My tips on booking NYC;
For my NYC trip we booked through the British Airways sales in January which is usually from the 1st-31st on Jan and I managed to get flights, hotel, transfers and breakfasts for 5 nights, 6 days for £550. Which was just insane for Feb- March visit!
So if you fancy visiting around Feb-March then highly recommend looking at those deals on BA because even though it was chilly in NYC it was so incredible and I don’t think there is ever a bad time to visit either. So defiantly keep your eyes peeled for BA sales!
Getting to NYC:
I flew from Gatwick but you can fly from most airports and all flights take around 7-8 hours! It’s a pretty laid back flight and if you travel/look for a flight in the late afternoon (around 4pm) you can land around 8pm NYC making it perfect for you to go straight to sleep after a long day travelling and it be acceptable and an easier way to get into the time zone over in New York.
Before you visit:
One thing I nearly forgot as I didn’t realise was that you need to apply for your ESTA, you need this to travel into the US. This is bookable On the gov website and takes around from 2-72 hours to be accepted so give yourself some time to apply for this! It was $14 dollars for mine and took 1 day to be authorised!
Tipping and Getting money out:
In New York there are tons of ATMs to find in the city and shops and restaurant accept card too. I took some spending money with me and also my Monzo Card, which is a great travel card as it doesn’t have charges when taking out money on the go.
Now for tipping, you have to tip in New York around 15-20% for taxi drivers, waiters, people who carry your luggage and hotel maids etc. I found a lot of restaurants included the tipping options at the bottom of a receipt so that made it super easy to know what to pay as well, but tipping doesn’t take long to get used too!
Where to stay:
During my trip we stayed at Staybridge Suites hotel, mainly because this hotel has a kitchen space and I knew I wanted to save money on cooking if I needed too and I have dietary requirements that means I sometimes need access to this. So that was ideal! It was around 9 mins from Times Square and I just loved how close by to everything we were. Ideally, when visiting for the first time I think it’s great to be near all the the main touristy spots (if you want to visit them of course), as it meant we walked almost everywhere. The staff were super lovely here and the hotel just had everything we needed! (Pre warning the interior isn’t amazing- but for a basis, clean hotel and friendly staff) It was basic and I liked it here.
If I was to stay again I’d probably look at locations in Greenwich though, as I fell in love with it here- such a nice area and probably one of my favourite places to walk around and visit cute coffee spots.
In terms of other locations for stays, I’ve done my research into a few and had recommendations from friends and family I thought I’d share below:
Airbnb’s are also great to look into when travelling to New York. Theres amazing loft spaces in Soho or cool studio apartments in Greenwich! There is a lot on offer, so would recommend checking out Airbnb too!
Freehand New York: Situation 10 minutes from 28th Street Station, near the Flat Iron District and is a super cute boutique hotel. The interior is a dream! They have five on site eateries and a rooftop bar too!
–Pod 39: Is a super cute budget-friendly hotel and they have a rooftop too! This is walking distance to Grand Central station so pretty easy to get around to all the main attractions and easy to get the subway around too!
The POD 51 at Times Square: another budget friendly hotel located close by to the attractions and has everything you need!
–The Roxy Hotel: Located in the lovely Tribeca Neighbourhood, and somewhere I will 100% be staying the next time I visit if I can. The hotel is a fab place for all types of travellers as always has something going on every night. Tribeca is a super cool area and the hotel has a jazz club and an on-site cinema!
1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge: This hotel sounds like a dream! This hotel uses all up cycled materials and artwork. The interior is beautiful, and there is a pool whilst having the incredible view of the Statue of Liberty.
The Kimberley Hotel and Suites: A boutique hotel. A Midtown Manhattan Boutique hotel, with onsite gym and close by to the buzz of New York.
–Shelburne hotel and suites by Affinia: Hotels situated across New York, so whether you are looking to be close to the vibrance and buzz of the Empire State area or more of a quiet and tranquil space located on the Upper east Side or even the lovely area in Midtown East, Shelburne Hotel have them covered. Gorgeous rooms and meant to be a super lovely space to stay.
-The Archer hotel: Located in Midtown and a 1 minute walk from 5th avenue and 6 minutes from Times Square. Good price with all the main amenities and a lovely space.
The Standard: I’ve only ever heard amazing things about this hotel! I’ve stayed at the one in London and absolutely loved it- a gorgeous super chic hotel located in East Village or The High line (Washington st) making it super easy to get to Subways or walk around the city!
The Conrad Hotel: Another hotel I’ve heard only great things about- located in the heart of Lower Manhattan. A luxury hotel, with incredible views of the city and a roof top terrace, which would be amazing when visiting in spring. The interior of The Conrad also embodies the love for the city and tells the history through its thought provoking artwork.
Best times to visit:
New York is amazing all year around, so I don’t think there is ever a wrong or right time to visit as New York has so much to offer and to explore, so depends on how you’d love to see the city!
Dec, Jan and Feb are super cold and winter seasons. We went at the end of Feb and I wore layers of clothes and thermals, it was -3 on some days and the wind makes it freezing but I don’t feel like the cold weather ruins the amazing experience of NYC because it’s the most surreal city! Going this time of year is always slightly cheaper because of the weather and of course it gets pricer depending on the weather or December after the 10th because of Christmas season!
Spring seasons starts from March to May and is meant to be a really lovely time to go!
Summer seasons June to August and Fall seasons September to November!
Summer sounds like an amazing time to visit and I can imagine it being amazing walking around in the sunshine here, especially around Greenwich village and Soho areas as there’s such a nice atmosphere there.
Best ways to get around NYC:
So firstly when you get into NYC airports, you can either get a yellow taxi from outside the airports, a hotel transfer (we managed to sort this) or can just book an Uber- I personally feel like it’s a lot cheaper to just book an Uber so would download the app and look at booking one of these to save some money!
In terms of getting around from day to day once your here, it’s actually a lot easier than I thought it would be! I found myself walking almost everywhere, even an hour walk would fly by because I felt like I was exploring so much of NYC and there’s always so much to see! Most top touristy attractions are within walking distance of one another so it’s easy to find your way around, and discover so much more when walking along the way.
However the subway is super easy to work out! At all subway stations you can buy metro cards for either daily use (a single way ticket) for $3 dollars one way or a weekly ticket for $33 for example, which can be used as many times as you like, but you have to wait 15 minutes between each time you swipe/use the card. We went for the weekly metro ticket as we thought this would be easier and worked out it saved us money doing this!
In terms of working out how to use the subway, there is a subway Map app you can download which is super helpful, or like I did you can just type into google “subway from my location to Times Square (for example) and it states and shows you the route super easily!
Uber’s are great to use instead of Yellow cabs also has yellow cabs are a lot more expensive but of course riding in a yellow cab is sometimes an experience in New York so defiantly something to do once!
There is also an app called “LYFT” which is another style of the app Uber but slightly cheaper, so we also used this!
Places to visit when your here:
Times Square is a must visit if it’s your first time to NYC! It was very surreal seeing this for the first time. Full of shops, people and has such a buzz about it! Busy city centres aren’t always my thing but glad I got to see Times Square!! We visited early to avoided all the crowds and it still had that really nice buzz about it! It’s amazing day and night so I recommend visiting at both times, as it’s amazing to see!
Filled with lots of shops and the perfect way to walk towards Central Park. We wander down fifth avenue from Times Square. The street is filled with designer store, cute bakeries, Starbucks and Restaurants. A great way to walk down fifth av is walking past Radio music hall and visit Magnolia bakery on the way! The cup cakes there were insane!
The start of Central Park is basically at the bottom of fifth avenue. And is huge! I didn’t quite realise how big Central Park actually was- but my goodness is it beautiful!!
Instantly entering the park there is the gorgeous lake, bridges and in winter an ice rink set up!
The park is huge so I highly recommend looking at renting bikes and biking around the park If the weather is nice too! But absolutely loved seeing Central Park even if it was raining when we were there!
Visiting Rockefeller- Top of the rock!
Whilst we were in New York, we of course wanted to experience all the amazing touristy spots and top of the rock has always been high on my list! We decided it would be best to visit as soon as Rockefeller opened for the quietest experience. Which was a good idea, as within 20 minutes of arriving at 8am, it starting to fill up quick! The views are absolutely incredible! Defiantly worth going early to afford the crowds. We also booked our tickets online before hand and just scanned them in at the desk on arrival, but you can buy them there aswell there just can sometimes be a little que.
Grand Central Station: A Must visit, the station is out of this world. I was blown away by the interior!! Worth a visit! we went around 12pm and got to experience all the hustle and bustle, was just so amazing seeing it in real life!!!
Possibly one of my favourite places we visited in New York! I fell in love with the atmosphere there. It really felt a bit like brighton, without the sea and a bit more built up. The buildings are gorgeous- big fire escapes and is the home for the famous friends apartment, Carrie Bradshaw house and the most incredible cafes and coffee spots. Bleecker street there is filled with lots of cool shops, yummy food spots and more and linked to Bleecker street is Carmine street the home to Joes pizza!! Famous for its insane $3 slices and was the best pizza I had whilst in New York. I also loved going to Jacks wife Frieda here, but will talk more about food spots down below!
East village is super cool- known for its cool music venues and posh cocktail lounges and hip restaurants. In the day I found this area super laid back, filled with lots of vintage shops, boutiques and amazing food places.
West village is a lovely area- really enjoyed wandering the streets here. The houses are amazing! It has a lot of designer shops and boutiques to explore. Again a lovely area to hunt down some yummy cafe spots and is a really nice place to wander around in the sunshine!
Whilst in Greenwich, we ended up walking around and headed to Chelsea Market! The walk is lovely in the sunshine and lots of yummy brunch spots such as The Butchers Daughter on the way. Chelsea Market is filled with incredible food spots, we wished we hadn’t had lunch before hand because the food spots are endless here and all smelt and looked amazing. Also it’s filled with cute little gift shops and hand designed artist stalls which was fun to look around.
The high line:
The high line, is a fab little walk and you can hop up to the high line from various spots! We decided to do a brief walk of the high line after Chelsea market, which is located just behind it or you can get on from the start and walk all the way towards Chelsea market too! However, we had a very windy cold day which made it so so cold that eventually we had to come down as we were frozen! But the views are amazing and in nice weather I can imagine it being the perfect stroll throughout the city!
Another one of my favourite places in New York! Soho reminds me of a mix between london and brighton- not as busy as london but is filled with loads of high street shops and has such a buzz about it. The food spots are endless here and if you love cool street shots then Soho is the place to go! Chloe and myself were in our element here, so many cool spots. The house are beautiful, creams and reds with lots of fire escapes and is defiantly a shoppers dream. We ended up going here twice because we loved exploring the area so much.
No words other than wow. Brooklyn bridge is incredible! Myself and Chloe, checked sunrise times the night before and woke up super early to set off to Brooklyn bridge for 6.20am sunrise. We got an Uber from 42nd Street area for around $19-$22 dollars to Brooklyn Bridge Park Lane walk way for 5.50am and I’m so glad we did. I’ve seen a lot of sunrises in different places in the world but this was one of the most incredible sunrises I’ve ever seen. Worth the -4 temperatures for the incredible morning views and having the whole bridge to ourselves, so whenever you visit I recommend the early start for this!
Brooklyn- Dumbo- Visiting the Transit Museum- Williamsburg
We then headed into Brooklyn across the bridge and walked to Washington Street Dumbo, the famous street for its incredible view of the bridge, cobblestone streets and huge warehouse buildings as the backdrop.
We then wandered the streets exploring some of the cute supermarkets and cafes, refuelling with a chai latte to keep warm.
We then wander about 20 minutes into Brooklyn towards The Transit museum, famous for lots of amazing Transit through the decades that you can explore and sit on and for Chloe and myself also a place that we thought would be great for some piccys too! It was actually super interesting and cool seeing all the old designs of the Transits and was only $10!
Williamsburg is somewhere we didn’t end up visiting as we still wanted to see some of Soho and we were feeling pretty wiped from the early start and the cold but I’ve heard all amazing things about Williamsburg and through research hear it’s defiantly worth the trip there, as it’s filled with incredible roof top bars, the Brooklyn flea markets and some cool hipster spots! So I’ll be back to explore here one day!
Staten Island ferry
Another thing we didn’t managed to squeeze in, but I have friends and family who have done this and say it’s a must!! It’s free to jump on and off, there is incredible views of the city and you can see the Statue of Liberty along the way too! A pretty damn amazing way to see the statue and skyline if you ask me! Is top of my list for my next trip.
Food places: Places I loved and lots of recommendations.
Jacks wife Frieda: located in Chelsea, Soho and West Village: We visited Jack’s wife Frieda in West Village area, and absolutely loved it here! The staff were so lovely, the interior is super cute and the food was incredible! Perfect little breakfast, brunch or lunch spot. I went for waffles here and they were so good!!! A must visit!
By Chloe: located in lots of places all over New York. Lots of By Chloe’s are scattered around NYC and are perfect if you are gluten free and looking for lunch or just in the mood for some healthy delicious meals. There are By Chloe’s in London and the ones in New York are very similar, with lots of delicious food options!
The Butchers daughter- Kenmare Street and Hudson Street: The most incredible breakfast and lunch spot, but books up super fast, so try get there early to get a table! Perfect spot for some yummy food!!
Joe’s Pizza: Best Pizza In NYC: Located on Carmine street: This pizza was amazing!!! For one slice it’s $3 and they are huge (see photo below) but was so so delicious!! Highly recommend going here!!
Grimaldi’s Pizza: Dumbo Brooklyn: This time round we didn’t get a chance to visit Grimaldi’s pizza but I had so many recommendations for here! Apparently the Pizza is amazing!
Maman NYC- Soho, Tribeca, Normad: A super cute cafe, bakery and even an event space. Its interior is super homely, with a rustic feel and if you ever been to Cafe Marmalade in Brighton it reminds me of this! They do yummy coffee, sandwiches, salads and pastries ! In Soho, there are some amazing places to get some yummy matcha drinks and here was one of them!
Cha Cha Matcha: SoHo: The cutest little instagramable cafe, with the yummiest Matcha drinks. I went for the Purple one iced and added Matcha! They have a lot of options and you can tailor and put in what you like!
Egg Shop- Elizabeth Street: was recommended here by family and friends, The Egg shop is a cute little cafe that serve one of a kind sandiwhcs and egg bowls! They also do some fab cocktails on their menu, that are meant to be delicious!
Freeman’s- Lower East Side: A good place to grab brunch, they do Banana Buttermilk pancakes to a full English breakfast and do a fab lunch menu as well!!
Balthazar- Soho: Another place I’ve be recommended time and time again- this time round I didn’t get a chance to visit but next time I will! Balthazar offers a huge selection of seafood and shellfish aswell as bread and pastries that are baked fresh within the Balthazar Bakery! There is also one located in London, so if you’ve been there, you’ll know how good it is!
H&H Bagels: When in New York, you’ve got to have a bagel!! Great bagel to grab on your way to the Met, as their bagels are insane!
Black Tap- Soho: Loved this place!! Known for it’s insane shakes- that were the size of my head! This place has a super cool atmosphere and known for it’s famous burgers too that are meant to be amazing! go here on an empty stomach because was the most filling lunch the portion sizes are huge!
Cafe Habana- Prince Street: A super fun Cuban Resturant that serves yummy food such as fish tacos, sandwiches, chicken and corn salad, yummy Guac with chips and more!
What I spent and My thoughts on Budget:
I’ve also had a lot of questions about how much I spent and is it expensive in NYC etc. I think it really all depends on how you spend your time and what you wanna get up too. For example lots of touristy attractions are on the expensive side, such as broadway shows but are of course completely worth it. So really depends what you fancy!
I budgeted for the 5 nights, 6 days that I would have $500 (£390 at the moment) for the full days. However, we had breakfast included in the room, and had pre paid for the Rockefeller ($33) so that took one meal cost out of our 6 breakfasts we had during our stay and our experience at the Rockefeller. In terms of getting around, lunch, dinners and things we tired to do the whole trip as minimal as we could- we spent $33 on a weekly metro so we walked everywhere or jumped on the metro if we needed to travel further (to And from Brooklyn). However, for meals etc it just varied but we mainly stuck to going to nice places for lunch and then pret for dinner as jet lag made my eating clock go a little weird anyway, and I only fancied small dinners. But all in all, I actually ended up coming home with £100 left, but that was us doing it on a budget of just walking around and exploring the sites. But I think it really depends on if you choose to see a game, a show, have nights out etc because it will of course add up, however I feel the prices are very similar to London prices so I’d go off that! Hopefully that helps in some way.
Love, India Moon x
Some Snaps from My trip: My blog post on photo tips for NYC coming soon!