Seven hours in the van and suddenly the skyline of Manhattan comes into full but hazy view. The greenery and scenery of the drive from Ottawa to New York City are gorgeous but what we found truly astonishing was that while we were still in the midst of this greenery, Madame GPS was telling us that we’re 30 minutes from “arriving at destination”. Oh – but wait – it took us an hour to get from E 42nd Street to Park and 63rd. Then, at registration, I am told what no one wants to hear after 8 hours in the car: “We have a little situation with your accommodation”.
So let me step back a couple of months when I first started researching potential accommodation for our family trip to New York City. There are literally thousands of hotel options! If you’re flexible with your vacation dates, there are lots of deals to be found …especially with this recent economic turmoil. A friend of mine alerted me to a Hot Deal at the Radisson at $160/night room rate but not for the dates we wanted. I started making inquiries (by the way, most on line booking tools have an issue with any configuration beyond 2 adults and 2 kids), I was also informed by each hotel that, due to fire regulations, we would require 2 rooms for our family of five. Ouch. Trying not to miss too much school we chose to go over the Canadian May long weekend. Another friend told me about short term apartment rentals so I started researching that option. Several places I contacted would not allow children (can’t say as I blame them) and several others would only offer a minimum of one-month stay (I thought that would be great but my husband thought it was a little excessive.). After several calls, I found an agency that allowed children and had a minimum 5-night booking so we started to explore their offerings. http://www.manhattanlodgings.com was able to offer us 2-bedrooms for $475/night. I know that’s expensive, but it turned out to be cheaper for us that 2 hotel rooms for this particular weekend of our choosing. A pretty big downside to booking an apartment versus a hotel is that most agencies have a pathetic or non-existent cancellation policy. A 30% deposit is typical and is generally non-refundable if a cancellation occurs (though we were assured that if our plans were altered, a credit would be arranged).
So back to the saga of our check-in after 8 hours in the car. Apparently renovations in the building in which we were originally booked (at 7th and 58th –) had required the rental agency to move several guests due to excessive noise and dust. She offered us alternative arrangements, right there at Park and 63rd. It was a very quiet first floor apartment at the rear of the building looking over the patio of someone much wealthier. Two bedrooms, two bathrooms, renovated kitchen… couldn’t really complain. Naturally she mentioned it was more expensive than what we booked but that discrepancy was quickly settled. We unloaded the van and my husband was discharged to find parking which he did for $45/day. There is cheaper parking available – certainly you can be lucky enough to find a spot on the street, but have you seen the way New York cabbies drive? Outdoor lots are also possible and perhaps I would grow to love the graffiti on our aging Toyota Sienna. Instead we opted for an indoor garage with security at $45/day. Once the van had also been settled into its own abode for the next five days (and $225 later), I got the thinking? I wonder if anyone has tried to spend the $45 a night for parking and slept in their van? Cheaper than a hotel and safer than the streets, don’t ya think?