Photo diary: Returning to New York City

After I came back from New York City in 2014, I always vowed to go back but never really thought it would happen. After all, the world is a big place and there's still so many places I want to tick off my list in the United States or even the world. But my mum starting floating around the idea and when I spotted bargain flights - I'm talking £323! - come up, I decided to do what all sensible people do when in the process of buying a house. I bought the flights.

My mum had never ventured over to America let alone to NYC so I was excited to show her all the places I loved eating, the sights that took my breath away and show her the places of my stories. A week flew by in a blink of an eye and even now it feels like a bit of a dream. It was so cool to see it through her new eyes and she took in all in.

After a long winded process through immigration, we hopped in a cab to our hotel just off Times Square and began to explore the city. It was every bit as grimy, loud, fabulous and intoxicating as I remembered. We laughed until we cried, ate until we fell sick, talked until our throats were sore and walked until we thought our feet were about to fall off. It was so great to experience it with my mum especially as I don't see her every day like I used too. Of course we bickered relentlessly, mostly over me working her to the bone and making her walk for miles. But she did encourage me to take a slower pace and I came back feeling a lot more relaxed than I expected too. Secretly I think I was pretty glad to be in bed by 7pm each night, watching Pretty Woman, eating strawberry M&Ms and drinking canned mango margaritas from the 7/11.

The Meatpacking district is still my favourite part of the city and I fell completely in love with parts of Brooklyn. I'm so happy I got to tick the Brooklyn Bridge off my list this time and seeing the Big Apple in the snow was so magical. Although I think I'm still warming up from the rickshaw ride around Central Park in six inches of snow... I'm hoping I won't leave it another four years until I'm back again.

Hotel review: Yotel, Gatwick Airport, United Kingdom

As London airports go, Gatwick is probably the furthest away from our house so when we booked a 6am flight to NYC it made sense to stay overnight to avoid the panic of making sure we arrived on time. Enter Yotel*.

Located in the South Terminal by the arrivals area and a two minute walk away from check-in desks, Yotel is the perfect crash pad if you have to catch a flight. You can even use it if you have a long layover or delayed flights as you rent a room by the hour so you can have it for as long as you need it. If you're flying from the North Terminal, then the hotel is just a short shuttle bus ride away.

Offering three different types of compact cabins (standard, premium and premium twin), the rooms are compact yet have everything you need. You'll be able to relax whilst watching telly, take advantage of the free WIFI and help yourself to the complimentary hot drinks from reception. We treated ourselves to a meal at Giraffe opposite but there is also the option of buying snacks, pizzas, paninis and breakfast. The bed transfers from a sofa to a vertical bed in the coolest way - you'll just have to try it out for yourself! So cool!

I'd heard it could be noisy but we didn't have that problem. In fact we had a great night's sleep but then we was at the furthest end of the hotel which could have played a part. We stayed over on a Thursday night and booked the room from 7pm to 3am. The room was pretty small but it did the job and we really didn't need much more space. We stored our suitcases under the bed to maximise the room and the bed in the premium cabin was plenty big enough for two hoggers to share. If I had an early morning flight from Gatwick again then I'd definitely book myself in. It really couldn't be more convenient and helped to keep our stress levels down as knew we didn't have far at all to go to our check-in desk.

The ultimate list of places to eat in New York City

I found out about this on Sophie Cliff's blog and knew I had to schedule in a trip. After lots of deliberation, I opted to try their dinner menu instead of their infamous brunch menu. Located right next to the Highline in the Meatpacking District, it's a great option for an early dinner if you're hanging out in the area. Even at 5pm it was pretty packed and had a great buzzing atmosphere. Service was friendly, jovial and quick. I'd seen pictures of their burgers on Instagram so knew this was what I was going to have even before I had arrived. Cheese makes everything better so I added blue cheese to my order.  What a revelation! The huge chunks of creamy blue cheese really did bring the burger up a notch. My mum even declared it was the best burger she had ever eaten.

A recomendation from Kelly, she said it may be one of the most expensive bagels in NYC but it was absolutely worth it. She was so right! I missed out on a traditional New York bagel last time I as in the city so I wanted all the cream cheese and smoked salmon. Ess-A-Bagel, located on 3rd Avenue between50th and 51st Street, certainly don't scrimp on the fillings - it was absolutely huge. We went for a late lunch and and couldn't manage anything for dinner so be prepared for this! We meant to make it back from a second buy just ran out of time. It's one of the first places I'll be visiting when I make it back to NYC.

Pizza is my perfect last supper so I was so happy to finally make it to one of the meccas. We popped in for an early dinner in Dumbo before heading over the Brooklyn Bridge. We had to queue for around 15 minutes but it was worth every minute in the cold. To be honest you probably only need a small but we were starving so opted for a large which gave us four slices each. You choose a white or marinara pizza then customise your toppings. Each topping is around $2-$4 each. My mum prefers vegetarian pizzas so we chose all the vegetables on offer and I snuck in some meatballs too. I loved the fact your could design it exactly how you wanted. It was delicious!

Kat'z Delicatessen
Around since 1888, Kat'z Deli is most famous for THAT scene in When Harry Met Sally and is absolute mayhem. It's quite overwhelming when you enter with the self service quite confusing at first. But we knew what we wanted to try so just headed straight for the sandwich counter. A pastrami sandwich to share and a plate of chips - proper thick chips at that. It really does feel like you've taken a step back in time and I'm dying to go back and try the Reuben.

The Meatball Shop
Boasting seven locations in the city, we dined at the one in Hell's Kitchen as it was the closest to our hotel. Only selling meatballs and accompaniments, the menu is pretty simple. You choose your type of ball and opt for a sauce and style of which they are served. Keeping things traditional, I went for the classic meatballs on a bed of pasta in a simple tomato sauce - comfort food at it's finest! You must get the mini chicken buffalo balls to share as a starter too.

A great option if you've crossed the Williamsburg Bridge, Rabbithole is a cute little hipster restaurant with exposed brick and a lavish chandeliers. They do lots of brunch favourite such as avocado on toast, eggs Benedict, stuffed French toast and soft omelettes. The Eggs Benedict comes highly recommend - if only they were more generous with the hollandaise sauce!

For a twist on American classics, head to Empire Diner in Greenwich for some grub. The Art Deco interiors are to die for and I felt like I should have been wearing a tussled flapper dress to fit in. We decided to try the breakfast menu and I can't rave about my breakfast sandwich enough - basically a burger but with the best bits of breakfast. Divine! Once again service was really friendly which makes all the difference when you're eating out.


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