This post was last updated on October 13th, 2017
New York City is hands-down one of our favorite destinations in the world.
We love the melting pot of cultures, the Broadway shows, the long walks through Central Park. We love the energy and the noise and the diversity. We love lots of things about NYC—but one thing we certainly dislike is the steep price at hotels.
We’re all for paying a bit more for stylish and unique accommodation, but unfortunately, extra dollars don’t always equate to extra quality. In 2013 the average room rate was $230 a night. That’ll put quite the dent in your travel fund if you want to visit for two weeks like we recently did over Christmas and New Years.
So how did we do it? By taking advantage of these awesome alternative accommodation options in New York City:
Housesitting is no longer the well-kept secret it once was. Long-term travelers and two-week vacationeers alike are now savvy on this way to score free accommodation around the world. It’s making some house sits more competitive, but luckily it means there are way more gigs available, too.
We love housesitting, and if you’ve been following our blog, then you’ll probably remember our experiences from France and Costa Rica before. New York City was the same story, different scene. We secured a housesitting gig in Queens over the holidays, and we jumped at the opportunity to re-visit the Empire City over one of the most magical times of the year.
In exchange for about ten days of free accommodation, all we had to do was take care of a sweet dog and cat. We fed them, took the dog for walks, gave it its medicine, and that’s about it. The dog was accustomed to being home while its owners are at work all day, which meant that we had plenty of time to go into the city and do our exploring. We LOVED staying in Queens, too. We were able to experience a new neighborhood and sample some of the best Greek food we’ve ever had, while still being just a short metro ride away from downtown.
You’ll likely have to look in advance and plan your trip around when housesitting gigs become available, but it’s definitely an option to consider. We used TrustedHousesitters to find ours.
Expert tip: You can housesit even if you have your own pets! Each homeowner is different, but we’ll be housesitting outside San Jose later this year AND bringing our adorable pup with us!
Many travelers don’t think of timeshares when it comes to traveling in New York City, but this can be a smart alternative to save money on accommodation while actually getting to enjoy more luxuries and amenities. Especially if you fall in love with the city and want to return time and time again!
If you’re unfamiliar, timeshares allow you to purchase a block of time at a vacation home or resort. Some also let you exchange points for nights. They might be for the same fixed time each year or allow for more flexibility, but the idea is that you have a prepaid block of time at a vacation home that you regularly use. Sharing the time with others lets you also share the costs; in essence, you only pay for what you use rather than leaving a vacation home empty most of the year.
Most timeshares include multiple rooms that can often sleep ten or more guests, including a living room, kitchen and more. This can be especially attractive in NYC, where hotel rooms are the size of a shoebox. You don’t always have to buy as some are also available for rent. When owners can’t use their unit, they can offer it up for rent to cover their annual resort maintenance fees. You can find timeshare rentals in New York City sometimes as low as $133 a night by visiting by-owner timeshare sites like SellMyTimeshareNow.com. Do your research to learn more if this alternative accommodation is right for you.
Housesitting is definitely not for everyone. And though we call it ‘free’ accommodation, it’s actually an exchange of your time and labor. If you’re going on a well-deserved vacation, then you might not want any added responsibility while you are away. Totally understandable.
Personally, we decided that ten days was just not quite enough time in New York City. We wanted a few extra added nights to completely disconnect and take an actual vacation of our own—no blogging, no social media, no emails. But we still didn’t want to pay over-priced hotel rates to do it. Enter apartment rentals.
We’ve used apartment rentals in places such as Paris and Stockholm with great success, so when FlipKey contacted us about partnering together in NYC, we were immediately intrigued. We went on their website to browse our options and see if we could find anything unique and stylish. Luckily, we found just the item we were hoping for.
Located on Jumel Terrace, we made a reservation for a historic townhouse straight out of the 1920s. Our private room overlooked a small garden and featured dark wood antique furniture. The bathroom came complete with a bear claw tub and gold piping. A gift basket featuring Pellegrino and handmade chocolates topped off the perfect first impression. After our stay here and a visit to one of NYC’s speakeasies, we might as well have traveled back in time.
Choosing a room rental on FlipKey again provided us with the perfect opportunity to explore a neighborhood we otherwise might have ignored. This time we were right next to the Morris-Jumel Mansion. Built in 1765, 11 years before the revolution, the Morris-Jamel Mansion has seen the likes of George Washington, John Adam, Thomas Jefferson, Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip pass through its giant pillars.
Our FlipKey rental was also close to Harlem’s Fredrick Douglas Blvd, known as Harlem’s “Restaurant Row”. Notable restaurants included the Harlem Tavern, and Vinateria. Experiencing a piece of Harlem was a highlight of our entire visit to New York City, and definitely one we would not have had otherwise.
We don’t really do couch surfing anymore, but six years ago, it was one of the primary tools we used for travel. On our very first trip together to NYC way back when, we found an awesome couch surfing host in Brooklyn who took us in, gave us our own key and private bedroom, and then gave us insider advice on discovering the city. It was a great introduction to New York, and one that we would definitely recommend to other budget travelers.
These are the three alternative accommodation options we’ve used first-hand while visiting New York City. But what about you? Any advice on where we should stay on our next visit to the city? Awesome hotels that we shouldn’t rule out? Let us know in the comments below!