Travel News: Enjoy a magical twist in New York

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Liberty of Statue and overview of New York City


BIG APPLE: New York City is the enchanting location for J.K. Rowling’s latest movie

The movie, released last week, tells the story of events before the Harry Potter series.

It sees former Hogwarts student Newt Scamander arriving in NYC at the height of the jazz age, with an enchanted briefcase that’s a doorway to a land of fantastical beasts.

Mayhem and madness ensue as the creatures escape, leaving Scamander – played by Oscar winner Eddie Redmayne – and a band of locals to find them quickly while a thrilling battle between good and evil breaks out.

New York City skyline

NYC: The Big Apple is the perfect location for the movie

The Big Apple is the perfect location for the movie as it is just as epic as J.K. Rowling’s story – and now wannabe wizards can discover for themselves what life was like for magical folk and muggles alike in 1920s New York.

The best way to get to know the New York of Fantastic Beasts is to hop on a coach with On Location Tours.

They offer an in-depth guide to the locations seen in the film and others that influenced J.K. Rowling and her creative team.

The tour starts in Times Square and takes in sights including the Flatiron Building and 223 Broadway, one of the city’s oldest properties and the location of the film’s Magical Congress of the USA.

Other highlights include a former speakeasy bar, The Blind Pig, which was the inspiration behind one of the most important scenes.

But do keep in mind that the movie is set in 1926 so if you want to check out monuments such as the Empire State Building you’ll have to wait until the sequel in 2018 as the towering landmark wasn’t completed until 1931.

New York

BUSY: The tour starts in Times Square and takes in sights including the Flatiron Building

Beyond the film, a must-see is the Tenement Museum on the Lower East Side, which was home to more than 7,000 people during its original life as low-level housing.

The apartment building was inhabited before housing laws were implemented and, as a consequence, space was cramped and hygiene was not a priority.

Hundreds of people had to share a single toilet.

The museum offers several tours, which give a fascinating insight into the immigrant families who lived in the tenement.

Visitors must book ahead as these tours are extremely popular and group sizes are kept small because it is such an intimate space.

With around 110,000 hotel rooms in New York, choosing where to lay your head in the city that never sleeps can be a difficult decision.

New York City skyline

BEAUTY: Times Square is a 15-minute subway journey away

We stayed at the Conrad Hotel in Lower Manhattan, just around the corner from the One World Trade Center, a hub for international business with plenty of shopping, dining options and incredible views.

Staying at the Conrad is ideal for anyone looking to step away from the usual tourist hotspots of the city.

Times Square is a 15-minute subway journey away but the hotel is ideally situated for visiting Ellis Island, the Statue of Liberty and Chinatown.

Another upcoming, trendy alternative is the Arlo Hudson Square.

It’s a centrally located boutique hotel offering space-saving rooms, ideal for those who just want to ditch their bags on arrival and start exploring the city.

It has some of the biggest and most comfortable beds in Manhattan, the decor is edgy, stylish and quirky, plus there’s a food shop and a rooftop bar.

Make sure you make time for lunch at Harold’s Meat + Three restaurant on the ground floor.

It’s the brainchild of chef Harold Moore, one of New York’s most exciting food masters, and offers a fresh take on Southern cuisine.

You can look forward to dishes such as beer-can chicken, pork ribs and slider burgers served with sides including Japanese sweet potato, macaroni cheese and grits.

Lates ‘N’ Breaks

CUBA: Go from Gatwick on Thursday for a fortnight on all-inclusive at the four-star Grand Memories Hotel in Varadero for £802.

BARCELONA: Book by Friday and pay from £119 for two nights’ B&B at the Glories Hotel.

Travel from Gatwick on dates between January 9 and 31.

PORTUGAL: Leave from Luton next Sunday for seven nights’ half-board at the Pestana Cascais Ocean Aparthotel in Cascais for £369.

PRAGUE: Jet out from East Midlands on December 5 for three nights’ room-only at the three-star Victoria Hotel Prague for £279.

GRAN CANARIA: Bag seven nights on self-catering at the three-star Ocean Hill Hotel in Puerto Rico for £136pp based on three sharing.

Depart Gatwick on December 5.

MALAYSIA: Head east to Penang for a ten-night B&B stay at the four-star Bayview Hotel for £773.

Fly from Manchester on December 8.

ABU DHABI: Seven nights’ B&B at four-star Sheraton Hotel & Resort is £672.

Go from Glasgow on December 8.

NEW YORK CRUISE: Depart Southampton on December 15 on Cunard’s Queen Mary 2 for this 12-night cruise-and-stay for £1,499.

The trip includes a transatlantic cruise, a four-night New York hotel stay over Christmas and return flight to London.

Fact file:

Getting there: Virgin Atlantic flies six times daily from Heathrow to New York, with direct flights from Manchester to JFK beginning May 2017.

Return fares from £393pp.

This fare is available for selected departures during 2016 and 2017.

Where to stay: Prices from £239 per night at the Conrad New York.

To learn more about New York City as seen in the Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, visit nycgo.com/fantasticnyc.

The New York CityPASS costs £93 and provides free (and often priority) entry to six of the city’s best known attractions and museums.