Travel: An instagrammer's design guide to New York City

Travel: An instagrammer’s design guide to New York City

New York, New York – wow, what a city! I headed to the Big Apple at the beginning of September to celebrate my big 3-0 and it didn’t disappoint. It’s a city buzzing and brimming with life – at times it can feel a bit too much and even more fast paced than London, but New York’s feel-good attitude, grunge and grit is infectious as it is all-consuming.

The scale of the city is both fascinating and awe-inspiring, you can go from teeny dim sum cafes in Chinatown and the chic boutiques of SoHo to soaring high-rises and broad, open avenues. You’ll rack up a lot of steps but walking is the best way to see the city. It’s impossible to get lost among the city’s network of orthogonal streets, even if you do spend most of the time looking up at what is around you and not looking at a map. As you’ll probably see, I became obsessed with capturing the fire escapes on the exterior of old buildings that seem to me quintessentially New York.

Here I have put together my favourite places for a design-packed weekend in New York City, taking in the best art galleries and museums, the coolest boutiques and the hippest cafes, that have all got the Instagram seal of approval. I went with the biggest list of coffee shops, restaurants and eateries, recommendations from friends and followers – it was impossible to see them all, we would have ended up jittery with coffee and very poor! – but here’s the best bits if you like things well-designed and slightly off the beaten track. There are A LOT of photos, so grab a cuppa and enjoy!

Travel: An instagrammer's design guide to New York City Travel: An instagrammer's design guide to New York City

I’ve made a handy, downloadable guide below with places to see, shop, eat and drink coffee in New York. Here they are listed in brief, scroll down after the map for my more detailed recommendations and lots of pictures of course!

Places to see
– The Oculus, World Trade Center
– The High Line
– The Metropolitan Museum of Art
– Central Park
– Museum of Modern Art
– The Met Breuer
– Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum
– The Whitney Museum of American Art
– Wythe hotel (for the view of Manhattan)

Places to shop
– Studio Oliver Gustav
– Le Labo
– The Apartment by the Line
– Apiece Apart
– Everlane showroom
– Glossier
– Reformation
– MoMa Design Store
– Mast Brothers
– Reform showroom

Places to eat and drink
– Flora Bar, The Met Breuer
– Smith & Mills
– ATLA
– La Esquina
– Tacombi Bleecker
– Brooklyn Barge
– Dominique bistro
– Maman NYC
– Jack’s Wife Freda
– The Butcher’s Daughter
– Buvette

Places to have coffee
– Happy Bones
– Egg Shop
– Butler Bakeshop
– Ludlow Coffee Supply
– Blue Bottle Coffee
– Gotham Coffee Roasters

Travel: An instagrammer's design guide to New York City Travel: An instagrammer's design guide to New York City Travel: An instagrammer's design guide to New York City Travel: An instagrammer's design guide to New York City Travel: An instagrammer's design guide to New York City Travel: An instagrammer's design guide to New York City


Places to see

– The Oculus, World Trade Center
Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava’s way-over-budget but nonetheless magnificent Oculus soars above your head in a feat of engineering. It caps a shopping centre and subterranean station, but is worth going just to gawp at its beautiful form. The white ribs are designed to appear from the outside like a dove taking flight.

33-69 Vesey St, New York, NY 10007

World Trade Centre Oculus, New York
World Trade Centre Oculus by Santiago Calatrava, New York

– The High Line
Opened in 2009-11, The High Line is a 2.33km-long, elevated park built on a disused rail track on the Lower West Side of Manhattan. It stretches from the Whitney Museum of American Art to W 34th street. Designed by James Corner Field Operations, architects Diller Scofidio + Renfro and Dutch landscape designer Piet Oudolf, the High Line’s landscaping is inspired by what the team found after the viaduct had already been abandoned for 25 years. Wooden benches appear to peel away from the ground like they grew from the rail tracks, while wild planting creeps between the cracks, taking back the urban landscape.

The High Line New York, New York Travel Guide
The High Line, New York
The High Line New York, New York Travel Guide
Looking down the avenues of New York from the High Line
The High Line New York, New York Travel Guide
Concrete walls and landscaping on the High Line
The High Line New York, New York Travel Guide
Greenery taking over the buildings of the city on the High Line
The High Line New York, New York Travel Guide
The long avenues of New York
The High Line New York, New York Travel Guide
Benches and greenery creeping along them on the High Line
The High Line New York, New York Travel Guide
New York fire escapes
The High Line New York, New York Travel Guide
View from the High Line New York

– The Metropolitan Museum of Art
A must-visit for any art lover and history buff. Colloquially known as ‘The Met’, the museum is the largest in the US, presenting over 5,000 years of art from across the world. When we visited they had a brilliant exhibition on the avant-garde fashion designs of Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garcons. Her pieces were presented in a minimal, white setting designed together with Kawakubo that was totally different to any exhibition design I’d seen before. Make sure to visit the Sculpture Court at the heart of the museum and take a walk afterwards around Central Park.

1000 5th Ave, New York, NY 10028

The Met, New York
The sculpture courtyard of The Met, New York

And don’t miss:

Museum of Modern Art – the best in modern and contemporary art
The Met Breuer – a design lover’s idea of heaven with brutalist concrete interiors and a beautiful new restaurant
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum – climb the swirl of this Frank Lloyd Wright building and take in a collection of abstract and surrealist paintings
The Whitney Museum of American Art – reopened in a new building by architect Renzo Piano, head to the outdoor terraces for views over Manhattan
Wythe hotel – watch the sunset from the top of this trendy Brooklyn hotel


 

Places to shop

– Studio Oliver Gustav
Oliver Gustav is a creative consultant who creates interiors that are artisanal and thoughtful, where the stark and modern are contrasted with rare antique finds and curiosities. His gallery boutique in New York is worth popping in to for a browse – you’ll find unique, limited edition pieces and Gustav’s beautiful collection of dyed hemp or linen sofas and armchairs.

11 Howard St, New York, NY 10013

Studio Oliver Gustav New York
Refined interiors and one of a kind curiosities at Studio Oliver Gustav’s gallery in SoHo
Studio Oliver Gustav New York
Linen sofas at Studio Oliver Gustav

– Le Labo
Cult fragrance brand Le Labo has a number of locations across New York, and indeed the world, but it’s cafe and store in Williamsburg, Brooklyn impresses the most with its shabby, industrial interior. Take in the fragrant smells, pick up a gift for a loved one and grab a coffee at the hip bar serving roasts made in collaboration with La Colombe.

120 N 6th St, Brooklyn, NY 11249

Le Labo Brooklyn, New York travel guide
Le Labo fragrance in Brooklyn
Le Labo Brooklyn, New York travel guide
Scented candles at Le Labo
Le Labo Brooklyn, New York travel guide
Did you know Le Labo also have a cafe in Williamsburg, Brooklyn?
Le Labo Brooklyn, New York travel guide
Faded, textural walls and industrial interiors at Le Labo

– The Apartment by the Line
Make yourself at home in the intimate setting of The Line’s beautifully curated Apartment in SoHo. The light-filled, open-plan loft – ‘a carefully considered canvas for a life well-lived’ – encompasses objects for the home and original works of art as well as fashion and beauty products.

76 Greene St, New York, NY 10012

The Apartment on the Line, New York. New York Travel Guide
The Apartment by the Line, New York
The Apartment on the Line, New York. New York Travel Guide
Make yourself at home at designer home – cum – gallery – cum – shop, The Apartment by the Line
The Apartment on the Line, New York. New York Travel Guide
Light filled interiors at The Apartment by the Line
The Apartment on the Line, New York. New York Travel Guide
Luxurious homeware and curated finds at The Apartment by the Line
The Apartment on the Line, New York. New York Travel Guide
Why not a cocktail while you shop…
The Apartment on the Line, New York. New York Travel Guide
A serene bedroom set-up at The Apartment by the Line
The Apartment on the Line, New York. New York Travel Guide
Old meets new at The Apartment by the Line
The Apartment on the Line, New York. New York Travel Guide
Beautiful products and a roll top bath at The Apartment by the Line

Don’t miss:

Apiece Apart – originally just a pop-up, now Apiece Apart has a permanent home selling homeware, objects and simple clothing
Everlane showroom – browse the clothing label’s latest collection. Partnering with ethical factories around the world and using the finest materials, their staple pieces are well made and designed to last – think cashmere sweaters, Italian shoes and plain tees
Glossier – The beauty brand’s first shop where you can sample and choose from their hugely popular products
Reformation – eco-friendly fashion created in limited-edition collections in the brand’s factory headquarters in downtown Los Angeles
MoMa Design Store – a huge array of design products, some created exclusively for the Museum of Modern Art opposite
Mast Brothers – chocolate heaven in Williamsburg, pick up a bar of this hipster chocolate or sip on a warming cup of hot cocoa
Reform showroom – if Danish design and minimal kitchens are your thing, pay a visit to Reform’s Brooklyn showroom



Places to eat and drink

Flora Bar, The Met Breuer
Newly opened in the lower ground floor of The Met Breuer museum, Flora Bar fuses brutalist interiors, rich materials and luxurious finishes. There’s a bar to grab a coffee and a cake as well as an outdoor area decked in Hay furniture designed by the Bouroullec brothers. We didn’t eat in the restaurant but having a nose from the gallery above, it looked delicious.

945 Madison Ave, New York, NY 10021

Flora bar, Met Breuer New York. Travel: An instagrammer's design guide to New York City
Flora Bar, a chic new restaurant and bar at the Met Breuer New York
Flora bar, Met Breuer New York. Travel: An instagrammer's design guide to New York City
The modernist concrete interior of the Met Breuer
Flora bar, Met Breuer New York. Travel: An instagrammer's design guide to New York City
Marble tables and smart, minimal, black seating at Flora Bar
Flora bar, Met Breuer New York. Travel: An instagrammer's design guide to New York City
Hay outdoor furniture by the Bouroullec brothers at Flora Bar, Met Breuer
Flora bar, Met Breuer New York. Travel: An instagrammer's design guide to New York City
The Bouroullec’s Palissade bench for HAY

Smith & Mills
Tucked away down a side street in Tribeca, Smith & Mills is a small, intimate restaurant and bar. Walk in and have a cocktail at the bar, or book ahead for one of their prized banquette corners seats.

71 N Moore St, New York, NY 10013

Smith & Mills New York. Travel: An instagrammer's design guide to New York City
Smith & Mills bar and restaurant, Manhattan
Smith & Mills New York. Travel: An instagrammer's design guide to New York City
Smith & Mills – a small, intimate restaurant for cocktails and dinner
Smith & Mills New York. Travel: An instagrammer's design guide to New York City
French style bistro seating outside Smith & Mills
Smith & Mills New York. Travel: An instagrammer's design guide to New York City
A cosy setting inside Smith & Mills

ATLA
A simple, contemporary setting for modern Mexican food in NoHo. It’s open all-day and serves up tasty breakfasts, beautiful small plates and tacos, and Mexican coffee.

372 Lafayette St, New York, NY 10012

Atla Mexican restaurant New York. Travel: An instagrammer's design guide to New York City
Contemporary interiors at ATLA Mexican restaurant, Manhattan
Atla Mexican restaurant New York. Travel: An instagrammer's design guide to New York City
Modern Mexican food and brilliant brunch at ATLA

La Esquina
No frills Mexican food and tequila bar served below an unassuming deli.

114 Kenmare St, New York, NY 10012

Mexican restaurant New York. Travel: An instagrammer's design guide to New York City
More Mexican food at La Esquina, below Corner deli, SoHo, Manhattan

The Standard
A sunny spot for brunch below the High Line.

848 Washington St, New York, NY 10014

The Standard New York. Travel: An instagrammer's design guide to New York City
Breakfast and brunch in the sunshine at The Standard, near the High Line

Tacombi Bleecker
A colourful, lively taqueria that transports you straight to the streets of Mexico. Guaranteed to brighten up your day.

255 Bleecker St, New York, NY 10014

Tacombi taqueria New York. Travel: An instagrammer's design guide to New York City
Tacombi taqueria on Bleecker street
Tacombi taqueria New York. Travel: An instagrammer's design guide to New York City
Fresh Mexican food and tacos at Tacombi

Brooklyn Barge – skip the food, but do watch the sun set over Manhattan from this floating barge in Greenpoint
Dominique bistro – Parisian-style cafe serving comforting French fare in a cosy setting
Maman NYC – a cafe and bakery serving family-inspired recipes from the south of france and north america
Jack’s Wife Freda – a popular brunch spot, prepare to queue, but it will be worth it
The Butcher’s Daughter – a plant-based restaurant, cafe and juice bar
Buvette – transport yourself to the teeny restaurants of Paris at this cute bistro. Again expect to wait a while, it’s in demand!



Places to drink coffee

Happy Bones
Some of the best coffee in the city, served in this small, minimal cafe with white marble tables. Try the vegan banana bread and take home one of their tortoise shell spoons as a souvenir.

394 Broome St, New York, NY 10013

Coffee - Happy Bones NYC. New York coffee. Travel: An instagrammer's design guide to New York City
Some of the best coffee in the city – Happy Bones
Coffee - Happy Bones NYC. New York coffee. Travel: An instagrammer's design guide to New York City
A beautiful cortado at Happy Bones NYC
Coffee - Happy Bones NYC. New York coffee. Travel: An instagrammer's design guide to New York City
Marble tables and sweet treats make for a perfect flatly
Travel: An instagrammer's design guide to New York City
Indulgent chocolate drinks at Mast Brothers in Brooklyn

Egg Shop
A light, airy cafe with a focus on eggs. Go for the interior and to people watch from the bar, but don’t expect the best food in the city.

151 Elizabeth St, New York, NY 10012

Coffee - Egg Shop. New York coffee. Travel: An instagrammer's design guide to New York City
Breakfast and brunch at Egg Shop, Brooklyn
Coffee - Egg Shop. New York coffee. Travel: An instagrammer's design guide to New York City
Sit at the bar and people watch at Egg Shop
Coffee - Egg Shop. New York coffee. Travel: An instagrammer's design guide to New York City
Doors wide open in the warmer months
Coffee - Egg Shop. New York coffee. Travel: An instagrammer's design guide to New York City
Coffee or cocktails in style at the Egg Shop

Butler Bakeshop
A lovely cafe that brings together sweet and savoury baked goods from Michelin starred pastry chef Ryan Butler. Open for breakfast and lunch.

95 S 5th St, Brooklyn, NY 11249

Travel: An instagrammer's design guide to New York City
Coffee and sweet and savoury baked goods at casual cafe Butler Bakeshop in Brooklyn
Travel: An instagrammer's design guide to New York City
Raw industrial interior and brass tables at Butler Bakeshop

And don’t miss:

– Ludlow Coffee Supply
– Blue Bottle Coffee
– Gotham Coffee Roasters

Travel: An instagrammer's design guide to New York City Travel: An instagrammer's design guide to New York City Travel: An instagrammer's design guide to New York City Travel: An instagrammer's design guide to New York CityTravel: An instagrammer's design guide to New York City Travel: An instagrammer's design guide to New York City Travel: An instagrammer's design guide to New York CityTravel: An instagrammer's design guide to New York City Travel: An instagrammer's design guide to New York City Travel: An instagrammer's design guide to New York City

I hope that’s given you lots of inspiration and ideas if you’re planning a similarly design-packed trip to the Big Apple too. There’s so much to see in New York, it’s easy to get overwhelmed and attempt to do everything at once. There really is something for everyone. But, I think if you consider what really interests and inspires you – for me, it’s good design and great coffee – you’ll find a place for you in the hustle and bustle of the city.

Travel: An instagrammer's design guide to New York City

All images: Cate St Hill

  1. I’m definitely going to save this page for future reference. Thank you for sharing all these cool places and tips!

  2. It’s so challenging to narrow down everything NYC has to offer, one could do a post like this for each neighborhood! Well done, thank you for sharing! Will try to hit up a few of the design shops this weekend!

    • I know, I could have written 10 guides, there was so much to include! And also lots we didn’t get to see either, but it’s always nice to have something to come back to xxx

  3. What an inspiring, comprehensive post! And wonderful photos. I really want to plan a trip to NYC now x

  4. Wonderful post Cate and I so admire the photography! I could see pages and pages of those exteriors. You are right, the fire escapes are fascinating all on their own.

    Jeni @parisandpups -IG

    • Hey Jeni! Thank you so much, I really enjoyed snapping away and editing the pics! I love the way the sun filtered through them xxx

  5. Beautiful photographs and a very informative guide!
    I need to go back here so badly.

    X

    • Thank you Emily, I took so many photos I was very snap happy! Can’t wait to go back again, there’s so much we didn’t see. x

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