One World Observatory is at the top of the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere. The Observatory is located on the 100th, 101st and 102nd floors of One World Trade Center.

I purchased two ‘all-inclusive experience’ tickets for $128.48 ($110 for two tickets + $10.48 tax + $8 processing fee). The $8 processing fee = unnecessary rip-off fee. I chose these tickets as they could be used anytime in the morning, had some fast track element and included a $15 credit at the bar/restaurant at the top. You could pay $35 for standard admission, although I’m sure the rip-off $8 would also be added to that.

There wasn’t much of a line and we cleared the airport-style security scanners quickly. We were directed into the standard line and then noticed there was a fast-track entry and jumped over to that.

The elevator experience was impressive: The walls showed a 500-year CGI timelapse video of New York over the centuries, beginning in 1500. Only 47-seconds later and we were at the 102nd Floor (1268ft). The original World Trade Center appears and then tragically disappears on the right.

At the top, a projection wall showed a ‘rhythms of the city’ movie, which culminated in the screen opening to the spectacular view of New York City. Don’t expect hundreds of photos – this is one of the most photographed attractions in the World and you don’t need my iPhone snaps adding to the image library.

We were offered iPads that were set up to identify the objects in view. It sounded like a clever idea, but not interesting enough to bother carrying and interacting with. The iPads are chargeable to General Admission ticket holders.

The views were very good, but there was no outside viewing platform as with the original World Trade Center – I much preferred the original having visited the top of both towers several times.

We arrived at the host stand of the One Dine bar and restaurant – the place was almost empty. We had to wait several minutes before a surly and distracted hostess appeared.

We asked for a table by the window but were told that only diners could take those and we’d have to sit at the bar.

We ordered two draft beers and handed over our two $15 vouchers only to be told that we’d need to add an extra $6 dollars to cover the cost. Just an outrageous rip off.

As the place was still empty, we were able to take a photo from a window table without disturbing anyone.

It was a grey overcast day.

The place did start to fill up, especially in the back room that I think had better views.

We declined another drink and left.

Something is missing from this restaurant. It feels more cafe than fine dining – but the prices don’t match. The latest table booking is 7.30 pm and the place closes at 9 pm. Diners also have to pay admission to the observation deck. It’s just a tourist rip-off.

I was lucky enough to dine at the amazing Windows on the World restaurant – it used to sit atop the original World Trade Center. That felt like a fine-dining restaurant, was open late, had a lively bar next door and had a great atmosphere. There also wasn’t any charge to visit.

If you are visiting New York City and only plan to visit one skyscraper, don’t make it the One World Observatory. I’d recommend dinner in Bar Sixty-five at the Rainbow Room or perhaps some of the other rooftop bars and restaurants in midtown. Sure it will still be expensive, but the views will be better, you won’t be charged entry and you won’t feel like you’ve been nickel and dimed.

One World Trade Center
117 West Street
New York, New York 10007

Hours and directions: