Remember that the accommodations scene in New York City goes well beyond hotels. You can save money—and have a more interesting stay—by considering the following "alternative accommodations".
Private B&B accommodationsAlas, it is illegal to rent vacation apartments in New York City for less than 30 days. So though AirBnB.com, HomeAway.com, VRBO.com and others list dozens of apartment rentals around the city, often going for far less than a hotel room, there is a risk to booking one. However, you can legally rent a room in an apartment, if the owner remains in residence. Think of it as a private B&B (though often breakfast is not included). This type of stay is usually much cheaper than a hotel room, it allows you to meet a friendly local, and it will most likely place you in a residential neighborhood where you live like a local, rather than a visitor. Some of the companies that offer these types of stays include include New York Habitat (www.nyhabitat.com; tel 212/255-8018), Wimdu.com and AirBnB.com. Be sure to get all details in writing and an exact price for the stay, including applicable taxes and fees, before booking.
Inns and Religious Guesthouses
The first home of the Gay Men’s Health Crisis, an 1850 brownstone in the heart of Chelsea, is now the quirky, extremely friendly Colonial House Inn, 318 W. 22nd St. near Eighth Ave. (tel. 800/689-3779). This 20-room four-story walk-up caters to a largely LGBTQ clientele, but everybody is warmly welcomed. Some rooms have shared bathrooms, deluxe rooms have private ones,; some rooms even have working fireplaces. Rates range from $130 to $180, but have been known to dip as low as $89 in January and February
For another genuine New York brownstone experience, head to Harlem. It’s anything but a flophouse, but that’s what they call Harlem Flophouse , 242 W. 123rd St., between Adam Clayton Powell and Frederick Douglass boulevards (tel. 347/632-1960). Owner René Calvo has restored the historic row house to Harlem Renaissance splendor, when the “flophouse” was frequented by top musicians and artists of that era. If you visit in the summer, you just might get invited to one of Calvo’s impromptu barbecues. Rooms are $125 most nights of the year.
The House of the Redeemer (7 E. 95th St. off Fifth Ave.; 212/289-0339; www.houseoftheredeemer.org; subway: 6 to 96th St). Open to all, run by the Episcopal Church.
The Leo House (332 W. 23rd St., between Eighth and Ninth aves.; www.leohousenyc.com; 800/732-2438 or 212/929-1010; subway: E, C to 23rd St). Open to all, run by the Catholic Church.The priciest hotel on this list is Brooklyn’s Akwaaba Mansion Bed & Breakfast, at 347 MacDonough St. in a quiet stretch of the Bedford Stuyvesant neighborhood (tel. 866/466-3855). Rooms here go for $220 most nights of the year. But that price includes a delicious Southern-style breakfast and a stay in one of the most charming inns in the city, set in an Italianate 1860’s mansion, with a covered porch and secluded gardens. African art and antiques are sprinkled throughout.Hostels
Open to people of all ages as well as families, the following hostels have a mix of dorm accommodations and private rooms. Rates start at $40−$80 per person at these facilities, varying by date and type of room. Here are NYC’s best maintained hostels:
Hosteling International New York (891 Amsterdam Ave., at the corner of 103rd St.; 212/932-2300; www.hinewyork.org; subway: 1 to 103rd St., or 1, 2, 3 to 96th St.)NY Loft Hostel (249 Varet St., Williamsburg, Brooklyn; www.nylofthostel.com; tel. 718/366-1351; L to Morgan Ave.).
Q4 Hotel/Hostel (29-09 Queens Plaza North, Long Island City, Queens; www.q4hostel.com; tel. 718/706-7700; E, M, N, R, or 7 to Queensborough Plaza).
Vanderbilt YMCA (224 East 47th St. between Second and Third Aves.; www.ymcanyc.org; tel. 212/902-2504; 6, N, or R to 51st St.)
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.