Photos and Review by Oyster.com Investigators
Among the hip, NYU student-scene in the East Village, just over one long block from the arts, skateboarding, protests, and farmers' market in Union Square
The Union Square Inn is situated on East 14th Street, a busy, commercial block of Manhattan. The diverse Union Square area to the west -- after which the hotel takes its name -- unites social activists, skaters, shoppers, and street vendors. It may not be quiet, but 14th Street is dotted with bars, restaurants, and shops in both directions, and from the subway station at Union Square, you have access to anywhere in Manhattan. Plus, being on the L subway line (just outside the hotel's doors) means easy access to the clubs in the Meatpacking District (to the west) and the fashionable arts, music, restaurant, and bar scene in Williamsburg, Brooklyn (to the east).
The East Village was for decades a sketchy neighborhood that tended to attract struggling artists, writers, and musicians -- a long-term artistic influx that fed the 1960s hippie culture and fostered the birth of punk rock in the 1970s. More recently, like much of Manhattan, the area has undergone a fair amount of gentrification, but still retains many elements of its gritty character and countercultural spirit, partly due to the constant influx of students from nearby New York University. Tompkins Square Park is at the neighborhood's center, a gathering place for green-market shoppers, street performers, and people just hanging out. Surrounding the park are restaurants, vintage shops, cool bars, trendy nightclubs, and "alternative" businesses offering everything from vegan food to drug paraphernalia.
About 30 to 90 minutes from three airports
New York has three nearby airports: JFK, LaGuardia, and Newark (in New Jersey). Getting to town from JFK or LaGuardia is usually more convenient than getting there from Newark, but travel times are heavily dependent on the time of day and traffic conditions. From JFK, a taxi to anywhere in Manhattan costs a flat rate of $45 and takes around an hour in average conditions. From LaGuardia, a metered cab ride to midtown Manhattan costs about $40 and can take 30 minutes if traffic is light, three times that if it's bad. Rides from Newark cost at least $40 (plus tolls) and can take more than 90 minutes. It's customary to tip your driver 15 to 25 percent.
Those looking to save some cash can use the privately run shuttle buses that are available at all three airports for about $14 per person. For more information on the shuttles, go to Super Shuttle or New York Airport Service. Public transit is also available for as little as $7 per person, but travel can take up to two hours and involve a lot of lugging bags up and down stairways.
For mass-transit directions right to the hotel, check out HopStop.com.
This hotel's 41 rooms are a tight squeeze; standard rooms can barely fit their full-size mattress. Features are scarce; no gym, business center, or restaurant, and Wi-Fi costs a daily fee. But for a fairly clean, somewhat comfortable hotel that's steps from the subway and the young bar scene in the East Village, the price is right.