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The Business Traveller: A business travel guide to New York

  • TN-ManhattanSkylinenycgocomJulienneSchaer
  • 16 Dec 2014

Each month our resident business travel expert Mark Frary writes the Heathrow Express travel guide to a major city. This month: New York.

Business travel buzz

New York is a wealthy city – generating an enormous $1.36 trillion dollars in GDP in 2012. In fact, most measures put it number two in the world behind Tokyo. And finance – typified by Wall Street – has long been the driver of New York's success. In 2014 the city just pipped London to top the Global Financial Centres Index. Media and advertising are other traditionally strong sectors.

Wall street, ©, Will Steacy
Image: Wall street, ©, Will Steacy

Manhattan is also the world's largest central business district, and its buildings, which include many headquarters of the world's biggest companies, are worth more than $300 billion. The city's tech sector, often termed Silicon Alley – aping its West Coast cousin – employs almost 300,000 people, around 7% of the total New York workforce.

Manhattan Skyline, ©, Julienne Schaer
Image: Manhattan Skyline, ©, Julienne Schaer

Express Essentials

New York is the busiest route out of Heathrow, with more than 3 million people annually travelling to John F Kennedy airport and a further million heading to Newark. Fly hourly to JFK during the working day with BA or Oneworld alliance partner American Airlines. Go with Virgin and choose from four flights daily to JFK and two to Newark. Delta, United, Air India and Kuwait Airways also fly to the Big Apple.

From JFK to central Manhattan, you’ll find a flat $52 fare – although destinations like Brooklyn will cost more. Newark taxi journeys are metered – expect to pay $50-75. A cheaper option, and often quicker, is to take the NJ Transit train from Newark to New York's Penn Station.

Once in Manhattan, the famous subway is a fast and good value way of getting around, and operates 24/7. A single flat fare of $2.50 covers the entire city. Watch those iconic yellow cabs, though; you’ll pay $2.50 on entry and then $0.50 per one fifth of a mile.

Culture shot

Everyone knows about the Guggenheim, the Met and MOMA – but what of New York's other museums? One of the quirkiest is The Morgan, home to the collection of JP Morgan, of the eponymous bank. It houses the sole surviving manuscript of John Milton's Paradise Lost and Dickens' A Christmas Carol.

The skyscraper is of course a symbol of New York, and the Big Apple has more than any other city bar Hong Kong. Take in the view from the Top of the Rock (Rockefeller Building), the Empire State Building, or look back on the whole Manhattan skyline from Brooklyn.

Top of the rock , ©, Marley White
Image: Top of the rock , ©, Marley White

The black book

Bad news: New York's hotels are expensive. In the first half of 2014, the average business hotel rate was £206.11 – the fifth highest in the world, according to HRG's Interim Hotel survey. But it’s not putting anyone off; in August this year the city's hotels recorded record high occupancy levels.

The Ritz Carlton Central Park is a classic New York business hotel and there are breathtaking views from its position on Central Park South (some rooms even have telescopes).  Even the smallest rooms are a good size – substantially bigger than the 225-325 sq ft Manhattan average. Try to get an upgrade to a Club room for the full experience.

Central Park, ©, Marley White
Image: Central Park, ©, Marley White

Location and exceptional service count for so much when looking to book a business hotel, and the Library Hotel at 299 Madison Avenue offers both. Rather than hushing you, the librarians go the extra mile to please guests – and the hotel has a great array of freebies, including continental breakfast, WiFi and an evening cheese and wine reception.

Midtown Manhattan’s Ace Hotel lives up to its name. Perfectly positioned near Penn Station, it’s an achingly cool hotel that attracts start-up entrepreneurs and creative types. Rooms are a good size and the lobby bar has a great atmosphere.

When it comes to eating, Melt Shop makes a great pit stop for a snack. It has five locations in New York, including one at 135 W 50th Street and serves up yummy toasted cheese sandwiches, tomato soup and milkshakes. There's free WiFi too.

For an informal business lunch, head for Almond at 12 E 22nd St, a bistro in the Flatiron district serving things like fish and chips or steak frites. Need to grab a flat white, almond croissant and some WiFi? Seven Grams Caffe between 25th and 26th Streets in Chelsea is very central.

Business insiders

You need to know New York from its insiders to get the best view. Follow these influencers on social:

  • Find out what's going on in New York's business circles with the Twitter feed of business publication Crain's New York Business
  • If you want to know New York, you need to know its people – and there’s nowhere better to do that than on the Humans of New York blog, an epic collection of thousands of pictures, stories and quotes from New Yorkers.
  • Instagramer Jonathan Suarez provides a dark, Gothamesque vision of New York through his photos.
  • Serena Goh is a self-styled "photography enthusiast, shoe hoarder, prolific home cook, food explorer, bad dancer, and creative type". If you like the sound of that, then The Spicy Stiletto blog is a must-read.
  • Follow Twitter feed EverythingNYC to find events and things to do in New York, along with some great city photo finds.


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