Made up of West Village, Greenwich Village, East Village, Soho, Noho, and everything below.
Ah, Lower Manhattan. While the Upper East Side is beautiful and extravagant, I think I left my heart in downtown Manhattan, nestled somewhere between the cobblestone streets of West Village and endless boutiques in Soho.
Nine months ago, I finally landed in a place I’ve been dreaming of going for the past decade. When I started planning for New York in July last year, I picked the Internet apart trying to figure out what the best places to stay were, the safest areas, things to see and do, and sought out detailed recommendations from friends.
I’ve put together my favourite pieces of Lower Manhattan, from my first and far from last trip there, in an effort to help you on yours should you be planning to go. The more I travel, the more I want to help you do the research for your next destination, so you can spend more time experiencing the city, rather than trying to decide what to do next.
Where we stayed:
I can’t recommend Airbnb enough. If you’re not familiar with it, it’s a community of people from all over the world renting out rooms, or entire properties for short or long stays. From cramped, brick-clad studios to minimalistic apartments, and fancy-pants penthouses, you’ll find a place to stay that suits your style, and your budget. And while West Village was on the more expensive side when it came to accommodation, I couldn’t have imagined a more perfect location.
My mum and I stayed in a beautifully furnished alcove studio, just a short walk away to some of New Yorks best boutique, cafe’s and public transport at the end of the street. I remember gasping when I walked in. It was decorated exactly as I would have done so myself, with coffee table books, candles, rugs and bits and bobs that had been collected over the years. We found it to be a great base for whatever we wanted to do – with a trip to Central Park taking us a maximum of 20 or so minutes by Subway, and much less elsewhere. There are cafe’s everywhere, and the apartment was steps away from Bleecker Street – boutique central.
Our host, funnily enough, turned out to be from Australia too and had gone to the same University as me, only a few years apart. She was extremely flexible with check in and check out (6am – 8pm!), and we were in contact every few days, checking in with each other and exchanging recommendations.
Where to eat/drink coffee:
You know I’d only recommend one place if I could, but for the sake of this post…..
By Chloe (!!!!!!!!!), Greenwich Village
My favourite restaurant. Not just in New York, but period. It’s so good that there is always a queue, no matter when you go. It’s 100% vegan fast food, not that you’d be able to tell. Be warned though, it ruins every non-By Chloe meal you eat afterwards. I spent nearly every day eating there, and every day that I wasn’t there, I wish I had been.
You have to try: Everything, but specifically the Guac Burger, Air-baked French Fries, Quinoa Taco Salad, Pesto Meatball Burger and the hot chocolate if you’re there when it’s on the menu. Dark chocolate, peanut butter, almond milk and marshmallows – you don’t want to miss this.
Butcher’s Daughter, Nolita
Also a busy place I’m told, though I only visited once to meet a friend. We had the Tacos Verdes (lettuce tacos) and they were messily delicious.
Chalait, West Village
They’re known for their matcha, and they do it well. I had coffee here some mornings and it’s a cute little minimalistic corner cafe. Avocado on toast was delicious but extremely overpriced.
Maison Kayser/Eric Kayser, West Village
Great coffee, and beautiful dairy and egg-free dark chocolate cakes and cookies that were my go-to on our walk to the Subway. They have quite a few locations around NYC, complete with a traditional French bakery and coffee bar.
Pop Bar, West Village
Even on -9° Celsius (15.8°F) days, “handcrafted gelato on a stick” is worth it. So, so worth it. I had the Strawberry popSorbetto, half-dipped in dark chocolate and covered in peanuts.
What we did:
Most days we spent hours and hours walking from West Village, through to Soho, then finding ourselves all the way up near Central Park. I think this is why all of the neighbourhoods of Manhattan blur into one for me. I think the best thing to do in Lower Manhattan is to walk everywhere, to truly experience it. Find solace in the warm boutiques and cafe’s in Winter (and then strip your 100 layers of clothing momentarily), meet with friends and make new ones, and appreciate the history and architecture of the buildings and landmarks that surround you.
Walk until you get lost, then keep walking until it’s familiar and feels like home. It won’t take long.