The far west side of Chelsea is NYC’s premier contemporary-art district, and it’s home to such high-profile spaces as Gagosian Gallery and Gladstone Gallery. The development of the High Line has brought more visitors to the formerly desolate area. The verdant, elevated promenade commands great views of the surrounding architecture—a mix of industrial landmarks and gleaming new structures—and passes through the old loading dock of the former Nabisco factory, which now houses the eateries and shops of Chelsea Market. You can also find worthwhile watering holes, restaurants and shops, and flea market aficionados can peruse vestiges of a sprawling hub for antiques and bric-a-brac.
With four-star ambitions and prices to match, Mario Batali’s cavernous restaurant has become nothing less than the city’s top destination for refined, upscale Italian cuisine. The clubby dining room, serenaded nightly by a twinkling pianist on a grand piano feels like the lobby of a very opulent grand hotel. The most showstopping dishes, intended for sharing, include hunks of lamb and veal and pitch-perfect risotto for two. The all-Italian wine list is suitably encyclopedic and exorbitantly priced.
In the early evening, the height of this dreamy, overgrown rooftop bar affords a regal view of gleaming West Side buildings and the cloud-streaked horizon. But as the sun descends over the Hudson and darkness encroaches, something stranger occurs. Christmas lights encircling small trees and the rafters overhead blink to life. The place is helplessly romantic, capturing the looseness and frivolity of a well-oiled summer wedding, but in a way that never feels saccharine (the name of the bar, after all, is borrowed from the famous Scottish field where six 17th-century “witches” were hanged and burned).
To untimely rip and paraphrase a line from Macbeth: Our eyes are made the fools of the other senses, or else worth all the rest. A multitude of searing sights crowd the spectator's gaze at the bedazzling and uncanny theater installation Sleep No More. Your sense of space and depth---already compromised by the half mask that audience members must don---is further blurred as you wend through more than 90 discrete spaces, ranging from a cloistral chapel to a vast ballroom floor.
Perched above the High Line on concrete pillars, the Standard High Line’s super-modern rooms feature wall-to-wall windows, which ensure tons of light and stunning views of the city and the Hudson River. (The windows also allow outsiders a look in—perfect for exhibitionists!) The high-design Standard is one of the trendiest NYC hotels, with plenty of nightlife both nearby and inside—dine at the hotel’s Standard Grill and imbibe at the outdoor Biergarten. Play naughty at the clubby rooftop Le Bain, or drink in the exclusive views at Top of the Standard.
If you do just one thing…
Make sure to stop by the best Chelsea art galleries. Metro Pictures, 303 Gallery and James Cohan Gallery are some of the top spots.