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Author Topic: For anyone looking for less expensive alternatives to hotels in NYC
Femme Folle
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Read this and make note of the links at the end.

quote:
July 20, 2007
The B & B Option Is Put to a New York Test
By FRED A. BERNSTEIN

I HAVE never liked bed-and-breakfasts, which I associate with Victorian furniture, officious hosts and forced conviviality at breakfast. But with the average price of a Manhattan hotel room nearing $300, I no longer knew what to tell friends who asked where they should stay in New York City.

Then I moved to Brooklyn, where I noticed that one of the brownstones down the block from my apartment — overlooking Prospect Park — contained a B & B. Surprised, I found myself searching the Internet, where I found at least 30 B & Bs, spread out over all five boroughs.

Intrigued by this unexpected abundance, I set out on a reconnaissance mission (glad that if I found myself in a place I hated, I was just a taxi ride from home).

I never had to sneak out in the middle of the night. Some of the B & Bs were terrific. Only one of the four I tried was really Victorian; one was ultramodern, and the other two were simply homey. There were no officious hosts — but there were lots of helpful employees. When there was breakfast, nobody made me talk (at the communal table in the Park Slope B & B, I was busy eating the delicious food).

Perhaps it was beginner's luck that my first stop in Manhattan was a gem: Stay the Night, occupying a town house on a gorgeous block in the East 90's. The husband-and-wife psychologists who live on the first two floors have created a hostelry upstairs. The smallest room (with a shared bath) is just $75 a night. My much larger room, with its own bath and a private roof deck overlooking a leafy backyard, was $195.

The place is advertised as a non-hosted inn. (Since it doesn't serve breakfast, unless you count the packaged muffins in the room's refrigerator, it's not really a B & B, but everything else about it puts it in that category.)

You're asked to arrive before 6 p.m., when an employee will still be available to admit you. (If you're late, you're charged $20 for his overtime.) Since there are no common rooms, and you drop your keys in a slot when you leave, you may never see another person. Nick Hankin, the manager, lives in Astoria, Queens, but is available by phone.

In other words, it's just like living in a New York apartment. But this is an apartment in Carnegie Hill, an extraordinarily pleasant neighborhood. Sarabeth's, which serves what many consider New York's most satisfying breakfast, is just around the corner. After a perfect goat cheese and spinach omelet with a pumpkin muffin and Sarabeth's incomparable marmalade, I set out for a tour of Carnegie Hill.

I lived in the neighborhood for many years, and it was a pleasure to revisit old haunts: the Corner Bookstore; the Guggenheim; the Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum; and finally Petak's, a deli that offers some of the best prepared food in the city (perfect for a picnic overlooking the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir in Central Park). Stay the Night doesn't have a lot of amenities, but given what it offers — nice accommodations in a nonpareil location — it doesn't need to.

My next stop was in a less central location, but that's its draw: City Island, linked to the Bronx mainland by a bridge, resembles a slightly overcrowded New England fishing village.

ONE of its most surprising establishments is Le Refuge. Occupying a mansard-roofed house, it is indeed a refuge from the huge, carnival-like seafood restaurants lining the main drag, City Island Avenue. At Le Refuge, the $45 prix fixe dinner is a taste of classic French food — I had duck à l'orange — most of it delicious (even if my crème brûlée lacked the requisite crust). My $115 room, in the back of the house, was uninspiring, as was the utilitarian bathroom down the hall. But the whole experience, including Continental breakfast in a handsome, ground-floor sitting room, offered a chance to feel as though I had been across the Atlantic Ocean.

My third B & B also had a French flavor (but, again, no breakfast), thanks to Albert Delamour, who rents out two rooms on the seventh floor of a loft building in SoHo. The rooms adjoin an art gallery; Mr. Delamour said he started the B & B to subsidize that business (and his own career as a photographer). But the sideline is threatening to take over. “We get 100 calls a day,” he said, “and I can't do the gallery work,” explaining that he now accepts reservations only by e-mail.

Staying in a gallery is fun. Less fun is trudging up seven flights of stairs. At 5:30 p.m. on weekdays, the building's manager shuts off the elevator; he's afraid of someone getting stuck, Mr. Delamour said. The night I arrived, a couple from Canada carried their baby and their luggage up the stairs.

The Canadians' room was in the back of the building, but mine faced Lafayette Street. The noise of cars, trucks and even loud pedestrians didn't let up, and I couldn't fall asleep. Then I found a portable fan in the bathroom — private, but at the other end of the loft — and plugged it in next to my bed. Thanks to the white noise, I slept like a baby till morning, when the windows in my room offered terrific rooftop views (including the spires of the Empire State and Chrysler Buildings), and when the elevator, now back in operation, carried me downstairs to look for a place for breakfast.

My room was $210, including tax; Mr. Delamour, who couldn't have been nicer, accepts payment by check or PayPal.

Finally, it was back to my own neighborhood. There, the Bed & Breakfast on the Park normally requires at least a three-night stay, but it makes exceptions when there's a room free for one or two nights. I would have been happy with the ground-floor room, with a short walk to the private bathroom, but the only thing available was a more expensive suite on the third floor. The suite, with deep red walls, lace on the windows and a four-poster bed draped in fake vines, was at the back of the building, where the view from the private roof terrace stretches from the Statue of Liberty to the Empire State Building and beyond.

Breakfast was served, promptly at 9 a.m., at a table that looked like it was set for a white-tie dinner, with cut-glass bowls and ornate silver. The other guests, it turned out, were couples who were visiting grown children in Park Slope and were thrilled to have a place to stay close by; they were sharing advice about the Brooklyn Museum, Green-Wood Cemetery and Coney Island.

The offerings included a “baked pear pancake” with the texture of a soufflé and sourdough rolls, baked on premises, that were among the best I've ever tasted. (According to the manager, Linda Kaffke, an old Italian baker drops the dough off once a week.)

True, for the price, I could have had a hotel room in Manhattan. But Manhattan doesn't have the old Italian baker, or the charms of Park Slope — or the view across the river to Manhattan.

MORE INFORMATION

BED-AND-BREAKFASTS operate in all five boroughs of New York City, and many offer inexpensive alternatives to hotels, especially for those willing to share a bathroom. They are less impersonal than hotels and have their own quirks: not all take credit cards; many have minimum stays of two or three nights but make exceptions when rooms are available; some will reduce rates for long-term stays.

Below are details of the four sampled for this article. To find others, check www.lanierbb.com or simply search for “New York bed and breakfast.”

MANHATTAN

Stay the Night, 18 East 93rd Street (212-722-8300; www.staythenight.com), has seven rooms with prices from $75 for a modest bedroom with shared bath to $215 for a complete apartment; costs increase around holidays. No breakfast. Nearby are Sarabeth's (1295 Madison Avenue, at 92nd Street; 212-410-7335) and Petak's Deli and Cafe (1246 Madison Avenue, at 89th Street; 212-722-7711).

Room in SoHo Loft, 153 Lafayette Street, at Grand Street (www.livingwithartusa.com), has two rooms on the seventh floor, with private baths, each $180 to $220 depending on the season; there are also two rooms on the fifth floor, attached to the proprietor's apartment. Reservations are taken by e-mail at roominsoho@mac.com. No breakfast, but there is access to a kitchen.

BROOKLYN

Bed & Breakfast on the Park (113 Prospect Park West; 718-499-6115; www.bbnyc.com) has seven rooms for $165 to $295 plus a 10 percent gratuity; all come with private baths and a very full breakfast.

THE BRONX

Le Refuge Inn Bed & Breakfast on City Island (586 City Island Avenue; 718-885-2478; www.lerefugeinn.com) has seven rooms; all are $115 single and $135 double, Continental breakfast and tax included. The prix fixe dinner is $45.


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Toxteth O'Grady
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While we're on the subject of hotels and New York City, I'm dismayed to find out that the Chelsea Hotel is likely to soon turn into, as this article says, "a shell of its former self."

http://gothamist.com/2007/07/19/video_of_the_da_88.php

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Femme Folle
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That's really sad, but what they say is true about New York becoming a place only for the very wealthy. It will be a real shame if developers take over all the little enclaves where the everyday people can afford to live.

I wouldn't want to live there because I've heard they have cockroaches. Not at the Chelsea, I mean in Manhattan in general.

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Reed
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There are roaches everywhere. You can't always see them, but they are there.

New York is too expensive. And crowded.

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Nil a fhios agam
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In the first B&B that is mentioned you just know that there are hidden cameras all over the place and that the husband and wife are conducting clinical experiments on all guests.
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Bomb A Nero
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Thanks for these links, FF. The one in Brooklyn looks georgeous, but is probably a bit too expensive.

We're looking for somewhere in June - is that 'low', 'high' or 'holiday' season? We've seen a few places in new Jersey that I thought would be 'ckin miles away, but looking at the map it doesn't look so bad.

Also, can we get three people in a normal NYC hotel room? I'd heard american hotel rooms tended to have two big beds, but a lot of places (like the latham) restrict you to two people.

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Inca
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In some places, it's fairly easy to sneak more people into the hotel room. Most places in Vegas have a maximum occupancy of 2 or 3 people, but all of the trips I made there in college, we crammed about 5 or 6 people in a room. Of course, that's in a really high traffic hotel, and a smaller place might notice someone going upstairs with a suitcase with someone that already checked in.
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ursus arctos
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The average NY hotel room is significantly smaller than the average Vegas room.

BaN, if cost is the paramount concern, Malc X stayed in a place by the Holland Tunnel that he found adequate. Logan Mountstuart also visited around Xmas (there is another thread somewhere), but I don't know where they ended up staying. The question with NJ is access to public transport; just because it is close as the crow flies doesn't mean that it is easy (or economical) to get from point A to point B.

The Logan thread is here .

BTW, my guess is that June is likely to be considered "high" season, as some US schools will have already started their summer vacations.

[ 25.03.2008, 22:03: Message edited by: ursus arctos ]

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Femme Folle
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Logan stayed somewhere on Staten Island. They said it was very easy to get in and out of the city.
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Bomb A Nero
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There is also the problem that if we stayed in New jersey it might take me a week to stop imagining I was in the Sopranos and actually go somewhere more interesting.

That Logan thread is the one I was looking for when I found this one, ta ursus. Cost is a significant factor, no doubt, as we were debating whether we could afford to go to a soviet spa for a weekend this summer, never mind New fucking York. But la bombanera's best friend just got a summer job at the Finnish consulate there, so it seems like a brilliant time to go. I will be back later to ask about minor league baseball, 'nice pubs', shopping tips (the friend is getting married this summer, and would like to buy her wedding dress in NYC) and so on. And of course buying OTFers drinks, probably around Euro2008 games. But I'll learn how to search this forum properly first.

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ursus arctos
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The Holland Motor Lodge isn't really Sopranos New Jersey.

Minor League Baseball: the Brooklyn Cyclones and Staten Island Yankees start their seasons in mid-June (with a series against each other). Both have very scenic ballparks.

Nice Pubs: a recommended OTFish pub in Bkly'n, but there are thousands of bars; we will need more guidance as to where you will be and what you are looking for closer to the time.

Wedding Dresses: I assume that Vera Wang is out of her price range (perhaps she would prefer to buy a house). Ms. ursus had hers made by an artisanal place in SoHo that I can get the name of if interested. But the "real New York experience" is Kleinfeld's, which is guaranteed to make you feel that you've entered a Seinfeld episode.

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Crusoe
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Depends what you count as a nice pub. I liked McManus on 7th Ave and one (I think) called Iron Monkey in Jersey City.
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Bomb A Nero
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I'm already excited aboyt the Cyclones-Islanders series. Is that a theme park in the background of this picture:

 -

About pubs. I think that is the place I remember reading about, was it E10 that recommended it? We will be paying a visit, I think. Watching euro2008 will be important at that time, too, but I imagine that'll be possible pretty much everywhere. If there are any great football bars, lemme know, but it's still the group stages while we're there so there's probably no need to go searching for large numbers of ex-pat fans of the competing countries.

Although, if watching Italy at Fiore's is an option, I might go and stuff my face with mozzarella.

Thanks for the Kleinfeld's tip, I will pass that on. She will probably want to look at the SoHo place too. I hope the consulate don't expect her to do any actual work at all.

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ursus arctos
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That's the Cyclone, BaN. The one that Woody Allen's family lived under in Annie Hall, the defining feature that gave the team its name and the centerpiece of what was originally the Coney Island "Luna Park".

Unfortunately, it appears that the SoHo workshop is no more.

I've posted it before, but this is an invaluable site for "off the beaten track" NY, and they run excellent tours.

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die grosse linke Hand
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quote:
Watching euro2008 will be important at that time, too, but I imagine that'll be possible pretty much everywhere.
You will imagine wrong. You can find a reasonable number of bars that will show games (I can think of about four or five offhand), but that would be about 1% of places. The rest couldn't care less.

Nevada Smiths (if downtown - 3rd ave at 12th-ish) remains the best bet, or the Red Lion in the village. If you are further uptown, maybe the ESPN center or something.

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