I would appreciate any information about finding accommodations in NYC. I will be traveling in August with my 14 year old granddaughter for an 8 day trip. We will be going to several plays, and general sightseeing. I was hoping to keep the cost at $150 max/night...but that’s looking kind of hard to do. I was thinking of staying on the outskirts of the city, and riding public transportation in to the theater district...but I don’t know which direction to head to, and is it worth it. Is AirBnB a good option? I don’t want to spend hours on the subway just to save a few dollars, but if it’s easy to get around, I’d rather spend the money on having a good time.
Hotel rooms in Manhattan tend to be exorbitant, though I think weekend nights are sometimes cheaper. I think exploring Airbnb options is a good idea. I assume you've looked at one of the major hotel websites like booking.com.
Don't write off staying outside of Manhattan (and definitely don't limit your sightseeing to only the theater district). The subway can get you anywhere and the pricing is very inexpensive (it is a flat fee, not distance based. It is around $2.75 per ride). Try www.booking.com and use the cost filter to see available properties. I have found these hotels to be consistently "affordable", relatively speaking (everything in NYC is expensive and small unfortunately):
Nesva Hotel - Queens
Union Hotel - Brooklyn
Pod 39 - Manhattan
Pod 51 - Manhattan
Maybe the Manhattan YWCA?
Thanks. As noted, the prices in town are very high. The Nesva Hotel and Union are within my budget, and sound very good. What’s hard to know for sure is the subway ease. Both these hotels make it sound like it’s a one subway ride to the theater district. This has been my concern. I don’t want to be transferring trains late at night . Both of these hotels seem close enough, that a taxi home might not cost that much. Are there certain subway lines that I should try to be near?
Agnes' picks are good , I would avoid the Brooklyn location as it is fairly inconvenient to midtown . The Queens location is a quick subway ride ( 15 minutes ) into midtown. The " PODS " look good , they are a similar concept to the Premier Inn " HUBS " in London . Also look at the Hampton Inn chain in midtown .. While the prices can vary based on demand and time of year , look at the rates based on your dates , it is not unheard of , to score a good deal if you hit it right . Also , be sure to look an the establishments' websites. Very often you will get the best prices by booking directly .
I assume that you'll be visiting more than just the Theater District over 8 days, right? So it might be inevitable that you would have to transfer trains at some point (although not at night necessarily). I really don't think you need to worry too much about transferring trains, even at night. The trains are pretty full of people and don't feel unsafe (but there are some oddball characters everywhere, but everyone ignores them). I have often traveled solo and had no issues going out at night or walking at night anywhere in Manhattan (or the parts Brooklyn or Queens where I also stay).
No, I don't think you need to worry about avoiding any subway lines (or being near any particular ones). I've taken the train through bad parts of Brooklyn (and had no issues with it because my tolerance is fairly high) but this is nowhere near any of these hotels. I would probably pick the Long Island City hotel because it sounds more proximate to where you want to go. The Union Hotel rooms are really tiny...I mean really tiny. It is off-putting to some people. I really like the place but there is literally no room to even walk around your bed, so it may be a bit "tight" for two people. The bathrooms are quite large though, but the hotel has no real lobby and it's really great for people who just go there to sleep. So something to think about.
I love the Pod hotels. They are quirky. Some have bunk beds. Pod 39 is really nicely located, very close to Grand Central Station.
Good luck making a choice...please come back and let us know how it turned out.
My granddaughter and I will be traveling all around the city by bus or train. This will be a new experience for her. I grew up in DC, and my dad was a bus driver...so not so new for me. We just now started to plan our itinerary for the daytime sightseeing. She’s extremely interested in the theater, so we already have a couple of shows lined up. Your subway system seems much more complicated than what I’m use to, and I just don’t want to get lost or spend hrs getting home after a late show.
The NYC subway system is a bit overwhelming if you're new to it. Are you comfortable using an app on your smartphone to guide you? Even if you don't, the website has a good trip planner feature (http://www.mta.info). I'm not embarrassed to say I've actually printed out my journey trips (in paper no less) and didn't even need my phone. When you locate your hotel on Google Maps (online that is), you can see exactly what subway line is close and its color code (and where it goes once you click it).
This is a good overall static map of the system:
Once you pick a hotel (and have the address or station stop), go ahead and try out the MTA Trip Planner (say, to the theater district) and you'll probably get very comfortable with navigating the system that way. It will probably be a lot more straightforward than it seems.
My son lives in Queens , near the hotel , and the trip in is very simple . The POD locations are close to the Theater District and are easy to reach , either on foot or by 42 st or 50 st crosstown buses .
I would definitely consider the 7-day bus/subway pass. It's so convenient to get on whatever transportation you wish whenever you wish without having to worry about tickets.
Such good information- thanks so much! The subway map is great. And I’ll definitely be buying a 7 day pass. I’ll keep my eye on the PODS, I’m sure my teen would love that. The rates tend to vary and I have a little time.
Here is the site for The Metropolitan Transportation Authority ( MTA ) . Schedules , maps , fares , Metro cards ( weekly passes ) , everything you need to get around - http://www.mta.info/
There's more than one YMCA where you can spend the night. The Vanderbilt Y is close to the United Nations. Your granddaughter might enjoy the UN tour. I remember staying at the Vanderbilt Y, getting up early, going over to the UN to watch them putting up all the flags, then taking the tour. Alternatively, the West Side YMCA is quite close to Lincoln Center - you might want to attend a performance there. And there may be others I don't know about. One advantage of staying at the Y is that you can use the athletic facilities. The Pod Hotels are really good too - I particularly liked Pod 39. Anyhow, have a lovely time!
Yes, the subway system is complicated, but it is the best way to get around much of the time. The 7 day Metrocard is a great bargain - unlimited travel on buses as well as subways for a whole week, and it can start at any time. As a further bonus, if you do get lost, get off at the wrong stop, etc, it doesn't cost anything to just get on again the right way! The calculations I've seen (haven't done them myself) is that a 7 day Metrocard breaks even after 12 or 13 rides, so even for a trip of 3 or 4 days, it can work out cheaper than a Pay As You Go Metrocard.
Here's a great step by step guide to riding the subway, starting from basics and working up to the fine points: http://www.nycsubwayguide.com/subway/
As for transferring in the evening, remember that New York is not an "early to bed" city. When you are coming home from a show, LOTS of people will still be taking the subway, and the interchange stations will be busy. Some people do have a "cut off hour" after which they take a cab, but that's mostly for speed rather than safety (the later it is, the less often the trains run; if you have to make a connection, that means waiting for two subways). My father always worried about my taking "late" subways, and I always had to explain to him that taking a train at 10 PM, I was never guaranteed a seat - the trains are still busy then! And this was 20 and 30 years ago - the trains are much busier now than they were then.
Airbnb is largely illegal in New York City. Do look into some of the hotels in Long Island City, which is in Queens but a short subway ride from the theater district. They can be cheaper, and as long as they're near a subway stop (some of them are not), they would work well.
The New York City forum on TripAdvisor is very active, and if you look at it on a desktop computer instead of phone, you'll see a bunch of useful Top Question threads: https://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowForum-g60763-i5-New_York_City_New_York.html
My husband and I stayed at this airbnb in 2015. It's in Weehawken, NJ, so if you are worried about the 'NYC airbnb's are illegal' - well, this one is in NJ. It's a private room, shared bathroom, use of kitchen, nice backyard and at the time you could use the bbq if you wanted...but the best part - it was only a few minutes walk to the bus, which was the last stop before going under the river and you were at Port Authority - depending on the traffic, within 10 min. And a less than 10 min walk to lovely views across the river over to the city. And...it was nice and cool - even in a blistering hot July. The owners were nice as well, and we could use the washer/dryer. As long as you don't mind sharing the bed with your granddaughter.
Looking over my review, I did say we never had more than a few minutes wait for a bus on the weekdays. Weekend the bus was a little more sporadic, so we had a 10 min wait once. Free parking on the street as well (and we didn't even have to move our vehicle). We paid about $100 (Canadian) a night, including the cleaning fee and the airbnb booking fee. I'm not sure how often they host, as their reviews are far apart, but you could drop them a line if it interests you...
Although the TripAdvisor NYC forum is not particularly popular here, you might want to browse it. There's a lot of concentrated information in just a few pages, as well as plenty of warnings about AirBnB. (Also see their blue-type FAQ on buying theater tickets.) They also have so many hotel reviews that it's easy to see which ones might be phony. You can use Google Maps to compare subway stop location with hotel location. I wouldn't expect pinpoint accuracy, but it can also offer suggested TRAVEL TIMES between a hotel and a representative Broadway theater. You certainly could compare hotels that way, if not know the precise time you'll need.
I don't see any reason for a native of D.C. to be afraid of the NYC subway map. You are right about shows getting out late, but the subway is busy every minute of the day. And NYC is perhaps the safest big city in the United States. I do worry about frequency of trains late at night. Do you know there are relatively few escalators at NYC subway stops? Only about 1/4 of the stations are technically "accessible", and many of those can require finding more than one elevator.
Perhaps your granddaughter doesn't care, but I love being able to return to the hotel room during the day to freshen up or use the bathroom or drop off things. (Or to take a rest from the August heat!) Yes, NYC has expensive hotels. So do Boston and other cities.
All this information is so helpful! Now I feel much better about staying outside of Manhattan. I want this to be an affordable trip, and a great experience for my granddaughter. With all of your suggestions, I have a lot more to look at...and I’m looking in the right direction. Thanks again
The best part of staying outside Manhattan are (obviously) price and also (depending on the hotel) you can have a view of Manhattan from the hotel, which is a major plus. If you stay in Queens (Long Island City), you can be walking distance form a great Greek neighborhood of Astoria, chockfull of nice Greek restaurants, markets, etc. The Noguchi Museum (Japanese sculptor) is wonderful too.
I've stayed in Manhattan several times but only if the price is "right", which means off season and during the week (or only Sunday overnights). It's great to be close to everything but honestly, I've enjoyed Brooklyn and Queens just as much, if not more. If I hadn't stayed in the other boroughs, I would have never been able to afford so many trips to NYC. And I'd rather spend money on food and entertainment than lodging.
If staying in Manhattan is really important to you, then at that budget I'd take a look at The Jane which is a boutique hotel with small but affordable rooms. You can go really cheap if you are willing to take one of the bunk bed rooms that has a shared bathroom. Every now and then, you might come across a decent rate for a mainstream hotel - I'm staying in Manhattan for 3 nights later this week and a few weeks ago I booked it and scored a king room in a Hilton Garden Inn for $123 per night.
I agree that it's not a big deal to take the subway late at night. I've taken it on my own as late as 2:30AM and there are always plenty of people riding it. With a 14 year old, I'm assuming you aren't planning to really take any subways much past midnight as I'd imagine even an 8PM performance will probably be wrapping up by 11-11:30PM. And even if you need to get a connecting subway line, it's often either right across the platform or just a quick 2-3 minute walk underground to your next line with plenty of signage to guide you on your way.
If you are wanting to look for an Airbnb, VRBO, etc. outside of Manhattan to save some money, I'd suggest looking in Brooklyn. Park Slope is a decent neighborhood - safe area with lots of families living there, cute restaurants and shops, Prospect Park nearby for biking (they sometimes have musical events in the park during the summer) and the area is served by several MTA lines.
You say that your granddaughter is a theater buff , Which shows are you considering during your visit ? I spent my working career as a musician in the Broadway theatres , and would be happy to make some suggestions if you are interested .
Holy cow! Now that I see hotel rooms here listed at a whopping 50 sq ft, then the Union Hotel which I noted seems quite generous and large (maybe the rooms are actually the same size but the 10 foot ceilings make it "seem" more roomy). I guess it's all relative in NYC. I remember staying in a hotel by the Lincoln Center in grad school that literally had no windows (that I can recall)...and I shared it with a classmate. It was tiny but location was awesome.
Ceildleh - thanks so much for mentioning The Jane. I'll definitely add it to my list for NYC. When I travel solo, I spend very little time in hotels rooms so 50 sq ft and a shared bathroom, but proximity to the Whtiney and High Line may be totally worth the trade off. I'm pretty clausterphobic, so I wonder what a narrow 50 sq ft room would feel like. I don't think I could swing it with another person though.
I, personally, wouldn't do that size room at The Jane with another adult - but a 14 year old generally doesn't care about sleeping in the top bunk and might find it "fun". And in full transparency, I am one of those people who just doesn't hang around my hotel room for hours watching TV or puttering around in my bathrobe. Although the lowest priced rooms are small, The Jane does have air conditioning (still very important in August even if one's budget is only $150/night) and it's got some really beautiful common areas and a great rooftop bar. The entire place really does have that Wes Anderson film set vibe to it. So if you can deal with small and you don't need to have access to a kitchen for your meals, then this is a viable budget option in a great neighborhood if you really want to be in Manhattan and not on the outskirts, in one of the boroughs or spending your time being bridge & tunnel out there in NJ or LI.
I would totally stay there...but is there any room to put your bag somewhere or hang your clothes in an extremely narrow 50 sq ft room? I'd probably use the other bunk to put my stuff down if I was staying solo.
I stayed in the Pod hotel a few times (with someone else) and it was very well laid out for its size. Whoever designed it did a great job with making the most efficient use of the space. Same with the Club Quarters/Wall Street hotel by the 9/11 Memorial, which is much more of a business hotel.
I think my granddaughter would enjoy the bunk bed, but at 14, she spends a lot of time in the bathroom!? Not sure that would be fair to the other guests.
As for the theater, I would appreciate any tips/suggestions. I have tickets for Dear Evan Hansen so far, her choice. She’s seeing Hamilton in Seattle in March. She’s too embarrassed to see anything with Disney right now, except maybe The Lion King.
Don't write off Lion King so quickly. It is fantastic: the creative renditions of the animals, the staging, etc. We, three adults, loved the show. Afterwards, you can go next door to Junior's for (IMHO) the best cheesecake ever. Plain is best.
We stayed at the Fairfield Inn LaGuardia in Astoria. Rooms are decent with a free breakfast. They have a free airport shuttle, which can also take you to the subway or a 10-15 easy walk. The train will take you directly to the theatre district without a transfer.
Two blocks over from the hotel on Ditmar Blvd, there are lots of delicious and inexpensive restaurants: Greek, Japanese, Chinese, Italian. Also close by is Jackson Heights for Indian and Tibetan foods. The neighborhood is safe to walk at night. Or you can take a taxi back to the hotel from the subway. It will be a very short ride, so not too expensive.
While much of what is being produced currently on Broadway is of a commercialized , substandard genre , two revivals about to begin performances in the next few weeks promise to be of a highly elevated quality . " Carousel " , by Rodgers and Hammerstein , and " My Fair Lady " , by Lerner and Loewe . Both of these productions will utilize the original orchestrations played by fully complemented orchestras , not the stripped down , canned electronic music , so ubiquitous on Broadway nowadays . Advance word promises that both productions will be hits , so it will be wise to secure tickets as soon as possible . Given the quality of these shows , seeing them is likely to be a once in a lifetime opportunity , as work of this nature is steadily fading into posterity . I was a member of the orchestra when " My Fair Lady " was last revived in NY twenty five years ago , and my love of it has increased steadily over the years . here are the websites for both - http://carouselbroadway.com/ and http://www.lct.org/shows/my-fair-lady/
New York is hotter than hell in the summer. If you take the subway, bring with you a battery-powered fan because all platforms have no air conditioning with the one exception of the Grand Central/42nd St platform for the 4, 5 and 6 trains. There are PLENTY of air conditioning units there. :-) If you choose an outer-borough hotel, you will be dependent on the subway and will learn what sweltering hell is like. Sorry to be blunt but you should know in advance. The subway cars are mostly air conditioned so that's a plus. You can get an idea of how on time the trains are before you go to the platforms by downloading the MTA subway time app.
Hotels -- Consider using www.quikbook to find deals on boutique hotels. Also look at Club Quarters properties in NYC. They are geared toward business people and will definitely have deals on weekends and maybe weekdays too given it's vacation time. The Pod hotels are small and attract many European tourists. If you can get a deal at either of the two, go for it. I recommend them to my friends. If you don't mind sharing a bathroom, you can save more money. That's not my cup of tea but it may be for you. AirBNB is the luck of the draw.
Get an idea of direction before you arrive here. North of Houston (pronounced like HOWston), the touristy part of the city is a grid. There is fantastic public transport in the theatre district. Again, it will be oppressively hot on the subway platforms but not as bad at night. Enjoy the theatre!
I'm a native New Yorker. Fire away with questions here or privately; I am happy to help.
When I used to visit NYC on business several times a year, I often stopped in at the TKTS booth at Times Square to see what shows had half-price tickets for that night -- not big-name first runs but always entertaining/interesting.
I'm a born and bred New Yorker and can honestly say, with some bias, that you are going to love NYC.
I suggest you watch this video for some tips to make you trip better. (It's a little tounge in cheek but actually has good information.)
As stated, it will be very hot in August so air conditioning is a must.
In regards to theater, don't just think Broadway. There are dozens of off-Broadway shows all over the city. They are usually much less expensive than Broadway and the performances can be amazing.
Johnny T is hilarious. I've shared that with friends so they know not to block the sidewalks from pedestrian commuters. :-)
I think NYC sidewalks should be like this:
Wow...NYC sure rolls out the welcome mat, doesn't it? Thankfully I didn't encounter rudeness and impatience in my dealings with New Yorkers (I do walk fairly fast). The badda-bing-badda-bang pipsqueak is really annoying..reminds me of (Scara)Mooch, small in stature but big on attitude.
lol Continental - our 2nd trip to NYC was for 5 nights in July 2015 - and I so didn't want to go at that time of year, but it was for a U2 concert.
I remember crossing one of the bridges when we were leaving, and the thermometer on the dash read 36C. And at those temperatures (and high humidity), the ac just wouldn't cut it in the SUV - windows open not much help, and toss in leather seats - yikes. I remember there being mobile water trucks with drinking fountains set up - maybe down by the WTC, or by the Flatiron Building.
I won't do that to myself again - even for a U2 concert...unless I won a trip.
SERVICE ALERT - A quick heads up to aid in your hotel choice - if you decide to take the hotel ( Nesva ) in Queens , you should be aware that the 39 AVE subway stop on the N , W lines ( which is elevated above the street ) is likely to be closed during your stay in NYC for major station improvement work , This will necessitate your use of the station at Queensboro Plaza , a more considerable walk to and from your hotel than you would expect . Something to be considered before you book . This map showing the two stations and your hotel will aid you in making your choice - https://www.google.com/maps/place/39+Avemail@example.com,-73.9373557,17.04z/data=!4m13!1m7!3m6!1s0x89c25f36e7b5a553:0x9c0aafc4ac84110e!2sAstoria,+Queens,+NY!3b1!8m2!3d40.7643574!4d-73.9234619!3m4!1s0x89c25f2b80a101a7:0xe3e2edf0df6232fa!8m2!3d40.7524943!4d-73.9329115
It's a 0.4 mile, 8 min walk.
lol Continental - our 2nd trip to NYC was for 5 nights in July 2015 -
and I so didn't want to go at that time of year, but it was for a U2
I remember crossing one of the bridges when we were leaving, and the
thermometer on the dash read 36C. And at those temperatures (and high
humidity), the ac just wouldn't cut it in the SUV - windows open not
much help, and toss in leather seats - yikes. I remember there being
mobile water trucks with drinking fountains set up - maybe down by the
WTC, or by the Flatiron Building.
I won't do that to myself again - even for a U2 concert...unless I won
I wanted Sherry to be well aware of what it's like here in August. You clearly know, Nicole P.
I can walk to work so I avoid the hot platforms of the subway. Walking on the shady part of the sidewalk makes a huge difference especially going home. Early morning isn't so bad. The Johny T video parody does point out that the sidewalks are our "highways/parkways" for those of us who walk to/from work either from home or from a subway station.
Sherry, if you are in NYC in the 2nd part of August, the US Open Qualifying matches begin on Tuesday Aug 22 and are FREE to attend. You might see up-and-comers vying for a 1st round slot. You might see those at the tail end of their careers or those who have been out for a while due to injury also vying for those same spots. Plus you can watch your favorite athletes practice and play practice sets. It's the best deal in NYC. If you love tennis, it's even worth the few minutes waiting on the subway platform. LOL
Of course, millions of people travel there every summer - and the usual 'keeping cool' tips apply. Lots of water and sunscreen. Cool clothes. And the great thing about NYC - lots of museums to visit during the hot afternoons - or take a siesta in Central Park under a nice shady tree. Or hop on one of the ferry tours around the harbour for some nice breezes.
Another thing to keep in mind which I totally forgot about and was reminded about on a recent trip.
Not sure about NYC but in many parts of the US the stated price is NOT the price you will pay for a hotel room so its important to factor that in. There maybe multiple taxes/fees added. I am sure it depends on where you go but I had a $100 room booked and once they added all of taxes and fees it came out to about $130.
NYC hotel taxes are 14.75% plus $3.50 (flat fee) per room per night. So you have to count on this on top of the base rate. So for a $100 advertised room, you'd end up paying $118.25 (the $130 reference by prior poster is way too high, the taxes are not 30% - the difference must have been other ancillary fees). It is very hard to find a room with a base rate of just $100.
When you use booking.com, the first price you see is the base price (it will say taxes excluded below). It's not until you go through the second booking screen that you see the total amount.
Sorry. Meant that I wasn't sure about NYC. The place I stayed was outside Baltimore and had a state tax, local tax, and I think safe fee that wasn't negotiable.
Sorry. Meant that I wasn't sure about NYC.
It's no problem at all. Just didn't want someone to really get scared like I did when I saw that 30% number.
I spent 10 days in NYC. I am directionally challenged. I never got lost. Subway easy to use—Uptown or Downtown! You will be fine. I stayed at the YMCA across from Lincoln center and in Harlem at Columbia University’s dorms which they rent out in the summertime. Have fun, its a fabulous city!
If you can swing it, stay in Manhattan. I live in south Brooklyn and it is a pain in the a__ to get into the city. The Union Hotel is on a fairly good subway line though, the R train. It would get you anywhere on Broadway then you can walk east or west depending on what you want to see. That is if you do not want to switch trains. BUT it is a local train, meaning it makes many stops. It will take you to the financial district, the village, Macy's, and the theatre district with no switching. It is the train I take (if I don't grab an express train somewhere along the way) when I go into the city. My husband takes the train home from work around 10-11:00 pm and sometimes can't get a seat, they do reduce the amount of cars at night. Today he took it at 4:30 am and it was pretty crowded he told me. (He works different shifts). Just a note, if a train pulls in and every car but one is packed with people, don't get on the empty car.
I really appreciate all this great information. I feel like I can make a much better,informed decision about where to stay. Now I need to pull out the subway map and do my research...that is after I stop laughing about the sweltering August heat and fast moving pedestrians!