New York Local Insights

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The St. Regis New York

Concierge Annah Pelin and her team share insider knowledge about the decadent and comforting winter activities awaiting guests of The St. Regis New York. – By Caroline Hatano

The concierge team at The St. Regis New York knows all the best places to dine, shop and play in the city this winter. Here, concierge Annah Pelin shares a few top recommendations cultivated through her several years of experience at the St. Regis.

Seasonal Shopping

When the temperature begins its inevitable decline, you’ll find that one of the best escapes during the winter season is into the warm embrace of one of New York’s many inviting shops.

For a unique holiday gift, Pelin suggests stopping by your favorite museum’s gift shop. “THE MET STORE at the Metropolitan Museum of Art has wonderfully sourced pieces from local artisans and faraway tribes that are truly special,” she says. The store stocks merchandise ranging from art-inspired watches to stationery sets, ensuring that you’ll find something for everyone on your list. (212-535-7710; store.metmuseum.org)

“For children, we recommend the local boutiques, like KIDDING AROUND on West 15th Street,” Pelin says. The store, which has been around for 21 years, features hand-picked specialty toys for active play, arts and crafts, dress up and more. (212-645-6337; kiddingaroundtoys.com)

Pelin has another hidden gem for those who have run out of gift ideas. “Personal shoppers are an underutilized service in New York City, as they provide invaluable assistance in pinpointing the right gifts for any budget,” she says. “At most boutiques and retail stores, personal shopping services are free of charge.” Stop in at one of your favorite New York shops to pick out a personalized gift with the help of professionals who know best.

Winter Wonderland

If you’re lucky enough to be in town during the holidays, don’t miss out on New York’s countless time-honored, seasonal traditions.

One of the best ways to soak up the holiday spirit is with a leisurely stroll past New York’s enchanting window displays. “In December, elaborate window displays set the avenues aglow with intricate moving sculptures of various winter holiday themes,” Pelin says. She notes that Bloomingdale’s, Lord & Taylor, Saks Fifth Avenue, Macy’s and Barneys offer the most spectacular sights.

Popular with adults and children alike, the HOLIDAY TRAIN SHOW in the New York Botanical Garden is a one-of-a-kind experience. Pelin says that the show, which features elaborate model trains snaking through New York landmarks, is “always a magical event.” (718-817-8700; nybg.org) 

A Sweet Ending

Top off a quintessential New York winter day with a sinfully sweet treat from one of the best bakeries in the city.

Famous for its appearance in the movie “You’ve Got Mail,” CAFE LALO is a European-style restaurant that boasts a bar with fine dessert wines and cheese platters, a daily brunch and—most importantly—incredible pastries. “Cafe Lalo on the Upper West Side has a dizzying array of desserts and treats,” Pelin says. “Enjoy a coffee and apple brown betty, or something more exotic, like the lemon berry mascarpone cake.” (212-496-6031; cafelalo.com)

Another of Pelin’s favorites—LEVAIN BAKERY—is also on the Upper West Side. “A hidden gem, Levain Bakery is well-known to locals as being, perhaps, the singular best cookie shop in NYC, serving oversized versions of the classics: chocolate chip, peanut butter and oatmeal raisin,” Pelin says. (212-874-6080; levainbakery.com)

“For gifts and treats to take home, famous FERRARA BAKERY & CAFE in Little Italy has delicious, authentic Italian treats, like cannoli, tiramisu and Italian cookies,” Pelin says. The family-owned business has been serving treats and quality espresso since 1892. Today, the bakery uses the same treasured family recipes, but also operates a full-service cafe upstairs. (212-226-6150; ferraracafe.com)

Wine and Dine

After a long day spent exploring the city, cozy up for a romantic evening at one of Pelin’s favorite date restaurants.

“PICHOLINE is an exquisite French-Mediterranean restaurant that is very romantic,” she says. The Michelin-starred restaurant incorporates high-quality seasonal ingredients with chef-owner Terrance Brennan’s multicultural perspective to create a dining experience like no other. Choose from a wide variety of signature entrees like diver sea scallops with cauliflower silk and blood orange grenobloise. (212-724-8585; picholinenyc.com)

Next on Pelin’s list is ROUGE TOMATE—a contemporary restaurant with chefs that share a fierce commitment to the environment. Not only does the restaurant use local ingredients, but it also employs a green concept, from its energy-efficient equipment to its nature-themed interior design. The food is just as innovative, with a seasonal tasting menu and regular dishes like a Maine lobster salad with avocado, peach, summer beans and endive. Pelin names the modern restaurant one of the best for date nights. (646-237-8977; rougetomatenyc.com)