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NYC Tips and Tricks

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Oct 18th, 2012, 01:39 PM
  #1
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NYC Tips and Tricks

Hi everyone,
I am a FODORS newbie and also taking my first "real" trip to NYC in early December. I was in NYC back in '03 but it was for only one day. I have so many questions, but I have narrowed them down to just a few pertinent ones that we would like answered.

We are flying into JFK and landing about 2:30 or so and we are staying for 4 days in the Hell's Kitchen area at a B&B type place. What is the best, most recommended way to travel from JFK to our place. As of now, our plan was to take a taxi. I think I read the cost is around $50. Just wondering if there are better, more economical options. My wife is reluctant to take the subway/train as we will be lugging two suitcases with. I do know this way is much cheaper, and probably faster, but I also don't want to stick out like a sore thumb.

My other question is the HO/HO buses. Are they a good idea? I was looking at one because I thought the Holiday Lights night tour would be cool, and then for $10 more we can upgrade to the 48 hour ticket. What are everyone's thoughts. I am not sure how comfortable it will be riding on the top of a bus in early December.

Any other tips and recommendations will be greatly appreciated. We are also planning on doing the NBC studio tour, Top of the Rock, and see the Rockettes.

Thanks!
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Oct 18th, 2012, 01:48 PM
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I think the cost is $52 flat rate plus tolls and trip to get from JFK to anywhere in Manhattan. You can check the appropriate website to be certain. I think it might be the Port Authority website but I could be wrong. The flat rate recently went up. Tons of "sore thumbs" take public transportation from the airport everyday. It is not something new and I cannot imagine anyone will care about you unless you are in people's way.

I would check the department of buildings website to make sure the "b&b type place" is legally renting rooms. There are illegal apts and b&bs in NYC (and scams).


The HOHO busses are not a good idea for transportation. December can be very crowded so they might not be a good idea for once around the loop either because of traffic.
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Oct 18th, 2012, 03:13 PM
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Taxi from JFK to Manhattan is $65 or so - once you add the brdge and tunnel toll and the 20% tip (expected - and don't give less unless the driver tries to cheat you - or expect him to be VERY unhappy.)

There are airport buses that take youto central points - in your case Port Authority for I think $18 per person.

There are also Air Train to LIRR or subway- but yuo must be p prepared to haul your luggage up and down several flights of stairs and watch/hold it on the trains. (So it partly depends on how much luggage you have and if you mind schlepping it.)

I never do anything but cab/car service since I am past the stage of being pack mule woman but I know many people are happy with public transit.

Agree that you should tell us the name of this B&B. Many in NYC are illegal and there are a good number of outright scams out there. (It's hard to run B&Bs in NY - due to the fire/safety rules/regs for a hotel - onerous for only a few rooms.)

HoHo buses are a disaster. Esp near the holidays the only realistic options are feet (shotter distances) and subway (longer ones). The traffic is incredibly bad (walking is often faster than any bus), the HoHos run very rarely - every 30 minutes versus 5 minutes for a subway or city bus - and you have to be outdoors on top to see anything. And if you want to pay that much for transit take cabs and be more comfortable.
If you do take a HoHo expect to spend most of your time sitting in gridlocked (so much traffic that intersections are blocked and nothing moves at all) traffic. Also the buses are banned from some of the more interesting sights/neighborhoods.

Not sure where you are from - but NY is a walking city. Make sure you have comfy waterproofed shoes or booties - since you will be walking miles per day. (This is the reason that, on average, NYers are less overweight than most Americans.)
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Oct 18th, 2012, 04:01 PM
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You don't have to pay bridge or tunnel fares if you take a taxi from JFK and tell the driver to take the 59th Street Bridge (AKA The Queensborogh Bridge). No tolls.

We give 15-18% tip, rarely 20%, so I don't agree with nytraveler. He/she must have more money than I do.

Taxi is much easier from the airport than the Airtrain/Subway or Long Island Railroad (which leaves you at Penn Station, and then a quick taxi ride to Hell's Kitchen), but don't worry about "sticking out" if you're on the subway with your luggage. Taxi won't necessarily be quicker, though, than the Airtrain to the LIRR.
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Oct 18th, 2012, 06:56 PM
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You'll certainly save both time and money by taking the Airtrain and then a taxi if you are arriving on a weekday. On the weekend it could be a toss up. But traffic in early December is particularly heavy. If you cab manage the train, I'd advise you to take it. For Hells Kitchen, thecQueensboro Bridge is a viable option.

Especially during the Christmas season, HoHo buses are a particularly bad idea. I grant you can see the lights at night, but traffic can still be horrible up to midnight. Not to mention that I don't like them, but a lot of tourists do, so take my warning with a grain of salt.

Finally, the reason why a lot of people are being nosy about where you are staying is probably both to admonish you if you are staying in an illegal rental, but also to warn you that there are a lot of scams and also horrible "B&B"s. Broadway B&B is legitimate, but many others are not. Some of these paces are also unsafe.
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Oct 18th, 2012, 07:55 PM
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Thanks for all of the great advice. This is really appreciated.
To clarify, I guess it is not necessarily a B&B we are staying in but we are renting a room through the website Airbnb.com. I have never used them before but a co-worker (who now lives Hoboken) used them before and recommended it. I do feel comfortable that it is not a scam as we are paying Airbnb directly and not the person who owns the place. Hopefully everything works out. The person who we are renting from is a Airbnb "super user" (or something similar). I will definitely check out the department of buildings website to make sure the building is legit.

Based on everyone's feedback I think we will skip the HoHo buses. Maybe we will opt for one of the boat cruises instead.

Also to clarify, my "sticking out like a sore thumb" comment was more in relation to safety. I wasn't sure how safe it would be for two tourists with luggage on a train/subway. Growing up in Miami has given me a sense is street smarts and makes me leery of being an easy target. Not trying to judge NY but I have never been there on vacation so I wasn't sure what to expect.
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Oct 18th, 2012, 08:51 PM
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Being from AirBnB is absolutely NO guarantee your 'rental' is legal/legit/even exists.

Did your co-worker stay at the same place . . or did you just mean s/he had used airbnb before? And even IF it was the same place - that doesn't mean it is legal. The VAST majority of vacation rentals, B&Bs, short-let apartments in NYC are illegal.

airbnb might be fine in some cities - but not at all reliable/safe in NYC.
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Oct 19th, 2012, 03:03 AM
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If you're rentig an apt - that's illegal in NYC, whether it's through an agency or through an individual. Illegal.
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Oct 19th, 2012, 06:15 AM
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New York City is way safer than Miami.
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Oct 19th, 2012, 08:07 AM
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The one idea in your post that I agree with is the NBC Tour, well done, informative.
NYC is safe but, of course, some areas more so than others. I worry about your "BnB."
Instead of HOHO bus, buy a Metrocard to use on subways and buses, but mosrly recommend walking.
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Oct 19th, 2012, 10:52 AM
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If you tell us the address of your AirBnB someone can provide more info.

But - AirBnb is not a rental company - just a matching service. They have no responsibility for the plae you will be staying.

In NYC it is almost 100% that it is illegal. The questions are 1) does it exist at all? And 2) will it be as promised.

There was a post on one of the broads recently from someone who rented through AirBnb and ended up on a sofa in someone's living room rather than in the separate bedroom she expected.

Have you spoken with anyone who stayed there? Have you checked out their references from previous guests?

At least provide us with the address so someone can make sure it exists.
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Oct 19th, 2012, 11:30 AM
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Doug, it would seem posters were asking about the OP's lodging choice to be Helpful rather than admonishing, wouldn't you agree?
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Oct 19th, 2012, 01:24 PM
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Hey Nytraveler,
The address for the room we are renting is 441 w 48th st, new york, ny 10036.

The link for the room we are renting is:

https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/61410

I am goin to contact the Airbnb site and ask about it being illegal to rent a room in NY.

One of the reasons we selected her place was because of the high number of positive reviews her place has.

Thanks for the advice Happytrvlr on the Metrocard. We will definitely take advantage.
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Oct 19th, 2012, 01:47 PM
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This looks like a one bedroom apartment that Julie is renting to short term visitors. Where's the second bedroom? Doesn't really seem to exist. The reviews say things like: Julie was away on business, we didn't see Julie during our stay, Julie left detailed instructions, etc. It would have been great if Julie actually stayed in the apartment while sharing her space, but it does seem as if this might be just another illegal short term rental.
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Oct 19th, 2012, 01:48 PM
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Since this apartment has its own entrance from the ground floor, you won't be running into neighbors or doormen so I don't know if I'd discount a stay here. It looks like a nice clean space.
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Oct 19th, 2012, 01:50 PM
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"I am goin to contact the Airbnb site and ask about it being illegal to rent a room in NY. "

Don't expect a complete, relevant, satisfactory answer. AirBNB lists (does not monitor approve, just lists) locations all over the world. They will probably say it's up to the lister to deal with local laws.

Are you renting a room in an apartment while the owner is there--like couchsurfing? That is more likely to be legal but may or may not be what you want or expect. Someone on Fodor's recently complained that she did not realize that she wouldn't have her own room.

If you are renting an apartment without the owner being onsite, you are probably in an illegal situation. This has come up many many times here and people get very passionate about the issue.
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Oct 19th, 2012, 01:57 PM
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Yes it looks like it is a two bedroom apt and we are renting one of the rooms.

It is just my wife and I and we really only want a place to sleep at night and store our bags. We don't plan on spending much time in the room at all.
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Oct 19th, 2012, 03:00 PM
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I don't think you will have a problem with legality, though some of these can still be less than ideal accommodations. This one actually sounds very much like the one complained about in the thread nyer mentions.

Well fair warning ... there are a lot of railroad flats in Hell's Kitchen where you actually have to go through one bedroom to get to the other. Or some newer condos have bedrooms carved out of the living room (but at least these have a window). Or the second bedroom could be the living room of a one-bedroom apartment by day.

I know nothing about this apartment, so I can't speak to the layout, but there a lot of our "two-bedroom" apartments are actually converted one-bedrooms. I guess I'm just too old to deal with that kind of stuff anymore because I wouldn't touch AirBnB with a ten-foot pole regardless of the savings.

Please report back and let us know. You've raised my curiosity, and I'd love to be able to point to a happy story.
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Oct 19th, 2012, 03:20 PM
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The second bedroom can't be identified on the photos.
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Oct 19th, 2012, 06:14 PM
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No - this looks like a one bedroom apartment. The tenant probably lives in the bedroom and it looks like the living rooms is rented out to guests. I think the separate entrance is the fact that it's on the ground floor - one the street entrance and one out through the back yard. If you look at the picture of the kitchen you can see the bed in the rental room through an entrance archway through no door. Also if you look at the door leading to the "bedroom" you can see that it has a double lock - as you would find on the front door of an apartment. So - i think there is a no door blocking it off from the kitchen - so I hope you don't expect any privacy.

Also - I wouldn;t be happy with a door to the backyard unless any entrance and window has an iron gate on the inside to protect you from intruders. (NYC is the safest large city in the US - but ANY ground floor apartment should have iron gates on windows/doors to the outside. Out co-op requires it - after two robberies due to a clueless subtenant that left the window gate standing open "so the view would be nicer". The burglars got in through that apartment, trashed the laundry room and managed to break into anohter apartment - taking cash, jewelry and again, trashing the place - all during the day when no one was home.)
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