So we made it to Manhattan. If you didn’t catch the details on how we got there, you can catch up on part one of this three part series which details our journey from Dublin to start our whistle-stop tour of New York City with our kids.
In this post, I’ll take you through where we stayed in Manhattan and where we ate for most of our meals during our stay.
Where We Stayed in New York City
We stayed in the Upper East Side, on Madison Avenue, in Hotel Wales. I booked it myself using Booking.com.
We booked a suite which was supposedly for up to 5 but when we checked in there was just a king bed and a double sofa bed. We put the 3 kids in the king bed and we took the sofa bed. To be fair the king bed was huge and the kids were fine with that arrangement but I wouldn’t imagine 3 teenagers would be wiling to share. I did see some small print to say an extra bed was available at a charge, though it would have made the room a little cramped and given the price I was quoted was for 2 adults and 3 children I wouldn’t have expected to pay more for another bed.
Lesson to always check the bed configurations when booking hotel rooms. While a room may have the capacity you are looking for, the arrangement may not suit.
Otherwise the hotel room was great. Very cool, with great air conditioning in the hot and humid weather of July in New York. There were two TV’s, one in front of the bed and one in the lounge area where the sofa bed was and finally a small bathroom off the bedroom area which had a toilet, sink and shower – no bath.
One of the hotel’s biggest assets is its great location; it was close to subway and bus routes, central park is a block away and the museum mile only a short walk. Otherwise the hotel has limited facilities. There was no bar or official restaurant; although there are two restaurant partners. A bistro called Sarabeth’s with direct access through reception where they served breakfast, lunch and dinner. At $14 for a berry bowl we chose to eat out for breakfast each morning. There is also an Italian restaurant called Paola’s which serves brunch, lunch and dinner.
A highlight of the hotel, which wasn’t even mentioned to us on check in but I had heard about while researching the hotel was the rooftop terrace. Fab views over the city and we bought some drinks in a nearby store and enjoyed a nice cool drink after a day of touring. It’s a lovely spot, though seems a little neglected. A little bar up there or service of light bites would have been amazing.
While I might have concluded this section about where we stayed recommending the place, I have in the last few days heard that Hotel Wales closed its doors on 31st December 2019, so I guess recommending the hotel to anyone is not an option now.
Apparently the hotel is being redeveloped in to condos – if they are going to be available for short term rental that would be fabulous. If I was going back to New York I think an apartment with separate bedrooms and maybe a kitchenette would be perfect for a family. Better sleeping arrangements and a little area to prepare some food. Just be careful of using Airbnb as it is only legal if the owner of the property is on site with you.
Eating Out in New York
What we learned very quickly was that eating out in New York City can be very expensive if you are not careful. After getting to our hotel on our first day our room wasn’t ready yet (it was still only around lunchtime) and given it was approaching dinner time in our body clock we headed out to look for something nearby to eat and have a glass of wine while we waited. We found a lovely spot called Gina La Fornarina. We got a couple of glasses of wine, a couple of pizzas and some drinks for the kids. The wine was something like $12 per glass and we paid the guts of $70 for that quick bite. It was all very tasty and service great but eye opening about the prices of eating in NYC.
That evening, after a short nap in our room we headed out for a walk at about 5pm, the kids wanted to go to It’sugar and we decided given the time change to have another bite to keep us going to breakfast. We found a nearby Shake Shack, a New York fast food chain. Not exactly classy food but given there are none in Ireland it was a novelty, a little cheaper than our lunch and very tasty too.
As breakfast wasn’t included in our rate, we opted to head out each morning and each day ended up in one of many New York City Starbucks where we got coffee and breakfast before our day of exploring. Not exactly an exciting breakfast but was fast, familiar, filled us up and was relatively good value.
Lunch time we were out exploring. We had a lovely lunch over in Staten Island, in River Dock Cafe, on our first full day and the next day we went very cheap and had $1 pizza in Two Bros – which was on my oldest daughter’s list of things to do in New York. To be fair, not only was it great value, it was very tasty too!
After our first full day of exploring we were exhausted but wanted to grab a bite so found a nice homely restaurant near our hotel, on Madison Avenue, called 3 Guys and it fit the bill.
Our final evening in New York we found ourselves in a Bubba Gump restaurant in Times Square and despite being totally corny and touristy was a great, fun meal and one of my husband’s highlights of dining in New York. If you are not familiar with Bubba Gump, it’s a chain of restaurants that spun out of the movie Forest Gump and combines the name of Forest’s friend Bubba and his own surname, Gump. There are outlets all over the US.
Before we headed to the airport we grabbed a bite to eat across the road from our hotel. It was probably our worst meal in New York. Not only was the food mediocre, our oldest daughter suddenly realised she had left her phone in a 7-Eleven downtown. That’s what happens when you are desperate to try a slurpee! With our airport transfer coming within 90 minutes we didn’t have time to go back and get it. She spent the meal in tears.
Food wasn’t the primary focus of our time in New York and to be honest it was more about just fueling our sightseeing than enjoying the culinary delights of the city. I’m certain if you are going to New York with a focus on food you will not be disappointed. There are so many cafes, bars, restaurants of different styles and budget. There really is something for everyone.
The final part of this series will look at all the things we did and saw in New York City and this will be online next week so make sure to check it out.
Note: This is not a sponsored post. We booked and paid for every aspect of this trip ourselves. We were not asked to write this post by anyone and all opinions are mine and my family’s.