Concrete jungle where dreams are made
Sunday, 30 March 2014
Yep. That's right. After many years of talking about going to New York I finally made it there last weekend. AND, IT, WAS, AMAZING! *angels sing from the heavens above*.
Sometime in January my luck turned for the better. Well, I say luck, but you make your own luck in this world I find. But it happened. Before I knew it I was on the BA sale website pricing a return ticket. In two days it was booked. Wowsers! How very spontaneous of me.
Next up was the search for a hotel. Now, although I'm not well travelled I do know what I like, and what i don't like. Large chains aren't my thing. Keep your Best Western's or such like. I wanted small (is anything really that small in New York?), I wanted classy, I wanted somewhere i'd feel right at home in on my very first visit to New York city. Because I, dear friends, like home comforts.
Now my hotel research was already a third of the way there considering I always have Booking.com or Expedia opened on my browser, just in case a good deal happens to come along, you know. So i'd been planning an imaginary trip to New York for a few years. But now it was finally happening. I'd had a few hotels on my short list so i Googled each one and noted reviews (good and bad) for each one, then i created a spreadsheet of prices and compared them. My research.
I narrowed it down to about 5. Dream Downtown, Ace Hotel, The Nolitan, The Nomad Hotel and Refinery Hotel. The Standard (east village and high line) and the Mondrian were a bit too out of my price range. Actually not by much but they didn't feel right for a solo trip. All very similar in price for a room. Ace was slightly cheaper but from pictures and reviews the rooms looked smaller. Dream Dowtown was a little more expensive for a standard room, and whilst it was in the Chelsea/West Village area it was pretty far from the main attractions on my list. I knocked these both into joint third place. The Nomad was going to be my first choice, i could even afford the king atelier room as Booking.com seemed to have them on offer. But something drew me to Refinery. It was further uptown, on West 38th Street, two blocks from Bryant Park. There was free wifi. But the piece de resistance was the absolutely wonderful pictures I found on a website called Oyster.com.
STOP. Word: I only just found Oyster.com during my research for this trip but I would recommend it if you're looking for real life hotel pictures. Taken from all angles of the rooms you really get a sense of what it'll actually be like. (I hoped!). A bugbear is when hotel website don't give you detailed room pictures, grrr. Anyway, it impressed me. Then I read reviews on Trip Advisor. They all pretty much seemed favourable barring a few grumps but you get that on every one. It's currently sitting at a top 10 position in the best of New York hotels lists.
From the information given it is a fairly new hotel that used to be a hat factory in the garment district area of Midtown in New York. The rooms are tastefully decorated in the 1930's style but with a modern twist. Free wifi throughout. A restaurant attached. And by all accounts an up and coming NY night time hotspot in a rooftop bar with Empire State building views! Phew. I mean i don't drink so the rooftop bar is lost on me but a view, well i'll take a good view over a drink any day.
I uhmed and ahhed for a few days and made my decision. Refinery Hotel it was. I booked it on Booking.com (book now pay later charge and free cancellation). I got confirmation right away on my phone and a booking receipt in my passbook app. Cool! I then added the booking to my iCalendar. Was this to be the tone set for my trip?...
A few weeks passed and it was time for me to get excited for my trip. I began writing a shopping list in the Notes on my iPhone. I checked and double checked my flight booking. Every two days I would go on to Trip Advisor to read the latest reviews about the hotel - mostly 5 star by the way! Then I got my own personal itinerary together, an itinerary that I planned and that i could unplan if I wanted to because this trip was a solo trip and it was all mine.
When I told people I was going there was gasps of excitement then the question... "Who are you going with?". "On my own" I smiled. Then it came. The look. The look that only a single person gets when they don't conform to the "normal' way of things. I get it all of the time. I call it the pity look. It looks like they're pitying me but actually I pity them because they'd never have the guts to do such a thing as go to the cinema alone, let alone go to New York city by themselves. There, I said it.
Then comes the statement that I get a lot too. I get it when i tell people I don't drink alcohol, I get it when I say I go exploring on my own and yes i got it when I told people I was going to New York alone. "You're very brave". Jeezo. Brave?! what does that even mean in this context? Brave...
I'll tell you next time how brave I was on the trip...