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Travel Tips: Luxury for Less in New York City

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Lars Leetaru

A luxury vacation to New York City on a budget? It can be done, according to Eric J. Gordon, the owner of Beyond Times Square, a company that plans high-end New York City trips. “An upscale New York getaway can be several thousand dollars, but with a few money-saving tricks, you can have a similar experience for far less,” he said.

Here, Mr. Gordon shares his tips:

TIMING MATTERS Hotel room prices in New York are highest from September to the first week of November and from Thanksgiving to New Year. They’re also high in the spring and summer. In early November and from January through early March, however, they drop by around 20 percent. Also, the city is a corporate-driven market so nightly weekday rates at upscale hotels are as much as $150 more than weekend rates. “To get the best hotel deal,” Mr. Gordon said, “plan a weekend trip during low season.”

EAT STRATEGICALLY If high-end dining is a priority for you, Mr. Gordon said, plan your visit during Restaurant Week, when a three-course lunch at some of the city’s finest restaurants is $29 and a three-course dinner is $42. Restaurant Week is usually from the end of January through early February in winter and from the end of July through early August in summer. And, at any time of the year, many pricey restaurants offer comparatively affordable prix fixe lunches and pretheater dinner menus (you don’t have to be going to the theater to take advantage of these).

Also, most hotels in the city overcharge for breakfast. Instead, said Mr. Gordon, buy a bagel or egg and cheese sandwich from a deli or breakfast cart. “You’ll have a tasty start to your day for just a few dollars.”

FREE EVENTS ABOUND Some of the best sightseeing in New York is inexpensive or free. In terms of museums, the Metropolitan Museum of Art has pay-what-you-wish admission, and your ticket is also valid that day for the Cloisters, in Upper Manhattan, and the Met Breuer, a 10-minute walk away. The Whitney Museum of American Art has pay-what-you-wish admission on Friday evenings, the Museum of Modern Art has free admission on Friday evenings during part of the summer (from July 1 to Sept. 2 this year) and the Brooklyn Museum has free admission on the first Saturday evening of every month (with the exception of September). Many museums offer free public tours. The city also has free festivals and street fairs throughout the year, and Central Park and Hudson River Park host free concerts in the summer, spring and fall. Time Out New York lists events in town.

SKIP CARS Relying on taxis or a car service for transportation can add up to $100 or more a day. Mr. Gordon favors getting around by using the subway or by walking. “You’ll save lots of money and also feel the pulse of the city,” he said. If a car is a must, he suggests using the ride-sharing app Via, whose rides are usually a moderately priced $5 to $7 a person.

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