New York on $3,900 per Day (& How You Can Do It a Lot Cheaper)

We celebrated our 40th Wedding anniversary over the weekend of July 15 to 17. It took three months’ worth of planning to pull all the pieces together. My original plan was to fly to Europe and sail back. Because of airport chaos and Covid (plus traveling friends getting sick), I decided something closer to home would be more prudent. Sticking to the cruising theme, this might be an ideal way to start or end your cruise if New York is your port.

Let’s set the stage. My wife received a “save the date” card in the mail a couple of weeks beforehand. She knew we were taking the train into NYC on Friday, July 15. She knew we were staying two nights. The only other clue was “bring smart clothing.” She always does.

Friday, July 15

Arrival. The train delivers us to Penn Station in Manhattan. We catch a taxi uptown. Cost: $20. Better Way: There is none if you have luggage.

Lunch at Benoit New York. Benoit is one of the restaurants owned by Alain Ducasse, a French chef with multiple Michelin stars. We enjoyed a bottle of white wine, lunch for two and chocolate souffle for dessert.

Cost: $163. Better Way: For fine French food in midtown Manhattan, this is pretty inexpensive. There is no better way.

The St. Regis New York Hotel. We walk to the end of the block. The hotel is across the street at 5th Avenue and 55th Street. An ultra-luxury hotel, the St. Regis is famous for rooms with butler service and the use of house cars for hotel guests. (Their Rolls Royce was in for service.)

Cost: $ 5,800.  Rooms start at about $900/night. We were upgraded to a suite costing $ 2,900 per night. (There are levels above this one.)  Let’s assume hotel taxes would be about 9%, adding about $522. Better Way. We used Marriott Bonvoy Rewards points to book the room. We used Marriott suite upgrade certificates too. Our cost was about $183.

Drinks in the King Cole Bar. The hotel has a bar featuring a Maxfield Parrish mural. The bar is famous as the place where the Bloody Mary was invented, although the original name was the Red Snapper. Good bar snacks.

Cost: $ 69. We had one drink each and tipped well. The Red Snapper costs $29. Better Way: Beers are likely cheaper.

Chauffeured House Car to Broadway Theater. The cars are available to hotel guests on a first come, first serve basis. The car was a late model Mercedes S class.

Cost: We tipped $20. Better Way: A taxi would cost about the same. You could walk the 10+ blocks.

Company (the Broadway Musical) at the Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre. We had orchestra seats in the third row. We were far to the right, which obstructed our view a little, but that was minor. The show was excellent.

Cost: $187. The tickets were about $79 each. If we sat a couple of seats further left, the cost would have doubled. Better Way: TKTS, the NYC half price theater ticket booth is located in Times Square. You might get a better price for same-day tickets.

Taxi back to the hotel. Most shows get out at the same time. The streets were crowded. We walked to 6th Avenue and caught a taxi back to the hotel.

Cost: 20.00. About average for a cab ride in average traffic. Other Way: Walk back to the hotel.

Saturday, July 16th:

Breakfast at the hotel. The Astor Court dining room is impressive. The American Breakfast, includes juice and coffee. It runs about $46/pp, bringing breakfast to about $120 after tip.

Cost: $120.00. Other Way: Another of the Marriott Bonvoy Rewards perks at certain tiers is free breakfast. That brings the cost down to tipping. Or you could have breakfast outside the hotel.

Museum of Modern Art. We walked the two blocks to the Museum and got in line with our timed tickets. The line moved quickly. The museum is huge and breathtaking.

Cost: $36.00. We bought tickets online. Other Way:   The Museum has certain fays admission is free for the public.

Lunch at Bergdorf Goodman. We visited the BG Cafe on the seventh floor overlooking Central Park. The restaurant is great for people watching too.

Cost: $95.00. This covered two sandwiches and one beer. Other Way: Skip the $11 beer.

House car to the restaurant for dinner. Another Mercedes S class.

Cost: $20. Just the tip. Other Way: A taxi would cost about the same for the 15-block ride.

Dinner at Le Pavillon. This is a Daniel Boloud restaurant. He’s another chef with Michelin stars.

Cost: $573. We had the six course tasting menus and one bottle of wine. An unhurried dinner took about 2+ hours. Other Way: Assuming you stayed with Le Pavillon, the three-course menu is $135/pp. That would bring the price down a bit.

Taxi back to the hotel. It was easy to get a cab.

Cost: $20. That’s about standard. Other Way: You could have a romantic stroll.

Sunday, July 17th:

Coffee in the room. We ordered fresh coffee and the Sunday New York Times, delivered by our butler.

Cost: $ 40. We tipped our butler before leaving the hotel. Other Way: You might tip a different amount.

Breakfast in the Astor Court dining room. We ordered the American Breakfast again.

Cost: $120. Same as Saturday. Other Way: Breakfast was a Bonvoy Rewards perk, as before.

Taxi to the train station. House cars aren’t available until 11:00 AM. We took a taxi.

Cost: $15.00. It was Sunday morning. Other Way: With luggage, you want a taxi.

Total Cost if you paid for everything:  $ 7,800 or about $3,900/day.

Our total cost (Using Marriott points and benefits):  $ 1,481 or about $ 740/day.

The hotel points, airline miles and membership perks carry a lot of value. Do not let them expire unused!

St Regis Hotel NYC, photo by Bryce Sanders

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