Travel

Wednesday 23 July 2014

The Big Apple: Still sweet to the core

A trip to New York is always worth it, says Graham Boynton

Graham Boynton

Published 02/05/2009|00:00

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The bright lights of Broadway, New York's theatreland

Although the euro is dipping against the dollar, the West's greatest urban jungle is still good value. The hoteliers are all discounting furiously to compensate for a big drop in traffic, you can still get an enormous, juicy steak for less than €15, and if you can't afford the nightlife, the street life will keep you suitably occupied for a few days.

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New York remains the most fabulous city on earth, which itself should be reason enough to go, whatever the state of the world's economy.

Stay at ...

The boutique condo-cum-hotel, the Sherry Netherland (781 Fifth Avenue. Tel: 001 212 355 2800; www.sherrynetherland.com), which is offering rooms at €269 a night (€134 a head if you travel as a couple) at weekends. Don't expect great service, but the location, overlooking Central Park and right on Fifth Avenue, is as good as it gets.

If you want something slightly more hip, the revamped Royalton (44 West 44th. Tel: 001 212 869 4400; www.royaltonhotel.com) is quoting between €158 and €174 for a standard room next week. The hotel's restaurant, 44, is where Anna Wintour, Tina Brown and the rest of the Condé Nast hierarchy famously power-lunched in the Nineties.

Spend the morning ...

At MoMA (the Museum of Modern Art; www.moma.org), which is a 10-minute walk from the Sherry Netherland. After an hour, take a quick taxi ride uptown to the Metropolitan Museum, probably the greatest museum in the world, where you can spend anywhere between an hour and a month.

Buy a New York CityPass for $74 (€57), which gives you entrance to all the major museums plus a range of tourist attractions, including the Empire State Building and a cruise around the Statue of Liberty (www.citypass.com).

Alternatively, you can spend a morning just strolling around Central Park, which on Saturdays and Sundays is entertainment in itself.

Have lunch at ...

Rue 57 (www.rue57.com), which is a short walk from MoMA on the corner of West 57th and Sixth Avenue. This buzzy, midtown bistro serves mini-Kobe beef burgers for $16.50 (€12) and filet mignon for $34.50 (€26).

Spend the afternoon at ...

A Broadway matinée -- most musicals do afternoon performances on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays. The hot shows at the moment are all revivals: the hippie musical Hair (Al Hirschfeld Theatre, West 45th near Eighth Avenue) has just opened to rave reviews, as has the new West Side Story (Palace Theatre, Broadway near 47th) and Rogers and Hammerstein's perennial South Pacific (Vivian Beaumont Theatre, West 65th near Broadway), which was first performed in 1949. Ticket prices run from around $50 (€38) to $120 (€93).

Keith Prowse (www.keithprowse.com) will book ahead for you, with confirmed seats, and deliver the tickets to your home before you leave.

Shop at ...

Bloomingdales (Third Avenue at 56th Street) if you're looking for classy clothing at a price, or Century 21 (21 Cortland Street), if you are prepared to rummage your way through piles of last season's dreadful cast-offs in the hope of finding a real bargain -- and they are there.

Try B&H Photo (9th Avenue between 33rd and 34th Streets) for the best camera deals, and J&R Music and Computer World on Park Row near City Hall for all things electronic and musical.

Dine out at ...

Sparks Steak House (East 46th between 2nd and 3rd. Tel: 001 212 687 4855; www.sparkssteakhouse. com) if you still harbour a romantic attachment to Mafia Manhattan or The Sopranos. These days, the most dangerous thing you can do is order a gigantic rib-eye steak and a bottle of California Cabernet Sauvignon. Expect to pay €50 to €80 a head.

At all costs avoid ...

Buying anything from the swarming street dealers, and stay away from the transplanted British stores such as Thomas Pink and Topshop. At the various Pink outlets in the city, you'll pay €120 for a shirt that would cost €75 in Dublin.

Further information

The official tourism organisation for New York is NYC & Company, 810 Seventh Avenue, 3rd floor, New York, NY 10019. Tel: 001 212 484 1200; www.nycgo.com.

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