Long Island City – A Great Alternative to Expensive Manhattan Hotels

by joeheg

Hotel prices in Manhattan have returned to their pre-pandemic levels. If you’re traveling in November or December, you should be aware that prices have reached incredibly high levels. Even if you use award points, you may still have to pay extra due to the fact that most loyalty programs have placed Manhattan hotels in their highest categories and charge peak pricing during the holiday seasons.

When planning our trip to New York City at the beginning of December, I told Sharon it would be difficult to find a room at any of our usual spots without paying double or even triple our usual prices.

I was able to find a hotel with affordable rates. Although it was situated in Queens, the area had good transportation links to both LaGuardia and JFK Airports and was a short subway ride to the theater district. Now that we’ve stayed there, it has become one of our preferred places to stay when visiting Manhattan.

Long Island City, Queens

Long Island City has nothing to do with Nassau and Suffolk Counties, which are what most people usually think of as Long Island. Instead, Long Island City is a residential and commercial neighborhood on the extreme western tip of Queens, a borough in New York City in the United States. It is bordered by Astoria to the north; the East River to the west; New Calvary Cemetery in Sunnyside to the east; and Newtown Creek—which separates Queens from Greenpoint, Brooklyn—to the south.

a map of a city

There are several hotel chains with properties in Long Island City, including Aloft, Hyatt Place and Hilton Garden Inn. However, we chose to stay at the Courtyard by Marriott Long Island City.

flags on the side of a building

So why did we like staying in Long Island City so much, and why would we gladly stay there again when visiting New York City?

Accessibility to NYC Airports

The hotels in Long Island City are a short walk from both the Queens Plaza and Queensboro Plaza subway stations. This meant we were able to take the Q70 bus from LaGuardia to the subway and were only a short walk to our hotel. In addition, we were on the subway line with a direct path to JFK for our trip home via the JFK AirTrain.

a group of people boarding a bus

Easy Subway Connection to Manhattan

Just as it’s easy to get from Long Island City to the airports, it’s a short subway ride to midtown Manhattan.

a map of a subway system

We stayed close to the Queens Plaza station, and it was a quick hop on the 7, E, or F trains to get to Penn Station, Times Square, Rockefeller Center, or Grand Central.

Plenty of Restaurants

While it’s a quick ride to Manhattan, there are plenty of places to eat in Long Island City. It’s a very diverse neighborhood so that you can find a variety of types of food, and they’re not as touristy as what you’ll find around Times Square.

On our first night, we found an Italian restaurant using Yelp. Another day we went out for ramen at a place that was a few blocks away. Finally, we almost went to Xi’an Famous Foods for noodles but skipped it because everything on the menu was spicy (Note from Sharon: I’m not a huge fan of spicy).

It Has A Neighborhood Feel

Long Island City is an area that’s seen a lot of development in recent times, but even with all the changes, it’s managed to retain its residential vibe. It’s a place where you can see people going about their daily lives – walking their dogs, pushing strollers, and enjoying the community feel. Despite being in such close proximity to the touristy areas of Manhattan, Long Island City feels like a world away.

a building with a large metal structure

Final Thought

Recently, when visiting New York City, we have been opting to stay outside of our usual theater district hotels. We feel more at ease exploring different areas of the city and discovering new places. However, so far we have only stayed in Manhattan. The Financial District, including the AC Hotel and Gild Hall, and the Lower East Side are the places we have stayed in the past.

We liked staying in Long Island City better than any of those other areas. In fact, we’d stay again in a heartbeat. With easy connections to the airports, a short subway ride to Manhattan and a great neighborhood vibe, it checks many of our boxes for a place to stay.

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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary


HGA January 11, 2024 - 1:21 pm

What prices did you come across for a hotel room and at which chain?

joeheg January 11, 2024 - 2:06 pm

We stayed at the Courtyard. Rooms were ranging between 40,000 and 42,000 points a night and we received 1 free night for staying over 5 nights.

Rich January 11, 2024 - 1:42 pm

“While called Long Island City, the area has nothing to do with Long Island”—? Although people usually mean Nassau and Suffolk Counties when they say “Long Island”, the boroughs of Brooklyn and Queens, including Long Island City, are certainly geographically on the island of Long Island.


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