A Designer's Guide to New York With Alan Eckstein

American designer Alan Eckstein
American designer Alan Eckstein | Courtesy of Clement Pascal
Photo of Alicia Miller
17 September 2021

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.

The Somerset House

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Alan Eckstein
Designer 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.”


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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.”


Restaurant, Austrian, $$$
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2B6066J Wallse, 344 West 11th Street, New York, NY
© Robert K Chin - Storefronts / Alamy Stock Photo
“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.”


Restaurant, American, $$$
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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.”

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  • Salon 94

    Art Gallery
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    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.”

    Hotel Delmano

    Cocktail Bar, Cocktails, $$$
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    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.”

    The Bowery Hotel

    Boutique Hotel
    4.6/5 (242 Reviews)
    The Bowery Hotel
    Courtesy of The Bowery Hotel / Booking.com
    Price Drop
    Now from $392 per night
    “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.”
    More info

    Soho Grand Hotel

    Boutique Hotel, Suite Hotel, Hotel
    4.4/5 (925 Reviews)
    Soho Grand Hotel
    Courtesy of Soho Grand Hotel / Expedia
    Price Drop
    Now from $228 per night
    “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.’
    More info
    These recommendations were updated on September 17, 2021 to keep your travel plans fresh.

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