It seems like just about everything is more expensive nowadays. Anyone who drives a motor vehicle knows that filling up a gas tank costs roughly the same as a four-course meal. (I, of course, had the prescience to avoid this pitfall, which is why I take the subway to work!). Okay, so I live in New York, where a car isn’t really a necessity, unless you have the means to afford one and that’s only if you also have the scratch to spree on monthly parking; which, last I checked, costs about the same as my rent. Well, at least the parking space is bigger than my apartment.
Opting for a stay in a furnished apartment instead of a hotel is a growing trend.
Speaking of living quarters, keeping tabs of how much a one-bedroom costs to buy in Manhattan? You know—if my parents would have only listened to me 25 years ago and bought that boarded up loft on the edge of Tribeca… Yeah, I was only six, but was known countywide for constructing my sandcastles on the outskirts, away from the other kids in the sandbox. I was a maverick amongst a sea—er sand—of triteness.
As many across the U.S. know, hotel rates are yet another entity billowing into the stratosphere, especially in major cities such as New York, San Francisco and Chicago. A recent report from NYC & Company calculated that hotel rates in New York in 2007 clocked in at a record-breaking average of $304 per night. Visiting the Big Apple isn’t financially easy for a family anymore, so it takes some savvy on the part of travelers and agents to secure more affordable space.
Furnished Quarters persuades travelers to “Stay Different.” The company provides lodging not at hotels, but in apartment buildings strewn across New York and other cities in the northeast. Now, Furnished Quarters is designed more for travelers or families who are staying in a particular city for at least one month (an average stay is three months), but provide a great alternative to spending that time at hotel.
The reason: price and value. As mentioned above, hotel rates hover on average around $300, meaning many hotels charge way more, and in New York, few and far between command less. The average one-bedroom apartment provided by Furnished Quarters comes out to $200 per day and that gets you not only a beautifully-appointed apartment with all the modern touches and amenities (washer and dryer and dishwasher to name two), but also includes all of the apartment building services like a gym, pool and gaming room. These are extras that a regular hotel often doesn’t provide free of charge.
For shorter New York City stays, there are smaller independent properties around that are less marketed as those belonging to the Marriott and Hilton ilk. Yes, they may not have all the frills of full-service Midtown properties, but what you are losing in trappings, you are making up for in price. The New York Inns Hotel Group has a listing of properties throughout the cities with rates starting around $100.
In Europe, hotel pricing may be similar to that of the U.S., in some cases lower, but when you take into account that the U.S. dollar doesn’t go as far as it used to there, then pricing in some instances can become prohibitive.
Here’s a funky alternative for the willing and able: stay at a real monastery. Spain, Italy and France all have monastery lodging at pricing as low as $35 a day (www.monasteriesofspain.com). Although the amenities and services may be spartan, think of all that extra money you’ll save to spend on knickknacks!