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Micro-Hotels Offer NYC Visitors Cheap, Chic Digs

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Micro-Hotels Offer NYC Visitors Cheap, Chic Digs

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Micro-Hotels Offer NYC Visitors Cheap, Chic Digs

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You've heard people complain about hotel rooms the size of a closet. Well, in some places, that's considered a selling point. The rooms in micro-hotels are about 5 by 7, with a bathroom down the hall.

NPR's Margot Adler reports that these tiny, inexpensive rooms are being snapped up by young and adventurous travelers who don't mind the squeeze.

MARGOT ADLER: Here in Manhattan, it's not uncommon to spend $300 a night for a hotel room. You can get cheaper digs at a youth hostel, at a Y. But the cheapest hotel room I found recently, and not at the center of things, went for $129. Now, there's The Pod. It looks like a luxurious boutique hotel, a cafe with designer decor, a terrace, a concierge - right in the center of Midtown. David Bernstein, the managing director of The Pod, says it was an SRO, a single room occupancy hotel. They could've knocked down walls like everybody else.

Mr. DAVID BERNSTEIN (Managing Director, The Pod): Instead, we decided to leave the room sizes as they were and create a niche for younger travelers, less expensive rooms, you know, a little hip, a little fun.

ADLER: Even with a downturn, he says, occupancy ranges between 85 and 90 percent.

(Soundbite of knocking)

ADLER: We enter a tiny room with bunk beds, iPod docking station, light and small TV above each bed.

Mr. BERNSTEIN: So if you want to read when your friend is sleeping, or if you want to watch TV while your friend is sleeping, you could do that. This is about 80 square feet, this room.

ADLER: Bathroom down the hall. The room goes for $89 in most seasons, less than $45 a piece if you go with a friend. What's more, you can join a chat room before you come, meet other guests online, and perhaps plan to go to a Yankee game. Ingrid Roseborough is here from Iowa.

Ms. INGRID ROSEBOROUGH: The room is comfortable, and all my needs are taken care of.

ADLER: Even getting concierge Kara Klueber to whip out not one but three different business cards with places where Roseborough can get her eyebrows done.

Ms. KARA KLUEBER (Concierge, The Pod): These prices might be a little bit more expensive than this spa. It just depends on the level of pampering, I guess, you want.

(Soundbite of laughter)

ADLER: Now, suppose $89 is still too high for you. You can have a remarkably different experience at The Jane in Greenwich Village. While the rooms, former digs for sailors, may have the same level of technology, the atmosphere in this more than 100-year-old building is out of Jules Verne: old-fashioned bell hops, huge keys, a backwards clock, moose heads on the wall, and long-term tenants, 60 of them, who pay less than $700 a month - like Samuel Gaedke, who has been here for four years.

Mr. SAMUEL GAEDKE: I call it the hotel at the end of the world. If you just sort of want to disappear off the face of the Earth for a little while, it's a good place to come to.

ADLER: The single hotel rooms are $75 a night. Sean McPherson, one of the owners of the hotel, calls the rooms micro-chic.

Mr. SEAN MCPHERSON (Owner, The Jane): They're very, very small. They're about the size of a train cabin.

ADLER: But again, iPod docking stations, flat-screen TVs. He says the hotel harkens back to the New York of the 1980s: more gritty, more exotic, more adventurous.

Mr. MCPHERSON: A place for travelers with more dash than cash.

ADLER: There's some obvious tension between the longtime tenants, who fear they may be pushed out, and the hotel, which insists they will remain part of the mix. McPherson says once upon a time, sailors rented these rooms for 25 cents. Adjusted for inflation, he says, we're returning to the same idea.

Margot Adler, NPR News, New York.

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