TRAVEL REVIEW: Fairytale of New York
The Big Apple transforms into a veritable winter wonderland during the festive holidays. Snow often blankets the bustling streets of Manhattan. Crowds ‘ooh’ and ‘aah’ at the beautiful window displays decorating the famous stores along Fifth Avenue. Skaters glide effortlessly across the Central Park ice rink. And the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree twinkles beneath the glittering New York City skyline. With so much to do and see (and eat, obvs), it’s difficult to know where to start. Until now. Just follow in Team Ahlan!’s NYC footsteps and have yourself a merry little Christmas...
WHAT TO DO
You can easily spend a whole day at this landmark spot. Whether you’re in the market for a gorgeous gift, or looking for a romantic dinner spot in the thick of it all, you’ll find it here. No trip to the Rockefeller Center is complete without a skate on The Rink (therinkatrockcenter.com) – one of New York City’s most celebrated winter attractions. Here, you’ll find New Yorkers and visitors alike skating at the base of the iconic Christmas Tree. With room for only 150 skaters at a time, it is as intimate an experience as it is memorable.
After you’ve finished showing off your skating skills (or lack thereof) on the ground, head up to the Top of the Rock (topoftherocknyc.com). There, 70 storeys above street level you’ll see a winter scene like no other. Gaze across the snow-covered trees of Central Park and the rest of Manhattan’s iconic skyline – you won’t find unobstructed views like this anywhere else in the city. If you don’t have time to fit in both the Top of the Rock and Empire State Building viewing platforms, then we recommend opting for just this one. INFO: Open daily 24 hours, 45 Rockefeller Plaza, New York, NY 10111, +1 212 332 6868, rockefellercenter.com
Another day, another landmark. Make a bee-line for Radio City Music Hall to watch the world-famous Christmas Spectacular performance by The Rockettes (rockettes. com). For nearly a century these American icons have been entertaining the New York massive with their dazzling dance numbers that’ll have you on your feet, toe-tapping and singing along to their festive tunes in no time. INFO: From Dhs180, timings vary, 1260 6th Avenue, New York, NY 10020, +1 212 465 6741, rockettes.com
Sure, we know it’s customary to head straight to Fifth Avenue to shop ’til you drop – if you want to break your bank, that is. The trick is to check out Woodbury Common Premium Outlets instead, where you’ll find all our favourite brands – think Tory Burch, Kate Spade, Michael Kors, Burberry, Coach and loads, loads more – with 25 to 65 percent o the usual tag. It’s the ultimate destination for shopping and only one hour from NYC (it’s totes worth the trip). There are more than 200 of the most sought-after, high-end fashion brands in the world. So if you don’t come back with bargain designer trunks full of awesome pressies and treats for yourself, you can’t blame us. INFO: Open 9am-9pm Sun-Fri, 7am-11pm Sat, 498 Red Apple Ct, Central Valley, NY 10917, +1 845 928 4000, premiumoutlets. com/outlet/woodbury- common
Catch a game
Seriously, basketball. Firstly, you have to tick off Madison Square Garden (AKA MSG or, simply, The Garden) from your must-see list. Trust us. It might not seem particularly festive, but there’s nothing like the electrifying, amped-up experience of watching the New York Knicks (or the Rangers, of course) in action. But if foam fingers and the ‘kiss cam’ aren’t your thing, then you can always pop over to watch Elf The Musical, which is running until 14 Jan 2018. INFO: 4 Pennsylvania Plaza, New York, NY 10001, msg.com/madison-square-garden
Watch a famous Broadway show
It’s a bit of a no-brainer really, isn’t it? Watching a Broadway show while you’re in New York City is an absolute must. Go for one of the daily matinées or an evening performance, and you can even cram a couple into your trip. Our favourites this season include Wicked, Chicago, Aladdin, and George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker (very Christmassy). INFO: Prices and times vary, broadway.com
The New York Pass
You’ll thank us once you’ve bought this sightseeing tourist pass. It includes free admission to more than 90 popular attractions in the city, including the Empire State Building, Top of the Rock, and plenty more. It can last you from one up to 10 days (consecutive), depending on what you’re looking for. You’ll also get a free Hop-On Hop-Off Bus Tour, a guidebook and access to 30 exclusive special offers on dining, Broadway shows and even helicopter rides. Most importantly, it makes it all easy, affordable and saves load of time with its Fast Track Entry perks at selected attractions. Bonus! INFO: From Dhs147 per day, newyorkpass.com
Download this free mobile app. Now. With it you’ll discover loads of amazing restaurants around the city, and be able to manage your table bookings through it. With a gazillion incredible places to eat at, you’ll need all the help you can get narrowing it down to just three meals a day. INFO: opentable.com
WHERE TO STAY
For a luxe but affordable stay, book InterContinental New York Barclay Hotel. Built in 1926, the classic yet contemporary hotel has completed an extensive renovation and has refreshed its welcoming atmosphere and residential warmth. There are 702 guestrooms and suites that are reminiscent of a Park Avenue home, giving you a real feel for cosy New York living (You might even be tempted to spend a night in). The Barclay is just o the elegant Park Avenue. We love its central location, as it’s right in the heart of midtown Manhattan’s East Side. From your base, you can walk to all the city’s top attractions, such as Broadway, Times Square, Central Park and Grand Central station. Festive bonus: this holiday season guests can enjoy complimentary warm drinks and live choral music in the lobby. INFO: InterContinental New York Barclay Hotel, 111 East 48th Street, New York, NY 10017, +1 212 755 5900, intercontinentalnybarclay.com