24 Ways to Visit New York Like a Celebrity
But don't forget to play it cool.
New Yorkers pride themselves on their studied indifference to celebrity. This is, after all, a city where celebrities come to feel like they're leading normal lives. But that doesn't mean you don't notice—or care—when you do spot a famous face in the Big Apple. Take a cue from the A-listers, and experience the city from their point of view.
Where to Stay
1. Celebrities flock poolside at the Meatpacking District's Hotel Gansevoort to see stunning views of the Empire State Building. A Kris Humphries-era Kim Kardashian lived in the Gansvoort's Presidential Suite as she filmed Kourtney and Kim Take New York. Rihanna, Christina Aguilera, and Katy Perry are also frequent guests.
2. The Mandarin Oriental has made celebrity its brand. (You may have seen it's "She's/He's a fan" ad campaign, with stars like Lucy Liu or Morgan Freeman.) Overlooking Columbus Circle and Central Park, the Mandarin's reliably luxurious experience—and its frequent galas, fundraisers, and press junkets—has the rich and famous moving through like a revolving door. Katie Holmes, Sharon Stone, Eva Mendes, and Amanda Seyfried all have been spotted here.
3. Soho's own Mercer Hotel, originally built in 1890 for John Astor II, still houses the city's glamorous. It's a perfect starting point for a day of shopping: no wonder both Calvin Klein and Marc Jacobs have spent time here. Another plus: its delicious (and celebrity-frequented) restaurant, Mercer Kitchen, is right downstairs. (For fans of celebrity gossip: This is the spot where Russell Crowe was accused of attacking a Mercer Hotel concierge with a telephone.)
4. A New York Icon, The Plaza Hotel offers guests a signature opportunity to be inside a movie. That is to say, a movie setting: the Plaza has been featured in The Way We Were, The Great Gatsby, Almost Famous, Funny Girl, and of course Home Alone II: Lost In New York, among many others. The Plaza boasts more than a century of celebrity history: Marilyn Monroe, Brigitte Bardot, the Beatles, Truman Capote, and the fictional but just as iconic Eloise (who may have been based on Liza Minelli) all have made their way through its doors.
5. Soho Grand, the first luxury boutique hotel to open its doors in the neighborhood, attracts celebrities from Reese Witherspoon to Sarah Jessica Parker to George Clooney. Lindsay Lohan allegedly was kicked out of the hotel in 2007, but returned for an extended stay while filming the OWN network's 2014 reality series, Lindsay.
6. Famous for its views (both out and in), The Standard sits over the High Line and next to the Hudson. Its exclusive spaces, discothèque Le Bain, and lounge Top of the Standard (aka the former Boom Boom Room), have welcomed celebrities from Hillary Clinton to Erykah Badu to Madonna to Jay-Z. Beyoncé filmed the video for "Rocket" here, the D'Angelo-inspired slow-jam from her 2014 self-titled surprise album, in a Standard room.
7. The Waldorf Astoria New York, a "kind of vertical Beverly Hills," has—in addition to hosting Hollywood's glitterati—welcomed every U.S. president since Herbert Hoover to their famous Presidential Suite. From Elizabeth Taylor and Marilyn Monroe, to Julianna Margulies to Michael J. Fox, to all manner of real-life royalty: you can follow in their footsteps here.
Where to Shop
8. Stocking designers from Balenciaga to Yves Saint Laurent, Barneys—specifically the location on Madison Avenue—also racks up celebrity sightings. Keep a close eye out for famous fashionistas like Chloë Sevigny, Halle Berry, or Victoria Beckham.
9. Fifth Avenue department store Bergdorf Goodman has been fashionable since 1899. Spot Johnny Depp, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Mary J. Blige browsing its luxury goods.
10. Another upscale staple, handbag designer Henri Bendel (founded in 1895) continues to draw in a glamorous clientele. Sandra Bullock, Beyoncé, and Lupita Nyong'o have all shopped here.
11. Stars, they're just like us! At least it feels that way when you spot one in McNally Jackson, Soho's impeccably curated independent bookstore. The late David Bowie, Maggie Gyllenhaal, and even Taylor Swift have all been seen picking out the perfect book here.
12. As soon as the famously parent-friendly Brooklyn neighborhood of Park Slope began to attract celebrity families, they also appeared at the Park Slope Food Coop. That man packing your groceries is familiar for a reason: he's Peter Sarsgaard. Adrian Grenier once was a member, too.
13. Get ready for the red carpet at the Chelsea location of salon Serge Normant at John Freida. The celebrity hairdresser Normant styles Julia Roberts, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Julianne Moore's impeccable coifs. A haircut from the man himself runs around $500, but starts at $125 from other in-house stylists.
14. Iconic jeweler Tiffany & Co.'s has bedecked generations of stars, from Elizabeth Taylor to Jackie Onassis to Anne Hathway. An added bonus in their Fifth Avenue store? You can experience the midcentury elegance that inspired Holly Golightly, Audrey Hepburn's equally iconic character in Breakfast at Tiffany's.
15. Tracie Martyn offers skin treatments to the stars. Kate Winslet, Brad Pitt, Madonna, Cyndi Lauper, and Ke$ha all get facials here. Martyn also has a line of skin care products, for those who want to take the glamour home.
Where to Eat
16. Local-food centered ABC Kitchen is located inside a furniture store. Katy Perry, Russell Brand, Meg Ryan, Stanley Tucci, Kanye West, and Martha Stewart have been spotted navigating the showroom floor.
17. One of Vanity Fair editor Graydon Carter's three clubby restaurants, The Beatrice Inn has hosted Demi Moore, Karlie Kloss, Kristen Wiig, and Michael Keaton over the past year. Settle in for a night of people watching with a perfectly made martini.
18. Greenwich Village staple Da Silvano has served Anna Wintour, A-Rod, Ralph Fiennes, Steven Spielberg, and Donna Karan an array of delicious Tuscan classics. In fact, the eatery is often credited for introducing northern Italian cuisine to New York's food scene when it first opened in 1975.
19. Celebrities love a secret entrance. Well, we all do, and La Esquina delivers a particularly satisfying one. The unknowing visitor might wonder why a neon and chrome plated take-out taco joint has a suited bouncer with an ear piece standing by a grimy "Employees Only" door. Those in the know have come for the cavern-like restaurant located below: accessible only through that door. Reservations are required. It's worth it—you might see Kate Hudson, Julia Roberts, and George Clooney on the stairway down.
20. Co-owned by Robert DeNiro, Nobu's cutting-edge take on Japanese cuisine has attracted the likes of Rihanna, Heidi Klum, and Lady Gaga.
21. British gastropub The Spotted Pig will have you take back everything bad you've ever said about English food. The upstairs bar is cozy, and the exclusive third floor is where all the VIPs are to be found. You may find yourself rubbing elbows with Courtney Love, Michael Stipe, Luke Wilson, or Mario Batali. Arrive early, space fills up fast.
Where to Drink
22. A sports bar for the stars, the 40/40 Club is co-owned by Jay Z. The hip hop mogul (and Beyoncé's husband) is his own attraction, bringing stars like Nicki Minaj, Gabrielle Union, Dwyane Wade, and his superstar spouse here to watch the game.
23. On the border between Chelsea and the Meatpacking District, Avenue has hosted Marc Jacobs, Kanye West, Derek Jeter, LeBron James, Jamie Foxx, and Michael Jordan. If you can get in, try the Kobe-beef sliders.
24. Located behind a false—and purposefully misleading—bookstore ("Eldrige New and Used Books"), The Eldridge's intimate space feels, and is, super exclusive. Mariah Carey, Clare Danes, Valentino, Nick Cannon, and Will Forte have all been seen sipping their $30 cocktails (one is made with gold flakes).
Molly McArdle is a native Washingtonian and a writer based in Brooklyn. You can find her on both Twitter and Instagram at @mollitudo.