The euro has been falling in Paris, feeling the pressure of the greenback.…And cheap is chic, with the opening of the Philippe Starck–designed, $105-a-night urban hotel Mama Shelter.…In London the pound has slumped to a seven-and-a-half-year low against the dollar….And the British sales tax, known as VAT, has been cut from 17.5 percent to 15….While in New York, restaurants are running recession specials, set menus at under $40, or even $30, a head…. And the struggling retail environment means shops have been carrying deep discounts running up to 75 percent….It isn’t all bargains, of course: A London black cab at night, for example, will still set you back an eye-watering $7 to $11 a mile, and multicourse Manhattan tasting menus can still go for well over $100.…But here are some favorite new ideas—both high and low, sublime and occasionally ridiculous—of how to spend $500 right now.
1. Nine and a half days scooting about on a hired E-Solex, the electric-powered bicycle provided to guests by concierges at the new, impressively inexpensive Mama Shelter hotel in the 20th Arrondissement. mamashelter.com
2. Twenty-one roast chickens at Le Saut du Loup, the two-year-old restaurant at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs, with views of the Eiffel Tower. If the sun’s shining, book a terrace table in the Tuileries. lesautduloup.com
3. Two nights at the fifties-, sixties-, and seventies-inspired Hôtel Jules on Rue La Fayette, the latest contemporary-design statement from Paris hotelier Grace Leo. hoteljules.com
4. Exactly 3.7 digits of a pair of handsewn, silk-lined, croc-skin gloves from glovemaker Maison Fabre, an artisanal label founded in 1924 that opened its first stand-alone boutique last July. maisonfabre.com
5. Ninety minutes of the 120-minute antiaging L’Or de Vie facial at the newly opened Dior Institut spa at the Hôtel Plaza Athénée. plaza-athenee-paris.com
6. Exactly 1.7 private two-hour tours of the Kandinsky retrospective opening April 8 at the Centre Pompidou, led by art historian David Lewis and organized by cultural touring specialist Context Travel. A glass of Champagne is thrown in. contexttravel.com
1. Twenty-five Jalousini Champagne cocktails—made with Dom Pérignon, Cointreau, lychee, and guavabana—at Jalouse, Mayfair’s newest private club, open to nonmembers on Wednesday and Thursday evenings. jalouse.co.uk
2. Two nights at York & Albany in off-the-beaten-path Camden, overlooking Regent’s Park. It’s the new restaurant-with-rooms from chef-proprietors Gordon Ramsay and Angela Hartnett. gordonramsay.com
3. Twenty-seven boiled eggs (hen or duck) with buttered toast at the relaunched Connaught (the-connaught.co.uk); alternatively, 187 scoops of Credit Crunch ice cream at Hix Oyster & Chop House (hixoysterandchophouse.co.uk).
4. Exactly 2.3 bunches of 40 “antique” Dutch roses with tinted petals from romantic English florist Nellie Windsor-Clive, who works out of her kitchen and is used by the likes of domestic goddess Nigella Lawson. nelliesflowers.co.uk
5. Eight hundred and seventy-seven mixed tulips from the Portobello Road market vendor Ronnie Perring; you’ll find—and hear—him every day across from the Electric Cinema.
6. Two hundred and twenty-one Zone 1 peak-time tube journeys using an Oyster card—available at all London underground stations. Without one, the fare’s more than double that. tfl.gov.uk
1. Two dinners with wine pairings at Tom: Tuesday Dinner, the new twice-a-month event where Tom Colicchio cooks in the open kitchen of Craft’s private dining room. Also try Damon: Frugal Friday there; every dish is under $10. tomtuesdaydinner.com
2. Ten hours in a solar-panel 2010 Toyota Prius, the newest vehicle to join OZOcar’s fleet of chauffeured green autos. It’s four miles per gallon more efficient than a standard Prius. ozocar.com
3. Thirty-five Death in the Afternoon cocktails—Moët & Chandon Brut Impérial and Pernod absinthe—at White Star, the Chinatown cocktail bar that Sasha Petraske, of Milk & Honey fame, opened in August. 21 Essex St.
4. One ticket to each of the four Broadway musicals opening this March and April: Dolly Parton’s 9 to 5; the Arthur Laurents–directed West Side Story; Guys & Dolls with Oliver Platt; and the Broadway transfer of last summer’s Shakespeare in the Park revival of Hair.
5. One-hour consultation plus 1.25 hours of personal training with Pete Kupprion, managing partner of JF Gymnastique, the elite year-old wellness center and spa opened by French hairstylist and salon owner Julien Farel. jfgymnastique.com
6. Exactly 1.7 nights in room 1024—with views of the Hudson and Empire State Building—at André Balazs’s new Standard New York, which straddles the Meatpacking District’s High Line. standardhotels.com
As of late January, 1 = $1.32 and £1 = $1.42.