Manhattan’s Metropolitan Museum of Art on prime Upper East Side is New York’s top attraction, the USA’s largest art museum and the third most visited worldwide. But every year on the first Monday in May it has an even more significant role hosting The Met Gala, one of the most spectacular events in the city’s glamour-heavy calendar.
This celebrity-filled evening of outrageous fashion, organised by Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour, produces iconic images that are flashed around the globe: Beyoncé rocking strategically placed crystals in 2015, Madonna exposing her curves in 2016, Katy Perry as a life-sized angel in 2018. This year’s Gala — themed “About Time” — coincides with The Met’s 150th anniversary and it plans to celebrate with a full programme of commemorative events. Visitors should also check out the British Galleries, newly-opened after a six-year refurb. The Met Gala signals the height of spring in New York. Cherry blossom and magnolias erupt in Central Park. It’s the perfect time to visit so first up, where to stay?
The Lowell (lowellhotel.com; rooms from $600), a member of Leading Hotels of the World and one of New York’s most iconic privately-owned Upper East Side hotels, is perfectly placed for a stroll to Central Park and The Met. The retractable roof in the garden of Majorelle Restaurant provides one of several open-air areas for guests.
The Upper East Side is not as edgy as neighbourhoods to the south but it is an oasis of calm with winning style and elegance. The Lowell is where I would set up home if I could, by the Madison Avenue boutiques and Museum Mile and an easy cab ride to Greenwich Village and Soho.
If you’re determined to head south and want strong design with an affordable price tag, Moxy Chelsea (moxychelsea.com; rooms from $159) is the address. This 350-room hotel opened last year on West 28th Street in Manhattan’s Flower District with a flower shop in the entrance (Puttnam & Puttnam, who were the florists for Gwyneth Paltrow’s latest wedding).
Moxy is a Marriot brand that goes big on comfort (crisp linens on super comfortable beds) and light on pricey extras. A business hotel by the week and a party one at the weekend with DJs, great cocktails and terrific Italian restaurant Feroce on the ground floor.
Moxy Chelsea’s celebrity rating was firmly established when Harry Styles and Taylor Swift hosted their Met Gala 2019 after-party there in the 34th floor Fleur Room. Hudson Yards is a 20 minute-walk west, a new luxury high-rise district with 25 restaurants. Queensyard (queensyardnyc.com/), a homage to Anglo-American food, is my top pick.
Ask for a table by the window for an epic view of Thomas Heatherwick’s The Vessel. From there, walk the High Line, the famed linear garden, stopping for a cocktail and city views from the rooftop bar of B on Top in Chelsea (b-ontop.com/). Then head to the Empire State Building where there’s a fabulous interactive exhibition in its renovated art-deco lobby.
A final two Italian-influenced recommendations for your spring weekend: Felice 56 (felicenyc.com/) opened in October on 56th Street serving authentic Tuscan pasta and meats. And, best of all, Dante in Greenwich Village (dante-nyc.com), a much-loved NY institution currently named the best bar in the world. Yes, the cocktail list is wondrous and the Aperol especially good, but come for brunch, order the Garibaldi (Campari and “fluffy orange juice”) and raise a toast to new beginnings in New York.
Delta, Air France and KLM offer the cheapest flights from London, starting at £267.
The New York CityPASS provides entry to six iconic museums and attractions including The Empire State Building and The Met from nycgo.com