May 28, 2014

New York, New York | Travel

I've always been a lover of travel  and everytime I book any trip I do TONS of research. I gravitate towards  looking up real  reviews because they offer true to life pictures, and they give you honest insight and tips that you can apply to your trip. Traveling is an adventure but having a little inside scoop on where you're going can help you make the most of your time and money.  I'm very thankful to anyone in the cyber world that has taken the time to post a review, and I think it's time I start doing the same. There will be lots of travels ahead and lots to share, so to kick it off, I'm starting with New York City.

When I thought about turning 30 I wanted to celebrate it in a big city. High rises buildings and cities invigorate me so I decided to book a little New York trip and celebrate it with some of the people I've been blessed to have in my life for a loooong time. They mean alot to me and with moving soon we definitely wanted to have some good times and create some amazing memories. Which is exactly what happened. There was alot of good food, good experiences, a sweet proposal, amazing views, and pretty places to see and plenty to do. I couldn't have asked for more.

Ink 48 - Midtown. 
It is one of the four Kimpton hotels in NYC.

-Overall, a very beautiful hotel that had a chic modern boutique style to it.

-Friendly, knowledgable, professional staff.

-Amazing roof top deck that has perfect views of the city and the Hudson River.

-Room's have the option of a city view or river view, and the windows in the rooms are pretty big.

-They let you leave your bags with them if you come in early before your room is ready, or if you have some time between checking out and when your transporation leaves later in the day. They have a ticket they give you that matches up to your bags, so it's very reliable. Not having to carry everything you packed around the city is priceless, and lets you have flexibility when scheduling travel.

-Huge nicely styled and very clean bathroom. The room itself was also very clean.

-Free Wi-Fi and a $15 credit to use towards the mini bar in the room if your are an InTouch Member. It's free and easy to join, so it's worth it. You can go here to do it.

-The rooftop lounge at night had a cool, mellow vibe to it, and you can easily see the views from anywhere you stand.

-It is a pet friendly hotel

-They sent up a hand written card to wish me a happy birthday, which I thought was thoughtful touch.

-If you requested a city view, make sure to request a high level floor for a totally unobstructed view. Anything above 12 should do it, many of the floors end up looking directly at a big and bright Comfort Inn sign that is across the street. For some, this can be kind of an eye sore if a view is important to you.

-Room service is way too expensive for simple items. One basic two egg style breakfast was close to $30. I know it's New York, but still. And don't forget that delivery charge, 19% gratuity and NY state tax automatically added to each bill.
Yeeea... I think I'll just go see what's close by instead.

-The hotel does not have a pool.

-There really isn't anything useful or interesting within 2-3 blocks in any direction.

-Not super close to any subway station. It's within walking distance of course, but it's 4 blocks back down towards the city, and either two blocks to the left or six blocks to the right. Not bad, but again, not close.

-The rooftop deck has very limited access. You can only go after 5:00 pm, and that is when it becomes a "lounge". So it's 21 or over only. I was given the impression that guests could go up there and hang out throughout the day, but that was not the case. It would've been nice to have access to it during the day for lunch or breakfast and to spend time with family and friends while enjoying the breezy view.

-Kimpton is known for excellence in customer service and attention to detail, but I didn't really experience that as much at this hotel.

-$55 daily parking if you drive in.

Would I book there again? Probably not.
The view is amazing but lots of hotels have pretty views too that you can actually take advantage of during the day. The immediate surrounding area and room ambiance did not justify the hotel rate. While it was a beautiful hotel, there wasn't anything unique enough about it to make me pick it again out of all the other hotels available. I can honestly say my specific room and experience was 4.5 out of 5 because of the view, but the overall hotel would get a 3 out of 5 for me.

If I had to pick another hotel I would want to try next, it would either be Yotel or the Eventi hotel, both in Chelsea.

We  took the Amtrak train up from Washington, DC, and then did a combination of walking, cabs and subways while we were there.

-Taking the train up was worth every penny and it couldn't have been easier. Amtrak has really comfortable seats, a snack car if you get hungry or thirsty, bathrooms in each car, and free WiFi on board. The ability to get up there in about three and half hours, avoid all the traffic and just sit back and relax ,or get some work done, was great.

-Easy to get a taxi from anywhere you are, once you are in NYC.

-The subway is only 2.75 each way no matter where you go. Coming from DC that's not a bad price.

-It's easy to transfer between trains and get to where you're going once you understand the train map. Here is a printable copy of the map so you can get an idea of which trains you might be taking.

-The subway was brighter and cleaner than I expected, and you barely have to wait for one to come.

-Taxi fares adds up pretty quickly. Very short trips can easily add up to $15

Would I take Amtrak again? Yes!!! In a heartbeat. Once you add up tolls, gas, and parking, it evens out to the ticket price anyway, if not less.  Plus it's not like the airport, where you have to be there forever and go through twenty thousand checkpoints before even getting to your gate. You go in, find you gate, show your ticket, and get on.
Also, Don't forget to look up what your local train station parking fee is so that you don't get a surprise on the way home.Parking at Union Station was $22 a day so make plans to be dropped off, or make sure to take other transporation  to avoid that cost.

Would I take the Subway again? Of course! Also, it would be helpful to make sure that wherever you stay is within a very close walking distance from the subway to take advantage of it. This can help you hopefully avoid using cabs at all, or as much.

Would I take the taxi cabs again? Not if I didn't have to.They drive crazy and the price gets too high, too fast before you even add tip. I'd rather spend that money on food!

Here are some of the places we ate:

Market Diner - Hell's Kitchen
 It was still about 10:00 in the morning when we got off the train and met up with our friends, so a diner was an obvious choice for something to eat. We walked down to it from our hotel and it literally looks like what you would think of when you think of diner. Silver, retro outside, and old school inside. The menu though is very modern and offer's lots of choices. Sometimes diner food can taste too heavy, greasy or stale, but that wasn't the case here.
The food was filling and good.
The server was busy and a little distracted.
The resturant was clean.
The prices and portions were fair, but definitely more expensive than a traditional diner.


Savore Ristorante - Soho
Soho is more of a shopping area so we walked around for awhile to find a place that was a sit down dinner spot. Savore is right on a corner and the hostess was already outside and very friendly. They quickly put together a table for 6 adults and 2 babies in their outdoor seating area. The staff was so friendly and the food was so good. It was an italian menu and  offered some truly unique dishes. I tasted a little bit of what everyone got, and everything tasted fresh and had great flavor, including their pizza. Very authentic.
The food was outstanding. 
The servers were really friendly. 
The resturant was clean. 
The prices and portions were fair.


Davey's Ice Cream - East Village
Walking around after dinner at night on the streets of New York City calls for ice cream! We stopped into this little place and tasted a few flavors. They had a Sweet Potato and Brie flavor which my husband got, and I of course tasted. It was surprisingly really good. The thought of brie in ice cream is kind of weird, but it added a cool twist to the flavor.
The ice cream was great and they offered lots of unique flavors
The lady behind the counter was friendly
The shop was clean
The prices and portions were fair


Sunac Natural Market - Hell's Kitchen
This was a fresh foods grocery and market that was about 5 blocks away from our hotel. It was the best place to get a little bit of whatever you wanted. We ate there 3 different times. Twice for breakfast and once for dinner. They have the grocery section, which was the prettiest little grocery store I've ever seen. Everything was stacked beautifully and they had most of the brands you would see in Whole Foods. Whatever you needed they had, so for an out of towner, knowing that was close by was nice.
They have a pastry section that is almost overwhelming because everything looks so good. I had a chocolate crossaint AND a cheese danish (no judgement) and both were buttery and fresh.
The food bar has fresh fruits, and hot dishes and the counters offered breakfast burritos, french toast, paninis and sandwhiches made to order... basically anything you could think of was there. Plus, it's open 24 hours.
The food was soooo good, and you had tons of options 
The people working there were friendly and efficent.
The market was super clean, and everything was displayed with alot of attention to detail.
The prices and portions were more than fair.


The Rabbit Hole - Brooklyn
We found this place by asking a local what was good and close by. She suggested The Rabbit Hole and we all headed over there. We were able to get a table right next to the open patio doors. The decor of the place was great. It had exposed brick with a slightly vintage garden cafe vibe. I personally am a fan of anything that references Alice in Wonderland but I wasn't the only one at the table that thought this place was beautiful. They always have a garden area behind the cafe. The menu doesn't have alot of options but you can definitely find something tasty and healthly. The lamb burgers seemed to be a hit at the table. I got a steak salad and for the first time in my life I was genuinly satisfied and impressed with a salad. 
The food was fresh and full of flavor. 
Our server and the manager were helpful and talkative.
The cafe was clean.
The prices and portions were fair but a little on the smaller side. The desserts were very small, and at least two of us said they were still hungry after eating their meal.


Il Melograno - Hell's Kitchen
This was the last place we ate before we left and we kind of stumbled upon it because it started raining. It's an italian resturant tucked away in Hell's Kitchen. The inside has a small cozy loft syle feel. It would be perfect for a date in the evening. Me and my husband both ordered the Saffron Fetticini with Shrimp dish and it was such a unique sauce. It was yellow instead of white, but still light and creamy. Also, make sure to try the red oil sauce they give you with the bread. It was a slightly spicy red pepper oil but it made the fresh soft bread taste even better. 
The food was presented really well and had great flavor.
Our server was very personable and genuine.
The resturant was very clean.
The prices and portions were a little expensive and a little on the smaller side. Still worth it because of how good it tasted, but definitely a little more on the expensive side of the scale.  


This is nothing new to say, but New York really does have amazing food. 
Everywhere we ate, I would eat again.

If you are into shopping, Soho is definitely the area for you. There was blocks and blocks of stores.

If you're into just walking around, people watching or window shopping, East Village is a great area for that.

If you want the hustle and bustle of the city with access to all the iconic New York attractions, downtown Manhattan is the place to be.

If you want a more laid back, artsy vibe within beautiful neighboorhoods, Williamsburg in Brooklyn would be a great place to visit.

If you are into being by the water, hanging out at the park, and seeing beautiful views, Fulton Landing under the the Brooklyn Bridge is perfect for you. They had food trucks, a carousel and a tiny beach area. It was probably the prettiest part of our trip. Going later in the day is probably a good idea too in the warmer months as there isn't that much shade.

I really enjoyed every where we ended up. I think two areas I would explore more when I go back to NYC would be Chelsea and Williamsburg. Chelsea had alot of places to just be outside and enjoy the water views. If I booked a hotel and wanted to stay in the city, I would search that area first.
If I wanted to be outside of the city I would head to Williamsburg. It seemed like a place where it's best to just go and stay there so that you can really explore all that it has to offer. It just seems full of hidden gems that take more time to discover.

But if I had to recommend visiting just one place out of everywhere we went, definitely Fulton Landing, (aka Brooklyn Bridge Park) you just can't beat those beautiful views.

-If you can, take a very light and easily foldable stroller! In NY babies/infants/children ride on the lap of an adult in the cab or the subway, so taking a carseat is just extra unless your child prefers sitting or sleeping in it, or is just too young to sit up.Taking a lighter strollers helps especially when going up and down stairs which is inevitable at least once while exploring the city.

-Buying bulk snacks from your local area before coming can save a ton of money.

-Always ask the hotel if they can add a small fridge to your room. It is sometimes not listed as part of the room amenties, but everytime i've asked, including this trip, they were always able to add it. Especially when I explained that it was for my daughter. It just makes life a little easier to be able to store milk, juice, fruit, or leftover food.

-When it's warm out a simple spray bottle of water can make a cranky little one feel like they are playing in a water sprinkler if you make it like a game. There's also alot of splashpads all around New York. Being hot sucks no matter how old you are.

-Taking the Amtrak train was easier on her then driving, I don't know many kids that enjoy their carseat, and the freedom of being on the train is entertaining in itself. Lots of sounds and things to look at. Plus if you schedule it when they normally sleep it's very easy to enjoy a quiet trip with no drama.

-Don't forget them. Traveling can be alot, and it can easily turn into trying to "manage" them and just keeping everything together. When we as parents get like this, we kind of go into autopilot, and the first person to notice will be your mini. If your little one feels left out, bored, or restless... then it's game over for everyone!  It's more about us as the parent being present with them, and what they too are seeing and hearing. You know your child best so it will look different for each child. But making sure to involve them and truly consider them will make for a less stressful more fulfilled time for everyone in the family.

-When booking a hotel in NYC try to do a little research about what parks or grassy areas are near to your hotel. We all know little one's can get stir crazy, and running around freely a little bit usually does the trick.

-I know as parents we can overpack, and with good reason, but try to take a little as possible with you while you are actually out exploring. Some snacks, sunscreen, water, wipes, a few diapers, and a simple change of clothes should do it. Anything more (unless you really know your child would need or want it) only becomes more to carry and keep track of. Your little person wants to play with you, so the less you have, the more free you both are to enjoy the experience.

Well, that about cover's it all! Thanks for reading my debut travel takeaway! There will be plenty more in the future. Let me know what you think, and if you had any questions or thoughts on things I didn't cover.

B Y E , B Y E   N e w  Y o r k

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