Where should you stay in New Jersey during a visit to New York City?
The best budget travel advice is to find a place well connected to the rail system and relatively close to Manhattan.
Some may ask: why stay in New Jersey at all?
The short answer is that there is money to be saved.
A New York visit can require a lot of money for hotel accommodations. In the corporate world, many expense account managers allow their workers about $500/night to find a business-class hotel in Manhattan. Tourists who want a clean, well-appointed chain hotel with a Manhattan address will spend only slightly less than that amount. Booking such a room without reviewing all options can be a New York mistake.
So it's natural to begin looking for a budget travel alternative, and New Jersey provides that opportunity.
Two places with good transportation connections to Manhattan are the Meadowlands area and Newark Liberty International Airport. Both places provide a solid selection of mid-range hotels for less than half the cost of a room in Manhattan.
An example: the Fairfield Inn & Suites Newark Liberty Airport, which is just north of the airport property at 618-50 US Highway 1 & 9 South.
This particular property offers clean, recently renovated rooms and a pleasant lobby where breakfast is provided with the cost of the room. Flight information is available on monitors and in the room on your television.
A complimentary 24-hour shuttle runs between the terminals and the hotel.
That shuttle is also handy for accessing train transportation between Manhattan and EWR. The Air Train, which takes passengers from the airport to a point where they can access trains for Newark Penn Station and New York Penn Station. One-way cost per person is $5.
If you drive to this hotel, ask for very specific directions and follow them closely. It is not easy to find using your sense of direction. When I mentioned this to the hotel clerk, she laughed and said they spend a fair amount of time on the phone with confused drivers seeking calm, understandable directions.
The hotel parking lot is protected by an electric gate (activated by your room key card) and one of those strips that will do "severe tire damage" if you try to run past it without the proper go-ahead. Keep your room key after checkout and deposit it in a box provided at the swipe point near the gate.
Rooms here are fairly small, but that is the case in nearby Manhattan for a majority of mid-range chain hotel rooms.
Another small drawback here is airport noise. The property is not far from EWR runways; you can see maintenance hangars at the airport from some rooms. Because this busy hub airport rarely slows down, it might pay to seek an alternative stay if you're a light sleeper.
Each room has a work desk, two phones and free WI-fi. Cable television service includes free HBO. There is an in-room hair dryer, iron and ironing board. Smoking is prohibited.
Rates under $150/night are possible at certain times of the year, but it is more likely you'll pay about $179/night, before taxes. When you add the cost of daily train tickets, that total jumps beyond $200/night for a party of two. That's still cheaper than the vast majority of chain hotel rooms in Manhattan, and you'll start the day with a free meal.
If you're willing to weather the inconvenience of boarding multiple trains and a courtesy van at the beginning and end of each travel day, the cost savings are significant without a major sacrifice in room quality, comfort or security.
Remember that the Fairfield Inn & Suites Newark Liberty Airport is but one example of multiple chain hotels in this area that cater to Manhattan visitors. Each is situated a bit differently, and convenience of location will vary. But this option is worth considering as you map out a budget for visiting New York.
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As is common in the travel industry, the writer was provided with complimentary services for review purposes. While it has not influenced this review, About.com believes in full disclosure of all potential conflicts of interest. For more information, see our Ethics Policy