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NYC hotel prices skyrocket for shoppers

Planning a Big Apple shopping spree? Plan on sticker shock

By Chris McGinnis
CNN Headline News

This could be one of the busiest, and priciest, holiday seasons in NYC since the go-go days of the late '90s.
This could be one of the busiest, and priciest, holiday seasons in NYC since the go-go days of the late '90s.

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Manhattan (New York)

(CNN) -- Ahh, the holiday season in New York City. The lights, the snow, the store windows, the smell of roasting chestnuts!

Before you get swept up in romantic notions, let me inject a little reality into your plans. You gotta pay to play in Manhattan at this time of year.

With the U.S. economy sputtering back to life and a lot of pent-up demand right behind it, this could be one of the busiest, and priciest, holiday seasons in NYC since the go-go days of the late '90s.

During the two busiest shopping weekends, December 6-7 and again December 13-14, midtown hotels are nearly completely sold out. If you really want a room in Manhattan, you'll have to pay dearly for it, or stay on the fringes of the action, or both.

How much?

Late last week, I used travelaxe.com to price hotel rooms in Manhattan for Saturday, December 13. To see just how inflated those prices are, I also checked prices for Saturday, January 17. (Travelaxe.com is a small program that you download onto your PC, which then searches the top online hotel booking sites for lowest available rates.)

Here's what I found:

First off, nearly all of the most recognizable hotels in Midtown are sold out on both weekends. Only the priciest rooms remain -- many of those are suites, or those on executive or concierge floors, with balconies, views, space, or other amenities. At those hotels that still have rooms, prices are steep compared to later in the winter.

For example, on Saturday, December 13, the Comfort Inn Manhattan is offering a rate of $161; the W New York has a rate of $383 and the Soho Grand has rooms going for $903. When looking at rates at those same hotels for Saturday January 17, the Comfort Inn Manhattan offers a rate of $112 ($49 difference); the W New York offers a rate of $214 ($169 difference) and the Soho Grand offers a rate of $304 ($599 difference.) (Note that by the time you read this, most of the hotels listed previously will be sold out. Rates do not include tax.)

Hotel Booking tips:

• Book your hotel before you buy your plane ticket, otherwise, you might have to bed down in Flushing instead of Fifth Avenue.

• You are more likely to find availability outside Midtown Manhattan. Downtown offers a lot of possibility, but be prepared to fight for a cab when you are ready to head back to the hotel.

• The weekend of December 20-21 is much slower than the previous weekends, so if you can wait until then, you'll have an easier time finding a decent room at a decent price.


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