How to Score a Cheap Hotel in Manhattan

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Answered by: Samantha, An Expert in the Travel - Budget Destination Guides Category
Every year, travelers flock to magnificent New York City to see what the hype is all about. While some travelers enjoy the luxury of being able to afford a five-star hotel in the heart of midtown, others are left wondering how they will ever afford to catch any sleep in the city. While neighboring options, like Queens, Brooklyn and Newark, offer affordable hotels within commuting range of Manhattan, be prepared to spend large portions of your vacation riding the Metro. If you are traveling to New York City, don’t let the sticker shock of most Manhattan hotel prices steer you away from the island. Below are some tips on how to book a cheap hotel in Manhattan.

One of the most well-known budget-travelers’ not-so-secret secrets is the popular website, Hotwire, and their major competitor, Priceline. Both services offer discounted rates for hotels looking to fill their reservations to capacity. Hotwire offers secret rates on hotels without disclosing the hotel's name until after you finalize your booking. In doing so, the site offers lower prices than those offered on the hotels’ direct websites. Priceline offers the ability to place bids on specific hotels. If your bid is accepted, you are locked in to the reservation. Generally, the bids that are accepted through Priceline’s process are similar to the discounted prices offered by Hotwire’s secret rates.

While Hotwire’s secret rate process can be intimidating (you are locking yourself into paying for the reservation before knowing that you will be happy with the selection), their filters make the process less of a “shot in the dark,” allowing you to select criteria, including amenities, location, star ratings and more, making it more likely that the hotel revealed at the end of the process is right in line with what you were looking for.

As location and general cleanliness are most important to me, I have had great success with the Hotwire secret rate process, limiting my searches to highly desired neighborhoods and a minimum rating of 3-stars. For those that don’t mind doing a little extra work, add to your pre-booking research. There, you can use the location, star-rating, and amenities of secret hotels to narrow down potential hotels, giving you some idea of the hotels you are likely to end up with before finalizing the secret rate process.

If bidding and secret rates aren’t your thing, there are still ways to land a great hotel in the heart of Manhattan without breaking the bank. Check websites like for the highest-rated budget-friendly hotels.

Many are privately owned boutique hotels or bed and breakfasts, often older but offering great service and cleanliness, two of the most important hotel amenities other than location in my opinion. Being privately owned, these hotels often offer great rates that aren’t found through mass search engines like,, or (although these websites make great starting points for your search), and which rates are only revealed on the hotel’s website or by calling the hotel directly.

Chelsea is a great neighborhood for snagging a great deal at boutique hotel with prime location. Along the same lines, before finalizing your booking with larger hotels through the aforementioned search engines, be sure to check the hotel’s website directly to ensure that you are securing the best possible deal. Many hotels offer additional discounts for seniors, military, or pay-in-advance customers, which discounts may not be reflected in mass search engine results.

Finally, a method that requires a little luck and extra research, find out if any hotels are making their grand opening around the time of your visit. Many will offer impressive deals to boost revenue and ratings during the initial phase of the hotel. I lucked out, landing a grand-opening sale for a major hotel chain in the heart of Manhattan for less than $100.00 per night (the same room now goes for around $250.00 per night). While this isn’t always possible, grand-opening sales are often worth looking into before finalizing any booking.

Whether you use any combination of the above tips, or a creative solution of your own, with a little research before your trip, you could find yourself recharging in a cheap hotel in Manhattan while reserving enough funds to put toward the next day’s activities.

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