New York Dec 2021 book with travel agent or on-line?

I am planning to go to New York early December 2021 to take in the Christmas atmosphere. I am assuming that we (including the US) are all vaccinated by then and covid is but a very bad memory. It is something of a trip of a lifetime for us as I am a total novice regarding travelling abroad even though I am in my 50s. There will be 3 adults going in total including my severely autistic son. There are certain places we cannot go because of my son's anxieties etc brought on by his autism, but that is just the way it is. We will still have a great time I am sure.

Anyway, I cannot take chances with this holiday as my son comes first. I just want to book a place early December near the Rockefeller centre for 4 nights possibly a little longer depending on price. Recommendations would be greatly appreciated. I have read the pros and cons of travel agents, but am quite happy to pay that bit extra if it means a little more security in terms of everything really.

I am obviously speaking from zero experience, but would really appreciate people who may be able to help in terms of booking or even if its just recommending places to go. Happy to book now or around Black Friday if it will save us money.

Many thanks.
 

UKLL1981

Well-known member
It’s up to you who you book with, obviously do your research in terms of financial protection in these times. I work for BA so wouldn’t tell you who to book with, I do know a few people who booked holidays with travel companies this year that have folded and it’s taken over 6 months to get their money back despite being ATOL protected. I took my girlfriend out to New York in Feb and we loved it. Can recommend some places to visit, it’s mega expensive to eat out there though, definitely get a hotel with breakfast included.

If you are going to do the Rockafella book online before you go so you don’t have to que.

Staten Island ferry (to see the Statue of Liberty from a distance) is free as is the High Line.

Don’t forget your ESTA.

Get the Air Train from the airport and don’t bother with a cab.
 
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JM14

Well-known member
Personally I have never used a travel agent for any holiday, easy enough to find a hotel through booking.com, flights on skyscanner and use go compare to sort insurance out.
 

wilkos_perm

Well-known member
I'm not that clued up on the level of protection from the various booking methods, however purely in terms of getting the place you want, in the area you want, at a good price, there's no advantage in booking with a travel agent. 30 minutes of research online will probably make you more knowlegeable than the person behind the desk. You're better off sat at home reading reviews, looking on google streetview etc. Don't forget to investigate the best transfer option from the airport that work best for you and pre-book something if possible.
Anywhere in midtown (between Empire State and Central Park) is a good base for most of the standard tourist areas. Rooms tend to be pretty small in most manhattan hotels, so don't expect anything flash for your money, but then you'll be out and about most of the time anyway
 

Artie Fufkin

Well-known member
There's a very reasonable novotel just off times square, quite large rooms for a hotel in NY. Eating out isn't that expensive if you avoid the tourist hotspots. You'll queue for ages to get breakfast in Ellen's stardust diner for example, it will be pricey and full of tourists, whereas a couple of blocks away is the sunflower diner where the breakfast menu is basically whatever you want and is where you'll get a proper NY experience. I ask for beans on toast with bacon which the waitress thought was a joke, but they bring whatever you ask for

Rockefeller is better to go up during the day than empire state, that way you get the empire in your selfie or whatever. Empire is better at night when its lit up

SI ferry is a good and free little trip

Walk across the brooklyn Bridge is nice, have a wander around Williamsburg, although it (the bridge) is usually packed so may not suit your son?

Most bars who do food will serve a decent burger and most pizza places do a great $2 slice, nowhere survives in NY that isn't decent, so its unusual to get a rubbish meal

I find the train into manhattan from the airport a bit of a faff, far easier to jump in a cab, but inc. tolls and tips might be $75-80

Make use of the concierge if there is one, very useful for recommendations and even getting you a table in a restaurant, but be kind with a tip

Times square is a bit crackers, but good at night when it's all lit up

If there's a match on while your there, legends bar is a good experience on W33rd

Couple of other good bars that do good food are the dog and bone on E25th (if you're lucky you'll meet Winston the bulldog who is great fun) and the Churchill on E28th. I'm a bit biased on these 2, my friend Scott owns them

I've never used a travel agent for a trip of any kind
 

goalscrounger

Well-known member
I live in America, any flights I've booked this year have been direct with the airlines themselves as they guarantee free date changes etc. If you still can't fly next December then you should be able to shift the flights back another 12 months without problems. Be aware that right now British citizens can't enter the US unless they've spent 14 days in a place the US deems "low risk" first, so keep an eye on that ruling.

For hotels, book direct and find somewhere that allows cancellations.

Good luck!
 

r00fie1

Well-known member
I live in America, any flights I've booked this year have been direct with the airlines themselves as they guarantee free date changes etc. If you still can't fly next December then you should be able to shift the flights back another 12 months without problems. Be aware that right now British citizens can't enter the US unless they've spent 14 days in a place the US deems "low risk" first, so keep an eye on that ruling.

For hotels, book direct and find somewhere that allows cancellations.

Good luck!
Do you drink tea?
Are you an Englishman in New York?
;)
 

Soutra

Active member
If you are going in December, then your trip will be weather dependent to some extent. Although the worst weather tends to be after the turn of the year, it can still be brutally cold in December. Lots of Brits (English especially) think that they know what cold weather is, and they get a pretty rude awakening. If it is cold, it reduces your options a bit because being outside is an ordeal. Having kids in tow makes it a bit harder because they do get miserable.

There's no way of knowing what the weather will be like, so if you are prepared to take what comes, then most of the midtown hotels are pretty good, although the rooms tend to be small. Try the Embassy Suites just off Times Sq for a bit better, family friendlier accommodation. As someone posted above, NY diners are a real experience and very reasonable for breakfast, so try to find one in the area of your hotel. They serve pretty much everything from toast and juice to porridge and full cooked breakfasts, with steak if you want.

Central Park is great for walking, and a chance to get away from the crowds of midtown Manhattan - who assuming Covid is over - will be thronging Macy's and Bloomingdales and every other store buying Xmas stuff. Stroll down the Literary Walk, under one of the bridges (there are about 70, all different) towards the boating lake. There are a number of kids playing grounds in the park, too. Out onto 5th Ave and back down town.

There are bus tours where you can get on and off wherever to explore a bit. Most people do the midtown and downtown tours, but the uptown tour is pretty good. The Cathedral Church of St John the Divine on Amsterdam Ave (known locally as St John the Unfinished) is the biggest cathedral in the world, and has great displays of the history of life in NYC.

USS Intrepid is a WWII aircraft carrier, it is permanently docked at 46th and 12th Ave. It's interesting. Good for kids.

Other people have talked about the ferries and bridges, they are all good things to do.

If the weather is good, take the Long Island Rail Road down Long Island for a getaway after a few days of being in the city. Jones Beach and Fire Island are great for walking in Dec, and there won't be many people there.
 
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NYboro

Well-known member
If you're planning to come in December you should take in the Rockettes' Christmas show at Radio City Music Hall. The first time we went, was for the kids,but we've been back on our own since then.
 

Abel Tasman

Well-known member
I live in America, any flights I've booked this year have been direct with the airlines themselves as they guarantee free date changes etc. If you still can't fly next December then you should be able to shift the flights back another 12 months without problems. Be aware that right now British citizens can't enter the US unless they've spent 14 days in a place the US deems "low risk" first, so keep an eye on that ruling.

For hotels, book direct and find somewhere that allows cancellations.

Good luck!
This. I made the mistake of booking a flight late last year through a third party agent on Skyscanner. Even though the price was good when I came to try and get a voucher when it was cancelled the hassle was so great I gave up in the end.
 

The_Lizards_Jumpers

Well-known member
If you're planning to come in December you should take in the Rockettes' Christmas show at Radio City Music Hall. The first time we went, was for the kids,but we've been back on our own since then.

Absolutley - a Christmas tradition for us, and we don't even have kids - the 3D version is pretty good too.
 
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