Whether you are visiting for the shopping, the culture, the food, or business, our correspondent has the inside guide on Manhattan’s main attractions as well as the lesser-known hidden gems

With its soaring skyscrapers and bustling taxi-filled streets, world-class entertainment – from ballet to Broadway – and top restaurants, not to mention the 24-hour neon glow of Times Square, Manhattan is arguably the most exciting island on the planet. A hub of publishing, finance and the arts, be forewarned: New York City will sweep you off your feet.

Retail therapy

Ralph Lauren on Madison Avenue Located on floors 35-54 of the Time Warner Center’s northern tower on the southwest corner of Central Park, Mandarin Oriental, New York is a quick elevator ride away from The Shops at Columbus Circle for fashion favourites such as Coach, True Religion and Hugo Boss, and playground for cooks Williams-Sonoma. Stroll across the park to Madison Avenue for Gucci, Christian Louboutin and Chanel, to name a few, plus gems such as Yuta Powell’s beautifully curated womenswear. And sip bubbly while you shop at the new Ralph Lauren women’s store across the street from the men’s ‘Polo Mansion’.

For up-and-coming designers and independent labels, head south to Nolita, east of SoHo. Check out Duncan Quinn for slim-fitting men’s suits, and Blue Bag for unique totes. The flagship Sigerson Morrison on Prince Street is a must for shoe lovers, while bibliophiles will adore the neighbouring McNally Jackson bookstore.

 

City highlights

Make time to explore Central Park’s Zoo, Conservatory Garden and Belvedere Castle, and miles of walking and biking paths. Concerts are held on the Great Lawn in the summer, and in the winter there’s ice-skating. While wandering through, visit the Rose Center for Earth and Space at the American Museum of Natural History on the Upper West Side and the Temple of Dendur at the Metropolitan Museum of Art on the Upper East Side.

Skip the queues for the Empire State Building and enjoy a better view from the Top of the Rock observation deck at the Rockefeller Center. At sunset, walk across the mile-long Brooklyn Bridge in Lower Manhattan for amazing skyline views.

 
Dine with a view For floor-to-ceiling views of the Manhattan skyline, look no further than Asiate at Mandarin Oriental, New York

Culture fix

The Highline Watch a performance at the newly refurbished Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, home to the Metropolitan Opera, the New York Philharmonic and American Ballet Theater, and view the latest modern art exhibition at MoMA before refreshing your art history among the Old Masters of The Frick Collection, on show in the neoclassical mansion of former steel magnate and arts patron Henry Clay Frick. It’s worth a visit just for the house and garden. New York’s contemporary art hub is in West Chelsea, where the High Line – a mile-long elevated park made out of an abandoned railway freight line – allows art lovers to gallery-hop from Gansevoort Street to West 30th Street. Check out photography at Bruce Silverstein Gallery and for collectors looking for the next Jeff Koons there’s James Cohan Gallery. Art critic Merrily Kerr of New York Art Tours leads excellent tours of the district.
 

Park life

Couple on Bike are riding in Central Park On a sunny afternoon, rent a rowboat or kayak and paddle around Central Park’s Boat Basin, and then relax with a drink on the terrace. Rent comfortable Trek bikes from Bike and Roll and pedal the six-mile loop around Central Park or along the waterfront Greenway past Hudson River Park and Battery Park City. It’s a hike up to 190th Street, but it’s worth the effort – the Cloisters Museum and Garden, housing the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s medieval collection, is a hidden treasure. Pack a picnic to eat in the surrounding Fort Tryon Park.
 
Where to shop Located in the Time Warner Center’s northern tower, Mandarin Oriental, New York is a quick elevator ride away from The Shops at Columbus Circle

Mind and body

Lady with tea is in The Oriental Tea Lounge MONYC Start the day with a sun salutation – yoga mats are provided in each room at Mandarin Oriental, New York. Or jog around Central Park with the hotel’s running coach. If you prefer the gym, work up a sweat in the fitness centre, or take a dip in the lap pool. After a day of walking around the city, indulge in a treatment at The Spa – the Oriental Harmony includes a fragrant footbath, body scrub and four-handed massage. Sip tea and unwind afterwards in the Oriental Tea Lounge.
 

Fine dining

The hotel’s Asiate restaurant overlooking Central Park For stunning floor-to-ceiling views of the Manhattan skyline, paired with contemporary Asian-influenced cuisine, look no further than Asiate, at Mandarin Oriental, New York. Featuring a wall of wine and a glittering tree-branch sculpture, the setting is as stunning as Chef de Cuisine Angie Berry’s cooking. For a more Zen space, try Masa, which has 26 seats and an omakase menu by chef and proprietor Masa Takayama. Expect to pay up to $600 a head, but the fish flown in daily from Japan is the best.

Nearby, on Central Park South, Marea – chef Micheal White’s ode to Italian seafood – has seasonal dishes like local sea bass with fava beans and apricot mostarda. Or have wine and charcuterie at Bar Boulud, Daniel Boulud’s casual bistro facing the Lincoln Center. East Village’s Motorino is the place to go for pizza – order the Margherita DOC or the Brussels Sprout and Pancetta. For a local experience, visit bustling Union Square Greenmarket and lunch on artisan fare afterwards at Chelsea Market in a former biscuit factory.

 

Hot tickets

The Allen Room at Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Frederick P Rose Hall Start the evening with a drink and enjoy the stunning Manhattan panorama in the Lobby Lounge at Mandarin Oriental, New York, or sip a cocktail in the hotel’s sultry MObar. Then catch a Broadway play or a long-running favourite such as Wicked and The Lion King, or check out Broadway's newest smash hit, The Book of Mormon. Closer to home, Jazz at Lincoln Center has several performance halls in the Time Warner Center. Go down to Dizzy’s Club for jazz in a cosy bar setting overlooking Central Park.

For comedy and new talent, head to the Comedy Cellar in Greenwich Village. Finish the evening at The Mulberry Project, one of the city’s hottest – and hardest to find – cocktail bars, a subterranean space tucked away in Little Italy.

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