Ever since my daughter has been a little girl watching films such as Annie and Home Alone, and then as a teenager, Gossip Girl, she has longed for a trip to the Big Apple. I promised her many years ago that when she turned 16 I would take her for a special birthday treat and not being one to make false promises, when the time came last December for her birthday, I presented her with tickets and a hotel booking, tucked inside her birthday card. This trip was just as exciting for all the family, as none of us, other than our elder son had visited the US before and New York was a treat we were all going to enjoy together.
Our trip was booked for April, which we discovered was such a perfect time to visit New York, not too hot, not too cold, but warm and sunny with the cherry blossom trees in full bloom, making the city look a lot prettier than I ever imagined.
But more of the city in a later post. I wanted to break this post down into two separate parts as there is just so much to say about New York and I’ve been asked by quite a few people through my instagram account, who are planning a trip, if I could give them some ideas of where to stay and what to do when they arrive. So I though the perfect start would be to write about our hotel, MADE and the surrounding area of Nomad in Mid town where the hotel is located. This post is not sponsored or paid for by MADE, it is my own words and opinions but, I thought as we had such a great experience at the hotel, it would be useful to recommend it to any of my readers that are thinking of going to New York?
We arrived at JFK airport after a fantastic and very comfortable flight with Thomas Cook Airlines. We wondered how it would compare to other flight companies who were more expensive, but I have since compared notes with a friend who flew a few weeks before us with Virgin and it seems that we got pretty much the same service and deal for only £320 return each. This included, two hot meals, lots of leg room & blankets and a pillow for the return evening flight. Films were included in the price and you could upgrade for £5 each for new releases and a more varied range.
After standing in the immigration queue for about 1.5 hours we found our taxi driver waiting for us. We had pre booked a taxi with Rideways from the airport to our hotel which was a great idea as we didn’t have to queue and the fare was exactly the same as jumping in a yellow taxi at the airport. There are obviously other cheaper modes of public transport to get you to Manhattan but quite honestly after a long flight and a couple of hours at immigration the $50 fee was well worth it?
If you’ve never been to New York, as we hadn’t, nothing can prepare you for the sight of the Manhattan skyline as you drive over George Washington bridge. I defy anybody not to have the words 0f “Empire State of mind” running through their head at this moment or re-imagine that scene in The Great Gatsby as the main characters drive into the city from Connecticut.
Photo from Wikipedia
On arriving at the entrance to MADE Hotel you can immediately see how new the building is and how the area is quickly changing. MADE is wedged between two existing older buildings and completely clad in dark wood, like a giant log cabin in the middle of a city. This is an area under construction and in the midst of gentrification, home to some very stylish global leisure and retail brands. On the same road is the Ace Hotel and Le Labo perfume store and Opening Ceremony is just around the corner. Nomad, meaning North of Madison Square Garden, was given it’s new name in 1999, and is the perfect area to stay for your first trip to the city. Mid town, is as it says, the middle of Manhattan island. So you are perfectly placed for discovering either end of the island, Uptown, around the museum and gallery area and Central Park and Downtown, Wall Street and the Staten Island ferry terminals for trips to The Statue of Liberty.
We were greeted by the very friendly staff and immediately knew we would feel at home in this vibrant, modern hotel. The ground floor area, consists of a bar area and separate coffee lounge, Paper, which was full of young people working away on laptops. This hotel is the perfect resting place for a city nomad, the millennial generation, who can work remotely from any city providing there is excellent WIFI, craft beer, good coffee and a community atmosphere. MADE is one of these new styles of hotel.
Our room was a family room for the four of us. A bit worrying I know for four adults, 2 parents & 2 grown up kids, to share such a modest space for 5 nights but, although the room was small, a given in most city hotels and particularly New York, the oversized windows with amazing views over the Mid town water coolers and town houses, gave a greater sense of space. The room was well designed, using a mix of raw materials, such as concrete, wood and stone, with a large and spacious bathroom with walk in power shower, quality towels and bed linen and lovely toiletries. I did quickly note the New York extortionatley priced mini bar, peanuts $14, bath robe $250 and laid down the house rules (don’t touch!) before the kids managed to run up a bill we weren’t expecting!
Other great areas of the hotel that we discovered as the days unfolded were Ferris restaurant, with it’s open kitchen, serving fresh seasonal urban food by a noted New York chef and the amazing roof top bar ,Good Behaviour, serving afore mentioned craft beers, sharing cocktails and tiki inspired drinks. What the bar doesn’t prepare you for is the astonishing, almost reach out and touch it, view of the Empire state building. In the evening, this view takes your breath away! Note to anybody with teenagers staying here, nobody under the age of 21 is allowed up there, even if you are guests. The US have very strict licensing laws and they stick to the rules ridgildly but, if you’re lucky a staff member might let your children take a sneak peak of the view.
If you don’t want to eat breakfast at the hotel every day and fancy the all American diner experience, I can recommend two great diners both within a 5-10 minute stroll away. First up is Tick Tock Diner, very famous in this part of New York and used by the staff of The New York City Fire Department which is close by. It’s very authentic, the food is amazing and very varied but it’s quite expensive if you’re eating as a family. $80 for breakfast for 4 was not unusual for us? A cheaper and just as good, but very small and you might have to queue outside, is Johnys Luncheonette, which quickly became a favourite of ours. It seats probably 8 at the back of the diner and has a long counter seating approximately another 10 people, but the food is delicious and quick and half the price of Tick Tock and Johnny & his staff are so friendly and quickly remembered we were the Manchester family and knew our drinks order as soon as we walked in after the first time!
Thats New York service for you!
Finally just for anybody suffering from Coeliac or a gluten intolerance and thinking you won’t be able to enjoy a New York burger whilst you are in the city, I can highly recommend Friedmans. I always do a bit of research before I travel just to check out my options for local food establishments and Friedmans was where we ate on the night we arrived. They have a branch just around the corner from MADE, about a 10 minute walk, but others are dotted around the city, 6 in all. The atmosphere is fantastic, they have a great selection of gluten free food and beer and it’s reasonably priced. A definite recommendation from me.
For my next post on some of the best things to do on a first trip to New York, please subscribe and keep reading and I hope you found this post useful?