As much fun as it’s been to recap all the fun things, there are few Christmas in NYC details that I bet you’re wondering about. Since I visited several years in a row, I tried a couple of different hotels and more than a few restaurants. Here are some of my favorites in every price range!
Christmas in NYC Details – Where to Stay:
Doubletree Metropolitan because the rate was an absolute steal! (Free cookies – what’s not to love?!) The location (51st and Lexington) is excellent with a subway stop right outside the door. It is an easy walk to shopping, Rockefeller Center, Central Park, etc. It was nice to be a little further away from all the hub-bub around RFC and Times Square during the holidays, too. I was given a corner room on the 14th floor, which was a decent size by NYC standards. The bathroom was tiny, but the water pressure in the shower was excellent. The staff was very friendly and accommodating. For the price, I wasn’t expecting much. I come to the city on a regular basis, and I have stayed in some fantastic hotels and none of them were anywhere near that price point.
I have stayed at the Marriott Marquis during this crazy time – and I’ll tell you – I don’t know if I would do it again. Times Square is crawling with people all the time, they start barricading off the area pretty early on New Year’s Eve, security in the hotel is extremely tight (constantly having to show room keys), and the staff is overwhelmed with the craziness so they aren’t the friendliest. I got downgraded from a corner King room to a regular room that was pretty terrible…. it’s also virtually impossible to have a room with a view of the ball drop, so keep that in mind if you think this is a good idea. For what it’s worth though, after midnight, everything clears out really quickly!!
I’ve also stayed at the Hampton Inn Empire State Building and that are was DEAD on New Year’s Eve. It’s probably my least favorite place I’ve ever stayed in NYC. Room were tiny and area was dead at night, but I did have a cheap view of the ESB.
Christmas in NYC Details – Where to Eat:
My study abroad buddy recommended La Mela in Little Italy for lunch, so we were on a mission. We found the warm atmosphere and tasty scents of La Mela inviting, so we ducked on in for a late lunch. The menu had a variety of choices, and our waiter did NOT try and push the family style menu on us, though I read reviews of others have trouble with this. The bread was fresh, warm, and delicious. I ordered the chicken picatta and my friend ordered the alfredo. My chicken was excellent — no complaints there. The portions were very large and probably should be ordered to be shared. Overall, I thought it was an excellent dining experience in Little Italy. Be aware that the tables are extremely close together. Having lived in Italy, I was used to this, but some people seemed uncomfortable with the proximity to other guests.
Sardi’s (across the street from the Phantom’s theater)… my Mom and I have a habit of going there for dessert after shows. There are literally hundreds of caricatures on the wall, depicting everyone from Lucille Ball to modern day performers. The waitstaff has always been top-notch, and it was no exception this time. It’s just a fun place to unwind after a show. Even my step dad has stories of coming there after shows as a kid!
Empanada Mama. I started off by ordering a glass of red sangria. I figured I needed it to contend with tourists. I ordered the shredded beef empanadas (less than $3.00), and a “USA” (apples and cinnamon) empanada for dessert (also less than $3.00). It was all delicious. The service was friendly, the food was good, and my bill with a large glass of sangria came out to $13.01. AMAZING.
Beijing Wok on the Upper East Side… It was absolutely the best wonton soup I’ve had in a LONG time. It’s this tiny little restaurant, and I actually ended up stopping there multiple times over the course of my vacation. The soup was warm, the weather was cold, and the price was right. (Less than $2.00.)
Ta Cocina on 9th Avenue in Hell’s Kitchen… Now, I know better than to try and have Mexican food in New York. I have tried and failed many times. However, Meghan loves Mexican food, and again, the price was right. There are so many cheap eateries along 9th Avenue — much better options than Times Square. *Tourists, take note. I had a steak quesadilla, and the steak was unbelievably tender and well seasoned. The decor was inviting and innovative, I especially loved the tabletops filled with various spices. They offer 2 for 1 deals on margaritas on Sun-Wed and have an extensive drink menu. The service was excellent — not overbearing, not lackluster. All-around amazing for New York.
I never thought I would find NY pizza that I liked more than John’s, but I have and Grimaldi’s is it. It lived up to all the hype. We waited less than 10 minutes. The restaurant is cozy and intimate and has great character. The pizza was fantastic while it was hot — fresh toppings, vibrant flavors, tasty crust, everything you could hope for in a NY style pizza. We weren’t disappointed at all. They only take cash though, so be prepared.
Dinner at Peter Luger’s in Brooklyn which required a cash deposit…. I found this highly amusing. We took the subway over there and found it easily. We were shown to our table immediately, and the service was truly impeccable. I wasn’t expecting much, as everyone says you go solely for the food. Our waiter, Jack, was personable and had a great sense of humor. He made recommendations and answered our questions with honesty. The food was excellent. I have high standards when it comes to steak, and I wasn’t disappointed. The steak sauce is very different but tasty. Our waiter even comp’ed our desserts. We were able to have a leisurely dinner and not feel rushed by the wait staff, which can be difficult to do in some NYC restaurants. Altogether, I’m definitely glad we made the ‘trek’ from Manhattan to Brooklyn for this classic NY experience. Just be sure to take cash, as it is a cash only (or house account) establishment. We made friends with the table next to ours, and I thought it was absolutely wonderful way to end the year.
Biana @Blovedboston says
As many times as I’ve been to NYC i’ve never made the trip out to Ellis Island – so much history there!! We actually decided last minute to take a trip to NYC after the new year – like the 2nd LOL so I’m going to see if we can pop into La Mela as well! xo, Biana BlovedBoston
fao at Christmas is nuts. I mean WHY?! I would probably lose my mind and my child if I dared enter!
Julie @ A Life Exotic says
^ Same! I grew up very close to NYC and eventually I realized how many iconic NY things I’d never actually done. I would love to see the Nutcracker ballet there – how beautiful! Glad I came across your blog from Travel Tuesday 🙂
Amanda Elizabeth says
NYC for Christmas is one of my absolute favorite times of year to travel there!
Kristen @ Ladybug Blessings says
oh NYC looks beautiful at Christmas time! It is on my wish list of things to do!
Yvonne @ Lost with Yvonne says
I love NYC during Christmas, I went Ice Skating at Rockefeller center once and it was magical. I’m taking my boyfriend to New York in the spring and we’re going to see Lady Liberty and I have to check out Ellis Island for sure too! Great post!
This looks wonderful! Hope you had a lovely Christmas! 🙂
Love your blog, hope to see you soon on my blog
or Facebook 🙂
Kisses from Zurich,
LOVED this post and your beautiful pictures! It has been a dream of mine to spend Christmas in NYC – they do it up SO big!
Courtney B says
Amazing!! I definitely hope to be able to visit NYC during the Christmas season someday!!
K / Pure & Complex says
I just love living in the city, but I also love to read about others experience of it as well. Such wonderful photos. I hope you had a great holiday
Kristen @ Ladybug Blessings says
Oh this looks like so much fun! I have only been to NYC once and cannot wait to go back! Thanks for stopping by my blog! 🙂