So good they named it twice? Well, yes, as it goes. The most audacious, preposterous example of hotel theming in Las Vegas - and, for that matter, perhaps even the world - remains a thrilling success more than a decade after it welcomed its first guests. Built at a cost of $460 million, it's been called the largest piece of pop art in the world.
A mini-New York Harbor, complete with tugboats, a scaled-down Brooklyn Bridge and a giant Statue of Liberty, looms over the Tropicana/Strip intersection. Above it, the resort's skyline includes a dozen of the Big Apple's most famous landmarks, among them the Empire State Building, the Chrysler Building and the New Yorker Hotel but not the World Trade Center; the hotel was themed after 1950s New York, long before the twin towers were built. Inside, along with representations of Times Square, Central Park, Greenwich Village and Wall Street, you'll find every New York cliché in the book: a Broadway subway station, graffitied mailboxes, steam rising from manhole covers… It sounds silly, but it's tremendous fun, and seems to inspire visitors to act as if they were out on the East Coast: it's got energy like no other casino floor in town.
The resort's greatest trick, one that New York City has yet to achieve, is to balance the needs of adult visitors with those of its younger guests. Grown-ups will enjoy the nightlife here, not to mention Cirque du Soleil's adult-oriented show Zumanity, but there's plenty for the young 'uns. The Coney Island Emporium is nirvana for kids and wanna-be-kids-again, a mix of old-fashioned midway games, high-tech interactive videos and virtual-reality rollercoasters. The hotel's real rollercoaster, the Manhattan Express, twists, turns and rolls around the property. The pool and spa are, alas, real letdowns: a replica of the famous Vertical Club would have been fitting. Or, perhaps, the Central Park Reservoir.
NYNY's rooms are concealed behind (but not in) an assortment of towers and skyscrapers. The rooms are done fairly nicely, in art deco-styled woods with black accents, and are maintained to a high standard. Although they're pretty small, they're bargains in comparison to some of their Strip competitors, especially during the week. Check when you make your booking that the Manhattan Express doesn't rumble by your window, or you'll be continually disturbed by the squeals of riders.
Eating & drinking
The restaurants aren't a match for those in the city on which they're modelled, but if they lack subtlety (and they do), they're at least a vibrant bunch. The smartest by far is Gallagher's Steakhouse, a Big Apple import; there's also competent Italian at Il Fornaio, reasonable Mexican at Gonzalez y Gonzalez and serviceable Chinese at Chin-Chin. Nine Fine Irishmen is a rather hokey but locally popular Irish pub, while the sports-themed ESPN Zone is located by the sports book and gets rammed on game days. A food court fashioned after Greenwich Village (cobblestone streets, a subway station, apartment buildings) contains burgers, pizzas and fried fish, though - disappointingly - no knishes. However, the best eating option is the most straightforward: America, a 24-hour coffeeshop that delivers average-to-excellent renditions of dishes from all over the 50 states.
NYNY's leading show is Cirque du Soleil's Zumanity, an intriguing but only partly successful attempt at mixing Cirque's ever-dazzling acrobatics with the sexiness of the Strip-standard adult revue. After Rita Rudner moved to Harrah's, the casino decided to replace her with a roster of temporary engagements, though it's rumoured that the space may be turned into a nightclub. The other entertainments are all participatory: duelling piano players lead boozy singalongathons all night, every night at the Bar at Times Square, while Coyote Ugly is a loud, lairy nightclub modelled on the film (which was, in turn, modelled on a New York City bar) of the same name.
The capacious casino is modelled on Central Park, without the muggers but with twice the crowds. Minimums for blackjack (practically all six-deck shoes) and craps are $10; it's $5 for roulette. The range of slots is one of the best on the Strip. Dim sum hors-d'oeuvres are served in the Asian-styled Dragon Pit, with saké, plum wine, Asian beer and teas.