America eases travel ban for fully vaccinated British tourists TODAY

America has finally reopened its borders to fully vaccinated UK travellers today, as thousands jet off to reunite with family and friends for the first time in 20 months.

Rival airlines British Airways and Virgin Atlantic operated synchronised departures at 8.30am from London Heathrow to New York JFK to celebrate the end of the travel ban imposed by Donald Trump in March last year as Covid spread across the planet. 

The Empire State Building will be lit up in red, white and blue to welcome back UK visitors, while the BA and Virgin flights will be greeted by New York’s governor Kathy Hochul just after 11am local time. 

Under travel rules first announced by President Joe Biden in September, fully vaccinated visitors from countries including the UK, Ireland, China, India and South Africa will be allowed to enter America. They must also provide proof of either a negative test taken no more than three days before travel, or that they have recovered from Covid in the previous three months.

The easing will see thousands of people reunite with loved ones in the US for the first time in more than 600 days. Bhavna Patel from South London, who is flying to New York today to meet her first grandchild, said she was so excited she couldn’t sleep and added: ‘I think we might just start crying.’ Alison Henry, who is flying to see her son in New York, said: ‘It’s been so hard, I just want to see my son.’  

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said it was a ‘significant moment’ as transatlantic travel has ‘long been at the heart of UK aviation’. He added that the ‘vitally important’ UK-US flights routes boost the economy, create British jobs and help develop plans to reduce carbon emissions from flying. 

Industry leaders expect the easing of restrictions to provide a significant boost for the travel sector which has been hammered by the virus crisis, but have warned of massive queues at airports all throughout November due to an ‘onslaught of travel all at once’. 

Speaking to MailOnline today, Paul Charles, CEO of travel consultancy The PC Agency, praised the relaxation as ‘the pivotal moment when travel out of the UK is far closer to normality’.

But with 49 per cent fewer flights scheduled this November than there were in the same month in 2019, he urged governments to continue ‘winding back restrictions and make it easier for consumers to travel without a myriad of online forms and tests’.  

He said: ‘The transatlantic air corridor was one of the top three busiest routes in the world and today marks a giant leap back towards levels of travel pre-pandemic. But statistics from data analysts Cirium show that, despite the US borders re-opening, there are still 49 per cent fewer flights scheduled this November than there were in the same month in 2019.

‘Global travel is back to some 60 per cent of what it was Pre-Covid so there is still a long way to go before the sector is firing on all cylinders.’

Virgin Atlantic flight VS3 (front) and British Airways flight BA001 (back) perform a synchronised departure on parallel runways at London Heathrow Airport

The first flights for fully vaccinated UK travellers to the US taking off at London Heathrow this morning

Virgin Atlantic cabin crew staff at London Heathrow Airport's T3 ahead of the departure of Virgin Atlantic flight VS3, which will perform a synchronised departure on parallel runways alongside British Airways flight BA001, heading for New York JFK to celebrate the reopening of the transatlantic travel corridor

Virgin Atlantic cabin crew staff at London Heathrow Airport’s T3 ahead of the departure of Virgin Atlantic flight VS3, which will perform a synchronised departure on parallel runways alongside British Airways flight BA001, heading for New York JFK to celebrate the reopening of the transatlantic travel corridor

Performers entertain passengers at London Heathrow Airport's T3 as the US reopens its borders

Performers entertain passengers at London Heathrow Airport’s T3 as the US reopens its borders

Passengers queue at London Heathrow Airport's T3 as the US reopens its borders to UK visitors

Passengers queue at London Heathrow Airport’s T3 as the US reopens its borders to UK visitors

Passengers queue at London Heathrow Airport's T3 as the US reopens its borders to UK visitors

Passengers queue at London Heathrow Airport’s T3 as the US reopens its borders to UK visitors

UK travellers to the US celebrate with drinks this morning after the US opened its borders to fully vaccinated visitors

UK travellers to the US celebrate with drinks this morning after the US opened its borders to fully vaccinated visitors

Virgin Atlantic staff at London Heathrow Airport's T3 ahead of the departure of Virgin Atlantic flight VS3

Virgin Atlantic staff at London Heathrow Airport’s T3 ahead of the departure of Virgin Atlantic flight VS3

A billboard showing information for flights departing Heathrow as the US border is opened to fully vaccinated UK travellers

A billboard showing information for flights departing Heathrow as the US border is opened to fully vaccinated UK travellers

Sean Doyle, British Airways Chairman and CEO (centre) and Shai Weiss, Virgin Atlantic Chief Executive (right) at London Heathrow Airport as the two airlines prepare for a synchronised departure on parallel runways, heading for New York JFK to celebrate the reopening of the transatlantic travel corridor

Sean Doyle, British Airways Chairman and CEO (centre) and Shai Weiss, Virgin Atlantic Chief Executive (right) at London Heathrow Airport as the two airlines prepare for a synchronised departure on parallel runways, heading for New York JFK to celebrate the reopening of the transatlantic travel corridor

Under rules announced by President Joe Biden, visitors from countries including the UK, Ireland, China, India and South Africa will be allowed to enter America

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said it was a 'significant moment' as transatlantic travel has 'long been at the heart of UK aviation'

Under rules first announced by President Joe Biden (left) in September, fully vaccinated visitors from countries including the UK, Ireland, China, India and South Africa will be allowed to enter America. Transport Secretary Grant Shapps (right) said it was a ‘significant moment’ as transatlantic travel has ‘long been at the heart of UK aviation’

So what ARE the new US travel rules? 

Fully vaccinated travellers can visit the US for the first time since March last year, the start of the pandemic.

Vaccinated people who have had a negative test within the previous 72 hours can enter without quarantining.

You must take another test three to five days after arriving in the US, unless you have proof of recovery from Covid in the past 90 days.

Covid vaccine certificates including the NHS Covid Pass are accepted.

Unvaccinated visitors can enter the US, but they will be required to quarantine for a week on arrival.

Children under 18 do not need to be vaccinated, but should also take a test after arriving.  

Airlines have ramped up UK-US flight schedules to meet the increased demand for travel. A total of 3,688 flights are scheduled to operate between the countries this month, according to travel data firm Cirium – which is up 2 per cent compared with October, but down 49 per cent on pre-pandemic levels.

A survey of 2,000 UK consumers commissioned by travel trade organisation Abta suggested that the US is only behind Spain in the foreign destinations that holidaymakers say they plan to visit.  

Around 3.8million Britons visited the US every year prior to the pandemic, according to the Foreign Office. 

British Airways chief executive Sean Doyle said the reopening of the US borders was a ‘moment to celebrate’ after ‘more than 600 days of separation’.

Christian Marcelia, 26, said he was ‘excited and a bit nervous’ to be flying to New York to visit his girlfriend there for the first time.

Speaking at Heathrow, he said: ‘My girlfriend lives over there, so we’ve been sort of long distance for two years. I’m going there to meet her family for the first time.’

They have been a couple for nearly two years, he said, spending most of that time on different continents due to pandemic-induced travel restrictions.

Mr Marcelia said they had seen each other four times over that period, with his girlfriend visiting him in the UK for six weeks at a time, and had done ‘a lot of FaceTime’.

‘It’s exciting to actually spend a bit more time there and see her,’ he said, adding that his girlfriend would like him to move to the US with her in future.

‘I’ve only been there once before,’ he added.

Richard Clark was looking forward to seeing his American colleagues in San Francisco.

The Briton, who works in software for an American company, said it was the first time in two-and-a-half years that he was heading to the US office.

‘It’ll be great to see the boss as well,’ he said before boarding his flight at Heathrow airport. ‘With travel opening up today, it’s a crucial week for us.

‘Having worked at home for so long and being at home for so long for somebody that travels quite a lot historically, a bit apprehensive, I guess, with all the hoops you have to jump through to travel, but otherwise it’s going to be a good change of scenery.’

Asked if business travel would return to pre-pandemic levels for his company, Mr Clark said: ‘It’s hit and miss really, as and when it’s required, but hopefully it will come back a bit more.’

Peter Courts, 45, a strategy consultant and father-of-two from Lincolnshire, said: ‘I am flying to Salt Lake City for a one-week business trip, the first in two years.

‘I used to travel for work a lot, perhaps too much, but I am looking forward to meeting new people from different organisations again, catching up with old friends and doing some on the ground work.

‘My mum lives in Australia and she has not met my two-year-old. When I get to the US and see families reuniting, it will be difficult and bring a tinge of sadness as I still can’t do that.’ 

A BA passenger plane sitting on the runway at London Heathrow as the US lifts its borders to UK travellers

A BA passenger plane sitting on the runway at London Heathrow as the US lifts its borders to UK travellers

Passengers queue at London Heathrow Airport's T3 as the US reopens its borders to UK visitors

Passengers queue at London Heathrow Airport’s T3 as the US reopens its borders to UK visitors

Passengers queue at London Heathrow Airport's T3 as the US reopens its borders to UK visitors

Passengers queue at London Heathrow Airport’s T3 as the US reopens its borders to UK visitors

Travellers queueing for coffees and sandwiches at a Pret a Manger cafe in London's Heathrow as US travel curbs are eased

Travellers queueing for coffees and sandwiches at a Pret a Manger cafe in London’s Heathrow as US travel curbs are eased

Performers entertain passengers at London Heathrow Airport's T3

Performers entertain passengers at London Heathrow Airport’s T3

Virgin Atlantic cabin crew staff at London Heathrow Airport's T3 ahead of the departure of Virgin Atlantic flight VS3

Virgin Atlantic cabin crew staff at London Heathrow Airport’s T3 ahead of the departure of Virgin Atlantic flight VS3

Miles-long traffic delay greets drivers trying to get into the US from Mexico hours before Covid travel restrictions are relaxed for the FIRST TIME in 20 months 

Cars were lined up for miles to get into the US from Mexico on Sunday night ahead of the Biden administration lifting travel restrictions on foreign visitors today.

Travel across land borders from Canada and Mexico has been largely restricted to workers whose jobs are deemed essential after Donald Trump imposed the ban in March 2020 as Covid-19 spread around the world.

At the San Ysidro crossing port at Tijuana, Mexico, street vendors were taking food to drivers stuck in the line-ups overnight as thousands of Mexicans, many of them separated from their families for months, are set to pour across the frontier today.

The astonishing backup of cars and trucks comes amid the worst migrant crisis at the southern border since 1986 with more than 1.7 million illegal entrants into the US between October last year and September 2021.

Illegal crossings began skyrocketing in the months after President Joe Biden was inaugurated, with his administration accused of encouraging a humanitarian catastrophe after breaking from Trump’s tough border policy.

At Niagara Falls, there was a trail of cars and RVs stretching across the Rainbow Bridge as Canadians head over from Ontario to New York state for some long-awaited American tourism.

Janice and Peter Grimes, aged 61 and 65, a retired couple from Lincoln, said: ”We are going to San Fransisco for two weeks to see our son, daughter and two grandchildren.

‘We are very excited. Pete hasn’t seen the two-and-a-half-year-old grandson and I only saw him when he was born. Normally we would go over there once or twice a year. Our reunion is going to be very emotional, we can’t wait.’

He went on: ‘Transatlantic connectivity is vital for the UK’s economic recovery, which is why we’ve been calling for the safe reopening of the UK-US travel corridor for such a long time. We must now look forward with optimism, get trade and tourism back on track and allow friends and families to connect once again.’ 

His counterpart at Virgin Atlantic, Shai Weiss, hailed the resumption of flights to the US as a ‘day of celebration’.

Speaking at Heathrow, he said: ‘It’s been 600 days that the US border has been shut down for UK nationals.

‘To see passengers coming in early in the morning, grandparents going to see grandchildren they’ve never met, families reuniting, people going to care for elderly people and businesses reconnecting is really a day of celebration for all of us in the industry and, of course, for Virgin Atlantic.’

He called the transatlantic route ‘one of the most important in the world’, adding: ‘For us at Virgin Atlantic, we say it wouldn’t be Virgin without the Atlantic.’

Mr Weiss also called the synchronised departure from Heathrow to New York a ‘remarkable achievement’. He said it showed that ‘when there is a bigger problem than the competition for the two airlines, we can unite to benefit the public, consumers and businesses.’ 

Hotel prices in New York are also returning to normal levels after a summer where discounts abounded, with Tim Hentschel, HotelPlanner’s co-founder and CEO, telling The Guardian: ‘The pent-up demand from overseas to visit the US will remain strong for at least several years.’ 

And Hilton recorded a 63 per cent surge in bookings for its US hotels among Europeans in the five weeks following President Biden’s announcement. 

Simon Vincent, EVP & President of, Europe, Middle East & Africa for Hilton, said: ‘Since news broke of the planned reopening of US borders, we’ve seen a surge of interest from European and UK guests planning to visit our US hotels. 

‘Hilton search data reveals the extent of that demand, with a 63 per cent increase in digital reservations in the five weeks following the news of plans to ease restrictions. We’ve seen similar trends across Europe, with inbound demand from US guests growing as travel rules have lifted. 

‘The reopening of the US border signals the next important phase of recovery for the industry, and we look forward to welcoming a new dawn of international travel.’ 

Speaking at Heathrow Airport, the Under-Secretary of State for Transport, Robert Courts, called the resumption of flights to the US ‘momentous’.  

A passenger talks with an employee as she checks-in on the American Airlines flight 101 between London and New York

A passenger talks with an employee as she checks-in on the American Airlines flight 101 between London and New York

Chief Executive Officer at Virgin Atlantic, Shai Weiss, celebrates the easing of travel to the US at Heathrow Airport today

Chief Executive Officer at Virgin Atlantic, Shai Weiss, celebrates the easing of travel to the US at Heathrow Airport today

Transatlantic travel finally reopens today as the US ban on British travellers is lifted after more than 600 days. Pictured: People wait for a flight in New York City on January 25 this year

Transatlantic travel finally reopens today as the US ban on British travellers is lifted after more than 600 days. Pictured: People wait for a flight in New York City on January 25 this year

He said: ‘This is a massive moment for the aviation sector as we look to build back better from the terrible blow of coronavirus pandemic. It’s about people fundamentally, it’s about getting families back together. That’s particularly important with Thanksgiving and Christmas coming up.

‘That’s on top of the massive economic benefit that there is from having the United States and Great Britain – these great friends and allies, countries that have so much in common – back in regular contact with each other again.’

Mr Courts added that the Government wants to see ‘guilt-free flying’.

‘There’s a real desire out there for the public to be able to travel in a way that is green. That is very much what we’re delivering,’ the official went on.

‘We have aircraft around today that are much more efficient and much less polluting than those that were around decades ago and in doing things like investing £180million of sustainable aviation fuels, what we’re doing is delivering the next generation of flying that means the world is interconnected, that people can see each other, that there can be investment and businesses can grow and to do so in a way that also protects the environment.

‘What we want to see is guilt-free flying.’

The White House’s assistant press secretary, Kevin Munoz, confirmed on October 15 that double vaccinated foreign nationals would be able to visit the US from November 8.

The new rules will apply to all individuals that have received vaccines approved by the US Food and Drug Administration and vaccines Listed for Emergency Use by the World Health Organisation.  

Washington has not yet commented on Europe’s recent Covid case increase. 

The WHO has expressed ‘grave concern’ over the rising pace of infections in Europe, warning the current trajectory could mean ‘another half a million Covid-19 deaths’ by February.

US Surgeon General Vivek Murthy said Sunday on ABC he’s ‘cautiously optimistic about where we are,’ while adding: ‘We can’t take our foot off the accelerator until we’re at the finish line.’

The ultimate insider’s guide to the (still buzzing) Big Apple: New Yorker ASHLEY PEARSON reveals her city’s coolest bars, celebrity haunts and the best hotels

By ASHLEY PEARSON for MAILONLINE 

New York – it’s back baby! Britons have long had a love affair with New York. The soaring skyscrapers, the ever-evolving restaurant scene, unrelenting noise, and the 24/7 buzz – it is a city in constant motion. And it can make London look pastoral by comparison. 

So, when the city that never sleeps closed its borders to Brits as a pandemic precaution, you could hear the collective groans from Manhattan-philes in the UK. Now that the doors are open, here’s what you need to know.

It’s not exactly the same. Like everywhere else, this city was touched by the crisis, and the scars are still there. Everyone wears a mask inside, everywhere. Vaccination double jab cards are required for entrance to every restaurant and many shops. 

New York is coming back to life after the pandemic - and it’s a reawakening that is very much worth celebrating

New York is coming back to life after the pandemic – and it’s a reawakening that is very much worth celebrating

It feels like New Yorkers are on high alert. Perhaps because they still have vivid memories of lockdown. 

Trapped in their (relatively) tiny apartments, with hospitals overloaded and Central Park a makeshift morgue, this famously lively place became a ghost town.

And although many shops and restaurants have failed to reopen (I counted 36 shuttered storefront windows on a cab ride of as many blocks), the irrepressible spirit of New York remains widely in evidence. Forged in the fire of 9/11, the resilience and sheer survival instincts here are on full display. 

Block after block, newly reopened restaurants have set up jaunty looking marquis on the sidewalks (to comply with outdoor dining regulations), and locals are still out fast-walking, talking on their phones 24 hours a day. The buzz is back. 

New York is coming back to life, slowly and cautiously yes, but coming back nonetheless. And it’s a reawakening that is very much worth celebrating. 

Where to eat: For a great steak

The Grill on 52nd St, pictured, is set in a swanky mid-century Philip Johnson-designed dining room

The Grill on 52nd St, pictured, is set in a swanky mid-century Philip Johnson-designed dining room

Pictured is the entrance to The Grill in Midtown, where the menu is classic New York City chophouse

Pictured is the entrance to The Grill in Midtown, where the menu is classic New York City chophouse

Pictured is The Grill's strip steak, which Ashley says 'is a standout'

Pictured is The Grill’s strip steak, which Ashley says ‘is a standout’ 

Midtown for shopping is a must-do but if all of that retail therapy builds up an appetite it can be tricky to find a great place for an early dinner. 

Try The Grill on 52nd St set in a swanky mid-century Philip Johnson-designed dining room. 

The menu is classic New York City chophouse – the New York Strip Steak is a standout, as is the lobster. 

The adjoining space, The Pool, is also a great spot for a cocktail. 

Where to eat: Best for families

Burgerology, a Long Island staple, recently opened its first NYC location at the Crowne Plaza HY36 in Midtown. 

Famous for craft burgers with unique flavours and over-the-top milkshakes, it’s perfect for families. 

Opt for the Mac Attack burger with bacon, American cheese and Mac n’ Cheese on a Pretzel Bun, the Rockefeller with Kobe beef, or the Ice Cream Doughwich. 

Shakes are topped with everything from bananas to s’mores to rainbow cookies. 

Where to eat: For a fun night out with friends

Rosa Mexicana, pictured above, has been a New York classic since it opened in 1984

Rosa Mexicana, pictured above, has been a New York classic since it opened in 1984

Pictured is one of Rosa Mexicana's frozen margaritas - Ashley recommends ordering the pomegranate variety

The restaurant offers an elevated take on south-of-the-border cuisine, such as its tableside-prepared guacamole

Pictured on the left is one of Rosa Mexicana’s frozen margaritas – Ashley recommends ordering the pomegranate variety.  The restaurant offers an elevated take on south-of-the-border cuisine, such as its tableside-prepared guacamole

A New York classic since it opened in 1984, Rosa Mexicana was designed to show diners that authentic Mexican cuisine does not always mean tacos and chilli-cheese burritos. 

Their tableside prepared guacamole is what they’re famous for, along with frozen margaritas and an elevated take on south-of-the-border cuisine. 

Full of stylish people out having fun, it’s a great evening. Order the Carne Asada Con Roja – the Chihuahua cheese gives it its creamy texture and the marinated meat simply melts in the mouth. And don’t leave without trying the margaritas: spicy mango, and blood orange are great, but if you don’t order the pomegranate, you are seriously missing something special. 

According to Ashley, Rosa Mexicana was designed to show diners that authentic Mexican cuisine does not always mean tacos and chilli-cheese burritos

According to Ashley, Rosa Mexicana was designed to show diners that authentic Mexican cuisine does not always mean tacos and chilli-cheese burritos 

The atmosphere at Il Cantinori is pure New York – and the service outstanding. Picture courtesy of Creative Commons

The atmosphere at Il Cantinori is pure New York – and the service outstanding. Picture courtesy of Creative Commons 

Where to eat: Best for celeb-spotting

Il Cantinori – an iconic Greenwich Village Italian beloved by locals (and by locals we mean Richard Gere, (you can usually catch him on a Tuesday), Al Pacino and Julia Roberts. 

The atmosphere is pure New York – eclectic, buzzing, exciting – and the service outstanding. 

Jerry Seinfeld celebrates his birthday here and Gwyneth Paltrow knows all the waiters (Willy is her favourite) by name. 

The food is delicious, authentic Tuscan, and the vibe is what keeps them coming back. 

The restaurant features in a famous Sex and the City Episode. Carrie goes there to celebrate her 35th birthday and is stood up by her friends who mistakenly go to ‘El Cantinoro’ – which is a block away. (Yes, it really exists too.) 

Coolest bar

Campbell Bar, pictured, can be found upstairs in New York’s iconic Grand Central Station. This image is by Ɱ / CC BY-SA 4.0 - courtesy of Commons Wikimedia

Campbell Bar, pictured, can be found upstairs in New York’s iconic Grand Central Station. This image is by Ɱ / CC BY-SA 4.0 – courtesy of Commons Wikimedia

Grand Central Station has one of the most famous railway station concourses in the world

Grand Central Station has one of the most famous railway station concourses in the world

Don’t miss out on cocktails at the Campbell Bar – set upstairs in New York’s iconic Grand Central Station (15 Vanderbilt Avenue, just off 43rd Street). This place epitomises cool, old New York. 

There are soaring, 25ft hand-painted ceilings, bold brass finishes and custom wood and leather furnishings. 

And the cocktail list is fantastic, along with the glassware. They’re worth the trip alone. 

Don’t miss: Visit ‘Edge’

Hudson Yards’ Edge, pictured, calls itself the highest outdoor sky deck in the Western Hemisphere

Edge - located in Manhattan's west side - is a 1,100-foot-high observation deck boasting a 360-degree view of NYC

Edge – located in Manhattan’s west side – is a 1,100-foot-high observation deck boasting a 360-degree view of NYC

Hudson Yards’ Edge, which calls itself the highest outdoor sky deck in the Western Hemisphere, is a 1,100-foot-high observation deck boasting a 360-degree view of NYC. 

Set on the west side of Manhattan it gives you a great skyline view – and you don’t need to get cold seeing it – they have a full indoor viewing deck. 

Time your visit around sunset and you can see beautiful views across the Hudson, including twilight reflections off the Freedom Tower and Empire State Building, as the city lights begin to flicker. 

Ashley recommends visiting Edge at sunset to see beautiful views across the Hudson and the flickering lights of the city

Ashley recommends visiting Edge at sunset to see beautiful views across the Hudson and the flickering lights of the city

For something festive try the bar’s (of course there’s a bar) ‘Cocoa in the Clouds’ hot chocolate layered with fresh, made-to-order whipped cream and topped with a Rice Krispie treat, coated in crushed peppermint. 

Pro tip: you can add the liquor of your choice to keep things moving nicely along. 

A kids’ paradise: Dylan’s

Ashley likens Dylan's to a 'magical cross between Candy Land, Disney Land and Willy Wonka’s Factory'

Ashley likens Dylan’s to a ‘magical cross between Candy Land, Disney Land and Willy Wonka’s Factory’

Hudson Yards' Dylan’s, pictured, sells charming candy-themed lifestyle products  - while there, try the toasted marshmallow shake

Hudson Yards’ Dylan’s, pictured, sells charming candy-themed lifestyle products  – while there, try the toasted marshmallow shake

Also in Hudson Yards is this magical cross between Candy Land, Disney Land and Willy Wonka’s Factory. 

Dylan’s is an NYC landmark and a must-do for children and sweet-toothed adults. It is home to over 7,000 confections, including a huge variety of candies and candy-related gifts from around the world. 

It’s basically an edible museum of candy and every single treat has been carefully chosen and curated like art. 

There are several throughout the city but the Hudson Yards’ Dylan’s includes really charming candy-themed lifestyle products and an incredible dessert parlour and ice cream shop. Kids will be in heaven. 

The toasted marshmallow shake was worth the trip alone and the ice cream is very likely the best you will find in New York City. 

Now part of NYC folklore, the store has popped up in shows set in NYC such as Gossip Girl, Girls and Keeping Up with the Kardashians, so you can keep your cool cred with the teens, too. 

Where to stay: voco The Franklin New York

Rates at Voco The Franklin New York run as low as £139 ($190) per night, proving affordable doesn’t have to mean less in NYC

Rates at Voco The Franklin New York run as low as £139 ($190) per night, proving affordable doesn’t have to mean less in NYC

Fifty-room Voco The Franklin New York, originally built in 1930, now feels like a classic with contemporary touches

Fifty-room Voco The Franklin New York, originally built in 1930, now feels like a classic with contemporary touches

Affordable doesn’t have to mean less in NYC. And this hotel is a great example. 

A stylish, chic and smart boutique hotel, rates at Voco The Franklin New York run as low as £139 ($190) per night – which for NYC is fantastic. 

Following an extensive renovation, the 50-room hotel, originally built in 1930, now feels like a classic with contemporary touches. 

Our room was a trendy dark blue with modern art and crisp (and luxurious-feeling) white linens on the super-comfortable bed. 

'Everything here feels new, modern and very clean,' says Ashley, who checked into a trendy dark blue room during her stay

 ‘Everything here feels new, modern and very clean,’ says Ashley, who checked into a trendy dark blue room during her stay

What’s more, it’s conveniently located on Manhattan’s Upper East Side – there’s a Starbucks steps away, a Whole Foods around the corner and a top Reformer Pilates studio right across the street. 

It’s also close to attractions such as Museum Mile and Central Park. 

It offers free morning coffee to all guests, and an on-site restaurant will be opening soon. 

Where to stay: Peninsula Hotel – a modern classic

'As you step into the imposing lobby of The Peninsula, you can tell that you’ve arrived at someplace truly special,' says Ashley

‘As you step into the imposing lobby of The Peninsula, you can tell that you’ve arrived at someplace truly special,’ says Ashley

The hotel's location is ideal - it sits right in the heart of New York on snazzy Fifth Avenue

The hotel’s location is ideal – it sits right in the heart of New York on snazzy Fifth Avenue

Pictured is the pool at The Peninsula's spa. Ashley describes the hotel as 'an oasis of soundproofed silence'

Pictured is the pool at The Peninsula’s spa. Ashley describes the hotel as ‘an oasis of soundproofed silence’

If you’re going to treat yourself for a stay, there’s nowhere better than The Peninsula hotel. As you step into the imposing lobby, you can tell that you’ve arrived someplace truly special. 

The vibe in-room feels completely modern (outlets and nifty tech abound) but ultra-elegant, stylish and refined at the same time. 

Amidst the plush linens, marble bath and private dining, there is smart lighting, surround sound and even a nail polish dryer on the bedside table. 

The location is ideal – an oasis of soundproofed silence right in the heart of New York on snazzy Fifth Avenue. 

You'll find smart lighting and surround sound in the Peninsula rooms. Pictured is the master bedroom in the hotel's Fifth Avenue suite

You’ll find smart lighting and surround sound in the Peninsula rooms. Pictured is the master bedroom in the hotel’s Fifth Avenue suite  

Ashley says the hotel has introduced new 'Peninsula Time', which means you can check in and check out at any time you want

Ashley says the hotel has introduced new ‘Peninsula Time’, which means you can check in and check out at any time you want

Pictured is a table set for a private dinner event on the Peninsula sun terrace

Pictured is a table set for a private dinner event on the Peninsula sun terrace 

Particularly worth noting is the hotel’s new ‘Peninsula Time’, which means you can check-in and check-out at any time you want. 

No more waiting around to check in – you can arrive as early as 6:00am on the day and check out as late as 10:00pm at no extra charge. 

Their new, eco-friendly, bespoke scented guest room amenities and guaranteed connecting rooms for families are also a really nice touch. 

Where to stay: Spoil yourself

The Ritz-Carlton New York, pictured, is set within a historical building on the edge of Central Park

The Ritz-Carlton New York, pictured, is set within a historical building on the edge of Central Park

Ashley says the hotel, which has been recently renovated, 'epitomises townhouse tranquillity'

Ashley says the hotel, which has been recently renovated, ‘epitomises townhouse tranquillity’

Pictured is one of the rooms overlooking Central Park. Ashley advises paying the hotel's La Prairie Spa a visit during your stay

Pictured is one of the rooms overlooking Central Park. Ashley advises paying the hotel’s La Prairie Spa a visit during your stay

The Ritz-Carlton New York's Central Park views are sensational - as this image underscores

The Ritz-Carlton New York’s Central Park views are sensational – as this image underscores

Drop in at The Ritz-Carlton New York. This beautiful hotel is set within a historical building on the edge of Central Park and has been recently renovated, epitomising townhouse tranquillity. 

Don’t miss out on its newly reopened La Prairie Spa. Set downstairs it feels like you’ve entered a sanctuary and the skilled therapists here can literally transport you out of this world. 

Their varied range of treatments are all designed to be both therapeutic and results-oriented. Facials blend technology with decadent ingredients, and massages release tight muscles and stagnant energy.

TOP TIPS FOR NYC 

Bargain breaks 

You can book your hotel at the same time you change currency. A new offering by money-changing experts Revolut – called Revolut Stays – offers great rates for everything from bargain B&Bs, hotels and unique, luxury lodges.

Make a Reservation

Due to Covid-19, many attractions now require reservations. Always make reservations for things like the Empire State Building or the Museum of Natural History, even for those attractions that don’t require them. Many attractions are operating at 25 to 50 per cent of their usual capacity to meet social distancing guidelines and if you don’t have a reservation, you could arrive at a time when the attraction is already at capacity.

Citypass

Get this insider secret to discounts and queue jumping. You can make reservations at all major attractions through the CityPASS website and purchasing a pass gives you discounted admission for a host of places you may want to visit such as The Empire State Building, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Guggenheim Museum, Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island or even a Circle Line Sightseeing Cruise. Once you activate your New York Citypass tickets (activation occurs when the first admission is scanned at the first attraction you visit), you will have nine consecutive days to use the remaining admissions. 

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