What We Like
Clean, well-designed rooms that help you maximize small space
Convenient location near Grand Central Station
Plenty of space to relax and socialize in common areas (the bar, the playroom, and the rooftop)
Price (with the exception of holidays and peak times, rooms can be as low as $90/night at times with an average of $150)
What We Don't Like
Poor ventilation of the room that made the room feel and smell stuffy at times.
The shower (curtain didn’t fully close, making the floor a little wet, and the small size made it hard to maneuver)
It was a little noisy at times given its midtown Manhattan location, but that’s to be expected for the area
Owned by the Pod Hotels, this is one of seven locations spread across Manhattan, Brooklyn, Washington DC, and Philadelphia. The main goal of the Pod Hotels is to provide affordable hotel rooms so that you can spend your money where it really counts: exploring your destination, while making it easy to find a cheap accomodation in Manhattan.
The lobby is small and minimalistic, in sync with the rest of the hotel. On the right is the check-in desk and concierge desk, offering an abundance of brochures and maps of the city. To the left is the Empellón Al Pastor bar and restaurant. Farther back, past the lobby, is the Playroom Lounge, an area with couches, a massive screen projector for watching TV and sports, a bar, a photo booth, and ping-pong tables. The initial vibe resembles a hostel or college dorm common space—but in a nicer, more refined way—where you can socialize with other guests, relax somewhere other than your room, or grab a drink before a night out.
The rooms are small: The biggest, a queen pod, is a mere 140 square feet, and the smallest room type, a mini bunk pod, is 90 square feet. The only pieces of furniture in the room are a bed, desk, and nightstand (no dresser, no table with chairs, no vanity, no refrigerator, etc.) However, the smart and efficient design of the rooms makes the small space still feel livable. Coat hooks pull out from the wall when needed, the bed is slightly raised with space (and also a drawer) underneath for luggage, the nightstand has a couple shelves for storage and hangers on a rod above for clothes, and the desk in the corner is—you guessed it—petite, but sufficient for one person to sit and get some work done if needed. The in-room bathroom is separated by a sliding glass door (no room for a hinged door!) and has a sink, toilet, and shower. A TV on the wall in front of the bed has cable, but no streaming services. Once again, the rooms have the vibe of a more upscale college dorm: small but modern and functional.
The first thing I noticed when walking through the door was a stuffy, musty smell. We cracked the window a bit, and the odor went away in about 15 minutes, and stayed away the rest of the night, but the next morning after a shower, the stuffy, steamy air returned, likely due to the room’s small size and minimal ventilation. The room also doesn’t have much natural light with only two small windows, but the lighting inside makes up for that. Both the main room and bathroom have dimmer switches, which is a nice touch. Dialed all the way up, the room was well lit, and in the morning when one person needed to wake up and get ready much earlier than the other, the dimmer setting was much appreciated.
The bathroom is equipped with a small sink, toilet, and shower. The square, walk-in shower in the corner takes up about a fourth of the bathroom, separated by a raised barrier on the floor and two curtains that pull to meet in the corner. The rainfall shower has good pressure and temperature, but there’s not much room to step out of the water flow to soap up or shampoo. Shampoo, conditioner, and body wash and all included in the shower in the form of larger pump bottles rather than mini bottles, so you can’t take them home, but it’s less wasteful (a pro, in my opinion). Because it’s separated by a glass door, the privacy in the bathroom isn’t 100 percent, but the frosted mid-section of the door did offer helpful opacity where you’d most want it—not a dealbreaker for friends sharing a room, but something to note.
Food & Drink
The restaurant on the ground level, Empellón Al Pastor, is a casual, laid-back establishment serving Mexican-inspired bar snacks and tacos (plus a few entree options), as well as tiki and margarita cocktails. It’s a slightly different version of the first location in the East Village – a neighborhood famous for its funky, upbeat nightlife – Al Pastor taqueria, both created by chef Alex Stupak. Prices are moderate, a compromise between its location in midtown Manhattan but also inside a budget hotel. You can charge your meal to your room, but there’s no room service.
The rooftop bar on the 17th floor, open seasonally, is one of the coolest parts of the hotel. The all-brick space has a bar serving drinks and light bites from the Empellón Al Pastor restaurant downstairs, and the views are pretty incredible—you’re surrounded by towering Manhattan skyscrapers but between them, you also get some sprawling views of the city.
The hotel is also partnered with Streetwise New York Tours, a company that gives walking tours of New York City, so guests of the hotel can join a tour for free, a nice perk of staying at Pod 39 and also totally in line with the hotel’s mission to help you have a fun, budget-friendly vacation. Tours meet in the hotel lobby at 9:30 a.m. on Wednesdays and last about two hours.
Most of the guests were in their 20s or 30s—not many older people or families in sight. While anyone would feel welcome here, the social, colorful, laid-back atmosphere and budget-friendly perks are perfect for couples or friends traveling together. The staff was friendly and attentive, offering to store luggage or provide maps.
Fees & Other Info
Wi-Fi is free, easy to sign into, and works well throughout the hotel.
At check-in, a $30 security deposit is placed on your card as a hold that is released upon check-out. That’s pretty standard practice, but I was surprised to learn it could take up to 10 days for that hold to be released.
Pets are allowed for a small fee—call ahead to let the hotel know about your furry friend and ask about charges and room options.
- Product Name Pod 39
- Price $150
- Address 145 E 39th St, New York, NY 10016
- Number of Rooms 366
- Average Rate $70
- Neighborhood Murray Hill