How much will 2 days in NYC cost a pair of old farts?
January 27, 2010 4:34 PM   Subscribe

Mrs. MiamiDave and I are Amtrakking to NYC for our 25th Anniversary this June. We'll be in town for an evening (arrive 7 PM), an entire day, and a morning (depart 11 AM). The cost of the room and Phantom are included. The hotel is about 1.5 miles from the Amtrak station. About how much money should we budget for cab fares to/from hotel and theater, perhaps a Grey Line/Circle Line tour, and a couple of dinners at mid-range restaurants? To set parameters, in Miami we'd consider $150 for dinner and a bottle of Piesporter an expensive evening.
posted by MiamiDave to Travel & Transportation around New York, NY (11 answers total)
Where is your hotel, exactly? In Manhattan? And how much luggage will you be bringing?

Penn Station (where Amtrak trains arrive) is extremely convenient to the subway, as are all the Broadway theaters. If your hotel is also convenient to the subway and you don't have a lot of luggage, you might want to consider taking it instead of a cab. Cab fares in NYC can run anywhere from $20 to $50 depending on how far you're going and how bad the traffic is, and if you're on a tight budget it could make a pretty big difference as to what you can afford to do while you're in town. I know public transit can be intimidating if you're from out of town, but New Yorkers are often surprisingly eager to help lost tourists find their way, and the trains within Manhattan run reliably and frequently. And honestly, the subway is a huge part of the New York experience!

As for dinner, make sure to do your research -- the restaurants in the theater district tend to be more expensive and not as good as similar establishments in other parts of town. You might have better luck with a place near your hotel (the concierge would obviously be very helpful in this regard.) Dinner at a nice (but not extravagant) restaurant for two people should be doable for under $150, particularly if you do your research ahead of time.

(Note: all of our advice will be much more helpful if we know what part of town you'll be in -- if your hotel is outside of the five boroughs, for instance, that changes things significantly.)
posted by Narrative Priorities at 4:47 PM on January 27, 2010

Seconding the "where's the hotel exactly". You could actually be in walking distance from the theater to the hotel - especially in Manhattan, things can be very walkable.

Also, depending on what part of town your hotel is in, there may be some lovely restaurants right there, which would also cut down on cab fare.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:53 PM on January 27, 2010

You can easily estimate cab fares using Make sure you click on the Taxi Cost and Time button, under the Get Directions button. Be sure to choose the right day and time as the cost of the fare changes with the amount of traffic as well as the time of day/day of the week because there's a weekday rush hour surcharge as well as a night surcharge.

The Grey Line tour rates are online as are the Circle Line tour rates.

For mid-range restaurants, I would expect to pay $40-70 per person including tax (nearly 9%) and tip (many NYers tip closer to 20%) without drinks/wine. This is in Manhattan. I'm not sure if your $75 per person figure includes sales tax and tip.

You can quickly and easily find that the sky is the limit on restaurant pricing in NYC. For example, the very popular Gramercy Tavern serves an $86 prix fixe menu, and that's before tax, tip, and wine. Some folks in NYC would consider that a nice evening out but not "expensive."

I find it is best to set a price ceiling and then see what that can net you in NYC. is very convenient for online reservations (and often links directly to a given restaurant's menu in PDF form), as is Chowhound (a foodie message board which can be chaotic but has great advise).
posted by kathryn at 4:54 PM on January 27, 2010

Yeah, more details! But 1.5 miles in the City goes by in an instant--you may just find that walking to and fro is more fun, and will save you cab fare (which I'd guess to be $10-15, depending on route and traffic (not including tip)).

Can you tell us what you would want to eat? $150 for two people and a bottle of wine is pretty cheap in NYC. But, depending on what you want, you can still have something of an "experience" (broadly defined)--e.g., around Time Sq. at Carmine's or Virgil's (you could do much better than either of them, but they are tasty, I have to admit).
posted by Admiral Haddock at 5:17 PM on January 27, 2010

I can only address the restaurant section (the 1.5 miles thing is throwing me off--just tell us what hotel!) but yes, I guarantee you can eat like a king for under $150 for two, providing you order liquor sensibly. It's perfectly easy to get out of places like Craft or Hearth for two for under $100. (If you do not order, you know, a $60 porterhouse or a capon. (Ugh, capon.)) Also. Do not eat in the theater district, under pretty much any conditions. Midtown, possibly. But not the theater district. Actually! For a good fun and not expensive (and late-night!) midtown option, the fallback is always Brasserie.
posted by RJ Reynolds at 5:20 PM on January 27, 2010

Or La Bonne Soupe--that's a perennial favorite.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 5:21 PM on January 27, 2010

Dinner: ask concierge. He will suggest and call and book reservations, which if decent place you should have for weekend dining.
posted by Postroad at 5:53 PM on January 27, 2010

We were considering the Doubletree Metropolitan, 569 Lexington Avenue. Arthritis limits the amount of walking possible - although the subways are a real possibility. Fraid we're just plain folk - standard American fare (including Italian food, of course!)
posted by MiamiDave at 6:13 PM on January 27, 2010

If you decide to stay at the Doubletree Metropolitan, the subway would be an ideal way to get there -- the E train goes directly from Penn Station to the "Lexington Avenue" stop, which is within two blocks of that hotel. A very easy walk!

That said, if you still haven't locked down your hotel yet you might want to consider looking at -- Mr. Narrative and I booked a night at a very nice Manhattan hotel there for our own anniversary (we live in Brooklyn and were feeling indulgent) and got an excellent deal on a room we wouldn't otherwise have been able to afford.
posted by Narrative Priorities at 6:54 PM on January 27, 2010

I'm actually going to flip Narrative's advice for getting from Penn Station to the hotel. Not that it isn't correct -- but at Penn Station you're going to be struggling with luggage, etc. A subway is fine, but to get from Penn Station just to 51st and Lexington (that's your corner) would be a little easier by cab -- and no more than $20 dollars at ABSOLUTE most, is my guess. There probably will indeed be traffic, if you're arriving at 7 pm on a weekend night - the ride would take only seven minutes if there were no traffic, but plan on there being traffic (expect more like 15-20 minutes in the cab). I'd also plan on taking the cab from the hotel back to the station (because you'll have the luggage again), but it'd be a little quicker trip at 11 am on a Sunday. Still have about $20 ready for the cab.

You're not too far off from the hotel to the theater, though; only a 20-minute walk at the most. Parts of that walk would take you by St. Patrick's Cathedral, which is quite a sight; and through Rockefeller Center. You're only about 15 minutes from Rockefeller, which has some nifty stuff (the "Top Of The Rock" roof deck, for instance). You may find a dearth of restaurants near you -- not that there AREN'T restaurants, but Midtown East (in that area) is geared more towards catering to the businessmen in the office buildings up and down that section of park, and you may find that the restaurants around that area are a)keeping weird hours, or b) expensive, because they cater to people with expense accounts. (I work near there, and I've found this myself.)

You're only 8 minutes' walk from Grand Central Station, though, which is a sight in and of itself. You can also take a number of subways from Grand Central.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:28 PM on January 27, 2010

Thanks to all for the responses. We're really looking forward to our first visit to NYC since the 60's!
posted by MiamiDave at 2:07 PM on January 28, 2010

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