5 Budget-Friendly Hotels in NYC

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5 Budget-Friendly Hotels in NYC

Finding a budget hotel in New York City isn't easy, but it's not impossible.
Here are five comfortable ones, centrally located and chock full of personality. 080205_hotel41_new_york_budget_hotels.jpg

Hotel 41.
Bamboo in the window beckons guests to the warmly lit lobby of the Hotel 41. This stylish hotel is not meant for family visits; rooms are tiny. Most standard rooms face a brick wall, but if you can get past the size and not-so-thrilling views, it's a cozy place to stay, with a bed showing off crisp linens and a TV hanging above the closet. Bathrooms are elegant, with half-glass showers, original tile on the floor, and Aveda amenties. Downstairs, Bar 41 is a dark sports bar-like hangout with rock music loudly playing. Find serenity in the intimate back room wine cellar. Pros: DVD player in rooms; some rooms have refrigerators. Cons: Lack of queen-size beds; small rooms. 206 W. 41st St. 212/703-8600 (ph.). 212/302-0895 (fax). www.hotel41nyc.com. 47 rooms. In-room facilities: safe, refrigerator (some), DVD, ethernet. In-hotel facilities: restaurant, room service, bar, concierge, laundry, parking (fee) no-smoking rooms. AE, MC, V. Rates start at $249.

Millennium UN Plaza Hotel New York.
For those who relish the idea of rubbing elbows with diplomats, you can't get much closer to the United Nations than the Millennium UN Plaza Hotel New York. Ask to stay in the newer East Tower, where you'll find modern earth-toned rooms (some with flat-screen TVs) and bathrooms stocked with Gilchrist & Soames amenities. West Tower rooms, while laden with tired furnishings, are good for extended visits because of their full kitchens. Squeezing in time to play at this hotel is easy. Guests can take a dip in the indoor pool and test their backhand on the indoor tennis court. Pros: rooms on the 28th floor offer terrific views; massage and sauna facilities available. Cons: no free Internet; no complimentary breakfast. One United Nations Plaza. 212/758-1234 (ph.). 212/702-5051 (fax). www.millenniumhotels.com. 87 rooms. In-room facilities: safe, kitchen (some), ethernet. In-hotel facilities: bar, no-smoking rooms, room service, tennis court, concierge, restaurant, pool, parking (fee), laundry service, gym. minibars. Rooms start at $229.

La Quinta Inn.
Smack in the middle of Koreatown and close to Penn Station, this friendly hotel in a beautiful old Beaux Arts building may be one of the best deals in town. Never mind the drab green and burgundy décor when your room features treats like free Wi-Fi, an iPod plug-in, and a bathtub. In the mornings, the free continental breakfast goes beyond the usual fare, with granola and oatmeal. Perhaps the best part about staying here is access to Mé Bar. In the evenings, both guests and locals head up to this year-round mellow rooftop bar for a cocktail in the shadow of the Empire State Building. Pros: self check-in machines; gift shop on the premises for necessities. Cons: no room service; no frills. 17 W. 32nd St. 212/736-1600 (ph.). 212/563-4007 (fax). www.lq.com. 182 rooms. In-room facilities: safe, Wi-Fi (no fee). In-hotel facilities: bar, gym, laundry, public Wi-Fi, parking (fee), no-smoking rooms. AE, D, DC, MC, V. Rooms start at $109.

Casablanca Hotel.
When entering the hushed Casablanca, it's hard to believe you're a stone's throw from all the Times Square hoopla. Like something out of its namesake film, a sultry Mediterranean feel permeates the Casablanca, from the mirrors in public spaces to the rooms' ceiling fans, wooden blinds, and dainty little bistro tables. Huge tiled bathrooms, many with windows, feature Baronessa Cali amenities. On the second floor, classical music plays while guests linger in the spacious, library-like Rick's Café for the complimentary breakfast buffet and wine and cheese evenings. Pros: access to the Theater District; all rooms are smoke-free. Cons: no gym (but hotel is near a New York Sports Club); heavy tourist foot traffic. 147 W. 43rd St. 212/869-1212 (ph.). 212/391-7585 (fax). www.casablancahotel.com . 48 rooms. In-room facilities: safe, refrigerator, VCR, dial-up. In-hotel facilities: bar, no-smoking rooms, room service, restaurant, parking (fee), laundry service, minibars. AE, DC, MC, V. Rooms start at $249.

Hotel Metro.
With its mirrored columns and elegant black-and-white photos in the lobby, the Hotel Metro, housed in an early-20th-century building, has a distinctive retro feel. Guests tend to hang out in the lounge, where coffee and tea are served all day, or in the adjacent library, a quiet nook with sofas and a desk. Upstairs, muted rooms with leather headboards and cushioned Art Deco chairs flaunt tall-ceiling bathrooms with Gilchrist & Soames products. In summer, the Metro Grill rooftop bar promises outstanding Empire State Building views. Pros: renovated exercise room has flat-screen TVs; iHome in rooms. Cons: no DVD players; no spa services. 45 W. 35th St. 212/947-2500 (ph.). 212/279-1310 (fax). www.hotelmetronyc.com. 179 rooms. In-room facilities: safe, Wi-Fi (no fee). In-hotel facilities: restaurant, room service, bar, business center, public Wi-Fi, no-smoking rooms. AE, DC, MC, V. Rooms start at $225.

---Alia Akkam

Recommendations from the Travel Talk Forums
(View more, add your own)

"For the intrepid rough and tumble very budget traveler, I would recommend the Hotel Marrakesh on the upper west side near Columbia University at 103rd and Broadway. It is a basic hostel but only $32!!! per night. It makes a great arrival base if you get in at midnight and don't feel like spending $300 for a few hours of sleep." - recommended by ncounty

"I stayed at Quality Inn in Long Island City (Queens). It was cheap, pretty new and it is only 2 stops on the subway to Manhattan." - recommended by gard

"I'd add Stay the Night and the Park South." - recommended by NWWanderer

"Another Apple Core property, La Quinta's neighbor, the Red Roof Inn, should be on any list of NYC hotels for budget-minded travelers; it's newly refurbished, with about the same amenities and prices as La Quinta." - recommended by Anonymous

"My husband and daughter stayed the Bedford Hotel last March and got a good room, excellent service and a great rate. My husband and I stayed at the La Quinta about 5 years ago and it was a great choice for us. Small room, but quiet and they had a nice breakfast buffet. Plus it was in a great location for easy sightseeing." - recommended by longhorn55

To learn more about hotels in New York, check out the lodging section of Fodor's New York City 2008.

More New York City Tips:Food and Lodging

Excerped from Fodor's Travel Wire

An Insider's Guide to NYC
Tired of Broadway shows and the annual trek to the Met? Try one of these activities on for size on your next trip to the Big Apple.
Get your Grom on
Turin-based gelato importer Grom opened this summer on the Upper West Side to high-decibel hype, small $5 servings, and hour-long waits. Five months on, the small cups are still pricey but the lines have shortened. Judge for yourself whether the full-fat milk, organic eggs, and artisanal flavors like pistachio, grapefruit, or lemon are worth the hype. The store's slogan, "Il Gelato Come Una Volta" (roughly translated as "Ice Cream as It Once Was"), proclaims its commitment to old-fashioned scoops. Warning: many a visit to the gelateria have turned into full-fledged Grom-a-thons.

Dine like a local
Walk beyond the blaring neon lights of Times Square and the pulsing crowds at Grand Central to find the restaurants where real New Yorkers dine. You can start by making a beeline for 50th Street's Toloache, (photo, right) a bustling new Mexican brasserie that has local foodies talking. Don't miss the chipotle-accented guacamole, the Negro Modelo-braised brisket tacos, or beef short ribs braised in pomegranate sauce.

If you're looking for a great meal around Grand Central Terminal, skip the restaurants in the station and head down the street to Benjamin Steakhouse, just a block south inside the Dylan Hotel. In this stylish space, outfitted with dark wood paneling, leather banquettes and cream accents, you can treat yourself to dry-aged prime cuts that arrive still sizzling, incredible "cream-free" creamed spinach, and extravagant seafood platters. Not in the mood for a big meal? Take it easy with a martini or a glass of Malbec in front of the crackling fire.

Kid and Dog friendly lodging in Belfast, ME

Rather than trying top zoom straight through from Portland to Acadia -- and miss some of the best parts of coastal Maine -- slow down, spend a night in Camden or Belfast.

Belfast is a nice little city in mid-coast Maine. Belfast is a whole lot less crowded in the summer, and it's closer to Acadia. One good place to stay, with a view of Penobscot Bay from every room, is the Comfort Inn, just over the bridge over Passagassawaukeg River on Rt 1.

The inn has an indoor pool, a "continental breakfast" and allows dogs for a mere $10 extra. They have suites, king rooms with kitchenettes, and regular rooms.

And there's a great little Thai restaurant across the street.

Places to go in The Granite State

Here's a user-generated map of things to do in New Hampshire from Yankee Magazine's web site.

Planning for Health Emergencies Eases Stress of Family Travel

A pertinent news release from the University of Michigan:

Planning for Health Emergencies Eases Stress of Family Travel

While family vacations can be fun, they can become extremely stressful if there are unexpected health problems, experts say.

Parents need to include preparations for possible health troubles in their holiday planning, says Dr. Stephen Park, an assistant professor of pediatrics and communicable diseases at the University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children's Hospital.

"We, as parents, pay a lot of attention to things like packing toys and packing clothes, but sometimes we don't pay as much attention to preparing for potential or anticipated health issues," Park said in a prepared statement.

He offered a number of health-related travel tips.

First, create a travel health kit that includes medicines that are regularly taken by members of the family, as well as medicines for sudden ailments, such as congestion or a rash. He recommended packing a fever reducer, an antihistamine, bandages and a topical antibiotic ointment, but advised against including an anti-diarrhea medicine for traveler's diarrhea. It's better to consult with your doctor to learn about antibiotics that treat bacterial infections that can cause diarrhea.

Parents also should consider specific features of the family's vacation, such as the destination's climate. For example, bring plenty of sunscreen for sunny locales, as well as aloe vera to relieve sunburn pain. If you plan to spend a lot of time outdoors, bring insect repellent, mosquito netting and poison ivy treatments.

Think about potential issues related to your mode of transportation. For example, air travel can cause ear pain. Feeding a small child during take-off and landing to generate a suck-and-swallow motion can help ease ear pain, while older children can get relief by chewing gum or blowing bubbles. If a child is prone to motion sickness, don't sit in the middle of the plane over the wings.

If you're traveling by car, you can help prevent motion sickness by discouraging your children from reading in the car or looking down. If they start to feel ill, they should focus their eyes on a point in front of them, Park said.

When booking accommodations, parents should research the location of the closest urgent care center, night-time care center and emergency room. Be sure to bring the phone number of your doctor, so you can call to get answers to medical questions.

Park also noted that traveling throws off normal routines, which can cause children to become grumpy and difficult.

"One of the biggest concerns of parents when they are traveling with children is not so much about health but about behavior. Parents need to relax as much as possible and plan ahead. Anticipate that children may be a little off while traveling, so be patient with routines," Park said.

More information

The Nemours Foundation has more about staying healthy while your travel.

Advanced Hotel-Room Fort Making

A desk, a bedspread, and a willingness to improvise goes a looooong way.

One way to make kids happy in a hotel room while on a road trip is to let them jump on the bed. One way to get them to stop jumping on the bed, is to make a fort. Many hotel rooms have large enough desks to simple drape the bed spread over it for a fast fort with plenty of room for sleeping. On a recent trip we checked in to a room with a small desk. Tom wouldn't be able to fit sleeping under and parallel to the desk, he would have to sleep perpendicular to it. And that's not much of an adventure for a seven year old.

The solution? Add a chair. We tucked the bedspread behind the desk (against the wall), and stretched it out to drape it over a chair at the far end. There was still enough room between the bed and the chair to walk by, and with a suitcase acting as ballast, the chair is unlikely to tip over.

Tip: bring an LED headlamp for nightime reading.

Seadog Brewing Company: Best. Sandwich. Ever.

Maybe the best pit stop in mid-coast Maine. Nay, the Best. Pit stop. in Mid-coast Maine.

Most of the way through an eight hour drive to Belfast, ME we stopped for dinner. Where you get off I-95 for Rt. 1 is Topsam, ME. A little over a mile from the exit is The Seadog -- a comfortable kid-friendly brewpub restaurant offering many yummy local brews, yummy burgers, yummy fish and chips and dining on the deck next to the Androscoggin River.

When we go there, which is oftener and oftener, I typically get a burger. Because I like a burger and a beer. But Tinsley always opts for the Tuna steak sandwich because it's on the menu. And she would feel foolish ordering a burger when she could have the tuna steak sandwich with radish sprouts and wasabi mayo. She likes it as rare as possible so that it's almost a sushi sandwich. Usually she's delighted with the sandwich. This time she said "Absolutely, the Best. Sandwich. Ever."

But what do you really think, Tinsley?

25 Things We Love to Do in D.C.

Fresh off the Fodor's Travel Wire, some stuff that's already on our list, but a bunch (of not really kid-stuff) that's not.

Washington, D.C. is the center of everything political in the U.S., and as such has never been short on intrigue and scandal. But beyond all the shenanigans you'll find a rare city, one that balances truly rich history and culture within a dynamic and ever-changing urban setting. Indeed, where else can you see a Gutenberg Bible, visit a spy museum, eat Ethiopian cuisine, view a Degas painting, and see a tarantula feeding all in one day? Here's a list of our favorite things to do in D.C. What do you recommend?

On the Mall
See the original Spirit of St. Louis airplane that Charles Lindbergh flew from New York to Paris in 1927, and then learn how things fly at the National Air and Space Museum.

2. Watch films of flying saucers at the National Archives. (The films were used in Congressional hearings in the 1950s when people we're convinced that aliens had invaded the country.)

3. Gross out your friends at the Natural History Museum's Insect Zoo. Note: Tarantula feedings are Tuesday through Friday at 10:30, 11:30, and 1:30.

4. Twirl around the ice-skating rink in the National Gallery of Art's sculpture garden.

5. View astonishing wooden masks at the National Museum of African Art.

6. Taste North, South, and Central American cuisine at the National Museum of the American Indian's Mitsitam Café.

7. Check out the sometimes offbeat portraits of 20th-century Americans (Warhol's Marilyn Monroe prints, a Time magazine cover of Madonna) on the third floor of the National Portrait Gallery.

8. Pose next to sculptures by Rodin and Henry Moore in the Hirshhorn Sculpture Garden and then venture inside to see one of the world's great collections of modern art.

9. Learn how to make money -- literally -- at the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, where paper money has been printed since 1914.

10. Follow the lives of those who lived and died in Nazi Germany at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.

Around Town
See giant pandas, elephants, and lions (and sloth bears and giant salamanders) at the National Zoo.

12. Top everything and anything with chili at Ben's Chili Bowl, a U Street institution since 1958.

13. You have to plan weeks or months in advance, and you're only allowed into eight of the 132 rooms, but there's no denying the kick of touring the White House, if for no other reason than to fantasize about what you might do differently with the Green Room.

14. Watch congressmen and women debate, insult, and wrangle their way through the job of making laws in the Capitol's House and Senate chambers (check out www.senate.gov for info on free passes and how to set up a visit).

15. Pick up organic fruit and eclectic local crafts at the Eastern Market. (The main building suffered a fire in 2007, but visitors can still pick up fresh produce, flowers and crafts at the market's outdoor section.)

16. Order a pint and listen in as Congressional staffers gripe about their famous bosses at the Hawk & Dove, the quintessential D.C. bar.

17. Take a break from debate to contemplate the Gutenberg Bible, the lavishly sculpted Great Hall, and the splendor of the gilded Main Reading Room at the Library of Congress.

18. Indulge your inner James Bond with a look at 007's Aston Martin from Goldfinger, along with more serious toys used by the CIA, FBI, and KGB at the International Spy Museum.

19. Complete your Jackie O look at Nana, a D.C. favorite for its stock of new and vintage women's clothes, handmade jewelry, and cool handbags.

20. Take in the scene at Dupont Circle, where artists, power-lunchers, chess players, and Olympic-caliber bike messengers abound.

21. Scope out the art scene on the first Friday of every month, when Dupont Circle's art spaces are open late and score complimentary wine as a bonus.

22. Eat with your hands at Etete (1942 9th St. NW), the best of the city's Ethiopian restaurants.

23. View the heavens through one of the world's most powerful telescopes at the U.S. Naval Observatory.

24. Wrinkle your nose at the Corpse Flower, explore the jungle, gawk at the orchids, or stroll the paths at the new National Garden at the United States Botanic Garden.

25. Celebrate happy hour like a local on Capitol Hill at the stylish Lounge 201 (201 Massachusetts Ave.), where you can sip a half-price Martini on Tuesdays. Or grab a beer and half-price nachos until 6:30 at Bullfeathers (410 1st St. SE).

Dinosaur State Park: A Good Pit Stop

Stop in for a picnic lunch and explore the museum, craft room, and more than two miles of nature trails through the Dinosaur Park State Arboretum.

In Rocky Hill, CT, just a wee bit south of Hartford you’ll find a geodesic dome built over an expanse of sedimentary rock with one of the largest dinosaur track sites in North America. Inside, you’ll see life-size Jurassic and Triassic period dioramas depicting life in prehistoric Rocky Hill, Connecticut and you'll also see actual dinosaur skeletons, dinosaur footprints, fossils, and learning exhibits.

Five hundred footprints is nothing to sneeze at
The footprints were discovered in 1966 when excavators were digging out to set a foundation for a new state building. The workers found 2,000 footprints (500 of them are on display under the dome, the rest are buried for preservation). The tracks were laid down 200 million years ago.

Did dinosaurs eat walnuts?
In the early dinosaur days, most of the plants we see today were already established: conifers (cone-bearing), ferns, horsetails and ginkos. Missing were the flowering plants, whose pollen first appears in the fossil record about 140 million years ago, and who were prolific by 90 million years ago. The same Laurel, magnolia, sycamore and beach species that we have today were growing back then at the end of the Cretaceous period. Walnuts, barberry, elm and mulberry were prevalent then, and there’s a good chance some species of dinosaur ate walnuts, but there’s no evidence that dinosaur children played All Around the Mulberry Bush. The arboretum has more than 200 conifer species, including such exotics as cedar-of-Lebanon, giant-sequoia, incense-cedar, and monkey puzzle tree.

Cost: $5 for adults, $2 for kids ages 6-12, free for kids under 6.

Open daily 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Trails close at 4 p.m.

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