From Broadway shows and museum tickets, to $15 mixed drinks, it can be difficult to stick to a budget in this city. Rather than compromise on the experiences that make New York such a desirable destination, here are some ways to save on accommodation.
These budget-friendly hotels all have another thing in common – they’re sure to be more unique experiences, thanks to creative surroundings or less touristy neighborhoods.
Address: 242 West 123rd St.
Highlights: If you’ve ever toured a historic home and wanted to crawl under the velvet ropes and stay the night, this might be your chance.
Warmly and thoughtfully decorated with books, photos, and plants, this Victorian guesthouse feels much more like a home than a hotel, while every room thoroughly celebrates one of the most vibrant and important times in New York’s history: the Harlem Renaissance.
Originally converted into lodging in the early 1900s as affordable housing for the artists, jazz musicians, and writers who came to define the post-Civil war period in upper Manhattan, more recent ownership has embraced this history. The Harlem Flophouse is distinctively old-fashioned and continues to draw in more artistic guests, and those who want to be absorbed into the New York of a century ago.
For travelers who prioritize character over modern amenities.
Close to: Far north on the west side of Manhattan, in Harlem you are walking distance from Columbia University, Morningside Park, and Central Park. Venturing slightly further north takes visitors past the striking white towers of City College or to the National Jazz Museum. For soul food or jazz, Harlem is the place to be, and with so many colleges nearby, the area is full of lively bars and affordable restaurants. Harlem is also one of the best areas to be in for easy transportation to the rest of Manhattan, with many train lines within walking distance at any time.
Neighborhood: Murray Hill
Address: 145 E. 39th St.
Highlights: The second of the ‘Pod’ hotels to open in NYC, these spaces are best described as high-end hostels. Highly efficient, the rooms are small even by New York standards, and marketing is aimed at more adventurous travelers, but guests won’t suffer from lack of traditional amenities – Wi-Fi, TVs, and in-suite bathrooms all make Pod 39 far from bare bones.
With a focus on modern technology and design, this is far from the traditional, sterile hotel space, and the common areas highlight that sentiment. Pod 39 has a game room that includes ping-pong tables, a rooftop lounge, and a vibrant Taqueria onsite. This hotel is design focused and fun, and a great place for young or more social travelers to select as a home base.
Close to: This area of Midtown East is known for being home to recent college grads starting their professional careers in New York City. While less culturally interesting than most other parts of Manhattan, Murray Hill offers busy pubs and restaurants open until late at night, and nearby Little India makes this one of the best spots for Indian food at any time of day.
For daytime activities, the Chrysler Building, the Morgan Library & Museum, and Grand Central are all within 5 blocks of Pod 39, while an easy walk further west takes you to must-see tourist destinations such as Bryant Park, the Empire State Building, or Times Square.
Neighborhood: Times Square
Address: 218 W. 50th St.
Highlights: Primarily a European chain, Citizen M is new to the US, and makes for a welcome alternative to the luxury hotels that abound in NYC. Walking into this hotel, it’s instantly clear that this is a conscious attempt to re-invent the concept of travel accommodation. The lobby areas, decorated in bold colors, have been formed into living room like spaces where guests are encouraged to spend their time lounging on couches, reading borrowed books or meeting other travellers, until they’re ready to sleep.
The bedrooms may not be the focal points, but they’re equipped with modern amenities such as Smart TVs, mood lighting, and rain showers. With a 24/7 ‘canteen’ for snacks and drinks, and a rooftop bar only for guests, staying in Times Square can be an unexpectedly relaxing experience. This is a great place to stay for those who want to be in the action while maintaining the comfort of a modern home.
Close to: In the heart of New York, guests at citizenM are just a street or two away from all of the best and most well known theatres in NYC, so Broadway fans will be in heaven here. Some of the most popular spots in Times Square – Madame Tussauds, Ripley’s Believe it or Not!, and M&M’s World – will always be full of tourists, but staying in this neighborhood also means that you can venture a couple avenues west into Hell’s Kitchen for meals, or north to Carnegie Hall and Central Park.
Neighborhood: West Village
Address: 113 Jane St.
Highlights: Another budget hotel that has embraced its unique place in history, The Jane’s guest rooms mimic ship cabins, harkening back to the hotel’s origin as accommodation for sailors. In fact, survivors of the Titanic stayed at this hotel in 1912, and after the YMCA took over the space, The Jane became known for hosting eccentric travelers involved in the social activism and bohemian lifestyle that characterized the West Village.
This stunning Landmark building contains a romantically historic ballroom used for events, and boasts a rooftop with views over the neighboring Hudson River. Cozy bunk bed or single rooms are a highly affordable option with shared bathrooms, while the en-suite and more spacious Captain’s Cabins still maintain a simple elegance.
Close to: Located in the West Village, charming cobblestone streets, impeccable bistros, and elegant boutiques surround the Jane. Just south of the High Line, and bordering Greenwich Village and Washington Square Park, the opportunities to wander on foot in search of entertainment are endless.
A beautiful neighborhood architecturally, the West Village is wonderful for travelers who want to be surrounded by Manhattan’s past and present at the same time. As the heart of many of NYC’s social movements, this area has some of the best LGBTQ bars and stand-up comedy venues in the city. The nearby Cherry Lane Theatre is New York’s oldest continually running off-Broadway theatre, and just a couple blocks away from The Jane is Whitney Museum of American Art. The infamous Stonewall Inn – the site of the Stonewall riots during the gay liberation movement – is also in the area, as is the Village Vanguard for jazz, and the Big Gay Ice Cream Shop or Van Leeuwen’s for some of New York’s best ice cream.
Neighborhood: Prospect Lefferts Garden, Brooklyn
Address: 80 Rutland Rd, Brooklyn
Highlights: A classic Victorian B&B with quaint room names including, ‘The Rose Room’, ‘The Osbourne’, and ‘The Fitzgerald’, this home is as charming as it sounds.
Bright, fresh, and comfortable, the owners of Lefferts Manor are known for offering personalized advice to their guests, as well as a full breakfast in the mornings. This is the perfect place to stay if you’re a traveller who would normally choose an idyllic B&B in the country over a high-rise hotel, but have to be in NYC anyway. It’s a peaceful way to visit the whole of the city, and great if you are interested in focusing your tourist energies on Brooklyn over Manhattan.
Close to: Lefferts Manor is located in the more historic area of Prospect Park, and is close to many of Brooklyn’s most note-worthy landmarks. BAM, the Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn Public Library, and Brooklyn Botanic Gardens are all close by, as is, naturally, Prospect Park itself. This expansive park may not be as well known as Central Park, but it’s arguably a nicer place to spend a day, with a more natural layout and fewer tourists.
This area is very ethnically diverse with a large Caribbean America population – so good Caribbean food is easy to find – and is also easily accessible to Manhattan, just over the Brooklyn Bridge.
Neighborhood: Boerum Hill, Brooklyn
Address: 85 Smith St, Brooklyn
Highlights: One of the few boutique hotels in Brooklyn, Nu Hotel’s location along almost every train line makes it convenient to visit any part of NYC. A minimalist, modern space, local artwork adds color to the hotel with unique murals and illustrations featured throughout common areas and in guestrooms.
Eco-friendly, with floors and furniture made of recycled materials, the Nu Hotel also has some more whimsical touches. Select larger rooms comes with hammocks hanging on the wall, and chalkboard walls in each room invite guests to express their most artist sides. Misdemeanor, a bar and lounge, is located on the first floor.
Close to: Staying in Boerum Hill, guests will find themselves in a green neighborhood surrounded by beautiful townhouses and calm parks. Nearby Smith Street is one of the best places in New York for dining out, and the charming neighborhoods of Cobble Hill and Carroll Gardens are both close by.
This hotel is great for a laid-back traveller who wants to spend their trip strolling through historic Brooklyn with occasional, easy, trips to Manhattan for specific events or sightseeing.
Neighborhood: Long Island City, Queens
Address: 11-01 43rd Avenue, Long Island City, NY 11101
Highlights: Located just by the East River, Z Hotel is known above all for its amazing views of Manhattan and the Queensboro Bridge. A 4 star stylish boutique with design inspired by the Jazz Age, this venue still fits in in the more industrial Long Island City, standing 14 stories high.
The lobby is themed to look like a vintage transportation hub, and the rooms are far more fashionable than the outside of the tower would make it appear. With two bars on the hotel rooftop, Z Hotel makes views of the cityscape easily accessible to guests. Transportation to and from Manhattan is included in your stay, departing every hour.
Close to: Long Island City has long been an industrial neighborhood, but has recently been popular as a hot spot for good food and local art. On the East River, this part of Queens is convenient to Roosevelt Island, Queensboro Bridge, and anywhere on the Upper East Side of Manhattan – which includes the Met, Guggenheim, and many other of NYC’s best museums.
Stay here if you’re looking to explore an up-and-coming area, and if you’re happy to spend most of your days in Manhattan, coming back to Long Island City for meals and sleep.
(All photos provided by hotels)