Saturday, April 9, 2011

Hostel living: Shared lodging to guests vacation in New York for cheap

Hostels have a reputation for being a college student's budget bunker, but there's more to these communal lodges than just a cheap overnight stay.

"It's a great environment to meet travelers," says Rachel Borg, reception manager
at the New York Loft Hostel. "When you're in a hotel, you don't get to meet others, but in a hostel, you're already in a room with others."

With locations across the Big Apple — some have even sprouted up in Brooklyn
— hostels are a wallet-friendly way for locals to be a staycation tourist or a spring-break host without the cleanup.

891 Amsterdam Ave., (212) 932-2300

Soak in historic Harlem with a stay at this hostel on Amsterdam Ave. Housed in a Victorian-Gothic building on W. 103rd St., Hostelling International is a short distance from iconic Harlem landmarks such as the Apollo Theatre and Sylvia's Restaurant, making this the perfect rental for culture buffs.

The hostel is also great for families — unlike many hostels, there are no age restrictions when travelers 18 and under are accompanied by an adult — and beds start at a wallet-friendly $29 per night.

A fully stocked kitchen/dining room in the basement lets families cook their own meals (there's a supermarket just two blocks away), and common rooms with flat-screen televisions, pool tables and video games keeps kids entertained at night.

201 W. 87th St., (646) 490-7348

Located in the heart of the upper West Side, Jazz on Amsterdam is the ideal starting point for museumgoers — the hip new hostel is just minutes by foot from Central Park and Museum Mile.

Twenty-four hour Internet kiosks and complimentary Wi-Fi in common areas make it easy to throw together itineraries on the fly, and the hostel provides free brochures and maps at the door. Jazz on Amsterdam staff also lead weekly events and outings for visitors who don't have time to do the research.

Both private and shared rooms and dorms are available (starting at around $50), each secured by key-card access.

Small lockers make it safe to leave valuables behind, and public lounges, cafe areas and a roof deck serve as a great respite from the hectic city.

249 Varet St., Brooklyn, (718) 366-1351

Size is one of the biggest perks at this newly renovated 1913 loft in East Williamsburg.

"We have huge dorms," says reception manager Rachel Borg. "We provide a lot of space."

The hostel also boasts a basement bar, a gourmet kitchen and terrace with a Jacuzzi.
Despite these luxurious amenities, rates are still affordable and cheaper than those of its Manhattan counterparts. Dorm beds go for between $20 and $50 per person and private rooms start at $100.

The large outdoor rec area is great in warmer months and guests are encouraged
to take advantage of the spacious picnic tables and barbecue grills.

251 W. 20th St., (212) 647-0010

Immerse yourself in the downtown lifestyle at the Chelsea International Hostel, one of the largest indie hostels in New York City. Located right off Greenwich Village, it's the ideal spot for New Yorkers who want to get lost in the fashion and art worlds.

Lodging options include shared rooms with two to four beds or private doubles. Rates are seasonal, ranging from $39 per person in the spring for a two-bed dorm to $170 for a private room during peak summer months.

The hostel offers a complimentary continental breakfast every morning, and free Wi-Fi is available in common areas. Staffers also hold pizza parties and pub crawls, a great way to see the nabe and get to know your dorm mates.


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