Film Set Cities: New York

16 Oct 2012

Forget Kourtney and Kim, it’s Ahlan!’s turn to take New York. With so many movies made here, this city is a star in its own right – pack a bag and prepare to be dazzled!

It was a tough job, but after much debate we decided upon the top three most iconic celebtastic New York hotels of all time... 

Celeb patrons include the Queen of England, Elizabeth Taylor, Frank Sinatra and Marilyn Monroe, plus every sitting American president since Herbert Hoover. You can cyber-stalk the celeb archives at Being a star magnet, it’s one of the city’s top locations for movie press junkets, so hang around and you never know who you might bump into. Recent junkets have included Friends with Kids and The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. An official New York City landmark since 1993, the hotel’s also a star in its own right.
There are a whopping 1,235 rooms, including 208 mini and one-bedroom suites, which is a rare and brilliant option for single travellers. VIPs stay in Waldorf Towers, classed as a boutique hotel within a hotel, occupying floors 27 to 42, featuring luxury suites with up to four bedrooms. The lavishly refurbished Royal Suite is the former residence of abdicated British King Edward and the love of his life, American Wallis Simpson. 
Don’t miss the famed Sunday brunch served from 10am to 2pm in Peacock Alley in the hotel lobby, and sample dishes that incorporate honey harvested from hives kept on the roof of the hotel. Obviously, you need to leave space for a Waldorf salad (‘When in Rome…’ and all that). The Waldorf is also the birthplace of red velvet cake and eggs Benedict. Try them at the hotel’s classic American brasserie, Oscar’s. There’s also Bull & Bear – a busy steakhouse with a popular bar, the low-key Harry’s Bar, and even a Starbucks.
INFO: Waldorf Astoria New York, 301 Park Avenue, 001 (212) 355 3000,; rack rate varies – currently from $399 per night.

The Waldorf runs hotel heritage tours at 11.30am, every Thursday and Saturday, ending with lunch at Oscar’s. Call 001 (212) 872 1275 to book.

Famed for its butler service and for being one of the original grand hotels, it has stayed at the top of our luxury holiday wish list by getting creative with its suites. We love the delicate designer trimmings of the Dior suite and the serene palette of whites, beiges, charcoal and silver complementing the Tiffany blue accent colour in the suite dedicated to the famous jeweller. Most recently, Bentley joined the luxury lifestyle brands getting homage at the hotel. The $9,500-a-night one-bed Bentley Suite features an entryway foyer, dining room and living room complete with floor-to-ceiling windows. Fittings reflect those found in the classic cars and leather features in furnishings, plus there’s an in-suite bubbly bar and guests get complimentary access to the St Regis Bentley Mulsanne within a 10-block radius of the hotel, so there’s no excuse to drink and drive.
INFO: St Regis New York, 2 East 55th Street, 001 (212) 753 4500,; rack rate varies from $1,295 per night approx. 

A night in the Presidential Suite can set you back a cool $24,000, but this is small change for the celebs who’ve stayed here. This 23-storey, 1905 landmark building has 185 luxury guestrooms and 54 suites. Each is equipped with a deluxe marble bathroom with mood lighting and televisions inset above the tubs. To get a taste of this icon, book a table at its signature restaurant, contemporary American Fives, or head to the more laid-back Gotham-style Bar at Fives, which offers traditional afternoon tea and a panoramic peep over Fifth Avenue. In a nod to its Hong Kong heritage, Salon de Ning is an intimate rooftop bar-lounge with Chinese-style day beds and two outdoor terraces with stunning city views. Love! Another NYC must-do is the spa at the Peninsula. It’s got a reputation for bringing all the latest treatments to town. Try the new facial treatments by French skincare house Biologique Recherche – they’re pretty special!
INFO: The Peninsula New York, 700 Fifth Avenue at 55th Street, 001 (212) 956 2888,; rack rate from $995 per night. 

From the classic kitsch ‘I heart New York’ memorabilia sold in souvenir shops to the best designer threads money can buy, NYC is one of the world’s best shopping destination. Christmas shopping, January sales and Fashion’s Night Out (August 2013) are three of the biggest shopping events in the upcoming calendar, and here are our pick of department stores not to be missed.

Barneys New York: Fashion-forward, kinda affordable and a big hit with Rachel from Friends.
INFO: 660 Madison Avenue.
Bergdorf Goodman: Very pricey designer department store for the elite shopper. Worth window-shopping at.
INFO: 754 Fifth Avenue.
Bloomingdale’s: With a sister store in Dubai, you get the picture – but expect better markdowns.
INFO: 504 Broadway.
Century 21: Discount designer clothes worth a day’s browsing – our fave find by far. INFO: 22 Cortlandt Street.
Henri Bendel: In a photo-worthy landmark building, this store is quirkier than it’s brethren and there’s a brilliant makeup department for beauty mavens.
INFO: 712 Fifth Avenue.
Macy’s: In a word, MASSIVE! If there’s a sale on, and there usually is, you’re in for a bargain.
INFO: Herald Square on West 34th and Broadway.
Saks Fifth Avenue: The legendary flagship is in the high-end arena. Take your credit card – or perhaps we should be warning you to leave it at home...
INFO: 611 Fifth Avenue.

New York Restaurant Week is a good time to sample the city’s finer establishments at discount prices – there are usually two (one in January and one in July – see for details). But it’s not all about fine dining – some of the star’s fave dishes include the humble burger and we know where to get the best one...

This is New York’s best restaurant (it’s in at number six on the World’s Best Restaurants List, with only one other competitor coming close – Eleven Madison Park is number 10). With a signature starter of Oysters and Pearls, a dish that combines a sabayon of pearl tapioca with Island Creek oysters and a big dollop of caviar, you know what to expect from the rest.
INFO: Time Warner Center, Columbus Circle; 001 (212) 823 9335,

Scott Disick’s attempt at being a grown-up – opening his own restaurant – has been rated zero by the New York Post. Their reviewer described it as “a mind-, ear- and palate-numbing ‘Japanese’ joint. adding that “Ryu might have the neighbourhood’s dullest design”. Still, all this bad press is great for bargains. After being open only four weeks, the restaurant has already appeared on local discount voucher site Gilt City, offering 45 per cent off ( Plus you might see a Kard.
INFO: Ryu, 46 Gansevoort, 001 (212) 776 1446.

Celebrity chef Heston Blumenthal made a TV show about creating the perfect burger. He travelled the world in his quest to find the ultimate beef patty and his mission took him to New York. There he was inspired by two beef-flippers, Shake Shack and Burger Joint. Of the two, we prefer Shake Shack. Add them to your NY intinerary if you want to taste burger perfection.
INFO: Shake Shack, various locations; for more details see

THE 40/40 CLUB
Jay-Z’s new “all American sports bar” in hipster borough Brooklyn is named after a baseball score only achieved by four players in the game’s history. “When we were thinking of a name, we wanted something exclusive; the 40/40 club in Brooklyn is as exclusive as it gets,” says Jay-Z. The club has five big VIP lounges – the biggest is named after the man himself, and Bey and Jay have hosted the world’s biggest names there, including President Obama!
INFO: 6 West 25th Street, 001 (212) 832 4040.

Before you visit a city, sample its flavours on film. Here are our must-see New York movies
SATC: The Movie
New York was always our fifth favourite character in the SATC series. In the first movie we saw the stars at the Four Seasons and Bryant Park hotels, Prince Street restaurant Raoul’s and, our top recommendation, hip modern Asian restaurant Buddakan. INFO: 75 Ninth Avenue.
When Harry Met Sally
Who could forget Meg Ryan’s outrageous performance in Katz’s Delicatessen in this classic flick? Faking it never looked so real! Head down to this delish deli, but please don’t relive the moment – you’ll probably get chucked out! INFO: 205 East Houston Street.
Breakfast at Tiffany’s
You can see where Ms Golightly lived at 169 East 71st Street, East Side (it was on the market for $5.850m earlier this year), and where she liked to enjoy an alfresco breakfast gazing in the window of the jewellery store. INFO: Tiffany & Co, 727 Fifth Avenue at 57th Street.

: US$1 = Dhs3.67
Getting around: Taxi and subway are the two favoured modes of transport (after limos, of course).
Getting there: Virgin Atlantic flies from Dubai to New York Visit

Have you given your Ahlan! a shake? No? Well, perhaps you should, because hidden inside of one of the 18 October issues is a golden ticket to join Barasti on Tour for an A-list vacay to the Big Apple with flights courtesy of Virgin Atlantic! Yes, that’s right, we’re channelling Willy Wonka and one lucky reader will find a glowing ticket to light up their face and transport them to the world’s most iconic film set city! The five-day trip of a lifetime is worth Dhs30,000, while Ahlan! only costs Dhs8! Bulk buy and find that ticket! The winner joins 19 other lucky holidaymakers who won their tickets at Barasti, the trip takes place from 9 to 15 November. Good luck!