Times Square, Stay in New York City, trip WellnessTimes Square excitement. Photo: Ai Long via Trover

Staying in Manhattan is bound to be spendy but you don’t have to trade safety, comfort or location to stretch your travel budget. Consider a basic-to-boutique hotel strategy if you’re spending several days in town. Stay a few nights at a lower-price hotel and then splurge on a bit of boutique luxury before heading home. Mixing it up also gives you a chance to experience more of the city, especially if you reserve your hotels in different neighborhoods.

Stay in New York City: One Basic-to-Boutique Strategy

The Hotel 91

Clean, safe and compact, you’ll feel like a local with a room at the Hotel 91. Enter down a long hallway and take the elevator to the 2nd floor lobby. Wi-Fi, coffee and tea are complementary. Set in the East Village, you’ll be staying in the heart of Chinatown with its glory of sights and smells, street food and cafes that stay open all night. The Manhattan Bridge and trains run close. Rates start at $120 a night.

Pod 51 Hotel

Tidy and trendy in Midtown, the Pod 51 Hotel has a Euro chic, upscale hostel feel. The hotel stays affordable by keeping room amenities trimmed. There are single pods and bunk pods with shared bathrooms, while full and queen pods have private baths. Dine at the [email protected], with an urban, gastropub menu and a full bar. A rooftop terrace will pull you upstairs to enjoy views, and the neighborhood is flush with other cuisine options. For the price, it’s hard to find so much charm. Rates start at $181 a night.

The Night Hotel New York

A minimalist but playful style is imbued throughout the Night Hotel New York. Don’t miss the aquarium pillars in the sparkling lobby. Located minutes from the Times Square Theater District, each room is a petite refuge of elegance and amenities with pillow-top beds, Bose Wave sound systems with iPod cradles, Wi-Fi, and much more. Rooms are priced from $199 a night

Dream pool David AmbrosePoolside at the Dream Downtown. Photo: David Ambrose via Trover

Dream Downtown

Designed to treat all your senses playfully, the Dream Downtown retains the spirit of the original National Maritime headquarters from the lobby to porthole windows in many of the rooms. Enjoy the subterranean Electric Room or stroll upstairs to sip a drink next to a glass bottom pool with a sandy beach. At the West Village location you’ll be steps from the acclaimed Chelsea market and Highline Park. Rates start at $259 a night.

The Algonquin Hotel Times Square, Autograph Collection

Slip into the Algonquin and savor a drink in the original 1920s lobby. In the rear you’ll see a bright painting of the author, Dorothy Parker, and her entourage. Starting in 1919, the Algonquin Round Table of about thirty authors, actors, editors and publicists met there regularly. The rooms in this boutique hotel are small. Some have curved ceilings and the other amenities are contemporary. The  theater district is at the lobby doorstep and restaurants dot the street. Rates start at about $300 a night.

By juggling reservations at one of these colorful and independent hotels, you’ll get a solid sense of what New York City has to offer.

Written as part of the Hipmunk City Love / Top Cities Project