Spotlight on this up-and-coming Manhattan neighbourhood

Interest has been gathering around this curiously named Manhattan neighbourhood for some time. And now, NoMad (or, North of Madison Square Park) has truly stepped into the spotlight. From independent boutiques and innovative restaurants to some of the best new hotels in New York City, discover a district that’s truly on the rise. 

Although NoMad only became an official New York district in 1999, this area of central Manhattan has a rich (and risqué) history. In the 19th century, 25th-30th Streets west of Broadway were the heart of ‘Satan’s Circus’ – a hotbed of bars, brothels and betting houses. And yet, on the other, more upstanding side of the neighbourhood stood luxurious theatres and nightclubs that drew the celebrities of the day, from Oscar Wilde to J.P Morgan.

After a spell as a more commercial district in the 20th century, NoMad is once again a luxury destination with a creative edge, known for fine dining, chic cocktail bars and ground-breaking boutique hotels.

SEE

Those with an eye for architecture need only look up. NoMad shares the ‘Gilded Age’ and baroque-revival style with some of its more familiar neighbours such as Flat Iron. Today, many of these buildings have been carefully renovated, such as the New York Life Building, with its distinctive gold spire.

Down on the ground, NoMad’s creative energy finds outlets in all sorts of places. Visit the Museum at the FIT to explore the history of fashion, from ornate gowns made centuries ago to emerging designers using cutting-edge techniques. Or stroll through Madison Square Park, which turns into an open-air gallery during the summer. This year, the park features six sculptures by Syrian-born artist, Diana al-Hadid.

BUY

If you want a shopping experience with the high-end style of Fifth Avenue and the independence of the Lower East Side, NoMad is made for you. Browse carefully-curated labels from indie designers-to-watch at Opening Ceremony. Seek interior design inspiration from perfectly polished Jung Lee. Or dive into the vast weekend flea markets at the Showplace Antique Centre to find one-of-a-kind treasures.

EAT AND DRINK

World-conquering burger brand Shake Shack started out in NoMad – and the Madison Square Park restaurant is still the go-to place for a quick bite. If you’re in the mood for something more refined, you’ll be spoilt for choice. Knock back just-shucked oysters at the John Dory Oyster Bar. Feast on modern Indian cuisine at Pondicherry, or a multi-course sushi extravaganza at O Ya.

After dinner, make a bee-line for Patent Pending, a coffee shop with a speakeasy-style bar hidden away behind it. Grab a cosy leather booth and enjoy cocktails by candlelight. For live music, head for Jazz Gallery – which is fast making a name for itself as the place to catch the next generation of jazz greats. Or take in skyline views from the rooftop bar at HGU New York.

STAY

Many of the hotels in NoMad play with the neighbourhood’s historic style and forward-thinking spirit. Take HGU New York, for example. Pre-war architecture and mid-century-modern furnishings set a timeless scene – mixed in with bold, contemporary art and spa treatments such as jet-lag-busting IV infusion therapy. This is a boutique hotel that’s full of surprises.