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Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Hostelin' it up in NYC

I went to NYC twice in a three week span. For the exact same reason. To see Prince, live in concert.

By the way: Price = Epic.

Most of the time, when I visit NYC, hotel is hardly an issue because I have a ton of friends in the area. Then there are those few times when I'm just in the area for a quickie & want to keep a low profile because time doesn't permit me to reconnect with my friends, that's when a hotel stay is in order.

Love staying in hotels but I cannot justify paying prime market price for a room that I need to borrow for a quick shower, change of clothes, and a nap. So with that said, I was looking for something cheap and still close to the city/subway lines.

This proved to be a challenge. Which I love. I'm all about the thrill of the chase.

It didn't take long before I was becoming a little frustrated with my Orbitz/Travelocity/LastMinuteTravel/Expedia hotel searches - - the sites were not producing cheap enough options. Even Priceline's "Choose Your Own Price" option laughed in my face. Just when I was about to settle one one of these overpriced hotels, my girl Nina hipped me to

If notice from my past trips, I avoid hotel chains much as possible. I'm into the boutique, off -the- beaten-path, kinda places. I definitely don't sleep on BnB's either but sometimes they fall out of my price range. I can't *do* couchsurfing, altho my mom had some great experiences couchsurfing while in Europe last summer. AirBnb is like a step up from that and I fell in love... quick.

With only hours before my departure, I did a quick scan of the available options, made contact, and secured my room with relative ease. The site is very easy to use. I type in my destination, desired travel dates, and sorted my options by price. Sent a quick email to the owner and await a response confirming wheather my inquriy is accecpeted or declined.

My first contact declined, saying the room was not available. Immediately following, Airbnb sent me a $5 "Try Again" discount coupon. I contacted a second owner and after a few quick email exchanges, it was a done deal. After my coupon, I paid $35 for a room at the Central Park Inn. Payment was handled thru Paypal. This feature I absolutely love! My paypal account is like my "play money" that I keep stashed up. I liked that the expense didn't come out of my wallet, even though it's still a 'budgeted' expense.

That last sentence may only make sense to me.

Central Park Inn is a breeze to locate. They are located literally steps away from the subway, which is a plus. The neighborhood is "okay". I didn't feel totally unsafe walking back to my hostel at 12:30am but I still need to keep two eyes and my one good ear open. This is NYC, after all.

My room was literally just that. A room. A very tiny one. I was in heaven. No, seriously, I was.

As soon as I stepped in, there a small table, safe box, and a neat pile of towels. Above the table is a rack & hangers for clothing. A quick turn to the right and there is my full size bed. Which you can see takes up the whole space of the room.

(RIP to my red blackberry, that crashed & died a few hours later at the concert, after being dropped one too many times)

(Yes, Jermey & Lisa, I brought Charmaine to NYC! I absolutely love her!) Charmaine is my stuffed moose who is quickly becoming my new travel buddy along with my trusty giraffe print travel pillow.

That's it. That's the whole room.

Upon entering the main lounge area, I was pleasantly surprised how clean the hostel is. Very clean. Even the bathrooms (two on each floor) were sparkling. I already knew that I'd be back.
1) hallway leading into the kitchen/lounge area.
2) One of the bathrooms
3) Lounge area with flat screen tv, dining area, and couches
4) Kitchen - offers free coffee & tea, plenty of shelving space and cabinets for long term guests

Three weeks later, I sent the owner, Dave, a quick email letting him know that I will be returning to the area and would like to stay at the Inn again. I requested the same room budget room I stayed last time and Dave did me one better. For the same price, he upgraded me to the larger room. (Picture above)
Full size bed and twin bunks. Not too shabby. You already know I slept on the bigger bed.

The Inn is going to be my new go-to spot on my solo travels. It clean, simple, and meets all the bare minimum basics. Also provides free, high speed wifi. The extra money I saved gets spent on food and cocktails. Win-Win.

Readers: Help me out a bit. I keep returning to Manhattan when I visit the city. This needs to stop! Not that there is anything wrong with Manhattan, but I know there are many more hidden treasures & vaults within the city I've yet to discover. Hip me to some new food & destinations for me to check out. Off the beaten path. Please and thank you.


1 comment :

Joey said...

OMG Jazzy Thanks!!! Diana and I love heading out to NYC but like you said its so expensive.. We have stayed in Long Island City at the Quality Inn which ran about 100 a night.. and a cab drive over the out of the city (we're still subway NOOB) The hotel was awesome brand new and recommended but your site already intices me to try something different next time we go! thank you!