The most interesting new trend in New York hotels is the mainstreaming of low-budget establishments. No longer is the penurious traveler relegated to roach hotels in dodgy neighborhoods; "cheap" lodgings - costing no more than $125 per night, slightly more than half of the city's $200 per-day average (before the 13.25 percent occupancy tax and $2 occupancy fee are tacked on) - can be clean, comfortable, secure and, occasionally, stylish.
All of our favorites offer rooms with private baths and (in almost all cases) color televisions and telephones. They're located in great neighborhoods.But be warned: Our picks offer terrific value in one of the nation's most expensive cities, but they are still tourist-class establishments. A few toss in an upmarket amenity - a VCR perhaps, or an in-room CD player. But for the most part, you should count on bringing your own hair dryer, alarm clock, bathrobe and shampoo.
Pack lightly, as you may have to schlep your bags up stairs. If you drive, staying at these places means no on-site parking. For air conditioning, expect window units. Your room will be small. The view likely will be uninspiring. You can usually forget about attentive, personal service. Harried desk clerks are juggling too many other tasks to check you in or out smoothly.
Amsterdam Court Hotel (Midtown/Theater District)
This elegant 110-room hotel is slightly at odds with its setting next to the Peepland/Bare Elegance Topless Bar & Lounge. Rooms are spare, stark and minimalist, all beige and black with tubular furniture (open shelves serve as a bureau). Bathrooms are sleek, white and functional.
226 W. 50th St. between Broadway and Eighth Avenue, 212-459-1000. Rates normally are $135 to $145, but Quikbook (1-800-789-9887) often has doubles for $125. Overnight parking: $12 to $17 in numerous lots between Broadway and Eighth Avenue.
Beacon Hotel (Upper West Side)
With such gourmet markets as Zabar's and Fairway as neighbors, the best thing about this 200-room, 35-floor hotel is that all rooms come with fully equipped kitchenettes. Otherwise, it's your basic corporate hotel - pleasant, characterless - only with tinier rooms.
2130 Broadway (at 75th Street), 212-787-1100, (http://www.slsbeaconhotel.com). Weekend rates are $125 (weekdays run $30 to $40 more). Overnight parking: $20 at 76th Street between Broadway and Amsterdam.
Broadway Inn (Midtown/Theater District)
The second-floor lobby is magnificent - exposed brick walls, fireplace (decorative for now), cozy couches, bistro tables. The rest of the place, though pleasant, doesn't rise to these lofty heights. The rooms are minuscule but tastefully decorated, and you get warm and attentive service.
264 W. 46th St. between Broadway and Eighth Avenue, 212-997-9200, (http://www.broadwayinn.com). Rates are $85 to $135. Overnight parking: $30 at numerous 46th Street lots.
The Carlton Arms (Gramercy Park)
In this wacky 54-room hotel, every guest room is an original work of art. The clientele is as young, hip and adventurous as the interiors. Among the favorites is the submarine room, with its "view" of the Lost City of Atlantis, and the stuffed-animal room, with plush mammals even clinging to the ceiling. No TVs; there's a public telephone in the second-floor lobby.
160 E. 25th St. between Third and Lexington avenues, 212-679-0680, (http://www.hotwired.com/
gallery/96/04/carlton.html). Prices range from $62 to $76; some shared baths. Overnight parking: $18 on Third Street between 24th and 25th streets.
The Cosmopolitan (TriBeCa)
The entrance - a narrow glass door next to a deli - is so tacky you'll mistake the Cosmopolitan for a welfare hotel. But once you're inside, the sleek blond wood lobby is reassuring. Rooms are cozy, with white Formica furnishings, armoire, ceiling fan and a desk with modem-ready phone. The bathroom, with three-foot tub, is tiny. Fabulous location - six steps from IRT express and close to SoHo and Chinatown - as well as all the hot TriBeCa restaurants.
95 W. Broadway at Chambers, 212-566-1900, (http://www.cosmohotel.com.) Rates are $89 for a single, $119 for a double. Overnight parking: $18 weekends on Reade, off of Hudson.