I was charmed enough by Chelsea Lodge to ask a staff member how it was so cheap.
“We don’t have the best Wi-Fi,” the guy said, adding a few other irrelevances, like the lack of cable. Of course, the shared bathrooms are the biggest reason. But, surprise — each room has its own glassed-in shower and sink, so exposure is limited. I’d add that the rooms aren’t very soundproof.
3. Larchmont Hotel, 27 W. 11th St.; 212-989-9333, www.larchmonthotel.com. Single rooms, from $107; doubles, from $140. I paid $129.
The Larchmont is in a terrific location for the price: a leafy side street in Greenwich Village, not far from New York University and Union Square. This one operates like a hotel — a bellhop even brings your bag up to the room, requiring a tip that unnecessarily bumps up the price.
With 66 rooms carved out from what used to be sizable apartments, it’s not precisely homey. But it reminded me of every Manhattan apartment I’d ever rented, down to the once-stylish moldings painted over repeatedly and to oblivion.
The Larchmont deserves kudos for making its shared-bath experience as pleasant as possible, providing guests with bathrobes and slippers, and satchels of soap and shampoo that make coming and going from your room as convenient as possible.
The free breakfast is a communal affair in a cramped but otherwise pleasant basement room. An employee whose sole job seemed to be to make toast upon request stood behind the counter and took orders as two copies of a newspaper floated around and young couples drank ice-cold orange juice and spoke to each other in European languages.
4. Harlem Bed & Breakfast, 54 W. 120th St.; 917-882-6222, www.harlembedandbreakfast.com. Single rooms, from $101; double rooms, from $141 if you book from third-party sites like BedandBreakfast.com to avoid a booking fee on Harlem Bed’s website. I paid $124.
Harlem Bed & Breakfast is in a brownstone four blocks from the 116th Street stop of the 2 and 3 express trains, right in the middle of semi-gentrified Central Harlem.
The rooms, whose beds have seen better days, come with kitchenettes, and the generous continental breakfast of high-quality croissants, bagels and muffins are left out all day, as is the pod-style coffee and tea machine. The reception desk is staffed until midnight. My room was dark, but complaining about a lack of natural light in a first-floor room in Manhattan is like complaining about the wind in Chicago.
I did have another complaint: Someone, probably a guest, left the front door open after midnight, enabling another guest to come knock at my door at 1:30 a.m. He asked if I could call the owner’s cellphone so he could get his key. I said he could, but I wasn’t happy about the situation.
5. Park Savoy Hotel, 158 W. 58th St.; 212-245-5755, www.parksavoyhotel.com. Single and double rooms, from $115.
One hundred and thirty dollars for a room one block from Central Park? With a private bathroom? Sounds too good to be true.
It’s true, but it’s not that good.
There’s nothing particularly wrong with the Park Savoy, except that it’s cramped, dreary and free of style. Ah, and that the sole window in my room looked across a narrow alley at a dark dirty window of a building that seemed equally depressing. And there’s no lobby to speak of, just a reception booth. In addition, the Park Savoy is the only place in this list without free Wi-Fi.