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Romancing The Big Apple - A Couples Guide To New York

Joanna Hall

Sex and the City was just one of a long lineup of television shows and movies which brought the enigmatic city of New York under the spotlight around the world, although there are many who'd argue strongly that it is rarely out of it. Big, brash and endlessly entertaining, New York is one of those cities everyone should see at least once in their lives, and for romantics and loved up couples, there are plenty of unique spots and moments to put on a bucket list to experience. In spite of all its bluster and attitude, it is one of the most romantic destinations in the world with a mind-blowing array of experiences for couples to enjoy. Everything seems to revolve around Manhattan, a long sliver of an island which cuts through the Hudson River on one side and East River on the other. And its street-level craziness is as fun as it is overwhelming. Here's our favourite ways to enjoy the Big Apple with your “significant other”.

Enjoy A Room With A View

It’s no secret that even average hotel rooms cost the proverbial arm and a leg on Manhattan, so you may as well go for broke when it comes to choosing one. The city has some amazing properties, many of which have featured in television series and movies, but for unrivalled views over Central Park and the Midtown skyline, the Mandarin Oriental on floors 35 to 54 of the Time Warner Building remains one of the best on the New York Hotel scene. 

Take A Carriage Or Rickshaw Ride

After a stroll through one of the world’s great parks, it is time to take a horse drawn carriage, or “hansom cab”, and clip-clop your way around the southern end of Central Park. The carriages operate from a spot near the Plaza Hotel on 59th Street between 5th and 6th Avenues, and if it’s a bit chilly your driver will give you a blanket to snuggle under. Carrie and Mr. Big did it in one memorable episode of Sex and the City, so it can't be that much of a cliché, right? Rickshaw rides are also an option, with the local riders more than happy to give you the lowdown on their city. 

Lunch At The Boathouse Cafe

Your driver or rider will happily drop you off at the Boathouse Cafe in Central Park to wile away a few hours. It’s quite simply the most relaxed and elegant way to do lunch in Manhattan, and surprisingly it’s reasonably priced given its reputation and superb setting. And in case you forgot, it was the location for a scene with Meg Ryan and Billy Crystal from When Harry Met Sally (not Meg’s famous big “O” performance).

Take A Boat Ride In Central Park

It’s a romantic cliché which has to be done at least once, with your partner on the bow of rowboat, or behind the oars, on a stretch of water simply called The Lake. Ducks and swans glide up to you looking for scraps of bread, and all around you is the serenity of Central Park - a huge green space in the heart of the city - while just beyond is that famous skyline and its street life, which appears remarkably calm from this perspective. It is especially beautiful in spring when the blossoms have bloomed or in autumn when the leaves turn to red and gold.

Savour The View From The Empire State Building

It’s been dubbed the "Cathedral of the Skies", and to really get a feeling of the scale New York City, the journey to the 102nd floor of the Empire State Building is a rite of passage for anyone who visits. It has a hypnotic effect, and it’s no wonder the Observation Deck has been used in romantic feature films Sleepless in Seattle and An Affair to Remember. Even King Kong brought his date up here! Be prepared for long queue these days, though in part due to popularity, and also stringent security checks since 9/11.

Go Ice Skating At The Rockefeller Center

During the winter months this is a very New York thing to do, and even if you’ve never skated before, it doesn’t take long to get the hang of it. And besides, if you have someone with you, it means you have something to hang on to if you’re about to fall. How romantic to fall into your lover's arms?

Shop Till You Drop On 5th Avenue

Shopaholics beware! This world famous street will send you on a bender to beat all shopping binges. If you can show self-restraint, save it for 5th Avenue where clothes shops and department stores compete for your credit card. Also, if you are following the popular trend of owning a piece of jewellery by the famous Tiffany & Co at 57th Street, there's a huge store here made famous by Audrey Hepburn in the movie, Breakfast at Tiffany’s. But if the prices scare you off, make like Hepburn’s character Holly Golightly and grab a coffee and pastry instead. 

Enjoy Some Pampering 

After running around the streets of Manhattan, you want to look good for your big night out and the oh-so-cool Spa Nalai at the Park Hyatt on W. 57th Street offers jaw dropping views of the Manhattan skyline. Also on the menu are customised facials, massages, and body treatments as well as "off the menu" services like cupping and lymphatic drainage treatments. 

Take Your Lover For Dinner

Paris aside, Manhattan is one of the best places in the world for dining à deux; the main challenge is choosing there to go! An institution since 1973, One If By Land, Two If By Sea is a New York icon, set in a 1767 carriage house once owned by former vice president Aaron Burr. Candlelit seclusion dinners range from a reasonable vegetarian six-course chef’s tasting, to a seven-course version that features boneless rack of lamb and beef wellington. And the private garden will make any dining couple feel like nobody else is in the room.

Have Your Photo Taken At Times Square

Newlyweds cuddle up with the bawdy neon billboards as a backdrop and have their wedding photos taken, and elsewhere other couples dodge the madding crowd to do the same. Times Square typifies New York’s street level grit and glamour, and captures the essence of the "New York minute".


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