Helen Dugdale

A Quick Layover in New York

Thinking of the opening line for an article about New York is immense pressure. The city is everything you would expect hot, noisy and crowded. Yet at the same time, there are pockets and places that offer serenity and calm. There are reports that over 250 tv shows are shot in the city every month and over 100 new movies, making it one of the most documented places on the planet.

If you’re a city lover, then nothing beats pounding the streets that you’ve seen so many times before on TV or the big screen. The smells, the eye-candy delights of greedy American shop windows and the endless opportunities to eat ridiculously unhealthy sized portions of fast food that sit nicely next to a healthy option for vegan or veggie lovers. It’s a higgledy-piggledy mix of life that just works. We’ve cherrypicked just one hotel and a couple of places to eat if you find yourself in New York or are planning a trip.

© Tania Fernandez

A welcome sight the Statue of Liberty

A pool on the roof

We were adamant we wanted to stay in a Downtown hotel with a pool, and it had to be on the roof. So, we chose the Parker New York on 119 West 56th Street, literally a few blocks from Central Park and one block from Carnegie Hall. The hotel is welcoming, yet still has that swish of cool that only the Big Apple offers. The rooftop pool, with its amazing floor to ceiling windows, offers knock out views of Central Park. Children are invited to play, so it’s much more than a just ‘I want to be seen’ pool.

The hotel itself has 731 rooms, we opted for Junior Suite which has a comfy pull out sofa ideal for the kids in the lounge area, then separated by a TV on a spinning wall, is a king-sized bed. The TV can be turned so it can be seen in any part of the room, which is always a delight. There was a sizeable desk area in case anyone needed to work or do some serious colouring. The ensuite bathroom is large and the shower could fit a whole family of four at the same time.

The staff are friendly and welcoming, particularly the concierge who will go out of their way to help the jet-lagged trying to plan their route for the day. The hotel has a great spa and fitness suite for some adult ‘me time’.


© Deckchair Adventures
© Deckchair Adventures

Where to eat in the hotel

© Deckchair Adventures

In true American style, there’s are a choice of four places to head for refreshments whilst nestled in the sanctuary of the hotel, Norma’s, Burger Joint, Knave and Indian Accent. We sampled two out of the four. For breakfast we headed to Norma’s, it’s a welcoming environment, but be prepared to spend. $9 for a glass of fresh orange, $7 for a cappuccino $33 for a breakfast quesadilla Burrito and $30 for blueberry pancakes. The portions are ridiculously big, so you can easily get away with sharing, to save more dollars for later in the day. Norma’s is open for breakfast every day and for lunch Friday- Sunday.

The other place we chose was the funny looking Burger Joint, which is tucked away behind a random curtain at the back of the hotel. It’s almost as if they don’t want you to find it. The hotel concierge joked that it was the worst kept secret in New York. There is usually a long queue and once you step inside, you’ll find yourself asking what all the fuss is about. Especially when you see the scruffy-looking décor and worn tables and the open kitchen that sits in the middle of this tiny but well-loved burger bar. Ordering is fast and furious, and the servers are used to punters knowing exactly what they want. They can spot a stumbling tourist with a northern British accent a mile off. A basic hamburger is $8.36 and French fries are $4.13. The only veggie option is the cheeseburger (basically a burger bun with cheese and salad and no meat). The food comes on a paper and you have to listen hard for them to hear your name. It’s an experience, and if you’re staying in the hotel give it a go. It’s a chew and go style eatery rather than sit and linger.

If you do have time to leave the hotel and fancy eating somewhere with some atmosphere, then Ellen’s Stardust Diner has got your names all over it. It’s not at all posh, it’s just down to earth, friendly fried food, that of course, you have to queue for. It’s at Times Square, Midtown Manhattan and your food is brought to you table by fun and smiley singing waiters. The staff are jobbing actors and are dreaming of becoming future stars of stage and screen. Many of them serve drinks and food by day and then jump on stage at a local downtown theatre in the evening. If there is any part of you that is secret or not so secret thespian then you’re guaranteed to get totally carried away. At Deckchair Adventures - we think this place should be on prescription.

Ellen’s Stardust Diner has been serving Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner for tour groups and locals alike since 1987. The food is hearty and the entertainment the perfect condiment. Give it a try.


© Deckchair Adventures


#New York