We've all dreamed of making it in New York...sitting on terrace steps in Brooklyn on a dreamy summer's afternoon, exploring the rows of perfectly manicured streets in Manhattan, seeing the awe-inspiring skyline from Top of the Rock. With a population of almost 9 million, however, navigating this concrete jungle isn't always a walk in Central Park - especially when it comes to the competitive business world. With that in mind, here are a few pointers to make sure your next New York business trip goes off without a hitch.
A Map of New York
New York is a BIG place. You have the Bronx to the north, Staten Island resting against the New Jersey border to the west, and Brooklyn and Queens sitting a subway ride away to the east.
Each district has its own distinct flavor and exploring each one is a highlight for leisure travelers. But if you're here for business, you'll find most of what you need at the center of New York City, in cosmopolitan Manhattan. Here you’ll find many well-known landmarks such as Broadway's Theatre District, Wall Street, Central Park, and Times Square. It's also the financial center of the world with a GDP of over $1.55 trillion (that’s bigger than the entire country of Australia). In Manhattan, you’ll be rubbing shoulders with top-notch lawyers, accountants, marketers, creatives, and experts from pretty much any field imaginable, making it the perfect place for business.
Manhattan's Streets and Avenues
Even narrowing New York down to Manhattan can be pretty overwhelming, especially if you're used to living in a smaller city.
While its sheer size can intimidate a first-time business traveler, the organized rows of streets and avenues should make life a little easier. Streets are numbered from south to north, making a grid with similarly ordered avenues running east to west. This perfectly planned grid - with Central Park fittingly in the middle - is your key to navigating the city. If you're lost (or running late to a meeting), simply use the street signs as a guide to your destination.
New York’s Airports
There are three main airports for arrivals in New York- John F Kennedy, LaGuardia, and Newark (technically situated in New Jersey).
JFK is one of the largest and busiest airports in the United States. In fact, it's so large that rather than an address, this southern area of Queens in not-quite-Brooklyn has its own zip code. Catering to a large variety of international airlines (including Qantas), ‘low peak’ isn’t really a thing at JFK. Still, you can choose a flight that lands in an ideal spot. If you can’t find a lull in schedules, select a flight that lands before other incoming flights. Getting a ten minute lead on the four flights chasing your tail can save you time exiting.
Once off your flight, you're looking at an expensive Lyft or Uber ride into the heart of Manhattan. To avoid wearing out the corporate credit card, consider taking the AirTrain to either Howard Beach or Sutphin Boulevard Station for under $10. From here, you'll be connected to New York's wider subway system that will guide you to your hotel. But be warned: you'll be hauling your luggage up hundreds of stairs that accompany NYC's underground.
If New York's famous for style, then being 'fashionably late' derived from LaGuardia airport. Notorious for its delays and cancellations, this airport might not be the best for the business traveler who is on a tight schedule. Luckily it mainly serves short-haul, domestic trips, with very few west coast flights from LA or San Francisco landing here.
On a positive note, getting into the heart of Manhattan is a great quality of LaGuardia. Roughly 11 miles from Times Square, a ride-sharing trip costs about half what you’d pay from JFK. Alternatively, catching the Q70 bus to Jackson Heights-Roosevelt Ave subway station will only cost $2.75. From here, you'll be connected to multiple subways and trains and can plan the rest of your trip using the MTA trip planner.
The best and worst part about Newark Airport? It's in New Jersey. That being said, Newark is only about 14 miles from Manhattan which is just a quick trip beneath the Hudson River through the Holland Tunnel (traffic pending, of course). But just like JFK and LaGuardia, it is well connected by public transport if you’re looking to save on taxi fares.
(Food note- options are pretty limited in this airport, so you may want to wait to grab a coffee or meal once you reach the city!)
Mastering the Subway
Allow for an hour of delays
Despite being the most reliable mode of transport, NYC’s subways still fall victim to delays. If you’re aiming to be 15 minutes early to a meeting, try leaving an extra hour earlier than the MAT journey planner states. At worst, you have extra time to explore the nearby neighborhood with the peace of mind that you’re ahead of schedule.
Check the direction before hopping on
Rather than ‘North’ or ‘South’, subways often use Manhattan as a reference point. For this reason, ‘Uptown’ and ‘Downtown’ or the occasional ‘Bronx-bound’ and ‘Brooklyn-bound’ are used. They’re all fairly interchangeable, but you might need to double check you’re heading the right way before jumping on the subway. Otherwise, you’ll find yourself aimlessly wandering a neighborhood in Queens, when you meant to be a block from Central Park in Manhattan.
Choose an end carriage
There’s no surprise here; the 24-hour subway line is always busy in the city that never sleeps. If you’re boarding on high traffic stations, such as Grand Central or Penn Street, expect to be standing on the platform for quite some time. A local tip is to head to the first or last carriage, where it’s less crowded. Away from the crowds, you might get on the first subway that comes or even better - a seat!
The New Yorker Schedule
The city that never sleeps houses the world's largest population of early birds. This morning window is a great way to score quality time with clients before their day-to-day madness ensues.
Since NYC isn't the most conventional city, you can incorporate a morning work-out and walk to your meeting or hold a walking meeting by the Hudson River. Or change up the format of your client’s morning coffee ritual and try one of Manhattan's best cafés.
Being smart and showing appreciation for their busy schedule is a great way to get a New Yorker’s attention.
Plan your trip around conferences and networking events
With their over-flowing calendars, New Yorkers are a lot less forgiving with their time. This makes connecting with the right people more important than ever. A great way to save time is finding your tribe through key industry events and meeting with a highly engaged audience that won't whisk you through your hard-thought presentation or business idea.
Even if they’re not potential clients, getting contacts and scoping out the business-scene first-hand can start your business trip on the right foot. A great place to start is the Manhattan Chamber of Commerce, where you can network like a local at their many breakfasts and events.
The best restaurants for Business Travelers
If there’s one thing that rings true in New York’s business culture, it’s that deals happen over meals. Yes, this little nuance of New Yorker-ness means having a list of restaurants that suit a variety of clients. Here are a few of our favorites:
Dining to impress? The aptly named King Restaurant fits the bill (albeit, quite a large bill). Located on 6th Avenue, King’s modern, French-styled menu changes daily, keeping even a Manhattan local on their toes. From decadent duck confit during the day to mouth-watering lobster dishes in the evening, their simple but classic food is a highlight to travelers and locals alike.
If you’re looking for a more intimate feel, take advantage of King’s semi-private bar room. Here your group can enjoy a sophisticated 3-course meal, experiencing some of the best French cuisines Manhattan has on offer. Make sure you book a table ahead of time- this Midtown gem is in high demand.
Le Relais de Venise
If you’re after a more down-to-earth affair, then you'll feel right at home at Le Relais De Venise. With franchises in Soho and Midtown Manhattan, this understated steakhouse comes with a set menu, perfect for the indecisive business traveler on the go.
Don't let its simplicity fool you, though; this gem is still a class act and has an elaborate wine menu, which partly explains the irrepressible buzz in the room. With the hardest decision being the doneness of your steak, you can focus more on the task at hand, knowing your beautiful cut is moments away.
What would the city that never sleeps be without a classy, 24-hour restaurant? From escargot for brunch to mussels at midnight, this French-styled bistro is the perfect suggestion for a hard-to-tie down New Yorker.
New York’s Bars
Want to keep your meeting light? Perhaps swapping the fancy, white-linen tablecloths for an eclectic drinks menu is the way to go (it always is in our books, anyway).
Loosening up over a drink or five might be just what you need to connect with potential clients. And worst case scenario? You’ll get to take in the stunning skyline from rooftop bars that are so 'New York'. Here are a few of our picks:
Whether you want to be productive over coffee, or network the night away, few places rival the electric Public Bar in Lower Manhattan. With plenty of power outlets, a speedy WiFi connection, and a cocktail menu to suit any taste, Public’s Lobby Bar is the ideal place to collaborate in a more casual setting. Once the hard work's over, head up to ‘The Roof’ and take in panoramic views of the city's nightscape.
Refinery Rooftop Bar
Urban chic meets New York glam at Midtown’s Refinery Rooftop bar. Popular with both travelers and locals, you’ll feel right at home at this fashionable rooftop bar. With handcrafted cocktails, a direct lookout to the Empire State Building, and a retractable glass roof, this Manhattan treasure is suitable all year round.
The Press Lounge
The Press Lounge mimics the effortless class of Manhattan while expressing the understated simplicity of greater New York. Picture spacious, private lounges scattered throughout the room, ceiling-high window panes framing views of the Hudson River and Manhattan skyline, and a glamorous terrace balcony providing the perfect meeting ground for all who visit. you’re looking for a secluded place to chat business without taking away the fun, then the Press Club is the place to be. After savoring the view, sipping a seasonal cocktail or sharing a bottle of local New York wine is a sure-fire way to impress whoever you bring along.
4-star hotels in Manhattan
Hilton New York Fashion District
If you're looking for something a little chic, then the Hilton New York Fashion District is the place for you. Located in the heart of the Fashion District on West 26th Street just off 7th Avenue, the Hilton is steps from the city's best dining and attractions with easy access to Penn Station. However, if you don't want to move far, this hotel offers a full range of services from a restaurant and rooftop cocktail lounge to fitness and business centers.
AKA Wall Street
For a luxe apartment in the Financial District check out AKA Wall Street. This great downtown location puts you at the center of world-class cultural, dining and shopping experiences as well as a new public transport hub which makes getting around a breeze. These spacious apartments are designed for longer stays with each room complemented with residential amenities. Just like the Hilton, full-service hotel offerings are also available including a private cinema.
Boutique Hotels in New York
11 Howard - Soho
If you're searching for the perfect boutique hotel for your business trip, look no further than 11 Howard. Nestled in the heart of Soho, 11 Howard embodies the ultra-modern vibe you'd expect in this buzzing area of Manhattan.
Known for their 'thoughtful hospitality', guests can find every detail accounted for - their careful selection of tasteful art pieces, the intentionally laid out suites, the many amenities included in your stay and more. They even have their own co-working space, where you can work for the day in the chic, café-style 'Library'.
1 Hotel - Brooklyn Bridge
Just across the East River lies the luxurious 1 Hotel. With a direct view of Brooklyn Bridge, you'll be outside one of New York's most iconic sites, while just a short walk from Manhattan. Designed by local artists from reclaimed materials, this eco-conscious boutique hotel is a fresh escape from bustling Manhattan. With a variety of spa treatments and an on-site gym, choosing 1 Hotel is great for travelers wanting to unwind after a hard day's work in NYC.
Sixty Hotel - Lower East Side
Few hotels balance luxury with minimalism like Sixty Hotel. With spectacular views of the skyline, indulgent rooms and suites, and a spa and pool to relax by, the Sixty Hotel ticks all the boxes. Best of all, you'll be in the Lower East Side, perfect for business and leisure alike.
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At the end of the day (or night), there’s no other city in the world quite like New York. This grand metropolis is all about experiencing the unexpected, immersing yourself in its dizzying diversity, soaking up the vast opportunities around you and feeling a mega city’s heartbeat pulse through your veins.
Ultimately, surviving a New York business trip comes down to good planning, good intel, and a great attitude. We can almost guarantee you’ll be in awe of the city, and if you don’t come away from New York inspired, you just didn’t do it right.