I have just returned from a trip to New York with my wife, to celebrate her birthday. We stayed at the very contemporary W Hotel on Lexington Avenue. The hotel is opposite the Waldorf Astoria (apparently where the US presidents stay when they are in NYC) and is very centrally located. If you're looking for a budget hotel with loads of space, then this hotel is probably not for you.
As well as the touristy bits and pieces, we also decided to go shopping. Having been my first visit to NYC, I wasn't too sure what to expect. In NYC itself we only visited a handful of shops such as Tiffanys and Maceys. Maceys in particular I thought was quite well laid out. There are 8 floors of retail space, with each floor having up to 4 categories. The additional 10% discount for being a tourist was a very nice touch.
However, the main shopping event was reserved for our last full day, and that was a visit to Woodbury Common Premium Outlets. We took the Hampton Luxury Liner from two streets down from our hotel and the coach took approximately around 1 hour and 20 mins to get there. Having done our homework online in advance, we knew what to expect in terms of the shops, and as a result planned the use of our time effectively. If you visit Woodbury Common and plan to visit ALL 220 shops, then you will be disappointed. It is simply impossible to do so in a mere 7 hours. My maths puts that at 32 shops per hour, or 1 shop every 2 minutes. We decided in advance which shops we were going to hit, and limited the time we spent in shops we peeked in. One piece of great advice given I found before going was this "If you don't shop at these shops normally because of price or lack of sizing, then don't shop at them at Woodbury Common". This was great advice. Whilst I love the idea of getting a Gucci bargain, the reality is even at Woodbury prices Gucci is still out of my league. So we targeted the shops we would realistically get mileage from. As a result I picked up some great bargains at Polo Ralph Lauren, DKNY, Tommy Hilfiger and Levis. The wife bagged the biggest bargain of the day when she purchased a DKNY leather biker-style jacket for $275, reduced from $500.
Pros and cons of Woodbury Common? The positives is that there is so much choice that if you plan your time effectively and focus on the shops most important to you, you will inevitably find some great bargains and discounts. Negatives? The so-called famous American customer service was lacking in quite a large number of the stores we visited. I found many of the sales staff bordering on rude and unhelpful. My main gripe is with shops who have a long queue of customers, only one or two tills open, and sales staff just wandering around on the shop floor - get them on the tills!
In summary, Woodbury Common Premium outlets is defintely worth a visit if you have a lot of money ready to spend on brands you know and love annyway - bargains will be had. However, don't expect bargains from brands you would never or could usually buy.