New York luxury shopping for less best Places to Shop in NYC
New York luxury shopping for less
It’s still the world capital of luxury shopping – and with a little online homework, New York offers real bargains.
“Yes, madam, a lot of our British and Irish visitors say they are surprised at the price differences,” murmurs the subtly scented and suited old-school salesman.
I am peering into a glass-topped cabinet at a collection of diamond rings in Tiffany & Co, on Fifth Avenue, New York, having a Holly Golightly rapture moment. The shop is not only redolent – still – of the comforting glamour it exuded in Breakfast at Tiffany’s. It is also much cheaper than the London branch.
The classic Tiffany engagement ring, for instance, costs $8,500 (£5,315) here. That’s £1,000 less than in London, where that same ring – as I know for sure, having recently been shopping with a friend who’s about to propose to a long-distance girlfriend – is £6,300.
The salesman is coy about providing exact London/New York comparisons, so, back at the hotel, pausing only to text my friend with the vital news, I go online to the Tiffany US and British websites. Amazing. The “Tiffany 1837” 18-carat cuff, £4,175 in London, turns out to cost $5,500 (£3,437) in New York.
Jean Schlumberger platinum and diamond earrings, £2,050 in London, are $2,700 (£1,685) in New York; a 16-stone diamond and platinum ring that costs £5,500 in London is $7,250 (£4,531) in New York.
New York is still the world’s shopping HQ. None of its rivals offer anywhere near as comprehensive a range of delectable things at unbeatable prices. Milan is good for hard-edged high fashion, but only if you are not scared by spider-thin sales assistants who stalk around pointedly tidying the hangers behind anyone who dares browse. Paris has the world’s loveliest scents, cosmetics and lingerie stores, but clotheswise is hard if you are tall, since almost everything is aimed at the shorter French person.
Bangkok is excellent for gems and Tokyo for futuristic beauty and electronic stuff, but they are a long way to go to shop. Stockholm, Helsinki and Copenhagen have the world’s best shops for calmly-designed homeware, but are fairly boring for clothes.
What is especially satisfying about New York is that it is easy to compare prices online. Tiffany is far from being alone in operating a usefully informative website (www.tiffany.com). Department stores such as Bloomingdale’s, Bergdorf Goodman and Saks all run sites that make it easy to see what’s in store and what everything costs.
Clothes make some of the best buys, of course, as long as you are shopping for American designers. This spring at Saks (www.saksfifthavenue.com), for instance, online research reveals that you will find the 7 For All Mankind “Josefina” boy-cut jeans that are £200 at Net-a-Porter for $198 (£123). The J Brand loose chinos that are £230 at Net-a-Porter are $216 (£135). At the old-world Ralph Lauren store on Madison Avenue (www.ralphlauren.com), the standard men’s polo shirt, £65 in Harrods, costs $75 (£47). Marc Kaufman Furs , New York’s Largest Fur Store (kaufmanfurs.com) And in Bloomingdale’s (www.bloomingdales.com), the famous Juicy Couture tracksuit, still a gym-goer’s staple, £190 at Harvey Nichols, costs $178 (£110).
Among accessories, a covetable Nancy Gonzalez crocodile bag that costs £2,200 at Harrods is $2,750 (£1,693) at Bergdorf’s (www.bergdorfgoodman.com). In Bloomingdale’s, Diane von Furstenberg’s “Dahlia” sandals that cost £195 at Net-a-Porter cost $195 (£121), and the sequinned FitFlops that are £50 in London, $60 (£37.50). Designer silk scarves are 40 per cent off normal prices in Century 21 (www.c21stores.com) American cosmetics and skincare brands such as MAC, Laura Mercier, Benefit, Philosophy and Clinique are almost half the UK price at the 14 branches of cosmetics chain Sephora (www.sephora.com) At Bloomingdale’s, the file-style Trish McEvoy make-up bag, perfect for travel, and £55 at Selfridges, is $58 (£36).
Cameras, net-books, laptops and other electronics are routinely 30 to 60 per cent cheaper than at home at the ever-reliable
J&R (www.jr.com) Homewares are also often cheaper, but not really practical buys unless light or small. In Ralph Lauren’s home department, the crystal Bentley martini glasses that are £100 each in Harrods cost $125 (£78) each, while an “Overlap” picture frame, five inches by seven, £100 in Harrods, is $93 (£59). And there are some excellent deals on sports equipment. A golfer’s Callaway Big Bertha Diablo driver, for example, £239 in London sports stores, is $199.95 (£124) at World of Golf (www.theworldofgolf.com) Admittedly, though, that would be harder to take home than a neat little box from Tiffany.
My ring-buying friend, incidentally, has already booked a New York weekend for himself and his girlfriend – effectively free.
When to go
The best times are March-June and October-December – neither oppressively hot nor bitterly cold.
Where to stay
Five minutes’ walk from Tiffany, Saks and Bergdorf Goodman, The New York Palace (00 1 212 888 7000, www.dorchestercollection.com) has views of the Empire State building from the higher floors. In the Renaissance Gilt, it has the city’s most beautiful dining room – plus an executive lounge for breakfast and day-long free snacks, drinks and computer use. Doubles start at £246, a spectacular triplex at £927. Downtown, Thompson Hotels’ Smyth (00 1 212 587 7000) is the closest to J&R and Century 21; doubles from £151. The cool new LES (00 1 212 460 5300), also from Thompson, is handily located near the cutting-edge boutiques of the Lower East Side; doubles from £215. (www.thompsonhotels.com)
Where to eat
As soon as you fix flights, book a table for dinner at the new Crosby Street Hotel (00 1 212 226 6400, www.firmdale.com), currently one of the liveliest scenes in the city. Alternatively, try the thoroughly American Standard Grill (00 1 212 645 4100, www.standardhotels.com) at The Standard Hotel in the heart of the Meatpacking District.
The basic bus and subway fare is $2.50. A multi-trip MetroCard is useful, bought from any subway station. However, nothing beats bouncing over the potholes and steam vents in a yellow cab.
Virgin Atlantic (08448 747 747, www.virginatlantic.com) flies to NYC five times a day, from £361 economy to £2,047 Upper Class.
Get the celebrity lookMarc Kaufman (left) with legendary NY Jets quarterback “Broadway Joe” Namath
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