This trip was sponsored by Primera Air and supported by the Moxy and the Pod hotels. Whilst I was required to write a blog post of my experience, all views are my own. Affiliate links have been used when linking to clothing and some travel info.
The cheapest way to fly
New York City. It’s the dream destination but for us Brits, it’s not the always the most affordable, nor good on the environment. I visited the big apple for the first time for my birthday exactly a year ago and I did it as cheaply as I could, of course. It was pretty much expected that I’d need to fork-out £5-600 for a return and so this is what I paid. If only we could have fast-forwarded 365 days, we might not have had to.
Enter Primera Air, an Icelandic airline looking to shake things up a bit with a brand new route. They now offer flights from London Stansted to Newark for as little as £149 per person each way and they’re some of the most fuel-efficient planes out there thanks to state-of-the-art engines.
Hello money saved to stock up on Hershey’s. Now then, here’s the caveat (because I know it sounds a little too good to be true): There’s no in-flight entertainment.
I know, I know, this may be the end of this blog post for some of you but hear me out. It’s called BYOT (bring your own tech). Personally nothing (not even the full roster of Peep Show seasons) excites me more than being able to crack on with a bit of photo editing, emails and blog posts. Just think of all the podcasts and books you could bash through or, and I know this might sound mad, you could even talk to your neighbour. Ok maybe not, we’re British after all. But seriously, it’s amazing how easily you can while away 6 hours.
Now for caveat no.2; I flew business class. There’s still no entertainment (unless you count the head air host because he basically made the flight) but there is lots of leg room and lots of food and these are two things that I’d gladly substitute for something I can watch of TV at home. The cost of business works out roughly at the same cost as your regular flight to NYC on another airline so it’s just a case of you getting your priorities in order and hitting the book button…
I flew to New York City with a group of internet peeps including Fashion and travel blogger Kavita, Vlogger Emily Canham and money blogger Charlotte of Lotty Earns. Our mission? To continue the way we flew, as affordably as possible without compromising having a good time. Our trip started at London Stansted airport where you can treat yourself to loads of complimentary treatments like hand massages at Jo Malone and beauty treatments at Charlotte Tilbury plus a welcome cocktail and shopping at Oasis, Ted Baker and Next.
Once on the other side, our itinerary took us to central Manhattan for a day and then to Brooklyn for another before an overnight flight back to London with Primera Air. Here’s what we got up to!
We dropped our bags at affordable but super-hip Hotel Moxy near Times Square where a welcome cocktail and very cool decor awaited us. Armed with a CityPASS which gives you free, fast track or 2-4-1 entry on loads the major attractions all from £93, we were ready to hit the city. First port of call – The Empire State Building to get our barings.
After seeing the city laid out, we started exploring up close. (Exploring the local retail offering that is). We all bought the same deodorant after Emily claimed she stocks up on it whenever she comes to the US and I treated myself to some stand-out trousers (scroll down to see them). On the way to getting a cheap but classic New York slice at Pizza Suprema, we chanced upon Cha Cha Matcha, a matcha-lover’s (or anyone who likes a cute interior’s) dream.
After lunch we donned our CityPASS again and headed to the American Museum of Natural History. Having only 1 hour to spare, we went straight to the planetarium to catch the thrice-daily, mind-blowing documentary Dark Universe play out above our heads as if we were right there in space. After coming out feeling incredibly insignificant and our heads full of facts, we needed something simple for lunch. Luckily Shake Shack was just around the corner so we grabbed their famous squishy burgers and crinkle cut chips and headed to Central Park.
It’s easy to forget how much time has passed in Central Park particularly as there’s so much to see and observe (children jostling to clamber on the Alice in Wonderland Statue, a troupe of performers filming a Bollywood Music video and two paparazzi sitting on a bench with the most obscenely large telescopic lenses pointing towards a building I’ve ever seen. After probably 3 hours we set off for NoLita in the lower east side to browse Manhattan’s indie shops and cafes. If you’ve not been before, it’s simply a case of walking up and down each of the streets and taking a look at whatever takes your fancy, it’s all good around there!
What I wore in Manhattan:
What I wore in Central Park and NoLita:
After cramming in as much as we could of Manhattan we crossed the bridge over to Brooklyn, the part of NYC I loved most last time I visited. We stayed at the newly opened POD hotel, an affordable and convenient set of small but sweet compact rooms designed for those of us on a budget who quite frankly will only actually be in their room when they’re sleeping. These are super-efficient, cabin-like rooms (think showers in the toilet) that perfectly meet the needs of those of us who would rather spend time exploring the city than watch TV in our rooms.
And we did just that. After checking in we walked up through to Greenpoint to have a thick stack of pancakes at Five Leaves before getting a taxi into the heart of Brooklyn to meet our graffiti guide for a walking tour. Brooklyn Unplugged tours take you all around the best spots pointing out the best graffiti in the area (and boy there’s a LOT of it), teaching you about the laws, feuds and the different types of graffiti that exist. I learnt that graffiti started in Philadelphia in the 60s by a guy called Cornbread who wrote on walls to impress a girl. 50 years later and it’s a true art form with artists from all around the world coming to the area and requesting permission to spray, stick and screw works onto the walls. Take a look online for their tours and workshops.
We spent the rest of the day in Williamsburg exploring the indie shops including Driggs Mercantile, a new homeware shop run by two absolutely darling ladies who were particularly amused at our excitement. There are plenty of vintage shops here (including my favourite – Awoke vintage run by my friend Jen) and indie clothes shops including charitable, feminist shop Bulletin.
Restaurants here are heaving in the evenings. The area has an energetic, creative community vibe to it, especially when all the fairy lights come on and people sit outside around the intersections. We ate at a couple of different restaurants in the evening, Zona Rosa for Mexican and Ela Taverna for authentic Greek where we ordered ALL of the food for a really affordable price.
Book a graffiti tour for 2 hours at $32
Book the POD Brooklyn via Expedia from £97 per night
What I wore in Brooklyn:
Have you been to New York?
Get there affordably with Primera Air. Thanks Primera and London Stansted for hosting me on this amazing trip!