Where we ate
On our first day, we first stop by the Virgin lounge at Heathrow for a quick Dandelyan cocktail. Then we take in afternoon tea in the sky followed by a late dinner at the new bar from the people behind Dead Rabbit, Blacktail . Read more.
On our first full day we take in the latest from Harold Moore, the person behind Commerce, at his new Meat and Three spot. Then to Brooklyn for a GREAT view at the William Vale and one of the best meals of the year at Olmsted. Read more.
We do love a good New York food hall, and the Urbanspace Vanderbilt is very good indeed. We follow that up with a meal at Cosme where we pretty much eat the entire menu. Read more.
Back to Urbanspace for a top breakfast burger, cocktails at a bar where there's no menu and dinner at a VERY upscale pizza place. Read more.
On our last day we have just enough space for brunch in Brooklyn's Sauvage (from the people behind Maison Premiere) before heading back home in style. Read more.
How we travelled
It's been a while since we travelled with Virgin, but their new Dreamliner planes are impressive and our flight crew would put many front of house in London restaurants to shame. On the way out, the Premium Economy meal featured a particularly good roast butternut squash and pecan salad and we appreciated the digestif trolley that followed. Just before we landed in NYC we were allowed to sit up at the bar in the sky for a champagne afternoon tea (and a cheeky slider).
On our way back we turned left on entering the aircraft to give Virgin's Upper-Class cabin a proper Test Drive. The layout of the cabin is very different to British Airways, who we've travelled with most recently. On Virgin there are three rows of beds, all ranged at an angle, so you're never in the position of getting stuck in the middle having to step over someone else. Once again, this may have been the red eye, but the minute the seatbelt sign was off, half the cabin hiked back to the bar for a chat and a drink. It really feels like this is the USP of Virgin's business travel offering and we loved it.
Dinner on the way home included a beautiful fillet of beef with peppercorn sauce and a selection of cheeses that, impressively, weren't served fridge-cold as we might have expected. The Point Reyes Blue from California was a particular favourite. Sadly, for us, the trip back only lasted a scant five and half hours, but we still managed to squeeze in a pretty decent bacon butty before touching down in Heathrow.
Final verdict: If you can swing it, even for Premium Economy, moving up the cabin at Virgin makes a big difference. And we loved the informality of Upper Class - luxury without laying it on with a trowel.
Where we stayed
There are all manner of trendy hotels in New York, but sometimes - particularly if you're coming with a friend or relative - you just want a room that doesn't have you squeezed in on top of each other. This time, we returned to the Fifty NYC, which is part of a mini-chain of Affinia boutique hotels in New York. It's pretty well situated - on the corner of 50th and 3rd, so you're just a short walk from all the big stores on Fifth if you want to get some shopping in too. April Bloomfield's Salvation Burger is just around the corner (although, sadly, it was closed due to fire damage when we were here) and it's also really close to the original PJ's which we have a soft spot for.
Our room - we booked a junior suite with two double beds and a living room, but were upgraded to a terrace suite - was absolutely massive. We had our own kitchen, living and dining room and huge terrace looking out over Third Avenue. At 790 sq. ft it was bigger than a lot of London flats.
And while there wasn't a mini bar, we much preferred what we termed Wine-o'clock - but the hotel persisted in referring to as Social Sips. This was an hour every day from 5-6pm where they served up American wine and snacks in the hotel's club room.It's a nice touch and that, plus the warm welcome we always get when we come here, makes this an easy hotel recommendation.
A room at Fifty NYC next month starts at around $620 for a weekend, rising to around $970 for a Junior Suite. We found better deals booking direct with them, which meant wifi was included in our stay.
More from our Hit List...
As with most trips to New York, time, money and our capacity for food and drink meant we just weren't able to get around to try everything that we wanted. If you're heading over there yourself, here are some other places you might want to add to your spreadsheet...
We tried Blacktail, their newest bar, but Dead Rabbit is now officially the World's Best Bar, so should be on your go to list.
Danny Meyer is about to reopen the restaurant that first brought him to fame.
Not to be confused with Attaboy the cocktail bar, this Korean bar serves up a set menu of small plates which sound brilliant.
If you love hummus - this Chelsea Market spot from Philadelphia chef Michael Solmonov is supposed to be great
Everyone rates this Lower East Side restaurant which opened in 2015. We would have tried it too, had it not been for the three-hour waiting list. Learn from our mistake and come early.
This is a new location for a popular New York wine bar which had to move from its old spot, and a lot of people we follow seemed to be very excited it was opening again.
Andrew Carmellini's new restaurant at the William Vale is expected to open in November
This renovation of this historic hotel down in the Financial District looks jaw-dropping. The hotel had opened but not the bar when we were over, but still to come was Tom Colicchio's Fowler and Wells restaurant.
This new Soho restaurant getting a lot of buzz is run by ex-Clove Club and the River Cafe folk.
Hot Dinners flew to New York as guests of Virgin Atlantic