NEW YORK CITY GUIDE.
In 2015, one of my best friends and I visited New York for the first time. We did zero research and whilst we loved seeing the sights (Empire State, Statue of Liberty etc), I don’t feel we made the most of our time there. The thing is, New York is so vast, I think it’s really important you know what you’re doing before you get there.
So this time around I did all of the planning. I took to Twitter and asked for recommendations and read through all the blog posts that were subsequently sent my way. One that stood out from the rest was Lorna Patrick’s blog – studsandreams.com She recommend an app I now wouldn’t travel without.
Pinbox: the one stop shop for bookmarking your trip.
I downloaded the app a month or so before we were due to go. Searching for all the places we wanted to visit, I pinned them on the map. It was the easiest, most functional way to see where we’d be going, and how far apart everything was. It meant we could plan each day around the pins and make sure we didn’t miss anything!
We booked our flights via Norwegian in coach (lol, pretending I’m American). And whilst I certainly appreciated the affordable price point, I’m not sure I’d fly budget long haul again. Basic amenities for long haul such as pillows and blankets aren’t included and we paid a little extra for our flight to include food, and it wasn’t really worth it. For the price, you definitely cant complain, I just wasn’t as comfortable as I’d have liked and for me that’s quite important on a long flight!
With regards to travelling around the city… We got the air train from the airport directly to the subway and made our way to the hotel upon arrival that way (it was super easy). And for the rest of the time we just topped up a metro card and hopped on the subway! We also used the Citymapper app to plan our subway trips each day, which was massively helpful.
WHERE TO STAY
We knew from the off that we wanted to stay over the pond in Brooklyn. We’re quiet beings and whilst we like having a nose around the hustle and bustle, we wanted to sleep out of Manhattan.
Our luck struck when The Hoxton Hotel, Williamsburg opened its doors just before we were due to visit. And honestly, it’s incredible. Situated in the heart of Williamsburg, we were just a short walk from a few subways and were surrounded by shops and restaurants.
The bedrooms were a decent size and on an introductory rate of $89 p/n as it had just opened. If you’ve visited the Hoxton hotels in London or any other countries you’ll know their restaurant is top notch and we enjoyed a bloomin’ good breakfast on our first day. Included in the price of a room is also a breakfast bag. Where you’ll get a piece of fruit, some fresh juice and a yoghurt pot each morning delivered to your door, which is such a lovely touch.
Only having four days in the city (and having stayed in quite a few of the Hox’s before), we didn’t spend a great deal of time at the hotel. But there was so much space downstairs to chill out, be-it the restaurant, bar, coffee shop and lounge area.
So even if you’ve already got a hotel sorted, I’d definitely recommend popping in for a bit to eat! It really is a gorgeous place.
WHERE TO EAT
LORD HAVE MERCY. Honestly, it was the best brunch I’ve ever had. So good, we went back for another visit before going home! I think you can book, but on both occasions we walked in and waited around 10 minutes for a table. It’s a super popular place, so if you’re rocking up without a booking, just make sure you allocate a little time for waiting – but boy is it worth it. By far the best eggs and pancakes I have ever had (would also highly recommend the watermelon soda!)
No frills and really beautiful, good quality food. Super fragrant ingredients and a relaxed environment.
We were visiting over Halloween and the market went to town on decorations. It’s basically a giant food hall with loads of cuisines to choose from. It’s the place to visit for a quick bite to eat and a nosey around a few little shops. Oh, and if you’re visiting over a holiday, you’ll be in for a treat!
For the day you’re looking for a lighter breakfast or are in a rush, Black Star is the one. Amazing coffee and croissants filled with the stuff of dreams. Jamie also reported it was the best coffee he had for the whole trip, which is quite the statement. (From the girl who doesn’t drink coffee).
Oh my. The Spotted Pig. What can I say. It was unbelievable. We didn’t book and waited around 15 minutes for a table at the bar. It was super intimate and cosy inside and it felt more like your friends were cooking you a meal rather than a restaurant.
The food was amazing – I wish we hadn’t been so stuffed from the mains to have enjoyed a dessert too!
LOOK. AT. THE. FRIES.
One of my absolute favourites of the trip was Aria. A beautiful little Italian in the West Village – really affordable and amazing quality food. It was one of those menus where you could’ve eaten all of it and I just adored every second. If we’d have had more time, I would’ve definitely gone back.
Think American fancy diner, but tapas. It was WONDERFUL. Loosie’s is split in to a restaurant and cafe and the cafe plays live music in the evening. It’s a spot where you can really make a night of it and I’m not sure I’ll ever get over their fried chicken.
For Jamie’s birthday, I booked us a table at Westlight to have a cocktail before dinner. It was one of the most special nights of the trip, and I’m sure the photos can explain why. Westlight is a rooftop bar that has panoramic views of the whole of New York. It really was spectacular, and I booked our table early enough so that we could enjoy the sunset before going down to Leuca for dinner.
Which didn’t disappoint either. We’d been so busy and hadn’t had time to eat any pizza, which just seemed like N.Y. blasphemy. So we both ordered one each and it was divine. I booked our table via their website and there was a section to fill in whether we had any special requests. I advised them it was Jamie’s 30th, and so they brought out our desserts with a sparkler candle and had hand written him a Happy Birthday note which was so sweet (even thought Jamie hated every second of it!). The staff were really attentive and it was definitely the right choice for a special occasion.
WHERE TO VISIT
Whilst it is literally a look-and-go kind of situation, it’s definitely worth it if you’re a friends fan. It was so fun to see it and it’s set in a really lovely area, so walking around afterwards is a treat, too.
You see it in pictures here there and everywhere, but you really cant comprehend this building until you see it in real life. It’s insane!
I think it’s one of the spots you simply have to visit whilst in New York. It’s so incredibly moving and totally humbling. I visited for the first time in 2015, and the area wasn’t anywhere near as built up as it is now. There is obviously the memorial which is the main thing I was interested in – but there’s also viewpoints and museums now too.
Quite a few people spoke about Nolita as being a spot not to miss and I couldn’t agree more. Full of independent New York shops and gorgeous streets, it really separated itself from the rest of the city.
I discovered a store called Min and Mon which is basically all of my dreams come true. Their designs remind me of the Moomins which are my childhood favourites.
I just loved this area. Yes, the bridge is incredibly busy, but it’s definitely worth it. The views are gorgeous and I loved the contrast of the old bridge with the new industrial city skyline. And again with DUMBO, you get the great juxtaposition of Manhattan Bridge this time.
I basically just wanted to visit the New York Public Library because it looked absolutely stunning. And it really, really was. It’s free admission, so even if you just pop your head in and out, it’s definitely worth a look. I feel so jealous that locals can study in there – it’s honestly breathtaking.
This place is so unbelievably vast, you could honestly spend days here. We just had a little wander around before sundown and it was so beautiful. I think everyone needs a trip to Central Park, but I’d recommend researching what you want to see there as it can be a little overwhelming otherwise!
Quite the tourist spot, but not one to be missed. It’s actually a stones throw from Chelsea Market, so we did lunch and then went for a walk along The High Line. It’s just a really lovely way to see the city from a different perspective (that isn’t ridiculously high!). And makes for a pretty decent photo, too.
I was determined to shop vintage over our visit and they certainly have a whole load to choose from! I’ve listed my favourites that we visited below:
New York Vintage Inc.
And I think that’s all folks! Hope you found this helpful, and please feel free to drop a comment below if you have any questions (or even better, more recommendations!)