New York Holiday Review

We get lots of reviews sent to us from our customers. Here is one about New Year in New York

I travelled with my boyfriend to New York in December 2011 for the New Year celebrations and for my 21st birthday. It was cold, wet, and 2ft deep in snow most of the time… but I wouldn’t have had it any other way.

We flew British Airways from Manchester direct to JFK. It cost about £330 each as we booked months in advance with Global Holidays.  The 7 hour flight was extremely comfortable, with in-flight films and 2 nice meals on board.

We stayed at the Jolly Madison, just off Madison Avenue. The taxi from airport to hotel cost about $30 and took about 45mins. You can pre-book transfers and they are a few dollars less but as we booked all parts separately similar prices. The hotel its self is a 4* Italian style hotel. It is very clean and the staff are very friendly. It’s just a 10 min walk from all the sights but is way from all the bustle of Big Apple life. Its restaurant and bar is expensive though so we tended to eat out for all our meals.

There was a diner just over the road call ‘Ruebens‘. We ate mostly breakfast here. The omelettes at about $5 were to die for and there was the usual selection of bagels too. Very reasonable and very tasty. For lunch and tea we went one of the numerous restaurants on and around Time Square and Broadway. It is handy to book these advance or get there early as we waited approx 30mins for table nearly every night. Prices are a bit above what you pay in UK but only to be expected as in any tourist area, and the portions are, well, American size!

After all that food, you need some exercise and what better way to shed the pounds than whilst sightseeing. Skating in central park is one particularly good way. I thought it would be expensive to do as its so popular but actually is only cost $4.50 for entry and $5 for the skates for as long as you want. It does get very busy so get there early. Also, in restaurants and the bars, you should tip. 10% is the norm but you can give what you want.

The 3 more popular sights were probably the Empire States Building, the Statue of Liberty, and Ground Zero. The Empire State Building, has those far reaching, breath-taking views. It’s worth the $14 to go up to the top. Although a bit dear, you should do it twice: at day and at night to make the most of it. The Statue of Liberty is another nice trip out. You catch the ferry down at the little harbour down near the financial district. I can’t remember how much this cost but it is just one of those things you ‘must’ do.

The World Trade Centre Dround Zero site was most definitely the highlight of the holiday.

China town is a few stops on the tube from Time Square (which is easy to use and quite cheap – watch out for pick-pockets though and I wouldn’t travel at night). The streets are very decorative and the people very nice… they can be a bit intimidating though when they try to get you to buy things. You can get some unusual, well prices clothes and souvenirs here so it’s worth the visit.

We didn’t get to see a show on Broadway as we didn’t book in advance, as we should. All the seats that you can book on the day are very expensive, if there are any at all. So book at your travel agent if possible. The theatre district itself is just as you’d expect, lined with nice buildings and light.

Times Square is every inch the bustling place you see on TV. Street sellers and steaming man holes make up the atmosphere of this place. At night, all the flashing lights, adverts and neon signs are a bit overwhelming at first but you get used to it and after all Times Square wouldn’t be Times Square without them. This is where the action was for the New Year celebrations. It was fantastic, fireworks and confetti and all, but be warned, if you want to go and see in New Year here, you need to be on the scene early. People were sat on deck chairs at 3pm to get at the front of the crowd. You need lots of patience and a very warm jacket!

Another thing we didn’t have time to do is go to Brooklyn. Over the bridge there is a large discount shopping centre. You can get a coach trip over, which you have to ask your hotel about, but its worth it for the bargain clothes. Actually it is worth asking your hotel to find out about trips and things – most of the time that will book them on your behalf too.

Or you could just stay in Manhattan. It is indeed a haven for all shopping fanatics – Saks, Maceys, Bloomingdales – you name it, they have it. You can’t resist going in even the most expensive shops – just to say you’ve done it! There are lots and lots of little souvenir shops, mainly on Time Square and Broadway, they sell a lot of the same things but prices vary by a few dollars in each so its worth having a wander into a few of them to get some money off those little miniature Statue of Liberty’s for your Mum.

There are also lots of jewellery shops all over New York, including Tiffany’s. My particular favourite was Peachtree Jewellers on Fifth Avenue. My top tip is to barter. The mark-up on lots of jewellery is quite high so you can get a good discount, especially if you pay in cash. Beware though, you may get some money off but you pay about 17% VAT on that as well, so try and barter that down too. I got 40% off my goodies and half off the VAT I paid on them. Bargain!

To get back to the airport, we shared a chauffer-driven limo with 2 other couples. It cost just as much as a taxi and was the perfect end to a perfect holiday… again something you should ask the hotel about.

We crammed as much is as we could in 8 days, but still didn’t manage to see everything – we didn’t even make it into a museum. I’d make it a two week holiday next time… and there will be a next time.

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