Monday, October 10, 2011

NYC Wedding Guests Guide On the Cheap: Where to Sleep

Carrie Bradshaw (sort of) slept here.  66 Perry Street
Photo courtesy of citywalker.com
A wise New Yorker once said, "See a penny, pick it up.  All day long you'll be washing your hands because picking up money from a city sidewalk is almost as filthy as licking a subway hand pole".  Or something like that. 

The point is, it's really hard to save a penny when you're attending a wedding in the Big Apple, so saving a dime is, like, nearly out of the question.  That's not to say it can't be done, but on top of the high prices for just about everything (ever seen a box of Cheerios on sale for $6.99?  Welcome to New York.) there are also the "tourist traps" that can cheat you out of a pretty (and clean) penny.  So today I'm sharing a few things that I've learned to help you navigate your trip to New York without losing your mind, hair or electricity. 

Between the online lists of bargain hotels (like this one here), hotel deals on sites like livingsocial.com, groupon.com and jetsetter.com, and (my very personal favorite if you've never used it) the search function through google maps, I'm going to sidestep the obvious discussion of getting deals on NYC hotels, as anyone who's savvy enough to be reading a blog is also more than capable of google searching, so instead I'm going to move on to two things you may not have thought of exploring - rental properties and alternative locations. 

Where to Stay Chapter One: A Home Away from Home
If you really want to experience the daily life of a New Yorker, why not live like one?  Contrary to the stereotype of New Yorkers being unapproachable (which they are not) and rude (which they are not unless you stop walking right in the middle of the sidewalk or you steal their cab, both of which are highly inadvisable), Gotham residents are actually quite proud of their respective neighborhoods and like to expose neophytes to the glories of their borough, resulting in a surprisingly large number of people who rent out their apartments to visitors while they themselves are away on business or vacation.  As we speak, we have friends from LA who are living down the street for the next two months in an apartment temporarily vacated by our other friends who are spending the same two months abroad in Indonesia.  Yes, we were the matchmakers, and yes, I'm expecting a shout out in the program or on a cocktail napkin not unlike the one my Beth was the subject of here

Sounds fun, no?  Your very own NYC pied-a-terre, replete with the requisite rolling shopping cart and mismatched dishware from Fish's Eddy, all priced well below what a city hotel room would run you and with more space.  Here are three sources for finding your perfect pre-war getaway for the weekend:

1. VRBO.com - we actually used this site with much success when we went to Cape Cod a few years ago for my friend Nicky's wedding.  The listings all have tons of photos (some, like this one, even have video) as well as lots of helpful reviews, and we were really happy with our experience.  With prices by the night or by the week for most listings, you have the flexibility to book for just the weekend or for a full fledged getaway.

2. homeexchange.com - This is like the Freaky Friday of house swapping.  During a pre-arranged time period, you (and yes, you can be the Lindsay Lohan character) move for the weekend into Jamie Lee Curtis' apartment while JLC is, at the exact same time, in your apartment eating Activia yogurt, natch. 

3. good ole word of mouth - just like our LA/Indonesia swap mentioned above and also just like the philosophy behind the bestselling book The Secret, which I never read but was told this is what it's about, sometimes you just have to put it out into the universe that you're looking for something, and it will come to you.  Your college girlfriend who lives in the city or your aunt with the gorgeous townhouse on Park may know of an open apartment or someone who is away on business for the month. 

There are tons of darling neighborhoods full of charm and character, and knowing which ones you should inhabit are half the battle.  The first place to start is with a local "Top Ten" list of great neighborhoods, like the one Time Out NY puts out annually.  Check out their 2011 list here.  If in doubt, email me.  I'll give you the juice on the area you're checking out, provided it's not in Queens.  I know nothing about Queens except that they have really good Thai, Greek and Indian food.  Maybe someone could write a guide to Queens for me.  Oh wait, they already did.  I guess that just means I'm lazy. 

Where to Stay Chapter Three: Hotels in New Jersey
You may think this is a joke, but I'm serious when I suggest the fair state of Chris Christie and fist pumping.  Jersey City, located half a sneeze from downtown Manhattan offers some more pricey hotels, like the Westin, but is also home to a Candlewood Suites that offers kitchenettes, laundry and living areas in each of its units.  Jersey City is super accessible, served by the PATH train, which is just silly New Jersey speak for subway, and also by ferry, which I highly suggest for at least one trip, preferably around sunset and preferably after a stop at the Whole Foods for a bottle of wine and a portable cheese and cracker assortment.  There, I just saved you $125 on a dinner cruise.  Tourist trap.  You're welcome.

Wow, who knew all this talk about sleeping with in NYC would be so long?  I guess I'll save eating, shopping, and general "fun"-ing for another post.  After all, I probably lost you 400 words ago to VRBO.com, where you have endless opportunities for New Yorkers' favorite pasttime - surreptitiously peering into other people's apartments.   

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