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A Christmas break in New York

Friday 3 August 2012

This morning, a friend texted me to ask how much I thought a break would cost in New York, between Christmas and New Year. She also wanted to know how much I thought she would spend each day, and where they should stay.

I was thrilled. I live for this shit.

I was instantly on Expedia, planning their flights and looking at their hotel options. There's a good chance I'm more excited about this than she is.

New York at Christmas time is a wonderful place. While I've never been over Christmas itself, I've been when the Rockerfeller tree was up, and also when it was so fricking cold and snowy it could have been December.

Those few days between Christmas and New Years Eve seem to be a great time to visit hotels anywhere. In England and Ireland, there are always bargains to be had. New York is a little more in demand, though there are some reasonable rates to be found.

I've stayed in three places in New York, which suit all budgets.

My first trip was with my mum and friend when I was 16. We stayed in the New Yorker, which is a large hotel on 34th Street and 8th, perfect for Macys and the Empire State Builing. It's a great place to make a base. We got it as part of a deal, which seems to work out better than going straight to the website. Expedia have 4 nights, with Aer Lingus flights, for €1,140 per person from 26th - 30th December. The same trip in November is €982, and you can knock a good couple of hundred off if you fly with another airline and don't mind a change of flights. In December, however, the price stays the same.

If you're happy to miss Christmas entirely, the same trip two weeks later, from 16th - 20th January, is €763 with Aer Lingus, saving you almost €400.

The next few times I visited the city was a little more of a budget affair, and I stayed in the Chelsea Center Hostel. This teeny little place is on 29th and 8th, in a gorgeous old brownstone (it's also perfectly located for the UCB Theatre) There are only 2 dorm rooms, one smaller and one larger, and a tiny bathroom through the kitchen, which wouldn't be ideal for a lot of people. But I have a real soft spot for that place. It was $30 a night when I was last there, and it's now... $35. If you're travelling alone, it's a great low budget choice.

The last time I was in New York, I stayed in the Chelsea Lodge on 20th and 8th. I've never veered away from 8th Avenue, it seems... but in my defence, it's a great place to base yourself if you want to explore the city. The Chelsea Lodge is another cute old brownstone, with quaint little rooms. Really little...

I apologise for my ass almost being visible here
That said, it's big enough. If you want more space, you'll get it one of the larger chain hotels. I prefer to be somewhere with a little more character, but that's just me. The bed was pretty tiny, and there was only a shower in the room, no toilet (that was down the hall). This is pretty common in old hotels in the city, but wouldn't suit everyone. Especially if you tend to get up to pee in the night. I reckon an awful lot of people (men) would take to peeing in the shower.

When I was there, the hotel was around $120 a night. It's $144 now, plus tax. At that price, I'm not entirely sure I would reccommend it... what I would check out is their apartments next door, if there are 3 or 4 of you. An apartment for 4 would be $260.

In terms of daily spend, I recommended budgeting for €80 a day, or $100. This is enough to eat well without blowing the budget, and to do any touristy things that you want to. This doesn't take into account the shopping. I can't emphasise that enough.

All in all, you are paying extra to be in NYC during that time. But if it's Christmas that you're after, no one does it better than the city.

Lindsey as a tortoise in Central Park Zoo


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