Since DD was six years old she had been asking to be taken to Italy for her 15th b-day but as the happy date approached our family finances and circumstances were sadly not up to the challenge. A quick re-assessment of the alternatives yielded the 'nearly- perfect solution: a five-day mother/daughter trip to New York City!
I had been to NYC several times on business trips but DD had never been there. Needless to say, the dreams of the Tuscan countryside were immediately superseded by metropolitan excitement and her disappointment was not too devastating - naturally after multiple promises of a Roman Holiday next summer had been elicited and duly recorded.
Under normal circumstances I prepare and research for a trip months in advance. For this trip I only had a couple of weeks with very little available free time to setup an itinerary. I printed out hundreds of Trip Reports from Fodors but only managed to read through half of them. I bought guidebooks that mostly went along for the ride. I made several silly mistakes which should have easily been avoided with a bit more thought to the day-by-day schedule.
The dates in which I wanted to travel were not particularly favorable for airfare deals as Easter weekend and the week after is Spring Break in Puerto Rico are the absolute peak travel periods for the island. I finally found decently priced airfare at $256.00 (saving FFs for another, better use) from San Juan to Newark and committed to the trip. The rate was found through Kayak and booked directly with Continental.
Next step was finding adequate lodging! This is where Kayak, Quickbook, SideStep, et al came in. After multiple bookings and cancellations I finally settled ' with the help of editors Katie and Doug ' on 6 Columbus Circle, Thompson Hotel. The rate booked through Quickbook was $189 for 4 nights and $144 for the fifth.
I had purposely selected a 6:00AM flight for two reasons: (1) having an almost full day in NYC and (2) avoiding the sheer madness that engulfs LMM over the Easter weekend. I had kind of neglected to think that this required us to be out of the house by 4:00AM. Anyway, we made it with ample time, the security lines were manageable and the flight departed on time.
We landed in EWR at 10:00 AM. We picked up our luggage which we found to have torn TSA-approved locks. Between the two of us, we had one medium suitcase, a carryon suitcase, a handbag that goes over the carryon and a small backpack. This amount of baggage was within the upper threshold for manageable transfers in the subway. A couple of minutes later we found the AirTrain station, bought tickets ($15ea), boarded, stood all the way to NYPenn Station, bought 1week unlimited MTA subway passes ($30ea), transferred to the #1 Subway, disembarked at Columbus Circle and checked into the hotel by 11:45 AM.
I found this method of transportation into the city efficient, cheap and not very stressful. Would I want to try it more luggage, during rush hour, with small children or with persons of limited mobility? NO!!! But for the two of us it was quite acceptable and we returned to the airport the same way.
Note on First Item Lost: During the first 15 minutes of landing DD lost her cell phone. She took it out of the baggage, turned it on, put in her back pocket and poof! By the time we were in the train station it had vanished. The good news is that I had DD's undivided attention for 5 days, the bad news is that those phones are not cheap. I count this loss as a gain.
When I started my hotel search I was mostly horrified at the prices that I was getting (I know, I know, but its one thing to read about the outrageous prices in Manhattan and another thing to actually book a hotel at that price!). As the days went by I was even more astonished to see the prices going steadily up instead of down. I made three reservations: JW Hotel through Venere, Super 8 through Applecore and 6 through Qickbook. The JW reservation did not go through because of a glitch between my overzealous bank and the hotel so that one was out.
I posted for advice in choosing between the two reservations. Doug Stallings and Katie_H both recommended 6 CC. One of the trip reports I had read with great interest was klam_chowder's NYC Thanksgiving were she reported on her stay at 6 Columbus Circle (Thompson Hotel). I found her comments to be absolutely accurate.
DD absolutely LOVED the retro-chic lobby. The room was small but comfortable, perfectly fine for one person and certainly suitable for two. The bed was great, the sheets and duvet soft. The minbar stock was excellent. I did not 'find' the two drawers underneath the bed (they were on the side close to wall) until the third night so storage was a bit of an issue but since we had not overpacked too seriously, it was still manageable.
The bathroom was really nicely done in dark blue tiles. The floor was nicely heated. The lighting was adequate. Shelf space was OK thanks to a window niche. We had to let the blow drier and flat iron hang down to the floor as there were no hooks for them.
The location of this hotel is absolutely great. I would definitely stay again. DD rated it in the Top 5 highlights-of-the-trip list. So THANK YOU for the recs!
Next: The First Day a.k.a. The Long March and an Unfortunate Dinner Choice
DD’s First Bite of the Big Apple – Marigross’ New York March 08 Trip Report
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