New York in December

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Aug 29th, 2010, 05:59 AM
  #1
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New York in December

Have been wanting to get to New York City for some time and it looks like my husband and I may have the opportunity to do just that for the first 2 weeks of December. I have done a lot of accomodation research and found plenty of options in our price range. We would like to stay in Manhattan and I woul like to hear opinions about which areas are best and for what reasons. We want to go to good restaurants, bars, shops, Central Park, Musuems and see a couple of shows and just generally enjoy exploring New York. I imagine we can do this from anywhere in Manhattan but woul like to hear views on different neighbourhoods and what is great about them. I know it will be cold at this time of year and woud also like opinions on getting about in cold weather, will walking be ok at that time of year? What are the must sees and do's at that time of year leading up to Christmas.

Thanks in advance for all information and opinions.
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Aug 29th, 2010, 06:59 AM
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December will likely be quite cold but we rarely have much snow before Christmas - although it is possible. It isn;t so cold that you can;t enjoy walking around the city - just as long as you don;t plan to do it all day. Getting from one place to another by foot is fine and even walking in Central Park can be enjoyable as long as you don;t plan on hours of it.

Major things of the season to see are:

Rick Center and tree (will be lit on Dec 1 - huge ceremony, many tens of thousands of people)
Looking at the incredible displays in store windows (esp Lord & Taylor and Saks) and check out St Pat's
Having a look at the museums and their trees (the Met has an antique Neapolitan tree and creche) while Natural History usually has an origami tree
Ice skating - either at Rock Center or Bryant Park - or the city rink in Central Park

As for where to stay:

Times Square is frantic, loud, brightly lit, mobbed at all hours with a host of tatty tourist attractions (Mme Tussaud's, Ripleys, M&M store etc)

Midtown east and west (except for Times Square) are business districts with quite a few hotels - some upscale. Also very busy - but not as frantic and loud as Times Square.

Central Park south is quieter and gives good access to the Park the theater district, some shopping areas (more upscale stores - with designer places up Madison Ave)

Upper East and WEst sides are mid/upscale residential areas with good access to CP and many of the major museums. Lots of good restaurants, many ate better prices than midtown business district. WEst side has better transit - 2 subway lines in a smaller area than the east side with only 1 line

Downtown is more trendy - there are newer, trendy hotels, trendy shop and lots of clubs, bars and restaurants - good for the young and the young at heart. Many of the areas are cute - but some places can be loud at night due to clubgoers spilling out into the street
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Aug 29th, 2010, 07:33 AM
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Thanks for the useful information NYTraveler. We will be sure to go to see the Christmas lights turned on and I imagine most places will be quite festive which will be fun. We have our eye on one place on the Upper West Side, 2 blocks from Central Park. Good to know we will be able to walk around, if it does snow I will be thrilled as I have never seen it but we won't expect it. Never ice skated either, might have to give it a go, it looks hard though.
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Aug 29th, 2010, 08:37 AM
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Bwino: I'm thinking you might be looking at the Empire Hotel. Are you?

Last December we found a great room at The Morgan Hotel, not too far from Grand Central. There was not great dining or shopping in the immediate hotel area, but there was plenty to do and see, and easy transportation all over the place.

Don't forget the Christmas markets.

I really prefer downtown shops and restaurants, but then you're far from museums and "big" Christmas sights.

I guess I would say that NYC in December has so much to offer that we find it doesn't matter where we stay.

These are random thoughts but might help in your trip planning.
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Aug 29th, 2010, 09:09 AM
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The first 2 weeks in Dec. are some of the most expensive in the year for hotels and also very crowded with other visitors like yourself wanting to do Xmas shopping and check out the city decked out in it's finest. There's no one best area but the upper west side if not too far north is indeed terrific as a haven of sanity in an otherwise frenetic city at a busy time. The Beaconhotel.com is one of the nicest if not the nicest and has the added benefit of being set up like apts. with small kitchens, nice for a longer stay. Milburnhotel.com is similar, usually a bit less expensive but not as recently renovated.
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Aug 29th, 2010, 09:17 AM
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I think nytraveler did a great job of succinctly summarizing the NY neighborhoods where tourists are most likely to stay.

I've always thought that, if I were visiting New York as a tourist, the ideal place to stay would be near Columbus Circle. There are actually two big hotels that are right at Columbus Circle, the Trump International and The Mandarin Oriental at the Time Warner Center, but both are extremely expensive luxury hotels. Central Park South or the Upper West Side are nearby, and good places to look. Bwino, two blocks of Central Park should be great. Ideally somewhere south of 79th Street, just to keep you more centrally located. North of 96th street you might start to feel less safe.

New York has a special magical feel in December. The weather is crisp but not yet unbearable (although, if you're from a place where you've never seen snow, I guess you may find it colder than you'd like!) The aromas wafting from the street vendors' roasting chestnuts are wonderful. There's kind of a pre-Christmas excitement, with a lot of people making special trips into the city for shopping, dining, seeing shows, looking at the Rockefeller Center tree and the midtown window displays, etc. The downside is that the city, especially around midtown, gets very crowded. There's more traffic, and it can be hard to find taxis sometimes. On Fifth Avenue in midtown, it can be hard to even walk down the street. And it's especially hard to get prime restaurant reservations and theater tickets, so be sure to book ahead. Don't worry, though, you'll have a great time.
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Aug 29th, 2010, 11:00 AM
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If you stay on the upper west side around 79th st is ideal - since you're near a ton of good, interesting restaurants, just a couple of blocks from Central park and a bunch of museums (Museum of Natural History, Planetarium and New York Historical Society on the west side) and across the Park (5 minutes on the bus or 15 or so walking) -are the Met, the Guggenheim and a little further south the Whitney and the Frick.

In that area you can stay at the Beacon, Miburn, Lucerne or On the Ave - all moderate in prcie (for NYC in Dec).
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Aug 29th, 2010, 06:56 PM
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tuscanlifeedit thanks for response - Christmas Markets sound good. I will look at the hotels you have mentioned.

Mclaurie - thanks also, we understand it is an expensive time but it is when we can go and it will also be a special fun time of year, will check out the hotels you recommended.

Hawksbill, thanks for your input, we live in Mauritius so from a small tropical island to the Christmas bustle of New York will be quite something, my husband has been before but this will be my first time in the USA.

NYT - will look at the hotels you have mentioned as well.

One of the places that looked interesting and very well priced to us is The West Townhouse - West 85th Street & Amsterdam Avenue. Upper West Side, Manhattan. www.westtownhouse.com I am assuming it is a 'legitimate' property and not one of the illegal or non existent properties we seem to hear so much about. Take a look if you have a moment and let me know what you think.
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Aug 29th, 2010, 07:33 PM
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Bwino, I looked at the website and found this discussion on tripadvisor forums:

http://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic..._New_York.html

I don't recommend The Empire, just thought you might have been looking at it. Morgan's I do recommend.

Last December prices suddenly got lower after mid month, but that wouldn't help you.

Good luck!
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Aug 29th, 2010, 07:48 PM
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Thanks tuscanlifeedit, I also saw this:

http://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowUserR..._New_York.html

I may contact a couple of the posters direct.
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Aug 29th, 2010, 08:03 PM
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We have a lot of options to consider before choosing our accommodation and it really makes it difficult when you see people on forums making statements without and real facts like the link to TA, they may be right but they could also be completely wrong.

I also found this: http://www.bedandbreakfast.com/ny-ma...e-reviews.html
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Aug 29th, 2010, 09:52 PM
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http://www.upperyorkvillesuites.com/index.php

This is another one we are looking at.
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Aug 30th, 2010, 02:23 AM
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Before you book anything, please check with the experts, either on this forum or on Trip Advisor. There are many places out there that have these wonderful websites, but are not legitimate. So please be careful.
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Aug 30th, 2010, 03:15 AM
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Thanks millie, it certainly seems there are many places that are not legitimate. I do have to wonder though why some people seem to decide a place is not legitimate without any real facts. The places I have listed above have good reviews on both TripAdvisor and the bedandbreakfast.com website - yes I know some of them are not real either but when we use sites like this we have to have some trust factor. I guess the only way we could really be sure would be to ask someone to go and view the property, not always easy to accomplish.

Thanks for your advice and we will be careful.
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Aug 30th, 2010, 06:10 AM
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Bwino, It sounds like you are really leaning toward the B&B route for your accomodations in NY. Is there a particular reason for that? While I adore B&Bs in many locales, I don't feel comfortable doing one in NY. It really is a risk as others have mentioned on whether or not a place is legitimate or at the least, represented properly on web sites. I think you are in less jeapardy (in NY) when booking a hotel.

Having said that, everyone here knows that I love staying in Times Square. Contrary to what those who live in NY feel, there is a life and pulse in the TS area that is (no pun) electric. If you are intending to see a couple of shows, its always wonderful to be able to walk to and from as cabs are quite difficult to get before and after showtimes.

(Sorry NYTravler) but the Times Square area has much more to offer than "tatty tourist attractions". The actual TS is only a small part of the whole area. The rest puts you within walking distance of all the wonderful Hell's Kitchen eateries on 8th and 9th Ave., puts you right in the hub of the subway system for easy access to every single other location in NY, is an easy walk or subway hop to amazing shopping or museums either North, South or East. It has some truly lovely hotels (Michaelangelo or The Muse being just two of my favs) neither of which are "frantic or loud". If you really need to get a bit farther out, have a look at The Blakely Hotel. At West 55th, its still a great location -- near enough to the theater district and both the Upper East and West Sides
http://www.blakelynewyork.com

DH and I go to NY the week after New Year's Eve nearly every year. The prices drop dramatically on everything and the Christmas decor is still beautiful. If you haven't been before (and I get that impression from your posts) -- two things that I adore are the Metropolitan Museum's Angel Tree and the Radio City's Christmas Show. Its eye popping and something that everyone should see ONCE. Its the Rockettes for heavens sake.

As for walking, do bring the warm clothes. The wind can howl through the tunnels made by those NY skyscrapers and be fiercely cold. And bring your boots. If there is snow, it gets to be a frieghtful mess. The retailers push the snow into the street and the city workers push it back. The corners can become mountains of snow that one has to hike over. A hat and mittens are a must.

Its magical....ENJOY!
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Aug 30th, 2010, 07:22 AM
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Bwino, welcome to New York, and welcome to America! What a big trip! There are actually more people living in just the Borough of Manhattan than there are in your entire country! It's certainly a lot more crowded here. I'm sure that many of us in New York would love to be able to visit Mauritius sometime.

In New York in December, the average high temperature is about +6 degrees Celsius, and the average low temperature at night is about 0 Celsius. So, if you're walking around a lot, you'll need a good coat, a hat, and some gloves. I grew up in California, so I never saw snow until I was 16, but I have very fond memories of childhood visits to New York in December, feeling the brisk air and enjoying the excitement that went with it. It was never so cold as to be really unpleasant, and it only makes it that much nicer when you stop in somewhere to have a cup of hot chocolate.

I recommend that you do not consider Upper Yorkville Suites. I don't know anything else about the place, but its location is not good. It's not really in "Upper Yorkville." It's in East Harlem, which is not only very far from areas of tourist interest, but also a poor, high-crime area. I don't think it's a good choice for your first trip to New York.

Like TC, I would recommend avoiding "bed and breakfast" type places in New York City, and looking at regular hotels. That's really more of a standard approach to accommodations in New York, and I would be afraid that a place that bills itself as a townhouse, or a bed and breakfast, or something like that, would be much more likely to be some kind of a scam that doesn't turn out to be what you expected.
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Aug 30th, 2010, 10:42 AM
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Don't know anything about the westtownhouse place - but they do say n the site to check f rholiday rates. I would assume the prices for December are muchhigher than those quoted on the site. If interested I would get specifics.
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Aug 30th, 2010, 01:40 PM
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DH and I have stayed here (http://www.parksavoyhotel.com/) two times. It is very basic but was clean and prices were great.

One block north of Carnegie Hall, about a block south of Central Park. One block east of a metro station.

Have a great trip!
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Aug 31st, 2010, 12:30 AM
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TC, the reason we are looking at a B&B or apartment rental is that you can get something that looks very good, much bigger than a standard hotel room for around US$200 per night whereas a hotel will be at least double that amount for a basic room in a standard hotel. I do understand that if we get a 'dud' accommodation wise that it could end up very costly but I am reading reviews on other forums and seeing many very good reviews on some of the properties we have viewed. Times Square is an option for us if we find the right accommodation at an affordable price. Thanks for your advice on the weather and we will look out for the Metropolitan Museum's Angel Tree and the Radio City Show.

NYT - The West Townhouse is fully booked for our dates so is out of the running. They really do get great reviews, they may or may not be registered or legal but it seems people do stay there and very much enjoy it.
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Aug 31st, 2010, 12:39 AM
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Thanks Tdudette - I will take a look at the hotel.

Hawksbill - thanks for the welcome, it is certainly going to be mind blowing for me . That is just what I need - a home exchange New York for Mauritius Thanks for the advice on the Upper Yorkville. Seems Harlem still has a bad reputation but there are lots of accommodation options popping up. We are not really considering Harlem because it is a further out than we want to be so thanks for that information. We are kind of looking forward to being cold, as strange as that may sound. It is our winter here at the moment and that means substituting short sleeve t Shirts for long sleeve t shirts We are both from Australia so do know what it is like to be cold but have been in Mauritius for over 3 years and not really experienced winter the two years before that either. I think I am going to love New York, just got to decide where to stay and what to see.

So are there really no legitimate B&B's or apartments for rent in NYC?
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