Postcards / Travel

Postcards from the East Village: Isabelle Truman takes us to all her must-visit spots

east village new york travel guide

I distinctly remember the first time I stepped foot outside in New York. I was 19 and at the beginning of a three-month trip with two of my best friends. We had limited funds, no idea what we were doing, and booked the cheapest AirBnb we could find in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. On the first morning, we bounded down the stairs and flung open the door to find it was grey and pouring with rain. There were sirens blaring and rubbish bags lining the pavement. But it was New York. As a California lover — the sun, the beach, the animals, the palm trees — I was shocked to realise that right there in those first few seconds, New York had my heart.

Every trip since has been one spent learning and relearning the city. With so many different boroughs it can be hard to pinpoint where to place yourself, but on my last two visits I picked the East Village. With its close proximity to the Lower East Side (and the perfect people watching that is Dimes Square), while still being far enough away that the coffee shops feel quaint and quiet, the East Village has fast become my favourite base.

Below, everything to see and do when you're on a short trip in the Big Apple.


At The Standard East Village. Situated in the perfect walkable location, The Standard's East Village location is everything you need from a city hotel: there's great views, comfortable and quiet rooms which are cosy but well laid-out (of importance: there's a full-length mirror with ample space for viewing an entire outfit), a bar downstairs for cocktails at night and breakfast in the morning, and the complimentary use of the gym across the road. There's also a secret garden open during summer and even film screening nights and events from DJs to panel discussions. The service — and staff at the front desk — were also top notch. Furthermore, it's right beside some of the city's best bakeries, including Lafayette (famous for its chocolate croissant), and Librae Bakery (get the pistachio croissant here).


Now that you're energised from the carbs, it's time to shop. Most of my must-dos are a short walk from the East Village like Big Ash, Chlöe Sevigny's favourite vintage store in New York and the place where I bought a Saint Laurent dress for $100 one trip,  a Dolce & Gabbana dress for a friend's Italian wedding another, and a Margiela dress the next. In the LES, there's Lara Koleji (the most mentioned place when I asked five stylish New Yorkers about fashion in the city),  Harley's, James Veloria (Chinatown), and boutique flagships like Maryam Nassir Zadeh and Sandy Liang.


One of the best things to do in New York is eat, and, thankfully, the East Village is home to some of the city's most famous haunts. There's Katz's Delicatessen for its beloved pastrami sandwich, il Buco for Italian, Lucian for French ft. celebrity sightings and Ella Funt for an atmospheric French spot that turns into a bar-like vibe late on weekends. Don't forget to note down Monofuku Noodle Bar for ramen and try out some of the delicious cheap eats like Cafe Mogador (Moroccan), Miss Lily's (Jamaican), Ayat (Palestinian), Little Myanmar (Burmese), Punjabi Deli (Indian), Sigiri (Sri Lankan), and Veselka (Ukrainian). It's also mandatory to eat a slice of pizza — Joe's Pizza is my pick — a bagel — Tompkins Square Bagels forever — and a deli sub — I loved Sunny & Annie's Deli by Tompkins Square Park.


What better way to finish the day off than with a drink. The Standard's NO BAR is where I got a happy hour martini and fries and sat outside with a friend one evening. There's also Clandestino in LES for a true Dimes Square experience, Ray's, the ever-busy bar owned by Succession actor Nicholas Braun, and Upstairs Bar for late-night karaoke.


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