Happy New Year to you all!
This was my third time in the wonderful city that never sleeps but something about my most recent trip made it extra special, and that was snow. Yes that’s right, this meant that I got to relive the iconic snowball fight scene in Central Park from Elf! If you didn’t already know, this is my favourite Christmas film & anyone that hasn’t seen it goes straight onto my naughty list; along with those who don’t like Nandos!
As I had been to New York twice before, I said I would only go again if I could experience the city in all it’s true Christmas glory. Apart from it being a magical sight to behold at this time of year, it also meant that I could see how New Yorkers live in both the summer & winter months. Last time I went I was in shorts & this time around I was in thermals & looked like Kenny’s twin from South Park lol! This was all made possible due to the amazing deal I found with British Airways which included both my flight & hotel for under £600!
As you can expect, it was a short trip which consisted of a lot of food, shopping & sightseeing. I stayed at the Hilton Garden Inn in Times Square Central which was situated in the most perfect location. It was on a road opposite the main plaza of Times Square which meant that we were just the right distance away from all of the bright lights, but close enough to still feel as though we were a part of the buzz. Most of the main attractions like Central Park, Empire State Building & the Rockefeller Center were all under a 15 minute walk away but most importantly, there were 2 Sephora’s about a 2 min walk away! #heaven. This was the outcome🙈…
If you can’t go crazy and spend hundreds on makeup in New York then when can you?! Besides, a few of these items are near impossible to obtain in the UK so it was definitely justified.
Now, it is no secret that the Americans don’t like to do things by halves & this certainly extends to their food. It seemed like an XL portion was the norm for everything! One night I decided I was sick of big fat burgers, towers of pancakes & rivers of chips so opted for a salad at Pret-A-Manger instead & even that was huge! It was the first salad that actually made me feel like I had consumed something lol!
Even though great portions may be the standard in New York, they still come at a price. I had breakfast at Brooklyn Diner in Times Square one morning & ordered what I expected to be a normal eggs benedict with a few fritters/duchess potatoes on the side. How wrong was I?!
This alone without my $5 dollar coffee came to $20 which I personally thought was a lot for breakfast, no matter how big it was. However I think this was because the restaurant is situated around Times Square which is the English equivalent to Leicester Square, so everything is bound to be a bit more pricey. Therefore if you were to go NY & stay in the same area, I would recommend only eating in Times Square for dinner as all of your money would shortly disappear if you were to have every meal here!
Once we realised this, we began to have breakfast at places like Mcdonalds & Starbucks. This might not sound that great but trust me, they really aren’t like the ones in England! You can get the average Mcd’s sausage & egg but instead of inbetween a muffin, inbetween pancakes!!😍 #greasegalore
Whilst all this food is amazing & entices you into thinking you are living the real life American dream, I can guarantee that you will become sick of it after a few days. As a result, I’ve put together a list of the top 3 restaurants I visited on this trip which cater to both those who fancy the dirty, juicy New York burger as well as those who fancy a break from it!
Out of all of the restaurants I went to on this trip, Paul’s was probably the closest I got to fine dining. Though the menu was a bit hard to read as they had the traditional italian names written for a lot of the descriptions, they had something for everyone from pasta, to pizzas to venison. I went here as soon as I landed as it was conveniently located within my hotel, so again it was quite expensive but definitely worth it. Not only for the normal sized portions & non greasy food, but also because they could provide you with just that if you wanted! We saw someone with a mighty burger & chips which wasn’t on the menu but available upon request! Great service.
2. Red Lobster
This place was a bit like a posh TGI Fridays but instead of having chicken as their speciality, Red Lobster is known for their fish of course. It wouldn’t be normal if I went there & didn’t get any right? So as you can see above, I basically tried all of the fish on the menu! Although it was nice, it was just too much (as usual for America lol) & I have to say the lobster wasn’t the best I’ve ever had. It was quite dry & I wasn’t given any tools to get all of the meat out which I found really strange for a restaurant which hones itself to lobster! I would definitely return but perhaps next time go for one of the dishes which features lobster instead of it being the main attraction so to speak, or even fork out & choose a fresh lobster from the tank. As I literally ordered a platter of fish, my bill cost quite a bit but it is definitely possible to dine here for $20.
No word of a lie, this was the best lunch I had throughout my whole trip as it was just what you expect of a typical New York deli. A menu which spanned across the entire wall, real staff serving real people; old couples enjoying a midday snack, business folk on their lunch breaks & of course just pure good, wholesome food. I ordered a Philly cheese steak which came as a foot long sub in a cute packed lunch type box with a bag of crisps for less than $10 dollars. It was so big I could only eat half! It’s amazing what great value for money you can receive outside of Times Square. Whilst I highly recommend the Philly Cheese, you could also order authentic dishes like lasagne if a gigantic sandwich or burger doesn’t tickle your fancy. Stage Deli to me, perfectly defines what every holiday maker should experience – living like the locals.
As stated earlier, this is my third time in the big apple now so I can truly say that I have seen all of New York’s sights & more. There was actually one new sight to see this time around & that was the observation deck at the World Trade Center.
Although the One World Observatory offers a beautiful view, one of the main attractions of New York is not viewable from up here: Central Park. As a result of my disappointment from not being able to see Central Park from the World Trade Center, I compiled a list of the top 3 sights which will guarantee that you don’t miss a thing:
There it is, Central Park from up high! Not only does this viewing deck allow you to see the all of the city, beneath it is of course the Rockefeller Plaza, Radio City & Saks. Once you have shopped till you’ve dropped in the premium department store, carry on walking down to see more luxurious stores on the famous 5th avenue like Tiffany’s & Louis Vuitton before you reach Central Park at the end.
Now I know that riding around the park in a horse & carriage is the thing to do in NY, but you don’t get to see the whole park this way because the horses can’t handle the 2 mile journey. Therefore I recommend getting on a pedal buggy with a guide who can take you around the whole park in an hour & at a fraction of the price.
The Statue of Liberty is one of the most iconic sights just outside of New York city located on Liberty Island. She is viewable from the edge of downtown in Battery Park but in order to get a real view & the perfect selfie, it’s best to get a ferry which takes you around the statue & allows you to hop off onto the island. You also get a great view of the Manhattan skyline from here.
Now of course no trip to NYC would be complete without some shopping & unfortunately this time around due to the £ being so weak, hardly anything was cheaper from the main stores like Macy’s etc. Therefore I have put together the top 3 shopping spots which are bound to hold a bargain for everyone:
Known as the fashion district south of the Hudson River, Soho is blooming with a miniature Bloomingdales department store, high street stores such as Steve Madden & small independent sports stores selling highly sought after trainers at discounted prices.
2. 34th Street
Shop in one of the biggest Victoria’s Secrets stores whilst overlooking the Empire State building. If brands aren’t your thing, head down to this great store called “Rainbow” which sells on-trend clothes & shoes for unbelievable prices. I got these amazing berry coloured OTK boots for $25 dollars which is roughly just under £20 pounds!
3. Century 21
Compared to the likes of Macy’s, Bloomingdales & Saks, this department store isn’t as nicely laid out and is the English equivalent to something like TK Maxx except they sell much better brands. It can look like a bit of a jumble sale that sells old stock but if you look long enough & in the right places, you can find great bargains. I found a new season Michael Kors purse for $90/£70 which is normally £100 in the UK.
I hope my experience can provide you all with an insight as to what NY is like & hopefully help you along your endeavours if you ever go.