With less than a month to go before Christmas and a shopping list as long as your arm, it would be all to easy to throw in the towel and embark on a trolley dash around John Lewis, grabbing last minute gifts as you go. Stop. Instead, you might want to try Christmas shopping RIH style. Picture it: A gorgeous city, glamorous bars, pampering spas – and some of the best shopping in the world. Enter, New York. With flight prices on Virgin Atlantic still incredibly reasonable (£550 at the last look), a quick dash stateside is just what your inner shopaholic needs and it’s much, much more fun than a supermarket trolley dash. Ice skating in Central Park, Bryant Park or at te Rockefeller Centre, eggnogs in cosy Brooklyn hideaways and exceptional shopping deals, offers and experiences, it’s the perfect pre-Christmas getaway. Here’s how to complete your Christmas list in style.
Get crafty in Bryant Park’s Winter Village
Until January 4th, Winter Village transforms midtown’s famous Bryant Park – where New York Fashion Week shows always take place – into a pop-up festive shopping Mecca. The huge ice rink is open to the public and has night-time performances, while the 125 boutiques and food stalls laid out along the park’s alleys and terraces will keep you and your purse strings occupied for hours.
Take a shopping tour
If hectic sales shopping and bustling department stores just aren’t your thing, the ultimate way to find bespoke, bargain shopping from the city’s best designers is with Style Room’s Shopping Tours. Founder Karen Parker O’Brien tailors each tour depending on what you’re after. If you want jewellery, she’ll take you to the city’s showrooms and studios for private tours, shopping and major discounts. Looking for exceptional workwear? Try the Italian tailors and show emporiums. Travel options include on foot, by coach or even in a limousine (complete with Champagne) should you fancy.
Sleep in the best of Midtown
Midtown in the perfect location for your city break and luxury St Giles properties are exceptional value for money. The Tuscany and The Court are both on East 39th Street, in the trendy Murray Hill area, just a few minutes’ walk from Bryant Park. The Court is a warm, cosy boutique hotel with deliciously plush red velvet blankets draped over the beds and soft carpets to sink your tired-from-shopping feet into. RIH’s suite at the Tuscany had a pristine marble bathroom with Molton Brown products, a living room with plasma TV and desk looking out over skyscrapers and king-sized bed fit for queens. Head to The Court’s Beer & Buns restaurant for a post-shopping Cobb Salad with Crab Cake slider. Yum.
Pamper yourself at the New York’s best spa
Shopping and snow are guaranteed to play havoc with your skin, so head to the Julien Farel Spa on the Upper East Side. The flagship salon is situated at the Loews Regency New York, and their Power Hour gives you three treatments at once. Choose from manicures, pedicures, facials, full make-up or blow-dries and customise your own trio of treatments. On my last visit I opted for a mani/pedi and mini facial. Lying in the VIP room whilst three beauty technicians worked their magic simultaneously, I’d never felt more glamorous or pampered. The Yves Saint Laurent nail polish didn’t chip for four days and after the revitalising Oxygen facial my skin felt plumped and beautifully radiant. Post-treatment, take time to relax in the spa’s pristine white lobby with a glass of chilled Pinot. Perfect.
Be a tourist for the day
Shopping aside, you can’t visit New York without taking in at least one of its many, wonderful cultural attractions. For $109, the NYC City Pass gives you free anytime tickets to the Museum of Natural History, the Empire State Building’s 86th Floor Observatory, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA), the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island and Art Deco Top of the Rock vantage point and the mighty Rockefeller Centre, plus even more savings and offers. You can tick off a ton of them in an afternoon and still have time for shopping and cocktails.
Return flights to New York with Virgin Atlantic start at £554. For more information, visit www.virginatlantic.com.