Normally, when I visit New York City, I drive down to one of the suburban New Jersey towns, stay at a hotel and commute in. This time out, I decided to use some frequent flyer points to fly down and stay at the Hostelling International hostel, the first time I used a HI membership. So, what can I say?
Commuting: the hostel is a short block away from the subway station for the 1-2-3 Metro train. It's also two blocks away from the M60 bus, which goes all the way to LaGuardia airport. If you're armed with a very good map (which you can get from the hospitality counter), exploring the city on your own is going to be a breeze.
Rates: extremely low, given the neighborhood's location on Manhattan. Further discounts are available with the HI membership, which you can get from their website or from select outdoor stores such as Mountain Equipment Co-Op in Canada.
Rooms: remember that you'll be staying with other people, some of whom will be on different arrive-depart schedules than you. That said, the rooms are pretty clean and the beds will have clean sheets put on. And compared with some of the European hotels I've stayed in recently, there's lots of space to work with. The beds are also parked beside combination lamps and power unit stations, so you can charge up your phone beside you. No tables or chairs though.
Storage: guests have one locker. If you didn't bring a lock with you, the check-in will sell you one for $3 US.
Towels: the website does advertise that the room price includes a towel; however, there is a good possibility that the towel allotted to your bed may be commandeered by another guest. It's recommended that you pack one along, just in case.
Internet: wi-fi is available in both the common areas and individual rooms. Your room number will be your password, and it's available at no extra charge. Signal strength was good during my stay.
Showers and washrooms: these are communal, so shower sandals are recommended. Water is consistently hot.
Food: there's a small cafe featuring pastries, sandwiches and soft drinks on the premises. Outside there are two deli-grocery stores within a two-block radius, along with a couple of locally-owned pizzerias and a pub. In the basement there's a large kitchen space, so guests can prepare their own meals if they're so inclined.
Common areas: there are several common rooms and an outdoor yard, featuring board games and a casual library. A TV lounge in the basement is also used for small stage revues which are occasionally scheduled.
Tours: the hostel operators also organize and conduct social tours of NYC, from walks of Central Park to nightclubbing to pub crawls. These are very well attended and are a great way to get to know your fellow guests.
Laundry: on the second floor.
Overall: a fellow guest remarked to me that he decided to stay at this hostel because he had such a good experience with its sister unit in Santa Monica. I can certainly believe it. I'd certainly stay here again if I wanted to go to a major museum exhibition or sports event. Also, bear in mind that your first experience with hostelling is likely to be colored by your impressions of your roommates, as well as the staff; however, if you don't mind a sacrifice in privacy and space, hostelling can actually be a pretty good experience.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- HI-New York is located in a landmark building on the Upper West Side. One block from Broadway and a main subway line. Minutes from glorious Central Park. Situated near Central Park and Columbia University, the hostel is in a historic Victorian Gothic-style building on the Upper West Side. It organizes walking tours, sporting events, group outings to concerts and more. There is capacity for 672 guests, and facilities include internet access, kitchen and laundry. From an all-day walking tour to a viewing of a New York movie in our cozy TV room to a quiet cup of coffee in our cafe, Hostelling International New York has everything you need to make your group happy. Play the latest games on Play Station 2. Check your email without leaving the hostel. Wash and dry your clothes in our new laundry room on the second floor. Pick up subway/bus MetroCards, sundries, NY souvenirs, calling cards, and more. The hostel is located steps from the subways and minutes from Times Square and other major NYC attractions. Ask our friendly staff what they can do for you. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Hostelling International - New York Hotel New York City