New York City is notoriously expensive to visit — especially when it comes to hotel prices. A basic room in a standard chain hotel that would cost $85 a night anywhere else in the country may soar to $250 or more when you book it in the Big Apple. So how can you save on New York City hotels?
Surprisingly, there are still plenty of good budget options in the city, including dozens of independently owned hotels, if you know where to look and if your timing is right. You might miss out on a few upscale amenities at these places, but you won’t mind with all of the money you save. Besides, you won’t be hanging around your room all day when you have a big city to go explore!
It’s important to pay close attention to details like location and when you book. We’ve compiled our top tips to show you the secret to booking an affordable hotel in NYC.
Are you ready for a New York getaway? Check rates for New York hotels now.
More New York tips:
• Cheapo Guide: Visiting New York City on a budget
• Cheap New York hotels near Broadway and the Theater District
• 5 Super cheap hotels in Manhattan
How to save on New York City hotels
Here are ten of our top tips for finding the right hotel room in New York City on a budget.
1. It’s all about location, location, location.
It may sound obvious, but where you plop yourself down at night should depend on what you want to see during your visit. If you’re intending to hit the top sightseeing spots in town (Empire State Building, Central Park, Wall Street, etc), then Manhattan is the obvious choice.
And even if Times Square doesn’t appeal to you, don’t overlook it. The neighborhood is crammed with hotels, which tends to lead to competition and drive down rates, and the subway access is second-to-none. (Check out this list of cheap hotels in Times Square and in the Theater District.)
We also quite like the budget hotels in Greenwich Village and the West Village, as they’re further afield from the tourist action and still very convenient, day and night.
In short, by picking a central hotel, you’ll save money on transportation (especially expensive taxis and Ubers), and save time spent getting around. Sleeping in a far-off corner of the city might save you some cash, but it could also put shackles on your schedule.
Having said that…
2. Consider looking beyond Manhattan
Remember that New York is comprised of five boroughs, Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx, and Staten Island. Although we always recommend that first-time visitors try booking a hotel in Manhattan first, there are excellent deals to be found in the outer boroughs.
For example, if you find a room in Long Island City, Queens, or Williamsburg, Brooklyn, you’ll be just a quick subway ride from Manhattan. The photo above shows the view from the Courtyard by Marriott in Long Island City.
Search for hotels in the outer boroughs:
171 Hotels in Brooklyn
158 Hotels in Queens
19 Hotels in the Bronx
16 Hotels in Staten Island
Just be sure to double check exactly where the hotel is located and if a subway station is nearby (meaning a 5-10 minute walk away).
And speaking of subways…
3. Stay near the subway
Choosing a hotel near a subway station accomplishes a number of goals for discerning Cheapos. On your arrival, you can skip the expensive taxi from the airport and take the subway to your hotel. If you don’t have a lot of luggage, it’s an easy way to get to your hotel, especially if you fly into JFK.
Once you’re checked in and ready to head off and explore the city, just get a MetroCard and the city is at your fingertips. Remember, in New York, the subway runs 24 hours a day!
Cheapo Pick: The Seafarers & International House is located one block from bustling Union Square where you can catch nine different subway lines!
4. Choose your dates wisely
Want to see the famous skating rink at Rockefeller Center on Thanksgiving weekend? Don’t expect a deal! The holiday season and summertime in NYC can see rates skyrocket, but if you’re flexible with your dates, and don’t mind coming in the off-season (especially from January to April), affordable hotels are easier to find than you think.
Just keep an eye out for big events on the calendar like Fashion Week (see dates) and the UN General Assembly in September.
Related: Strategy Tips: How not to get stuck with the worst hotel room
5. Plan a weekend getaway
Surprisingly, you might be able to enjoy a more affordable escape to New York on a weekend. With all of the business travelers coming for meetings during the week, rates can run higher on weekdays. Prices can spike on a Monday but fall on a Saturday. Spend a Saturday morning getting dim sum in Chinatown or a Sunday afternoon strolling along The High Line.
Cheapo Pick: Pod 51 offers small but very attractive rooms in the heart of Midtown for low rates. On weekend mornings you can get up early and beat the crowds at the renowned Ess-A-Bagel right around the corner!
6. Book a refundable room in advance
Many hotels allow reserving a room with the ability to cancel up to 24 hours in advance. If you find a great deal, book it right away!
Cheapo Pick: Booking a refundable room at the 3-star Sohotel only costs $10-20 more than the non-refundable option. This chic yet affordable stay is located in the fun Lower East Side neighborhood.
You can always cancel later on if you find something better. Or if you’re not one to plan way in advance…
7. Keep an eye out for last-minute deals
Sometimes good things come to those that wait. That’s not usually the standard rule for New York City hotels, but it’s always worth a shot. Depending on what’s going in the city, you can find some very nice deals a few days before you leave… or even at the very last minute!
Even if you see a hotel for $104 a night, it might not include all of the taxes and fees. That low rate can quickly rise to a very expensive final bill. In New York, there is a 14.75% hotel tax plus a flat fee of $3.50 per day.
When you book through EuroCheapo, these fees are included in the rate you see, so you won’t end up with unforeseen costs.
9. Consider a private room in a hostel
The word hostel usually conjures up images of sprawling rooms filled with bunk beds and a party-hard clientele. But Cheapos in search of a deal shouldn’t overlook hostels In New York. There are several hostels that offer private rooms for hostel prices in a more adult atmosphere.
Cheapo Pick: The Jane offers swanky rooms with spic-and-span shared baths in the West Village.
Speaking of hostels, there are still quite a few reliable places that offer bunks at deeply discounted prices. If you don’t mind sharing space — and a bathroom — then you can stay in Manhattan for less than $50 per night.
Cheapo Pick: A favorite is the HI NYC Hostel on the Upper West Side.
There are also a surprising amount of cheap hotels in Manhattan (such as the Pod 51 Hotel in Midtown and Hotel 31 in Murray Hill) that offer shared baths. If you don’t mind this, then you can save a few hundred dollars over the course of a week.
11. Don’t overlook smaller, independent hotels
We admit that chain hotels have a lot of advantages, especially when it comes to price. Manhattan is home to every chain hotel you can think of. However, nothing beats a memorable stay at a friendly independent hotel. There’s just something about the personal touches and human interaction that we really enjoy. We’ve waxed poetic about London’s wonderful family-run hotels and New York has a few to seek out as well.
Cheapo Picks: Hotel 414 is a cozy B&B with budget-friendly rooms and an easygoing staff in Hell’s Kitchen, while the Chelsea Pines is a fun spot with a super-friendly crew and decor dedicated to Hollywood’s Golden Age.
Search New York budget hotels now
Know your travel dates? Search our database of New York City budget hotels in the search box above, or in our guide to cheap hotels in New York.