A city like New York is filled with all sorts. But most importantly, New Yorkers like things, well, just how they like them. Therefore solo travellers should have no qualms about being independent, dining alone or exploring the city by themselves. It would be hard to stick out in such a crowd. For anyone umming and ahhing about tackling this city alone, here are a few tips for making the most of the experience.
Unfortunately, solo travellers generally pay more for accommodation because you are not splitting the cost of a room with anyone. But there are some cheap New York hotels that might offer better value to budget travellers. New York City can be expensive so saving on the cost of your room will leave you with more money to spend on eating out, sightseeing and activities.
Top tip: Try and choose a hotel close to a New York subway subway station so you will not have far to walk on your own.
For socialising, a hotel with a bar is a great place to relax after a busy day of sightseeing or why not stop by for an aperitif before dinner. If you are struggling to find a single room in a hotel, try shared dorm rooms – also great for meeting like-minded travellers.
The Gershwin Hotel: Provides 6 and 10-bed en suite dorms and is housed in a quirky building just a few blocks from the trendy Chelsea district. They have a charming onsite restaurant serving locally sourced beer, wine and produce.
The Chelsea Star Hotel: Offers private double rooms or 4-bed dorms. Located in the heart of Chelsea there are plenty of galleries bars and restaurants nearby and Pen Station is a two-minute walk.
The Broadway Hotel & Hostel NYC: All the luxury of a hotel but with all the sociable pluses of a hostel. You can opt for a shared 2-bed dorm or pay for a private double room.
New Yorkers love eating out, even if it means dining alone. In fact, www.nycfoodie.com is about a guy who makes a habit eating alone in New York City restaurants.
Top tips: Hotel restaurants are convenient for business travellers and so often have solo diners. Alternatively, try places which have seating around the bar. Perched on your stool you can check out both the bartender action and feel like a casual diner that is in a position to pull out a magazine or the weekend newspaper supplements. Sushi restaurants with carousel-style dining are obvious choices. American diners will also offer seating at the bar and, if it is not too busy, try bagging yourself a secluded booth.
The Tavern at Gramercy Tavern (42 E. 20th St. between. Broadway & Park Ave. South): Solo diners will feel comfortable seated around the bar enjoying soups, grilled meats and fine cheeses. The bar staff are chatty and will make you feel at ease and there are always a couple of other solo diners enjoying the casual atmosphere.
Café S.F.A at Saks Fifth Avenue (611 Fifth Ave., 8th Floor between. 49th & 50th Sts.) A rather decent department store restaurant that has a great mix of shoppers on their own who are taking the weight off their feet and refuelling before hitting the aisles again. You could also try Fred’s at Barneys (10 E. 61st St., between. Fifth & Madison Aves.) for a similar setup.
If you really want to keep yourself to yourself, then take a leaf out of the ‘dining alone’ section and find yourself a secluded booth. Some of the New York City dive bars are ideal for this.
Dutch Kills (27-24 Jackson Av.): A cocktail mecca where you can hide away in a wooden booth to the tinkle of ragtime or marvel at the mixologists behind the bar.
Montero’s Bar and Grill (73 Atlantic Ave between Hicks and Furman Sts): A drinking hole where all the action takes place around the bar. It has plenty of regulars who will be happy to share tales of Brooklyn from days gone by with you. The walls are covered in nautical bric-a-brac so it is a great place to soak up the atmosphere while you nurse a bourbon.
Standing Bar (43 E. 7th Street between 2nd Ave and Cooper Square): On game day there is plenty of sports banter. This East Village football bar has eight HDTVs and has a great selection of American microbrews available in 72-ounce mega pitches – now that will get you chatting. There is a particularly nice vibe on Sunday afternoons when they dish out free bagels during the weekend match.
Sightseeing and Shows
One of the best things about travelling solo is you can do exactly what you want to do, exactly when you feel like doing it – no compromising. In museums and galleries, find out if they offer audio tours. These are great if you want to do something at your own pace and are often inexpensive.
Top tip: Make the most of last-minute deals to top Broadway shows. As a solo traveller you have a better chance of bagging single seats.
Aside from wandering down dark alleyways by yourself – not recommended in most parts of the world – New York City is very safe. In the main tourist areas such as Times Square, keep your belongings in sight to avoid being an easy target of pickpockets. The subways are ideal for nipping about but at night when they stop running, hop in a yellow taxi for convenience. The police and hotel concierges are very friendly and will be happy to help you out with directions if you ask.
Top tip: If you like going about on foot, why not try a walking tour? There are many companies offering everything from Greenwich Village tours (Freetoursbyfoot.com), Historic Harlem (Bigonion.com) to an Original Multi-Ethnic Eating Tour (Bigonion.com). Some tours are free and operate on a tips-only scheme and this might be a nice way to meet other solo travellers.