Art of the City: Manhattan

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Today, I am delighted to present a new series of posts: Art of the City. Each post will showcase one of my favourite cities across the globe and provide you with all you need to know for an indulgent getaway of culture, gastronomy, and sightseeing. Enjoy this first post about New York City (specifically Manhattan).

View of Manhattan from Top of the Rock

View of Manhattan from Top of the Rock

The Art of Living

Like any big city, NYC has many great hotel options to suit your needs. I personally recommend having a hotel base in Midtown to be within walking distance to everything. Not only does it save you a lot of travel time (that cheap Airbnb in Brooklyn is so not worth it!), but it will also enable you to maximise your cultural experience by being in close proximity with architectural landmarks like the Empire State, Flatiron, and Chrysler buildings.

Royalton Hotel

The Royalton Hotel‘s perfect location in the heart of Midtown makes much of the city accessible by public transportation. It is just a short walk away from Fifth Avenue, the Theatre District, and Times Square.

Macy's in Midtown Manhatan

Macy’s in Midtown Manhatan

Club Quarters Hotel, World Trade Center

If you prefer to reside somewhere away from the bustling streets of Midtown, choose an accommodation in the Financial District. I thoroughly enjoyed staying at the Club Quarters Hotel, World Trade Center – it is not far from the New York Stock Exchange and just a few blocks from Battery Park (where you can take a ferry to see the Statue of Liberty). Additionally, there is an excellent view of the Freedom Tower from the North Terrace.

View of Freedom Tower from Club Quarters Hotel terrace

The Art of Gastronomy

There are so many restaurants to choose from in NYC, but these are my favourite places for fine dining because they offer rich cultural history in addition to impeccable service:

The Russian Tea Room

Nestled between Carnegie Hall and Metropolitan Tower is a whimsical escape from the bustling streets of NYC: the Russian Tea Room. It was a favoured gathering place of those in the entertainment industry (including Ayn Rand) and remains a great spot to have brunch or afternoon tea just before you head out to shop on nearby Fifth Avenue.

Russian Tea Room

Steak tartare at Russian Tea Room

The Polo Bar

With wood-paneled steakhouse vibes and equestrian trimmings, the Polo Bar is a must-visit for all fans of Polo Ralph Lauren.

The Polo Bar

The Polo Bar

Benihana Midtown West

The original Benihana opened on W 56th Street in 1964 and was the first Japanese teppanyaki restaurant in America. Ever since, their skilled teppanyaki chefs have been delighting customers with their exquisite knife theatrics and intricate food preparation. From sushi to filet mignon, the Benihana culinary experience offers a unique dining atmosphere where you can enjoy delicious food, be entertained, and even make new acquaintances.

Chef Tu grilling onions at Benihana

App to download: OpenTable/Yelp

With OpenTable (iOS/Android), you can collect Dining Points when you dine at a restaurant you have made a reservation at. These points can be redeemed for Dining Rewards (credit that can be used at many OpenTable restaurants), Amazon Gift Cards, or hotel discount on KAYAK. Even if you do not need a reservation, it can be good to make one for point-accruing purposes 😉

Yelp (iOS/Android) is a handy app to download if you want to read about a restaurant before heading there. In the app, you can take a peek at the menu, see which places are open nearby, read reviews ranging from general summary to in-depth guides, and even order delivery/takeout.

The Art of Sightseeing

If you want a phenomenal view of the city from above without splurging on a helicopter tour, visit these places:

One World Observatory

There are many places to see in New York, so go to the One World Observatory first and pick out your favourites 😉

View of Manhattan from One World Observatory

View of Manhattan from One World Observatory

Top of the Rock

You may be wondering: Which is more worthwhile to visit, the Empire State Building or Top of the Rock? While each offers a distinct view of NYC, I prefer Top of the Rock for its easy accessibility. Waiting times are often shorter (and easily endured while browsing the assortment of shops at the Rockefeller Center) and the multi-level observation deck allows for spacious and unobstructed photo opportunities.

View from Top of the Rock

After the tour, you can additionally take a stroll around the Rockefeller Plaza 🙂

Atlas in front of Rockefeller Building

Rockefeller Plaza

The Art of the Arts

The Metropolitan Museum of Art

The Met Museum is New York’s answer to the British Museum in London, and, like its counterpart, requires at least a day to peruse. From ancient Greek sculptures to American stained glass windows – the Met has art from cultures around the world spanning more than 5000 years and is my absolute favourite destination in Manhattan.

If you need a little fresh air while browsing through the exhibitions, pop up to the Cantor Rooftop Garden Bar for a sandwich/drink and yet another fabulous view of the city 😉

View from the Cantor Rooftop Garden Bar

View from the Cantor Rooftop Garden Bar

The Metropolitan Opera

The Metropolitan Opera was founded in 1883 by a group of wealthy industrialists who wanted their own theatre in retaliation to being excluded from the established Academy of Music opera house by the “old money” New York families. Now, it is one of the largest classical music organisations in the world and produces a large repertoire of operas every year, with a roster of internationally-acclaimed artists. When the opera company is on hiatus, the Opera House is home to the spring season of American Ballet Theatre and also hosts visits from other noted opera and ballet companies.

If you can only afford nosebleed seats but still would like to attend a show (after all, nothing compares to hearing music live!), consider investing in a pair of opera glasses.


A fantastic show can set the stage for your NYC experience, and there is nothing as quintessentially New York as Broadway. Watch your favourite movies come to life in hits like My Fair Lady and Anastasia.

App to download: TodayTix

TodayTix (iOS/Android) makes getting theatre tickets a cinch. From last-minute discount Rush tickets to premium orchestra seats up to 30 days in advance, the app lets you skip the line without skipping the show.

The Art of the Outdoors

Manhattan is not about just skyscrapers and museums! Here are a few of my favourite neighbourhood spots to take a stroll, admire outdoor monuments, and inhale the city atmosphere:

Upper Manhattan: Central Park

Central Park is the perfect place to relax (or have a picnic) and gaze up at skyscrapers piercing through the clouds.

Midtown: Times Square

There is nothing that screams capitalism like the dynamic, ever-changing beat of Times Square. As Michael Scott from The Office said, “This is the heart of civilization, right here.” Sit down for a break at the pedestrian plaza and be entertained by costumed panhandlers, or crash a wedding shoot like me 😛

Lower Manhattan: Wall Street

The Financial District is a nice area to take a stroll because it is generally less crowded than other neighbourhoods in Manhattan. I recommend starting along Wall Street from the subway station past the Trump Building, the New York Stock Exchange, and Federal Hall, then turn on Broadway either toward Charging Bull or New York City Hall.

Statue of George Washington outside Federal Hall

Statue of George Washington outside Federal Hall

Brooklyn Bridge was the world’s first steel-wire suspension bridge and is the primary connection between Manhattan and Brooklyn. Stroll to the middle of the bridge around sunset for a romantic view of the New York skyline.

Walking across Brooklyn Bridge

Ferry to Ellis Island

Once the point of entry for millions of immigrants, Ellis Island is now home to the National Museum of Immigration. I find that taking the ferry to here is adequate to get a great view of the Statue of Liberty without having to wait in line or make reservations in advance to go to Liberty Island.

So, “What’s New York City like anyway?” Let the cast of Annie tell you:

Enjoy your trip to the Big Apple and let me know your favourite places in the comments below! 🙂

Beauty of Reason: Elizabeth Taylor

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In honour of her what would have been her 87th birthday yesterday, let us examine the resplendent life of Elizabeth Taylor — actress, author, and business tycoon.

From child star to global icon

Elizabeth Rosemond Taylor was born on February 27, 1932 in London, England to American parents. In 1939, the Taylor family moved to Beverly Hills, California due to fear of impending war in Europe. Taylor drew much attention for her eyes, which were blue to the extent of appearing violet, and it was not long before she landed her first Hollywood film at age 9. Her dark hair and strong eyebrows made her stand out, and, in contrast to other child actresses (like Judy Garland and Shirley Temple), she made an easy transition to adult roles.

With striking beauty and undeniable talent, Taylor captivated generations of audiences. Her career, spanning almost seven decades, earned her five Oscar nominations and two Best Actress wins, as well as her name becoming synonymous with Hollywood glamour. Her lack of professional training did not stop her from portraying a wide range female characters — from predatory vixens to wounded victims — who embodied strength, integrity, and unapologetic femininity.


After wrapping up BUtterfield 8 (1960), Taylor left MGM to become a freelance actress. Able to choose her own films and negotiate her own salaries and armed with an instinctive sense of her own worth, Taylor negotiated the first million-dollar contract for an actor for her title role in Cleopatra (1963).

Visionary businesswoman

In 1946, Taylor—then fourteen and a major star at MGM — published a children’s book titled Nibbles and Me. Duell, Sloan and Pearce paid her $1,000 for her story of her real life adventures with a chipmunk named Nibbles. According to Taylor, “Nibbles and Me sprang from a school assignment. Each week, we had to do an essay on any subject we chose, and Nibbles was my favorite subject. I kept a diary of our experiences together. I think it was the teacher’s suggestion that I write it with a sense of continuity, as if it were a book.”

Nibbles and Me was reissued by Simon & Schuster in 2002 (and as an eBook in 2011) after it was suggested to Taylor that there was a new generation of children who would appreciate her witty tale. “Over the years, animals have remained my sweetest and most cherished friends,” Taylor wrote introducing the new version, which also included drawings by her at age 13.

Though she did not continue to write children’s books, Taylor extended her authorship with three coffee-table memoirs: Elizabeth Taylor: An Informal Memoir (1964), Elizabeth Takes Off: On Weight Gain, Weight Loss, Self-Image & Self-Esteem (1988), and My Love Affair with Jewelry (2002).


In addition to being an author, Taylor put her flair for business into a career that made her more money than her prolific film career ever did: perfume. While she was not the first celebrity to come out with a scent, she was the first to reach monumental success. In 1987, Taylor shrewdly teamed up with Elizabeth Arden to release the first of her “celebrity fragrance” empire, Passion.

By the time of her last release, Violet Eyes, in 2010, her franchise had grown to 11 perfumes. She personally supervised the creation process for the entire collection, even when her health failed, and, unusually, she also always wore her own creation—the bestselling White Diamonds.

Backed by a $20 million media blitz and a tour of high-end department stores in the United States and Canada, White Diamonds was introduced in 1991. Since then, it has remained on the list of top ten selling perfumes and is still the best-selling celebrity fragrance in the world, bringing in $76.9 million globally in 2010.



Quotes to inspire

“An actor is an actor whether it’s in Hollywood, whether it’s in Africa, whether it’s on stage, television or in film. Acting has to be generated from within.”

“I think [perfume] is more than just an accessory for a woman. It’s part of her aura. I wear it even when I’m alone.”

“I’m not fascinated by things. I dive into them. One is fascinated by fire. But when I was a toddler and crawling, I was so fascinated by it that I reached out and touched it. That’s the difference between fascination and passion for me.”

“If they don’t have passion, it means they are incapable of love.”

Learn more about Elizabeth Taylor:

Elizabeth Taylor died in 2011 at age 79, survived by four children, 10 grandchildren, and four great-grandchildren. Today, her perfumes continue to embody a transcendent legacy that will linger long after they fade.