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The holiday season is an enchanting time to visit New York, as lights twinkle throughout town, store windows draw crowds to Fifth Avenue, and the Rockettes line up and kick at Radio City. And we won’t even mention the shopping opportunities.
Indeed, these and (many) more reasons draw multitudes of tourists to New York in December, which can mean packed hotels and higher than normal rates. Luckily for Cheapos, there are some great budget hotel options in the Big Apple, many of which are near some of the city’s top Christmas activities.
Here are five hotels that will put you in the Christmas mood—without spoiling your holiday budget. For many more suggestions, check out our guide to New York’s best cheap hotels.
The Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center is one of the city’s most iconic holiday sights. Lit by more than 30,000 tiny lights and topped by a Swarovski star, the twinkling showstopper will be all lit up through January 7, 2013. Suggestion for a hotel near Rockefeller Center:
The Hotel @ Times Square
59 West 46th Street
Doubles from $119 a night
Located on 46th street (between 5th and 6th Avenues), less than four blocks from the tree, the three-star Hotel @ Times Square offers clean and comfy rooms with pleasing decor at rates that are great for this part of town. We loved the the hotel’s 19th-century building and period touches downstairs.
For travelers who don’t get nervous and wobbly-legged at the mere sight of ice skates, we’d strongly recommend donning a pair and cutting loose at one of the city’s great outdoor ice rinks. Wollman Rink in Central Park might be the most picturesque, although the rinks at Rockefeller Center and Bryant Park also pack ‘em in. For detailed information on hitting the ice, read our guide to ice skating in New York.
A budget hotel pick near the Central Park skating rink:
871 Seventh Avenue at 55th Street
Boasting a whopping 600 rooms just south of Central Park and its ice skating rink, the decor in the three-star Wellington might be a bit tired, but that location is fabulous and those rates are budget friendly. Some rooms are pretty small, so double-check the square footage before booking.
Taking in the extravagant Christmas windows along Fifth Avenue is another favorite (and cheapo) holiday tradition. Start at Central Park and head south along Fifth, paying special attention to Bergdorf Goodman (at 58th Street), Saks Fifth Avenue (at 49th Street), and Lord & Taylor (at 39th Street).
For more windows to look out for, read our post on the best Christmas windows in New York.
A cheap hotel suggestion near the windows:
157 West 47th Street
Doubles from $119
We’re excited about the Stay Hotel, a chic budget boutique hotel that recently opened just north of Times Square (and a very quick walk over to the stores along Fifth Avenue). The Stay Hotel’s 208 rooms may be small, but they’re very well designed, totally new, and outfitted with artsy touches, like funky lights, cool artwork, and eclectic furnishings. The lobby, too, is tricked out and stylish. Sleep like a fashionista, pay like a Cheapo.
Once you’ve taken in the windows along Fifth Avenue, keep heading south to 34th and west a block to 6th Avenue, where Macy’s department store dominates Herald Square. The store pulls out all the stops at Christmas, attracting lines of tourists to gaze at its windows, as thousands more pack the store. It never fails to be a buzzing, dizzying and chaotic swirl of Yuletide merriment. (Not for the claustrophobic.)
A cheap hotel pick near Macy’s:
The Gershwin Hotel
7 East 27th Street
Doubles from $109
The two-star Gershwin Hotel is a fun spot, offering 150 rooms in various configurations, from family rooms with private baths to dorms. The hotel’s interior pays homage to the New York of the 1970s, with art installations in the lobby, lounge and hallways. Some, but not all, rooms get in on the act, as well. The Gershwin is located just off 5th Avenue, about a 10-minute walk to Macy’s (and an even shorter walk to the Empire State Building).
Heading further downtown, Union Square entices shoppers to its annual holiday market, open daily between Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve. Dozens of artisans sell handcrafted gift items, clothing, jewelry and other interesting gift items. Stroll the booths, hot cider in hand, and enjoy the downtown holiday scene.
A hotel pick near Union Square:
The Seafarers & International House
123 East 15th Street
Doubles from $104
One of the most popular budget hotels in our New York guide, the Seafarers & International House is a religious-affiliated guesthouse offering 84 bare-bones (but clean and cheap) rooms one block from Union Square. The hotel is run by the Augustana Lutheran mission, and was originally intended as a temporary home for sailors, but is today open to everyone. A great deal.
More cheap sleep options
For more suggestions, check out our editor’s picks in our New York hotel guide.