Everyone hungers for a little taste of New York's luxury lifestyle, even those on a budget. We've got the insider tips that will have you sampling the good life without breaking the bank.
1. Have your cake and eat it
Magnolia Bakery, 401 Bleecker St
Give in to your sweet tooth with a sumptuous cupcake from the Victoriana Magnolia Bakery. The waft of divine cupcakey-goodness that blows on to the West Village street lures shopping addicts and their equally well turned out canine companions into queues that frequently wrap around the corner. Cakes are swirled high with three centimetres of achingly sweet icing, so good customers are limited to twelve each. Don't leave without trying a red velvet cupcake, the ruby melt-in-your-mouth American classic with vanilla icing.
Cost: $2.75-$3.25 per cupcake
Master the art of pretence
The galleries of Soho and Chelsea
With over 350 galleries in Soho and Chelsea, you don't need an invitation to be part of a fabulous art exhibition opening. Just grab your free drink, make like the elite and float amongst the whirring and purring multimedia sculpture. Pick up a copy of Gallery Guide to see what’s on and open to the general public. Cheim & Read and the Barbara Gladstone Gallery on Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings are openings to look out for.
Cost: Free. Just bring a little attitude and some art-scene names to drop into conversation
Bite into super-fresh sushi
Sakagura, 211 East 43rd Street
You might think all those slick, suit-filled eateries in Midtown are high-priced affairs, but tucked away in the basement of an office building, just minutes from the Chrysler Building, is the very amicable Sakagura. This Japanese restaurant offers classic appetizers for around $6, or for a few dollars more you can get an excellent daily lunch special - seared salmon, tuna sashimi or even octopus (depending on the day's menu), served with soba noodles and rice. Complete the luxury experience by taking advantage of the heated toilet seat ... oh, go on.
Cost: Appetizers from $2.50
Unwind with a martini and manicure
Beauty Bar, 231 East 14th Street
Luxury and pampering go hand in hand, right? So pamper yours with a manicure and martini for just $10 at the rock‘n’roll Beauty Bar. Take a seat in this original 1950s beauty parlour where super-friendly tattooed beauticians paint the ladies red (or other preferred colour) against a setting of chrome-domed hairdryers perched over seating and eclectic perfume bottles jostling for shelf-space with cocktail spirits. Drink on as the DJ spins and East Village locals descend for the night. Offer is available every evening, 6-11pm but get there early to avoid nail chip in the crowds.
Cost: $10 for a martini and manicure
Grab a chance at millionairedom
Developed a taste for luxury that just won't quit? Luckily you're in the land where dreams come true. Hit the nearest grocery store and part with a buck for a 'Big Game Mega Millions' ticket for your chance to hit a multi-millon-dollar jackpot.(You don't even need to be an American citizen to play!) Sure it's a long shot with odds of one in 175 million, but when was the path to fame and fortune ever easy?