IMG_1082Ferocious, glamorous, romantic, sophisticated, a little rough around the edges, New York is the largest city in the United States, with a metropolitan area that’s among the largest urban areas in the world. In the city that never sleeps doing whatever you want to do whenever you want to do it can seem daunting. Here are a few top tips for tackling the Big Apple.

Stay in style

Ink 48: housed in an old printing building, for which it is named. Paying homage to the former residents who worked there years ago, this trendy new hotel is designed to impress and imprint guests. With fantastic views of the city, as well as the Hudson, Ink 48 has everything going for it and it’s walking distance to Times Square. (www.Ink48.com)

Comfort Inn Manhattan: Both affordable and convenient. In a midtown setting near the world-famous garment district, it is within walking distance of the Empire State Building, Madison Square Garden arena, Rockefeller Center, Times Square and Radio City Music Hall. (www.ComfortInn.com/NewYork)

Westin New York Times Square: Designed to stand out, two 45-story prisms split by a curving beam of light soar above the Manhattan skyline. It is right at the heart of the Broadway District, within walking distance of 40 theatres, and surrounded by the Big Apple fashion, financial and commercial districts. (www.westinny.com)

Sheraton New York Hotel and Towers: With polished, contemporary flair, and located between Central Park and Times Square, just steps from the excitement of Broadway theatres, prestige of Carnegie Hall and world-class shopping of Fifth Avenue. (www.starwoodhotels.com/sheraton/property/overview/index.html?propertyID=421)

Easy Going

IMG_0989Forget about hiring a car: public transit is the dominant form of travel for New Yorkers. The subway is notable because most of the system remains open 24 hours per day; plus there are more than 12,000 yellow cabs criss-crossing the city. One of the most popular ways to tour the city is by classic double-decker, guided bus tour. Hop-on and off as often as you like to explore, dine and shop at major attractions. One three-and-a-half hour guided bus tour twists and turns through the Sex and the City girls’ stomping ground, visiting the eateries where they wine and dine, the shops at the center of Carrie Bradshaw’s shoe fetish and the bars they frequent.

I took my boys to Brooklyn on the subway. The challenge of wending your way onto the right train, the subterranean look, sounds and smells in their own right make for a novel travel experience.

Top Tip: Do as New Yorkers do: Get oriented. Check in with up-to-date listings in the latest issue of New York magazine.

The Handbags and the Gladrags

Since New York is a place to see and be seen, shopping is a prime pastime. Shop like your life depends on it at old-school favourites Macys and Bloomingdales. Dress like a diva for less at designer discount department store, Century 21, or book a tour to Woodbury Common Premium Outlets for impressive savings at 220 big-name stores. Head to Soho, Greenwich Village & Tribeca for one-off, hole-in-the-wall specialty shops, independent boutiques and eclectic, vintage finds. For the kids head to the lead gaming paradise in the center of New York City. Located in Rockefeller Center, Nintendo World offers over 10,000 square feet of hands on entertainment. (www.nintendoworldtore.com) Also try inconspicuous second floor store, Toy Tokyo. Savvy shoppers head to this Mecca for imaginative, collectible Japanese toys. (121 Second Ave, Apt 2F, 212 673 5424; www.toytokyo.com) Downstairs, Pommes Frites, serves up crispy calorific Belgian-cut fries in a paper cone.

Set the Scene

Of all the things New Yorkers do well, the skyscraper tops the list; here there are no less than 50 taller than 656 feet. Now you can top off your day 70 stories up at Top of the Rock Observation Deck. Hit new heights as the high-speed shuttle sends you racing skywards in a “New York Minute” (that’s 50 seconds) With an unobstructed, 360 degree view of New York City and beyond, it is a unique vantage point as the sun sets. (30 Rockerfeller Plaza 212 698 2000; www.topoftherocknyc.com)

Cutting a swath of lights from the tip of Manhattan, Broadway beckons to the star struck. Take a romantic horse-drawn carriage through Central Park and onto a hit show. Broadway favourites include “Young Frankenstein”, “Jersey Boys” and “Wicked”. TKTS booths are located in: Times Square, South Street Seaport and Downtown Brooklyn. The TKTS stands offer same-day discount tickets to Broadway shows, Off-Broadway, and other arts events at up to 50% off their original prices. 

IMG_1032Top Tip: Try the New York CityPass, a collection of six must-do New York attractions (including the Guggenheim Museum) at a whopping 44% less than the cost of individual tickets: currently $79, youth $59 (www.citypass.com) We used ours to get open access to all of the following

Wine and Dine Watering Holes

Two fab and informal family friendly eateries include the Dutch and Danish inspired Vandaag (103 2nd Ave, www.vandaagnyc.com) and the eclectic cafe Bis.Co.Latte (667 10th Ave between 46th St & 47th St, www.biscolatte.com) Once the kids are tucked up, consider an hour of two to yourselves. From a night of revelry to a quiet cosmopolitan, from the latest underground dive to a classy jazz club, New York buzzes with nocturnal activity. The once sleazy Times Square is enjoying a renaissance, with American theme restaurants, bars and cinemas attracting a huge tourist crowd. The East Village is famous for its local stay-late bars and its small, live music clubs; the Lower East Side offers a similar scene and vibe. SoHo is the hip capital with its chic, model-magnet nightclubs, while upmarket tastes are catered for at the swish lounges, eateries, clubs and cocktail bars in Midtown, the Upper East and Upper West Sides.

Roof top bars are springing up all over Manhattan and are THE trendiest places to be seen. Speak to your Concierge for the latest and greatest.  

Top Tip: Shake Shacks  is an up-to-date “roadside” chain serving delicious hamburgers, hot dogs, french fries and frozen custards. There are currently five dotted across New York City. Stuff your little ones with a ‘purple cow’ made with Grape Crush straight from the bottle (www.shakeshack.com)