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Cheap and chic sleeps in New York

Carlos Cantres is the guest service agent at the Jane Hotel, in a historic 1908 brownstone in the West Village.

DIANE BAIR FOR THE BOSTON GLOBE

Carlos Cantres is the guest service agent at the Jane Hotel, in a historic 1908 brownstone in the West Village.

NEW YORK — It’s no secret that this is one of the most expensive cities in the world to visit. Most of that dough goes for a hotel stay. When the Hogg Robinson Group, a travel services company, released its biannual list of priciest cities on the globe, based on average hotel room rate, the Big Apple came in sixth. Trip Advisor also ranked New York as the sixth most expensive place for US travelers, noting that an overnight in a hotel will set you back nearly $350 per night, on average.

And if you think you’ll get around paying the big bucks if you forgo luxury and chic, and opt for one of those Plain Jane chain hotels, even those cost twice as much here as they do elsewhere.

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Still . . . it’s New York. And it’s only about four hours away by car (or cheapo bus). Since we can only couch-surf in the Big Apple some of the time, lest we wear out our welcome and our friends’ couches, we’ve made it our mission to sleuth out the city’s finest cheap sleeps. We bypassed the scary-looking joints, in favor of these cool, conveniently-located, not-too-pricey places. “Not too pricey,” in New York terms, means you can stay for under $200 per night; at some of our picks, you can stay for half of that.

Pod 39 is based on Japan’s capsule hotels: small rooms, each with bathroom and media hub, and made for sleeping.

POD 39 HOTEL

Pod 39 is based on Japan’s capsule hotels: small rooms, each with bathroom and media hub, and made for sleeping.

THE JANE HOTEL If the Jane’s walls could talk, they would have some wild stories to tell. Ru Paul once lived in the rotunda. Shows like “Hedwig and the Angry Inch” played here, when the building was home to the Jane Street Theater. And, survivors of the Titanic disaster stayed here during the inquiry into the ship’s sinking. At that time, the circa 1908 brownstone served as the American Seamen’s Friends Society Sailor’s Home. These days, you might feel like you’re in a cruise ship (in steerage) if you bunk in one of the standard cabins; they are a super-cozy 50 square feet, with a single bed, a table, and a 26-inch flat-screen TV. Communal bathrooms are down the hall. But, the price is right — those minuscule rooms go for as little as $99 per night. And, you’re in the trendy West Village. And, the bar scene is super-hot, set in a Victorian parlor graced by a mounted mountain goat.

If a closet-size room is too cozy for your taste, upgrade to one of the roomier (250 square feet) “captain’s cabins.” These have full-, queen-, or king-size beds and private bathrooms; some also have terraces, views of the Hudson River, and (in the case of rooms 301 and 501), glimpses of the Statue of Liberty. This is a historic building with lots of dark wood, skinny hallways, and loads of character (but little soundproofing). So, if you need total quiet to sleep, beware; the West Side Highway is right outside the door. Standard rooms $99 and up; captain’s rooms from $250.

113 Jane St., 212-924-6700, www.thejanenyc.com

POD 39 Based on Japan’s capsule hotels, Pod hotels are basically a sleeping space, making stylish use of about 100 square feet of space. The second pod to hit New York, the newly-opened Pod 39 has 366 rooms, each with an en suite bath and media hub (you can plug in your device and watch images on the flat screen TV at the foot of the bed). These “chic on a budget” hotels are a huge hit with the European backpacker crowd, and thanks to the addition of private bathrooms, Americans are embracing the concept as well.

We tried one of the bunk-bed rooms — done up in a color scheme of red, white, and black — and found it comfy for sleeping, if not a place we wanted to lounge in. The lobby is bright and high-tech, with an inset panel of iPads for guests’ use, and the rooftop lounge (on the 17th floor) is fantastic, done up with mosaic tables, fairy lights, and amazing views of the city. We didn’t love the Murray Hill location, but Lexington Avenue is close by; we even walked to Times Square. They are opening an on-site taco bar shortly. Rooms $75-$295.

145 East 39th St., 212-865-5700, www.thepodhotel.com

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NYMA, THE NEW YORK MANHATTAN HOTEL If you would rather not shoehorn yourself into an itty-bitty hotel room, here’s a great option. This former Red Roof Inn, located between Broadway and Fifth Avenue, offers 171 good-size rooms, decorated in pleasant tones of toffee and toast. They offer two types of rooms, kings and doubles, and they are constantly refreshing them, so nothing feels dingy or dated. Deluxe kings have mini-fridges and microwave ovens, a good place to reheat leftover dumplings from nearby Mandoo Bar. The hotel offers free continental breakfast, and there is a big fitness room, although you will walk off that gourmet ice cream sandwich from Coolhaus as you roam the city. (Tip: Ask for a room on the 32d Street side for good views of the Empire State Building.) Rooms $119 to $329; $179 is pretty typical.

6 West 32d St., 212-643-7100, www.applecorehotels.com

THE ROGER Formerly the Roger Williams Hotel, the newly-renovated, reimagined Roger is like a baby W Hotel. It has street cred, too; Wyclef Jean stays here frequently, and rappers like Lil Wayne and 50 Cent, and pop singer Kelly Clarkson have hunkered down under the plump white duvets. Located in the Flatiron District, this property is sleek and modern, with a small lobby bar and an upstairs dining room. Since this is a Midtown hotel, there are deals to be had on weekends when the business crowd departs. For example, a room that goes for $479 midweek might sell for $175 on a Friday.

131 Madison Ave., 212-448-7000, www.therogernewyork.com

THE Z HOTEL If you like discovering the next big thing, this one is for you. Located in Long Island City, Queens, an up-and-coming neighborhood (home to Silvercup Studios, where “30 Rock” is filmed), the 100-room Z has a Jazz-Age vibe and absolutely stunning views of Manhattan from floor-to-ceiling windows. (Those bridges look like sculptures when they are lighted at night.) Although you’re in Queens, you’re surprisingly close to Midtown — maybe 10 minutes by car — and the Z will give you a lift into the city on its hourly shuttle for free. You probably won’t feel like strolling around the ’hood after dinner — it’s an industrial zone with lots of chain-link fence — but the hotel has plenty of style, a rocking lounge, and the views of the Manhattan skyline are great. The prices aren’t too bad, either; weekend rates this fall start at $195. 11-01 43d
Ave., Long Island City, 212-
391-7000,
www.zhotelny.com

Psyched to go? Here are more ways to save:

 During New York’s second annual Hotel Week, Jan. 4-20, you can stay at one of 20 hotels for $100, $200, or $250 a night. Some of these places typically charge upward of $500 a night. This is a shameless ploy to fill beds during the super-slow, post-holiday season. So, why not take advantage? Participating hotels include the hip Gansevoort (both locations), $250 per night; the charming Library Hotel and the top-rated Hotel Giraffe (each $200), and the Pod 39 Hotel ($100). Call the hotels directly and mention “hotel week,” or visit the hotel’s website to reserve.

 An app called Hotel Tonight enables you to book a last-minute hotel room for up to 70 percent off. It’s available for iPhone and Android smartphones. Read reviews at www.hoteltonight.com.

Diane Bair and Pamela Wright can be reached at bairwright@
earthlink.net.

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