In a city with more than 8 million people, nearly 500 subway stations and innumerable attractions across five boroughs, a successful visit is as much about what you skip as what you see. Michael Romei, who has served as chef concierge at Waldorf Astoria New York’s The Waldorf Towers for 19 years, shares trade secrets on how to bypass lines, fees and crowds for a luxuriously insider perspective on New York City.
Favorite landmark secret: “The Empire State Building sells express tickets that, for a higher price, allow you to enter at any time on any day and travel via an exclusive elevator to the 86th-floor observation deck. For an additional fee, you can also access the very top 102nd floor; this trip can be purchased as a regular ticket or together with an express ticket, allowing you to bypass any lines of visitors waiting to enter.”
Favorite tour secret: “There are several options for cruises in and around Manhattan, especially during our spring, summer and fall seasons, but most people do not realize that the Staten Island Ferry is free of charge and does not require any reservation; you won’t have to worry about keeping to a definite schedule. The ferry runs almost every 30 minutes, 24 hours a day and offers spectacular views of the Lower Manhattan skyline.”
Favorite shopping secret: “Several Manhattan department stores offer personal shopping at no extra charge, allowing for a very customized experience — not to mention assistance with putting together a great wardrobe or outfit and helping to find items located within the store. The two NYC department stores that truly are known for their extensive personal shopping departments and excellent service team: Barneys and Bloomingdale’s. Most of us New York City concierges have had a very strong working relationship with both of these department stores — they will even come to the hotel and show items to VIP guests.”
Favorite Waldorf Astoria New York secret: “At the Waldorf Astoria and The Waldorf Towers, we offer private and group historic tours of our famous landmark hotel. Tours are available to the public each Thursday and Saturday at 10:45 a.m. We actually have trained, dedicated Waldorf historic guides who conduct the tour and take our guests on a historical journey, highlighting famous stories from when The Waldorf was created through present day. The tour includes our historic public rooms, a possibility to view one of our historic Waldorf Suites and, as of just recently, a visit to our rooftop herb garden, where we also keep our beehives harvesting our famous Waldorf honey. In addition, the roof garden offers a spectacular view of the Chrysler Building.”
Photos Courtesy of Hilton Worldwide