New York City has a reputation for being expensive, but it doesn’t have to be. The trick is to spend wisely and to discover the “insider” New York. Here are just a few tips that could make your next visit special and leave your honey saying, “I Love New York,” all without breaking the bank.
Best view of Times Square
I’ve found the best view of Times Square in the intimate, affordable and an undiscovered gem called the R Lounge, inside the Renaissance New York Times Square Hotel at 2 Times Square (www.rloungetimessquare.com). Comfortable and stylish, it’s perched above the masses with a view of the world-famous intersection. You can easily miss the nondescript entrance to the hotel but, once inside, you’ll find a respite from New York’s high energy. There is no minimum charge and the menu is filled with inexpensive options. Insider’s tip: Make reservations for a small group to get the best seats by the window.
Most romantic hotel
It’s hard to find a gay/lesbian-friendly, pet-friendly, family-friendly, modern and affordable luxury hotel in Manhattan’s most desired neighborhood. But New York’s best-kept secret is the historic Jumeirah Essex House right on the most famous park in the world, Central Park. The modern rooms are among the largest in the city. A visit to the hotel’s website this week turned up rates of $200 per night for the first weekend of February (rates can change, so visit www.jumeirah.com soon). Just steps from the five-star hotel, you can take a picturesque walk through Central Park. The horse-drawn carriages will put you back at least $50 for a 20-minute ride. Within a two-minute walk of the hotel, grab a bottle of wine for the room at the nearby Oak & Steel at 1775 Broadway, which has an incredible selection of fine French wines at a great price, or slip into Le Pain Quotidien on Seventh Avenue for a romantic French breakfast for about $15.
Save on getting there
The first way to save money is to leave the car at home! With gas, tolls and parking, it adds up. Amtrak is running great deals right now if you book in advance. A recent search found $36 fares each way the first weekend of February. There is always the ultra-hip and cheap Bolt Bus and Megabus. Once there, use the subway. Plan your trip at www.mta.info.
TKTS Discount Booths still offer 20-50-percent off Broadway and off-Broadway shows. Also, call your credit card to see if your card offers discounted or premium seats at a better price. Another great nightlife alternative is Jazz at Lincoln Center, offering affordable live music with killer views of Columbus Circle. For gay bars, avoid those with cover charges and try the new Industry at 355 W. 52nd St., between Eighth and Ninth (opposite Therapy).
More travel tips
Looking for more inside scoop on travel tips and deals? Check out gay travel expert Ed Salvato at 11:45 a.m. Jan. 22 at the Philadelphia Inquirer Travel Show at the Pennsylvania Convention Center. In addition to Salvato’s worldwide gay travel experience as former editor-in-chief of Out Traveler magazine and “Out and About” newsletter, Salvato has arranged special travel deals for those attending his presentation. Start saving right away by getting a half-off discounted admission: Go to www.inquirertravelshow.com and enter the code LGBT5OFF.
Jeff Guaracino is a vice president for the Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Corporation and author of “Gay and Lesbian Tourism: The Essential Guide for Marketing.” If you’re traveling locally, check out visitphilly.com!