Hotel rooms in Manhattan cost hundreds and even a cheap hostel-style hotel with partition walls in the Bowery runs nearly $100 per night, but starting around $20 you can stay on the streets in style in a plush converted van found via Airbnb. For adventurous travelers on a budget the rates are impossible to beat.
One such Airbnb ‘host’ (Jonathan) has a fleet over of 50 vehicular conversions and his pads get remarkably high reviews (many with 4.5 out of 5 stars). Fans seem to appreciate the affordability as well the views and locations, often central or at least along subway lines.
At these prices, it is better not expect breakfast with your accommodations or even a restroom, though the vehicles are generally parked close to public bathrooms or otherwise accessible facilities. Some do come equipped with wifi, perhaps provided by a nearby building, but few can even charge your electronics.
One enthusiastic listing reads more like a room in a fancy hotel than space in the back of a truck: “Super spacious. All brand new furnishings. Only 3 Stops from Times Square – less than 10 minutes to 50 major attractions. Located in Super Safe Community. Quiet at nighttime. Best Views of NYC. Sleeps 2 comfortably.”
And while Airbnb continues to face legal challenges, political difficulties or public backlash in many cities (including the Big Apple), it is apparently not technically against the law to sleep in vehicles in New York City. For now, at least, the car-centric business model appears safe – whether guests are as well is another question (ride at your own risk).