At Rockefeller Center is the most famous Christmas tree in New York
Right now, during the Advent and Christmas season, I can’t imagine a more beautiful city. I am often asked if it is difficult to live in New York with small children. The answer: On the contrary, because I don’t know of any place that offers so much for big, small and the youngest as Manhattan. New York is not only the city that never sleeps – with all the shops, restaurants and Broadway shows – it is also the city with more than 1000 parks! So it’s up to you which side of New York you want to get to know the most.
One of my most important tips is how to get there. NY is basically a taxi paradise – even at the airport. Everything is carefully organized, but the city’s great popularity at Christmas time challenges even the largest taxi offer, which can lead to some waiting time in the taxi queue – and that WITHOUT! And after a long flight, 10 minutes of waiting in sub-zero temperatures can turn into infinity.
How to get from the airport to the city centre?
Never be seduced by roaming limousine drivers. These gentlemen often have neither professional ethics nor insurance. Instead of the approximately 65 dollars for a normal taxi, you can easily get rid of more than double that. The best thing to do is to arrange a car service before you leave home. “Carmel” has a good reputation, a practical smartphone app and offers a super express service within the city. The cheapest option is of course the shuttles – please ask your hotel to recommend a shuttle service.
Where to sleep?
Now the holiday trip stands and falls with the accommodation. A 3 or 4-star hotel promises a certain degree of cleanliness and service, but it does not promise a comfortable size. Thus, those who do not want to pay 300 dollars per night in order to end up in a passable shoebox with a good room service will always pay attention to the square meters when booking a room, a thing that is often poor even in top hotels.
Concerning prices, the hotel rates in New York vary from day to day as much as in Las Vegas. Thus, it is worthwhile to invest a little more time than usual in the hotel search and compare prices.
The W-Hotels are popular for modernity and comfort. I recommend W Times Square. Top location, modern, relatively spacious rooms plus a first-class seafood restaurant. Just around the corner from the W, less expensive, less luxurious, but newly renovated, is the Row NYC Hotel. I live two blocks away from Times Square and I still feel this feeling of happiness when walking along the colorful sea of lights. Times Square is and remains a MUST.
The W Hotel in Times Square
All hotel rooms with fireplaces are in great demand and rare in winter. The Royalton offers not only that in many of its rooms, but also around bathtub in maxi size. The perfect hotel for romantics.
If I am asked where there is the most “Bang for the buck”, thus the most service for the hard-earned money, I always recommend The London in the heart of Midtown. Each room is a suite that has a separate sleeping and living unit. The furnishing is comfortable and modern. The gym is one of the best in the city – so you don’t have to feel guilty if you’ve been gorging yourself through the generous portions of New York restaurants during the day.
Where to stroll and shop?
Wintertime in New York means: Ice skating is back on. I’m not the only one who feels slightly claustrophobic about the often preppy pushing and shoving on skates at Rockefeller Center.
Accordingly, I recommend just taking a quick look at the big Christmas tree there and then taking a walk to the much more relaxed and interesting ice paradise, Bryant Park.
If you want to overflow the skating rink at Rockefeller Center, go to Bryant Park
At this time of year, the park offers a small winter adventure world with a large ice rink and the stylish and cosy restaurant Celsius. Inside you sit completely protected from the winter behind glass and outside you are also quite cozy with your own heat lamp. In addition, there are lots of small wooden stalls that invite you to go shopping – with all kinds of innovative and traditional gift ideas for yourself and others.
The district of Soho is not only popular with Hollywood stars as a first or second residence, it is the new shopping paradise with impressive non-commercial charm. On Broome Street, Kirna Zabete shines, the shop where the hottest designers, including Victoria Beckham and Jason Wu (one of Michelle Obama’s favorite designers), present themselves.
Diagonally opposite, the Cacao Bar Mariebelle is enchanting. The lovingly decorated shop window is an indication of what to expect inside. In addition, there is the best selection of hot chocolates you could wish for.
A few steps further on, it is worth taking a look at the Sicis. Here, designer furniture is lined up that would impress even Lady Gaga. More interesting than almost any modern picture gallery.
Where you meet the stars
Fancy watching the stars eating spaghetti? Then we go to Cipriani Downtown, West Broadway and Broome Street. One of my favorite restaurants for years. Besides Italian specialties, there are also unusual classics like Chicken Curry – my husband’s absolute favorite dish. The Chilean Seabass (black hake) with zucchini and olive topping is and remains for me the best fish dish ever. The tables are close together, and so sometimes you get very close to stars like George Clooney, Beyoncé or Heidi Klum, whether you want to or not.
If you also want to watch the stars shopping, visit the Meatpacking District. At Jeffrey (my favorite) and Scoop on 14th Street, there is almost nothing that is not fashionable.
Where to go out?
The New Yorker has become more comfortable. He loves dinner and good nightlife all in one. The hotspot Bagatelle is one of the few restaurants that needed more space after years. This is partly due to the good food and inviting decor, but also to the good French DJs who turn this gourmet temple into a disco with all your favorite hits (mainly from the 80s) on Friday and Saturday from around 10 pm. There is dancing everywhere: where you walk, stand or sit. The audience of (almost) all age groups enjoys the spectacle until early in the morning. Tip: Reserve a table in time. The Bagatelle is also highly recommended for the party brunch on Saturday.
Can it be something legendary? There is only one address: the 21 Club. Already in Hitchcock’s movies, the restaurant was mentioned by the protagonists and those who have seen the movie “Wall Street” remember the scene where Gordon Gekko (played by Michael Douglas) hands over the first big check to his pupil (played by Charlie Sheen) and invites him to a steak tartare. Ideal for a romantic dinner for two. So much luxury is allowed.
B.B. King Blues Club & Grill
The B. B. King Blues Club & Grill in Times Square is an entertainment long runner with a surprise effect: Today a jazz legend, and tomorrow “Denver Clan” star Joan Collins will lead through a one-woman show. It’s worth it.
On the Upper East Side, you have to visit (after 10pm) the Grande Dame of the bar scene. At Bemelman’s Bar at the Carlyle Hotel, the jazz is mostly soft, and this not only puts couples in the mood but also brings singles closer together.
The musical Motown is currently the most successful on Broadway – and rightly so. Everything revolves around the then-innovative record label Motown and its first stars like the Supremes, Mary Wells and The Jackson Five.
Before or after the musical, a drink or dinner around the corner near Marseille is worthwhile, whether romantically for two or with the whole family. Like most of the restaurants in New York, one is also very child-friendly here. Our son was already here at the tender age of 4 days for brunch, today he feasts on the delicacies of the menu. The Marseille is located on the famous restaurant mile, 9th Avenue, where one restaurant borders on the other and almost every nationality is represented.
The program in The Box is absolutely not G-rated and as bizarre as outrageously good. Sexy, magical, acrobatic, enjoyable. Recently I saw Justin Timberlake there at one of the (unfortunately late) performances. Be sure to reserve a table in advance.
Where to take children?
The little ones are spoiled in New York just like the grown-ups. At least once a month we take our son to the famous Toys ‘R’ Us in Times Square. The shopping is not important. Even before the store, Elmo and other popular characters from the TV cavort. Inside we continue with non-stop entertainment. Whether it’s a photo session with Spiderman, an encounter with a very lively looking tyrannosaurus – this children’s paradise has it all.
The FAO Black right next to the famous Apple Store in Central Park (the shopping paradise for adults) is the other top address for the little ones. There is a breathtaking world of adventure with stuffed animals in all sizes.
My personal favorite place for a family afternoon is the American Museum of Natural History in Central Park. A journey into other times and worlds – you just can’t stop being amazed.
Where they have the best cheeseburger in New York
What would be a trip to New York without trying the best cheeseburger in town? Big and small don’t mind standing outside in the queue at the Shake Shack on 8th Avenue even in stormy and freezing weather. And the expectations are even exceeded – an evergreen among burger and shake lovers.
And where can you get the best Christmas dinner? Balthazar is and always will be at the top of the popularity scale. The food and ambiance are unique, and it’s also perfect for children. If you want to eat there at Christmas, you have to get there early and, above all, be quick: reservations can be made from 24 November at the earliest – and the seats are quickly taken.
Also full of Christmas atmosphere and recommended all year round is Rue 57 in the heart of Midtown. Before that – or whenever it suits you – please take a leisurely walk in Central Park, which is safer and more beautiful than ever. Pure romance and experience!
Finally, a few words about New York’s winter weather: …anything is possible, from crisp arctic to mild early fall. Smart suitcase packing is the order of the day!