Sunday, November 2, 2008

New York hotels (and expectations)

In January, I'm going to New York to scope out jewelry trends at the winter JANY Show. I got my flight and just needed to book a hotel room.

Well, maybe not "just."

Booking a hotel room anywhere can be an ordeal, but New York has so many hotels, it always takes me a while to figure out the best strategy. Even after five business trips, I don't have a surefire way of getting a decent room at a reasonable rate.

With the imploding economy taking its toll on hotel bookings, I thought I'd have a decent shot. Also, I hoped that there wouldn't be many tourists visiting during the coldest time of the year.

How to do this? Should I research the TripAdvisor reviews and call a hotel directly? Or try a discounted booking site like or Quikbook?

A few years ago I stayed at The Gershwin for $119 a night — their regular rate. It was more of a hostel than a hotel, but I didn't mind the hardwood floors or the lukewarm-but-never-hot shower because I didn't expect a luxurious room. And expectations are everything.

Now, being able to research and compare hotels down to the tiniest of details can be a curse. Until I saw someone's review, the speed of the elevator, for example, had never been a consideration. I just want a clean, quiet room. I don't need a rooftop pool or a monogrammed robe. I would, however, like a working thermostat and free wireless.

Anyway, here's what I did: I went to Bidding for Travel, checked the winning bids on Manhattan hotel rooms, and then gambled at Priceline. I bid $170 for a 3.5-star room in Midtown West. After that got rejected, I bid $175 and added Midtown East as a parameter. Bingo!

I know it might have been smarter to reserve a hotel on my credit card and then cancel when I found a better rate closer to my trip. But, in case you haven't noticed, I don't like to leave stuff up to chance.

By the way, here's where I'm staying. Looks nice, doesn't it? After my trip, I'll let you know if this "treasure of rare distinction" lives up to the hype.


Naomi said...

Bill had another good suggestion: The Wolcott (, which he said he liked better than the Gershwin.

One other thing: Have you tried Trip Kick ( The info helps you figure out which rooms you should try to book (e.g., if you're looking for a view, an oversized bathroom, a 42-inch TV, etc.) and which ones to avoid (ice machine or elevator noise). Many of the hotels I've stayed at aren't on the list, but I hope the site continues to add other hotels.

Mary said...

Hey Naomi. Marriot Hotels are always a safe bet. Good to know you can get a Marriot Hotel in NYC for $175.00/night. I should also recommend you join the Marriot Rewards program which is their frequent guest program. There are Marriot hotels and resorts all over the world so no matter where you go, you can always find one. I've stayed a number of free nights in hotels by using my points. And, they have credit cards etc. where you can earn points as well.