Last month, at the ripe old age of 22, I broke my American virginity and finally visited the country. This trip was a surprise present from my boyfriend to me for our 7th anniversary, which meant we only had 2 months to plan it *Panic Stations*.
New York was never really somewhere I’d ever menetioned going, not because I didn’t want to, but more because I never thought we would be able to afford it!
The weather was insanely good while we were there, it was around 27 degrees celcius in the days, dropping to about 19 in the evenings, which was brilliant, except I’d packed for London in September (around 17-10 degrees celcious), so I was pretty sweaty a lot of the time… attractive, I know!
Anyway over to the trip…
We flew with British Airways economy to JFK from Heathrow Terminal 5 and back premium economy. I’m not sure what they cost as they were a present, but I know we used miles to help. Most airlines fly to New York so if you’re looking, I suggest shopping around to find the best deal.
We booked Business Parking for Jonny’s car which was very good, we found a space straight away and after he’d done 10 laps of the car to check it was locked we got on the transfer and were at the airport in no time. I can’t remember the exact price, but I think it was around £100 as we booked it the day before we flew.
Terminal 5 was great – there was a bit of a queue to get our tickets, but other than that it was swift and without any hiccups. We went for breakfast at Gordon Ramsey’s Plane Food, a favourite of ours. I had eggs Bennedict with a glass of Prosecco to really hit the day off, which tastes rather interesting at 6am!
The flight out was pretty uneventful. I watched Beauty & the Beast followed by Hampstead, which were both great and highly recomended. The guy infront of Jonny put his seat backs straight away which meant Jonny’s journey was pretty uncomfortable!
JFK was quick and efficient in both directions, there were queues at customs and security but they are to be expected, my only complaint is that there are really only 2 places to eat at terminal 7 and neither of them are that appealing!
BA Premium Economy was really good on the way back, helped by the fact our plane was a lot newer, but we had loads of space and the food and drink was great. I watched Table 19 and Snatched on the way back, which were good if you want somenthing easy to watch, but I don’t think I’ll rewatch them!
To get to the city we used Uber so we had no stresses about finding our way to a meeting point. On the way back we used the hotel’s car which was again very easy and pleasant.
We mainly walked around the city and for anything further afield we cycled using the Citi Bike’s at $12 per person and were everywhere. They’re pretty easy to operate, but the traffic could be a little scary sometimes, especially after dark. The grid system makes New York pretty easy to navigate both on the pavement and the road, plus CityMapper was really helpful if we ever got confused.
Location and price were our two main factors when choosing a hotel, as we didn’t have any time to waste. We stayed at the Radisson Martinique on Broadway as Jonny’s dad had points we could use plus it’s only 1 block from the Empire State Builing and about 10 blocks from Times Square. We had enought points to pay for 2 nights so only had to pay for 2 nights. So it only cost around $300 in the end, but beware they do slap on a $15 charge for ammenities each day – for the gym, wifi, etc.
The hotel itself was near enough what I expected, having known what Radisson’s are normally like. The room was quite big and very clean, we could even see the corner of the Empire State Building from our window! The bathroom was great and the complimentary tolitaries were fabulous and well stocked.
The hotel staff were incredibly polite and very helpful with any enquiries we had.
Food & Drink:
Food and drink was quite expensive in New York, but the portion sizes were huge so it proved pretty good value.
A new discovery of mine which blew my mind was cinnamon and rasin bagels with cream cheese – I mean wow, life altering!
I won’t bore you with going into detail about the places we had lunch as these were always on the go and mostly sandwiches! Below is a few quick reviews of the places we ate dinner:
Hard Rock Cafe,Times Square – Jonny and I love the Hard Rock Cafe and always go if there is one wherever we are visiting. The staff here were super helpful and found us a table within about 15 minutes. We shared some humongous Nachos, then Jonny had steak Fajitas for main and I had a Guiness and Jameson Burger which was yummy. Jonny and I normally buy ourselves something from the shop, Jonny got a hoodie, but I couldn’t decide what I wanted and then we ran out of time to go back… so I may have to steal Jonny’s hoodie.
John’s of Times Square – Our waiter was great he suggested a pitcher of beer as it was cheaper than individual pints. Jonny and I had seen the size of the pizza’s on the way in (the filled the whole table) so decided to share one, you can go half and half, but if you do you are charged for the price of two, so in the interest of fruigality we shared. I can’t remember what the pizza was called but I do remember that I loved it. John’s is great if you want no frills dnning in a central location at a good price.
For our final night we decided to splash out so I chose the The Plaza Hotel, 5th Avenue at Central Park South for cocktails. It was every bit a dreamy as I imagined it, we chose to drink in the iconic Palm Court, and though meant as a dining space their cocktails proved to be superb. I had a “I Recall… Central Park in Fall” – similar to an Old Fashioned and every bit as lovely.
For dinner Jonny chose Quality Meats, 58th Street between 5th & 6th Avenue which is a fantastic steak reastuaurant. Our waiter, Eric happened to be a West Ham fan just like Jonny, so they got on like a house on fire! Be warned the wine menu is not for the faint hearted with some bottles exceeding the $3000 mark! We decided to keep to Quality Meat’s own bottles under the name of Quality Wine’s, which was lovely and reasonable at around $80. We ordered a porterhouse steak to share for main with some potato waffles and some broccoli and cheese bites.
Before our main came some starters arrived and we highlighted we’d not ordered them, but or waiter said they were on the house from a fellow Hammers fan. So we tucked in to the most beautiful yellow fin tuna crudo and some grilled bacon and peanut butter – I was in heaven!
When our main arrived they had run out or broccoli so he subbed in some of their famous sweetcorn creme brulee and some mushrooms, both of which were fabulous. The steak itself was cooked to perfection. I’d never had a porterhouse before, but I certainly will be looking to pair up with Jonny for one in the future. As we were getting ready to pay a chocolate pudding arrived which was to die for. Needless to say we left a hefty tip and would recomend it to anyone visiting there! This was the perfect ending to the most wonderful trip.
Activities & Culture:
When planning our trip we decided to buy the New York City Pass before we left which allowed us access to 6 attractions chosen from a list of 9 for under £100.
We were supposed to do the Empire State the afternoon we arrived, but we both fell asleep!
Our chosen first stop from our city pass was the Statue of Liberty & Ellis Island, unfortunatley the only meant our ticket was paid for it didn’t give us any queue jump advantage. We hadn’t done enough research on it and had not booked (months in advance) to go up into the crown, which was disapointing! Next we headed over to Ellis Island, something I had studied at A level and was really looking forward to. We looked around the modern day immigration exhibition, the holding space, accomodation and records of the journey’s of the people who had spent time there, it was all very poiniant. On the boat trips Jonny and I got some incredible photos of the city sky line.
9/11 Memorial & Museum (we didn’t use our city pass for this one, so it cost $24 each) – we thought this would just be a quick trip, but it was so moving we ended up spending 3 hours there. I think this is such an important space for people to visit whenever they visit New York now, especially people of my generation as this event completely changed the way we live our lives. Both the memorial and museum are executed in such beautiful and respectuful ways. Jonny and I liked that The Sphere Sculpture that stood between the buldings has been kept and overlooks the site itself.
The Empire State Building was right next to our hotel so was it was really easy to get to. Our city pass gave us queue jump through security, which was helpful. The buiding itself was full of 1920’s and 30’s glamour. I was a little disapointed at the museum part, as it mainly focused on the structural feats of it being building, but not the numerous people who died while building it or any reference of its use or development over time. That said, the views were incredible! Our city pass also allowed us to go back and visit it the same evening so we could see the city at night, which was beautiful.
American Museum of Natural History unfortunatley, due to the rush we were in the whole time we were there, we didn’t have long here. Our city pass allowed us entry and a ticket to one of the shows, unfortunatley it did not allow us to escape the queues for tickets. We only got to see the African and North American Mammals halls within the museum itself, plus our show – Dark Universe. For me Dark Universe was too complicated and lost me early on, so with no chance of getting back in to it I decided to take a nap! On the plus side the show was in the planetarium so we got to visit the place where Ross and Rachel from FRIENDS had their first date! On the way back to our hotel we went for a proper cycle through Central Park, which was really fun.
New York Mets Baseball Jonny and I love sport so we really wanted to watch some kind of American Sport whicle we were in NYC and settled on the New York Mets as they are not as mainstream as the Yankee’s! We both fell in love with baseball and now support the Mets whenever they are playing! For supper we had hotdogs washed down by a couple of beers, which were quite expensive. We went during fan appreciation week, so there was a fantastic fireworks show at the end.
Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum my dad had been to New York just a few months previously and highly recomened this museum to us, especially as I love military history. We used our city pass for this one and did get queue jump as well. The museum is well equipt with a submarine, an aircraft carrier, a space shuttle and multiple aircraft including a Concorde. Jonny and I decided to pay the extra $20 each to do the Concorde tour, which talked about the history of the plane both in build and in flight as well as allowing us to go onboard. USS Growler, the diesel electric submarine, was really interesting to have a look around, using the boat itself as the museum space means visitors get a more hands on experience and sense of the working conditions. The USS Intrepid is an Essex Class air craft carrier which was built during World War Two as part of the Pacific Fleet. I was particularly interested in her involvement with the Japanese ship Yamato, but unfortunatly I didn’t find anything on this in the museum. I did however find the Vietnam exhibition very interesting, as I had never imagined that war from the sea. There is also an exhibition on Drones, which was quite interesting especially seen as their use has only really hit the limelight in recent history.
We did not really have that much time to do any shopping while over there, we went to one of the famed flea martkets, I didn’t buy anything as I thought it was quite overpriced for what was on offer! Other than that Jonny bought me a couple of tops and I looked at buying a watch, but never purchased it in the end. However there is one purchase I cannot gloss over and that was in the world famous Tiffany & Co. I had a necklace which Jonny had bought me for our first christmas and had added charms to for each of our aniversaries and last year just before our 6th anniversary it went missing. So he thought it would be quite fitting to buy me a Tiffany necklace seen as we were in New York to celebrate our 7th anniversary. Jonny chose a beautiful heart neclace form their new “Return to Love” collection, which I absolutley adore. Some of our friends (and Jonny’s mum) thought we had gotten engaged as when Jonny bought it they offered us some champagne so we had a rather cliched photo taken, we did giggle! Even if you are not buying anything you should pop in for a visit, the bottom floor is like a museum and there is even a letter from Audery Hepburn on the wall!
Top of the Rock Observation Deck we did this on the day of our flight home as a final attemp at completing our city pass, sadly there is no queue jump with this one, but you do go and book your time. So we decided to book this as the last thing we would do once we had finished our shopping, which was a lovely way to round off the trip seeing New York in all her glory. As an obsevation deck this is slightly better than the Empire State Building as it is taller, you can see Central Park more and the added bonus that the Empire State Building itself is in your pictures!
There were a few things we didn’t have time to see, but I was not that worried as we fell so in love with the city I know we will go back there in the future. Next time I’d like to see the Metroploitain Museum of Art, Wall Street, Brooklyn Bridge, Macy’s, Bergdorf Goodman and Bloomingdales, to mention a few.
I cannot recomend a place more! For my first trip to the United States of America this was a dream. It was by no means a relaxing trip and 4 days meant it was a particularly busy trip, I’d definetely recomend anyone else going that 5 or 6 is probably better, if you can. This would have made out time a lot less rushed and allowed us to see more of the attractions we did visit as well as those we didn’t have time for. New York City is expensive, but in terms of value for money it’s so worth it! I would recomend getting the city pass if you want to see the main attractions it includes, as it can help you plan out your days. Transport around the city is relatively painless, from our hotel we could walk most places, but when we couldn’t taxi’s were easy to flag down, the trains were pretty easy to use and bikes were easy to hop on. Our hotel was pretty good, maybe a bit too expensive for what we needed it for as we were hardly in it, but then again it was so comfortable for when we just needed to crash! The food and drink was insanely good and the portion size was gigantic. Jonny and I would move to New Yourk City in a heartbeat, we just fell in love with it. There is definetly something in New York for everyone, if you’ve never been I urge you to start saving for a trip right now!
Have you ever been to New York City? Where did you go on your first trip to the United States of America?