There are no Shortages of Hotels in New York. Finding that perfect hotel for you can be incredibly challenging, however. There really is too much choice and a huge variation in price. There is also a myriad of booking sites which are All the cheapest and easiest, well if you listen to their Marketing Department. What about hidden fees and those god-awful reviews on Trip advisor. Do we Book now or wait… It’s a minefield.
Fear not, Our guide on How to Book a Hotel in New York City will guide you through the process we use to find the best hotel for your needs at the best price. After flights the hotel is always people’s biggest worry, Even on package deals you still don’t know the tour operator is upfront with you and you could be stuck in a hell hole, although that is pretty unlikely, even the worst hotels in New York are pretty good.
Does it really matter, I’m only sleeping there?
Well, this is a good attitude to have. And if you are feeling this way it’s a good sign you are a laid-back kind of person with a whatever will-be attitude. This should mean your trip will go very well. But yes even with a laid-back attitude What hotel you stay in matters a great deal. Obviously the more particular Traveller it matters even more.
Yes, some people will do little more than sleep, shower, and change in their hotel room. But your trip could be seriously impacted if it’s too noisy to sleep, the shower is filthy and the maids keep stealing your stuff! In reality that is very unlikely in New York. But it’s still important you are happy and confident your accommodation is quiet, secure and clean. You will be paying quite a sum for it, even basic accommodation is pricing in New York.
Where to Start?
The first decision is where. There are well over 800 hundred hotels in and around Manhattan. Looking at all these hotels would be an impossible job so first of all, we have to narrow it down. Where you want to stay will remove a large proportion of the hotels so finding the right one is now a lot easier.
We have written a guide on what area to stay in New York here.
For the sake of this Article, we are going to look for a place in Midtown. But the same process applies to any area of New York.
The next way to remove a large portion of hotels is to think of your budget. If you are used to booking hotels anywhere else in the world your budget might need a little rethinking, New York hotels are not Cheap. Even very budget hotels are expensive. Go on the wrong weekend and things will get catastrophically worse.
$100 a night per room is likely to be the very bottom end of anyone’s budget. It may be possible to beat that with ha midweek break at a quiet time but I wouldn’t count on it. And then you will probably be looking at “hostels” and not hotels, and you will not be in a prime location.
So for our example, we will say our budget is $100-$200. Obviously the bigger your budget the easier it will be to find a good hotel.
Which Booking Site?
Do you need to use a booking site? Well no, not to book but the tools they offer mean they are just too good to overlook. Gone are the days of Brochures and ringing the Hotel to book. Now one site will compile all the Hotels in your chosen area and filter for Price and even show you them on a map.
It’s a fantastic tool for tracking down the perfect hotel. We use Booking.com mainly. They have a fantastic interface and we also find 8/10 they are the cheapest. Besides we are not booking yet just hunting for our hotel. Once we come to Book we can use any Site we like.
Narrowing it down
So now we have our Budget and our preferred Tool for finding a hotel. We need to fill out dates in and then search for hotels. As standard, the search will be a list view…not very useful. So we switch to the “map” view.
Now New York will be covered in markers all signifying hotels. We zoom into the area we have chosen and are now able to see all the available options in our area.
On the right-hand control, Panel will be a selection of Price points. Selecting the one that suits your budget will only show hotels within that price bracket.
Now we hover. As you move the mouse cursor over certain hotels the price will be displayed this is the total price of the room (+extra charges, we will come to that) for the duration of the stay for all people you have selected.
A single mouse click shows extra information about the hotel but keeps you on the page.
Once you have found a few nice-looking hotels in the right area and the right price it’s time to make a shortlist. Once you have this it’s time to look for real opinions on the hotel. There will be many on Booking.com but remember booking.com is trying to get you to book with them…bad reviews may be suppressed.
By far the best place to get independent reviews is TripAdvisor. As I have said there are well over 800 hotels in New York, we would love to review them all, but it’s just not practical. We only review what we have experienced and saying in 800 hotels may take some time…So, for now, you need to rely on TripAdvisor.
First, go to Trip Advisor ( Link to Trip Advisor New York Page here) and then just search for the name of the hotel.
Trip advisor is an incredible resource. It really can give a truly accurate look at what a hotel is like. But the reviews are to be taken with a pinch of salt. We have read reviews of hotels that would make you never go near the place and found the hotel to be fantastic. Others that were billed as #1 in the area were more, in our opinion, just ok.
People’s travel experiences will always differ. People’s expectations will always differ. People can be offended by something you would not care in the least about and take to Trip Advisor to exact revenge. It could be written by the hotel across the road. The point is you never know what’s provoked a poor review.
The key to successfully using Trip Advisor is to work out what’s important to you in the hotel and see if the reviews MATCH that. If one review complains of a filthy Hotel but the 10 proceeding it, all say it’s spotless assume the one has impossible standards or was just unlucky. If a regular theme keeps coming up, Noisy AC or Road noise. Assume this is probably the case. Are you a light sleeper? If so maybe this is not for you?
There will always be poor reviews of every hotel. You just need to sort through the guff to find the information that matters to you.
By now one hotel is hopefully standing out to you. We have a habit of trusting our intuitions here. At this point, we normally end up staying in the hotel we are leaning towards. Not because we don’t carry on looking. So now we need to decide when to book…this decision couldn’t be easier.
When to pull the trigger?
Really just go ahead and book it. This is the number one reason we use Booking.com MOST of the time. Why? it offers FREE cancellation. That means you book now at today’s price and if you then find it cheaper elsewhere (or indeed at booking.com) you can just cancel. This works right up to a day before in most cases.
Unfortunately not EVERY hotel is covered under this policy, and Some hotels that area cost a little more per room for this feature. We still tend to use it even if it makes the stay a little pricier as the convenience of being able to change at a moment’s notice is worth it. But if it’s a big gap and the price is acceptable feel free to pay in advance. You just won’t be able to change as easily, if at all.
Now you have a reservation at a price you are happy with. We can now use the Power of the internet to see if that price can be Beaten. There are tonnes of different price comparison tools out there. We like to use the BIG players simply as there is more protection should anything go wrong.
Our Favourite is Trip advisor again. This searches most booking sites to give you the best price available. We often find it’s Booking.com anyway and if not it’s a lesser-known site and we don’t really trust some of them.
Very often we find the hotel that we have booked on Booking.com actually drops in price on booking.com after we have booked. No Problem that’s why we Booked with FREE cancellation. The site allows you to simply cancel your booking and the Re-Book at the new lower price.
It’s worth mentioning we often find the hotel also sells out completely or the price skyrockets hence the importance of booking straight away. If you book with FREE Cancellation there really is no Risk!
5 times out of 10 we end up with the initial booking we made 4 times out 10 we end up swapping for a cheaper price still on booking.com and 1 out of 10 we find the hotel or another hotel cheaper somewhere else.
Often Hotels are forced to charge a number of taxes on top of the price this is not always shown as the headline price. But it will be shown at some point. So take it into account. You will find this is the same across the city.
Remember by using the Pay Later (free cancellation) option you are expected to pay in the local currency at the actual hotel. So bear that in mind if you are not from America. We got stung recently when the £ dropped sharply and our Hotel Room soared in price.
Resort Fees are the Bain of travelers across the UK. New York is not TOO badly affected but some hotels do charge them. They are not included in the Headline prices but they will be displayed BEFORE you book. So keep an eye out and read the Small Print.
So now you are all booked up and ready to head off. It’s important to have a few tempered expectations. You may have paid the earth for a Hotel in New York but it might still be classed as “budget” There is little you can do about this the fact is New York real estate is phenomenally valuable so hotels need to charge what they do just to stay open. And they know people will pay.
Go with a sense of it is only a Base for your explorations, but don’t take below standard accommodations. If you get there and there is a problem with your room. SAY SOMETHING. Don’t slum it then come back and complain on TripAdvisor. Speak the Hotel. More often than not management will fix the issue or move you. If not then maybe you might want to leave a poor review. But give them a chance to fix it, it will make everyone have a better day!
Most importantly Enjoy yourself. You are heading to New York all the worry and hassle are over now it’s time to get out there and live it up. New York is such a phenomenal place to stay. We have included links below to some of our great New York Activity Posts.
Have Your Say
We hope this guide helps the uninitiated out with the quite daunting task of booking a hotel online. It’s a bit of a crazy world and we hope we have helped you cut through it. If you have any questions feel free to comment below. Or if you have any tips on how you book to get the best price we would love to hear from you.
We know there are companies such as Priceline that can give you even better deals but these are a little hit and miss and better aimed at experienced travelers. Also, We used to be a big fan of the Secret Hotels. But the word seems to have got out and we don’t find they offer very good value any more.