Accommodation in New York can be frustrating in a few different ways, but the good news is that the city pretty much never runs out of rooms. There are hundreds of hotels and hostels all over this huge city, with by far the greatest concentration in Midtown Manhattan. The city has never been more popular as a tourist destination, and this brings us to one of the problems: the average hotel room in 2006 cost $267 per night and the hotels were on average 85% full anyway. And of course that’s the AVERAGE price, which means that many places are quite a bit more expensive.
But fear not, there is a room or bed waiting for you as long as you try to book early and keep your expectations in line with reality. Unlike pretty much the entire rest of the United States, hotel rooms in New York City tend to be tiny. Actually people coming from Europe will feel right at home, but people coming from elsewhere in the States tend to be shocked at how little room you get for that much dough.
The main accommodation neighborhoods
Here is another slight frustration since a huge portion of New York City’s hotels and hostels are jammed into the small Midtown area around Times Square. Don’t get us wrong, you definitely want to visit Times Square, but it’s really a far from ideal place to sleep so it’s a shame that most hotels, especially the cheaper ones, are all concentrated there. That part of Midtown has a fairly convenient location, but the density of tourists has lead to an even greater density of tourist traps, mediocre restaurants, overpriced Irish pubs, and sidewalks filled with vendors selling cheap knock-offs of everything you can imagine.
There are some nice and affordable hotels in the Upper East Side area, and a few in Chelsea as well. Either of these areas will put you in nice neighborhoods full of locals who demand much more quality and value for the money than nearly any place near Times Square provides. And those neighborhoods are also just as convenient to anything you want to see.
Where not to stay
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Unless you already have a really good reason for doing so, don’t stay in a hotel or hostel outside of Manhattan (this includes the 4 Outer Boroughs and New Jersey). Many cities have interesting pockets of cool hotels in outlying parts of the area, but not this one. You’ll spend hours each day going back and forth, you won’t like the area where you’ll be staying, and it won’t save you all that much money anyway.
There are loads of world-famous 4 and 5-star hotels in Manhattan and if money is no object you can’t do any better than Central Park South (AKA 59th Street). But if you are like most of us and you object to paying $600+ for a place to sleep and store your suitcase then you might have to hunt around a bit. There is no such thing as a nice, cheap, well-located hotel in Manhattan with rooms available when you walk up. The best advice is to book early.
There are more hostels with dorm beds in New York City than in probably the rest of the country combined. But again, you have to lower expectations here a bit. Even the dorm beds tend to seem pricey and most of the places don’t seem to be able to stay as spotless as they do in other cities, but the city is a blast and there are many hostels from which to choose. Several nice ones are in the Chelsea area, which is just south of Times Square but much more pleasant.
» more detailed information about New York City hostels
If the information above seems a little unwelcoming, that’s nothing compared to the apartment scene. It’s possible to find short-term apartments in the city, but they too are frustratingly expensive and small. If you are coming in a group of around 4 people then renting someone’s apartment for a week could be really fun and actually save you some money, but this is not without risk. And trying to find a place to actually live can be even worse. There is much more information in the linked page below.
» more detailed information about New York City apartments