New York, Cheap & Fancy
It was my mother's 85th birthday Friday, so we decided to meet in Manhattan for dinner, a play and an overnight stay.
When I started pricing out the one-night event, it was looking as if the night would cost more than $1,000, so I started looking for ways to save a buck, while still making sure she would have a night to remember.
First up was transportation. Amtrak's price for round-trip tickets on regular service was $196. I instead opted for the Bolt Bus, which was $15 each way (walk-up price is $25). The bus worked out great: Stop is about a block from Metro Center and it drops you off a block from Penn Station. Bus was on time, and the passengers were a neat bunch; mostly young professionals with laptops (the bus is equipped with WiFi).
Then dinner. Many restaurants with good ratings in New York's theater district are very pricey: It's not unusual to pay $100 a head for dinner. I painstakingly looked through menus and read reviews, finally coming up with a nice Italian place (white tablecloths are a must for mom) named Osteria al Doge that was reasonably priced: Cost per person, including a glass of wine each and a shared dessert: $50.
Then theater tickets. Mom likes musicals. But a semi-decent seat ticket at a Broadway show goes for at least $100. I started looking off Broadway, and came up with The Marvelous Wonderettes, a frothy four-woman play being shown in the wonderfully intimate Westside Theatre. Cost was $75 a ticket.
The one item I wasn't willing to compromise on was the hotel. It needed to be within easy walking distance of the Theater District, and it had to nice. I chose the Doubletree Guest Suites: at $420 a night, including all taxes, it was competitively priced. And my mom absolutely loved its location right on Times Square, and the staff, which were genuinely thrilled to find it was her 85th birthday.
Yes, it was still an expensive night, but I managed to shave more than $300 off the cost by doing my homework and making a few concessions.
Anyone else have favorite restaurants, hotels or plays in New York's Theater District that don't cost top dollar?
By Carol Sottili |
November 18, 2008; 11:33 AM ET
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