Best budget hotel in New York City near downtown: Howard Johnson by Wyndham Long Island City – review and guide
This article details the inexpensive hotel in New York City near downtown that we stayed in during our trip to the US. So if you’re looking for a cheap hotel in downtown New York with a high rating and good guest reviews, we recommend you book a room at the proven Howard Johnson Hotel, which, among other things, includes very good hot breakfasts in the price, which are realistic to fill up on before a tour of New York City.
New York Hotels and Rates
Although the choice of hotels in New York City is quite large, the main problem for tourists is the lack of cheap accommodation in the center (the minimum prices there are around $200 per room per night). In addition, there are a lot of old hotels with shabby rooms. So find a good cheap hotel is not so easy – you need to read many reviews and be well versed in its areas to book a suitable option (preferably near the center and not far from the subway).
Good to know: In general, the prices of hotels in New York City’s Queens area are much lower compared to Manhattan (budget $100-150 per day). And there are generally better rooms (newer, plus often with free breakfast and fast Internet). To avoid spending a lot of time on the road to Manhattan, we advise you to choose a good hotel near the subway. This makes it easy to get downtown and to the airport. Look for accommodations as close to the East River as possible, in the Hunter’s Point area or in Queensbridge Park near the Queensborough Bridge.
How we chose an inexpensive hotel in New York City
After a brief analysis of hotel prices in Manhattan, where the major attractions are located, we realized that they were too high for our budget trip across the United States. So we decided it would be better for us to stay in a neighboring neighborhood (like the Bronx or Queens) where lodging is half the price, and preferably near a bridge so we could walk to Manhattan, as we like to do.
After looking at a number of options and reading a lot of reviews, we ended up choosing the inexpensive Howard Johnson Hotel in New York with clean and very comfortable rooms. It is close to the Queensboro Bridge on Long Island, just two subway stations from 5th Avenue and Central Park. The hot breakfasts (they are included in the price) were very good for us, and we had a nice view of the skyscrapers from the window.
Also, since we had an evening flight from NYC, it was very important for us to be able to leave our luggage at the hotel after check-out to go to one of the NYC museums during the day. And it turned out quite conveniently that at the Howard Johnson’s you can do this absolutely for free.
By the way, there were a couple of other good options near our hotel, but they didn’t work out for our price, since we booked the hotel pretty late. If we had started planning a trip to New York 3-4 months in advance, we would have saved money on lodging. But we can only advise you a couple more inexpensive hotels in New York – Hotel Vetiver and The Vue Hotel. There are comfortable hotels and you may be lucky to get a room for only $95-110.
Our hotel in New York is the Howard Johnson by Wyndham
We really liked this hotel in New York, so we now recommend it to solo travelers. It is in a quiet neighborhood of Queens, 300 meters from the 21 Street-Queensbridge / 41 Avenue subway station on the F line, next to the Queensborough Bridge, which is only a 40 minute walk to Manhattan (which we have done many times ourselves). The price for the room was only $130 per night with all taxes included. The value for money is one of the best options of any hotel in NYC.
The guiding principle of the Howard Johnson’s American hotel chain is for its guests to be excited about their stay, feeling the difference with other hotels. Since hospitality never goes out of style, they have been trying for decades to provide their guests with a warm welcome and a friendly and memorable environment.
Interesting fact: One of the advantages of this hotel is its bright and modern design and improved room amenities, such as bedside lamps with USB ports for easy gadget charging and backlit mirrors. All of this allows it to keep up with the times and exceed guest expectations.
How to get to the Howard Johnson Hotel on Long Island
Getting to the Howard Johnson Hotel on Long Island from New York City’s JFK Airport proved to be very easy and convenient by subway (the distance is 24 km). It is faster than taking a cab downtown, and much cheaper. It took us about 50 minutes the whole way from the airport to the hotel.
- First we followed the signs to the AirTrain with our belongings. We quickly boarded the train and took it to Jamaica Station for $5 per person.
- There we changed to the blue line of the subway, paying an additional $2.75 per ticket.
- After a few stations we took the orange line again and made it to 21 Street-Queensbridge, where we got off the train and walked up the street.
- Then wheeled our suitcases for about 500 meters on fairly flat pavement through a couple of intersections and soon we were at the hotel.
It’s worth noting that getting on the subway with large suitcases during rush hour was not very convenient, but it turned out to be quite possible. A cab ride from the airport to the hotel would have cost more (about $45-50) and could have taken even longer due to the heavy traffic on New York roads.
The official check-in time at the hotel is 3:00 pm. We just arrived around that time and luckily we didn’t have to wait in line. The manager checked us in fairly quickly and gave us two cards for the electronic lock of our room on the eighth floor, briefly told us about all the hotel services and warned us that smoking was prohibited throughout the hotel and that they had checkout until 11am. We then took the elevator up to our room and, after leaving our belongings there, we headed back outdoors for our first walk in New York City.
And also at check-in we were asked to leave a security deposit, which was mentioned in the booking conditions. We gave $100 in cash, which we immediately put in an envelope and put in the safe. The early check out (right after breakfast at 7am) caused us a bit of a problem getting it back as the front desk manager didn’t have the key to the safe. But we were just about to leave our suitcases in storage to go to the Natural History Museum lightly. And when we returned in the afternoon to pick up our things to go to the airport, we got our room deposit back quickly and without any questions.
Important to know: According to our observations, despite the fairly fast work of the two managers, closer to evening at the reception a small queue was forming for the check-in at the hotel. People who had just arrived spent about half an hour waiting to check in.
We found the rooms at the Long Island City Howard Johnson by Wyndham to be very clean, comfortable and stylish. We hadn’t expected this from a budget hotel in New York, but they exceeded our expectations! It is true that they did not seem very spacious, obviously less than the stated area of 27 m2.
The rooms are divided into three categories:
- Rooms with queen-size bed or king-size bed.
- Room with queen/queen-size bed and balcony
- Family room with 2 double beds (+ balcony)
There is also a separate room with a king-size bed for disabled guests.
Useful tip: It is better to take a room on a higher floor for a better view of the city.
Each room has a private bathroom with a shower, air conditioning, flat-screen cable TV, telephone, free internet (Wi-Fi) and a small desk. There is a small locker for storing things (closet). And of course a coffee maker, plus 4 coffee brew bags (2 of them decaf).
As far as we saw, all the rooms are pretty fresh and the linens are like new. There is fairly comfortable furniture and all the necessary appliances, including an iron and hair dryer. The bed is large and moderately firm with cool pillows, a warm blanket, and nice fresh linens. The air conditioning in the room is pretty quiet, and there is also a small window vent (a rarity for hotels in the US) which is very handy for airing the room. The bathroom is spacious and bright, there are plenty of towels and they are all practically new. Soaps and shampoos are of pretty good quality.
Prices and reservations
Rates at the Howard Johnson’s are some of the most affordable in New York City. The cheapest room with a small double bed costs about $100. Quad rooms and rooms with a balcony cost twice as much. We looked at prices on Booking.com and ended up reserving the hotel there at a 30% discount.
On your own, you can book a room at this hotel online with the possibility of cancellation (a little more expensive) or without a refund in case of your no-show (a little less expensive). The difference is only about $5.
Important to know: When choosing an accommodation in New York and comparing prices in different hotels do not forget to take into account the state tax (8.875%) and accommodation tax (5.875%). That adds up to a total tax of 14.75%. Plus city tax per night ($3.5 per room per night). And hotels may have additional charges for cleaning and maintenance, as described in detail on the site in advance. So the final cost of living may be up to 20% higher than the quoted room rate.
Prepaying for a Room
While we were still preparing to go to the USA we first encountered a situation when the hotel tried to charge our card for the cost of accommodation (including taxes) almost immediately after booking, about a month before check-in. It is true that it was written in the booking conditions, but we did not expect that the money on the card would be frozen so early. Due to the fact that there was not enough money on the card, our reservation was almost canceled.
We had to urgently put money on it and contact the manager of the hotel in order not to lose the room. On the second time the funds on the card were successfully frozen as a guarantee of confirmation of our arrival. By the way, you can cancel a reservation for free three days before arrival. Even cheaper is non-cancellable booking, when you make a 100% prepayment for a room with no possibility of further changes.
The hotel price includes a fairly hearty hot breakfast, which begins in the early morning. They came in handy for us, as they included not only the standard cereal with milk, waffles, toast and oatmeal that we were used to during our car trip to Miami, but also boiled potatoes and eggs, fresh fruit and yogurt, several kinds of donuts, rolls, muffins and bagels, as well as meatballs and pork sausages. For a 2-star hotel, this is a sumptuous feast! In general, no one will go hungry.
Good to know: Although breakfast is listed as “continental American” on Bookings, the Howard Johnson’s staff actually serves a full buffet from the early morning hours.
Service and amenities
Despite the fact that the hotel has only two stars, the level of service is quite high. There is even a set of additional services.
- The hotel has a 24-hour front desk, tourist bureau and luggage storage.
- On the first floor there are vending machines with food and drinks, a common lounge for waiting, a gym, where you can even work out with an experienced trainer (for a fee).
- A small conference room is available for events.
- Concierge services are available by arrangement.
- There is free parking for cars in front of the hotel on the street, but its size is limited. You can put about 5-7 cars.
The hotel has a gym.
And room for small meetings or conferences
We liked the Howard Johnson Hotel in Queens on Long Island very much and found it quite cozy. Its main pluses are its convenient location near Manhattan and close to the subway, as well as the excellent breakfasts. We recommend it for accommodation to all travelers who want to see New York City at its best and not pay too much for lodging. The prices are pretty adequate for a hotel of this level. We paid $130 a night in early June with all taxes, and it was really inexpensive (although you can book even cheaper months in advance).
According to our observations, the main contingent of guests are budget tourists. Among them were quite a lot of Chinese (about a third of all hotel guests), as well as employees of small companies who came to New York for a general meeting or training (there is a conference room right in the hotel building).
Conveniently, the JFK airport can be reached by subway with 2 transfers in less than 1 hour. So the Howard Johnson Hotel is very convenient to stay overnight before flying out of NYC. Plus you can leave your luggage at the front desk for free after checkout and browse the city while waiting for your flight.
The only thing the hotel lacks is a restaurant where you can have lunch or dinner. But considering the fact that not many people spend all day in New York City, maybe you don’t need one, because it’s no problem to eat in the city. As a last resort, you can have pizza or other food delivered directly to your room or go grocery shopping in the building at the intersection of the next street.
If we will come to New York and want to stay near the center and take the subway to the airport, we will choose the Howard Johnson’s in Queens. You should do the same!
Other inexpensive hotels in New York City
Hotel 91 ($115-175) is a small 3-star hotel in the Little Italy neighborhood at an adequate price.
Hotel Newton ($130-260) – The hotel is conveniently located in upper West Manhattan. The rooms are not very modern, but are kept in perfect condition and clean.
The Manhattan at Times Square ($120-250) – An inexpensive hotel near Times Square. Rooms are fairly old, but neat and clean.
Nap York ($30-60, by the hour) is a capsule hotel on 7th Avenue in midtown Manhattan.
World Hotel ($47-91) is a very basic hotel in Chinatown between Wall Street and Times Square. For the very frugal who only need an inexpensive night’s stay in New York City.
U.S. Pacific Hotel ($68-130) is a budget option in Chinatown for unassuming tourists. You have to take the stairs to your room.
Royal Park Hotel & Hostel ($92-122) is a decent hostel 800 meters from Central Park, with private rooms and single rooms.
For other lodging options, see our article – which NYC hotel to choose.
How to book a hotel in New York by yourself
To book a hotel in New York City, you do not need any agency or travel agency. It is pretty easy to do it yourself on Booking.com. You can read information about each hotel and see photos of rooms and prices for your travel dates.
- For online booking of hotels in New York you will need your bank card number, which should be entered into a special form on the website to guarantee your arrival. Usually nothing is debited from your card until you check in. However, we came across cases when the hotel may block the amount of advance payment in advance, which will be mentioned in the conditions of your booking.
- Upon check-in you may also be charged a security deposit (Security Deposit) – in cash or by card. Usually it equals the value of one night’s stay at the hotel, but sometimes you pay a fixed amount. You will get it back when you check out.
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