Chloe Berman tightens her purse strings and sniffs out the deals in New York
This time last year, Brits visiting the Big Apple could buy a whole new wardrobe at Barneys and feast at the Four Seasons safe in the knowledge they were getting a healthy $2 for their pound.
But with sterling slumping to its lowest level against the dollar in seven years, consumers could be left thinking a New York holiday is only for A-listers..
Shoestring travellers should refrain from panic, though – a trip to the Big Apple need not cost the earth. Native New Yorkers know the city can be as cheap or expensive as you make it.
By picking up some insider tips and getting off the tourist trail, travellers on a budget can make the most of the city without wearing out their wallet.
Where to stay
The city is increasingly catering to those feeling the pinch. Hotel prices are plummeting as occupancy rates decline, so there are plenty of bargains to be found.
Rates are 3% lower than this time last year, but for a more significant saving, it’s worth asking the hotel for a discount.
“Hotels are responsive to being asked for deals even if they are not apparently offering any. Some hotels suggest agents call their executive offices for deals,” advises Clive Burrows of promotion agency NY Tab.
For real rock-bottom prices, budget hotels are easy to come across and don’t have to be bland chain offerings. The stylish Pod Hotel (bookable through transhotel.com) offers well-designed small rooms complete with iPod docking stations and LCD TVs for about $89 a night.
Apartment rentals give visitors the chance to live like locals and could offer better value than a hotel, especially for families and groups. Abode specialises in short-term rentals from $250 a night.
Where to shop
Century 21 is 17 departments of bargain heaven. A thorough rummage can unearth great designer fashion with up to 70% off. Also check out dailycandy.com for a list of sample sales.
Where to eat
Advise clients that traditional street food is fun and easy on the pocket. Make like the locals and stroll down Madison Avenue with a huge hot dog or pizza slice from one of the hundreds of street vendors.
The Burger Joint is a tucked-away restaurant in the Parker Meridien Hotel. Follow the neon burger sign for a $6 quality fast-food fix – it’s well worth the queues.
For hearty Italian, try Becco on Restaurant Row, near Times Square. The $22 fixed-price menu includes either a starter followed by a ‘Symphony of Pasta’ – unlimited servings of the three fresh-made daily pastas dishes.
Where to visit
No visit to New York is complete without spending time in Central Park. Hire a bike or take one of the 10 free walking tours available. Central Park Zoo is a bargain for families ($8 for adults and $3 for children).
While hordes of tourists queue to buy tickets for the Statue of Liberty boat trip, why not go free of charge on the Staten Island Ferry? Designed for commuters, boats are frequent and the 25-minute ride provides incredible views of the New York skyline.
Most museums offer discounted rates or free admission on certain days of the week. On Friday evenings the Guggenheim requires only a donation and the Museum of Modern Art offers free entry from 4pm-8pm.
Bag a hotel bargain
In defiance of the credit crunch, hotels are continuing to spring up across the Big Apple. Catching a hotel in its first few weeks can be a great way to bag a good deal.
Right now, hotel developers are flocking to the super-trendy Meatpacking District.
One of the most hyped openings is The Standard, hotelier Andre Balazs’ ambitious 18-storey, 337-room project, which had its soft launch in December. Special ‘construction preview’ rates are available until the hotel is fully operational in the spring.
Meanwhile, the Smyth Tribeca, part of luxury group Thompson Hotels, opened this month with introductory rates of less than $150.
For a real wallet-friendly option, the quirky new Jane Hotel is hard to beat. The $99-a-night property is still in the final stages of renovation, and early reviews say rooms are small, but cosy.
Travel 2 is offering a three-night break in New York from £482 per person, including accommodation at the Edison Hotel in the theatre district and flights with British Airways.
Thomas Cook Signature offers three nights in New York from £508 per person staying at the three-star Hotel Metro on a room-only basis, including flights with Virgin Atlantic. Tel: 0844 8710663
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