JC Stays: Pod 39, New York

Cheap yet stylish accommodation in Manhattan is rare but this minimalist find ticks the budget boxes with flair


Planning trips to New York City always leads to the same soul searching: you want to stay somewhere that’s comfortable and safe but paying upwards of £200 a night (easy to do in Manhattan) feels a tad excessive when, New York being what it is, your hotel is more of a crash-pad than a nest.

For British visitors on a budget – and dealing with a weaker pound, thanks to Brexit – Pod39 offers an attractive alternative. 

Situated Midtown, a short stroll from landmarks like the Chrysler Building and Grand Central Station, and only a ten-minute walk from the Empire State Building and Macy’s, you can sleep in comfort for under £100 per night. 

Accommodation ranges from compact single rooms, with a Queen Size bed, to rooms decked out with bunk beds (which sleep up to four); and, unique to the Pod experience, so-called ‘combination rooms’ which can be opened out to create something akin to a dormitory, where each bed is kitted out with its own mini flat-screen television set.

Free Wi-Fi is standard across the whole hotel.

Walk into the foyer and the hippest looking staff you’ve ever seen plus a swarm of iPads embedded into the wall drop some further clues about the young (and young at heart) clientele this hotel is hoping to attract. The present writer, now in his mid-40s, felt just about on the right side of young enough.

But Pod39 is definitely not a generic, utilitarian budget hotel. Alluring design features abound.

The three central lift shafts serving the hotel are made from glass, which means you can see your fellow guests bobbing up and down the artery of the building. 

And, once your lift takes you to the top floor, there’s a rooftop bar where you can enjoy a drink while surveying an enviable view over Manhattan. 

Other in-house attractions include a playroom (table tennis, board games etc) with an imposing fireplace – very cosy in winter – and a first-floor Mexican restaurant where locals mix with the guests. 

The rooms are small for sure, although not significantly smaller than European budget hotel rooms. And someone has clearly given a great deal of thought about how to use space to its full advantage. 

Under your mattress, the bed includes drawer space. In one corner is a snug ergonomic chair; in the other sits a small desk, above which is mounted a television screen.

No bath, unfortunately, in the bathroom (not at these prices in midtown Manhattan), but the waterfall shower delivers a powerful jet of water and the hotel provides a generous supply of shampoo and body lotions.

Bed comes without free breakfast. Tea, coffee and croissants are available for sale in the bar area – and very good they are too – but with two traditional New York diners a block away (and an inevitable Starbucks), no one’s likely to starve in the morning. 

Given that Pod39 is located in one of busiest urban locales on the planet, and filled with young people doing the sorts of things young people enjoy doing, my tiny room was surprising quiet, with only the occasional siren seeping into my consciousness as, after a hectic New York day, I drifted off to sleep. 

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