Can You Really Find Cheap Hotels in New York?

Whenever someone asks me about visiting New York, I tell them that the most important thing is to start saving some good money since the most expensive chunk of their trip will be spent on accommodation. Everything else is manageable: there is a variety of inexpensive restaurants, shops and entertainment. Sadly, hotel rooms here are no joke, especially if you want to stay in Manhattan.
 
Flashback to 2011: It was my first time visiting NYC. My friend and I stayed for 20 (yes, TWENTY!) nights at The New Yorker Hotel – a dreamy location as it is close to literally everything, including Penn Station and Times Square. Now, this was when Brazilian economy was booming.  The following times I came back I ended up sleeping at friends’ homes or rented a room through AirBnB. So it’s safe to say I avoided hotels as much as possible because, honestly, I just couldn’t afford them. 
 
If you are on the same boat like I was, don’t panic: there is always a way. Find an AirBnB room in Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island or even New Jersey. Depending on the area you pick it can be easy to find your way to the city. 

Here are two more options: couch surfing for the adventurous at heart or hostel with private or shared rooms. I have friends who stayed at a hostel in the Upper West Side and they had absolutely no complaints. HI New York City Hostel is in a good neighborhood, train runs nearby and, on top of it all, breakfast is included. 
 
However, if you have the financial means, try to book a hotel in Manhattan or Brooklyn (Williamsburg). Some tips to help you find a good deal: avoid Times Square region as it might suck you in and never let you go. Believe me, I love that crazy, crowded, noisy place but it can be a hell of a trap. There’s a lot to see beyond those big screens and fancy billboards. Plus they can cost you an arm and a leg. 
 
Following you will encounter a list of hotels worth your money. However, everyone has different expectations and opinions so I would advise you to read reviews online to make sure this is the right match for you.

View from Pod Hotel Times Square taken by @hemy_lee (Left). The New Yorker Hotel (Right)
Hotel 31
I have a friend who stayed here with her daughter during winter and she had a mostly positive experience. Despite being an old building, it is decent and comfy. They have choices of private or shared bathrooms. Great spot: near Madison Square Park (aka Shake Shack).
Location: 120 E 31st StNew YorkNY10016
Contact: 888-950-5062
Hotel Pennsylvania 
I also know a friend who stayed at this very controversial hotel. He did not have any major problems until New York was hit by a blizzard and needed to stay longer. While trying to extend his reservation, he said the staff wasn’t very helpful. Other than that the room attended his needs. The surroundings of the establishment is very busy and train is around the corner.
Location: 401 7th Ave, New York, NY 10001
Contact: 212- 736-5000 (Good luck! hehe)
 
Pod Hotel Times Square 
If you really want to stay near Broadway, check this out. In the summer, a couple of friends booked a queen-bedroom apartment here. They landed pretty late and as the hotel didn’t have any clean apartments available, friendly receptionists put them in a more expensive room with a great view to the Empire State Building. It was just for one night but I’m sure it was a wonderful way to start their holidays. Overall it’s not that much of a low-cost hotel: a small room for two adults is around USD 170. This is what you get for picking Times Square!
Location: 400 W 42nd St, New York, NY 10036
Contact: 844-763-7666
 
Pod Brooklyn Hotel
A cheaper alternative of the hotel above, except that it’s is in Williamsburg. They have complimentary walking tours of the city and there’s a rooftop bar.
Location: 247 Metropolitan Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11211
Contact: 844-763-7666
 
Pod 51 or Pod 39 
I’ve considered booking at both of these hotels so many times because they’re good value for money as well as perfectly located in excellent parts of the city. Sadly, I never did. But I dedicated so much time reading their reviews that I am hopeful you’ll have a good time! 
Location: Pod 51 – 230 E 51st St, New York, NY 10022 / Pod 39 – 145 E 39th St, New York, NY 10016
Contact: 844-763-7666 
 
The New Yorker Hotel
The only hotel I’ve ever stayed in New York. The bedroom was small, yet cozy. The location is absolutely amazing: everything is within walking distance. Looking for food? Across the street you can get Starbucks, McDonalds, Pizza, Five Guys and Chipotle. Pharmacy? CVS or Duane Reade also on the other side of the road. Entertainment? It’s right by Madison Square Garden or a 10 minute walk to Broadway. I hear shopping is your thing? No problem. Head two blocks east to buy whatever you want in stores like Macy’s in Herald Square. 
Location: 481 8th Ave, New York, NY 10001
Contact: 212-971-0101

Avoid Times Square area where hotel rates are exorbitant
Other alternatives:
An average room in the Big Apple costs around USD 200 a night. I put together a list with names below this budget. However, keep in mind that rates may vary according to the season. Summer and Christmas time tend to have higher figures. Additionally, I’ve never stayed nor I know someone who has stayed at these places. So do your homework: read a lot before making your reservation.
 
The Orchard Hotel 
YOTEL New York 
Comfort Inn Times Square West
The Americana Inn
Blue Moon Hotel
The Paul NYC
Z NYC Hotels
Pod Brooklyn Hotel
 
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