It’s always been my dream Christmas break – wandering the wintry pathways of Central Park, visiting the Rockefeller tree and watching the Ball Drop in Times Square.
Ok, so it didn’t snow, the tree had died and Mariah Carey had a strop on stage during the countdown to 12 o’clock. But it was certainly a memorable trip…
Where to stay?
Hotel Mela – Located in Times Square on West 44th Street, this four-star high-rise is perfectly situated if you want to see the NYE Ball Drop.
All of the side streets, stretching ten blocks, are closed by police just after lunch on December 31st; so unless you have a hotel room card to show police for access, you’ll have a long wait in the cold ahead of you until they re-open on the 1st January.
Where to go for breakfast?
Gotan – Located on West 46th Street in Midtown (just two blocks from Hotel Mela), Gotan is a rare find amongst the hundreds of calorific pancake houses!
The café serves up a healthy menu of fresh good-for-you breakfasts including: avocado toast, fruit oatmeal and Greek yogurt granola, for less than $10 per person.
Where to go for brunch?
New Yorkers love to brunch – usually served weekends between 11.30am and 3.30pm.
Bryant Park Grill – Located behind New York library, this glass front venue with a rooftop dining area and outdoor terrace looks out onto Bryant Park.
The set brunch menu is $25 per person – featuring classic eggs benedict, poached farm eggs and challah French toast.
Where to go for lunch?
Loeb Boat House – It’s a picture perfect restaurant tucked away inside Central Park.
Boating its own lake, take in the waterside views while you dine then hop on a rowing boat or better still, take a ride in a venetian gondola .
The menu features salads, burgers, meats and pastas – from $27 to $38 per person.
It’s popular with locals and tourists so I’d recommend reserving a table in advance.
Where to go for dinner?
Un, deux, trois – We had our NYE dinner at this French bistro located directly opposite Hotel Mela.
While most restaurants charge a set price reaching the hundreds, even thousands of dollars per head on New Year’s Eve; this Times Square venue offers the choice of one, two or three courses – each dish individually priced.
Two steak mains, a dessert to share, wine and beer totaled $200 with tax and a tip included. We left the venue at 11.30pm and stepped straight outside to see the ball drop.
Where to shop?
You won’t be short of options! You’ll find big high street names, designer brands and independent boutiques on almost every block in central Manhattan.
Here are my top three fashion destinations:
–5th Avenue – from Topshop to Tiffany’s, Tom Ford to Trump Tower
–Brookfield Place – If you’re ready to splurge, it doesn’t get more luxurious than this
–Macy’s – Nine floors of fashion, beauty, accessories and homewares
What to see?
If it’s your first time in New York, hit the tourist hotspots – The Empire State Building, Rockefeller Centre, The World Trade Centre, Statue of Liberty etc. I grabbed a NYC GO pass on my first trip to the city – you pay one price for entry to some of the most popular NYC venues. Read my guide to Navigating New York City for top travel tips.
If you’re returning to NYC, here are my favourite five things to see and do:
-See a show! I’d highly recommend Broadway show The Illusionists
-Bottomless brunch – visit BB Kings to watch Harlem Gospel Choir perform live while you eat
-Take a stroll along Brooklyn Bridge and admire the Manhattan city views
-Taste foods from around the world at Chelsea Market
-Go explore! There’s something to see on almost every corner.*
*Start at 44th street and head north towards Central Park. You can fill your camera roll in less than 60 minutes. You’ll also pass endless celebrity homes, so selfie stick at the ready! I managed 60,000 steps in 36 hours.
Go make some memories!