Despite calling it home for five years, finding short-term lodging in New York City has always stressed me out. It stressed me out when I was an intern trying to find an affordable yet dignified place for my mom to stay when she visited me (because she sure as hell wasn't going to stay in the sketchy floor-level studio I shared with a classmate that summer) and it still stresses me out years later even on a manager's salary and with a partner to split costs with. I've realized the difficulty comes less from what I technically can afford and more so on principle.
There's a massive disconnect between how much it actually costs to stay in New York and what I believe I should have to pay for the quality of what's being offered. I know it's pointless to compare New York to Southeast Asia— the cost of living is so dramatically different— but I can never get past the fact that $300/night would have you staying somewhere downright palatial in Thailand, Vietnam, or Laos— but the same will get you a glorified closet in the Big Apple. Airbnb does helps curb the costs a little, with the cost of an Airbnb in New York City averaging out at $200/night. However, Airbnb isn't always an option for everyone when considering safety and accessibility concerns.
So I was actually pleasantly surprised when I found out about the Boro Hotel in Long Island City. With rates starting at $167/night it was just a hair cheaper than most Airbnbs I was considering, and only a twenty minute commute from Manhattan. Upon my first return trip to New York City after moving away, I actually kind of wanted to have a "tourist" experience there and do some of the things I felt like I never had time to do when I was living/working there. The Boro Hotel was perfectly located for that.
I headed to the Boro Hotel after crashing with a friend in Manhattan for a night. Getting there was a straight shot from Union Square on the yellow line. The hotel is located close to three different subway stations, the closest of which is 39th Avenue (although that station was out of service half the time during out stay). From that station it was a short walk up five small blocks to the hotel, which stands out from the more residential buildings surrounding it.
Check-in itself was straight-forward and uneventful and I was quickly taken to our room. It was at this moment I discovered that the elevators in the hotel are painfully slow. Seriously, if you stay here it's best to just use the colorful stairwells on the premises.
Our room was a corner unit that was surprisingly spacious for a New York City hotel room, and also came with a king-size bed. The room has a very minimal, airy, and industrial feel— that said, I think it may have been a little too minimal. With the exception of one of the walls being covered in pale green wood panelings, the area surrounding the bed feels a little bit bare. I would love to see them put up some artwork or some accent lighting to frame the bed.
The bed was also made with something slightly more substantial than a typical top sheet. I'm assuming this was because we stayed there in the summertime, but it was kind of weird to see the texture of the mattress show up through the sheets. I kind of wish they would've added a light cotton throw or something to accent the bed and provide extra warmth for those of us who like to crank the air conditioning. Strangely, the marketing photos for the hotel do feature both a throw blanket and interesting lightning, but they were missing from the room.
Our room also came with a balcony, although we didn't end up having time to take advantage of it much. Since our room was facing away from Manhattan the view wasn't as great as it would have been if we were on the other side of the hotel. The view was also slightly obstructed by the metal bars running across the front of the building as a design motif. An Interesting design decision.
There were a few details in the room that I actually did appreciate, like the floor-length mirror near the front entrance and the well organized shelving and storage area too. It made me feel like I could actually keep the area around the bed clean and clutter-free.
So while I did find the room itself to be a little lackluster, I really liked the design of the bathroom. Particularly the staggered sink which provides a lot of surface area for storing all of my make-up and toiletries while creating visual interest. The tiles used in the bathroom are also really cute. The shower is minimal and separated from the rest of the bathroom by a clear pane of glass and comes with one of those one-to-two time use loofahs. The toilet is located on the other side of the sink and separated by an actual wall instead of a glass pane (smart).
I think where the Boro Hotel really shines is in its lobby and common areas. It just feels so spacious yet inviting, and I wish they could've brought some of that warmth into the actual rooms themselves. There's plenty of room to lounge and they provide daily papers for guests to read. There's also a cute cafe located on the other end of the lobby, making it easy and convenient to grab some coffee on your way out the door. The cafe also serves food but I didn't end up eating there during my stay because I wanted to prioritize all the amazing NYC food I had been missing.
There is also a cute roof-top deck on the top floor which has an amazing view of Manhattan.
Honestly one of the best parts about staying here, besides the price, is the neighborhood. I've lived in Brooklyn and Manhattan but never spent as much time in Queens, particularly in Long Island City/Astoria, but I found the area the hotel was located in to be so charming and full of good food. My favorite was Arepas Cafe, which has bomb—you guessed it—arepas, and Commissary Market which is located by Queensboro Plaza station and a great place to grab coffee or a smoothie before getting on the train. There are also two climbing gyms in the area, tons of bars, and Moma PS1 is not too far either.
It's also a really safe area, although I did have one uncomfortable interaction with a random man following me off the train towards the hotel and attempting to ask me for personal information, like if I lived nearby. This is less an indictment of the neighborhood and more so of creepy dudes. Don't do this!
The Boro Hotel has elevators, in-room accessibility, accessible bathrooms, and roll-in showers. Although to reiterate, the elevators are annoyingly slow.
Despite a few (mostly decorative) areas for improvement, I still think that Boro Hotel is a really good value when compared to other hotels in New York. If you're paying out of your own pocket but still want to stay somewhere airy, bright, spacious— with a hint of design, then Boro is one of the most affordable options at your disposal.
I think it's also a really good option for families or first-time visitors to the city. A twenty minute subway ride across the East River will take you directly to Grand Central, Times Square, and all of the other tourist sites in the Midtown area. These hubs also make it easy to get anywhere else up or downtown in Manhattan. It's also pretty easy to get to Brooklyn via the G train which is about a ten minute walk from the hotel.
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