Month: September 2011

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Landmark 435 Guest House, Harlem, NYC – Review

The Landmark 435 guest house was one of the cheapest places in Manhattan that I could find to stay. The cost was £79 per night, for 2 people including breakfast.

The guesthouse is old, and whilst it has lots of charm is in need of desperate refurbishment. The facilities did work, but only just. The bathroom is shared and a bit funky.

The guesthouse comprises of two brownstone houses, right next to each other. They are run by a nice lady, and her small staff. The staff could have been more friendly.

The bedroom had tired and random furniture. The bedclothes were old, but did seem clean. Our bedroom had an air cooler, sticking out the window, just like in the movies. However, it was so loud we had to turn it off at night. It was fine before going to sleep though.

The breakfast was very basic, just bagels with suspicious butter.

Getting to the hotel is easy using an A Subway train, then a simple 2 block walk to the guesthouse.

The area is a little edgy. Some people might feel uncomfortable. The guesthouse owner told us too not hang around outside after 10pm. This is as the police like to keep the streets free of people, which goes to ensure that there is less crime.

In summary, whilst this is a cheap place to stay, it’s not in good condition, and does feel a dirty. It’s a quick ride downtown, and so not a bad place to stay when you consider everything. Worth staying at if you can’t find something better. If you don’t care about staying downtown stay at the Comfort Inn on Staten Island for nearly half the price. 

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Comfort Inn Staten Island Review

When I was in the UK trying to find a good value hotel to stay in the NYC area the Comfort Inn on Staten Island kept coming up.  It was cheap, only £53 a night, including a breakfast for 2 people.  That’s way cheaper than almost any other hotel in the New York area.  The reason?  Because it’s on Staten Island, which is a lovely place, but at least an hour from downtown Manhattan.  For our 3 day stay on Staten Island we actually enjoyed catching the bus from the hotel to the ferry terminal and then the ferry to Manhattan.  After a trip to Toronto we stayed in Manhattan, in Harlem, and we did enjoy being a simply train ride to downtown, but the room was more expensive, 100 years older and dirtier, and the breakfast was barely passable.

So in short, it’s a nice hotel, with good staff.  The breakfast is good, and the commute to the ferry and downtown Manhattan is not too bad.  But, it’s not downtown.

Getting from JFK to the Comfort Inn, Staten Island

We found it quite confusing when leaving JFK how to get to Staten Island.  Many of the trains had been suspended due to a fault.  A lot of bus and car drivers were touting for business.  Eventually we took the air train to the Subway station, then caught the Subway to Manhattan, eventually getting to the Staten Island ferry terminal.  That took 1.5 hours maybe, and cost very little.

The Comfort Inn normally runs a shuttle bus from the hotel to the ferry terminal and back.  We called the hotel but on that day but the shuttle wasn’t running due to staff shortage.  The hotel told us the public bus number to get on.  So we did, and enjoyed a bus ride across the island.  We got off the bus to find it a bit of a vague area.  The hotel is not visible from the road, but we walked through some car parks and found it.

On later days we used the shuttle bus.  You need to put your name on a list for the bus.  First come, first served.  If the shuttle is not running you can always get the public bus.  It’s only a few dollars.  Of course you can also take a taxi.

The Hotel

The Comfort Inn hotel is a new hotel, and won’t surprise anyone who has stayed in a similar hotel before.  The staff are friendly and helpful.  In the basement is the breakfast room, and self service machines dispensing snacks and drinks.  There is also a ice machine, which I think was free.

The hotel rooms are clean and modern.  We had a big flat screen TV which I found entertaining to flick through to watch all of the US TV shows.

The bed was king size, which whilst comfy, did take up too much space in the room, leaving not a lot of space to walk around it.  That’s really the fault of a small room and not the bed.

The air-con worked well, which was very welcome on the hot September days.

Breakfast

Breakfast at the Comfort Inn was excellent.  A comprehensive buffet style breakfast meant that there was a good choice for everyone.  There are English muffins, US muffins, eggs, cereal, toast and a waffle iron to make warm waffles.  Lots of coffee and juice.

Definitely a good place to fill up before heading out for the day.

Around the Hotel

There are not a great deal of stores around the hotel.  There is a restaurant and bar near by, across a few car parks.  There is a convenience store located near the main road.

Conclusion

A hotel of this quality in downtown Manhattan would probably cost 3 or 4 times the price.  So it’s great value.  The downside being that you have to take the ferry and bus to get to and from the hotel to downtown Manhattan.

If you intend to stay out late in Manhattan then stay downtown.  If you intend finishing the day early then Staten Island is not a bad place to stay at all.  The ferry ride is lovely in the summer, but probably very cold in the winter.

There are similar hotels on the mainland to the west of Manhattan, from which you could probably catch a bus to Manhattan, which is probably easier than the ferry.

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New York trip booked

All of our bookings for the New York trip are complete. With our departure date only 1 week away, finding accommodation has been difficult. I spent probably 5 hours in total researching and buying tickets and accommodation.

A quick run down of what we’ve booked (per person):

– 1 flight
– 4 train rides, including an overnight sleeper trip, and a short journey in business class (as it was only $2 more
– 3 bus rides
– 4 different hotels, including a lodge overlooking Niagara Falls and a classic brownstone guesthouse in Harlem.

We normally go away for long trips. About 4 months as a minimum. But this is a 2 week trip. It’s also costing £1,000+ per person. Way above our normal budget of £1,000 per month for the 2 of us.

This is a special trip though 🙂