In Praise of the Big Apple (Hostel)

Big Apple Hostel from the outside, 119 45th St

Big Apple Hostel from the outside, 119 45th St

“When I think hostels I think rats and cockroaches, ew,” my friend Marjorie said when I suggested we organize a writers’ weekend in New York City and stay at a hostel, where we could rent all the beds in two different rooms.

Rats and cockroaches? Ut uh. Though that writers’ weekend never got off the ground, I’m staying at the Big Apple Hostel for three nights, right smack in the middle of Times Square, while I attend the ASJA (American Society of Journalists and Authors) meeting.

Marjorie, I have news for you: this place is really and truly the best. It’s cleaner than many hotels I’ve stayed in, the staff is super friendly and helpful, there’s a refrigerator and a full kitchen, a common room with free internet access if you have your own computer and cheap internet access ($1/ten minutes) if you don’t, and a spacious back patio. My room, #66, is in the back of the building and surprisingly quiet.

Most of the folks here are young international travelers and you can listen to people jabbering away in German, Japanese, French, Spanish, Korean, and languages I don’t recognize. Then there are the school groups with their chaperoning parents, the moms and teens on a shoestring vacation, the 40-something solo travelers, and the 30-something conference attendees (me!).

Best of all: the windows actually open.

The price for this shared luxury (the hostel sleeps four in one room in bunk beds, unless you splurge on a private room)? $41 smackeroonies a night. I’m .4 miles from the Roosevelt Hotel, where the ASJA conference is being held.

So what if I’m old enough to be the mother of my two German and one Japanese roommates. Next year I hope my fellow writers who decided not to come this year because their pockets are too empty will join me here.

As my 29-year-old cousin used to say when he was 14, “It’s the bomb Mom.”

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Categories: travel writing.


  1. Jen,
    good to know about this. I’ve stayed in hostels in Europe, have found most of them to be clean, friendly , welcoming, and inexpensive places. working a lot with camera and computer, though, I have sometimes felt safer [both from theft and from those sometimes careless kids in school groups] doing that in a private room and leaving the equipment, if need be, in a room I could lock. was this something that came up when you were thinking about staying at the big apple?

  2. I stayed in hostels when I traveled through the UK and found that they weren’t bad (of course, I was 20 at the time, so my standards might be a bit lower than yours). The best part is that you have the chance to socialize with other travelers from all over the world. If you’re ever in NYC and this hostel is booked up, try the Pod Hotel. It’s a little like a hostel with communal bathrooms (brand new and sparkling clean) but private rooms. And very affordable, too.

  3. admin

    Hey Kerry,

    The rooms lock but I know theft can be an issue. I had my laptop with me, which is my lifeline. I carried it with me to the conference to be safe. They have a safe for electronics and valuables and a locked cupboard for laptops but I felt better keeping it with me. Somehow that wasn’t an issue last time I stayed here–I think because I didn’t bring my computer–but it is definitely something to consider.

  4. I love hostels! They vary, of course, but I think they are underappreciated in the US. We think of them as the haven for unwashed 20 years olds with backpacks, but Europeans of all ages use them. I’ll have to try this one when I’m in NYC next–NYC can be so expensive.

  5. Score, Jennifer. I would absolutely do this, but I do think I’d be more comfortable traveling with another person for safety’s sake. Hope ASJA was everything you hoped it would be! Someday, I will go.

  6. James Stewart

    Great hostel!! Was doing a weekend run to NY just before the close of the old Yankee Stadium. Found the Big Apple and really enjoyed staying there. I’m not a young man anymore (33), yet everyone there was friendly, helpful, and pretty damn cool 🙂

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