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Restoring Sanity to the New York Hotel Market

Scott Vogel

Here's a new way to save money while traveling, although I recommend only it advisedly: staying in hotels that are under renovation. Depending on when and where you visit, "under renovation" can mean anything from cosmetic changes to a complete overhaul of a hotel's lobby and rooms. But if you time it right, visiting a property once the major refurbishment is over and before it's complete, you can snag yourself a true deal.

For instance: When was the last time you stayed in a hotel in the New York area for $59 a night?

Okay, the place is in Stamford, Conn., but before you balk, consider this: the bedroom community is only a 47-minute train ride from Grand Central Station, a commute that's well worth it, when you consider that the average hotel room in Manhattan is over $200 a night. And if you buy your Metro-North railroad ticket ahead of time, you'll pay just $18 roundtrip.

The hotel in question is no fleabag but the Holiday Inn Select, where a major renovation is expected to be completed in a month or so. If you search for the hotel on TripAdvisor.com, you'll see that the stays were nightmarish until recently, where one traveler in July noted that "a cardboard box would have been a better experience!" and another in early August said that "the lobby is torn apart, with unfinished drywall all over the place."

Just this past weekend, however, when I found the hotel on Hotwire.com for the $59 (plus tax) rate, it appeared that much of the work was done. Of course, you still have to enter the hotel through the parking garage, but hey, it's 59 bucks. The newly renovated rooms are stylish and, for what it's worth, feature large screen high-def TVs and other contemporary features.

Anybody else have some New York area hotel deals they'd like to share? Manhattan's great but the hotel scene is madness.

By Scott Vogel |  August 26, 2008; 7:12 AM ET  | Category:  Hotels , Mid-Atlantic Destinations , Scott Vogel
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This is moronic. Why don't YOU tell me some good places to stay in New York? 45 minutes by train to get into the city on a weekend trip? Why not just stay in Philadelphia and pretend you're in New York then?

Posted by: BillW | August 26, 2008 7:43 AM

How about Weehawken? There are nice hotels there for half the price of what you will find in midtown, and it's just a short ferry ride into Manhattan. They're still around $200/night, but that's better than the $400+ per night you'll pay for the same thing in midtown.

Of course, there is always the Hotel Carter. Right in Times Square, cheap, and you will make lots of six legged friends, and maybe find a "surprise" under the bed.

Posted by: DC to NYC | August 26, 2008 8:54 AM

Talk about a misleading headline! The article does not refer to the New York market, but rather some place in Connecticut.

I'd also add that I am not convinced by the substance of this article. In my experience, if a hotel states that renovations will not inconvenience their guests, it more may likely mean jackhammers at eight a.m.

Posted by: I Concur | August 26, 2008 9:02 AM

I'm with Concur. Saving money is one thing, but adding a ridiculous amount of inconvenience to a trip is something else. Over two days of travel into the city from your "find", you could spend the same amount of money and just drive to New York and park in the city and sleep in your car (you'd avoid that commute at least). Not the savviest way to travel, Mr. Vogel.

Posted by: What?? | August 26, 2008 10:01 AM

This is so stupid. Why would someone travel to NY to stay in Connecticut AND stay in a place going through renovations? That means inconvenience and headache, not vacation. And have you looked at the hotel scene in DC lately? Prices are skyhigh here too. I would say the best way to get good deals is to look for them, and travel in the off-peak times.

Posted by: DB | August 26, 2008 10:25 AM

Something I've done for friends with kids who have come to visit me in New York: give them my Bronx apartment and have them put me up in a hostel in Manhattan. I don't mind the dubious shared-bath quarters that tourist families would run screaming from, I don't have to put up with the kiddos underfoot, and my apartment is near the Zoo, so it works out for all of us.

Posted by: BxNY | August 26, 2008 10:44 AM

also, the $18 train fare adds up if you are two people, or more, and go back and forth more than one time. You soon eat up your savings.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 26, 2008 10:49 AM

DB is right. This is the stupidest suggestion I've read in a long time.

Posted by: FrequentTraveler | August 26, 2008 11:08 AM

Red Roof Inn - Secaucus NJ. You don't have to drive PAST NYC to CT to stay. 10 minute bus trip to midtown. Free parking and right off the turnpike. Plus they take pets

Posted by: Dan | August 26, 2008 11:49 AM

I thought this was going to be an article about dropping NYC hotel prices. Not purposely staying in a renovated hotel that's a commuter train ride away.

We start hear from someone other than Ms. Sottili and it's this? Let's go back to just her, please. Or hey - reporting on TRAVEL news. Like all the planes that seem to keep falling apart globally. Updates on airline mergers. Updates on the outing of the Customs/Technology brouhaha. Or is that too much to ask?

Posted by: Chasmosaur | August 26, 2008 12:41 PM

Chasmosaur, I'm with you. Could not agree with you more. I used to enjoy this blog, but I get the sense that you people don't even know how to travel (except for Carol -- I agree that she should do the blog alone).

Posted by: Anonymous | August 26, 2008 1:04 PM

Thanks for all the feedback, guys. And sorry to disappoint you.

Posted by: Scott Vogel | August 26, 2008 1:07 PM

you guys are all mean. scott, dont take it personally. most of the people who respond to these blog postings are haters.

Posted by: awwwww | August 26, 2008 4:08 PM

Wow, lots of angry people today! Must be missing the Olympics.

Posted by: h3 | August 26, 2008 4:42 PM

Yes, the headline is misleading, but the man is just sharing information -- just file it in the "Something to Consider" category and move on. Yeesh.

Posted by: cbr | August 26, 2008 4:53 PM

Sorry, awwwww. I don't buy it. I read this blog religiously and have responded to postings every now and then. Dopey advice is dopey advice, and there are more than a few people who may see these sorts of idiotic postings and, yes, actually travel to Connecticut to spend a weekend in New York. I think we all have too much respect for the Post to discount the things reported here.

Posted by: alc34 | August 26, 2008 5:44 PM

Scott - it's not just you. You've posted some great stuff in the past, and this isn't a bad article. The title is just a bit misleading more than anything else. For the budget-minded traveler on a short trip, yes, it's a good tip and one worth considering.

But posts from the *seven* members that comprise this blog (well, okay, six, since John Deiner appears to no longer be a member of the Washington Post family) have been a bit thin on the ground of late. Looking at weekly archives, there just hasn't been much activity. Which is surprising considering the massive amount of travel-industry-based news that's out there.

For example, I was keeping an eye out for some sort of info on how the Beijing Airport handled the Olympics traffic. I was curious to see how Beijing was going to handle that level of one-time mass traffic influx. Not a peep.

It also seems this blog has been sort of neutered of late. After all, you guys talked about Customs "quarantining" laptops months before it made the front page of WaPo. (Something I even pointed out in the comments for that "hard news" article.) Now you seem to be focused on your picture of the week.

Also, Cindy Loose and K.C. Summers appear to still be at WaPo (unlike Deiner) - why aren't they posting to the blog? They haven't done so since May!

I think I speak for the long-time blog readers when I say we just want our quality Travel Log back. :D Or at the very least, an explanation from your editors if the focus of this blog has changed in some way.

Posted by: Chasmosaur | August 26, 2008 5:53 PM

Scott - it's not just you. You've posted some great stuff in the past, and this isn't a bad article. The title is just a bit misleading more than anything else. For the budget-minded traveler on a short trip, yes, it's a good tip and one worth considering.

But posts from the *seven* members that comprise this blog (well, okay, six, since John Deiner appears to no longer be a member of the Washington Post family) have been a bit thin on the ground of late. Looking at weekly archives, there just hasn't been much activity. Which is surprising considering the massive amount of travel-industry-based news that's out there.

For example, I was keeping an eye out for some sort of info on how the Beijing Airport handled the Olympics traffic. I was curious to see how Beijing was going to handle that level of one-time mass traffic influx. Not a peep.

It also seems this blog has been sort of neutered of late. After all, you guys talked about Customs "quarantining" laptops months before it made the front page of WaPo. (Something I even pointed out in the comments for that "hard news" article.) Now you seem to be focused on your picture of the week.

Also, Cindy Loose and K.C. Summers appear to still be at WaPo (unlike Deiner) - why aren't they posting to the blog? They haven't done so since May!

I think I speak for the long-time blog readers when I say we just want our quality Travel Log back. :D Or at the very least, an explanation from your editors if the focus of this blog has changed in some way.

Posted by: Chasmosaur | August 26, 2008 5:55 PM

WTF? Really, the cheapest way to stay in NYC is to go to Connecticut?

It's ridiculous financially ($18 round trip, x2 for 2 people, x2 again because most tourists will drop off bags or want to rest or change clothes before dinner after running around all day = $72 a day on metro north, plus 4x whatever the cab from the train station to the hotel costs) as well as practically (real travel time by the time you get to and from the train station would be around an hour each way, so in my scenario you've just lost 4 hours of your day, which ends in NYC with the last train out at around 1 am).

Try pricing staying in the city in a shared-bath situation instead.

Posted by: Lisa | August 26, 2008 6:22 PM

WTF? Really, the cheapest way to stay in NYC is to go to Connecticut?

Or did you just cut and paste an ad your received and call it a blog post?

What you're suggesting is ridiculous financially ($18 round trip, x2 for 2 people, x2 again because most tourists will drop off bags or want to rest or change clothes before dinner after running around all day = $72 a day on metro north, plus 4x whatever the cab from the train station to the hotel costs) as well as practically (real travel time by the time you get to and from the train station would be around an hour each way, so you've just lost 4 hours of your day, which ends in NYC with the last train out at around 1 am).

Posted by: Lisa | August 26, 2008 6:25 PM

Chas, I agree with you. We just want the old, much better, more fun, more informative, sensible blog back, and less this sort of nonsense. Who edits this thing anyway?

Posted by: BizGuy | August 26, 2008 6:28 PM

The title is misleading, and I have no idea why someone would want to stay in Connecticut if they were on a New York vacation it seems to me that peeps need to scour the Internet, it is chock full of amazing vacation rental deals, look for last minute availability or even make an offer, after all everything is negotiable.

Posted by: TravelingInStilettos | August 26, 2008 11:46 PM

The title is misleading, and I have no idea why someone would want to stay in Connecticut if they were on a New York vacation it seems to me that peeps need to scour the Internet, it is chock full of amazing vacation rental deals, look for last minute availability or even make an offer, after all everything is negotiable.

Posted by: TravelingInStilettos | August 26, 2008 11:50 PM

What's with all these comments posted twice?

Posted by: G. | August 27, 2008 10:01 AM

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