Good evening all. This report has been written by my wife (apart from the section about the gym in the hotel, which I wrote, having used it most days)
A big thank you to all contributors on Tripadvisor, we found your comments interesting, helpful and more than useful – as hopefully Jacqui’s comments will be too
But the biggest thank you has to be to New York itself for being the great, proud city it is and rightly so. We will be back!
“We have just spent five fantastic days in New York staying at the Crowne Plaza, Times Square after taking the advice of other Tripadvisor comments. This was our first visit to New York and we wanted to stay somewhere central and this was a perfect choice. We couldn’t fault the hotel in any way and it is a great place to stay, right in the thick of things, but quiet too. We did not need the ear plugs, curtain clips or anything to help us sleep. Mind you we were exhausted most days! Check in (and out) was quick and easy and everyone on the desk extremely helpful.
Our room was on the 41st floor with fabulous views of Times Square/Broadway - plenty big enough with very comfortable bed, chaise longue, desk and en-suite bathroom; well maintained and very clean. Some mention has been made of the showers – once you get the hang of them it is easy. From the off position, turn the lever anti-clockwise until it reaches nearly to the “C” (cold!) position which will then give you hot water. Sounds wrong but it works! Hair dryers are supplied and they are “proper” ones with two speeds/heat settings (not the ready installed bathroom type which are generally useless). I always take my own just in case but didn’t need to use it here. They also supply a decent quality shampoo/conditioner/body wash/body lotion too.
The buffet breakfast (which was part of our package) is served in the brasserie in the lobby area. There is everything you could want and the waiters are very attentive, serving hot drinks and juice.
The gym was top quality with all the gear anybody could need, with lots of bikes, running machines and cross trainers, as well as resistant equipment and free standing weights. If you are going to use the pool, you (adults and children) will need to bring (or purchase from the gym) a cap otherwise you won’t be allowed in. However, the staff pointed out rather cruelly that I would not need one – being severely challenged in the hair department! The staff, as with everybody we met, are courteous and helpful. The gym is on the fifteenth floor, very close to the lifts.
The Concierge and door/bag people are all very helpful with directions, subway etc.
As it was our first time in New York we wanted to visit all the usual attractions, including the Empire State Building and Rockefeller Centre. We would highly recommend buying on line before you leave, an Express Ticket for the Empire State which allows you to bypass all the queues (for tickets and lifts) and therefore saves at least one and a half hours in queues before you even reach a lift. We went at around 6.30 – 7.00 pm as we wanted to see the sunset but guess that many others want to do the same! It’s worth it.
At the Rockefeller Centre we went straight to the desk to buy a ticket. They then give you a time – ours was for 15 minutes later - after which you may then make your way to a small area where you are shown a short film about the history of the building and then go to a lift in a group. After buying our ticket we popped across the road to Morrells (of which more later) for a drink before returning to go to the top of The Rock. This was because my husband suffers with vertigo and needed some help! However he was fine with both The Rock and ESB. The whole thing is a lot slicker here (The Rockefeller Centre)) than at the Empire State and if you are only going to choose one of these then I would say go for The Rock (I was desperate to do The Empire State Building because of watching Sleepless in Seattle too many times).
Times Square itself is unbelievable, photographs do not do it justice – you just have to experience the lights at least once if you can get there.
We took the Staten Island Ferry (free) to see the Statue of Liberty which was great. Very crowded and we were there over Easter but it may be less so if you go early morning (we went mid to late morning).
Many of the museums are situated around Central Park and we spent some time in The Natural History Museum (mainly to see the dinosaurs) which was quite manic – again being Easter I suppose – and would recommend getting there as early as possible. Make sure you get a floor plan when you buy your ticket as it can be a bit difficult to navigate and you could waste so much time if you haven’t decided what you really want to see. Allow for big queues for the toilets too.
The Metropolitan is excellent but again you need to focus on what you want to see. As to be expected, refreshments are quite expensive here.
Didn’t have time for the Guggenheim but worth looking at the building from the outside.
The area around Wall Street and Battery Park is lovely and we would have liked to spend more time here.
My husband Peter really enjoyed Greenwich Village and not just because he is an ageing hippy. It is a lovely area with some interesting side street s and elegant buildings. There are some great walks to be had and a park at Washington Square, where we spent Saturday morning. Was it only two days ago? There was jazz and families just taking some time out – very atmospheric. Definitely an area to revisit.
Grand Central Station and the Public Library are well worth a look too if you are interested in architecture, the library is particularly impressive. We were going to have oysters at GC Station, but ran out of time, so one for the list for our next visit.
We are not big shoppers but it was interesting just to have a look in Macy’s/Bloomingdale’s/Bergdorf Goodman etc. Macy’s had amazing Easter floral displays at the time we visited. If you are visiting Tiffany’s, then make an allowance to buy something - it would be so disappointing to leave without!
We also joined the queue at Magnolia Bakery (near Rockefeller Centre), but worth the wait especially for their Red Velvet Cheesecake.
One restaurant we would recommend is Morrells, 1 Rockefeller Plaza. It is a wine bar/restaurant where we enjoyed a glass of champagne the day we arrived and two meals – one evening and one lunch – both were superb. Staff are very friendly and want to make sure you are happy with everything.
We went to Chinatown and Little Italy, preferring Little Italy for eating out because it is very attractive with tables out on the pavements etc. but at Sofia’s , whilst the meal was ok we felt it was expensive and be aware that they put on a service charge (they call it gratuities) of 20% and we were made to feel that we had no option but to pay it, rather than making up our own minds. It is worth looking around quite early to eat in this area as most places were pretty full by the time we arrived (8pm ish).
We bought a weekly ticket for the subway which was well worth it and once you get used to the system it is very easy to get around. You can always ask at the ticket booths which train to get and they will point you in the right direction.
We hadn’t booked in advance to see a show but as it was raining hard on our first full day (and the Crowne Plaza is right on Broadway), we went to the nearest theatre – The Palace – for when the box office opened and managed to get tickets for West Side Story that evening. Packed theatre and great show, very relevant to the area too.
Overall five days is just about long enough to do most things whilst still leaving plenty to do on a return trip. We did loads of walking and this is the best way to see things. People are very friendly and helpful and service is good. New York was wonderful and the Crowne Plaza an excellent place to stay.”