New York 2017 // Travel Diary Part One

Concrete jungle where dreams are made of. There's nothing you can't do. Now you're in New York. These streets will make you feel brand new. Big lights will inspire you

I have just got back from a little over five days in New York and I am feeling sad. I love it in New York, it makes me feel something that London has never done and I already miss it; I just want to go back constantly. This was my second trip to the big apple and the best one yet. I relished in many new discoveries and went on tonnes of adventures that I didn't take on my first trip. My first trip (four and a half years ago) was mainly a shopping trip, one where I was dragged from trainer shop to trainer shop doing the stuff the person I was with wanted to do. It was full of obligatory touristy shenanigans and I missed out on a lot of things I had wanted to do. I wasn't bold enough at the time to go off on my own, I think that was the problem. This time, it was a trip for me; a chance for me to do those things and really explore the city that made me feel so much happiness and hope. I travelled with my Mum and my Sister, whose birthday trip I hi-jacked, but it was lovely. On top of a few tourist excursions (gotta get those views in), I ventured out to surrounding areas to really get a snippet of real New York life. It was bloody great. I thought I would share with you some of the highlights; places I went and food I ate (which, let's be honest, made up most of the trip).

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After staying in a hostel the last time I visited the city, I knew this time I wanted to stay somewhere nice and slightly away from the hustle and bustle of Times Square. I stumbled across this gorgeous boutique hotel and prayed my Mum and Sister approved of my choice. The hotel I fell in love with (after realising staying at the W was not an option haha) was The Renwick, which is now part of the Hilton Curio collective of New York hotels. Located on the east side of Midtown, very close to The Chrysler Building and Grand Central Station, the hotel consists of 17 floors and - although not central - was a great location, especially for subways. It was a short 10-15 minute walk into Times Square and super close to the shops on 5th avenue. There weren't a huge amount of eateries around, but what we did find were great. There was even a Starbucks right opposite, which was great for breakfast and for when I craved a good ol' English breakfast tea. 

The Renwick is very much a luxurious destination evoking the spirit of the creative minds who once lived and worked there. Once home to artists’ studios and intellectuals like John Steinbeck and F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Renwick Hotel has been reimagined as residential, loft-style rooms and artistic common areas. Guest rooms are spacious and stylish enclaves with easels and paint, writing paper and ink, while the walls are adorned with artistic illustrations. Everything is very modern, which was what I wanted. Sadly, even though we requested a higher floor, our room was on the 5th floor so we weren't overlooking the Empire State like some of the other rooms did, but it was clean and comfortable - the beds especially. Oh, and the bathroom was literal goals - I loved it. We got this hotel at a very reasonable price through Expedia and the staff were also super lovely. Overall, a great stay. 

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I'm counting my proper full day as my first day, even though technically we arrived late Sunday afternoon, we didn't get up to much apart from a little wander into Times Square and a trip to Shake Shack at Grand Central Station for food before bed - we were absolutely shattered. On Monday, I ventured out on my own and got the bus to Woodbury Common, which is near New Jersey. The premise of my shopping trip was to purchase my first ever designer handbag, which I found in Kate Spade YAY. It's not a Gucci, CHANEL or Wang but I love it. Woodbury Common (I am assuming) is a lot like Bicester Village here in the UK; filled with designer shops offering their goods at slashed prices. It took us just over an hour to get there and it was so quiet once I arrived. I must have gone on a good day as it was the least stressful shopping trip I have ever been on. The majority of the stores were designer brands so do bear that in mind. However, nestled among the big guns was Converse and American Eagle so I treated myself to some new white leather trainers (cost me like $30, bargs!) and two pairs of Jeans because AEO jeans are the best jeans ever, especially if you're short and curvy like moi.  I also popped into Magnolia Bakery for a cheeky cupcake, obvs.

A tip for you though is to buy your bus ticket on Groupon as you save quite a bit. It's usually $40+ depending on the company you go with and I got mine for $25 plus a free savings passport (basically a book of coupons that you can use on top of the store discounts). It was a little bit confusing trying to find the correct desk at Port Authority to exchange my Groupon for a real ticket, but I found it in the end. Well worth the time if you want to save some dollar and head out of Manhattan.

After being completely shopped out (well my purse not me) I headed back to the city to meet my Mum and Sister for dinner. We ended up going to Ellen's Stardust Diner, which was quite possibly one of my favourite nights of the whole trip. It's a pretty basic, traditional American diner but the staff - all upcoming Broadway stars - sing and perform while working, it was insane but amazing! I really urge you to watch part one of my Vlog because you can see snippets on there. It's such a feel good vibe, I had lots of fun!

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Our second day In New York was pretty miserable weather wise. It pretty much rained all day but that didn’t intervene too much with us exploring. Our original plan was to get the Staten Island Ferry (which is free) to see the Statue of Liberty, but after being informed that it was a three hour round trip and one where you didn’t get that close to Lady Liberty, we decided against it. Instead, we were quickly persuaded in taking an express ride (about an hour) to the statue and back. In the pouring rain, it really didn’t take much for a sales rep to convince us that was the best thing to do. Luckily the majority of the boat was sheltered, except of course when I wanted to get some good pics at the front. Despite it being a gloomy day, seeing Lady Liberty was great fun.

When we got off the boat we were a little cold and wet so my Mum decided to head back to the hotel while my Sister came with me to run some errands - errands meaning shopping and food, OBVS. First off we headed to Glossier, which is an amazing US beauty brand that I’m sure you’ve seen floating around Instagram. It is the pinnacle of many flat lays as the packaging is D R E A M Y. I picked up a couple of things but am very pleased to hear it is coming to the UK in the Summer because I didn’t pick up everything I had wanted.

We decided to walk from Glossier to Cookie DŌ NYC (LITERALLY WHERE COOKIE DOUGH DREAMS COME TRUE), which is somewhere I spotted on social media before my trip. I just knew I had to go there ‘cus I love cookie dough. I am that girl that removes all the cookie dough from her Ben & Jerry’s ice cream and leaves the rest. The shop really is incredible - totes my vibe as there was pink everywhere. I opted for a tub of cake batter and original cookie dough with sprinkles. I also bought another tub of some other flavours, Fluffer Nutter (peanut butter, marshmallow etc) being my fav. I spent $17 on cookie dough. Let’s just let that sink in. If you do go, prepare to queue across the street until it’s your turn to enter as the shop is quite small. We only waited 20 mins though, which I didn’t think was too bad.

After getting the subway back to our hotel, we chilled for a bit and freshened up before heading out for dinner. My Sister and I had said when we were planning our trip, that we had wanted to go to a place that did really good, authentic Mac & Cheese. After some researching, I stumbled upon S’MAC, which let me just say, did not disappoint. This place is a takeaway-like place that is super affordable, but super yummy. If you want good Mac & Cheese, S’MAC is the place.

Make sure you keep your eyes peeled for part two as it will feature some of my favourite days EVER. 

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