I feel a little sheepish asking for NYC advice, but since I've never stayed at a hotel here, I have little first-hand knowledge about accommodations.
Anyway, my sister-in-law and her husband are celebrating their 20th anniversary this July and want to spend a weekend in the city without the kids, in a place more romantic than my living room. The thing is, though, they will have just had a long family vacation the month before, so money will be tight. Does anyone have any recommendations for a decent hotel (preferably not in Times Square) in the $200/night or less range? I realize it's a long shot, but thought I'd try. The Radisson looks fine and is about $200, but I want to explore other options.
Also, what sites do you use to find the best deals? I use Priceline and Hotwire but haven't found anything yet.
Hmm. Foo. We used Hotwire for our amazing deals, but I think the thing then was the undesirable time of year, as in early Jan. Going to a site like betterbidding.com for tips has been helpful for me.
In the non-hotel dept: I had a very attractive studio apartment possibility on VBRO.com in the Clinton area, but then decided we wanted hotels (though I get the idea not exactly legal in NYC to short term rent like that). We've used them with good success in other parts of the world.
Have you tried airbnb.com? I happen to know firsthand of a couple of places available through them (in Santa Fe and here in St. Louis) that are very nice and good deals. Ideally checking the place out yourself you might find something just right. I understand they don't release your funds until you've shown up and approved the situation. For that reason it would be safer than say craigslist or VRBO. Sometimes people are out of town short term anyway, and just want to make a little extra cash.
I confess that I've almost always been relatively close to Times Square and have probably stayed in about 20 different places, none of which I can now afford. One time I rented an apartment on the upper east side, but although it saved me some money, I didn't really get much benefit out of it -- I was out early in the morning and only back late in the day, same as a hotel room.
The Henry Hudson Hotel (as it was called then) was the very last hotel where I stayed in NYC before moving to France, when the WNET headquarters were still there. I didn't quite choose it at random, because I had remembered it as being reasonably priced when my family stayed there the night before another transatlantic steamship crossing. Not that I had any idea what my parents had paid, but I knew that if we had stayed there, it was cheap.
I see that Philippe Starck redecorated it. Last time I was in New York, I stayed at the Paramount Hotel near Times Square, which has also been redecorated by Philippe Starck. I thought it was quite funky and nice, but from the outside it looks horrible.
Just did a quick price check and they are within your budget in July , direct from the hotel. Downside is they are close to ( but not in ) Times Sq , up-side for me is that they are a few mins walk from the Rock Centre and the views from the top.
Have you considered tripadvisor.com or oyster.com? There was a recent NYT travel section interview with a hotel stay TV guru (maybe Sunday the 15th), where he recommends checking those two sites to get surprisingly accurate reviews. That's been my experience, too.
You can specify price range. Sheraton Tribeca shows up first on oyster.com; that's where my daughter and I stayed in January, for roughly $160/night including taxes, and liked it just fine. New, clean, comfortable. A Hotwire deal. Looks like $250/night for a weekend in July on the oyster site.
I've been looking at TA. Never heard of Oyster, I'll be sure to check it out.
Hotel 31 is very reasonable but doesn't look too inviting for a couple celebrating their 20th. The kind of places that have comped champagne and chocolates on the pillows are out of the budget, unfortunately, but I want to get as close to that as possible but with rock-bottom prices. In July. I know, it can't be done.
Alternately, maybe I'll consider recommending Brooklyn or Queens to them. If it's close to Manhattan and in a fun neighborhood, maybe with a killer view, it'd be worth it. As long as it "says" New York.
I've thought about paying for the hotel for them as a gift, even though the traditional gift list says china for the 20th. Who writes that stuff, anyway?
Maybe you could split it with them to get something nice.
Again, randomly checking Hotwire.com for a July weekend, the 13th-14th, I see a 4.5 * hotel downtown, 90% favorable reviews, for $217/night, plus taxes of course that put it up to ~$260/night total. I've had good luck with Hotwire hotels in big cities (vs. smaller towns where I'm better off booking directly).
Our mother-daughter trip in January was a special rare treat, so I wanted to stay somewhere nice. My estimation of our 4* hotels corresponded pretty well with the Hotwire reviewers': the least well reviewed was the one where I had to stomp downstairs at midnight, after the opera, to ask for a room without loud rattly ventilation noise.
We have used Hotwire 3 times for when needing a room in Toronto. While all three times we were pleased with the Hotel, we were not with the rooms we received. We asked to change and were told "sorry, but these are the type of rooms that we rent to companies like Hotwire, ones that need updates, repairs or have double beds instead of Queens or King size". But you cannot complain about the price you pay for them.
Hmm. I guess I'll go ahead and defend Hotwire at least somewhat.
Last summer when the four of us spent a weekend in Chicago -- and I had specified four of us -- the cool old hotel on the Gold Coast was out of two-double-bed rooms; we ended up in their second largest -- huge -- penthouse suite. Since the Rolling Stones had stayed there in the 60's or 70's, we decided we had the Keith Richards Suite. At the price, we'd have been in a very boring 2* in the suburbs instead of three blocks from Oak Street Beach.
In January, at the W on Lexington, we were upgraded from "cozy" to "wonderful" room based entirely, as far as I can tell, on our pleasant Midwestern demeanor. They treated us like valued rich persons at all times.
At the Empire Hotel, same trip, I must admit there was a hint of Hotwire sneering. That place was also the least well reviewed of our three.
If I were traveling by myself I wouldn't care anything about 4* hotels, but for the rare big city family treat I am grateful for Hotwire and Priceline.
I'm going to give a shout out to 70 Park in Midtown. For an anniversary trip it would fit the bill and I think good rates can be had. Their website showed rates of $201 as of today for the July 20th weekend (cheaper than Hotwire and Priceline). I know that's at the upper limit, but it is definitely a special occasion hotel and I bet there could be a little negotiation booking directly with the hotel. Plus, they serve free (nice quality) wine from 5-6pm each night. That's worth a few dollars.
It is a Kimpton hotel, all of which are boutique style and all of which have awesome service and really lovely accommodations. I would recommend reading the Trip Advisor reviews, but I have always enjoyed staying there.
They are not on my current employer's "approved" list of hotels so I don't get to stay there anymore.