Atlanta designer Vern Yip spends his holidays in New York City. Here’s his guide to the city.

Plan your trip to New York City the Vern Yip way


Vern YipWhy does your family love New York this time of year?
From the inventive windows at Bergdorf Goodman to the ice-skating rinks that pop up throughout the city, New York literally and figuratively lights up during the holiday season. My favorite thing is walking by all of the Christmas tree vendors. The smell of fresh-cut evergreen, emanating from the streets of nearly every neighborhood, is magical.

How long have you been doing this, and how did you get started?
I’ve been a UNICEF Ambassador for more than 10 years, and one of my duties is heading up the decor for the annual UNICEF Snowflake Ball. The ball always takes place on the first Tuesday after Thanksgiving. For our family, it’s important to take a moment to think about the millions of children around the world who aren’t nearly as lucky as ours.

Where do you like to stay?
Our family has had the same home in the Columbus Circle area for well over a decade now. We love the proximity to Central Park, the family-friendly restaurants of the Upper West Side, the wide array of Asian restaurants in Hell’s Kitchen, Broadway theaters, and Lincoln Center. When we first decided to make our New York home there, I recall a particularly hip friend questioning the choice because this was the part of town everyone’s grandmother lived in. I have to say, that absolutely sealed the deal for me!

Vern Yip New York CityIs there anything you see there that inspires you as a designer?
Columbus Circle is filled with great architecture, culinary treats, and interesting characters. Just being on the streets and being part of the dynamic flow of energy is inspiring. And having windows that overlook Central Park, two Robert Stern buildings, and Norman Foster’s Hearst Tower is nice, too. Of course, both the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Museum of Modern Art are about a 15-minute walk.

Where do you like to eat?
If you asked me where I would have my last meal, I’d say Jean-George’s Nougatine without hesitation. Nougatine, the more casual part of Jean-Georges, consistently delivers spot-on service, impeccable food, and is a two-minute walk from my front door. Marea is a can’t-miss favorite for satisfying an Italian craving. Our family also loves Totto Ramen’s Hell’s Kitchen outpost, the sauteed calamari at Blue Ribbon, and Daniel Boulud’s Boulud Sud for Mediterranean. The farthest of these restaurants is no more than a 10-minute walk for us. In New York, it’s important to live where you want to eat.

Do you have a favorite treat?
I’m not generally a cheesecake fan, but the pumpkin cheesecake at Magnolia Bakery is so good that I have zero guilt taking it down. And the TLC Oatmeal Pecan cookie at Thomas Keller’s Bouchon Bakery is out of this world. I like a cookie with a hyper-nutty profile. If you prefer a sweeter cookie, Bouchon Bakery also offers the Thomas Keller Oreo (also known as a TKO).

Do you have any special traditions?
Visiting the holiday section at Bergdorf Goodman to select an ornament for each of our children, Gavin and Vera, is a must. It’s a tradition that started when they were born. At the beginning, they were too little to select for themselves, so we did it for them. Now that they’re old enough, they pick for themselves. The idea is that when they get a home of their own, they’ll each have a full set of ornaments filled with meaning and memories.

This article appears in our November 2018 issue.