My Top 10 Things to Do in NYC

My cousin and I spent a fabulous, yet freezing long weekend in New York in March. Here are my Top 10 Things to Do in NYC

  1. Top of the Rock: this will give you be the best views of the city, plus you can get some brilliant pictures of the city with the Empire State Building in them.
  2. Staten Island Ferry: this is a free commuter service between Manhattan and Staten Island, but it’s also a great way to see the Island of Manhattan and the Statue of Liberty. The round trip will take you just over an hour. If you have more time and are interested to learn more about the history of Ellis Island, there are lots of tour options.
  3. The Jewish Museum: a brilliant place to learn more about the global history of Jews and their migration and influence in NYC. There’s also a brilliant café/ deli serving traditional Jewish and Kosher treats –Russ & Daughters.
  4. Cocktails at The Standard High Line in the trendy Meatpacking District. This iconic penthouse bar and restaurant is super cool and offers panoramic city views.
  5. Go to a Live TV show – I’m a massive fan of the Wendy Williams Show, so as soon as I booked my trip, I booked my tickets to see the show live. Tickets are free; it’s just a matter of booking them in advance. There are lots of other live shows, have a look here www.nycgo.com
  6. Clubbing: NYC has a great night life, there are lots of clubs to chose from, it just depends what music you’re into, we love hip-hop so we picked: Lavo and 1OAK. Both were amazing, entry can be expensive, so my advice is to reach out to club promoters via instagram and see if they can get you on their guest-list.
  7. Walk the Brooklyn Bridge obvious one, but a good one!
  8. EAT! There are so many amazing places to eat in NYC, here are some of my favourites: Prince St. Pizza -BEST PIZZA EVER! Levain Bakery, these are the hugest, most delicious cookies in the world, and it’s clear the whole city agrees, as the que is around 30 mins.
  9. Williamsburg Brooklyn this is a super cool neighbourhood full of independent restaurants and shops.
  10. Central Park…

The hotel – The Westin Grand Central was perfect for what we were looking for. It was inexpensive and centrally located. The service was friendly and polite, this is by no means a design hotel, but the room was spacious, clean and functional.

Getting around the city is really easy once you figure out the subway, and it’s cheap. My only advice is not to take it late at night as it doesn’t feel particularly safe, but it’s absolutely fine during the day as it’s packed with commuters. Depending on the weather, I recommend walking as much as you can as it’s a great way to get a sense of the city and it means you can stumble across places that aren’t in the guidebooks.

The costs…

We booked our holiday with British Airways as part of a package deal. We paid £610 per person; this included 5 nights at the The Westin Grand Central and direct flights from London Heathrow to JFK. The great thing about BA Holidays is that you can book your holiday by putting down a small deposit, and pay the remaining balance 5 weeks before departure.

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MIAMI

I LOVE Miami, this was my fourth trip!

A friend and I took an impromptu 5 night trip to Miami in September for Labour Day weekend. She had never been before, so I felt as a Miami expert it was my job to take her there and show her the magic of Miami!

We checked into the SLS Hotel on the iconic Collins Avenue, which is where all the trendy hotels are based. The hotel was great, it’s got a really fun, young vibe, the pool area was always buzzing, and they have a pool party every Saturday. The food was nothing special, but that’s not really why you go to Miami, so it doesn’t matter!

There are loads of great restaurants to choose from in Miami, Cecconi’s at Soho House, Hakkasan at the Fontainebleau and Nobu at Eden Roc.

There isn’t much to do in terms of sightseeing in Miami, but again, that’s not why you go, you go for the nightlife. My favourites clubs are: LIV on Sunday and Story, but be aware that the music will vary in each club depending on the day of the week.

 

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Labour Day Weekend in Miami

Labour Day Weekend in Miami, yet another one of my fabulous holiday ideas!

A friend and I took an impromptu 5 night trip to Miami in September for Labour Day weekend. She had never been before, so I felt as a Miami expert  (this was my fourth trip) it was my job to take her there and show her the magic!

We stayed at the SLS Hotel  located on the iconic Collins Avenue, where all the trendy hotels are based. The hotel was great, it had a really fun, young vibe, and they have a pool party every Saturday. The food was nothing special, but that’s not really why you go to Miami, and they made up for it in other ways.

There are tonnes of great restaurants to choose from in Miami, Cecconi’s at Soho House, Hakkasan at the Fontainebleau and Nobu at Eden Roc.

There isn’t much to do in terms of sightseeing in Miami, but again, that’s not why you go, you go for the nightlife. My favourites clubs are: LIV on Sunday and Story, but be aware that the music will vary in each club depending on the day of the week.

If the SLS doesn’t appeal to you, here are some alternatives:

  1. Miami Edition – this hotel is so chic, the design is amazing and the rooms overlook the ocean.
  2. Fontainebleau – this is a really fun resort style, party hotel, but it also attracts some families.  it has 3 swimming pools, plenty of restaurants and it’s the home of the nightclub LIV.
  3. The Delano – situated on trendy Collins Avenue this hotel is fresh and contemporary, and it has it’s own private beach

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Istanbul

 

Beautiful decor, amazing facilities and a fantastic location..

I stayed at Soho House Istanbul, one the groups largest houses, it operates as hotel / spa and a private members club

We opted for a Tiny Room, which at the time was an unbeatable €80  per night.

Non-member rates for a Tiny Room range from €225 to €240

And if you’re going all out, The Playroom will cost you between €1000 to €1200 per night

What I LOVED…

  • Beautiful design
  • The Turkish breakfast was OUT OF THIS WORLD!
  • Convenient location, close to shops, restaurants, metro links
  • Guests staying at the hotel get full access to the club which is located right next door
  • The wonderful Cowshed goodies in the room
  • Hair dryer and straighteners can be found in the bathroom
  • Great TV selection, I know, I know these things shouldn’t matter, you’re on holiday, but we know they do!

What I didn’t love..

  • Although the room was very stylish, it failed on some levels to be practical and at times felt a little cluttered.
  • Lack of wardrobe space
  • No full length mirror
  • Poorly lit bathroom

…And if you have a room that backs onto the street- very noisy!

BUT this could all be remedied by getting a larger room, so I’ll bare that in mind for next time!

Cowshed Spa

We booked various treatments at Cowshed felt and found the staff to be kind, professional and the treatments were just as I would expect from any of the other Cowshed Spas.

Book the Traditional Turkish Hamman Experience; leave feeling pampered and squeaky clean!

Sorry there aren’t any pictures of the hotel and club, I had to follow the Soho House rules – no pictures!

Where to Eat

Cecconis

All my friends laugh at  me, as I’m OBSESSED with Cecconis, whichever city I’m in, I hunt it down: Miami, LA, Berlin, London and now Istanbul.

Everything about this restaurant is delicious, the food, the scenery, the Peach Capirinhas’s…

My love for Italian food has no end, even in what I can only imagine is the epicentre of Turkish Food I managed to eat at Cecconi’s twice throughout my stay!

This beautiful courtyard restaurant attracts the uber glam crowd of Istanbul, I recommend making a reservation in advance and dressing to impress.

Where to Visit

There is so much to see in this bustling city, and I’m probably guilty of spending too many hours on the roof working on my tan, and not as much time as I could of exploring!

But here are a few of the places I did get round to seeing.

  • Sultanahmet (The Blue Mosque)
  • Hagia Sophia
  • Süleymaniye (the Magnificent)
  • The Grand Bazar

Please note, during times of prayer you won’t be allowed to go inside the Mosques, but you can still walk around the outside and take in the magnificent Ottoman architecture which the city is famous for.

 

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Istanbul Soho House

 

Istanbul Soho House, beautiful decor, amazing facilities and a fantastic location..

We stayed at Soho House Istanbul, for a long weekend in July.

This is one the groups largest houses, it operates as a hotel / spa and a private members club.

The costs.. We opted for a Tiny Room, which at the time was an unbeatable €80  per night.

Non-member rates for a Tiny Room range from €225 to €240

And if you’re going all out, The Playroom will cost you between €1000 to €1200 per night

What I LOVED…

  • Beautiful design
  • The Turkish breakfast was OUT OF THIS WORLD!
  • Convenient location, close to shops, restaurants, metro links
  • Guests staying at the hotel get full access to the club which is located right next door
  • The wonderful Cowshed goodies in the room
  • Hair dryer and straighteners can be found in the bathroom
  • Great TV selection, I know, I know these things shouldn’t matter, you’re on holiday, but we know they do!

Cowshed Spa

We booked various treatments at Cowshed felt and found the staff to be kind, professional and the treatments were just as I would expect from any of the other Cowshed Spas.

Book the Traditional Turkish Hamman Experience; leave feeling pampered and squeaky clean!

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Where to Eat

Cecconis- All my friends laugh at  me, as I’m OBSESSED with Cecconis, whichever city I’m in, I hunt it down: Miami, LA, Berlin, London and now Istanbul.

Everything about this restaurant is delicious, the food, the scenery, the Peach Capirinhas’s…

My love for Italian food has no end, even in what I can only imagine is the epicentre of Turkish Food I managed to eat at Cecconi’s twice throughout my stay!

This beautiful courtyard restaurant attracts the uber glam crowd of Istanbul, I recommend making a reservation in advance and dressing to impress.

Where to Visit

There is so much to see in this bustling city, and I’m probably guilty of spending too many hours on the roof working on my tan, and not as much time as I could of exploring!

But here are a few of the places I did get round to seeing.

  • Sultanahmet (The Blue Mosque)
  • Hagia Sophia
  • Süleymaniye (the Magnificent)
  • The Grand Bazar

Please note, during times of prayer you won’t be allowed to go inside the Mosques, but you can still walk around the outside and take in the magnificent Ottoman architecture which the city is famous for.

 

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Island Life: Maldives

Within moments of landing I had acclimatised to Island life, I was barefoot, relaxed and disconnected from the real world…

There are loads of resorts to choose from in the Maldives, it really just depends on your budget. There is only ever one resort per atoll, so you will always be guaranteed the remote island feel. Make sure you select a resort which can only be reached by sea plane, as opposed to speed boat. Resorts that are reachable by speed boat mean they’re closer to the mainland of Male, and can be noisy with all the planes flying over.

We opted for LUX* South Ari Atoll. Rates at the resort really will depend on what time of year you go for and what board you opt for.

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The costs…

We booked our holiday with British Airways

  • 7 nights in January, including flights, accommodation, transfers and breakfast
  • Staying in a Beach Pavilion
  • £2,300 per person

What we LOVED…

  • Warm friendly staff
  • Beautiful beach front rooms
  • The outdoor bathroom was a dream
  • Our room was kept immaculately clean throughout our stay
  • Movie night on the beach was amazing

What we didn’t love.. 

  • The food is shockingly expensive however this isn’t something exclusive to Lux, food in the Maldives is very expensive due to everything being imported, so just be aware a burger will set you back $42 before tax!
  • The service at times was a little slow and disjointed, but its hard to get annoyed when you’re surrounded by so much beauty

I would definitely go back to LUX* as overall it was a great experience, the hotel did a lot to make guests feel appreciated from the moment you land, all the staff are waiting on the dock waving and ready to get you settled in.

The rooms were lovely, the grounds were pristine, the weather was perfect, we really couldn’t have asked for more…

The weather

We stayed in January which is meant to be one of the best times of year to visit, and it was. The temperature was about 35 degrees each day, and it didn’t rain once!

Getting there

London – Male direct aprox 12hrs

From Male Airport you will be greeted by representatives from the hotel who will escort you to the Lux Lounge. You will be offered drinks and refreshments whilst you wait for your sea plane to take you to the island. We had to wait for approx. 2 hours as our flight had been delayed, but normally the wait is around 40 mins.

 

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