wear bikini, £30 from Very.co.uk
  2. Black Bondeye Nip Tuck one piece, £56 from Sand in my toes
  3. Leopard print blouson swimsuit, £35 from ASOS

Maternity

Just because you’re pregnant doesn’t mean you can’t look stylish by the pool or on the beach.  Firstly, you’ll need to decide if you want to expose your bump, or cover it up.  Whether you choose a one-piece or a bikini, ensure that it provides plenty of support up top.

  1. Navy spotted bikini, £24 from Marks and Spencer
  2. Love Boat swimsuit by Pez Dor for Figleaves, £60 from Figleaves
  3. Dark pink tankini, £34 from Next

Domestic Princess tips:

  1. Determine your body shape before buying.
  2. Always rinse your bikini / swimsuit after swimming to remove salt or bleach – this will prolong the life of it.
  3. If you find a bikini / swimsuit that you love and fits like a dream, if you can afford it, I’d suggest buying a couple of them.
  4. If buying separates, buy the bikini bottoms one size up, to avoid creating extra lumps and bumps where it may cut in.
  5. Never be tempted to buy a thong bikini – leave these to the Brazilians!
  6. Do not contemplate wearing a string bikini top if your boobaloobs are larger than a C cup.
  7. Identify parts of your body that you would like to accentuate.
  8. A tightly tied halter-neck will create a deep cleavage.

Finding the perfect bikini or swimsuit can take time and needs a bit of perseverance. If you apply these simple rules and try on different styles and brands, be assured, you will find your perfect swimwear.  Do you have any other tips on buying your perfect swimwear?  Which shops are your favourite ones for beach attire?  Please share them with me!

With much love

The Domestic Princess

Xoxo

PS Look out for a forthcoming post to help the gents with their swimwear dilemmas.

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