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A lot of you have asked me if I had any recommendations for clean and cheap hotels in New York City. As a New Yorker myself, I’ve struggled with giving out hotel recommendations as well, I don’t stay at a hotel when I’m in New York. I’ve asked fellow travel bloggers and friends for their picks for affordable hotels in New York City and I’ve provided some insider tips for finding cheap hotels in New York City.
Tips for finding an affordable hotel in New York
$200+ is normal for a hotel in New York City
Let’s just set your expectations before we go forward. $200-$250 per night is a standard rate for a hotel in Manhattan in a convenient location. This article includes hotels in the $100 to $150 range, so you can imagine that you have to sacrifice something if you get something cheaper.
If you’re open to it, hostels in New York City can be a bit more affordable than this, but it’s cheaper to share a room with a friend than to have a dorm bed in New York City probably.
Check the neighborhood FIRST
This is my biggest tip as a few people have reached out to me after booking a cheap place to stay in New York City only to realize upon arrival that the neighborhood wasn’t great and they didn’t feel safe walking at night there.
I tend to use caution in recommending neighborhoods to tourists as New York City has crime and carrying your expensive camera around certain areas is likely to attract attention. I especially recommend using caution if you’re a woman traveling solo in New York City. I strongly recommend looking up the neighborhood before booking.
My recommended NYC neighborhoods to stay in on a budget: I recommend staying in the Lower East Side, Chinatown, Astoria, Williamsburg, and Long Island City. If you’re open to it, consider staying in Staten Island or Jersey City (across the water!) for lower rates.
Not all locations are “easy” to get to Manhattan from within New York City
A lot of people think that New York City is smaller than it is. It’s a huge city, so I recommend checking how long it will take to get to Midtown as many first time tourists to New York City spend most of their time in Manhattan.
If it’s over thirty minutes or there’s multiple transfers, you might want to reconsider your choice as trains can break and taxis can be expensive
Avoid major holidays and conferences
If you’re visiting New York to celebrate Christmas, New Years Eve, or Thanksgiving, you’re not the only one with this idea. Hotels during this time are particularly expensive, so if you can put off your trip until spring or fall (shoulder season), consider it.
Easter as well as the 4th of July is also a popular time for New York City vacations. Simply, if you can travel during non-peak season, you’ll save a lot.
This is my biggest tip. New York City is one of the most popular cities to visit in the world and one of the most expensive. If you’re looking for an affordable hotel in New York City, book as far ahead as possible as waiting will only drive up the rates and leave you with less desirable choices as many cheap hotels in New York don’t have that much space (or rooms).
As a result, the best ones go fast. I’d say, book your NYC hotel at least six months out, even longer ahead if you’re visiting New York City during the Christmas season.
Be open to staying outside of Midtown
This is my biggest tip. A lot of the most affordable hotels in New York City, as mentioned below, are outside of Midtown in the Lower East Side, Queens, and Brooklyn. You’ll save a lot and I’ve tried to include picks that are an easy hop to the main attractions.
Be sure you’re close to a subway stop
The New York City subway is the best way to get around New York City on a budget. I strongly recommend checking the distance to the subway stop nearest to the hotel and which lines that you have access to.
Certain subway lines, including the 7, are infamous for their delays as well as crowding. Click for tips for taking the subway in New York City.
Avoid breakfast if it’s extra
My dad and I wrote an article about how to save money on hotels and one of our biggest tips is to avoid paying for breakfast if you can. You’ll often pay at least $10 extra per person at cheap hotels for breakfast, so if it’s not included, don’t be afraid to go to your neighborhood bagel shop or out to brunch in New York City.
Be open to hotels that you haven’t heard of
I know that a lot of people, including my father, prefer hotels that they recognize the name of. You can find budget American chains in New York City, particularly in Long Island City, however they often charge more for name recognition. Simply, be open to somewhere else and you might save a lot as most of these are boutique hotels that aren’t elsewhere.
Read the reviews
Always read the reviews. This is a basic one, but you don’t want to bring bed bugs home. I usually go back 2-3 pages when reading reviews for hotels on Booking.com, my preferred website to book hotels for myself as I like the reviews and they’ve been good about refunds when hotels didn’t match my expectations (or the photos).
How to get a cheap NYC hotel last minute (or stay at a boutique hotel for $100!)
I recently stayed in New York City right near Times Square in a four star boutique hotel, The Sanctuary Hotel, with rooftop bar, wifi and a continental breakfast for $100 (plus tax). The hotel’s normal rate is over $200 a night!
My secret travel weapon is the Hotel Tonight app. Hotel Tonight allows for same day bookings and up to thirty days in advance (selected cities). The curated hotels range from basic to luxe with many hotels you’ve heard of and others there for you to discover.
Reservations are non-refundable, room category is assigned at check-in (expect the lowest category) and don’t plan on a view but that’s a small sacrifice for the savings. For all of my trips to New York City, I will check Hotel Tonight first and then set up a price tracker to let me know when prices change to see the city for less. -Suzanne from Phila Travel Girl
Affordable hotels in Manhattan
This romantic budget hotel situated in Chinatown has views of the Manhattan Bridge in many of its rooms. I’d especially recommend the Leon for couples looking for a romantic yet affordable place to stay in New York that is still located in Manhattan. There’s a lot of great food in the area around it and it’s easy to walk over the Brooklyn Bridge!
For affordable luxury, check out CitizenM’s two hotels in Manhattan: one in the heart of Times Square and the Bowery. If you’re on a budget and looking for business-friendly amenities, such as free wifi, comfy beds, great views, fancy showers, and 24/7 room service, you will want to check out this modern chain.
To be fair, the rooms aren’t huge, but you can’t beat the price for what you get. (Friends have stayed here for less than $150 per night, however I have concerns that their rates might increase in the coming year…)
Finding affordable accommodation in New York City can be so difficult, that we made sure to book our hotel before actually buying our intercontinental flights. Nevertheless, we were very happy with our stay at the Pod 39 Hotel, which ended up costing less than 95$ per night for an en-suite double room, with all taxes included.
The location in Murray Hill was absolutely perfect for first-time visitors like ourselves. It was walking distance to countless attractions, and also right by the Grand Central Station when we needed to get further away.
The rooms are small, but more than enough for a short stay. We loved the decoration, the bed was very comfortable and the included toiletries smelled heavenly! There is a rooftop lounge in the hotel, which was unfortunately closed when we visited in January. We would recommend this hotel to everyone, even those who aren’t necessarily traveling to New York on a budget. -Maria and Rui from Twofindaway
Editor’s note: I recently stayed at Pod39 on her own with a friend. Both of us absolutely loved our stay at Pod39. This location made it easy to eat at many great places, including Koreatown as well as the traditional delis along 2nd Avenue. We went up to the rooftop a few times, which had a stunning view of New York City both daytime and at night. Overall, it was exactly what we needed for a quick staycation in Manhattan. Overall, I’d recommend it to any travelers on a budget looking for tasteful extras!
When I was looking at places to stay in New York, it was really difficult to find something affordable. It was my first-time solo and accessibility was a main criteria. That is one of the reasons that I loved Hotel 31. It was so centrally located with places like the Grand Central Terminal and the Empire state building hardly five minutes away by walking.
It was a quaint hotel with many restaurants and cafes nearby. I had a private room with a shared bathroom. This was still convenient since there were very few rooms sharing the washroom. Overall, Hotel 31 was good value for the money I spent and I enjoyed my 3 nights there. -Soumya from Travel Books Food
The Jane Hotel
I booked a stay at the Jane Hotel, near the Meatpacking District, because a) the price, for Manhattan, was reasonable and b) the online reviews that I read praised it remarkably highly, which meant it wasn’t a fleabag. It turned out to be a quirky renovation of a 1908 sailors’ hotel.
The rooms, first of all, are called “cabins,” and have a lot in common with ship’s cabins. In other words, they’re extremely small: just big enough for the bed. Yet they are elegantly furnished to period with quality linens, including a bathrobe, as well as a TV and air-conditioning.
The well-renovated, period bathroom is down the hall. The hotel employees wear old-fashioned bellhop outfits, and the lobby is decorated, rather gruesomely, with some very old hunting trophies. Don’t miss the bar downstairs in what must have been a ballroom, complete with stuffed mountain goat adorning the mantel. -Rachel from Rachel’s Ruminations.
Affordable hotels in Brooklyn
Red Carpet Inn
The two times I’ve visited New York as a tourist I stayed in the Red Carpet Inn in Brooklyn. The Red Carpet Inn is a small hotel on the $100 per night range on a low key community in Brooklyn.
Around the hotel you can find good places to eat such as White Castle and some Pizza Parlours, grocery stores and dollar stores. One of the best things about this hotel is the fact that is located right on the Halsey St./Wyckoff Ave. Metro Station of the L line, which makes it pretty easy to reach Manhattan from here.
Another thing to consider is the fact that your reservation include complimentary breakfast, so every morning before exploring you can grab some coffee, pastries and cereal if you want to save some money on meals. Don’t expect any luxury. My best recommendation is to consider this hotel if you are conscious that you won’t spend much time in your room. -Breda from Traveleira.
Williamsburg is one of the best neighborhoods to explore in New York City. Although the rooms at Pod are small, they’re clean, sleek, and well designed. You’re surrounded by plenty of food options and you’re just a short hop away from Manhattan on the subway. Be sure to check out the rooftop bar, which has amazing rooftop views of New York City!
Spacious and cheap?! Hotel RL is located in the multi-cultural (and rapidly gentifying) neighborhood of Bed-Stuy, however don’t be nervous about booking this modern hotel. Bed-Stuy is a quick hop to Manhattan and there’s lots of great food in the neighborhood as well as in nearby Downtown Brooklyn.
Affordable hotels in Queens
In February, myself and my partner visited New York for the first time. We knew we wanted easy access to all the main attractions via the Subway, but we also wanted to be outside of the “tourist hub” and busyness of places like Times Square. As a result, the borough of Queens quickly shot to the top of our hotel search.
We chose the LIC Hotel on 21st Street. As we knew we would be doing a lot of sightseeing, we wanted a fairly inexpensive and simple hotel. LIC fitted the bill perfectly.
The bed was large and very comfortable (we’d opted for the King Suite), while the ensuite came with a waterfall power shower. The addition of a mini-fridge in the room was very welcome as we sometimes bring snacks back to the hotel rather than eating out every night.
The hotel serves a complimentary breakfast every morning, which consists of a selection of cereals, fruit, toast, bagels, doughnuts, juice and hot drinks. You can even have a fry-up with bacon, eggs and sausages! What really sets this hotel apart from others in the same price range is the rooftop garden, which offers superb views of New York, especially at night! -Justine from Wanderer of the World
Q4 Hotel in Queens
If you are looking for a budget hotel without compromising on location, Q4 Hotel makes for a smart choice. Only a block away from the subway, this hotel at Queens Plaza is convenient for those who wish to get to other parts of New York City without losing much time. The hotel is highly recommended for youth and backpackers, especially since they also offer dorm rooms.
Even if you stay in their private rooms, you have access to their hostel-like facilities such as the common rooms, fully equipped kitchen and indoor games areas. Several food trucks park close to this Long Island City hotel, and affordable restaurants and supermarkets are nearby. What I particularly loved about this property was its proximity to the East River. A 10-minute walk takes you to the Queensbridge Park from where you can gaze at the skyline of Roosevelt Island. –Oindrila
The Vue Hotel, an Ascend Hotel Collection Member, is a hotel located in Queens on 22nd Street. The first thing we noticed was their prices: a double room with buffet breakfast included comes for about 150$, which is a steal for New York City, compared to the hotels in Manhattan. From the hotel, we just had to cross the street and walk for less than five minutes to get to the subway stop. The Queensbridge stop is on the F line and it took us about 10 minutes to get to Central Park and the 5th Avenue.
The rooms are spacious, modern, and stylish. The theme of the Hotel is the Empire State Building, which you can see right outside the window! On our first night at The Vue, my husband spent a good 20 minutes looking out of our window to watch this iconic building. Yes, because the rooms come with a view! –Daniela
Paper Factory Hotel
The Paper Factory Hotel is a boutique hotel located in Long Island city within a hundred year old factory. The rooms are spacious with loft ceilings (12 foot!), a private bathroom, and beautiful art decor style. One of my favorite museums in Queens is right down the street as well as the subway stop.