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Budget-Friendly Areas to Consider for Lodging in NYC

You might think it’s early to start planning for WorldPride, but we hear rooms are going fast! If you’re planning to visit New York in June, we suggest you start booking accommodations as soon as possible. After all, you’re competing with millions of other visitors for limited space! If you’re coming to the city on a budget—or if all the Times Square hotels are already full—here are several under-the-radar areas to consider staying in.  For each neighborhood, we’ve listed approximate commute times to Midtown, where WorldPride events like Pride Island, One World, and the Closing Ceremony will take place. Visitors who have never been to New York can also orient themselves with this guide to basic NYC geography.

nyc building with fire escape
Photo by Daryan Shamkhali on Unsplash


Most of what you think of as “New York City” is located on the island of Manhattan. Nearly every square inch of it will be packed during Pride, including busy areas like Midtown, Flatiron, Soho, and Greenwich Village. But there are some hidden gems, including Harlem and Lower Manhattan, where you might find lodging at a hotel, hostel, or homestay.


Harlem is the broad name for the area of Manhattan lying north of 125th Street. Some of the most beautiful brownstones in the city, plus historical sites like the Apollo Theater and the home of Alexander Hamilton, are located in Harlem. When you see names like Morningside Heights and Hamilton Heights in your lodging search, go for it! It’s only a 20-minute ride to Midtown from these neighboring Harlem areas via the A and D express trains. There are also communities farther north to check out, including Washington Heights and Inwood, where it takes 30 minutes or more to reach Midtown.


There are several hostels and under-the-radar boutique hotels in Lower Manhattan. Check out Chinatown, the Chinese enclave full of markets and great eats, or the Lower East Side, an immigrant haven-turned-party hub (you might also see this area described as The Bowery). These adjacent neighborhoods in the southeast end of Manhattan provide budget-friendly lodging and are about a 20-minute ride to Midtown on the Q or D express trains. Neighborhoods like the East Village, Little Italy, and Soho are also within walking distance.



One downside to Brooklyn’s rapid development and cool-kid appeal: visitors often pay Manhattan prices to stay in its more popular and accessible neighborhoods. Located across the East River from Manhattan, Brooklyn is nonetheless a treasure trove of bargain lodging, especially if you’re looking in the homestay category.


Check out Greenpoint, the northernmost neighborhood in Brooklyn, for a few affordable hotels and several homestay options. It can be difficult to get around here by public transport, but a ferry or NY Water Taxi can get you across the river quickly for the price of a subway fare. Crowded Williamsburg does offer a few tempting hits on Airbnb, but most of them are located in the artist communities of East Williamsburg and Bushwick. Both are accessible to Manhattan via the L train. Budget about 45 minutes to get to Midtown from Greenpoint, East Williamsburg, and Bushwick.


Other areas of note include Bedford-Stuyvesant (a.k.a. Bed-Stuy), Crown Heights, and Prospect Lefferts Gardens. These friendly neighborhoods are located deeper in Brooklyn but boast some of the borough’s best food and most interesting architecture. There are strong homestay options here, plus a few bed-and-breakfasts and small hotels. While most accessible train lines run local within Brooklyn, some (like the 2,3,4,5, and Q trains) run express in Manhattan. Budget 45 minutes or more to reach Midtown from these Central Brooklyn neighborhoods.


Farther south are options like Boerum Hill, Gowanus, and Sunset Park. Boerum Hill is a predominantly residential neighborhood full of families, located within walking distance of Downtown Brooklyn. You’ll know Gowanus by its industrial architecture, but many of these spaces have been converted into residential lofts. It takes about 35 minutes to reach Midtown from these adjacent areas. Sunset Park is named for its high-altitude park, affording gorgeous views of Brooklyn, New York Harbor, and the Manhattan skyline. It takes 45-50 minutes to reach Midtown from here (also, a sub-section of this area is known as Industry City—check out those affordable lodging options as well).



Among the most diverse urban areas in the world, Queens is the borough best-known for its close-knit residential communities. While you won’t come here for the hustle and bustle of Manhattan, there are probably more affordable lodging options here than anywhere else in NYC. After all, both major airports in New York—LaGuardia and JFK—are located in this borough.


If you see a hotel or other lodging within budget in Long Island City, we say go ahead and book it. It’s only 10 minutes to Midtown from one of the neighborhood’s many train lines. Long Island City is located just across the East River from Manhattan and boasts an increasing number of residential high-rises with stellar skyline views. Just east of Long Island City are Astoria, Sunnyside, Woodside, and Jackson Heights. Given the proximity to LaGuardia Airport, there are plenty of rooms still available for Pride in these neighborhoods, and they’re only a short distance from Midtown (15-30 minutes).


New Jersey

Sure, New Jersey is a completely different state, but its northeastern shore lies just a stone’s throw away from Manhattan. Don’t hesitate to check out hotels and other lodging in Jersey City, Weehawken, Hoboken, and Union City. Each of these areas is about a 20-minute ride to Midtown via the New Jersey Transit, which costs just a little more than subway fare. Plus, staying in these neighborhoods could be a good option if you fly into Newark Airport, located in Elizabeth, New Jersey. Best of all, you’re closest to the beautiful beaches of the Jersey Shore!

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