New York City is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world. Over 50 million foreign and American tourists travel here each year, and the city receives international attention for everything from its culinary scene, to its architectural treasures, and everything in-between.
Though for a destination constantly in the spotlight, there are still a couple of things first-time visitors should know. And as hotel culture varies from one country to the next, the following are a few city-specific things to remember while planning your stay.
Ditch Your Car Though Don’t Take a Taxi
Parking in NYC is hard to come by, and New York locals don’t drive. If a hotel does offer parking, you’ll find it will usually be charged at a premium.
And navigating NYC traffic won’t leave you in a good mood. Ungodly gridlock is never a fun start to a holiday. Do your research, and book a hotel as close to your favorite attractions as you can. For instance, westgatenyc.com is within walking distance to most main attractions.
Walking distance is ideal, though if you’re too far away, opt for transport other than a taxi. Taxis in NYC mean you’ll get stuck in traffic. They’re expensive, and your driver might not always know where to go.
Take the subway, book an Uber, or rent a Citi Bike.
Photo CC Richard Burger
Know the Dress Code
The fashion motto in New York City is stylish but practical, and this dress code applies within NYC hotels.
During summer you should prioritize breathable cottons, and during winter opt for cozy wool sweaters. It’s important to pack layers regardless of the time of year, as you’ll likely be moving between outdoor and indoor settings when sightseeing.
Tipping Is Expected
Tipping is expected in hotels in the United States, and if you’re visiting America for the first time, you’ll want to budget for this.
If driving and using the hotel valet, a $2-5 tip is the norm for handling your car. Plan on giving a couple of dollars to the bellman, and leaving the same for the housekeepers who service your room.
The standard restaurant tip is 15-20 % of the total bill. Pay the concierge $10 for special requests (i.e., if they organize an airline booking), and a couple of dollars for the bartender for your drinks.
Bring a Compact Umbrella
New York weather has a tendency to fluctuate from day-to-day, regardless of the season. Rainstorms come on without warning, and hotels often run out of umbrellas to lend guests.
Make a habit of checking the weather each morning, and regardless of the forecast, travel with your own compact umbrella. Most of the things to do in NYC can be enjoyed despite potential rain.
Don’t Eat in the Hotel
There’s nothing wrong with hotel restaurants, but New York is famous for its culinary scene, and the city has amazing restaurants which offer a diverse range of ethnic eats.
To truly experience New York’s culinary scene, make sure you’re not eating at the hotel every night. Whether you’re in the mood for some of Chinatown’s dirt-cheap dumplings, or Michelin star cuisine, you have access to all that and more here, so it would be a shame to not take advantage of it.
Great tips for visiting NYC! Hotels can be soooo expensive! I luckily used to stay in a great area when I used to go for my old job. But if I weren’t visiting under the business expense I would have gone broke! Haha, also great tip on not having a car in NYC. You really don’t need it and can rely on public transport like you mentioned. I also made a road trip in college to new york with friends and finding parking was not fun, even when we were staying with friends in New Jersey outside the city!
Yep having a car in NYC is a killer! Between the parking and the traffic it’s not worth it, especially when the public transport system is so good :) Glad to hear you got to spend a lot of time in NYC for business! Business expense is the best kind :D
One of the best steaks I ever had was at Gallaghers next to the Rockettes place. It was amazing. So juicy and succulent. I would recommend a trip there although I loved Robert De Niro place and the sea grill at the Rockefeller. Thankfully my company paid
Company trips are the best kind Anne! :D Especially in an expensive destination like NYC :)
I truly love breakfasts in hotels! But not any other meals, especially in NYC! There are so many amazing places in the city to eat.
Hotel breakfasts are always the best! But yes, definitely aim to eat out and sample the food scene for the rest :)
These are some great tips for visiting NYC. I would also suggest NOT staying in Times Square if you want an authentic experience or at the very least save a bit of money. I also agree with not eating in the hotels, there are so many great local spots to check out. Oh and a visit to the Met is a must for any tourist!
Thanks Star – great tip on avoiding Times Square to skip the tourism and overpricing. And absolutely to taking in the Met!
Thanks for these tips. Will definitely be using them when I get to NYC. Just curious though – if you say taxis get stuck in gridlocks, why take Uber?
Not so much because of gridlock on Uber over a taxi, but more so because taxi drivers have a reputation for not always knowing where to go. Uber has proved to be a lot more reliable of late :)