How I went on holiday to NYC for £500 incl 4 star hotel & flights
I love going abroad and have a special place in my heart for NYC - I also love a getting a bargain. So I’ve just come back from NYC and did the whole thing for £500(ish). This wasn’t me skimping and staying in, but staying in amazing places and eating some of the best food in the work - and this is how you can do it too.
Return flights (Virgin, direct) - £230
First things first, I had to find cheap flight, like ridiculously cheap. I managed to bag myself a return flight to NYC from London using a trick called ‘hidden city ticketing’. It’s a clever little loophole where you pick the wrong final destination (that’s usually cheap to fly to), but actually get off at a stopover (which is usually an expensive airport to fly to).
4* hotel - £213 for four nights
Here’s the reality, staying in NYC is not cheap - not by a long shot. Options are you could stay in a different borough and commute in on a free ferry or train, or maybe stay in a Hostel.
I pulled out the big guns to get something a little bit fancier. Personally, I don’t like the big branded hotel chains as they are often aimed at business people and are a bit soulless. I wanted an NYC boutique.
So here’s how you get a cheap price on an expensive hotel - discount stack. After a load of research, I stumbled across The Archer hotel. It had a great central location and had great reviews.
I booked a good five months in advance, avoided major holidays and the room (I wanted one with an Empire State building view) came up at £165 a night. We wanted to stay four nights, so that came to £660, but there was also a £130 tax (say what NYC?!) - so £790 as a starting price.
I then book with Expedia via Quidco, which gives me 10% cashback when I pay for the hotel through them - taking down the cost to £711. I then found a 10% off voucher on Expedia which took the price down to £639. Because there was three of us in the room, we split the cost in three which meant the total cost of the hotel was £213 for four nights.
I loved staying at the The Archer, you’d get free cakes and sweets, the staff couldn’t have been nice and had THE BEST view ever from my bedroom window. If you go via this link (which gives you cheaper prices that than the regular page), and play with some dates. You’ll also get a $10 voucher for food and drinks. Lovely.
- Free boat ride/Statue of Liberty - So here’s my favourite trick - instead of paying $40+ to go on a boat trip to see the Statue of Liberty, get on the Staten Island ferry. It’s totally free and goes right past it (well, full disclosure - it’s not as close as a boat taking up up close of course- but it’s free and does the job).
- Free Grand Central walking tour - Every Friday at 12:30pm, you can get a free 90-minute walking tour which includes places like Grand Central Terminal’s Whispering Gallery and the Chrysler Building.
- Central Park - Central park is massive - you could easily spend a day in there, which is what you’re meant to do. In fact, it was built to get you lost as all the paths curve go where you least expect it - there are no angles.
- New York Library - It’s the largest marble structure ever built in the USA and more importantly, it’s the scene where Carrie got dumped in Sex and The City. The drama.
- Free Brooklyn Brewery tour - It’s usually $10, but if you go on Saturday and Sunday its free (just show up).
- Governer’s Island - This is better when it’s not freezing. You can get a free ferry there and has a bike path, mini golf and picnic area.
You know what, NYC has some of the best and most expensive restaurants in the world - but you know what else it does, cheap eats.
- Shake Shack (£3.20 for a single burger) - It’s an NYC institution right in by Times Square. It’s always has a massive queue, but goes down pretty quickly - and it’s worth it for the frozen custard.
- Dominique Ansensel (Cronut - £3) - Ok, its not cheap for a doughnut - but you aint getting them anywhere else, and are massive, so worth the cash.
- Di Fara Pizza (£18 for a whole pizza pie) - Arguably the best pizza in NYC - and fresh as it gets. Be prepared to wait though!
- Katz Deli (£13 for a sandwich) - For me, the best pastrami there is - seriously, they are massive. Also, the Rueben sandwiches are legendary.
- Absolute bagels (with cream cheese $2.30) - Ah so good - you can’t go to NYC without having a bagel. Those the rules my friend!