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No idea what the building is but the architecture's amazing, especially the way the sun hits the roof

Touchdown! At last...the flight was good, landed on time at 11.40am East Coast time. That's the other good thing about this service, it gets you in near lunchtime, and by the time you get into the city you have a good bit of the afternoon and the evening to enjoy, and it's not a wasted day.

So, landed, bolted off the plane to beat as many people as possible to customs (last time Mark and I waited for an HOUR), got through quickly, collected the bags and headed out to find a taxi. After my mum started an argument with the taxi queue steward for letting other people skip into the head of the line, we found a cab we could all fit in with bags and set off through Newark into the City.

Mark and Me at the (frozen) fountain on the Corner of 53rd and 5th, outside The Plaza Hotel

The one thing I forgot to mention was, that on the 14th February there was a huge dump of snow, and it practically brought the city streets to a standstill. Then the temperature dropped overnight and the snow froze. There was no thaw the ENTIRE time we were there...admittedly, it made for some fab photos, but dear goodness was it gold. We think the most temperate it got was somewhere around -5c. So the taxi queue gave us our first introduction to proper cold, I was thrilled I'd packed my gloves and beanie and scarf in my carry-on luggage so I was able to whip them out and save my ears from the first stages of frostbite. Everyone else was cursing they didn't think of the same thing! Haaah Haaah!

Anyway, the journey into the hotel took about an hour and a half because traffic was crawling up some of the street because of the snow, which banked up about 3 feet high at the side of some of the roads.

Perhaps it'd make a good beer cooler?
Cars were clearly stuck in snow banks and we heard on the news the next day that people were getting booked for having their cars in overnight parking zones during the day! I'd have thought the argument that 'my car is literally frozen inside an ice bank and the tires are encased in ice cubes' would have been a good idea, but I think it was only on the last day that they Mayor said tickets issued wouldn't have to be paid! Cray-zee!

Right back to the matter at hand! I'm a bit like Billy Connelly that way, I'll perhaps take the long way round to tell a story, but (usually) get back to where I was supposed to be!

We'd booked to stay at the Doubletree Metropolitan on Lexington and East 51st.

My freezing mum and dad!
Mark and I had stayed at the Waldorf the last time, and though it was nice, I felt it could have been better. Also, this was really just a little extra holiday and we knew we weren't going to be in our rooms all that much so opted for a cheaper hotel in a good location. Mark had also stayed here before when it was the Metropolitan, so we reckoned it was a good bet. We also checked out TripAdvisor.com, which I think is a pretty good site, although I always take really bad reviews with a pinch of salt, especially if they crop up amongst a string of good ones...apparently there's been an issue with staff at rival hotels posting exceptionally negative reviews against their competition. But if the general consensus is good (or bad), or reviews continually refer to any good points or problems, you can pretty much take it as read that's what it'll be like. All the reviews for the Doubletree were quite good, a few with issues, but on the whole, we reckoned it'd do us just fine, and it's in a superb location just a couple of avenues down from 5th Avenue, a ten minute walk to Central Park and there's a green line tube station (4, 5, 6 trains) on the corner right outside the hotel, which means you could go all the way up to The Bronx or right down to Battery Park in one go.
In St Patrick's Cathedral

Check in was pretty easy...I used the self-service terminals in reception after waiting for 5 mins for a clerk to become available, but a cabin crew had just arrived, so I used the computers instead. Mark and I got booked in fine, but Mum and Dad's room keys weren't dispensed. One of the doormen realised we had a problem and helped, bringing us the two key cards and our four warm welcome chocolate chip cookies out to us. Oh, they were SOOO good.

The rooms were fairly basic, especially given the trendy reception and bar area, and the bathrooms were really rather tiny (you can't open the door if someone's standing at the sink...i.e., I pushed the door open when Mark was shaving and left him with a door handle shaped bruise on his side! However, the beds were unbelievably comfortable (we'd read about this on TripAdvisor) and the rooms were, on the whole, clean, so it was fine.

The altar at St Patrick's
We knew we'd hardly be in them anyway, and the showers were extremely powerful, so everything we needed was there.

OUT INTO THE CITY: After unpacking, we headed out up towards 5th Avenue. The sky was as blue as I've ever seen on a summer's day, and the sun was out, but there was a real bite in the air. I was chilly, but really snuggly wrapped up, but Mum and Dad were really feeling the cold (Dad thought a baseball cap would keep him warm), and Mark's knitted hat wasn't keeping his ears warm (which is why I brought a North Face ski hat, with a fleece ear band built in). We wandered up Fifth, via St Patrick's Cathedral and got to the south end of Central Park at Columbus, where the horse and buggy rides leave from, opposite what was/ used to be The Plaza Hotel, and opposite FAOSchwartz (absolutely THE most wonderful toy store I've ever seen).

Atlas, opposite St Patrick's
At this point, I realised my trusty Ugg-type boots weren't going to stand up to the snow and slush (I stumbled into a slush pool and my toes instantly got soggy and chilly) so as it was starting to get dark, we walked back up 5th, Dad stopped to buy a scarf, beanie and gloves from a street vendor after admitting it was the coldest he'd ever been.

We stopped in at St Patrick's Cathedral where I took some nice photos. I was really amazed by the number of homeless people who were obviously in the cathedral to get out the cold. There were some really sad looking people there, some lying down asleep, others still sitting upright, a couple with bottles in brown paper bags beside them, all sitting off the main drag, near the shrines and statues. I suppose for many of them this was as comfortable as they were going to get, but it really brought it home that everything in NYC isn't shiny and nice, but at least they were able to thaw out for a bit.

Rockefeller by night
I'm also guessing the cathedral security guards knew about it, as everyone's bag is searched when you go in, but the Christian thing to do would be to let them sit for a while.

After St Pat's we crossed the street to the Rockefeller Centre and Rink, we didn't skate - we were cold enough as it was - but admired those brave enough to put themselves through it!

After that I made a pit stop at SAKS FIFTH AVENUE...I figured it was worth a try to see if they had genuine UGGS which I decided I'd treat myself to if I could get them because of the favourable exchange rate. I also thought I'd have no chance getting them because every would be wanting cosy toes. But, joy be unconfined, they had a pair of the thick soled snow-proof ones left, caramel and in my size! Yaay!

Finally, it was back to the hotel and out for dinner at an Italian pretty near the hotel.

Brave souls
The name escapes me but it was near the Waldorf and a fitness centre - anyway, it was very good and we were all ready for bed by the time we trundled back to the Doubletree. And the cookies from earlier that we forgot to eat rounded off the night!

1Coach says:
Great article... when staying in NYC next time look at The Manhattan Club and you can view it at: http://www.thebesttimeshareresales.com/

1Coach
Posted on: Jul 31, 2008
eglp says:
What a coincidence I was in New York at the same time :)
Posted on: Jun 01, 2008
danny291 says:
great blog, when i went through Newark i just got the NJ transit train straight from the airport to NYC Penn Station, it only costs $15 and takes about 20 minutes :)
Posted on: May 12, 2008
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No idea what the building is but t…
No idea what the building is but …
Mark and Me at the (frozen) founta…
Mark and Me at the (frozen) fount…
Perhaps itd make a good beer cool…
Perhaps it'd make a good beer coo…
My freezing mum and dad!
My freezing mum and dad!
In St Patricks Cathedral
In St Patrick's Cathedral
The altar at St Patricks
The altar at St Patrick's
Atlas, opposite St Patricks
Atlas, opposite St Patrick's
Rockefeller by night
Rockefeller by night
Brave souls
Brave souls
Promethius at the Rockefeller Rink
Promethius at the Rockefeller Rink
New York Hotels & Accommodations review
Great value, excellent location and a SUPERB concierge
The concierge and comfy beds are this hotel's best features. Running a close joint second is it's location, power showers and warm chocolate cookies o… read entire review
New York
photo by: herman_munster