Content originally written for the Let’s Go: USA & Canada Guide by our researcher-writer, Daphne Thompson.
Pod 51 Hotel ($$)
230 E 51st St.; (844) 763-7666; thepodhotel.com/pod-51; reception open 24hr
Oh my pod, you guys: if you’ve ever wanted to come home from a day in the big wide world and curl up in an enclosed space, we’ve got your place. Pod 51, located in tourist-friendly Midtown, is few notches above a hostel and a few below a full-fledged hotel (though Pod prizes itself on nixing superfluities like room service, minibars, and pay-per-view). All the rooms are super-compact, private (though a few come with shared bathrooms), and decorated futuristic-chic—think lots of white and stainless steel. If you should choose to leave the safety of your pod, you’ll also find a colorful rooftop deck, a backyard garden, and a friendly beer hall. There’s also Pod locations in Murray Hill, Brooklyn, and Times Square.
Privates from $89; wheelchair accessible; Wi-Fi; linens and towels available
Arlo SoHo ($$$)
231 Hudson St.; (212) 342-7000; arlohotels.com/arlo-soho/; reception open 24hr
Arlo SoHo is like that girl at the party with the impeccable flared jeans and ombre hair that you’re equally impressed with and intimidated by. She’s just approachable enough (i.e. her rooms aren’t exorbitantly expensive, by NYC standards), but comes with so many cool accessories—a cozy library space, 24hr bodega, complementary bicycles, bougie shower products, glamping-level tents in the courtyard (?)—that you might feel out of your depth as a humble backpacker. No matter—treat yourself to a super-compact room with gorgeous city views and buy a $15 cocktail at the rooftop bar. Décor is eclectic and vaguely retro, and the colorful wall of index card suggestions (posted by your fellow travelers) is full of surprisingly good city tips. Book in advance; this boutique hotel tends to fill up.
Privates from $117; reservation required; wheelchair accessible; Wi-Fi; free bicycle rental; mini-fridge, TV, towels, and linens included
Broadway Hotel and Hostel ($$)
230 W 101st St.; (212) 865-7710; broadwayhotelnyc.com; reception open 24hr
Is it a hotel? Is it a hostel? At Broadway Hotel and Hostel on the Upper West Side, the lines are blurred: it has the bunk beds and shared bathrooms of a hostel, but a noticeable lack of the garish wall murals and boozy karaoke nights we’re used to seeing at our budget stays. Broadway wants to be the kind of hostel you’d bring your family to, and it mostly succeeds—rooms are spacious, quiet, and clean, and the chipper front desk staff is happy to assist with crises large and small. It’s close to Columbia and Central Park, and you can easily hop on the downtown 1 train from the nearby stop.
Dorms from $50, privates from $108; wheelchair accessible; Wi-Fi; linens and towels available
Chelsea International Hostel ($)
251 W 20th St.; (212) 647-0010; chelseahostel.com; reception open 24hr
You definitely can’t afford those luxury apartments overlooking the High Line—Ariana Grande just bought one for $16 million—but you can probably afford a few nights at the Chelsea International Hotel, and that’s sort of just as good. Trendy Chelsea is changing but this hostel has stayed the same since 1993, making it one of the most affordable stays in an increasingly pricey part of town. Dorms and private rooms are spare but well-kept, and all the standard hostel amenities are there: breakfast, Wi-Fi, a 24hr staffed reception desk, and a kitchen. There’s also free New York pizza on Wednesdays and a spacious courtyard to kick back with your new friends (Ariana Grande is a maybe).
Dorms from $50, privates from $75; not wheelchair accessible; Wi-Fi; breakfast, linens, towels, lockers available
The Gatsby Hotel ($$$)
135 E Houston St.; (212) 358-8844; gatsbyhotelnyc.com; reception open 24hr
Honestly, it’s like whoever designed The Gatsby Hotel never even took 11th grade English. Clean, modern, and spartan to a fault, the Lower East Side hotel completely misinterprets F. Scott Fitzgerald’s classic tale of the Jazz Age—where are the candelabras, the champagne towers, the heavy-handed metaphors for the American Dream? The impeccably friendly staff will nevertheless be irked if you start throwing your beautiful shirts all over the lobby, and the only green light you’ll see is the blinking marquee of Whole Foods nearby. Still, we suppose all that decadence didn’t work out so well for Gatsby in the end, so perhaps embracing the minimalist décor is in your best interest. Plus, it’s a short walk from the indulgent nightlife of the Lower East Side, East Village, and Nolita if you’re set on living your best East Egg life.
Privates from $200; reservation required; wheelchair accessible; Wi-Fi; laundry and dry cleaning for fee; towels and linens included
Jazz on the Park Hostel ($)
36 W 106th St.; (212) 932-1600; jazzhostels.com/jazzlocations/jazz-on-the-park/; reception open 24hr
Apparently named to induce maximum confusion, Jazz on the Park is indeed located on (i.e. near) Central Park, but there’s nothing all that jazzy about this straightforward hostel. Beyond the clean, art-adorned dorms and private rooms, you’ll find a chill basement game room and a cozy coffee bar. Its Upper West Side digs are convenient—near Columbia University and across from the park from the Museum Mile—and located close to public transit. Wi-Fi is only free in the common areas, so be prepared to mingle with your fellow travelers whether you want to or not (and if you do, the hostel also hosts periodic pub crawls and summer barbecues).
Dorms from $39, privates from $143; no wheelchair accessibility; max stay 14 days; Wi-Fi in common areas; linens, towels, lockers available
Just a small town girl livin’ in a lonely world, Daphne took the mid-morning train goin’ to the East Coast of the United States and Canada (fine, plus Chicago). She graduated Harvard in 2018 with a degree in Government, a law school acceptance letter, and an overwhelming sense of dread re: her all-too-fleeting youth, so she took off to the party capital of the Western hemisphere: Quebec City. The race against the cold, unfeeling march of time continued in Montreal, Toronto, New York, and Miami, a wildly diverse array of cities united by not-boring weather and stupid-high rents. Along the way, Daphne sampled legit Canadian poutine (squeaky), smuggled her notebook into nightclubs (sneaky), and lived on cheap falafel pitas (tzatziki). The Oshkosh, Wisconsin native finished her spirit quest back in the Midwest, where the Windy City welcomed her nasally accent back with open arms. When she’s not writing aggressively alliterative articles for Let’s Go, Daphne probably can’t be found. Don’t even try it, Internet creeps!