i used to live in the city that never sleeps and like any junkie needing a fix i try to revisit nyc as often as i can, i.e. not nearly as often as i’d like. much comes down to finances: my travel budget is never humongous and a large cut of it goes towards hotels which aren’t exactly cheap in manhattan.
why, you may ask, don’t i stay at friends? the answer is simple: cats and small spaces. my local friends either have cats that combined with my allergy for our feline friends amounts to lethal respiratory problems or live in closet-sized apartments where i wouldn’t fit for more than a couple of days without causing some serious strain on our friendship. moving my stuff around every other day does not meet my holiday ideal and, therefore, i try to find pleasant semi-permanent lodging somewhere.
as much as i’d love to stay at the mercer, i will not blow my budget on a room i hardly stay at, and despite the fear of sounding snobby, i just don’t do average, boring hotels because they’re never aesthetically pleasing or interesting. regardless of my lack of funds and clannish attitude, i have a few rules when it comes to lodging in nyc. first, my shed of choice needs to be below 14th street because that’s where i hang out at, that is, i don’t care for the empire state building or staying at close proximity to macy’s. secondly, it needs to be affordable or, preferably, cheap, and third, i am ready to compromise many luxuries and amenities i’d demand in any other city.
my favorite so far has been east village bed and coffee located on avenue c in alphabet city. for someone familiar with the peculiarities of manhattan, the location is perfect, but i wouldn’t recommend it for a new visitor because the easternmost avenues can appear a little dodgy especially at night. evbc is a small residential house with communal bathrooms and kitchens on each floor. definitely not for everybody, it’s like sharing a home with the other visitors. my foremost complaint is that the decor is a little too hippy(ish) and homemade for my liking; the ambiance is not far from staying at your artsy 'n' crafty auntie's.
hence, i welcome the jane. renovated in 2008 from an old seaman’s relief center and located in the west village, right on 14th street, it is the indie rock credible shack-up place with old cabin inspired rooms. the history of the building itself makes it a worthy place for a visit: the survivors of rms titanic stayed there in 1912 until the end of the investigation on the disaster, and in the 80’s and 90’s it hosted hedwig and the angry inch among others. there’s been some controversy over the gritty longtime residents that still reside amongst the hotel guests – and use the communal bathrooms – but the slightly weird newyorker in me greets them as an interesting part of the deal. at the jane, a night of true new york feeling costs less than $100.
my eagerness towards slumming it is definitely reserved for nyc only. i believe it comes down to being extremely comfortable with the pace of the city and its idiosyncrasies.
in other cities i try to find affordable but chic hotels: in amsterdam hotel v works out fine and in paris mama shelter offers a sleek experience. in case experimenting with squalid locales isn't your thing or you're new to nyc, try the standard for a less intimidating atmosphere without compromising the location.