New York Christmas Trip Report

Last week’s post was about how I got a bunch of free travel for this trip, so this post will be about what we did, where we ate, where we stayed, etc. We were in New York for a total of 6 days from 12/21/16-12/27/16. That meant we got to partake in all the holiday festivities and spend our Christmas in this beautiful city.

For our first four days, we spent our nights at the Renaissance Hotel 57 on 57th and Lexington in Midtown Manhattan. The location was awesome as it was away from the craziness of Times Square but easily within walking distance to all the major midtown attractions. The hotel itself was nice and is probably on the upper level of “midrange” hotels. Our room was pretty cramped but offered a spacious bathroom with marble finishes. I can’t really complain, this hotel did its job.

Our second hotel was the Park Hyatt New York. We were able to stay here thanks to Chase’s 2 free nights sign-up bonus for the Hyatt credit card. I had originally gotten this card in preparation for our Europe trip and had planned on using either at the Park Hyatt Paris Vendome or the Churchill in London, but decided to hold onto it for later. This hotel is very new, I believe it opened in 2014, and offered so many modern amenities. Some of my favorite things were the incredibly nice staff, the waterfall shower, automated drapes, and spacious bathroom. The fiancee and I each had 2 separate baths during our time here because of the amazing tub set-up and the Le Labo products. This hotel is honestly a gem, and neither the fiancee or I had ever been to a nicer hotel.

Now let’s highlight some of our favorite eats!

  • Right outside the Renaissance Hotel 57 is an awesome pizza place called My Pie! It’s not traditional New York pizza, but they had some delicious offerings. My favorite is the mushroom and truffle oil!
  • Magnolia Bakery is often talked about and we could see why. We went to THREE of their locations to get their delicious banana pudding! I would recommend either the Upper West Side location after a night at the ballet  or their location in Bloomingdales because they are much less crowded than the Rockefeller Center location.
Banana Pudding is a must-try at Magnolia Bakery


  • NY Jumbo Bagels was also a short walk from our hotel. This place is open 24/7, so we stopped here at about 11 PM at night and got ourselves a couple of delicious bagels with cream cheese. The bagels were fresh, HUGE, and the customer service cannot be beat.
  • Ippudo is always a must-try for visitors in New York so we decided to take a chance. We went to the location on the West Side and only had to wait about 45 minutes. The staff was nice and efficient, the broth was rich and flavorful, and the price wasn’t too bad.

    Go to Ippudo on a cold day! Be prepared to wait
  • Last but not least is Gotham Bar and Grill near Union Square. We wanted to try a Michelin Starred restaurant but we quickly realized how expensive they were… That is until I stumbled across Gotham Bar and Grill which has a Prix Fixe lunch menu for $38/person that consists of an appetizer, main, and dessert. You can’t beat the value and the food was delicious

    As someone who hates fish… This was DELICIOUS. Nova Scotia Halibut courtesy of Gotham Bar and Grill

As first-timers in New York, we decided to do most of the touristy things. Here are some of our highlights:

  • A Broadway musical is a MUST. We went to see Matilda, and although I was skeptical at first, it ended up being a terrific experience.
  • Times Square is crowded, noisy, and overrated. Go here once, take pictures, then leave and never come back. Same with Rockefeller Center!

    Good luck getting a selfie at Rockefeller Center. This was the best we could do.
  • We went on some “pay-as-you-wish” walking tours which were a great value! Free Tours By Foot had some knowledgeable tour guides and we learned a lot about the city.

    On the SOHO, Little Italy, Chinatown tour with Free Tours By Foot.
  • 40% of our trip consisted of shopping… The fiancee likes to shop and I think we both agree that the best place to get goods at a good price is Century 21 Department store in downtown. Designer products at AMAZINGLY low prices.
  • We went to Brooklyn on our last full day and regretted that we didn’t spend more time there. Go there via subway or the Bridge to AT LEAST get a beautiful view of Manhattan.

    Best views of Manhattan are on the other side of the Brooklyn Bridge
  • Since we were there during the holiday season, Christmas Markets and Christmas Department store windows were bustling! Make some time to check these out if you’re in town for the holidays. Our favorite Market was the Bryant Park Christmas Market as they had a wide variety of delicious street food coupled with awesome Christmas shops. Macy’s had the best Window display, in our opinion, even though the light show at SAKS was mesmerizing.

I have been to New York before, but it was only when I was little. The fiancee has never been so I count this as our first time in the US’s largest city. It’s incredible how much there is to do in New York and how much good food there is. We could’ve easily spent another week or two in the city and still would not have run out of things to do. If you haven’t been, GO! It is the best tourist city America has to offer.



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