Continuing our City Guides, STYLEetc’s newest contributor talks us through the city that never sleeps, New York, in our fourth travel instalment!
A 5 hour time difference after a 7 hour flight would leave even the most hard-core holiday maker in a slump, but your first view of the infamous New York City skyline from your aeroplane on approach to land can only be described as magical. Iconic landmarks all clearly visible from the air leaving you feeling like a child; the statue of liberty, the Empire state building and the Hudson River make a lasting impression… And all this before we even step foot off the aeroplane!
So, in New York New York, the city ‘so good they named it twice,’ the list of things to spend your days doing is endless. Sightseeing appears the most obvious choice of activity: Times Square both in the day and at night, the Empire State Building, the Statue of Liberty, Wall Street, art museums, the list is literally endless but a must see is the view from the Top of the Rockefeller Centre.
After seeing the views from both the top of the Empire State Building and the Top of the Rock, we would suggest that the view from the Top of the Rock is significantly better; the view of Central Park is overwhelming and as well as being able to clearly see the Empire State in all its glory you can pick out other NYC landmarks from 70 floors up.
Alongside this, we took up a circle line cruise around the island of Manhattan in order to see the island and its landmarks from the Hudson River. The 3 hour tour was incredible and something that is highly recommended; Ellis Island, the Statue of Liberty, the New York Skyline, the financial district, the new freedom towers in place of the twin towers are all sights pointed out by your highly knowledgeable guide and images that stay with you forever.
Talking of long lasting impressions, what trip to New York would be complete without a visit to Ground Zero to visit the memorial pools which are now featured in place of the twin towers. The atmosphere when you arrive at the pools is something which can only be felt as you experience it; touching and emotional. The largest man made waterfalls in the world cascade into the pools while the names of each and every victim are engraved into the outside of them. The new freedom towers (only half completed when we visited) can also be seen from Ground Zero; a truly moving experience.
The shopping in the city is something of a tourist attraction in itself, more specifically Fifth Avenue. However, New York is filled with bargain stores in which you will find designer goods at a fraction of the price; and surely these ‘bargains’ are what everybody has in mind when they visit the city? Century 21 for example; a department store which can be found at a number of locations around Manhattan is a store loaded with real designer clothes, shoes, sunglasses… (you name it, they sell it) for literally a fraction of the retail price in the US, never mind the price we would pay over here in the UK!
After a day shopping til you drop, there are cafes, coffee shops and fast food restaurants on each and every corner for refreshments. For something more substantial, the Hell’s Kitchen district on 8th Avenue is filled with restaurants which leave you unable to do the walk back to your hotel and desperate for an iconic yellow cab to come to your rescue! A must try is Ellen’s Stardust Diner on Broadway. As well as an unrivalled atmosphere the food is incredible too; huge portions (as to be expected in America’s greatest city) and fantastic quality. We recommend the kobe style waygu beef burger; coming in at just under $30 it isn’t for the faint hearted but as burgers go we think you’ll struggle to ever find one that comes close to this!
In ‘the city that never sleeps’ there’s never a shortage of night-time activities either! From cocktail bars that allow you to pretend you’re Carrie Bradshaw starring in an episode of Sex and the City, to simply experiencing the hustle and bustle of Times Square at night (they don’t call it the city that never sleeps for nothing; we went shopping at 11pm!) A must for any New York tourist is experiencing a musical on Broadway. Our choice of performance was the Lion King and it did not disappoint; while the musical was mind-blowing, the Broadway atmosphere in itself is something not to be passed up on. I mean, who wouldn’t want to say they’ve seen a musical on Broadway?!
After a day of sightseeing and a night on the tiles or at the theatre; your New York hotel will be your haven. Yotel is situated on 10th Avenue and we cannot recommend highly enough! It’s far enough out of Times Square and the centre of Manhattan to get a peaceful night’s sleep, and yet close enough to be able to walk to almost every major attraction in between 5 and 15 minutes. Well within any traveller’s price range, the hotel itself is an attraction to be seen; a futuristic, technological gadget filled hub with incredible staff and spotless rooms. Hotel rooms in New York are notoriously tiny due to the incredibly high price of purchasing land in the city so while rooms in Yotel will not be the largest you have seen, they are some of the largest we have seen in New York without paying prices worthy of the Royal family!
It’s less daunting than you might think… buy a map, plan your trip and take plenty of $1 notes (the American’s love tips!) You’ll feel like you’ve been there before and you won’t regret taking a bite of the Big Apple.