After you get that flight ticket to New York for a special price, there are two things to do: plan your itinerary and find a place to stay. This second item in particular causes headaches in people. You will get tired of asking about good and cheap places in the city: truth be told, cheap and New York are two words that don’t match a lot when we talk about accommodation. Even the real estate market is super competitive. Translating, it is possible that the host is responsible for consuming much of the budget of your trip. But what to do?
Well, I don’t have much experience with hosting. In my first time in the city, in 2013, I was in an apartment in Jersey City rented by my husband’s company. Then in 2014, I finally moved back here. That is, I never stayed in a hotel, so it is difficult to suggest something. But I am living here for 2 and a half years, I know a good part of the city and decided to list some tips that can help you in this task to book a nice place.
1. Don’t limit your search to Times Square – it is unanimous: most people ask for suggestions hotels in Times Square area. It can be the first time in the city, but this person will repeat the speech that spreads around, that Times Square is the best place to stay in New York. Do not fool yourself. New York is much more than Times Square. The first question is: why do you want to stay in Times Square? Will you go to a Broadway show every night? Probably not. So, forget It. “Ah, but staying in Times Square I visti everything walking.” Another mistake. It is true that many attractions are close to the area: Top of the Rock, Bryant Park, Public Library. A little further down, there is Empire State, a little further up is Central Park. But the Statue of Liberty, MET and Museum of Natural History – which are other famous attractions – will require you to take the subway. If you don’t stay in Times, you’ll get there in other ways. Soho, Chelsea, Meatpacking, East Village, Hell’s Kitchen, Tribeca, Financial District: all these neighborhoods are great and you will be well located, always close to a famous spot. Chelsea / Meatpacking has the High Line Park and Chelsea Market, Hell’s Kitchen has plenty of restaurants, Financial District is where is Wall Street, One World Trade Center and Brookfield Place. See how not everything is near Times Square?
2. Stay close to a subway station – subway system in New York – especially in Manhattan – covers a large area of the city and you can go everywhere, 24 hours a day. Excluding some peak hours – from 7:30 am to 9:30 am, from 5 to 6h30 pm – trains run very well, with speed and agility. It is very likely that you will leave your place in the morning and will return only at night – New York asks disposition and strong legs to walk a lot! – then, if you analyze well, what really matters is how long you will spend on your commute per day. You want an example? Being in the Upper East Side, near 86th Street, the subway ride to Times Square (since everyone has this reference) is 15 to 20 minutes. Incidentally, Upper East Side and Upper West Side are great areas to stay, very charming, with restaurants, cool shops and several museums. Both UES and UWS have express lines (trains 2 and 3 and trains 4 and 5), which are very fast and save time, because they skip some stations. Not to mention that staying out of the obvious areas, you will have a different travel experience, living a local routine and meeting places that you may never known.
3. New York is not just about Manhattan – some regions outside the island have gained the sympathy of tourists by the strategic location and the lower prices. Do you want a tip? Make a search for areas like Astoria and Long Island City, Queens, which are located from Midtown by very few subway stops. When searching for a location, open Google Maps, look where the place is, simulate the subway ride to Manhattan. You are concerned about security? Overall, New York is a very safe city. In particular, I don’t like to say bad things about any part of the city – it’s wrong to say that The Bronx is dangerous, for example. There are some areas that should be avoided at night, as well as other areas of Brooklyn. You can not generalize because then you end up not knowing some cool places – like the real Little Italy, located in The Bronx and I have shown here on the blog. To help analyze the issue of security in the region that you are choosing to stay, check this map. Oh, and here on the blog there are two posts with tips of hotels in Brooklyn and Queens – you can check out here and here.
4. Check the reviews – nowadays, with so many websites and social media, it’s easy to share information. Even if you don’t book your hotel through websites like Hotels.com and Booking, take advantage of these tools to read reviews and comments from users. Go beyond: download Yelp and also search by the hotel rates on the app. Reports of other people are great to help you to close a deal – and to know that expectations to have about the place, since most hotels are very good in advertising – but we know that the reality does not always correspond to those beautiful web images . If you are searching a room or apartment on Airbnb, the tip is the same. Read carefully the guests reviews and the host rules. Oh, and don’t be disappointed: the rooms here are often small.
5. Remember the alternative accommodation– Airbnb is not new to anyone, right? The website for rental of rooms / houses / apartments is usually an option for those who want to save on accommodation. Here on the blog, you can read testimonials from people who have used the service in New York – click here to read Part 1 and here to read Part 2. If you are traveling alone or with friends, have you thought about the possibility of staying in a hostel? The city has great hostels and ends up being a way to save on the accommodation and also meet new people from all over the world. You can also check testimonials from people who have stayed in a hostel in the city – there is a post here and another here.
Laura Peruchi is a Brazilian blogger, author, and entrepreneur. She has lived in Manhattan with her husband since 2014. Since then, she has shared on her blog varied content about the Big Apple. From travel tips, including unusual things to do, shopping tips, etiquette, restaurants, and a lot more, her blog has become a reference in Portuguese (also available in English) for anyone planning a trip to New York City.