I stayed in New York's Hostelling International in August 2013 and I loved it! Of course it isn't a five star hotel and there are the usual compromises that have to made when staying in a hostel but it was fantastic for the price.
Location: The location was great. Two minutes walk from the Subway station from which you can catch line 1, 2 and 3 (you can get to Times Square on this line in approx. 15-20 mins). Very short walk (5-10 mins) to northern Central Park and a fairly short walk (15-20 minutes) from Harlem. The Upper West Side is generally very quintessentially New York with fire-escaped tenements but is fairly quiet for the inner city.
Safety: I felt very safe (and I am both young and female and was travelling on my own). From what I was told the area used to be bad but now it seems to be very nice. I encountered no issues whatsoever (not even catcalling!) even if I was walking back late at night. There are always staff in the lobby (and in the halls) and you have to swipe your card to get into the rest of the hostel.
Staff: The members of staff were phenomenal. Every single one that I met was cheerful and very very helpful (even when I arrived, hadn't slept for two days and couldn't work out what money I was trying to give him).
Rooms: I stayed in the premium dormitory (6 people rather than 12 and you get breakfast and shower slippers). I'm not sure that it would make too much difference if there were 6 or twelve people in your room (I think it probably depends who is in there) but the breakfast and shower slippers were worth having. Several different people came and went in the time that I stayed and they were all really friendly and chatty. No problems there. There are fairly large lockers to keep your stuff in (although you have to bring your own padlock) and it was very clean. The only minor criticism that I could think of would be that the beds in my room were made of metal and were very creaky (annoying when you're trying to creep into bed) but some dormitories that I saw had wooden beds.
Amenities: The bathrooms were absolutely fine. They were always clean and not very busy. I never had to wait to have a shower or use the sink and the water was always hot. There were also some great tours and trips that were co-ordinated by the hostel and advertised with sign-up sheets in the lobby. These were all free or very cheap. I went on the Harlem gospel one on the Sunday and it was great.
All-in-all, a great experience!
Tip: if you're travelling back to the hostel on the subway late at night you'll probably be on an express train that misses out some stops. The stop closest to the hotel is 103rd Street (on Broadway). Make sure that on the stops leading up to this one that you listen to the announcement of the next stop. It sometimes stopped at 103rd Street and you could get off there but sometimes skipped this station. If it does skip the station, get off at 96th Street and walk north. Don't stay on the train until 110th Street and Central Park North (I made this mistake one night and it didn't feel particularly safe - there was a lot of staring).
Have fun! It'll be great! :)
- 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