Where to Sleep...in the City That Never Sleeps

One of the most challenging things about planning a trip to NYC is finding a place to stay.

We all feel your pain.  The drama and craziness associated with hunting for a place to live is the common thread that binds all New Yorkers together.  So we understand the battle for real estate - even if it's just a place to rest your head for a few nights.  Which makes this an ideal topic for my ongoing NYC Visitor's Guide.

Photo from Getty Images

Photo from Getty Images

If you are one of the lucky few who know people who live here who have a place for you to stay - by all means, take them up on it.  And be sure to take them out for a really nice dinner…or two…or three.

But since most New Yorkers don't have room for overnight guests when we are also at home, here are a few things to consider:

New York City is Expensive

Unless you visit in January after the holiday crowds go home, there are very few great deals.  Plan to spend a minimum of $200 to $300 night for basic accommodations. 

Stay in Manhattan

As in close to Times Square or another central location.  This will put most everything within walking distance.  You'll have easy access to Broadway theaters, shopping, and major sites, and save on transportation costs.  You will also be close to all public transportation, either for sightseeing or traveling to or from the airport.

You may see listings for cheaper hotels near LGA, JFK and EWR airports.  Do not stay there.  They are cheaper than Manhattan because they are horribly located for tourists.  Stay there, and you will spend hours of your precious vacation time commuting back and forth from your hotel - and possibly spending more than if you had just stayed in Manhattan in the first place.

Check the Address

Hotel search engines like Priceline, Hotels.com, Trivago and others can turn up some great deals.  Just make sure to double-check the exact address.  The search page may say it is "close to the city center" - but everything is close by in NYC.  A hotel listed as being just a few miles from Times Square may actually be in New Jersey.

Hotel Chain Web Sites

If you belong to a hotel loyalty program, the major chains have tons of options in NYC.  Like the search engines, though - map the exact address to make sure your hotel is actually in Manhattan.  A "New York, NY" address could be on Staten Island or in the far reaches of Queens.

To Airbnb…or Not to Airbnb

I know many of my friends will disagree, but I think Airbnb in NYC can be a bit risky for a first-time visitor, especially if you are traveling with children, schlepping a lot of stuff, want to be centrally-located, and might need some services offered by hotels.

Also - many apartment buildings in the city specifically prohibit their tenants from doing these short-term rentals.  If you go this route, just be aware your hosts may ask you to (lie) and tell the doorman and neighbors that you are cousins/family/friends visiting from out of town.

However, if you are adventurous, know the city, don't need hotel amenities and are flexible about your location, this can be a very appealing option and enable you to stay in and explore the more residential neighborhoods.

New York friends and frequent visitors - what other advice would you offer?