General tips from hotels to sight seeing
I`ve been back in the UK for a week after visiting NYC (8-14 Dec 07) and had a great holiday.
We stayed in the Radio City Apartments which was a great base just off Times Square. Would recomend it but other hotels are more "swish". We had a bit of snow as well which turned Central Park into a picture postcard.
A New York pass is well worth getting. We had a 2 day one which saved us money on the Empire State Building, Statue of Liberty Cruise etc, etc. We combined the pass with a Grey Line toursit bus ticket - this was $45 for two days and was hop on hop off. It may have been cheaper on the Tube\Subway but it was a good way for us to see the City on our first visit.
Ground Zero is just a building site, but the best view of it is from the second floor of the Burger King opposite Century 21! Strange to walk around and see chinese people selling photos of the planes etc, just wrong and don`t buy from them.
Was a bit disappointed with Century 21 as didn`t think the store was that cheap. We did most of our shopping at Woodbury Common Factory Outlets stocking up on Jeans, Trainers etc. The prices their compaired to the UK were really cheap. Some Nike trainers which cost £70 in the UK were $20 (£10!!!).
If you are in the City at Christmas check out the "Charmin Restrooms" on Times Square. They are spotless and will be the strangest toilets you have been in with people dancing around etc!
From Newark Airport we got the free transit train in the Airport to the Train Station then paid $15 to get the NJ Transit to NYC. We walked out of Penn Station with our cases and was amazed to see the Empire State Building and the height of the buildings. We got a yellow cab back which worked out around $85 and is a flat fee plus tolls - it was easier with the cases.
If you go at Christmas time catch the Radio City Christmas Show - this is great and beats any West End show in London. We also caught an NBA Knicks game which was interesting and an experiance.
Better Deal than a fake Prada in Chinatown
This hotel is the best deal in NYC. It is spitting distance to Radio City Music Hall, and Times Square is a short walk in the opposite direction. When we checked in, we learned that we were being upgraded at no additional cost to a 1 bedroom apartment on the Penthouse floor.
A Penthouse Suite in New York City for $139/night? I can't believe I almost stayed at a hostel. The room was enormous. The bedroom and bathroom were down the hall from the living room, so it seemed very spacious. We had a balcony that wrapped around the building. Because these used to be apartments, they have a lot more charm that a cookie cutter room at any of the major hotel chains. I would definitely stay here again and recommend it for families or groups who are on a budget but don't want to sacrifice convenience or space.
Can't beat this combo of location, space and price
Located right between Rockefeller Plaza and Times Square, this was a perfect home base for 3 days of "doing NYC" with small kids. Apartment has great space for an NY hotel, and a kitchenette (and deli nearby) that saves money and aggravation of going out for every single meal and snack. Set your expectations for a place that is clean and functional, but a bit worn and not posh at all. Ask for a lower floor so you're not hostage to slow elevators.
Great location, stayed in a one-bedroom apartement, really spacious, clean, tidy, room-service everyday. Any problems, reception deal with them right away. Would stay there again, no problem! You're in spitting distance from Times Square.
These Brits loved it.
I can't understand the poor reviews my fellow Brits gave this place.
Brilliantly located, polite and helpful desk-staff, and great assistance from the reservation office. It wasn't 5-star, but at $214 a night for an apartment that accommodated 4 adults just off Broadway, 50 metres from a subway and next to Rockerfeller Center what were they expecting. I'm used to 4 & 5 star hotels but for the feel of New York, real convenience and a great price we couldn't have done better. Oh and you can eat any nationality's food within a block or two - the deli on the corner likes to talk cricket!
Cheap but not so Cheerful
My brother and i have just returned after a four night stay (April 04) and our opinion is a bit mixed.
The location is excellent , minutes from Times Square/Rockafeller center and Fifth avenue and a reasonable distance from central park and the Empire State Building. The room was comfortable with all the facilities you would expect, but unfortunately very noisy. The lack of soundproofing on the windows meant the noise from the street below reverberated through the whole room making a good nights sleep impossible. The maid service was very good they kept the rooms neat and tidy but unfortunately the same can't be said for the reception staff, who were very unfriendly, aloof and offhand and made it clear that everything was too much trouble. This was a satisfactory place to stay but could be so much better with double glazing and more importantly better trained customer service staff with a friendly and pleasant attitude.
Stayed here 5/13-5/16....location was great!!! The rooms were typical of any hotel, 2 beds and a bathroom! You are in NYC...you won't be in the room much, right? You are about a 2 minute walk to Times Square from this hotel. I read previous reviews about the front desk staff, we never had any problems with them. They were all friendly and very helpful. The subway station is right around the corner from the hotel. Great Italian rest. 2 doors down from the hotel. Will definitely stay here again when returning to NYC..and would recommend it to anyone.
A great location - and good value for money
I stayed here for 5 nights from 29 May. On arrival the toilet base was completely smashed and we were told that no other rooms were available at that moment - a bit disappointing after a long flight. We left our bags at reception and went out into New York for the afternoon. On our return we had been allocated a larger room and this eased the exhaustion. This hotel is in a location that can't be beaten. Everything we wanted to get to was within walking distance and the subway was on our doorstep for the longer trips. The basic rooms are very small but as long as you plan to be out and about all day and just need a clean and comgy place to crash, it can't be beaten. The desk staff could do with a little help on their approach as they were not overly interested in their guests but I can live with that!
New York in May Part One
"Day One - The Journey"
Once again, my son Jack was the catalyst for our trip. Three years ago we had visited to celebrate his 21st birthday and, this time around, he thought it would be an excellent way of saying Happy 21st to his fiancée Julie. We’d been in February for Jack’s bash and with Julie’s birthday being in March, we had our first big decision to make – do we go when the weather is still pretty chilly or do we leave it a little until we can get warmer and longer days? In the end, the idea of longer days really appealed as it meant we would not have to rush round like mad things trying to squeeze everything in before dark plus we might even be able to enjoy a bit of al fresco eating. So May it was and, because Julie wanted to travel with her mum who works at a school, it was decided to go over Memorial weekend which coincided with half-term back here. Previously we’d been delighted with The Salisbury but I knew that money was going to be tight this time around so I went for Radio City Apartments. We took 2 studios and the price worked out at $85 each per night which seemed quite reasonable. We reserved the rooms in July but the problem was that. At that time, there were no discount air fares available – I decided to wait. Well, I’m convinced I did see the flights fall to £240 per person in February this year but, stupidly, I didn’t act on it. Consequently, after checking each new notice from BA and AA about sale prices, I realised that this was bite the bullet time and ended up paying £380 per person for flights from Heathrow to JFK.
OK – that’s the boring stuff out of the way.
Day one actually started on the previous Friday with my wife (Pat) and I checking in at the Heathrow Sheraton Skyline the night before so that we could make our way to the airport the next morning without having to get up at 02:30! The room and 7 days’ parking cost us less than £100 but the meal in their restaurant bumped that up by another £60. Still, we were on holiday! Up bright and early on Saturday to catch the Hoppa Bus to the airport. The driver bent over backwards to squeeze everybody who was waiting on to the bus but he probably overdid it as by the end the natives were getting restless. Well, I say “natives”, in fact it was an American who said in a loud voice “Hey, we do have a plain to catch you know”. No, really? Anyway, no –one missed their plane and before we knew it, we were standing in a long line at the American Airline’s check-in desk. I had hoped to use their well-advertised on-line log-in facility but that is only available for domestic flights or, at least, flights originating in the States. Sadly, the automatic check-in machines weren’t working either so we had no option but to stand in line until we could be processed. After about an hour we were through and reunited with Jack, Julie. Jennifer (her sister) and Tizzy (her mother) who had arrived hours before and had been first in the queue.
"Day One - The City"
After a fairly uneventful flight, we arrived at JFK half an hour early and grabbed a couple of taxis into the city. The weather was perfect and everyone was feeling good. Could it possibly last???
After unpacking, we thought we’d head round the corner to Times Square so that everyone could see it. After all, everyone has to walk round Times Square as soon as they’ve unpacked right? Well, no – I am now firmly of the opinion that Times Square is full of three types of people:
1) Those who have been told by their friends that they must go and who are desperately looking around for a reason for being there.
2) People who got off the Hop On Hop Off bus and who are now desperate to get back on the next one out of there.
3) The marketeers, scam artists, cheap watch and handbag salesmen who prey on the poor saps in 1) and 2).
By all means go and see the lights of Times Square once but plan to be there for no more than 5 minutes – you won’t regret it!
We were soon outside Hershey's and Jack nearly spoiled the surprise by saying to Julie "That's where I had my birthday message up in lights". It wasn't his fault - we hadn't let him in on the secret! I made an excuse to cross the street to take some photos then nipped into the store and booked a message for Julie. The store was absolutely packed - it felt even more packed as most of the clientèle were obviously big Hershey fans if you get my drift! Luckily, the young girl who had taken my order took pity on me when she saw the length of the line I had to stand in to pay and went off and did it for me. I popped back outside and after what seemed an age but which was probably no more than 5 minutes, the message appeared. Amazingly, Julie was completely surprised by the whole thing and wanted to stay there to watch the message revolving time after time while the rest of the family sang Happy Birthday!
We walked past TGIF's and I pointed out the webcam for future reference and then we headed off to 43rd Street so that I could buy the NFT guide and the Hagstrom 5in1 Map at their store. On the way, we spotted the HBO store and Jack ended up buying a whole lot of Soprano's merchandise.
We headed east down 43rd and then turned right towards Bryant Park. As we turned the corner, we were greeted with the amazing site of what looked like about 50 squad cars all with their red lights flashing. It was one of their anti-terrorist drills but I did think that if the criminal fraternity knew about it, they could have been up to all sorts of mischief on the other side of town with complete impunity! The park was lovely in the May sunshine and we sat and admired the greenery - what a contrast to the last time we were there when there wasn't a leaf to be seen! We had a coke in the little cafe next to the public library then we thought we'd take a peek inside. It being Memorial Weekend, sadly the library was closed so we moved on to Grand Central to admire the ceiling before heading back up Park Avenue to have an up close encounter with the lovely Helmsley Building before getting back to the RCA for a quick nap.
We thought it might be a good idea to check out the restaurant next door – Pasta Lovers’ Trattoria – it wasn’t! Average food at above average prices but it was 1am UK time so we weren’t too particular. Everyone turned in pretty soon after that but I went for a wander up 49th street towards Radio City Music Hall and was amazed to see one of the ubiquitous handbag sellers in hand cuffs. I can only assume that he must have been sleeping with the arresting cop’s wife as it was the only time I ever saw any attempt by New York’s finest to hinder, in any way, the activities of these unlicensed traders! I was in bed by midnight and looking forward to Sunday in the Park.
"Day Two - Sunday in the Park"
Up early(ish) for our day in Central Park. Everyone had slept well although Jack said he woke up at 4 but didn’t know whether to get up or not and eventually drifted back to sleep. We took the subway uptown from the station at the end of the block (49th and 7th Ave) and also bought our 7 day Metro Cards there. After a quick lesson on how to swipe them at the barrier so that the display come up with the magic word “Go”, we were off. We alighted at 57th and 7th and it was just like old times. This had been our home station when we were last here and stayed at the Salisbury. It was comforting to see the mural on the wall with Tchaikovsky and others looking back benevolently at us and then we ascended into bright sunshine and our first view of Carnegie Hall. We walked down 57th, past the Salisbury and noticed quite a lot of redevelopment on both sides of the street. The souvenir shop where we had bought our phone cards has gone as has Shelley’s (well from its original location anyway). Having not had a chance to eat breakfast, we popped into a small deli and ordered a bacon and egg roll and a cup of coffee to go. I don’t know what it is about eating breakfast outside when the sun is shining but the food always tastes wonderful and this morning was no exception! Yum.
We turned up 6th Avenue walking past the Jekyll and Hide club (I convinced them that they did NOT want to go there!) and then turned right onto Central Park South and that fabulous view of the Pierre and Sherry Netherlands hotel in front of you with the greenery of the park on your left. As we sauntered down the street, we passed breakfasters sitting out on the pavements and walkers with their dogs enjoying a constitutional before arriving at Grand Army Plaza for our first of many photocalls that day! I had a thoroughly enjoyable time photographing the Pulitzer fountain, the Plaza and the surrounding high-rises before I got the hurry-up signal from Pat that it was time to move on. We walked past William Tecumseh Sherman’s statue and I reminded Jack and the girls to thank his companion for their trainers and then we were immersed in all that greenery.
Forgive me if this becomes a recurring theme, but what a difference from our February trip. Then we were being given the Big Apple Greeter’s (off-duty) tour by the lovely Betty and the main attraction that day was Christo’s controversial “The Gates” http://www.flickr.com/photos/hbomb/sets/155130/ This time around, the temperature was in the 70s, the trees were in full leaf and the park looked magnificent. Many years ago, we took a trip to Disneyworld and I remember standing on Tom Sawyer Island near Fort Sam Clemens. I spotted a view through the trees of Cinderella’s Castle and thought how lucky that the branches had just parted to give such a view. Then I thought about it a bit more and realised that, this being Disney, there was nothing “lucky” about it at all. The branches of the surrounding trees had been cleverly lopped to afford the visitor the best view possible of the surrounding assets. Now, I read somewhere that there are over 26,000 trees in Central Park so I know it would be an impossible task to prune them just so that Joe Public can see the buildings, bridges and other attractions to best advantage but, time and again, I was left with the impression that this couldn’t all be happening by accident!
We made our way past the pond to the Wollman Ice Rink which, at this time of year is transformed into the Victorian Gardens – a traditional amusement park complete with swing rides, whack a mole, a fun slide and loads more. Great fun for the youngsters but I think ours were just a little too old so we kept on walking. Before long we reached The Dairy (the excellent visitor centre) where we had a lovely time looking at all their merchandise (what a pleasant change from the tackiness of Times Square!). I dearly wanted to buy one of their wonderful maps but I knew it would be almost impossible to get it home in pristine condition so I passed but, maybe next time? If you’ve never been, it’s definitely worth a visit if only to admire the Victorian gothic architecture. In case you hadn’t guessed it actually was originally an area where they milked the cows in Central Park and not without its share of controversy. In the late 19th Century, it was involved in a scandal when it was discovered that the cows were being fed brewery mash instead of hay! The milk was being drunk by children whose parents couldn’t find fresh anywhere else. That might explain the drinking habits of a few of the regulars mightn’t it?
A quick walk by the Chess and Checkers House and then on to the Carousel. Pat, Jack and I decided we wanted a ride even if the others were too embarrassed to do so! We clambered up onto 3 likely looking steeds and hoped that people would assume we were with the dozens of small children who surrounded us. The ride was quite fast and long – a far cry from the very first carousel on the same spot which was pulled by a blind mule and horse in an area below floor level. After this we decided to split up. Jack and the James Gang (Julie, Jen and Tizzy) went to the Imagine mosaic and then the Dakota Building plus, I think the Ghostbusters building (55 Central Park West). Pat and I decided to see the zoo. I have no idea why we said we would do this – I’m normally not a fan of animals in captivity but we thought we’d give it a go and we were so glad we did! Everything about it was charming. The tropical zone was excellent with the creatures on display never more than a few feet away but demanding that you look closely before they would reveal themselves. The heat and humidity, along with the natural vegetation, made it feel very realistic and it was a great relief to get outside again to cool down! We walked past some balancing turtles – all stacked up on top of each other to enjoy the sunshine and a rather lonesome looking Japanese Snow Monkey before arriving at the Polar Bear pool. Here you could see signs of the repetitive behaviour which signifies stress in these wonderful creatures but I never felt that they were badly treated in any way and I would definitely return to this little gem of a zoo.
We had agreed to meet by the Bethesda Fountain so we set off in search of Literary Walk. I still can’t explain how I managed it but I must have walked right past the southern end of the walk and then managed to double back without realising it. Consequently, we approached it from the opposite direction I was expecting and I turned right instead of left despite Pat’s protestations that I was going the wrong way. It only took a few steps for me to realise my mistake and I sheepishly had to admit that I had goofed! How could this be? Surely it’s us men who have the spatial awareness gene? Apologies, boys!
The good news was that we all met up at more or less the appointed hour and headed off to the Boat House for a spot of lunch. Not a good move I’m afraid – it was heaving and we decided to head back to the fountain and see what was on offer. As it turned out, we found a stall selling crèpes which, with the weather that warm, were perfectly adequate particularly as I followed mine up with a chocolate ice cream courtesy of Mr Häagen and Mr Daz! Just as I was finishing my choc ice there was a great commotion on the steps of the terrace. Jack, Julie and Gen went to investigate and it was a couple of black dudes doing some amazing break-dancing. Well that’s what it looked like to me – there’s probably some urban expression that adequately covers their dancing and no doubt I’ll be using it anachronistically when I’m in my 70s but, for now, “break dancing” (and “dudes”) will have to do! Soon there was an enormous crowd of people completely filling the steps and thoroughly enjoying themselves. I finished my ice cream and sauntered over but was just in time to see them ‘passing the hat’ – they must have made a fortune! And, good for them! How refreshing to see a couple of enterprising guys giving genuine entertainment and getting rewarded for it. It may not have been my scene but it certainly tapped into the public’s consciousness and I applaud them for their ingenuity! After taking a couple of photos of a Chinese wedding party that had gathered round the fountain, it was time to move on. Next stop, Bow Bridge.
The original plan was to hire a rowing boat (or two) and take them out on the lake but, on reflection, this Sunday wasn’t the right time to attempt anything as popular! One look at the line was enough to convince me that we needed to keep moving! We crossed Bow Bridge and, almost immediately, were in the Ramble. I could have stayed here for the rest of the afternoon. There’s something reassuring about finding yourself in the Ramble – it’s like walking down the ordered regularity of 7th Avenue only to find yourself in Sheridan Square! Instead of the familiar choices of left, right or straight ahead, suddenly you have to decide which of 5 exits to take only to be met with a similar choice within mere yards! I love the way that, in the Ramble, you’re presented with a choice only to have the route you’ve chosen double back on itself as soon as you crest the next incline! Unfortunately, I appeared to be in a minority of one and was constantly being met with calls of “are we nearly there yet” from the other ranks. I resisted the urge to plunge onwards and lose myself completely and started to redeem myself in the eyes of all red-blooded males! For hour after hour I strode purposefully away from the setting sun with only my trusty machete for company. Running dangerously low on water and having just eaten my last bit of pemmican I staggered exhaustedly down a steep bank and fell into the arms of a grey haired matron who enquired of me whether I needed any help crossing the road. Squinting through eyes almost closed by poison ivy, I realised I’d miraculously made it onto Central Park East Drive and civilisation. With my last breath I managed to alert the others who pushed their way through the thick undergrowth before collapsing at my feet which they kissed with gratitude knowing that I had saved their lives!
With no time to lose – we had a rendezvous in the West Village to go to – we set off under the Delacorte Music Clock, past the zoo out through Scholars’ Gate and on to 5th Avenue. Surprisingly, the sight of shops seemed to give some of our party their second wind – it was either that or the lemonade we’d bought at the cart just before leaving the park! Either way, Tiffany & Co. Was spotted and successfully invaded to be quickly followed by Abercrombie and Fitch (I listened to the music blaring out from the other side of the street!) and, finally, Trump Tower. I did try to tell them there was nothing to see inside but they’d seen the Apprentice and clearly wanted to see where the only man in New York who has 3 Shredded Wheat for breakfast (2 to eat and 1 to put on his head) works. Actually, I did see an idea for a Christmas present for me inside. A set of Donald Trump golf clubs – a snip at $2,499!
A final stroll down 5th taking in the scaffolding-clad St Pats and (horror) completely encased statue of Atlas opposite (I had had great photographic plans for him this time around ) before we turned into the Channel Gardens and found ourselves looking across at the familiar figure of Prometheus with 30 Rock towering above him. By this time it was nearly 4pm and we needed a rest and to get changed so that we could be in the Village by 6 so we headed back to the hotel to cool our heels (literally – Pat had bought a most amazing spray which worked like magic!).
There are more photos of our day in Central Park here.
I'm staying at Radio City apartments(142 WEST 49th ST) in November, and was wondering what Movie theatres/resturants are near by?
Do any have websites?
Re: What's near
Too many to list! Restaurant Row is nearby (46th between 8th and 9th). Check out the excellent NYC pages...they are full of wonderful restaurants. Also, don't limit yourself to that area! Most of the best restaurants are off the beaten path, so to speak.
Radio City Apartment - 2Bed suite
How do I check the rates??? whenever i'm giving rates it opens up a hotel in Itlay!!!???
My travel dates are Chk in 30/05 check out 02/06 with 5 adults & 1 child aged 2.
Re: Radio City Apartment - 2Bed suite
Why don't you phone them? Their number is on their web site.
Re: Radio City Apartment - 2Bed suite
RADIO CITY APARTMENTS
142 West 49th Street
New York, NY 10019
1-(877)921-9321 (U.S Only)
Ok, I'm looking at Vacationrentals.com. Because I don't know where I want to stay in NY City this is hard for me. A little history...Nov. 9-12 we are picking in-laws up in NY (they are coming from Holland) They want to see what they can in NY. All I know is time sq. Anyone that knows of NY that has looked at this web page???? Think we need to get this done now. Because that date seem to be booked on a lot of the rentals. Again thanks.
Re: Vacation rentals
I have indeed looked at that site in the past, but you should be aware that there can be lots of problems with rentals in New York City. For the 4 of you I would suggest you'd need at least a one bedroomed with a sofa-bed in the living room as a studio wouldn't be a great option. I usually stay in a B and B apartment on the Upper West Side that does have a couple of one bedded places (www.jacksbandb.com)It's near to two subway stations so easy to get around. Have you looked at somewhere like Radio City Apartments if you want to be close to Times Sq ? I've been inside a room here and it was recently renovated and quite nice.
Re: Vacation rentals
I was looking to see how much the Radio City Apartments are. But can't fine the rates. Or it seems I have to sign in with my card and don't want to do this. Do you know the rates? Again thanks.
Re: Vacation rentals
Whenever I've gone to check the RCA site I've gone to the reservations tab and put my dates in and any availability shows up then with the appropriate rates. The rates differ at different times of year and availability.