by Emma Rodgers, June 2014

New York is my favourite destination and I was lucky enough to be given the opportunity to travel there again in June. Now having been there twice I still cannot wait to go back already.

On my recent trip we checked out a number of hotels in Manhattan. The highlight of my recent stay was at Hotel Beacon on the Upper West Side, this is an apartment style hotel in a beautiful neighbourhood. Staying here makes you feel very much a part of New York without being in the craziness of Times Square.  If Times Square is where you want to be keep in mind it can be overwhelming and reminds you why NY never sleeps, but I would highly recommend the Renaissance Times Square or the Sheraton Time Square. Downtown there is The Standard Hotel, a modern and upmarket hotel suitable for those wanting to experience the nightlife of Greenwich, Soho and Chelsea area (this is on my list to stay next time).  Alternatively for other apartment accommodation the Affinia Manhattan is a stunning hotel and very central, whilst Affinia Shelbourne is also a great place to base yourself in a quieter and more residential area of Manhattan.

For my first time to NY I found the best way to get around was on the NY Hop on Hop off Bus with Greyline. There are many routes including uptown, downtown and to Brooklyn that have great commentary as you go. Alternatively the subway system is brilliant, quick and very easy to understand. We did catch a lot of cabs as well as they are so easy to get but beware of peak hour times when traffic is a nightmare.

One of the first things to do in New York is check out the view. The best way to do this is Top of the Rock first thing in the morning and The Empire by evening. You can pre-purchase tickets for these online prior to going which will help with lining up. If you want to take in the view while sipping a glass of Moet make a reservation at Top of the Standard, this is on the expensive side but worth popping in for a drink or two before dinner. Other great roof top bars are at Hotel Metro and at the Affinia Shelbourne.

New York has some amazing Museums on offer and can often be the best way to escape the heat in the summer months. I visited The Natural History Museum which is a great place for families with lots of interactive displays and an amazing dinosaur exhibit. Both MOMA and the Metropolitan Art Museum are incredible and also highly recommended to visit, they both host famous art and the MET has a brilliant Egyptian display.

Seeing a Broadway show is a must when visiting New York. I was lucky to see Bullets on Broadway recently, this was a fantastic production by Woody Allen and very funny. Previously I have also been to see Chicago but have heard great things about Book of Mormon (another for next time!).

We were also given a day trip to Washington DC. It is a long day with approx 4 1/2 – 5 hours each way on the bus, but if you want to visit Washington’s top sites including the Vietnam War Memorial, Lincoln, White House and Capital Hill and Smithsonian it is a great option. Personally I would rather take the 2 hour train and overnight next time to avoid the long bus trip.

There are so many great places to eat in NY and I had the chance to try a few more this time round. For cheap eats Midtown go to the famous Carnegie Deli for a classic New York sandwich or to Totto Ramen for Japanese food. Great places at night are in Chelsea including Buddakan and the Spotted Pig, very fun place’s and brilliant food, they are both worth the wait for a table which can sometimes be an hour or so.  If you’re a coffee person like me head to the Upper West Side to Irving Farm Cafe, all their breakfasts are organic and made locally plus the coffee is the best I have found so far.

My new favourite discovery of NY is Williamsburg. To get away from the crazy island of Manhattan I caught the train (L line from Union Sq to Bedford Ave) out to the Williamsburg Market on Sunday. This is a great market to shop some vintage treasures or sit down at one of the local cafes to relax. I also had a chance to check out the Brooklyn Brewery nearby which has a bowling bowl alley inside and free tours on Sunday from 1pm. If you are not in NY on a Sunday then the next best thing is downtown to the Chelsea Markets, this is open every day and have a great assortment of shops and food. Nearby in Chelsea is the Highline; I had done this before so instead I visited the galleries and shops below, which are worth taking a look at the local art etc. If you haven’t filled up on food from the market, stop at Cookshop, popular place for locals and a great atmosphere.

Both months I have travelled to NY have been the start of summer and the end of summer. These are great times to go as I would avoid the peak heat in midsummer, my next trip to NY though will have to be winter so I can ice skate in Central Park!