Our newest member of staff Rebecca has just returned from an exhilerating trip to New York – this is her first (of many) blog post and is all about her favourite city at her favourite time of year, Christmas!
As anyone who has spent endless hours watching repeats of Home Alone 2 will tell you, Christmas time in New York is what dreams are made of. Once you get used to the cold, and the disappointment that Duncan’s Toy Chest doesn’t really exist and that turtle doves are practically impossible to come by in the city (trust me, I’ve done the searching for you), you will soon begin to realise that there is nowhere in the world that does Christmas quite like New York does!
So grab your gloves, zip your coat right up to your chin like your Nana used to tell you, and top it all off with the thickest scarf you can find; the city that never sleeps is about to show you what it has to offer!
While no trip is complete without an amble through the electric jungle of Times Square or a stroll through the winter wonderland of Central Park, it’s important to stray away from the well-trodden tourist tracks too, in order to get a real taste of life in the city.
With three trips under my belt and a well-developed love of all things New York, I feel it only fair to pass on my well-honed knowledge on some of the city’s hidden gems, so you can make the most of your festive stay.
Get into the Christmas Spirit
Okay, so I know I promised to reveal some secrets and the Rockefeller Christmas Tree certainly isn’t one of those, but no festive trip is complete without seeing it. Illuminated by 45,000 LED lights and topped with a colossal 250kg ‘Swarovski Star’, the Rockefeller Christmas Tree is the star of New York City’s Christmas show.
From the beginning of October, right through to April, you can don your ice skates and relive a youth of pirouettes and scraped knees, with a skating session costing less than $30 each. Can you think of anything more festive than wrapping up warm and ice skating beneath the lights of the Rockefeller Christmas Tree? Exactly, me neither.
When there are actual tours dedicated to looking in windows, you know what’s in them must be pretty good. Come December, Fifth Avenue is transformed with some of the most extravagant Christmas window display’s you can imagine. Dispel your preconceptions of fake snow and sparsely decorated trees, replacing them instead with 3D light shows, video installations and moving characters. Yes, I’m telling you to spend your time looking in a window, and I promise you’ll love every minute; they are incredible and you’ll likely feel the need to up your game when decorating your own tree this year!
Let me begin by saying that there is a reason short breaks to New York are often referred to as ‘shopping breaks’. Even those who are positively allergic to shopping at home will find it impossible to resist the wares of the Big Apple. Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s are amongst the obvious iconic shopping spots, but venture a little further afield for the real gems.
Soho’s cobbled streets are home to some of the biggest designer names in fashion, alongside some high street favourites. Throw in scores of independent boutiques, a scattering of street vendors selling handcrafted jewellery and artwork, and even the odd street performer, and it’s easy to see why the area is one of my favourites.
Those with champagne tastes and a lemonade budget will find heaven Downtown, amongst the well-stocked racks of Century 21. Visit early in the morning to avoid the crowds and beat them to the bargains. There is up to 65% off all year round, with considerably bigger discounts on many items, giving you more bang for your buck and making for some seriously good Christmas shopping.
If you’re willing to travel a little further still, Fulton Street in Brooklyn is home to Nordstrom Rack. This little known gem is off the beaten track for tourists who choose to stay on the Manhattan side of the bridge, meaning zero crowds and more chance of finding something amazing.
The store is filled with designer names at high street prices. Shelves are lined with $900 shoes and handbags at up to 90% off, while glass cabinets display watches from the likes of Hugo Boss, Michael Kors and Ralph Lauren, all minus the designer price tag. New stock arrives on a Saturday, so time your visit well and you could come across some real treasures. Definitely worth taking a trip across the Brooklyn Bridge for!
Beyond the Brooklyn Bridge
It’s easy to forget that there is a world outside the bright lights of Manhattan, but you would be foolish not to cross the iconic bridge into Brooklyn. The borough has become a haven for creative souls and celebrities alike, and the brownstones and apartments there now fetch millions of dollars (Actress Anne Hathaway recently sold her DUMBO Clocktower Building apartment for the modest sum of $4.25million, whilst the triplex penthouse in the building remains on the market at an eye-watering $18million).
While away the hours meandering around the neighbourhoods, hitching a ride on Jane’s Carousel and enjoying views of the Manhattan skyline from the waterfront parks.
New York is famous for its $1 pizza slice and my trip to Brooklyn is never complete without a taste of Grimaldi’s. The famous pizzeria has a history dating all the way back to 1905, and its coal-fired, brick oven pizzas are deemed the best in New York by those in the know.
A whole pizza is just $18 but don’t wait until you’re ravenous; Grimaldi’s is so good it tends to attract a crowd. If you’ve any room for desert, head over the road to the delicious Brooklyn Ice Cream Parlour.
Food for Thought
If there is one thing New York does well it’s food, and when a city has a street called ‘Restaurant Row’ and a dedicated ‘Restaurant Week’, you know it takes its food seriously. From pizza slices, warm pretzels and foot long hot dogs to revolving rooftop restaurants and risqué dinner theatre; there is something to please all tastes and appetites.
Wolfgang’s Steakhouse has four locations in Manhattan; Times Square, Midtown East, Park Avenue and TriBeCa. Reserve a table in advance and visit on an empty stomach, as the food is both delicious and plentiful.
Steak is prime, dry aged on site in a special aging box, and carved at your table when ordered for two or more people. Sides are enough to feed two or even three, and the mashed potato is so creamy you’ll be striving to recreate it for your next Sunday lunch back home.
The View is New York’s only revolving rooftop restaurant and lounge. An express elevator whisks you 48 floors up above the crowds of Times Square, where you can relax with a glass of wine and some fine contemporary American cuisine. Enjoy the ever changing view, as the revolving floor makes a 360° turn every hour, giving you breathtaking views across the city.
Imagine flying to the Big Apple for a few days of Christmas shopping and then boarding Cunard’s Queen Mary 2 for a wonderful 7-day Transatlantic Crossing. With no luggage allowance on your ship you can literally shop ’til you drop!
For further details on this wonderful pre-Christmas experience, please contact our Sales Team.