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If You Need a Place to Stay in New York: Hotel 17

Since we’re talking about hotels, let me share about the one where we stayed in New York for the Prince concert. At first we [Nduku, Najwa, Mike and Jenny] were going to stay in one using an employee discount Joanne English, a friend of mine, was offering. The issue, being a week before Christmas, the only ones available were not in Manhattan. The plan was to get a room at a hotel on Staten Island until my homeboy Chad explained the only way to get there was by ferry. Then we considered New Jersey, but we didn’t want to keep paying the tolls and fighting the traffic.

Eventually, we went the William Shatner route and took Priceline.com for a spin. Amazingly, we found a hotel a few blocks from Union Square that was in line with our price. Of course, when you’re paying $150 for a night in New York, you have to wonder what the catch is. With bed bugs being the latest craze in travel [and full body x-ray machines to get on a plane], we took to the reviews and felt pretty comfortable with this option.

Hotel 17 is no Mara Safari Club, but it more than got the job done for the price. Let’s say we spent a night without any bite marks, rude customer service desk agents or stolen personal affects. Actually, Hotel 17 lived up to its billing

The Newly Renovated Hotel 17 is a chic budget hotel conveniently located in Downtown New York near the East Village, Gramercy Park, Greenwich Village, and Washington Square Park. A few years ago Woody Allen filmed his movie Manhattan Murder Mystery at Hotel 17. Madonna has stayed here, as well as many other celebrity artists, models, and actresses.

Accommodations in our safe and friendly hotel are perfect for tourists, students, and international travelers on a budget.

Don’t get all starry-eyed though. Woody Allen didn’t film at Hotel 17 because of its glamorous Honeymoon Suite because there isn’t one. The rooms are small. Itty bitty small. Hobbit-sized small. So small that if they took out the furniture, it would be Attica with carpeting. And when you turned out the lights, it was pitch black. Wesley Snipes black! Rooms facing the street probably weren’t as dark, but our view from the window was of a brick wall.

Overall, though, I have to say if I had to do Hotel 17 again or pay twice the price to be able to run sprints in my room, I’m going back to Hotel 17. This is what the New York Times had to say about it:

It’s easy to see why the rooms of Hotel 17 have been popular photo shoot locations for magazines like Vogue. My corner room on the eighth floor had adjacent walls with different wallpapers, neither of which quite matched the bedspread. Red blinds. Blue carpet. The dark furniture had the heavy look of an older era, and the molding was lacquered so heavily it seemed encased in amber. Everything combined to give a pleasantly noir-ish feel. Despite a renovation completed in 2005 that tried to update the look while keeping the place’s flavor — carpeting in the hallways, modern phones in the rooms — some shabbiness here can’t pass for shabby-chic: wallpaper was peeling in one spot; the carpet had a ripple. And yet I’ve stayed in rooms that cost twice as much that weren’t so clean. Moreover, the comfortable, unpretentious mattress did its job and delivered the sleep I’d hoped for.

If there is a catch, though, it’s the “shared” bathroom. There’s a sink in the room to brush your teeth, shave whatever you shave and some soap to take home for those financially-lean months, but when you have to tinkle and want to shower, the facilities are in the hallway — accessible by everyone staying in that hall [there are several bathrooms per hall though]. It’s kind of like college only with one shower and toilet per bathroom.

As unappealing as this sounds, I have to say the bathrooms were kept amazingly clean. Either that or no one else staying there was using the bathroom. And since you can lock the door, there isn’t any insecurity of anyone walking in while your pride and joy are exposed. The only real inconvenience is in the morning waiting for whomever is in there and hoping they’re not having a bowel movement!

The Bathrooms
The hotel is predominantly shared-bath — anywhere from two to four rooms a floor share a toilet/shower/tub. This potentially unpleasant arrangement is rescued by two happy facts: the tiled bathrooms were all completely renovated in bright tiles by late 2005, and they’re kept immaculate by a crew around the clock. (Now if only those bath towels were more generous, in case you forget the hotel-supplied Breck shampoo across the hall.) Most rooms have also have their own sink and hair dryer.

What I enjoyed most of all, though, was the location. I even took a morning stroll to take some photos. The neighborhood it’s in is safe, lively and clean. There are a number of 24-hour places [a number of Duane Reades, of course, and eateries], eateries that deliver and a lot of scenic parks, statues, architecture and so forth. You can walk to Union Square, the Flatiron Building and an endless supply of bigger than life retail options.

Hey, if you have deep pockets or have to see the Statue of Liberty from your private balcony, I’m not mad at you. But if you’re a victim of the recession or just need a place to rest your head, a trip to New York becomes more affordable by staying at Hotel 17.

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