Having moved abroad to Singapore last year, my family and I headed back to our homeland of Manhattan this summer for three weeks of recharging, reconnecting, and drying out from all that tropical humidity. Months before our June trip, I began plotting where our family of four could stay for 22 days without totally breaking the bank in a city as expensive as New York. We considered hotels, serviced apartments and furnished apartments. We had also entertained the idea of trying to find a sublet by networking through friends of friends, but that didn't work (and maybe for the best, tip-toeing around someone else's stuff and feeling inhibited to invite friends and family over would have defeated the purpose of a true holiday).
After purchasing our airline tickets, I started my research about four months out, weighing the pros and cons of long-term stay options for families. We ideally wanted a one-bedroom apartment or suite that could sleep four and had a kitchenette. It was important for us to be somewhere on the Upper West Side, where we had lived for more than 10 years and where we knew there were lots of great playgrounds. Of course, we wanted to find the lowest price we possible; we were shooting for less than $200 a day. We learned that Internet rates can vary greatly from rates gotten over the phone. In one case, we contacted one hotel directly via its website and were emailed rates back that were much higher than rates I got from calling one of the hotel reservations agents directly on two separate occasions about one month a part. Plus, I was quoted lower prices on the second call versus the first. Supply and demand of course are at play, and so are variables like cancellations which may free up more stock at a given hotel or serviced apartment. Lessons learned: take good notes and start comparison shopping early.
In the end, we wound up going with a furnished apartment through an outfit called Furnished Quarters (www.furnishedquarters.com), paying $155 a night for a one-bedroom apartment in a brownstone on the Upper West Side, with a kitchen, full bathroom and generous storage space. Because our booking could not be confirmed until 30 days prior to our arrival, our back-up plan was a hotel suite I reserved months earlier with a 48-hour cancellation policy.
Though rates were lower for our furnished apartment, it did lack some of the amenities typically included in a hotel or serviced apartment stay. Read on to compare the pros and cons of each option.
At Affinia Gardens on East 64th Street (www.affinia.com), a modern-style serviced apartment complex and hotel, we could get a one-bedroom apartment with a kitchenette for about $300 a night. We'd have daily maid service for fresh towels and made-up beds, plus amenities like a fitness center and wifi. Total cost for 22 nights, including taxes and fees, was close to $8,000.
- Perks like 24-hour room service, gym and a pillow menu
- Daily maid service
- Rooms with kitchettes
- Wi-fi and secretarial services
- Central and safe neighborhood
- Frequent internet specials
We seriously considered going with the Beacon Hotel (www.beaconhotel.com), on Broadway and 75th Street. A one-bedroom suite with two double beds, sofa bed and a kitchenette was $295 per night when we called last March. With taxes and fees, total for 22 nights came to about $7,600.
- Daily maid service
- Rooms with kitchettes
- Wi-fi access
- Safety and security of staff on duty 24 hours a day
- In a great neighborhood we were familiar with
We eventually went this route because it was the cheapest. We snagged a one-bedroom apartment with a kitchen in a brownstone on West 78th Street, our old stomping ground.
We used Furnished Quarters, an outfit who owns apartments in high rises as well as brownstones around the city. The hitch is stays must be 30 days or longer. A cleaning is done every two weeks (though you can pay for additional cleanings) and amenities like sheets, towels, a vaccum cleaner and kitchen gear are provided; otherwise you're on your as you would be in any normal apartment. Paying for the minimum 30 days came to about $5,200.
- Cheaper per night than most hotels and serviced apartments
- Apartments have kitchettes
- Not subject to 13.375% hotel tax, but only a 5% tax
- Feels more homey than a generic high-rise hotel
- No daily maid service
- Often fewer amenities (especially if staying in a brownstone), including a doorman, porters, gyms and restaurants.
- Minimum stay of 30 days, typically
- Typically reservation can not be confirmed until about 30 days before arrival, as current tenants are on month-to-month renewals.
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