Westside YMCA Hotel: Review of a Cheap Stay in New York

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The Westside YMCA hotel review in New York City will tell you everything you need to know about visiting New York on a budget. I booked a stay as an experiment to see how much I could save (and how long I would last without room service, ha-ha).

I know that hotels in New York and California can be very expensive. I planned to stay for 5 days in the city.  When I booked a trip to New York, I thought a stay at the Westside YMCA would not only be an interesting experience and a money saving tactic, but it would provide a unique perspective on experiencing the city without the creature comforts of an average tourist.

Westside YMCA Hotel, New York City

Are you ready for this thrifty traveler’s tale of the good, the bad, and the ugly? Read on and see how I feasted frugally during my escape to New York.

Where is it Located

The address for the Westside YMCA Hotel is 5 W 63rd St. It is located on the upper west side in New York’s Manhattan borough.

On any map, you can locate the hotel by finding the southwest corner of Central Park. The hotel stands close to where the lush rectangular oasis with winding paths meld into the concrete jungle.

Check for low rates at the Westside YMCA Hotel here.

How Much are the Rooms

Since I was traveling solo, I checked for rates on Hotels.com and found a single bed for $110 per night. I monitored the prices every day for about a week. At one point, it increased to $123 per night and I wanted to kick myself. Since I had some time, I waited a little longer and snagged a deal at $117 per night.

You may be able to find up to a 10% discount on non-peak seasons. I stayed during the month of July and this price was the absolute cheapest in the area.

There is another YMCA Hotel located further north in Harlem, but I preferred to be closer to Times Square.

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desk, mirror and chair

Westside YMCA Hotel, New York

This single room, shared bath, is conveniently located within a 5-minute walk to the subway station. Located near Central Park, the room is equipped with comfortable bedding, linens, TV, closet, window air-conditioning, lamp, desk, and chair.

Amenities: ๐ŸŠโ€โ™€๏ธ Outdoor Pool | ๐Ÿ‹๏ธ Gym | ๐Ÿ”’Room Safe | ๐Ÿ’ 24-hr Front Desk | ๐Ÿ›œ Wi-Fi | ๐Ÿšญ Non-smoking Rooms | ๐Ÿ›— Elevator

How to Get There

The Westside YMCA Hotel is a 5-minute walk to or from the nearest subway. You can take the Red line (1 or 2), Orange line (B or D), or Blue line (A or C) to the 59 St-Columbus Circle station.

After exiting the station, walk north on Central Park West and turn left at W. 63 St (also, Sesame Street).

If you are traveling with luggage or strollers, you will navigate the stairs in the subway station. On this trip, I took the bus from LaGuardia Airport (LGA) to the nearest subway station. The cost of getting to the hotel was significantly less than hiring a car.

In total, it cost me less than $3 and took about 1 hour in duration.

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Westside YMCA Hotel Review

The Exterior

exterior of building wtih scalfolding

Truth be told, I was not impressed with the exterior when I arrived. The facade was covered with scaffolding and there were two large dumpsters standing side-by-side at the entrance. My only hope was that if there were any construction noise, that it would happen early in the morning.

Nonetheless, I couldn’t help but marvel at the architectural materials used. The layers of marble, granite, and decorative terra cotta tiles framed the doorways elegantly.

The Reception Area

Upon entering the building, before reaching the front desk, there is a reception area where security personnel monitor the flow of traffic. There is a keycard machine standing on the desk. Make sure you can locate it because you will need to use it for re-entry to the building.

When entering the building during the day, I was required to present my keycard and validate it at the security guard’s desk. When the front door is locked after hours, my room key unlocks the front door.

This level of security was somewhat unexpected for a YMCA, but understandable given its urban location and need for access within the community. I soon came to appreciate it as an extra precaution to keep guests safe, even if it felt strange at first.

Past the front desk and across the corridor was a large room. I imagine it once contained tables and chairs for people to congregate but it was quite empty with minimal seating. I thought it was a nice, quiet corner of escape if I wanted to leave my room for a spell.

Check-in

An early check-in was not an option. I stood in line with other guests and waited for the 3:00 PM check-in time to access my room. I was surprised to find there was an additional $10 administration fee due at check-in. I heard other guests who were in line ahead of me express the same sentiments about paying extra. However, after checking my reservation again, the non-refundable charge was stated in fine print.

The staff were very polite and helpful. But be warned that this hotel books fast for budget travelers. A woman before me had walked in without a reservation and there was nothing available.

The latest you can check-in is at 3 AM. Although you can request an early check-in for your arrival date when booking online, it is not guaranteed.

single bed
Single Room (Twin Bed) / Shared Bath

The Room and Amenities

The decor in the room had all the basics — bed, mirror, closet with hangars, desk with chair, lamps, TV, and an in-room safe. It reminded me of hostel or dormitory space which is different than a starred hotel.

The room was quite warm because the air-conditioners are not running for un-occupied rooms. The equipment was in great shape and cooled the room in less than 10 minutes. I appreciated the in-room safe box but since there was no daily room service during my visit, I didn’t use it.

The bed was incredibly comfortable and since I was away from any street noise, I slept like a baby. The only thing that I missed for personal comfort was an ice-machine and refrigerator. July was pretty hot outside, and I was constantly in need of protective skincare and hydration.

A single towel and a small bar of soap were also provided. While staying on the premises, I was welcome to use the gym and pool, but I did not. I had a full agenda for sightseeing in New York and wanted to make the most of my stay.

I couldn’t find the Wi-Fi code in my room, so I made my way to the front desk to inquire. When I reached the elevator, I noticed that the Wi-Fi code was posted on the wall of my floor. Thank goodness because the elevator ran a bit slow at this busy hotel. Anyway, the signal was strong and very reliable, and I had no problems connecting to it from my phone.

Overall, the room was free of odors, comfortable, and clean. I would stay here again as a solo traveler.

The Bathrooms

I stayed on a mixed floor with accommodations for men and women. There were also mixed rooms for solo and family travelers. The shared bathrooms were a short walk down the hall and I dreaded the walk because spaces outside the rooms were not air-conditioned. Even the bathrooms were like a sauna.

The ladies’ room has a coded lock, but people failed to close the door to ensure security. So, it remained ajar most of the day.

There were 3 stalls, 4 sinks, and 3 showers. My secret sauce for bathing in the public showers was wearing flip flops and a bikini. It made it easier to get back to my room quickly without drying myself.

I must admit that the flipflops were a bit pointless because the drains were slow and clogged. After about 2 minutes, I was standing in 2 inches of tainted water because the showers were not cleaned after each use. Nonetheless, the water was hot, and the pressure was high which made for a relaxing, if not totally sanitary, shower experience.

Though the standing water was unsightly, I tried my best to focus on the feeling of the water washing off the day’s grime. A thorough scrub with soap and a quick rinse later, I was clean enough to continue my New York adventures unfazed.

The Neighborhood

One of the nicest things about staying in this hotel was the neighborhood and unexpected finds.

Walking west of the entrance to the next intersection (Broadway), I found a nice cafe and bakery to enjoy morning pastries and soak in the local vibes. There was also a fruit cart where I bought fresh bananas and strawberries for a few bucks. A few blocks south of the YMCA sat a sizable Target, convenient for picking up any last-minute essentials, beverages, or snacks before heading out to explore the Big Apple.

Continuing south on Broadway, I reached Columbus Circle. On the west end of the circle is a huge shopping are with stores like Lululemon, MAC, and JoMalone London. I also found a Whole Foods Market to spend my whole paycheck on the hot food bar!

And then, of course, there is Central Park which one of the best places to explore New York on foot.

woman taking selfie in hotel room

Things to Do Near the Westside YMCA Hotel

In addition to nearby shopping, restaurants and stores, this hotel is a great base for exploring New York because it is so close to the subway. Below is a list of places to explore within a 20- minute walk.

  • Central Park
  • Museum of Modern Art
  • Top of the Rock
  • Rockefeller Center
  • Metropolitan Museum of Art
  • Bryant Park
  • Chrysler Building
  • Empire State Building
  • The Highline Park

During my 5 days, I also explored restaurants in Harlem and took a Harlem walking tour. I visited the Empire State Building, the New York Public Library, Central Park, Little Italy, the Battery, the Financial District, the 911 Memorial, Eataly Downtown, Oculus, St. Patrick’s Church, Rockefeller Center, Times Square, The Plaza Hotel. I also rode the free Staten Island Ferry to see the Statue of Liberty.

That is a lot of mileage on foot. I used the subway, and I booked a hop-on/hop off bus tour to get around.

Check discount rates for a Big Bus Tour here.

view in central park ny
Central Park

Is it Safe at the Westside YMCA Hotel

I walked the neighborhood during the night and day. I felt safe the entire time. There were no random people loitering nearby and I never felt threatened. This is a safe area and I recommend the Westside YMCA hotel for affordable travel.

More Cheap Stays Near the Westside YMCA Hotel

For those seeking other budget-friendly lodging options near Central Park, check into NYC Hostel just down the block, known for its friendly vibe and nightly entertainment. The International Student Center, Freehand New York, and Chelsea International Hostel are great options.

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Final Thoughts on Westside the YMCA Hotel

With a focus on Westside YMCA Hotel NYC in our detailed review, the right accommodations, and a few smart spending tips, you can plan a trip to New York without breaking the bank.

No matter the destination, there are plenty of budget-friendly options to make your vacation memorable and fun-filled.

Let me know if you have stayed here (or if you would stay after reading this review). I’m here to answer any questions.

Safe travel!

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