The CityPass is a booklet of vouchers you can buy in advance of your trip to NYC which gets you into a number of tourist hot-spots for a discounted price.
To make it worth its money, you do need to try and use most of the vouchers and I would say that you need at least four days in NYC to allow yourself enough time to do so.
The vouchers get you entry to:
The top of the Rock or the Guggenheim
Empire State Building
Statue of Liberty or Cruise around NYC.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
The Natural History Museum
The Museum of Modern Art
I really enjoyed all the things apart from the cruise - it was utterly tedious after the first 15 minutes. I'd strongly advise anyone to go for the Statue of Liberty option instead.
The absolute best thing about the pass was that it constantly allowed us to jump the often very long queues of people and get priority access. This was absolutely fantastic and saved us so much time.
This is a great shabby chic hotel in downtown Manhattan that offers comfortable accommodation at a price you're unlikely to be able to beat in New York.
Woody Allen used the hotel in his film Manhattan Murder Mystery and the hotel claims that Madonna has stayed there at some point, though I have no idea if this latter fact is true or, indeed, if anyone could care less.
There are shared bathrooms on every floor and these are cleaned regularly and always in a decent state. The rooms, depending on size, have a wash basin and a TV.
Very comfortable all round and, although a fair way out of the centre of New York, the hotel is very close to the Union Square/14th Street subway station, which is the intersection of a number of subway lines, effectively making it very easy to reach anywhere in the city.
This is a very uniquely decorated 'hotel' which is more like a hostel, but is particularly cheap for New York accommodation and the artwork is like no other.
Williamsburg Brooklyn is home of the hipster and has so much affordable vintage available you can even buy it off the footpath!
I recommend this because it is a cheap way to buy vintage clothes and the stuffy musky smell of Thrift Store is not an issue. Shopping en plein air!
Bedford Avenue, Brooklyn, New York
Google map: bit.ly/ciUaxI
Take the (free) Staten Island ferry and go to a baseball game. The Staten Island Yankees ballpark is an easy walk from the ferry terminal. For $16 you get over two hours' sport and fun - we laughed for the whole event (3rd base seating is recommended). The sight of men trying to get into frozen t-shirts between innings will stay with us.
Other top tips for NYC:
Travel from JFK - for parties of three or more take a yellow cab ($55ish to your hotel door).
Breakfast - Grand Central Station
Lunch/Dinner - Whole Foods market, excellent value and choice (avoid busy 6pm - 7pm period) 10 Columbus Circle, basement of Time Warner Center. Very convenient for Central Park.
It sounds like insanity, standing for three hours - but you get comfy armrests to lean on, your own surtitles, and a surprisingly good view at the back of the stalls. You're first out to the bar at the interval. And it's very cheap.
We travelled from Newark airport to midtown Manhatten by taxi and it cost us $72 + tip, bringing the total cost to $82. However on the way back we got the coach for $15 each one way.
Coach USA runs between Manhatten and Newark, stopping outside Grand Central Station (between Park and Lexington Avenues on 41st street), Bryant Park (5th avenue) and Port Authority Bus Terminal. Fare is $15 one way or $25 return. Buses run every 15 /30 mins.
Hotel right in middle of Manhatten, just a stone's throw from Grand Central Station.
Would class it as a three/three-star plus hotel and maybe a little tired around edges. However at £70 a night, this was great value for NY.
Look around at the various accommodation websites and you'll see a big difference in price for this hotel from £140 to £70 per night.
We used Expedia as it was the cheapest.
45 East 45th St. At Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10017
Great pizzeria in the Greenwich Village area of Manhatten. A pizzeria since 1924 but still as popular as ever judging from the queues that can form here. Simple but superb.
Additionally there are some good pubs in this area, such as the Red Lion down the road at 151 Bleeker street.
278 Bleeker Street
(Between 6th & 7th Avenues)
New York, NY 10014
On production of your foreign passport (or copy of it) you will get a 10% discount off purchases at Macy's & Bloomingdales (excluding electronics & perfumes).
Ask any member of staff & they will tell you how to get the card.
In the respective stores you go to customer services to obtain the discount card which you present when making purchases.
This is not very openly advertised in store but every day 100s of people (if not thousands) obtain the discount card.
Steve Madden seems to be a shoe designer that you see everywhere in NY... However we found a Steve Madden shoe store that sold the shoes for a discount price - as low as $50 for two pairs.
100 Rivington St (on corner of Ludlow & Rivington street)
Lower East Side
New York, NY 10002
Round corner from Katz Deli.
It's in an excellent location not far from Union Square with trendy cafes within 100 meters. Rooms are ensuite and a lot more effort put in to the overall quality of the hostel than you will generally find in all of NYC hostels.
NYC vacation rental market is swamped with blatant scams. It is safer to stick to airbnb.com or roomorama.com when looking for an apartment for short-term stay. Craigslist might still have the best bargains though, if you've got the time and patience to hunt for them. In order to weed out the scams, stick to two simple rules: after you've made contact with the person offering a place for rent, ask the magic question: "With all the scammers out there, could I please send a local friend over to take a look at the place before booking?" (doesn't matter if you really have anyone there who could go over, no reply = scammer). Second, do not pay anyone anything in advance unless there is a way to reverse the transaction (read: PayPal only). Anyone requesting full stay's rent plus a huge deposit in advance via bank transfer or money order is a scammer, and they're most likely using photos and descriptions stolen from legit real estate ads.
This hostel is the only all-girls hostel in New York and is perfectly located right next to Central Park, with bags of the ‘New Harlem’ spirit and character you would expect for the area. Its main draw is the ideal location, you can easily get the express trains to most places in Manhattan from here as well as take a stroll around during the day.
With an antractive pink front door, this brownstone hostel blends in with the surroundings and neighboring houses. Inside the interior is simple and fresh and there are loads of opportunities to meet other female backpackers in the evenings when you are back from sightseeing.
Two ideas to budget in NYC on holiday:
1. You can get tickets to see TV recordings for free i.e. for Ricki Lake. You need often to apply early though.
2. On the same day, head down to Time Square and the TKTS booth and get theatre tickets half price.
TKTS Booth, 46th st & Broadways
It is a website which I read about in an article on this site. It has apartments or rooms to rent all over NYC. I rented a fab studio in Greenwich Village for $150 a night through them (how cheap?!) The owner was very helpful and nice - he even contacted me after we left to say I had left $50 in the studio and sent it back to me! Owners don't get paid until after your stay so it is all safe and secure plus the website is nicely designed, easy to use. Highly recommended. The apartment I stayed in was called 'Famous Street' and I found it by searching for 'two people, whole apartment $150 max'. Only minor downside is that I couldn't find a way to search by area.
For anyone on a budget, taking the train across America is ideal. We paid about £650 from NYC to LA, via Toronto, Chicago, Seattle and SF, and you can stop off for as long as you like in your chosen stops!
Because it's America, the space you get on the trains is immense compared to the UK and on certain legs of the journey you get your own cabin with panoramic windows to watch the world go by (and a free little bottle of bubbly upon arrival!)
The longest leg of our journey was approx. two days through the beautiful flat plains of the Midwest with the occassional ranch and small town thrown in for good measure, followed by the beautiful Rockies, where we even saw a few wild animals!
All your food is included in the price of your fare - staff come knocking on your cabin door to take reservations and at your alloted time you make your way to the dining carriage. If you're travelling alone or in a couple you'll share a table with other passengers.... although we're a bit British sometimes and don't like awkward small-talk, this actually was a lot of fun! One night we shared a table with a sweet Midwest school teacher (v. talkative) and a toothless trucker (not so talkative!) Priceless!
There isn’t anything you can’t find at this fantastic bargain store. Shopping for hours feels like minutes. It was the perfect place to update my much needed wardrobe with my wish list items and didn’t blow my budget. I couldn’t believe the amazing selection of designers at such a great price.
Union Square, 4 Union Square South,
40 East 14st, New York, NY 10003
This Harlem hostel is a great place to stay. The subway is close by and must see Central Park only a few minutes walk away. The dining area which connects to the back yard is the best feature; the deck and gardens are lovely. Also a plus is the kitchen and accessing the internet was free and easy. It was also nice to know there was not any curfew. The staff were really helpful and made my stay extra special.
257 West 113th Street,
New York, Morningside Heights,
I booked an apartment through New York Habitat in New York for a week and I recommend their site. It is user-friendly and the booking process was straight forward. Their agent gave me all the info I needed and the apartment was exactly as shown on their website, clean and comfortable, ideally located. Still, the best of all was the owner of the apartment who was really nice and helpful. I really enjoyed my stay there and it was much better than staying at a hotel, and cheaper, too
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