|You Get What You Pay For
New York City has a virtual plethora (we don’t know what that word means, but we like how it sounds) of hotels and motels in every price range. The adage and caveat that “You get what you pay for” must be observed, though.
Generally speaking, hotels in the popular Theatre District are somewhat more expensive than, say, a local John’s Notell Motel in another part of the US. Consider however that a Sheraton, Marriott or Hilton in midtown Manhattan is going to be within walking distance of the best live entertainment in the world (Broadway), the best shopping avenue in the country (5th Avenue), the most famous park in the world (Central Park), the most famous skyscraper in the world (Empire State Building), the largest department store in the world (Macy’s) and the 24-hour neon glamour of Times Square.
So can you get a cheap hotel room in New York? Sure. Just beware. There are several factors that determine why a hotel room is cheap:
Location. If you want to be in the middle of all that New York City has to offer, your cheap hotel room probably won’t put you there. Instead you’ll be spending money on taxis, parking and tunnel or bridge tolls. Wouldn’t you rather have a conveniently-located hotel so you can get an early start and a late night – with a place to relax in between?
Features and amenities. Don’t need your own private bathroom? Don’t need a doorman or security guard to make sure your temporary residence is off-limits to intruders? Don’t need someone to ask directions or get you a taxi? Don’t need heat or air conditioning? Don’t need a wake up call? Don’t need a quick cup of coffee or tea in the morning? Aha! C’mon, live it up. Spring for the private bathroom. Feel safe and secure when you finally turn in at night. Treat yourself to a good hotel. You deserve it.
Age and cleanliness. These two factors don’t necessarily go hand-in-hand, but they’re both important. When was the hotel last remodeled? Shag carpeting is a giveaway.
“But really,” you might ask, “how much time will I spend in the room anyway?”
“Well,” we might answer, “at least a third of your vacation!”
|Family-Friendly NYC Hotels
New York City can be a rewarding experience, not only for parents but for children as well. Sure, there are playgrounds, parks and zoos. There are also interactive museums, the bright lights of Times Square, a real aircraft carrier, famous sports venues, subway and taxi thrill rides, parades, street fairs, tunnels and bridges and statues and skyscrapers and boat rides and toy stores and shows … oh my!
Most New York City hotels welcome families. Understand, though, that standard hotel rooms in New York typically only accommodate a maximum of 4 people in a room, so larger families must either opt for a suite or two rooms. There’s never a guarantee that the two rooms will be adjoining or connecting, so we prefer a suite at family friendly NYC hotels like the Doubletree Guest Suites on Times Square. These suites will accommodate up to six people and have mini-kitchenettes in each unit so you can stock the small refrigerator with milk, soda, etc.
Also, it’s important to note that most hotel rooms in New York are rather small. Real estate prices being what they are in midtown Manhattan, every square inch of space is dear and rooms are constructed accordingly. Therefore hotels will usually only put one rollaway bed in a room.
Other recommended family friendly NYC hotels include the Crowne Plaza Times Square. It's in the Times Square area and has an indoor pool. The Marriott Marquis is also another good choice, as much for its glass elevators and spectacular atrium lobby as for its central Times Square location. Another favorite of ours is the Sheraton New York Times Square Hotel, located in the Theater District and near Times Square. All of these hotels accommodate 4 people in a room.
Most visitors to New York City prefer to stay in Midtown Manhattan. Midtown accommodations are within walking distance of many major sites and attractions, as well as shopping, dining and theatre. We highly recommend Midtown since it is safe and convenient. We also recommend that you park your car in a garage and leave it there until it's time to go home -- Midtown Manhattan is very walkable and offers easy access to the rest of the City by subway and taxi.
Map of Midtown Manhattan
We consider Midtown Manhattan as the area bordered
- on the south by 31st St.
- on the north by 59th St.
East Side, West Side, All Around the Town
Midtown Manhattan can be further divided into East Side and West Side. Generally speaking, the East Side of Midtown Manhattan is quieter, and appeals to more experienced New York visitors who want to be closer to 5th Avenue and Madison Avenue shopping.
Midtown's West Side, by contrast, is always lively. It's the home of Times Square, Broadway theaters, Restaurant Row, Carnegie Hall and street vendors (we've bought $5 Oakley sunglasses and $15 Rolex watches, "genuine" of course). It's got charming 9th Avenue restaurants, boisterous 8th Avenue bars, and a revolving restaurant perched high atop Broadway. West Side hotels range from boarding-house cheap to 5* Deluxe.
- 5th Avenue separates East Side from West Side
- Most first-time visitors to New York City stay in Midtown West Side hotels, where they can walk to theaters, 5th Avenue, Rockefeller Plaza, Times Square, Central Park and famous department stores like Macy's and Saks.
Lower Manhattan, Financial Capital of the World
Lower Manhattan can be quiet and peaceful (Saturday and Sunday) or overcrowded and frenetic (Monday through Friday). It's home to Wall Street, the former site of the World Trade Center Twin Towers (now referred to by non-New Yorkers as Ground Zero), the National 911 Memorial and Museum, and lovely Battery Park. It was the location of the original Dutch colony Nieuw Amsterdam and is perhaps the most historic place in the US -- and its first capital city.
Guests in Lower Manhattan hotels can get to Midtown Manhattan any time of the day or night by subway or cab, or they can walk to Chinatown, Little Italy, Greenwich Village, SoHo and South Street Seaport. Hotels tend to be less expensive than Midtown, particularly on weekends.
- Lower Manhattan is the southernmost tip of Manhattan Island.
- From Battery Park, visitors can get an excellent view of the Statue of Liberty.
Upper West Side
The Upper West Side is a residential area of Manhattan that contains a few moderately priced accommodations. Hotels along Central Park West tend to be higher priced than those further away from the Park.
- Central Park divides the Upper West Side from the Upper East Side.
Upper East Side
Also a residential area, but the Upper East side includes the City's Museum Mile, featuring the largest concentration of museums and galleries in the Big Apple. Hotels near Museum Mile are very upscale.
New York City is more than Manhattan -- it also includes the boroughs of Brooklyn, Staten Island, Queens and the Bronx. There are accommodations available everywhere. Most visitors come to New York City to experience the attractions of Manhattan, so guests staying elsewhere will spend time and money commuting back and forth. Unless you have a specific reason for staying in Brooklyn, Staten Island, Queens or the Bronx, we highly recommend spending the few dollars more to stay in Manhattan.
- There's lots to do outside of Manhattan, too, including the Bronx Zoo, Brooklyn Botanical Gardens, New York Aquarium (Brooklyn), Queens Botanical Garden, Wave Hill (Bronx) and the Tibetan Museum (Staten Island)
There are some advantages to staying across the Hudson in New Jersey, depending upon exactly where you stay. Prices are generally less expensive than in Manhattan and availability of rooms in Jersey may be greater. Make sure, however, that your hotel provides easy access to public transportation into New York City. Any money that you might plan on saving by staying in Jersey can easily be lost in tolls and parking if you drive into Manhattan. Our personal choices for New Jersey hotels are the Westin in Jersey City -- within walking distance of both the PATH train and the NY Waterway ferry to Manhattan - and the Hilton Penn Station in Newark, connected directly to the PATH and Amtrak train station.
- One big advantage to staying in New Jersey: you'll have a great view of Manhattan!
Pick Your Seasons
Hotel rates in New York City fluctuate a great deal depending upon the season. Generally, rates are highest from September through mid-December, and lowest in January, February, July and August.
January-February Lowest Prices
March-June Moderately High Prices
July-August Low Prices
September-November High Prices
December 1-15 Highest Prices
December 16-28 Low Prices
Some special events in the City cause hotels to increase their rates for brief periods of time:
NY Marathon (1st weekend in Nov.)
New Year's Eve
NYCVP often has special rates for holidays like St. Patrick's Day, Memorial Day, 4th of July, Labor Day, Columbus Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's Eve.