WE SAID...
Why we heart New York

LODGING
Casablanca Hotel, very expensive, (212) 869-1212.
A well-appointed times square hotel that features free wi-fi and continental breakfast, and a wine, cheese, and champagne reception from five to seven p.m. Monday through Saturday. They won't wine and dine you, so you'll have more money to wine and dine yourself.

Hotel QT, moderate to very expensive, (212) 354-2323.
André Balazs' design-forward times square digs are little more than a glorified hostel, but the price, location, and coolness factor make it a steal for New York City.

Hotel Roger Williams, very expensive, (212) 448-7000.
Don't let the rug district location in Murray Hill deter you - a complete face-lift in late 2004 has turned the Roger Williams into one of Manhattan's hippest secrets. Seventeen of the 190 rooms feature substantial terraces - rarer than a Manhattan parking spot - many with commanding views of the Empire State Building.

DINING
Artisanal Fromagerie and Bistro
, French, moderate to very expensive, (212) 725-8585.
Terrance Brennan's Brasserie/Fromagerie in Murray Hill nails classic french fare like hanger steak-frites, but leave room for the cheese. From the extensive fondue menu to the 200 aging varieties on hand, it's a religious experience for cheese lovers.

Bombay Talkie, Indian, moderate, (212) 242-1900.
This small chelsea eatery specializes in affordable, upscale versions of classic Indian street food.

Craftbar, New American, expensive, (212) 461-4300.
Simplicity rules at this cheaper alternative to Tom Colicchio's minimalist flatiron food haven (craft) around the corner. Foodies freak over the rabbit and sea bass dishes, but save room for the insanely satisfying chocolate gâteau with chai ice cream.

Magnolia Bakery, inexpensive, (212) 462-2572.
Yes, we love Mister Softee (conveniently, there’s one parked on just about every street corner in the city in the summer), but some days, that little ice-cream cone just won’t cut it. For the ultimate sugar high, head to Magnolia Bakery for the best cupcake ever made. The melt-in-your-mouth, sweet-as-can-be butter-cream frosting will leave you begging for more. and take note — when filling your box in the self-service area of this shoebox-size bakery, it’s everyone for himself.

SHOPPING
Olive & Bettes
, various locations, www.oliveandbettes.com 
With its four locations around the city, you don’t have an excuse to not stop by this fashion-forward women’s boutique. It carries a wide variety of chic brands — James Perse, Paige Denim, and Chip & Pepper, among them — and along with its great assortment of accessories, it boasts one heck of a t-shirt collection.

Gracious Home, www.gracioushome.com.
With four locations in Manhattan (one West Side locale and three East Side), this store is a New York staple. A combination hardware and home furnishings mecca, it offers anything and everything imaginable for the home — including luxurious bedding, chic accessories, stylish lighting options, even sleek home electronics, not to mention those everyday necessities like mops, brooms, screws, and lightbulbs. What more could you ask for?