Renting guest rooms in NYC instead of staying at a hotel?
September 7, 2005 10:28 AM   Subscribe

I'm traveling to NYC (and then London) at the end of the month (yes, MeTe meetup post to follow soon!), and I'm leaning towards staying in rented guest room (via Craigslist vacation rentals) rather than a hotel.

Has anyone else gone this route? Several of the people I've contacted are already booked for the weekend I'll be there (Sept. 23-26), but I've found one place on Central Park West that, judging from the photos, looks terrific (and the price is right!). But when I asked the guy (via email) for a little background (i.e., how long have you been renting/do you have any past guest testimonials?), he got a little huffy, announcing that he should be asking ME for referrals. I didn't really mean any offense -- just taking what seem like obvious precautions as a woman travelling alone considering renting a room in a (male) stranger's home. Am I making too big a deal of it? Maybe it's quite common to rent out guest rooms in NYC, and I just don't realize it.
posted by scody to Travel & Transportation around New York, NY (18 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
No experience here with guest rooms in NYC, but I'd trust your instincts...anyone should happily answer those questions.

Really, there's such a wide selection of hotels here that you shouldn't have to resort to staying with someone who you think is skeezy. (I can understand wanting something a bit more home-y than a hotel, but don't do that at the possible expense of your safety.)
posted by Vidiot at 10:37 AM on September 7, 2005

Response by poster: Unfortunately, hotel availability is looking pretty grim -- I only recently finalized my travel dates, and pretty much every nice hotel or B&B in my price range is booked for the weekend (which sort of shocked me, to be honest). The only hotels I've found in my price range look fair-to-partly awful -- multiple terrible reviews on, bad photos on amateurish websites, etc.
posted by scody at 10:47 AM on September 7, 2005

I've got nothing on guest houses, but I can recommend a couple of lesser-known hotels that might have room.

If you haven't tried them yet, try Hotel Wellington on 57th or Hotel Metro on 35th in New York. I've stayed at both and they're decent.

In London, the Comfort Inn along the South Bank in Vauxhall is comfortable and pretty close to everything.
posted by nyterrant at 10:53 AM on September 7, 2005

Try Priceline. I got into the Hotel Wellington (as mentioned above) for $105/night three years ago, and into the Park Central (about like a Hilton) for $110 last year. Or the Apple Core hotels.

This hotel review site may be useful, or the Manhattan User's Guide take.
posted by Vidiot at 11:00 AM on September 7, 2005

And in London, there are bunches of cheap B&Bs near Victoria Station. (Rick Steves info page here.) A friend stayed at the Cherry Court (info on that page) and it was basic but fine.

Earls Court has some cheap options, too, but you'll have to be more discriminating, as some of those just look nasty.
posted by Vidiot at 11:04 AM on September 7, 2005

I would be VERY leery of staying in some random male New Yorker's house found online. Much better to go with the crappy hotel room - you won't be in it much anyway.
posted by CunningLinguist at 11:12 AM on September 7, 2005

I'd go with an established hostel over staying in someone's house, especially if they're dodgy about questions.
posted by Vidiot at 11:20 AM on September 7, 2005

Nthed. Anyone who gets huffy about answering questions like that isn't someone you want to share a roof with. It's perfectly reasonable for you to ask polite questions of someone who's going to rent you a space where you'll be unconscious for 8 hours a day.
posted by phearlez at 11:36 AM on September 7, 2005

Response by poster: CL, vidiot, phealeaz, et al.: yeah, that's essentially my impulse too; I admit I'm also pretty leery about the multiple reviews of bedbugs/fleas at the other hotels, so I guess that's what motivated me to look at Craigslist. The lowest-priced available hotels in Manhattan I can find are running about $200-250/night; anything left under $150 -- which is really my range -- is either out by one of the airports or is more of a hostel type situation, which I'm not interested in. So far I've contacted about 25-30 B&B's and hotels which have good reviews AND rooms under $150, and they all say they're booked for the weekend I'll be in town.

There's really a surprising number of guest room rentals on Craigs (including some actual small B&Bs that don't appear to advertise elsewhere), so I thought it might be a good alternative. The folks who are a lot more straightforward about questions and seem to do this at least semi-professionally are all unfortunately booked as well, though!

I must admit I've never tried Priceline -- I've always been baffled how it works, frankly. Can I really set a price withiin my budget in Manahattan and expect to get it? The Wellington, Apple Core, and equivalent places are all either fully booked when I've called, or their lowest-priced rooms are in the $250-300 range. I guess I don't get why any of them would essentially consent to book at half that when it seems like (based on all the calls I've made) they're not having problems filling up at a higher rate to begin with.

Oh, and just to clarify for everyone -- my lodging in London is already set, so it's just New York I need to worry about.
posted by scody at 12:00 PM on September 7, 2005

Response by poster: gah! My typing is awful today. Phearlez, sorry for misspelling your name!
posted by scody at 12:01 PM on September 7, 2005

As far as using Priceline, I suggest you check out BiddingForTravel which is a site devoted to saving money with Priceline/Hotwire. They'll even give you bidding advice (although they get really bitchy if you don't read their FAQs first).

Upon checking their NYC board I can tell you it doesn't look good, though.
posted by grouse at 12:12 PM on September 7, 2005

Response by poster: Thanks, grouse! Irritatingly, the firewall at work blocks me from ezboard, but I'll definitely check it out at home tonight if I haven't found anything by the end of the workday.
posted by scody at 12:15 PM on September 7, 2005

Speaking as a NYer who sublets his br to guests when out of town: If this dude on CPW got pissy when you asked for references, I'd say to trust your instincts. After all, you're coming to an unfamiliar city to give money to someone you don't know to stay in their apartment -- references are part of the whole deal. Anyone who says otherwise is acting shady, to say the least.

I do it myself to make a few $$ when out of town - If I'm gonna be at the shore for the week, why not have an extra $500 for letting a Swedish family crash in my place?

And I've found great places to stay this way while travelling-An apartment in Camden Town in London, a nice loft share in Paris, a beautiful apartment in Berlin, all for way less than hotels.

Just keep your bullshit detectors on when dealing with these folks.
posted by huskerdont at 12:48 PM on September 7, 2005

Here's a thread on cheap rooms in NYC. Maybe something there?
posted by fionab at 2:24 PM on September 7, 2005

Response by poster: Thanks fiona. I did check the hotels and hotel-finders in that thread, and sadly came up with nada.
posted by scody at 2:38 PM on September 7, 2005

I posted a wanted ad on the NYC Craigslist vacation rentals page and had 6 responses for my personalized dates, times, and locations within a day. It was much cheaper than a hotel, much more comfortable, and I had no problems at all. But rule #1: trust your instincts. If people are asking for outrageous security deposits and upfront cash before you even get the keys, like one person told me, just tell them you're not interested.
posted by gramcracker at 6:08 PM on September 7, 2005

Scody, my gf and I did this succesfully for 2 different weeks in NYC summer of 2004. It worked great for us, but yeah, I got to meet the people before I moved in, so I could work around sketchiness.

But just a positive data point for ya! Good luck!
posted by zpousman at 6:46 PM on September 7, 2005

I've heard good things about the Larchmont:
posted by judith at 9:21 PM on September 7, 2005

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