I’ve often pondered why people seem happy to stay in beach resort for a week, but try and cram their city breaks into a weekend. Don’t exhaust yourself trying to see everything in 48 hours – slow it down and stay longer.
Try and avoid the peak season of October to December, and major events such as New York Fashion Week, St Patrick’s Day, Valentine’s Day etc.
Hotels sometimes give discounts for longer stays – email them and ask. Alternatively, rent an Airbnb in Brooklyn for a week and convince yourself you’re a local, by hanging out in coffee bars and grabbing bagels from a local bakery to take home for breakfast (this really appeals to me, having accepted that my longing to spend at least part of my life living in New York is probably never going to happen). Williamsburg is often cited as hipster central, but don’t miss out on Bushwick which is less gentrified and has some great street art.
Pick a couple of things to see or do each day, and do them slowly, properly, thoroughly. One of my favourite days in New York started with a leisurely brunch, then a stroll along the High Line with plenty of stopping to admire the art, gaze at the views and sit in the sunshine.
High Line art (fear not, there are no nude sunbathers)
We then spent an afternoon eating our way around Chelsea Market (Takumi Taco is a must visit, for the Japanese curry beef or the short rib taco, but leave room so you can eat at MORE places). On the way home we popped into the Samsung Concept store, which doesn’t sell anything – it’s a technological playground, where you can experience a VR rollercoaster, or walk through an Instagram tunnel, where you’re confronted with pictures of everything you’ve ever posted, whilst a robotic voice reads out choice words. Odd, fun, terrifying.
Do lunch, not dinner
Top restaurants that are pricey by night often do great value lunch deals. Want to eat at Bouley? Of course you do – it has a “chariot de pain” (that’s a bread trolley, not a mobile torture device) that they’ll wheel over to you, allowing you select your own diet defying carb-fest.
The 3 course prix-fixe menu is $135 at dinner, but at lunch you can get a 5 course tasting menu for $59. I went in at 2pm and wobbled out several hours later, as they were preparing for evening service. Which leads me to…
There’s absolutely no reason why you need to be out every night. If you’ve spent the entire day on your feet working your way through the Museum of Modern Art, and you’re knackered, don’t drag yourself out for dinner just because you *feel* you should be doing something. Stay in, order take out or room service and relax. There’s something decadent about staying in a hotel room, eating pizza in bed, drinking wine from a tooth mug and watching a movie. Likewise, if you’ve been up all night working your way through the cocktail list at Employees Only, don’t be afraid to stay in bed until lunchtime, only emerging when the hangover has dissipated enough to ensure you won’t throw up on the Staten Island Ferry.