Shake your way over to the coolest cocktail bars and hot-ticket hotels with our insider’s guide to the most stylish spots, from Soho to Brooklyn and beyond.
Born and raised in Long Island, Alan Eckstein spent his childhood exploring New York City’s famed five boroughs. A former fashion designer and co-founder behind the Timo Weiland label, he now owns The Somerset House, a curated furniture restoration shop and interior design purveyor in Williamsburg – and spends more time in the city than ever. Here he shares his top New York design hotspots, from the best buildings to the finest galleries and the must-find shops.
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Looking for an expert's perspective?Uncover my top 3 recommended places from each continent on the map.
1. GuatemalaAn express adventure for those with limited time off. Prepare yourself incredible experiences. You will hike a volcano, visit mayan temples and witness a ceremony and take in beautiful colonial Antigua.
2. BelizeA quick trip not too far away for those seeking a relaxing mini break. You will have plenty of free time to relax but also some awesome activities to experience the rainforest and the caribbean sea.
3. MexicoAn exciting mini trip exploring the lesser known colonial towns of central Mexico. This is hte perfect trip for someone with limited time off and still wants to turn on explorer mode and do something different.
1. EcuadorA remarkable 8 days adventure through the Andes and the Amazon rainforest. The best choice for adventure seekers wishing to visit the 2 most iconic areas of South America, in only 1 week and no flights.
2. PeruAn alternative itinerary to classic Peru, from Cusco to Arequipa. This itinerary is great combination of highlights Cusco and Machu Picchu with the lesser known Arequipa and Colca Canyon.
1. ItalyThe ultimate Italian experience from the vibrant streets of Naples to the breathtaking sceneries of the Amalfi Coast followed by Matera and down to Puglia with its golden beaches, intense flavours and fascinating destinations.
2. ScotlandEmbark on this great adventure starting from London all the way to Scotland with a true Scottish experience made of breathtaking sceneries, whisky tasting and ..lots of fun! Ideal for train lovers and explorers.
3. PortugalA wonderful train journey around Portugal, from the romantic city of Porto to the Douro Valley, to the beautiful Aveiro all the way to Lisbon and Sintra. The perfect trip to train, culinary and culture lovers.
1. South KoreaDiscover incredible temples, mountains and modern cities on this 10 day adventure. This trip is perfect for those seeking immersion in the cuisine, culture and natural wonders of South Korea.
2. ThailandFrom Bankgok to Angkor Wat to Ho Chi Minh City and everything in between - adventure through the heart of South-East Asia. Taste the delights, see history brought to life and unwind on a Mekong River cruise.
3. Sri LankaA fantastic adventure that showcases Sri Lanka's fantastic landscapes, wildlife and flavours. With 3 epic rail journeys, 3 UNESCO heritage sites and time to relax, this trip has loads to offer at a great price
1. MoroccoAn epic journey across Morocco: from Casablanca to Marrakech, through the blue city of Chefchaouen to the wonders of the desert and deep to the High Atlas Mountains - this trip has it all! Ideal for true explorers!
2. EgyptFrom Cairo to Aswan, this trip brings the land of the pharaohs to life. You'll visit the Pyramids, Valley of the Kings and Luxor Temple and cruise down the Nile in style. This is the perfect way to explore Egypt.
“My store The Somerset House is in the heart of Williamsburg, in a cool space with 30ft (9m) ceilings and a retractable garage door. We sell collectable vintage design pieces, much of which we’ve refurbished ourselves. The space is curated, so you won’t see everything we have at once, but expect the likes of George Nakashima woodworks with pieces from Africa and French art deco sprinkled in. Expect plenty of music: I play all sorts through our stereo set up, everything from Glenn Gould to the Grateful Dead.”
“I used to be a fashion designer and I love the menswear brand Noah. The guy who started it up was the creative director of Supreme for many years, and some would say that this label is a graduation from that brand. It’s well-made stuff, produced as sustainably as possible. They do two things particularly well: tailored pieces from Italy and sweats. Polar opposites, but you’ve got to buy both. Their New York outpost is on 195 Mulberry St in Soho.”
“Palazzo Chupi is one of my favorite buildings in New York, designed by the Brooklyn-based artist Julian Schnabel. You can’t go inside – it’s a private apartment block – but you’ll want to take it in from the street anyhow. It’s extraordinary: a giant bright pink building set in the West Village, tucked in between the regular ones. I just love it. Make a themed day of it by seeing the building, then heading to Austrian restaurant Wallsé in the West Village, home to one of Schnabel’s paintings – a portrait of the chef-owner, Kurt Gutenbrunner, made with broken plates.”
“Gem isn’t cheap, but it’s worth it. Chef Flynn was a child prodigy and his food here, on the Lower East side, is just incredible. It feels very New York – and creative, not like a normal experience. There’s a bit of Japan in the design, a bit of Austria, too. It used to be a tasting menu, but they’ve changed to à la carte and I can’t wait to go back soon. I’ve got my eye on the maitake mushroom and artichoke schnitzel, and the grilled lobster with smoked chilli and cucumber leaves.”
“Salon 94 is set in a massive townhouse on the upper part of Manhattan. It’s an art gallery with great free exhibits where everything is for sale. It’s becoming more and more popular, though it’s still on the smaller side compared to the big New York galleries. I went to see Niki de Saint Phalle’s sculptures there; her work feels very human to me. Another place to try, of course, is the Guggenheim, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. It never gets old, seeing art in the iconic rotunda; you don’t miss anything as you walk up.”
“This stylish, romantic bar in Williamsburg is right by my store. The cocktails are amazing, and I say that as someone who isn’t a subscriber to cocktail culture. But everything I drink here I want more of. The cocktail menu changes, so see what they’ve got on – or stick with wine, because the list is great. Another favorite place for wine in the city is Peoples Wine, owned by singer Mayer Hawthorne, a friend of mine. The sommeliers are so knowledgeable, so don’t play it safe: go with their suggestions and you won’t be disappointed.”
“When New Yorkers move away from the city, they always seem to stay at The Bowery when they come back. I think it’s because it feels very New York. The location is great – in the Bowery district, which is as New York as it gets, with a mix of creatives, bankers and different cultures. The rooms are tasteful – not trendy, but with good antiques, velvets, real gilded things. And they’ve got a red and white thing going on, which I really like.”
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I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!
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Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.
We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.