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Scientist seeks room of her own whilst on the road...
February 6, 2012 3:16 PM   Subscribe

I've been awarded a fellowship that allows me to go on an international study tour of Sweden and the USA. Metafilter locals, tell me where I should stay in New York, San Francisco and Honolulu. Bonus question: what cafes/ shops/ other places should I check out on my weekends off? Details after the jump...

I'm looking for places to stay in the following locations:
A) New York: near-ish the American Museum of Natural History;
B) San Francisco: Sunset District;
C) Honolulu: near-ish the Bishop Museum.

I will need to spend most evenings writing notes on the day's proceedings (for a report I need to write for my fellowship provider), and generally studying up on what I've learned so far. Therefore, I need somewhere relatively quiet and with (preferably free) wifi. A desk would be a real bonus! I'm happy to use a shared bathroom, but youth hostels are out (unless they cater to university types - I've done my time as far as staying in youth hostels whilst attending conferences goes).

Honolulu is where I need some serious help. I'm not keen to stay in Waikiki, and would prefer somewhere non-touristy. Having lived in the Pacific before, I'm perfectly happy to stay somewhere without bells and whistles.

Bonus question: I'll be taking weekends off and I'll need to relax occasionally! Any tips for interesting cafes/ bookshops/ (vintage) stores/ bars in each of these areas (again, particularly Honolulu)? Any tips for sources of healthy food? Any places which might be an oasis of calm where I can sit with a non-science book and have a coffee or a vino?
posted by Alice Russel-Wallace to Travel & Transportation around United States (11 answers total)
 
Is this like staying for a week or a staying for 6 months in each place sort of deal? (Or somewhere in between) -- that is, are you looking to like sublet an apartment, or to get something closer to a hotel?
posted by brainmouse at 3:24 PM on February 6, 2012


The Oceanview motel is in the outer (way outer!) Sunset, and says it has free wifi in the rooms. Your places to stay will be limited if you must stay in the Sunset.
posted by rtha at 3:25 PM on February 6, 2012


Sorry, should have clarified:

1) I'm staying no more than two weeks in each place (so a hotel would be perfect)
2) I'd like something affordable, but I don't have a particularly tight budget. So I would prefer to find something in the $100-160 per night range, but can go higher (and I know I will probably have to in some spots).
posted by Alice Russel-Wallace at 3:28 PM on February 6, 2012


Depending on the time of year, Sunset district in San Francisco can be very cold. Avoid being there May through August if you can. Spring and Fall can be nice.
posted by anadem at 3:49 PM on February 6, 2012


Try AirBnB for short stays - much more affordable, and generally nicer than hotels. In NYC, you'll likely need to go a bit above your budget. In SF, there are nicer neighborhoods than the Sunset (though the Inner Sunset can be charming), and it's a tiny city, so you might find something more pleasant with a 10-15 minute commute. For Honolulu, you should be able to find something in the hills above the Bishop or a bit further southeast, near the university.
posted by judith at 3:56 PM on February 6, 2012


You might be better off for NY and SF doing something like AirBnB.com or vrbo.com, as neither the Sunset nor the area around the Museum of Natural History have a wealth of hotel options.
posted by Sidhedevil at 3:57 PM on February 6, 2012


Husband says he has stayed at Aston at the Executive Centre and found it a good business hotel. It seems to be one of the closest to the Bishop and within your budget.
posted by Sidhedevil at 4:01 PM on February 6, 2012


You don't want to stay in the Sunset when you are doing work at the Cal Academy. The Sunset, for the most part, is cold and grey for much of the day, and eating and drinking places are relatively few. Fortunately, the N Judah streetcar/train goes on one side of the park, and there are a ton of busses that go there too, including a number that go directly by the Museum. Hayes Valley is turning into an incredibly nice part of town, and there are quite a few airbnb.com rooms and studios available in the area. If you can swing a bike- email your collaborators, plenty of people have extra guest bikes around- then it will be even easier to transit around the city.

San Francisco's food trucks are awesome. Check out offthegridsf.com for when/where there will be aggregations of them around the city. Skip Fisherman's Wharf and the downtown Chinatown. To get real Chinese food you need someone to take you to the smaller Chinatown areas in the Richmond.
posted by rockindata at 5:15 PM on February 6, 2012


The Oceanview Motel would be my last choice for a motel here. The bar underneath (Pittsburgh's Pub) is generally loud and filled with transients morning, afternoon, and evening, and the J train is directly outside (loud and runs frequently most of the day and night). The whole neighborhood has some charms here and there but gives a real methlab feel to me.

You'd be missing out on "San Francisco" staying there. Try Airbnb (preferred!) or something like the Nob Hill Inn or the Hayes Valley Inn. Both good locations to explore from or relax at, reasonable inexpensive, and fairly nice according to friends that have used them.
posted by kcm at 5:16 PM on February 6, 2012


In Honolulu, there isn't much outside of Waikiki or the airport, mainly because that's where they herd the tourists. I think there might be some hotels near the Hawaii Convention Center and downtown, which unfortunately, are probably more expensive than in Waikiki. The heavy tourist population also means that "non-touristy" hotels don't really exist there.

My best advice would be to see if there's something near the University of Hawaii or on the south end of Waikiki near Diamond Head that would be OK. Typically, the closer you get to Diamond Head or farther away from the water, the less intensely touristy.

The Bishop Museum is sort of in the middle of a residential neighborhood, adding to the difficulty of finding something near there. Honolulu is pretty compact, though, so you should be able to get around on the bus or whatever pretty easy.

For relaxation, there's always the beach. Hanauma Bay is very nice and there's a bus that goes there directly. My brother said that Chinatown is pretty interesting and not like any Chinatown here on the mainland, since there's still a large population of Chinese people living there. You can hunt down the best plate lunch in the city, or try all the Korean BBQ places you can find or eat seafood buffet with the Japanese tourists (and Hello Kitty). Don't worry, for every Makitti, there's a Saint-Germain to make up for it.
posted by fiercekitten at 10:15 PM on February 6, 2012


I got a one bedroom apartment on Central Park West for $125/night through AirBnB. It was great - heaps of space, wifi, could cook if I felt like it (or get take out!).
posted by AnnaRat at 2:16 AM on February 7, 2012


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