If you're looking for a hotel room for under $200 in Manhattan, maybe what you're looking for isn't a room. Maybe it's a pod, a cabin or a capsule. • The city's newest budget hotels make the most of minimal space with hip decor designed to make a guest feel exceptionally cool, even in a tiny room. There are still some traditional rooms available at a good price, too, especially if you're willing to walk up stairs or share a bathroom. • About five years ago, $150 seemed affordable. Despite the lousy economy, prices have gone up and $200 is a reasonable ceiling for budget hotels in New York. Helen Anders, Cox Newspapers
230 E 51st St.; toll-free 1-800-742-5945 or thepodhotel.com. Here's your best bet if you're dying to stay on New York's East Side but don't have much money.
Small but contemporary rooms are designed to have the look and feel of a railroad sleeper car, right down to a pull-down hook for your coat and lighted icons over the door to let you know if one of the communal bathrooms is free. The least expensive room — called the Single Pod — includes a twin bed, safe, small desk, small flat-screen TV, iPod dock and WiFi for $149.
Shared bathrooms are cool, with rain-head showers and granite counters. Get essentially the same room with bunk beds for $169.
Want a double bed and your own bathroom? Those start at $179.
113 Jane St.; (212) 924-6700 or thejanenyc.com. Can you handle a communal bathroom in order to stay in one of the city's hippest neighborhoods? If so, the Jane is an amazing deal. An updated 1912 building in the Far West Village, near the hip Meatpacking District restaurants and clubs as well as the High Line elevated park, the Jane has vintage train theme.
A standard room costs $99 and includes a single bed — albeit with 300-thread-count sheets — flat-screen TV, DVD player, iPod dock, WiFi and safe. The Jane does have rooms with private baths, but those, called Captains Cabins, run $255. The hotel will also lend you a bicycle.
570 10th Ave.; (646) 449-7700 or yotel.com. This is probably the most-talked-about new New York hotel, and right now it has introductory rates starting at $149. For that, you get a sleek, contemporary premium room with a queen bed, TV set in the wall, WiFi and breakfast, and even a little bathroom with a rain shower. I'm told the concept is supposed to blend the Japanese capsule hotel style with the feel of a first-class airline cabin. (Until now, all Yotel locations had been near European airports.)
The hotel includes a Frank Gehry-designed theater and a club lounge. Its Hell's Kitchen location is a quick walk to theaters.
11-01 43rd Ave., Long Island City; zhotelny.com. Starting at $189, this is going to be your high end of affordable, and it's also in Long Island City, Queens, across the East River from Manhattan. But it's a brand-new luxury hotel in which every room has a view of the skyline through floor-to-ceiling windows.
Your room — and it's truly big enough to be called a room — will have a flat-screen TV, iPod dock, fridge, safe, robes, WiFi and full bathroom. And, get this: You can make phone calls free to anywhere in the world.
Each hotel floor has an outdoor lounge, and there are big lounges on the ground floor and roof. Seven subway lines can zip you into Manhattan. Or you can explore Queens.
Those are the new hotels. Now, let me catch you up on some hotels I wrote about five years ago that are still around, still good and still affordable, though they cost more than they did then. Because these are older properties, I'll address things such as air-conditioning and elevators:
250 W 77th St. at Broadway; toll-free 1-1877-468-6835 or hotelbelleclaire.com. This Upper West Side hotel has been renovated, and the price has gone up, but there's a summer special starting at $175 for a room with private bath (shower; no tub at this rate), iPod dock, flat screen, fridge, AC and WiFi. It has an elevator.
Chelsea Inn, 46 W 17th St.; toll-free 1-800-640-6469 or chelseainn.com. This homey European-style hotel in Chelsea is a great option for those who don't mind climbing stairs, with rooms starting at $129 for a shared bath and $179 for a private bath. You'll have a TV, fridge, sink, safe, WiFi and air-conditioning, as well as a free breakfast.
318 W 20th St.; (212) 243-4499 or chelsealodge.com. At this immaculate, quirky inn, the toilets are down the hall but the shower and sink are in your room. Rates start at $124. The sun-splashed rooms also have TV and WiFi. Air conditioners are put in the windows in May and removed in the fall. Again, stairs.
244 W 56th St.; toll-free 1-877-489-4100 or davincihotel.com. Rooms at this Midtown Hotel just east of the Theater District start at $159, twice what they cost five years ago but still a deal (even though the hotel's website adorably refers to the availability of dial-up Internet). Your room has TV, a safe, a fridge and AC in summer, along with a private bath. For $189 they'll throw in a full Italian dinner.
East Village Bed & Coffee
110 Avenue C; (917) 816-0071 or bedandcoffee.com. Lower Manhattan is still tres cool, and you can stay here in Alphabet City for rates starting at $120, which includes tax, coffee, AC and a CD player. You'll share a bathroom and climb stairs, but it's a fun atmosphere. Pet the resident dogs cautiously.