Five things to consider when choosing a hotel in New York City

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NYC skyline – photo courtesy of pixabay

Happy Wednesday all! Today’s post describes how I choose a hotel when I go to New York City.  A couple of weeks ago, we took a quick trip to NYC to see Hamilton for my birthday. After the tickets were purchased, I had to decide where to stay, and thought you all might like a peek into my thought process.

These are the five main points I consider when choosing a hotel (there are THOUSANDS of hotels in NYC – I am by no means a NYC expert, but have had fairly good luck using these parameters so am hoping you’ll find them helpful).

Our planned activities and how long we will be in the city – First, I plot our planned activities on Google maps. This gives me a sense of whether we will mainly be in one part of the city or traveling around to lots of different areas. If I’m in New York City for a longer stay, my activities tend to be more spread out. This time, we only went for two nights and had tickets for Hamilton and the Downton Abbey exhibit, so our activities were concentrated in the Theater District and Midtown West areas of Manhattan. (click here for a map and explanation of Manhattan neighborhoods) 

Better NYC plans photo

My plotted activities – the stars are places we planned on visiting and our hotel

Weather – I consider the season in which we will be traveling – I LOVE being outside and walking around Manhattan, especially in the spring and fall, so will sometimes choose a hotel farther away from our planned sights or in my favorite neighborhoods so I can walk more. In January, however, NYC is cold and the tall buildings create wind tunnels, so it feels even colder. Our daughter from Florida joined us on this trip and she gets cold very quickly, so I decided to stay as close as possible to the theatre so we wouldn’t have to walk more than a few blocks at a time in the cold weather.

Stage door Hamilton

Meeting Michael Luwoye (aka Alexander Hamilton) at the stage door with my Florida girl!

Transportation – How do I want to get around? Am I planning on taking the subway or walking? (I don’t often take cabs in NYC, but if you plan on taking lots of cabs then you can get a cab from any hotel but longer cab rides will of course cost more). For trips when my activities are more spread out, I’ll plan on taking the subway and will try to find a hotel with good subway connections for my planned activities (attraction websites helpfully tell you which are the closest subway stops – for a subway map of Manhattan, click here). Since this was a super short trip, I decided I just wanted to quickly walk to the theaters rather than spend a lot of time on the subway.

Expense – How much can I afford? There are a wide range of prices in NYC, so this is a big consideration. (January is an EXCELLENT time to get rock bottom hotel prices as long as you don’t mind the cold – after the holidays are over, prices drop super low for hotels and the city is much less crowded). I try to find mid-level hotels and generally pay below $125 per night in January – in spring and fall these same hotels run around $200-350 and in December they can be as much as $500-700 per night! Hotel prices in NYC are very dependent upon the season, so if price is a big consideration, go in January! (I’ve also had excellent luck finding reasonable rates in July, I guess because of the hot muggy weather this is also a cheap time to visit.) I’m a Hilton Honors member, so was specifically looking for a Hilton Hotel this trip so I could use my points to help keep costs down (just to be completely transparent, this is not a sponsored post).

Crowd Tolerance – Some folks love to be right in the hustle and bustle, but I prefer quieter areas. I abhor crowds, and refuse to stay in the Times Square area (7th Ave and Broadway between W. 42nd and W. 50th Streets) as it is crazy crowded! My favorite areas in which to stay are Chelsea and the West Village, but Midtown East is also a less crowded area in which to stay and is still close to places like Rockefeller Center, MOMA, St Patricks Cathedral, and Times Square. 

Times Square crowds

Times Square crowds – photo courtesy of Pixabay

So where did we stay for our January trip?

Taking into account our short trip, our planned activities, the cold weather and our plan to just walk to our activities, I decided to bite the bullet and stay in the Theater District/Times Square area so we’d be close, despite my low crowd tolerance. However, I was pleasantly surprised – I found the Hilton Garden Inn Times Square on 8th Avenue, between West 48th and West 49th Streets. It was my first stay at this hotel and being one avenue removed from Times Square worked out perfectly; there were far fewer crowds, yet it was super close to the theaters. We heard very little city noise at night and there was a great little diner right across the street for breakfast (or other meals) which delivers to the hotel if you prefer to eat in your room. As a bonus, it was across the street from the subway, which we used to travel into Manhattan from La Guardia airport. I used Hilton points for our stay, but the prices were right around $110-120 per night for a room with two double beds on our dates. A huge plus for me was the fact that the room temperatures were easy to adjust – some hotels in NYC are in older buildings with whole-building heating, so even if the heat is completely turned off in the individual room, the room is still HOT due to the older heating systems (I’m looking at you, Hilton New York Fashion District – I love you in spring, summer and fall, but don’t think I’ll stay here in the winter ever again). 

I hope you’ve enjoyed this glimpse into my hotel-finding process for New York City! Thanks so much for reading! Do you have any tips for finding hotels in Manhattan??

**Want to join the email list to be notified when a new block of tickets go on sale for Hamilton NY? Click here  – there’s a spot to submit your email at the bottom of the home page**

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