New York Neighbourhood Guide: Downtown
The design lover’s guide to downtown New York, from Soho to Chinatown.
From the Freedom Tower to Houston Street, the city abandons its grid system and gets a whole lot more complicated (there are two Broadways, for example) and a fair bit more awesome. This is the New York of SoHo, Nolita, Tribeca and Chinatown.
The new Whitney is technically north of Houston by a dozen or so blocks, but no major museum is more “downtown” than Renzo Piano’s angular masterpiece. The new space allows much more of the permanent collection—from Artschwager to Warhol—to be displayed, and the building itself, with its outdoor terraces with views of the Hudson River, is worth a visit.
Where to start? Amble to DwellStudio, founded by Canadian Christiane Lemieux and famous for its exquisite and well-priced bedding (plus furniture too). And you need to head to home wares mecca ABC Carpet and Home for floors and floors of everything to fill that loft at prices that are surprisingly reasonable.
New York was late to the ice cream craze, but with Morgenstern’s Finest Ice Cream, they’ve definitely made up the stagger—it’s maybe the best in the country. Cherche Midi and Dirty French are a few blocks away from each other on Houston—both have tight reservation books and both are great. The former is the latest spot from Keith McNally (Balthazar, Pastis) and casual, the latter a bit more elevated, but both are the unpretentious French bistros of your dreams.
The massive Sol LeWitt wall art (the biggest of his career) greeting you as you enter the Conrad in Battery Park City Hotel tells you this isn’t your normal Hilton. The real secret is that notwithstanding the location next to Goldman Sachs’s shiny new HQ, the rooms—all suites, so perfect for a family—may be the single best lodging deal in the city (weekend rates start at $329 USD). There’s even an outpost of Danny Meyerís beloved Shake Shack attached, so beware.