New York -- There are plenty of reasonably priced things to do in costly Manhattan, and one of them is sleeping over. Responding to pressures from bargain hunters in these tough times, many established hotels and some upstarts are charging rates that won't take a big bite out of your Big Apple budget.
Options range from swank hostelries in prime locations to bare-bones deals that will appeal mainly to those who are content with few amenities -- and perhaps a bathroom down the hall.
Here are 10 hotels whose rates start at less than $100 per night (excluding taxes) for two people. The $100 barrier is important for more than just symbolic reasons. Under New York law, you'll pay a higher tax rate on rooms costing $100 or more. Rooms under that price are assessed an already whopping 14 1/4 percent, plus $2 per-night tax; rooms costing $100 or more entail an additional 5 percent tax, for a total of 19 1/4 percent, plus the $2 per-night tax. Keep that factor in mind when considering upgrading beyond a $99.99 rate.
At many of the hotels listed below, the bargain rate is only available weekends -- and not every weekend -- or as part of a two-night package. Also, some hotels allot a limited number of rooms at the lowest price, so book as far ahead as possible. If you don't like the room, or the view (some of the lowest-priced rooms overlook back lots or air shafts), don't be timid about requesting a more desirable one. Hotels often try to rent out their worst rooms first (even when there are better ones in the same price category available), and the front desk manager may be willing to upgrade you at no extra charge if the hotel is not full. If you're driving, ask about special
parking deals for guests, which sometimes can save you a bundle in this expensive town.
* Off Soho Suites Hotel, 11 Rivington St. (two blocks south of Second Avenue and Houston Street, between Christie and Bowery streets); (212) 353-0860. Just a few blocks north of Little Italy and Chinatown, this 2-year-old, 36-suite hotel is closer -- both geographically and in mood -- to the unpretentious Lower East Side than artsy Soho. The location doesn't have the funky cachet of Soho (farther to the west), but the hotel is one of the best bargains in the city.
For $99 a night you get a modern room, with clean white walls and hardwood floors, that will sleep up to four people. There's a large, fully equipped kitchen with a table and four chairs, private bath, color television, air conditioning and a telephone. If you're willing to share a kitchen and bath with an adjoining room (common in many budget European hostelries), the price drops to $66 a night.
The hotel has a 24-hour concierge, room service, an on-premises 24-hour supermarket, a fitness room, on-premises coin laundry service and a car and limousine service (for an extra charge).
* The Paramount, 235 W. 46th St. (between Eighth Avenue and Broadway); (212) 764-5500. Reservations: (800) 225-7474. Open only a year, this remake of an old theater-district hotel is one of the trendiest spots in town. The cheapest rooms are minuscule, but funky design touches, such as art deco-inspired furniture in the bedroom and a mod cone-shaped stainless steel sink in the bathroom, make them kind of fun.
The overall atmosphere has been characterized as "theater in the theater district -- a hotel as entertainment." The lobby is gorgeous. It was created by a team of international designers and features subtle, recessed lighting and easy chairs upholstered in soothing shades of coral, sea green and royal blue. From the lobby, you can look up at diners in the glassed-in mezzanine restaurant, their faces softly illuminated by tiny, colorful table lamps. Even the elevators are dramatic: Step inside and you'll be bathed in a green, red, blue, purple or orange-yellow glow.
There's a well-equipped gym, a children's playroom with chairs made of stuffed animals sewn together, and a branch of the posh Dean & DeLuca specialty food store on the premises.
You'll pay $99 for a tiny room with a double bed, television and VCR. For $130 you get a bigger room and a queen-size bed ($165 for a king-size bed). On weekends, the $165 rate does come with some bonuses: You get a buffet breakfast and either a movie rental or free parking. Take the parking, which can cost as much as $30 for 24 hours in Manhattan. However, parking down the street costs $16 with validation from the hotel.