Living luxury on a New York City vacation

My friends and I like to play “what if” games, and lately one query that seems to keep resurfacing is this: if you could take an über luxurious, no holds-barred vacation, where would you go? A private beach in the South Pacific? A chateau tucked into the French Alps? A month-long African safari? It’s an interesting game, mostly because our answers seem to change from year to year – or even day to day – depending on our moods. And honestly, vacations are all about moods.

A recent, somewhat budget-friendly trip to New York City fresh in my mind, I began to mentally plan a luxe Big Apple trip as an answer to this latest round of “what if?”

First up: where to stay? Definitely Upper East Side, where amazing views of Central Park would be the first thing I see in the morning and the last thing I see at night. The Carlyle, a preferred stop for U.S. presidents and European royalty; The Pierre, that copper-topped beauty that just received a $100 million renovation reestablished its reputation of foremost grace and elegance; and The St. Regis, that bastion of Gilded Age opulence where guest rooms are appointed with priceless antiques and custom made furnishings and second-to-none butler service is de rigeur.

Then there’s food, glorious food. New, hip restaurants open seemingly daily in the city, so I rack my brain for the Old Guard eateries. Sirio Maccioni’s masterpiece Le Cirque is a sure bet, a place where the new industrialists and headline-grabbing celebrities dine regularly. The carnivore in me would tuck into a porterhouse at Peter Luger Steakhouse. And lunchtime would mean a visit to Cipriani on West Broadway.

As tempting as it would be to lounge around my hotel room, my every whim and desire being attended to, getting out and about is non-negotiable. Securing car service (Rolls Royce limo preferably), visits to The Whitney on Madison Avenue and a private Champagne-fueled sunset cruise around the island are must-dos. And of course, nothing says decadence like high tea at The Plaza, a true blue New York City tradition. And when night falls, box seats to an opera at the Met or a concert at Carnegie Hall followed by cocktails at the Blue Note Jazz Club on West Third are absolutely on the agenda.

Then there are things that are so out of the realm of possibility on a standard vacation that, in this scenario, they seem required. Trying the $1,000 Golden Opulence Sundae at Serendipity III; hobnobbing with the city’s movers and shakers at the Marquee lounge; and maxing out a credit card or two along Madison Avenue. No city does luxury quite like New York; I can’t think of a better place to live it up on an uber luxurious vacation.

Of course, ask me tomorrow and I’ll probably have changed my mind. Maybe that safari or chalet in the Alps is the way to go?

Peter Rerig is a Senior Writer for Vacations.com.

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