There's a reason that the UK setting of JK Rowling's Harry Potter novels worked so well. Creaking castles, ominous forests and quaint towns gave the book and film series their quintessentially British identity, but Jo's latest monster franchise Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is an entirely new creature not to be confused with Harry's adventures at Hogwarts, and it could not have found a more magical setting than New York City.
Set in 1926, the film sees the awkward yet charming Brit Newt Scamander (played by Eddie Redmayne) take a trip to NYC only to accidentally lose some 'fantastic beasts' from his magical suitcase, forcing him to chase them down before his mistake has serious repercussions on the American wizarding society.
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them opens in cinemas on Friday
HELLO! Online took a magical airplane journey with Virgin Atlantic across to pond to learn all about our new favourite film's location, and how New York City is certainly witch and wizard-worthy.
The crew of Virgin Atlantic ready for a magical flight
Of course, the 1920s in NYC was all about flapper dresses, jazz and the Prohibition before the city was hit hard by the Great Depression in 1929, but to truly understand the living conditions of this era requires a trip to the Tenement museum, in which you take a tour around restored apartments and learn the history of the residents who once lived there, gaining an understanding of their daily routines.
The details of the apartments inspired the characters' homes in the film
The apartment rooms' aesthetic sets up the homes of the characters in the Fantastic Beasts films, proving the outstanding attention to detail given to the films. The film's director David Yates even visited the museum to see how people truly lived in the 1920s. Speaking about the visit, the museum's communications manager Jon Pace said: "It was a rare opportunity to see a filmmaker – a professional, respected filmmaker – in the early development of putting together a film and thinking about how they were going to ultimately create and show that world."
The Tenement museum apartments takes you back in time
A trip aboard the 'On Location' bus tour specifically designed for Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them sites gives you all the information you could need about how the city inspired the film's location. From the rundown speakeasy named the Blind Rabbit (spot the doorway in the film!) to the Woolworth Building which inspired America's Ministry of Magic equivalent – the Magical Congress of the United States of America (or 'MACUSA', if you will), the film is packed with references to real places in the city.
No trip to NYC is complete without a trip to Ellis Island, where thousands of immigrants entered America (including Newt!). The museum gives an insight into their travels and why they journeyed to America, and of course it gives you the opportunity to see NYC's most iconic landmark – the Statue of Liberty – up close and personal.
FOOD AND DRINK
How can any trip to NYC be complete without enjoying some typical American grub? The perfect example of the city's culinary delights can be found with a spot of lunch at Harold's Meat + Three, a restaurant which belongs to one of NYC's newest hotels, the Arlo Hudson Square. Putting a twist on the classic southern dinner, the restaurant makes delicious diner grub from slider burgers, steak and fried egg, mac and cheese (we could go on), giving you a real taste of New York's finest flavours.
Enjoy American grub at its best at Harold's Meat + Three
For a special evening out, why not try one of Manhattan's newest and most incredible restaurants, Black Barn? A mere ten minute walk from the Empire State Building, the restaurant's rustic vibe and incredible food makes for a memorable dining experience.
Black Barn has a rustic vibe
For an evening of cocktails, Fowler and Wells is a must try, particularly if you're hoping to enjoy a real 1920s experience. The atmosphere inside the historical building feels like a scene from The Great Gatsby, particularly when holding one of the bar and restaurant's many cocktail options in your hands!
Step into the 1920s at Fowler and Wells
WHERE TO STAY
The Conrad New York is located mere minutes from The One World Trade Centre in Downtown Manhattan (if ever you get lost, having the tallest building in NYC as a guiding point is never a bad idea) and is surrounded by vibrant restaurants, shopping centres and food markets. The hotel itself is a stunning space offering tip top luxury that makes it more than worthy of its five star rating.
Enjoy stunning views and comfort at The Conrad
Once you've packed your wand, Hufflepuff scarf and all of those pesky fantastic beasts away in your suitcase, Virgin Atlantic can fly you directly from London Heathrow to New York (and from Manchester beginning May 2017) with return fares from £429 per person.
To learn more about the fantastic New York City seen in the film, visit www.nycgo.com/FantasticNYC.