New York is expensive. But with planning and know-how, it’s possible to eat, drink, explore and sleep in this wonderfully bustling city without burning a big hole in your wallet. Some things are even free…
Stays under £200 per night
Walker Hotel Tribeca
It is possible to explore and sleep in New York without burning a big hole in your wallet. Upstairs is a room at the Walker Hotel Tribeca, where prices start from £180 a night
This hotel prioritizes the right things: huge, comfortable beds; soundproof walls; luxury products and superb city views in a lively location a few minutes’ walk from a Canal metro station.
Creamy flat whites and giant pastries are served downstairs in the gorgeous Blue Bottle coffee shop. It’s hard to leave the beds, but you should – this is the wrong city to visit if you hope to spend most of your time in a hotel.
Rooms from £180 (walkerhotels.com†
New York freehand
Pictured is one of the bunk beds in Freehand New York, a trendy hotel in the Flatiron District
This trendy hotel in Manhattan’s Flatiron District is one of four created by the same team behind the NoMad. Original artwork is painted directly onto the walls in all 395 of the spacious rooms (including four-person bunk beds). Guests can enjoy the cafe, restaurant and bar on the roof with a beautiful view of the city.
Double from € 160 (freehandhotels.com†
Just a jump across the river from Midtown Manhattan is the Boro, a 108-room boutique hotel in Queens’ hip Long Island City neighborhood. Each room has floor-to-ceiling windows, rustic hardwood floors and comfortable bathrobes. Chic restaurants, bars and shops are on the doorstep.
Double from £159 (borohotel.com†
Things to do
High Line free
Follow the trail along the High Line (above), which stretches for 2.4 miles – it won’t cost you a cent
Rising above the streets of Manhattan’s West Side, the High Line is a 2.5-mile public park built on an old freight railroad. The path winds between intriguing buildings and past art installations, landscaped gardens and chaise lounges.
Admission is free; open every day in summer from 7am to 11pm and in winter until 7pm.
Many of New York’s museums offer free entry for days or nights. For example, the 9/11 Museum is free on Mondays. Tickets are available on the website every Monday from 07:00. The moving Memorial Pools are always free – and well worth a visit (911memorial.org/visit/museum†
The Whitney Museum of American Art offers pay-what-you-wish tickets on Fridays from 7-10pm (whitney.org†
The New York CityPass includes entry to the Guggenheim, American Museum of Natural History, Empire State Building, Top of the Rock, Statue of Liberty Ferry, Circle Line Sightseeing Cruise (£110, citypass.com†
Go to the water
Hop aboard the Staten Island Ferry and enjoy perfect views of the Statue of Liberty
Join commuting locals and tourists alike on the Staten Island Ferry that departs from Lower Manhattan and offers picture-perfect views of the Statue of Liberty and the dazzling skyline as it chugs across New York Bay and back again. Grab some bagels from Zucker’s Bagels on the walk to the ferry dock.
Free ferries run every 30 minutes in both directions, siferry.com†
Food and drink
Queues of hungry carnivores meander around the block to dine at Skirt Steak, a new restaurant in New York’s Chelsea neighborhood (pictured)
Above is a £23 serving of delicious skirt steak with thin, crispy chips at Skirt Steak, the restaurant named after the only meat on the menu
Steak and New York is a combination that can leave you hundreds of dollars out of your pocket even before you order drinks. But there’s a new place in town where only a delicious piece of steak is on the menu.
Queues of hungry carnivores meander around the block at this Chelsea restaurant (reservations not necessary) for its set-course menu, which starts with bowls of Boston lettuce salad, followed by mouthwatering pieces of skirt steak (or cauliflower steaks for veggies) served with peppercorns. bearnaise and unlimited thin crispy chips for £23.
Make sure to leave room for pudding. Diners choose from a rolling wooden cart and the Paris-Brest filled with hazelnut pastry cream and the chocolate raspberry tart are not to be missed (roksteaknyc.com†
Observation decks like The Empire State Building can cost a fortune, so why not head to a rooftop bar instead? There’s no shortage of that in New York, but the newest one is unique.
On the 18th floor of the first hotel on Roosevelt Island, the Panorama Room offers stunning ‘never before’ views of Manhattan, Queens, Brooklyn and the Bronx – arguably the best in the city.
Sip a cocktail (£14) on the terrace at sunset, then head inside a vintage velvet sofa for prawn cocktails (£18) and huge bowls of truffle fries (£14) as you watch the city light up (graduatehotels.com†
Iconic: For a classic New York brunch, visit Valerie near Times Square (pictured)
In the heart of Midtown Manhattan, near Times Square, this is the place for a classic New York brunch.
Bloody Marys, Mimosas and Negronis (from £9) are served alongside smoked salmon Benedict (£15), banoffee French toast (£14) and hanger steak and eggs (£20) in the dining room, which has antique smoked mirrors, burlesque murals and leather chairs (valerienewyorkcity.com†
Want to visit an NYC eatery spanning nearly four decades without spending a fortune? Go to Gotham, once described by architect and designer David Rockwell as ‘New York’s living room’, and order the famous cheeseburger for lunch.
Business people, locals and tourists travel from all over the city to sit in the traditional dining room, with white tablecloths and splashes of colorful art on the walls. The burgers (£23) are served dry-aged with crispy shallot aioli, redmond cheddar and fries (gothambarandgrill.com†
Enjoy the view while sipping a cocktail at Westlight, a glass-fronted bar in the Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn. Above, the Williamsburg Bridge runs into the neighborhood
There’s no better place to take in the view than with a Manhattan cocktail at Westlight, a glass-fronted bar with a wrap-around terrace, 22 floors up at the William Vale hotel in the Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn.
The food is also worth trying – the bar’s ‘appetizer’ menu ranges from bowls of coconut curry cashew nuts (7 pounds) to succulent beef burgers (18 pounds).
If the weather isn’t cooperating, you can head to the chic enclosed bar – every table has a beautiful view (westlightnyc.com†
How to get there
Virgin Atlantic flies daily between London Heathrow and JFK. Returns from £389 (virginatlantic.com†