This time tomorrow you could be in… New York
PUBLISHED: 15:38 07 January 2016 | UPDATED: 16:00 07 January 2016
A weekend holiday in New York is the stuff of cinema fairytales, but it's also a surprisingly realistic quick getaway from Surrey too as Laura Lewis discovers.
My first time in New York was like visiting an old friend. Every corner turned was a thrilling new experience, yet at the same time strangely familiar. After all, I've watched it grow and change in films and sitcoms over the years.
Let’s face it, a weekend in New York will only leave you wanting more, and I wouldn’t normally consider travelling so far for two days, but with Heathrow airport a stone’s throw away from Surrey, not only is it totally possible, you’ll come back loaded with special memories like my husband and I did. The key to enjoying The Big Apple on a short timescale is to be clever with your travel plans, so firstly, plan your flight to arrive on Friday night.
We had a busy weekend ahead, so I was really glad that we had chosen such an amazing hotel to enjoy during our stay. The Loews Regency on Park Avenue was the luxurious haven that we needed after travelling, and provided everything we needed for respite from the busy streets. When you are so busy, now is not the time to budget. You need excellent Wi-Fi, seriously comfortable beds, fancy lighting options for when you struggle with jet lag, and ultimate peace and quiet to regain energy. I’d seriously recommend a bite to eat in the Regency Bar and Grill, and maybe even a little tipple at the bar to relax. Ask the servers about the famous Power Breakfast too, where movers and shakers from the worlds of finance, politics, media and entertainment meet to pow-wow. Back in our room, we felt rejuvenated in the gorgeous walk in shower which was so relaxing before we fell asleep, ready to face our first day.
To make the most of every minute, you won’t have time for long leisurely breakfasts, so set the alarm as early as you dare and check out one of the Deli’s for coffee and a bagel to go. The sky is the limit when it comes to fillings, so think big, you’ll need the energy!
Looking up at the skyscrapers makes you feel tiny, and we were desperate to get some perspective. We headed straight down to the port to jump on a cruise around Manhattan Island to check out the scenery and impressive bridges from the water. We cruised near the Statue of Liberty and glided down the Hudson River, seeing the skyline from the water which was magical, especially where the Hudson joins the East River. You can see the almighty collection of skyscrapers including the new World Trade Centre, a building which divides local opinion. I dare you to ask why!
Shopping is an integral part of any trip to New York, so next we hit Bloomingdales and Macy’s. Designer brands tend to be cheaper, so save some space in your suitcase. You must pop to Tiffany’s, even if it is to window shop, but if you are planning a proposal or celebrating an anniversary what better place to pick out a special piece of jewellery! Saks Fifth Avenue is also worth a visit, and as a bonus you can see St Patrick’s Cathedral at the same time.
Times Square was next on the list, so we jumped on the Metro and found ourselves right in the thick of it – huge screens with bright adverts, moving images and colourful characters fill every square metre. We were eager to rush off and tick things off the list, but I’m glad we stayed a while to enjoy a bite to eat at The Hard Rock Café, watching the world go by and soaking up the sights and sounds of this totally mad little zone!
That evening we had one last drop of energy, and we used it up by heading to the Top of the Rock to experience the skyline by night from the viewing platform at the Rockefeller Centre. It was a thrilling experience which began by shooting up 70 floors in the lift, and once up there it took me a while for my eyes to adjust to the vast beauty and spectacle of the glittering view. Snuggled up close to my husband for warmth, it was a special moment as we both looked out, too much in awe to speak.
The jet lag had finally wiped us out, so we were ready for a night in our luxurious bed, to recuperate. We were warmly welcomed back, and our room had already been turned down so it was ready for a peaceful slumber.
Bright and early the next morning, we were heading sky high again, to the top of the Empire State Building. I was keen to see the skyline by day too, and I’m so glad we did. Taking advantage of the headset they offer was a great opportunity to soak up the history of the building as we made our way up to the top. The day time view was definitely my favourite as you can see so much more. Being able to see the bridges and the rivers was nice after our city cruise the day before. Looking down you can just make out the yellow taxi’s whizzing around and I was in awe of the contrast between the greenery of Central Park to the rest of Manhattan.
Eager to fit in as much as possible, we both decided that a trip to New York would not be complete without a short stop to see where the World Trade Centres used to be. Honestly I was shocked at my own reaction, knowing it would be emotional but in the quiet, cool air on that Sunday morning, time was standing still as we remembered where we were the day it happened. The memorial seems like a fitting tribute and we definitely needed a few moments for the enormity of it to sink in.
After a quick walk to take a few steps on the Brooklyn Bridge, we hot footed it to Central Park, where the chilly morning turned and graced us with a warm, early autumn glow. The surprisingly vast park is so iconic to New York life, and we saw New Yorkers and tourists eating, playing and exercising! We walked for hours and never got bored as every corner reveals a new secret, like the Alice in Wonderland statue. It was the perfect way to spend an afternoon before our flight home, ready to start another week, still disbelieving that we’d had such an amazing weekend in the hot, crazy and colourful Big Apple.
Buy a New York City Pass to save around 40% on all the best attractions including the 9/11 memorial and Museum.
New York shops you must tick off your list!
If you want to reduce the word count, can I suggest cutting the shopping paragraph and replacing with a shopping list of places to go?
Saks Fifth Avenue - you can see St Patrick’s Cathedral at the same time.
List of attractions
My Top New York Tips
Wear trainers – every New Yorker wears trainers, even with smart outfits. It’s the only way to save your feet!
Layer up! The day can go from chilly to sweltering, and travelling on subways can leave you hot and bothered.
Taxis are an inexpensive way to travel, don’t be afraid to use them.
Food is cheap and plentiful – eat on the go to maximise your time sightseeing.