A Designer's Guide to New York With Alan Eckstein

American designer Alan Eckstein
American designer Alan Eckstein | Courtesy of Clement Pascal
Alicia Miller

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.

1. The Somerset House


Alan Eckstein
Courtesy of Kendall Mills

“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.”

2. Noah


JGRA0Y The Noah boutique on Mulberry Street in Nolita in New York City
© Ed Rooney / Alamy Stock Photo

“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.”

4. Gem

Restaurant, American

Flynn McGarry Gem
Courtesy of Aaron Bengochea / Gem

“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.”

5. Salon 94

Art Gallery

M67YJG Niki de Saint Phalle sculpture New York
© Patti McConville / Alamy Stock Photo

“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.”

6. Hotel Delmano

Cocktail Bar, Cocktails

Hotel Delmano
Courtesy of Hotel Delmano

“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.”

7. The Bowery Hotel

Boutique Hotel

Two walls of floor to ceiling windows give this room at The Bowery Hotel impressive views across Manhattan.
Courtesy of The Bowery Hotel / Booking.com

“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.”

8. Soho Grand Hotel

Boutique Hotel, Suite Hotel, Hotel

Soho Grand Hotel
Courtesy of Soho Grand Hotel / Expedia
“This hotel is classic Soho. I DJ’d here for many years, and it’s still the place to come for a good night out. Even if you’re not staying – if you’re just walking by around midnight – you can come in and see what’s up. But another reason it’s great is that it’s been here ever since Soho became a cultural center in the 90s, and while it’s modern and fresh, it never tries too hard. All the good things about this place never seem to change.’
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