Steal This Starcation: Britney Spears in New York
Britney Spears chose to wind down after her sold-out international Circus Tour with an escape to New York City, avoiding the paparazzi while staying at one of the hottest hotels in town and kicking back at a high-end spa. Even if you are just looking to ditch your 9-5 for a few days, New York has lots of options for staying -- and eating -- in style on a budget. Where else can you find 24,000 restaurants, 102 museums, 500 art galleries, hundreds of theaters, and some seriously killer pizza all on one small island? Read on for Britney's picks and our choices for a weekend that won't break the bank.
Star: $400 a night at London NYC
Spears stayed at the swanky London NYC, which has all the features of an upscale New York City hotel with palatial suites larger than most one-bedroom apartments. Think kidney shaped chaises by windows, hand carved chairs, rain shower faucets and glass-tiled bathrooms. But most appealing to celebrities is that you can fly under the radar here. In fact, it's no accident that the lobby lacks seating (no lingering fans). Most VIPs opt for the Sky Suites on the 54th floor that have jaw-dropping views of Central Park and the Hudson River. But Spears, who is afraid of heights, opted for a lower floor.
Address: 151 W 54th St
Steal: $160 a night at Best Western
The design-forward Best Western President Hotel, which reopened in October 2009 after a $15 million renovation, is just six blocks away and half the price. Don't let the name fool you: this is one chic Best Western. The mod rooms are done up in black and white with splashes of bright colors like lime green chairs or purple ceilings. It does live up to its presidential moniker, though. Each of the funky guestrooms is decorated with uniforms, artifacts, and pop art paintings of presidents beside traditional busts of George Washington and silhouettes of Thomas Jefferson embroidered on pillows. You'll also find amenities that are not usually found at budget hotels, like iPod docking flat screen TVs, and free WiFi.
Address: 234 W 48th St
Star: $50 for two at The London Bar
Spears got an early start with breakfast at Gordon Ramsay's The London Bar. The menu features artichoke eggs benedict, smoked salmon with scrambled eggs, buttermilk pancakes served amid a sexy backdrop of mirrors and dark carved wood walls.
Address: 151 W 54th St
Steal: $15 for two at Mangia
Even in a city as expensive as New York you can still get a hearty breakfast for less than $20. Mangia offers a fresh juice bar and mouth-watering ham and melted Gruyere croissant sandwiches for around $5 each. Take it to go and have an impromptu picnic in Central Park -- two blocks away.
Address: 50 W 57th St
Star: $76 stuffed mohair teddy bear at FAO Schwarz
Most parents find it hard to resist the lure of New York's famed FAO Schwarz toy store right across from the Plaza Hotel and Central Park, and Britney is no exception. Her two young sons made out like bandits with Mack trucks, a stuffed Incredible Hulk, and toy airplanes.
Address: 767 5th Avenue
Steal: $5 stuffed teddy bear at Jack's World
If FAO's price tags are a turn-off, make your way to Jack's World. The discount store sells a variety of toys and stuffed animals at rock-bottom prices. The kids will never know that their souvenirs came from a less glamorous address.
Address: 45 W 45th St.
Star: $450 couples package with massage, facials, and manicures at Townhouse Spa
New York is a spa town and Spears booked time at the Townhouse Spa, around the corner from the London. Set in, yes, a restored townhouse, the spa offers couples treatments and is known for relaxation massages incorporating five different techniques. Like Spears, you can also spend time lounging in the eucalyptus steam room.
Address: 39 W 56th St
Steal: $180 couples massage at Bloomie Nails
If you are looking to relax on a budget, Bloomie Nails has a designated couples massage room where partners can get their kinks worked out for less than $100 per person. Their pampering manicures were also voted the best in the city by New York magazine.
Address: 44 W 55th St.
Star: $150 for two at Bice
What better way to end a day in the city than with dinner at an Italian restaurant? Spears chose Bice, which is right in the Theater District. Spears chose the buffalo mozzarella with tomatoes and extra virgin olive oil while her dining partner ordered the gnocchi with four-cheese sauce. She skipped the extensive wine list, though. Her sole libation? Café au lait.
Address: 7 W 54th St
Steal: $30 for two at Luigi's Grill
Who wants to pay $23 for a bowl of penne? Locals love Luigi's Grill, and while the atmosphere might not be as charming, the savory pastas and salads make up for the décor deficits. The gargantuan chicken Parmesan hero is to die for -- and big enough for two.
Address: 936 8th Avenue
Getting There: Chances are Spears didn't fly commercial and instead jetted into New York via private plane. A charter for you and your entourage can cost around $20,000 from Los Angeles to New York -- one way. Luckily there are flights from most U.S. cities. A search for flights this summer showed roundtrip fares ranging from $300 - $500 per person, depending on where you are flying from.
Breakfast: $50 for two
Shopping: $76 stuffed mohair teddy bear
Spa: $450 couples package
Dinner: $150 for two
Steal This Trip:
Breakfast: $15 for two
Shopping: $5 stuffed teddy bear
Spa: $180 couples massage
Dinner: $30 for two
Photo Credits: London NYC - Courtesy of London NYC; Best Western President Hotel - Courtesy of Best Western President Hotel; The London Bar - Courtesy of The London NYC; Mangia - Courtesy of Mangia ; FAO Schwarz - Courtesy of Spencer Platt, Getty Images; Jack's World - Courtesy of Jack's World; Townhouse Spa - Courtesy of Townhouse Spa ; Bloomie Nails - Courtesy of Bloomie Nails ; Bice - Courtesy of Bice; Luigi's Grill - Danielle Contray; Airplane - Liz Behler