One neighborhood on which to focus is Chelsea which is the old meat packing district. According to Travel + Leisure this is a hot area that “continues its remarkable ascendancy-from derelict wasteland to thriving nexus of art and architecture”.
Probably the talk of New York is the High Line which recently opened its second section. This is a wonderfully designed and landscaped strip of public space, atop an abandoned elevated freight railway, which opened in 2009. With the second phase opened you can walk from 30th and 10th all the way down to 12th. It is like an elevated park, nicely landscaped, with great views of old buildings and new contemporary high rise apartments. It is attracting 2 million visitors a year. At the southern end will be a new Renzo Piano designed branch of the Whitney Museum which is to open in 2015. You pass by buildings by architects Frank Gehry, Jean Nouvel and Shigeru Ban.
I highly suggest walking through the Chelsea Market, which is in a renovated abandoned factory that was converted to house a large number of specialty food retailers, bakeries, butchers, a fish market, wine store and restaurants. It is at 75 9th Ave., between 15th and 16th. The High Line runs above it, so stop by on your visit.
There is also a great Gallery District in Chelsea with most from 19th street north to 29th street and between 10th and 11th Avenues. Check out the map of galleries and what is currently on.
Just south of Chelsea in the historic Meatpacking District is the recently opened Whitney Museum of American Art at 99 Gansevoort St. at the southern end of the Highline. This is a major museum that is now located in its new building designed by famed Italian architect Renzo Piano. The building is known for its views, terraces featuring contemporary sculptures, large glass windows overlooking the Hudson river and surrounding neighborhood and high ceilings. Make sure to book your tickets online before you arrive. As most people start on the eight or top floor and work down, I found that the crowds were quite large. I opted for going down to the fifth floor and working my way back to the eighth. They offer tours and gallery talks, programs, music and dance performances as well as films.
Untitled at the Whitney: 99 Gansevoort St. This is a really wonderful restaurant on ground floor of the Whitney Museum of American Art. They also have the Studio Cafe on the 8th floor of the museum. The restaurant by Chef Danny Meyer’s Union Hospitality Group has announced that it will now focus on salads, sandwiches, and “light” plated entrees in order to get a menu with “broader appeal and accessibility.” The restaurant’s hours will also shift to align with the museum’s, which opens daily at 10:30 a.m. and closes at 6 p.m., except for 10 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. To make sure you get the time you want, be sure to book your reservation beforehand.
Fig & Olive: Check out the well-known Fig & Olive Meatpacking District at 420 W. 13th St.
There are some excellent hotels in the neighborhood:
The Standard Hotel High Line is located near the southern end of the High Line at 848 Washington Street. Its restaurant and bar are at street level. Don’t miss the Top of the Standard for a drink with amazing views of Lower Manhattan.
I also checked out the Dream Hotel Downtown, at 355 W. 16th, which is an upscale boutique hotel. It is sleek with a silver porthole façade that resembles a cheesegrater. The pool is on the second floor and you can walk below the pool in the bar and look up through openings in the ceiling. You might also try the Hotel Americano, the first US outpost of the Mexican hotel chain Grupo Habita. 518 W. 27th. I like their properties in Mexico City.
Gansevoort Hotel: With 186 guest rooms and 23 suites, this contemporary boutique hotel, is in a great location from which to explore the shops, restaurants and galleries in the area. The Whitney Museum is a block away.
Nearby is the Soho House 29-35 Ninth Avenue. This is the NYC branch of the London based membership hotel that now has multiple locations around the world.