I’m so sorry that I have been a bit M.I.A for the past few weeks but I have been on my travels and I recently visited New York. It was my treat to my boyfriend for his Christmas present. I thought that it may be a good idea to share my thoughts and experiences on my time in the city that never sleeps.
Travel a.k.a Flights
I booked our trip back in November 2017 and I got what I thought was a fantastic deal. The hotel had mixed reviews and the bad ones were predominantly about the staff so I opted to stay anyway. I booked our holiday via British Airways as I am a member of the executive club (anybody can join this… It’s more like a loyalty card) I earn points and rewards each and everytime that I fly with or book through British Airways. I had to choose the hotel by myself as it was a surprise present to my boyfriend. I found this extremely stressful; as I wanted a good location, clean hotel, helpful staff and good amenities. I decided to go for ‘The Premier Times Square by Millennium’. It was located on 44th street and was literally a 1 minute walk to Times Square. Perfect location for new travellers! We had an early flight and arrived in New York around noon so by the time we arrived at the hotel (4pm) we still had plenty of time to explore. The location of our hotel meant that we were literally 15 minutes away from 5th Avenue and Central Park. Most things were within 30 minute walking distance. We did walk to lower Manhattan to visit the one world observatory and this did take a bit longer than expected but well worth the walk.
Food and Drinks
Food is extremely expensive in New York. I was prepared for this but it still shocked me on how extortionate some prices were. An average starter/appetisers in the UK cost roughly £6-£13; in New York this price was drastically increased to $11-$20! I understand that with the current conversion rate would bring the price to roughly the same as the UK; Don’t forget about the addition of tax and tips! It all adds up in the end. I was spending roughly $75-$100 on food before tips. It’s true… street food actually is much better than the high end/ chain restaurants. I’d recommend that you try your best to research restaurants before you go as you can find much better fairly priced restaurants in the area without all of the hassle of long wait times, staff that are just to busy to look after you and you can get really crap food. Plus you’re helping the local economy and supporting local family business’. Alcoholic drinks can be expensive; sometimes even soda and non-alcoholic drinks can be pricey too! Although most places do offer free refills however most drinks started at $4-$7 and then the alcoholic drinks started at $12-$25+. On the positive side of things New York is one of the best cities for finding unusual and amazing food/drinks. You will find some of the most amazing and unique places that have brought some of the most unusual ideas for food to life.
I think you’re probably following that New York is extremely expensive. The trips/tickets don’t differ from the high end of the budget either. Here is a condensed list of everything that we visited:
- Central Park
- Empire State
- Rockefeller centre
- American Museum of natural history
- Central Park Zoo
- One word observatory
- 9/11 Museum
- Ground zero
- Statue of Liberty
- Times Square
- Ellen’s Stardust Diner
- Tiffany & Co (Blue Box Cafe)
Now I’ll try and expand a little bit on each trip.
Central Park and Central Park Zoo
Central Park is the place that you have to visit if you go to New York. It’s such a juxtaposition. You are literally in one of the most beautiful parks and it is surrounded by skyscrapers that you can visibly see towering over the trees. Central Park is free! Of course there are plenty of activities once you’re in the park that you can pay for. However, I didn’t see the point in paying for the horse carriages (apparently they’re not well looked after and are overworked… I’d rather not contribute to the suffering of an animal). On the other hand the Central Park Zoo was one of my favourite parts of the trip. I am not to sure on wether the zoo is a active part of breeding and protecting of wild animals or if it is just a money maker but regardless of this it was one of my favourite things. I am a HUGE lover of animals and I don’t like seeing them in captivity but understand that in some cases it must happen. Once again the Zoo was completely out of place. I was standing in front on the sea lions habitat and in the background you could see the skyline and that is the first time I have ever felt like the zoo was an actual form of a zoo. Usually Zoo’s transport you to somewhere else and make you feel as though you’re in their environment; but in this zoo there is no escaping the hustle and bustle of the city. The Zoo was $24 per person (if I remember correctly) and was well worth it in my opinion. It was also one of the cheaper days out. It was well worth the money!
The Empire State Building
This is one of the most beautiful buildings that I have ever seen. It cost $37 per person to go to the 86th floor (the main viewing platform). Be warned that there are major security measures and expect delays due to security screenings. I didn’t have a problem with the security procedure as I understand there reasons and who can complain at being kept safe? The view from the top is absolutely stunning and is well worth visiting. The price is a bit expensive especially when you end up paying $74 for two people when you are more than likely only going to spending around an hour up there. I would not recommend booking in advance either as the weather conditions can really disrupt your view. Ignore anybody that tells you the lines are overly long and you wait hours because you wait a maximum of 30 minutes throughout it all as it is broken into sections (security, ticket booths, lifts). We were very lucky that we had good weather when we went up to view; nothing but clear sky’s and a beaming sun. We also visited one world observatory on the same day… more about that later.
We never went to Top of the Rock as there are just so many buildings that you can visit. Plus if you where to do all three (The Empire State, One World Observatory and Top of the Rock) then you’re looking at spending about $225 dollars. We spent some time outside of the building and watched people ice skate. It’s quite an outstanding building but I just didn’t see the point in visiting the top of it.
American museum of Natural History
I could not wait to visit this museum as we all know and love it for the film ‘Night at the Museum’. Although the film isn’t physically filmed there it is based accurately on the museum and it is one of the largest museums that I have ever visited! I had to have a few sit downs after a while of walking around it. There is just so much to see and learn. However, you could spend hours and hours upon end in this place, I’d recommend that you tear yourself away from it once you have seen everything that you actually want to see. You can find yourself wasting time when there is so much more to see. For example, we visited Central Park zoo before visiting the museum. Don’t forget that the museum have a recommended price for tickets which I believe is $23 dollars per person for entry. However, it is only recommended and you can donate as little or as much as you like and still gain entry.
One World Observatory, 9/11 Museum and Ground Zero
We walked all the way to One World Observatory and it is a beautiful walk but it is extremely long too. We did not use a map because we literally followed the One World building all the way down as it towers above everything and it’s pretty obvious to gather locations in New York. The first thing you see when you arrive is the huge towering skyscraper of One World. If you walk around the building you will then see Ground Zero. This is one of the most emotional places that I have ever visited; you instantly feel connected to the city on another level. The fountains that they have made in ground zero are beautiful and honour all of the people that sadly lost there lives that day. If you do visit Ground zero then I would definitely recommend visiting the 9/11 museum, it will educate you and remind you of all the people that where tragically taken away from their families that day. One World Observatory costs roughly the same as The Empire State Building ($37 per person…$74 for a couple). I decided to do both buildings as you get two totally different views of the city and in my opinion is well worth it. The view from the observatory is amazing, you can see all of the bridges (Manhattan and Brooklyn) as well as getting one of the best views of the Statue of Liberty.
If you visit Times Square then be prepared for large crowds and a rowdy atmosphere. It is extremely busy and hard to move around. There isn’t actually that much to do in Times Square. In my opinion once you’ve been there then you’ve seen it. It is a sight to see. It is very large in stature and it doesn’t ever seem to be nighttime there. If you stay local to Times Square then be prepared for the surrounding area(s) to be lit up like a Christmas tree all day; everyday. There are plenty of restaurants and shops; however Times Square is extremely expensive to eat and drink, as you’d expect.
Ellen’s Stardust Diner
If you’re a lover of musical theatre then this place is a must! I love a good musical but I am not a die hard lover of them. On the other hand, my boyfriend is a hater of anything musical theatre but to be fair to him, he did give this place a go… and he liked it! This place is an experience like no other. It has upcoming broadway stars that sing as they wait on you. You literally get snippets of shows whilst you eat. Although it can again be quite expensive ($90 for a breakfast kinda’ expensive) I truly did enjoy the experience and I have never done anything like it. Nor do I believe anything else like that exists anywhere else. Be warned that there is a line (9/10 times) that wraps around the side of the diner however don’t be put off as the staff get you sat at a table as soon as they possibly can. When we joined the line, I expected to wait around 30-40 minutes but we were sat in around 10 minutes. They pull groups out of the line in order of how many need to be seated. So if there are groups of 4’s and you’re a group of 2; then a group of 2 table becomes free then you’re going to get sat before any of the other groups purely because they have a relevant table available. I like this policy.
Tiffany & Co. The Blue Box Café
This was the one thing that I wanted to do whilst in New York. I wanted to pretend that I was Holly Golightly and that I was eating breakfast at Tiffanys. The café opened last year (2017) and is one of the most sought after places to get a table at. They only accept bookings and bookings can only be made on an app called RESY. I visited New York in early February and I started trying to book a table around December so at least 2 months in advance. I believe that dates don’t become available until 30 days before but I still checked relentlessly. By the time the 30 day time frame came up, I could not get a table with time differences and so on, however, you could set a notification for when a table becomes available due to cancellation. I must have received about 14 notifications for cancelled tables and each time somebody beat me to it. Around 30 people try to book the table at the same time so it literally is whoever has the fastest connection and fingers. I gave up at this point. Then I was in the line in The Empire State Building and I got a notification and I instantly clicked and confirmed (It had a banner telling me 28 other people are also looking at this now) then I got the confirmation and I almost died. I had finally gotten a table after a month of hardcore effort everyday. When the day finally arrived to visit, I was so excited. I can’t praise the host enough! I thought that I may get a bit judged or a rude welcoming as I am a young traveller and I’m not exactly of Tiffany & Co kinda’ rich. However, he was pleasant and instantly put me at ease and set up a beautiful table in the corner. The café itself is actually really small, I’d say it has not more than 15 tables. We ordered the Afternoon Tea option. It was $49 pp. It’s not worth the price but it’s an experience that I really wanted to do. The afternoon tea is really pretty and looks phenomenal however, I wish it would taste nearly as good as it looked. It’s for people with a very specific taste (not like me and my boyfriend who are big foodies) The tea was incredible. I asked for advice on what tea I should choose and our waitress kindly advised trying the ‘White wedding’ for myself and ‘Tiffany blend’ for my boyfriend. I deeply enjoyed the tea. The food was as you’d expect: finger sandwiches, small scones and a few cakes and treats. The sandwiches and scones were vile. I’d say one of the sandwiches was edible and that was some sort of chicken sandwich. I hated the smoked salmon, cucumber and goats cheese and whatever the vegan sandwich contained. My boyfriend did like the smoked salmon but I could not stand it. The sweets and treats where the best part of it but even still they was not to the standard what I expected. However, we had an amazing afternoon and we where so well looked after. We also enjoyed seeing everyone else’s expressions whilst they tried there food… let’s just say their faces was not most pleased. I had to laugh! The total bill came to roughly ($120 with tax and tip). Well worth it if you want to experience Tiffanys.
If you have any other questions about anything that I have written or may not have written about then feel free to comment below and let me know. Hopefully, I wrote about things that are useful and that you would want to read. But feel free to ask if I haven’t answered anything specific.
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