Every traveler has different priorities when it comes to choosing an accommodation while on vacation, some choose location over budget, some choose budget over hotel ratings, some would choose staying in an Airbnb accommodation over hotels.
I’m a big fan of Airbnb and have had great experiences staying in various Airbnb locations. But I would generally choose to stay in an Airbnb accommodation for long-term stays only (min. 5 nights) and if the final cost is much cheaper than staying in a hotel.
I mean if I could avoid making my own bed and washing the dishes why not stay in a hotel? I’d be more than happy to leave the housework at home.
With New York in particular, I much prefer staying in a hotel because it usually ends up cheaper and most importantly hotel stays would earn me more reward points (in addition to earning reward points by paying with a credit card).
Here are my personal priorities when choosing a hotel in New York:
Location & Access to Subway
The best way to get around New York is by either walking or taking the subway and luckily there are many subway entrance points spread all over Manhattan.
The NY Metrocard is quite easy to get and can be used to ride the subway or bus. Taking a cab or an Uber is always an option too if you don’t mind getting stuck in traffic and spending 5 times the cost. To give you an idea, a single ride in New York City on a local subway or bus would only cost USD 2.75.
Click here to download NYC Subway Map in pdf.
Times Square – Many first time visitors would probably enjoy staying around Times Square as it is the epicenter for tourists from all over the world.
Stepping into Times Square for the first time can be quite overwhelming and there is no doubt you’d be mesmerized by the lights and all the craziness New York has to offer. Times Square is also home to numerous Broadway musicals if you’re planning to catch a show here. Countless hotels are located in the Times Square area, from budget (Hotel Indigo, Double Tree), boutique hotels to 5-star hotels such as the New York Marriott Marquis.
Times Square New York
After numerous visits to NY, we would try to avoid staying in Times Square (at all cost) – I’m sure New Yorkers would agree as well. It’s like how Angelenos would avoid going to Hollywood Boulevard if they could. (Not valid for first timers though).
Central Park – It is always a good idea to stay close to Central Park especially when you enjoy a morning jog or in the city with children. Bear in mind Central Park stretches at 2.5 miles between 59th Street and 110th Street, with total area of 1.317 square miles (3,411,014 square meters). It is huge!! So be mindful of which side of the park you’re staying in.
Did I mention how breathtaking Central Park is in the Winter?
Past blogpost – Winter in New York
If you are visiting for the first time, your best bet is to stay in hotels around Central Park South (close to 59th Street). There’s easy access to subway, a stone throw away from the shops on 5th Ave and plenty of restaurants around.
If you don’t have the budget or points to stay in luxury accommodation, do check out 1 Hotel Central Park (sister hotel of 1 Hotel South Beach Miami), Park Lane Hotel NY, Courtyard New York Manhattan Central Park, Gardens NYC- An Affinia Hotel (Upper East Side) and W New York on Lexington Ave.
Meatpacking District/Chelsea/Gramercy/Union Square – Located just between Times Square and Lower Manhattan, this area is also a good option for a stay in Manhattan. It is walking distance to Madison Square Garden, Chelsea Market, Madison Square Park (Shake Shack) and in the West of Chelsea is The High Line – A popular park 30 feet above street level on an old rail line, with river & city views, awesome place to visit in the Summer.
Gansevoort Park Hotel Rooftop Pool – Meatpacking District
You will be able to find budget hotels like the Holiday Inn, Ramada, Double Tree by Hilton, Residence Inn by Marriott to luxury ones such as Dream Downtown, Smyth – a Thompson Hotel, Gansevoort Park NYC and Four Seasons Hotel NY Downtown. If your budget is under $200/night and looking for a contemporary-designed hotel, check out Riff Hotels Chelsea, nightly rate starts at $148.
Riff Hotel Chelsea – nightly rate starts at $148
Soho/Tribeca – My favorite area in Manhattan after Central Park, if you’re a foodie and like to shop then this is your stop. Neighboring to Soho is Nolita and a little further is East Village where you can find hipster coffee and brunch spots, from pizza, sushi to desserts.Tribeca on the other hand has dense residential buildings and home to many celebrities such as Jay Z & Beyonce, Taylor Swift, Jon Bon Jovi and Chris Martin to name a few.
Smyth – A Thompson Hotel, Tribeca
Minimum 4 star ratings (based on reviews) on Trip Advisor
When looking for accommodation Trip Advisor is my number one go to website as it has comprehensive listings of almost every hotel in the world including customers’ ratings, reviews and photos.
You have to be aware about the professional photos posted by the hotel management which can be deceiving sometimes, so make sure to check the travelers’ photos as well and their reviews.
I tend to choose hotels with a minimum of 4 star rating (out of 5 ) because the ratings comes from real customers’ reviews (not how luxurious it is).
Most NY standard hotel rooms are quite small so you might also want to compare the square foot / square meter area of the room when booking a hotel, if room size matters to you at all.
3. Earning Reward Points
The two major hotel groups that we try to collect points of are Marriott and Starwood Hotels (SPG) which has quite a number of decent properties in New York.
The tricky part about NY is there are so many other hotels outside of these two groups that are much more attractive and has a modern sleek design like the 1 Hotel Central Park, Gansevoort Hotel and 11 Howard.
Our last visit in NY we stayed at the Courtyard Marriott Manhattan Central Park with the intention of earning Marriott points and to get a chance for a complimentary upgrade for being a Platinum elite status. At the end we earned over 12,000 points for staying on 2-paid nights ($230/nightly rate) including earning 4,700 Summer Promotion bonus points.
SPG also has great hotel options in New York that could earn you redeemable reward points which I find to be more valuable than Marriott to be honest, but unfortunately we don’t have any status with SPG so we would not get an upgrade or any additional benefits (not yet).SPG hotels include The Westin, W Hotels, Sheraton, Four Points by Sheraton, Element Hotels, Le Parker Meridien, St Regis and Gramercy Park Hotel (a Member of Design Hotels)
SPG Hotels – Using Cash or Points
Hotels in NY ranges from around $130/night for a 4-star hotel (during off-peak season) to over $800/night for a 5-star luxury hotel. With a budget of $200 / night you should be able to find many decent options of 4-star hotels in your preferred location in Manhattan. If you are flexible on dates, always try to go at off-peak season as it will save you a lot of $$$.