Apartment in Astoria – New York AirBnB Review

Last September, the Battle Family finally visited New York for the first time. I had originally booked an apartment in Lower Manhattan via AirBnB but just two months before we were due to fly out, our host got in touch to say the booking was cancelled as they no longer had the apartment. Cue panic. We needed to secure somewhere and fast. I went back onto AirBnB and scoured ‘Book Now’ places to find us somewhere, and reasonably priced, and stumbled upon a fabulous apartment in Astoria.

apartment in astoria - review of a new york airbnbNow, Astoria wasn’t our first choice of areas to stay in. We had ideally wanted to be on Manhattan itself but with so little time before we travelled, the available apartments were silly money. I read the reviews of this apartment in Astoria and decided they were good enough for us. We booked it immediately and, although it was a little over budget, we were at least guaranteed our booking. Lesson learned. Always go for the ‘Book Now’ option, not the ‘Contact Host’ option.

We flew to New York on September 18th and although we arrived before the check in time, our host Jada allowed us to drop our bags off. She went through the building and apartment rules before we took our keys and headed straight for Times Square. I’ve written all about our New York holiday, but thought I’d let you know what our apartment in Astoria was like.

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We booked a 2-bedroom apartment, mainly so that I could sleep with BattleKid as he had only just moved into a big bed. It also let me escape my husband’s snoring!

Located in Astoria on Astoria Boulevard, this modern 2 bedroom apartment will sleep up to ten people. Initial thoughts were it was a very clean, modern apartment, well decorated and would set a New Yorker back a fair few pennies to buy it!

You enter a lovely little hallway which leads into the open-plan living room, dining room and kitchen. The living room is comfortable, although only had one sofa which would seat three people. Additional people would have to use the dining chairs, although you couldn’t be spending a lot of time in the apartment. The living room also had air conditioning and cable TV.

apartment in astoria - review of a new york airbnb
The living room and kitchen – spot BattleKid

The kitchen was well equipped, with everything you’d need for a city break. There was even a kettle, which Jada said previous guests had insisted she get. We’d have been happy boiling water for our tea on the hob.

There are two bedrooms in this apartment in Astoria. The main bedroom had a queen size bed with a sofa beside it. We made this up as a bed and pushed it beside the queen bed for BattleKid. The main bedroom had a small built in wardrobe and gorgeous floor to ceiling windows which lead to a balcony. You could see the Manhattan skyline from the balcony.

apartment in astoria - review of a new york airbnb
Two bedrooms and a lovely bathroom

The second bedroom had not one, not two, but three queen beds, with an additional queen air bed in the huge walk-in wardrobe. The three beds were configured in a bunk-bed type style and I’d never come across anything like it before, but was brilliant. This bedroom also had floor to ceiling windows and a balcony on which to view the Manhattan skyline.

The bathroom was modern and had a huge shower. There was also a cupboard with a washing machine and dryer, handy if staying longer than a few days. You also have access to a lovely roof terrace for viewing the Manhattan skyline!

The apartment in Astoria was also well located near an underground station with a direct line to Times Square. That ride takes less than 20 minutes. There are bars, shops and diners nearby for food and drinks, and plenty of take-aways around which will deliver to your door via apps such as Seamless or Yelp Eat 24. My personal favourite was the Starbucks on the corner of Astoria Boulevard and 21st Street.

As for our host, Jada, she was lovely. She was very welcoming and accommodating. As we’d arrived early, as mentioned, she let us drop our bags off and collect the keys before we headed to Times Square. When we got back she had kindly put our bags in a wardrobe and hung up our coats! When one fire alarm kept beeping all night (the battery was going), causing BattleKid and I to take solace in BattleDad’s room, she responded to my message very quickly and helped us sort it out. Jada was a lovely host.

Overall, the apartment in Astoria turned out to be the perfect location for us. Getting to and from JFK airport was easy via Uber, and was less than a 30-minute ride. With a terrorist attack which occurred in Jersey the day before we arrived, we were happier staying outside of Manhattan. Although not completely child-friendly in terms of some glass tables, the AirBnB apartment in Astoria was brilliant for us and I’d highly recommend it should Jada list it again as available.*

Our stay cost us £213 per night. This is quite expensive but as we were let down so close to our trip, it was the least costly option short of staying in a hotel room. And hotel rooms are not an option for us. They are a last resort for us or booked out of necessity! Here’s a tour of our apartment in Astoria.

As an area to stay when visiting New York, I’d never considered Astoria but would definitely stay there again as its location for both Manhattan and JFK airport was ideal.

Have you visited New York, and if so, are there other areas we should consider for our next visit?

And if you are planning a visit to New York with your kids, why not check out my post about 5 Things to Do in New York with a Toddler in Tow and the Manhattan Top 10 with Kids by Our Globetrotters. And if they don’t convince you to visit New York, then check out the amazing pictures in Sorry About the Mess’ Winter in New York post. And you might want to consider getting a New York City Pass too!

Cath x

*The listing for this apartment is no longer on AirBnB at the time of writing this review.

**I was not asked to write this review.

To remain fully transparent, this post contains two affiliate links. This means that if you make a purchase after clicking through the link I will receive a small commission, at no extra cost to you. This helps support my blog. Thank you.

apartment in astoria - review of a new york airbnb apartment in astoria - review of a new york airbnb

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31/52 My Sunday Photo: 30/07/2017

my sunday photo
Swinging in the Underground in New York

Going through some of my pictures on my phone and I came across one from last September. This was taken during our first family trip to New York last September. What a trip that was. And we are about to go stateside once again, only this time to the West Coast. We are planning and collating all the information for our forthcoming USA road trip. The more we read and jot down, the more excited we become. Have you got any exciting holiday plans?

To see what everyone else is linking up this weekend to My Sunday Photo, please click on the badge below. Why not join in yourself!

5 Things To Do in New York with a Toddler In Tow

Last September the Battle Family visited New York for the very first time. BattleKid was 2 years and 8 months old and both BattleDad and I were a bit apprehensive about what we would be able to do with him while there. We also had to be realistic that certain things may be off limits to us due to having a toddler in tow. That said, we never let having a toddler put us off booking New York in the first place. We went and I wrote all about our New York holiday in the New York Holiday Diaries. Today I’d like to share with you our top 5 things to do in New York with a toddler in tow to show you that you should never be afraid to just do it.5 THINGS TO DO IN NEW YORK WITH A TODDLER IN TOW

The Empire State Building.

We weren’t sure if we were going to have time to visit the Empire State Building but we were up quite early on our last morning so decided to get the subway into New York and headed for the Empire State Building after a fab breakfast at a traditional diner around the corner from it. We got there very early, just after it opened at 8am and to our surprise there were absolutely no queues. I had been worried as we didn’t pre-book our tickets but we bought them, strolled up to the elevator and straight up to the 80th floor, the first stop, in an elevator with plenty of room in it.

After strolling around that floor and “ooh-ing” at the views, we then headed up to the 86th floor. This is the open-air observatory used in all the films and TV and we had been advised not to bother going any further. The views were even better from there. We really enjoyed our visit to the Empire State Building, especially as we seemed to pick a great time to go. We visited just after 8am on a Wednesday morning and there were no queues. We have heard last thing at night (it is open from 8am to 2am) is the best time to visit for no queues and for getting snaps of the New York skyline lit up at night.

We got tickets that included the 80th and 86th floors for $32 each (children cost $26 and under 6’s go free). We didn’t bring BattleKid’s buggy and that was a great idea as you need to fold it before getting into elevators. Tickets to include both the 86th and top deck cost $52 for adults and $46 for children, but as we were advised we didn’t bother doing the top deck and certainly didn’t feel like we’d missed out. The views from the open-air observatory deck on the 86th floor are all you need! There are, however, VIP passes that allow you to skip the queues if you plan visiting at busy times but they come at a premium, so be warned.new york day 5

Central Park.

This was one New York attraction that we were not going to miss. Central Park is huge with a zoo, lake and various other areas of interest in it. It is 843 acres or 3.4km2 and we only saw a small fraction of it. Surprisingly it is almost half the size of the Phoenix Park in Dublin! Our main reason for visiting Central Park was to have a photograph taken in Strawberry Fields, to carry on a family tradition. We managed to find the elusive rock with memorial plaque on it and a kind passing tourist took our picture, ensuring the tradition carrys on.

The best part about Central Park is that it’s easy to get to and is free! Attractions inside can cost extra such as the zoo and restaurants but if you are visiting on a sunny summer day, why not take a picnic and enjoy it on one of the many grassy areas. We didn’t get to stop long in Central Park but it will definitely be on our must-return-to list for our future visits to New York. Kids will love it as it’s a great place to run free among a busy bustling city!New york day 4

Gift Central Park

The World Trade Centre Memorial.

The Twin Towers Memorial park was top of my to-do list and we visited this on our jam-packed second full day in New York (the first being a total washout due to heavy rain). We had breakfast in a traditional diner nearby before heading around to the site. The memorial is both wondrous and humbling and it really hits home what happened on that awful day when you see the two pools and all the names of the people who lost their lives when the two towers fell. Most upsetting for both BattleDad and I was seeing a lady’s name and beside it “And Her Unborn Child”. We both welled up and gave BattleKid’s hand an extra squeeze.

The pools and landscaped gardens around it are stunning and a fitting memorial. There is also a museum at the site but we didn’t visit it as we felt BattleKid would be too bored for us to take our time going around it. We plan to visit it when he is older so that he can understand it more. The memorial park itself is free while the museum costs $24 adults and $15 for children (under 6’s are free) and you can pre-book your tickets up to 6 months in advance. It is advised to allow yourself 2 hours for your visit, particularly if you plan to include the museum in your visit. The memorial is open from 7.30am to 9pm daily and the museum from 9am to 8pm.

The only thing I will advise, especially if you are visiting with a toddler, and you are getting the subway, do not travel during rush hour. We made that mistake and kept trying to get out of the way of commuters and it took us ages to exit the amazing mall and concourse up to street level. So avoid rush hour if you can! But you should definitely put this on your must-see list of places to visit while in New York.New york day 4

Water Ferry.

We did this on the recommendation of my sister-in-law and thoroughly enjoyed it. It is a 1 hour boat ride around the tip of Manhattan that takes in Manhattan, Liberty Island and the Brooklyn Bridge, which we would have missed had we not seen it on this trip. We got on the Zephyr, a large ferry type boat, at Pier 16 and headed for the top deck. The weather was lovely and when the sun came out it made our water views of Manhattan very magical. We also managed to get some pictures of the Statue of Liberty without having to step off the boat which we thought was great.

The boat trip is narrated with information from a guide and ours was very funny. There are two cash bars on board, remember cash, and you can buy tickets for this which combine other attractions too. Tickets just for the ferry cost $30 for adults and $19 for children (with under 3’s free) and there are various departure times between 10am and 5pm. This boat trip was thoroughly enjoyed by both us and BattleKid and is definitely one I would recommend you do for a different view of Manhattan.New york day 4

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Times Square.

No trip to New York would be complete without a trip to Times Square and having your picture taken with all the lights of the billboards behind you. Times Square was the very first stop during our trip and it is an amazing place to see in the flesh. BattleKid was amazed by all the lights and sounds, although he wasn’t too enamoured with the sirens around us. Times Square is free to visit and there are plenty of shops around if you fancy a bit of shopping or restaurants if you want a bite to eat. We went into the Disney Store and bought BattleKid a t-shirt and Mickey Mouse as it just had to be done.

The only thing I’ll warn you about Times Square and buggies is it gets very, very busy and can be a bit difficult to navigate with a buggy. I’ll be honest and say I took no prisoners on the sidewalk and got through relatively unscathed. For kids on their own two feet, keep a tight grip on their hands and don’t let go as the crowds could easily swallow them up.new york day 2

So there you have it, 5 things to do in New York with a toddler in tow. There are a thing or two to keep in mind with each of them but they can ALL be enjoyed even with a toddler in tow. We had fun at each of them, got plenty of photos and got to tick a few things off our NYC to-do list. There were one or two things we discovered weren’t ideal with BattleKid, such as the National History Museum due to them charging for toddlers, but that won’t put us off visiting when he is older to enjoy them. It will be a few years until we plan our return trip but when we do we already have a to-do list made which includes Madame Tussauds, Grand Central Station and a Helicopter Ride over Manhattan.

There are many things to do in New York with a toddler in tow and some that we didn’t do. If you are considering a trip to New York and I haven’t convinced you to bring the kids as well, then please check out the great post by Our Globetrotters about 10 things to do in Manhattan with kids. And if it’s going to be your first time in New York, you might want to check out this great post from Fly Drive Explore.

Cath x

Note: all prices were correct at the time of writing this post.


things to do in new york with a toddler in tow

New York Day 5: 21/09/2016

BattleKid woke briefly at 2.45am but he settled back to sleep quickly in bed with me. We both woke just before 6am and we went into the living room to chill on the sofa while we waited for BattleDad to get up.

BattleDad woke at 6.30am and we decided to head into Manhattan one last time as we didn’t need to check out of our accommodation until 12pm and our flight wasn’t until 5.30pm. We thought about doing a bit of shopping but instead went through our to-do list and decided to go get our pictures of the Empire State Building as it was the only thing we hadn’t ticked off our list.

We got the N train straight to 34th Street and managed to find what we’d classify as a real American diner for breakfast. BattleDad was in his element when the waitress came back after bringing our breakfast to top up his coffee. That was the icing on the cake for the trip for him. Simple pleasures. BattleDad had steak and eggs for breakfast, as you do, while BattleKid and I shared pancakes again.new york day 5

We then headed for the Empire State Building and last minute decided to go up. We got our tickets at 8.15am and breezed through the lobby, straight into a lift and up to our first stop, the 80th floor. It was amazing see the New York skyline from above. new york day 5

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new york day 5We headed to the lifts to go up to the 86th floor observatory and again breezed into the lift and straight up. There were absolutely no queues and there was plenty of space in the lifts and on the floors. I’d been warned that the queues can be hours long but we definitely lucked in with deciding to go in as soon as they opened to the public.

Getting our pictures on the 86th floor observatory was a bucket list point ticked and it was yet another great way to view the city, up there with the ferry ride. Unfortunately I didn’t get a picture of the skyline as we were too busy getting a family selfie and capturing some video for my vlogs. Typical! Once we’d gotten all our videos and pictures we headed back down via the gift shop where we bought our fridge magnet (we get one from every new destination we visit). We also got a Christmas tree decoration and a little soft toy for BattleKid too. On ground level I did manage to catch a snap or two of the the Empire State Building.new york day 5

We finally felt like we’d seen as much of New York as we could in the time we had and so headed to the apartment to do our final packing before we started our journey home to Wales.new york day 5

new york day 5

We called an Uber taxi at midday and got to JFK in less than 25 minutes as there was very little traffic leaving the city. It was a different story on the other side of the road I can tell you. BattleKid slept in the taxi and continued to do so when we transferred him to his buggy at the airport. Our bag drop desk wasn’t open until two so we checked in, printed our boarding passes and found a seat.

new york day 5
Flaked out at the airport!

At 2pm we dropped our bags, headed through security and found a nice restaurant to have our last NYC lunch in. We were slightly disappointed with the small duty free in Terminal 5, so just got some water for the flight and headed for our gate to wait until we were ready to board.new york day 5

Again we were lucky enough to board with first and business class and got BattleKid settled for the flight to Dublin. I had changed him into comfy jogging bottoms in the hope he’s be comfortable enough to sleep. He watched his tablet and ate a little bit of the dinner before we tried to settle him. He did eventually get 2 hours before we landed in Dublin, as did I but poor BattleDad didn’t as he was trying to keep BattleKid comfortable.

Surprisingly the flight was less than 6 hours and we landed in Dublin before 5am. We had to collect our bags and check in again as our flights were booked separately. Once we found our departure gate, I entertained BattleKid to try and let BattleDad get some sleep. He didn’t manage it though due to the constant airport announcements. Our Cardiff-bound flight took off on time at 7.40am and both BattleKid and I were asleep as soon as we took off. BattleKid remained asleep, even after we landed, transferred him to his buggy and then to the car.

We were glad to get home and BattleKid and I went straight to my bed and straight to sleep. New York was done and after a disastrous first full day we still managed to tick off everything we had on our to-do list. Although we were only there for a few short days, it was enough to get a taster of the city, enough to know we will definitely be returning in the future. Has it grabbed me like I thought it would like Paris did all those years ago? To be honest no, it’s a great city but Paris remains my number 1 favourite city. That said, it won’t stop me visiting again in the future.

Thanks for reading,

Cath x

New York Day 4: 20/09/2016

While BattleKid quietly watched some Curious George I managed to doze on the couch until just before 6am. BattleKid asked for some food so we had a yogurt and some fruit before BattleDad woke and joined us at 7am. We chanced looking out the window and it was a bit cloudy but dry so we decided to try and beat the commuters and head into Manhattan and try catch up on the things we hadn’t managed to do the previous day.

We quickly got washed and dressed and headed for the Subway with my little list of destinations and the subway routes to get to them. We decided to head south and visit the World Trade Centre Memorial first. We were lucky on the subway and it didn’t get too packed so our decision to go early paid off. BattleKid had a snooze unsurprisingly on the subway. We only had to do one change from our line, the N line, before we arrived at Cortlandt Street and came out in what was the most amazing concourse I’ve ever seen, the World Trade Centre Concourse. It contains entrances to the various World Trade Centre buildings as well as a brand new mall and entrances to the subway. I completely forgot to get a picture of it as we tried not to get in commuters ways with our mouths wide open in wonder.

Once we got to ground level we made our way to the memorial site and came across the North Tower memorial first. It’s a very sobering and yet beautiful site but seeing all the names along the walls of the memorial brought that day back. Getting that first phone call from BattleDad about the first plane to getting home just to watch the first tower fall on TV. Although we were watching from over 3000 miles away it was no less shocking.New york day 4

New york day 4

The site is very peaceful and beautiful, even on a dull grey morning as it was for us. We got some pictures of BattleKid and us around it and in time will explain to him the significance of those pictures.New york day 4

New york day 4

The one thing that got to both BattleDad and I was along the names on the North Tower memorial. It was the name of a lady and beside it it read

And Her Unborn Child.

Seeing that brought tears to our eyes. We knew there had been at least one pregnant lady who had lost her life that day but it wasn’t until that day that it really hit home for us, particularly now we are parents. After walking around both the North and South Tower memorials we stopped at a nearby diner for breakfast and BattleKid and I had some lovely pancakes with bacon and strawberries.

From the World Trade Centre Memorial we decided to walk towards Battery Park to find the Staten Island ferry. Just as we turned the corner across the road from Battery Park an African-American guy stopped us and asked we were interested in the New York Water Ferry to see the sights from the water. He must have spotted my camera in my hand and guessed where we were headed. BattleDad reluctantly said yes. Now he was wearing a ‘New York City Attractions’ bib and had an ID badge but I was still wary as was BattleDad as he told me later. We paid the guy our ticket money and he put us on a free bus which took us near to Pier 16, the ferry dock.

It turned out that he was legit, BattleDad exchanged our tickets for actual ferry tickets and we boarded the 11am departure on the Zephyr for an hour’s tour around the waters of Manhattan and it turned out to be great. It wasn’t quite a water taxi as we were on board with a couple of hundred other sightseers but it was well worth the $30 each we paid (BattleKid went free).

During the boat ride we went under the Brooklyn Bridge, which I had completely forgotten about until the guide pointed it out and around the southern tip of Manhattan to get a great view of the Manhattan skyline with One World Trade Centre (mistakenly known as the Freedom Tower as the guide told us) taking centre stage. New york day 4

New york day 4

New york day 4Once we turned around we headed towards Liberty Island to get pictures of the Statue of Liberty. This was definitely our preferred way of seeing her! After we docked we decided to get some lunch near Pier 16 and I had a lovely salad, while BattleDad and BattleKid enjoyed some burgers.New york day 4

With our bellies filled we headed back to Cortlandt Street Subway station to head for Central Park. BattleKid fell asleep in his buggy in the train. We got off at 57th Street and we walked into Central Park from the south, heading for the Natural History Museum which is located on 81st Street on the west side of Central Park. We enjoyed our walk through Central Park and it’s easy to see why New Yorkers flock to it on nice days. It’s surprisingly peaceful inside, despite the hustle and bustle of the city around it.New york day 4

New york day 4

New york day 4

We arrived at the museum just before 3pm to find out it was going to cost the guts of $60 for the three of us in entry fees and we’d only have 2 hours in the place. That seemed quite expensive to us considering the majority, if not all museums in the UK are free of charge (donations suggested instead). And they were going to charge us for BattleKid as he was 2 years of age. Really?! The museum was more for us than him but not for $60 so we decided not to go in this time. We’d rather wait until we return when BattleKid is old enough to appreciate and enjoy the museum.

We headed back through Central Park on route to the subway to catch a train back to the apartment. While there we decided to try and find a particular spot in Strawberry Fields that has sentimental memories in our family. We managed to find it and got a kind passing tourist to take our picture there, keeping the family tradition going. I was chuffed, even if BattleKid was still asleep in his buggy. Our plan is to return to that same spot when we go back to New York in the future to emulate our sister’s pictures. I won’t explain further but I hope she doesn’t mind us carrying on what she started all those years ago.

New york day 4
BattleDad taking my picture at the Central Park spot before getting a passing tourist to get a family one for us.

Satisfied that we’d achieved quite a lot in one day, we headed for home and got back to Astoria just after 4pm. BattleDad got us some Starbucks drinks; him an iced mocha, me an iced chai tea latte. BattleDad and BattleKid watched some Netflix cartoons while I started packing us and cleaning up the apartment. We had showers and donned our pjs and had a late dinner just after 7pm.New york day 4

After dinner we saw another spectacular sunset before getting BattleKid ready for bed and I wasn’t far behind him at 8.30pm, with very sore feet after walking the legs off ourselves, something we always do on city breaks. I was knackered after a broken night’s sleep and a jam-packed day and was really hoping for a better night before home day arrived.New york day 4

Stop by tomorrow to see how the return journey to Cardiff went!

Cath x