By Laura Jemetta
So, you’re going to be visiting New York! While that’s exciting, you’ve probably heard how expensive accommodation is in the city. To a certain extent, this is unavoidable – that’s just the way it is in New York – but here are some tips to take the edge off a little, whether you’re choosing hotels or hostels.
1. Contact the Accommodation Directly
This is my most important tip; Always, always, always speak to the hotel or hostel directly. Websites like Expedia and Booking.com will always tell you that they have found you the best rate for your dates, but this isn’t always true. I found out firsthand that it is always worth it to spend a few minutes calling the accommodation directly and simply asking the question: ‘What is the best rate you can offer me?’ If you’re anything like me, you might find this a little uncomfortable, but I firmly believe it always pays to just ask the question. The worst that can happen, is they offer you the rate you have already seen on the internet, that’s all.
If you’re lucky, though, you might get your hands on a really great deal if you deal directly with the hotel of hostel. This approach paid off big time when booking my accommodation for New York last year, and we got a fantastic deal, with a really accommodating hotel.
This can particularly work for you if there is something unique about your booking; for example, if you are staying for an unusually long number of nights, (think a week and beyond), or if you will need multiple rooms on the one booking.
My tip: Just ask the question of the accommodation – who knows? You might get a discounted rate, or a buffet breakfast thrown in for free. It never hurts to ask.
2. Consider Your Location
It’s probably best not to try and find a place to stay in SoHo if you are working with a budget. Same goes for the Times Square area, and the Upper East Side. There are so many trendy tourist-loved areas in New York, but these can be places to avoid when booking accommodation. Yes, it would be nice to overlook Central Park from your hotel window, but that comes with a price-tag that I would personally rather avoid.
When choosing our accommodation in New York, we had some hotel non-negotiable’s that limited our choices a little, however, when choosing our location we were conscious of our preference to walk a little further rather than positioning ourselves close to specific landmarks.
New York is a very walk-able city, and if you bring walking shoes and are willing to master the Subway System, you will be able to get to anything you want to see, regardless of where your accommodation is. I highly recommend researching accommodation a little further afield of places like Times Square and Central Park, as these hotels and hostels will be more affordable.
Remember, in New York you are always close to a Subway Station, so you will have the whole of New York City at your doorstep no matter where you are sleeping at night.
3. Consider a place with a kitchenette
Something to consider when booking accommodation in New York is whether having a kitchenette in your hotel or hostel will save you money in the long run. Yes, it can be hard to find supermarkets in Manhattan, but it’s possible that being able to buy groceries, cook up a simple meal, and store leftovers and snacks could save you money on food.
When I was staying in New York, I found it helpful to be able to store leftovers from the continental breakfast, and snacks bought from the grocery store down the block. This meant that I bought less food while out sightseeing, and didn’t eat out at restaurants every single night.
This tip may or may not save you money, depending on your eating and spending habits, and whether you are staying in hotels or hostels. However, I think it is worth investigating when doing your accommodation research, whether having a small kitchenette or communal kitchen will save you money on your food budget.
Speaking of hotel breakfasts, if you are going to be staying in a hotel, it doesn’t hurt to choose somewhere that offers a breakfast included in the price of the booking. Sometimes this is built into the price of the room, and it may not be worth it. But, sometimes you can get a great deal where breakfast is free – and this is where you can get more for your money. To me, a buffet or continental breakfast is a bonus – you can load up on a hearty breakfast each morning, eliminating one meal that you have to pay for during the day. And, if you’re like me, you’ll probably save some stuff from breakfast for snacks during the day. (Though some hotels don’t allow this!)
5. Make it close to the Subway
We scored a hotel in New York in close proximity to three subway stations, and though this was just a happy coincidence, I wouldn’t book accommodation in New York again without scouting out the nearest subway station before booking.
Honestly, wherever you are staying in New York, the likelihood is that you will be close to a station, but I think it always pays to research the proximity of the closest subway station, and the lines it is serviced by. It will make a huge difference to be within a five minute walk to a station, and will ensure that you will be saving money on cabs by taking the subway and walking.
There you have it: my tips for booking accommodation in New York on a budget. Do you have any tips for staying in New York? Let me know in the comments below!