When it comes to finding the perfect place to stay in New York City, most people immediately think of hotels. However, if you’re seeking a more unique and immersive experience during your visit, why not explore some alternative accommodations? Or, maybe, you are on a budget and need to save some bucks? In this blog post, I will uncover a range of options beyond traditional hotels that will provide a comfortable stay and a different experience – or even options that don’t break the bank in creative ways. So, let’s check some accommodations alternatives besides hotels in New York City.
If you are looking for an apartment for a short stay in New York City, Sonder can be a great option! Sonder is an apartment rental company that aims to provide a unique experience that combines the comforts of a home with the amenities and services typically associated with a hotel – and their units are hotel-licensed, which means they must comply with hotel safety codes and pay hotel taxes, and the short-term rental law doesn’t cover these units (hence why the Airbnb law doesn’t apply to them). Sonder has apartments in 40+ cities in 10 countries – approximately 9,000 units live worldwide – including New York City, with units in Manhattan, Queen and Brooklyn. They have studios and apartments with up to 3 rooms, and you get better prices when booking for more than 7 days.
Testimonial from someone who has stayed at a Sonder apartment – from a blog reader:
“My wife and I stayed at one of the Sonder units in the Financial District (1 Platt St.) for 5 days. The apartment had one bedroom (I know they have larger apartments). After making the reservation, they contacted us to download their app to manage the booking. Initially, I was a bit concerned about the bureaucracy, but, in reality, the app worked very well, and the information was quite clear. We could also use the app to communicate with the staff, who always responded quickly.
The apartment was spotless; the sheets were also clean and comfortable. The kitchen was well-equipped, and we had everything we needed. Regarding the TV, it didn’t have access to traditional channels; instead, we had to use Chromecast with our mobile phones. Some people might find that inconvenient, but it wasn’t a problem for me.
The check-in process was streamlined through the app I mentioned. There was no need to wait in line at the reception. On the check-in day, we received an access code for the main entrance via the app (in case it was closed), and getting into the apartment was quick and easy. Check-out was also done through the app, without any major difficulties.
In terms of value for money, when I started looking for accommodation in New York City, I was surprised by the hotel prices. Finding a well-located hotel with good reviews at a reasonable price was challenging. Moreover, when I did find something interesting, the rooms were often tiny and lacked amenities like a kitchen. Therefore, I considered Sonder to offer good value for money because we had a decent apartment and a lot of comfort.
After this experience, I see the advantages of Sonder: good value for money; apartments larger than most hotel rooms at a similar price point; the convenience of a well-equipped kitchen; quick check-in; the building has some interesting areas, such as a gym, a rooftop space, and a lounge with internet access; in addition to that, we really liked the location, close to famous tourist attractions and subway stations.” Denner Diniz
Before getting started, is good to remember that renting an entire place – apartment or house – for less than 30 days in New York City through Airbnb is illegal. You can rent a room (see next topic) or rent an entire place for over 30 days. Of course, when you search on Airbnb, you will still find many options. Some people will say that they rented and nothing happened, if you wanna try your chances, do it at your own risk. I just think it’s important to be aware of the legislation. There are some exceptions – you can check it here – and remember that Airbnb acts as a marketplace between guests and hosts, neither leasing or owning any property.
But let’s pretend you are staying for 30 days or longer – an Airbnb apartment or house can be an excellent choice to stay, not only because you will have the chance to live like a local but also saving some money by cooking some meals at home. I don’t know about you, but I don’t love the idea of staying in a hotel for 30 days. I think we all miss the “home” feeling.
If you are unfamiliar with Airbnb or haven’t used it, make sure to read the reviews, paying attention to the listing’s details and the house rules and communicate with the host to ask questions and be confident before booking it.
Airbnb began as a way to stay in a room in someone else’s home – and, besides being more affordable, staying with a Host is a great way to meet someone new and experience the city like a local. And recently, Airbnb introduced new features and tools to improve Airbnb Rooms. Among the news, is the Host Passport, that helps you get to know your Host before booking your stay – you can tap it to view a larger photo and details Hosts have shared about themselves, including where they went to school, what they do for work, a fun fact about themselves and much more. And the Airbnb Rooms is now a category featuring a curated set of 1 million private bedrooms. Listings include access to shared spaces, like the kitchen, living room, or backyard. Also, the new privacy features ensure that all Airbnb Rooms clearly indicate if the bedroom door has a lock and the listing page also shows whether the bathrooms are shared or private and whether people other than the Host will be in the home during your stay.
I feel these improvements will help people that didn’t feel safe about booking a room on Airbnb to be more confident about it. Plus, renting a room can be more affordable than a hotel sometimes!
Common can be an excellent choice for someone coming to the city and looking for a long-term rental – without the hassle of officially renting and furnishing an apartment. They rent places based on the coliving concept. It is a modern form of communal living in which residents get a private bedroom in a furnished home with shared common areas. Coliving is popular in major cities as a means of affordable living for students, workers, digital nomads, or individuals relocating. Unlike the traditional apartment lifestyle, coliving is attractive to tenants due to affordability, flexibility, included amenities, and a sense of community. The apartments and rooms have everything: furniture, wi-fi and even cleaning services! Common has more than 15 apartments in New York City!
Have you ever thought about exchanging your place with someone else in another city or country? Well, thanks to some Kindred, that’s possible! Kindred is a closed network for home exchange – it’s not a vacation rental platform. That means there is no financial exchange between guest and host. By offering available weeks in your home, in return, you receive travel credits to stay in other members’ homes rent-free. There are no nightly rental fees when you book a trip – you’ll only cover the cost of cleaning + a service fee per stay. Kindred looks to connect members who have something in common (like a mutual friend or a shared network) to stay in one another’s homes.
- You need to apply to be part of it – it’s free! And this link allows you to jump their 28,000-person waitlist
Do you love pets? Would you be willing to split your vacation time between enjoying the destination and taking care of a pet? Then you need to know TrustedHousesitters. It is a platform that connects homeowners needing pet care with trustworthy individuals willing to house-sit and take care of pets in exchange for accommodation. It’s a smart solution for pet owners who may need to travel or be away from home but want their pets to be well-cared for in their absence – and also for those who love animals and are ok with taking care of them in exchange for a free stay. To be part of it, you need to have a membership starting at $129 per year. You can also create a free account – it would be just a browsing account so that potential members can get an idea of what’s available in terms of house sit options. You just have to supply an email address, and no payment details; however, if you want to apply for a house sit, you need to select one of the membership tiers then.
Remember that TrustedHousesitters doesn’t provide “free travel” – the accommodation is part of a value exchange where no money passes hands, but there are associated costs, expenses, and pet care duties. The platform facilitates the opportunity for both local and global travel as either a vacation or a lifestyle choice.
This can be an excellent option for people traveling on a tight budget and looking to build connections and meet new people. Couchsurfing is a social networking platform that facilitates a form of hospitality exchange, allowing travelers to stay with local hosts in various parts of the world. The platform operates on the principle of cultural exchange and the sharing of experiences, fostering connections between people from different backgrounds.
To get started, you need to create a profile on the Couchsurfing website or mobile app – remember to provide a detailed and genuine representation of who you are. Then, you can search for hosts in the location you plan to visit. You can filter this search based on various criteria, such as location, availability, and host preferences. When you find a potential host, you can send them a personalized message to introduce yourself and explain why you’re interested in staying with them. The host has the option to accept or decline your request to stay with them. Remember that Couchsurfing is not just about finding a free place to stay; it’s also about building connections, sharing stories, and learning from one another. Also, consider hosting before looking for a stay – it helps build your profile on the platform and makes you more trustworthy.
Hope you like these recs! Do you know any other interesting accommodation alternatives?
Content creator and journalist in New York City. Here, I share lifestyle, beauty, NYC tips, thoughts, and the struggles about living in the most amazing city in the world! I’m not gonna pretend to be another person: I’m a Brazilian immigrant and I think this is my soul, it is part of who I am. I hope you enjoy my content! Follow me on Instagram!