Photo by Stephen Kent Johnson
Photo by Steve Freihon Photography
Panorama Room, the rooftop bar at the Graduate Hotel, is reason enough to visit Roosevelt Island on your next trip to New York.
If you’re visiting New York on a budget, consider staying at one of these stylish yet affordable NYC hotels with rooms for under $250 a night.
It wasn’t so long ago that budget hotels in New York conjured thoughts of bedbugs, thin walls, and dim light bulbs. That was until spots like Ace Hotel New York, Archer Hotel, and the Hoxton Williamsburg opened, offering stylish rooms for an affordable price, alongside trendy amenities, top-notch restaurants and bars, and public spaces even locals love.
These days, New York is full of reasonably priced hotels, from standbys like Freehand New York and Arlo SoHo to new spots like the Ace Hotel Brooklyn and Graduate Roosevelt Island. Whether you care more about a chic hotel room, a social scene, or simply the lowest price, you can count on these 10 affordable hotels in NYC to deliver a deal without compromising on quality.
Twelve years after Ace Hotel transformed Manhattan’s NoMad neighborhood into a destination worth visiting, the brand opened its second NYC property on the edge of Brooklyn’s residential Boerum Hill neighborhood and Downtown Brooklyn in the summer of 2021. Built from the ground up, the 13-story building features a concrete Brutalist facade designed by Roman and Williams. Inside, organic elements like green leather couches, wooden walls, and textile and fiber art pieces add warmth to raw concrete pillars and ceilings in the expansive lobby and throughout the 287 rooms.
As You Are, the ground-floor restaurant, uses Brooklyn’s multicultural culinary scene to inspire dishes like octopus ragu radiatore made with mezcal and orange, and lamb ribs served with garlicky yogurt and flatbread. In the morning, don’t miss getting a pastel de nata or black and white doughnut to go with your coffee at the bakery counter. If you must go into Manhattan, the A/C train at Hoyt Schermerhorn is just a block away.
Steps away from world-class shopping, historic architecture, and an abundance of popular bars and restaurants, the Arlo SoHo is a favorite for on-the-fly bookings and long-awaited getaways alike. More than 325 rooms of various sizes and layouts (city king, bunk room, two twins with a terrace) help to meet travelers’ needs, but it’s safe to say they all share one goal: to make the best possible use of tight spaces through savvy design and a polished, no-frills aesthetic. The brand’s other two NYC properties—Arlo NoMad and Arlo Midtown—offer similar rates for people looking for a place to stay in those neighborhoods.
The pioneer of affordable chic in Manhattan, the Ace Hotel in NoMad is still going strong, with 272 stylish rooms, rock-and-roll details, a buzzy lobby beloved by locals, and a ground-floor Stumptown Coffee shop.
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This NoMad hotel was developed with a community of influential, savvy travelers in mind. Case in point is the upscale-urban design by studio MAI, which includes raw-bronze shelving, rich fabrics, and hand-carved benches in a carefully devised layout to maximize space. Made Hotel, developed by the Devli Group, also anticipates travelers’ needs with a variety of venues, from neighborhood coffee shop Paper and tapas joint Debajo to rooftop bar Good Behavior. If you decide to venture out, Sutterheim raincoats and Foak sunglasses are available to rent, rain or shine.
Though most locals and tourists have had little reason to set foot on Roosevelt Island before, the 2021 opening of Graduate Hotels’ first NYC outpost near Cornell Tech’s campus should make everyone reprioritize a visit to this narrow island in the East River sandwiched between Midtown Manhattan and Long Island City in Queens. Like Graduate’s other boutique properties in college towns across the United States and United Kingdom, the 224-room Graduate Roosevelt Island pays homage to its local community with its own brand of quirky and futuristic design. A 13-foot tall statue of artist Hebru Brantley’s Flyboy looms over the check-in desk, while the rooms feature technologic details like lamp bases decorated with Morse code of the Cornell fight song and a neon light fixture inspired by a science project from a Cornell alum.
On the 18th floor, New York unfolds before you at the rooftop Panorama Room. While the eye-catching neon and acrylic chandelier over the bar will be the first thing you notice, the lounge’s key feature is its wall of windows that open to create an indoor-outdoor space and provide unobstructed views of the city. Don’t know how to get there? There are plenty of options, including the F train, the East River Ferry, and the Roosevelt Island Tram. Taking an Uber from LGA? Without traffic, you can get to the Graduate in less than 20 minutes.
The Freehand New York features midcentury-modern design by Roman and Williams, an abundance of artwork by Bard College students and alumni, and lots (and lots) of plants. Five categories of guest rooms feature options like bunk beds and “Three’s Company” (a bunk bed over a queen-size bed), meaning every group can count on cool lodging—without breaking the bank. While its ground-floor restaurant Simon & the Whale is currently closed and will reopen soon under a new concept, its lively rooftop bar Broken Shaker is open daily from 4 p.m. to 2 a.m. once again.
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At the Moxy NYC Chelsea, the 350 rooms feature smart, space-saving layouts by design firm Yabu Pushelberg, complete with foldaway furniture that you can use when you need it and hang up on the open pegboard wall when you need the floor space. Other key details that make these small spaces feel luxurious include rain showers, fast and free Wi-Fi, and floor-to-ceiling windows with iconic skyline views.
The hotel’s fun factor is only heightened at the Fleur Room, the 35th-floor rooftop bar with 360-degree views of Manhattan from the Empire State Building directly to the north and the Statue of Liberty to the south. Designed by the Rockwell Group, the bar’s botanical theme is a nod to the neighborhood’s Flower District complete with lounge chairs upholstered in floral fabrics and real blooms preserved inside resin high-top tables.
Making small spaces feel luxurious is the idea behind the Archer Hotel, a Midtown favorite located two blocks south of Bryant Park. That means five-star linens, subway-tiled bathrooms, and floor-to-ceiling windows that offer views of the bustling fashion corridors below. Although its ground-floor lounge, AVA Social, remains closed due to COVID, you can enjoy cocktails and Empire State Building views at the 22nd-floor Spyglass Rooftop Bar.
Housed in the former Rosenwach Water Tank Company factory, the Hoxton Williamsburg takes inspiration from its surrounding neighborhood. The 175 rooms are outfitted with locally made ceramics, bespoke bedding by Dusen Dusen, and books curated by neighbors.
Beyond the Brooklyn details, a midcentury-meets-urban aesthetic prevails, from brass accents and mohair headboards to raw concrete ceilings and subway-tiled showers. It’s a stylish approach from design team Ennismore and Soho House that carries through to the public spaces like Klein’s, the lobby-level restaurant situated in the building’s original brick carriage house serving American-inspired fare nightly for dinner and weekend brunch.
This European affordable luxury brand expanded in 2018, when it opened its second New York property amid the trendy bars, restaurants, and boutiques of the Lower East Side. (Its first NYC property is in Times Square.) Here, guests find a living-room-like lobby with a café and space to work, plus a rooftop bar with sweeping views of the skyline. Wall-to-wall windows make small guest rooms feel airy and bright, while extra-large king beds, high-pressure rain showers, and free movies and Wi-Fi ensure everyone stays in comfort.
As of September 13, 2021, all guests and visitors over the age of 12 are required to show proof of at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccination upon entering the citizenM New York Bowery hotel.
This article originally appeared online in March 2017; it was updated on December 18, 2019, and again on September 30, 2021, to include current information.
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