Updated: March 31st, 2019
There are some things that just seem impossible to locate: your car keys when you’re in a hurry, the DVD player remote control sweet spot, a news story comments section with nice, constructive comments where no ones mother is insulted, and affordable accommodations in Manhattan that aren’t under a bridge in Central Park.
If you don’t know what I’m talking about, then maybe you have a decent DVD player you don’t almost bash with a baseball bat on a regular basis (“What’s a DVD player?” I know, right? It’s time to move on.). Everything else? I know you totally feel me. But while I can’t help you find your keys (Did you check the pocket of the coat you wore last night?) or stay sane while reading the internet (Close the browser. Walk away.) I can help you with that last one.
I first discovered a New York City Pod Hotel two years ago and they are where I’ve been staying ever since. Well, when I visit New York, that is. Not like, that’s where I’ve been living. The Pod Hotels are always my first choice when choosing accommodation in the city and I’ve stayed at both Pod 39 and Pod 51 twice each. I’ve stayed in rooms with bunk beds and rooms with a double bed. I’ve stayed in rooms with a private bathroom and rooms with shared bathrooms. I’ve stayed in the summer, the fall, and the winter and I’ve stayed during busy holiday weekends. I’ve stayed with friends and I’ve stayed with my husband and if sharing a bunk bed with your spouse isn’t the most romantic thing out there, I don’t know what is.
THE NEW YORK CITY POD HOTEL
Before I get started, I’d like to mention that this post is 100% unsolicited and unsponsored and that all New York City Pod Hotel costs have been paid by yours truly. I just know how difficult it can be to find affordable lodging in Manhattan for which you don’t have to pay a toll to a troll and felt it was time I let you in on my little secret.
And don’t let the bunk beds and low prices fool you. Before you get all defensive and share-aphobic, know that the New York City Pod Hotel is just that, a hotel. Not a hostel. You don’t have to take community showers, make your own bed, or store your luggage in a locker with your combination lock from high school. They provide all the traveling necessities and comforts like towels and soap, heating and air conditioning, hot water (quite hot in fact), and a hippie-free common area. See? Hotel.
THE NEW YORK CITY POD HOTEL | LOCATION
While there are a handful of Pod Hotels in existence, literally just five (including one in Washington DC, one in Brooklyn that just opened, and one opening soon in Times Square), this post will focus on New York City Pod Hotel 39 and Pod 51. That leaves your other hand free to stuff your face with caramel corn from that bucket in your office breakroom.
Note: These Pod Hotels are named as they are because they’re located on 39th and 51st streets.
- Both New York City Pod Hotel 39 and 51 are in great locations, making their rates all the more impressive.
- Both are located in Midtown Manhattan within walking distance to some of New York City’s top tourist attractions: Times Square, Central Park, the Empire State Building, Rockefeller Center, MOMA, the Broadway theaters, and the National Museum of Mathematics. No? You mean you don’t wanna pay $16 to ride the Hyper Hyperboloid and create a curved surface made entirely out of straight lines!? But they abbreviate it “MoMath”–their attempt at humor’s gotta count for something, right?
- It’s easy to get anywhere from either of them. If you’re not walking, there are subway stops nearby and Grand Central Station is just a few blocks away from both.
- Both are located in safe neighborhoods (but, as always, don’t walk alone on dark streets at night, wherever you are) with a lot of great food and drinks nearby.
Some of my favorites are:
- Pod 39 | Black Sheep Irish Pub – 583 3rd Ave
- Pod 39 | Bagel Boss – 544 3rd Ave
- Pod 39 | Heartland Brewery @ the Empire State Building – 350 5th Ave
- Pod 39 | Reichenbach Hall – 5 W 37th St
- Pod 39 | Xi’an Famous Foods – 14 E 34th St
- Pod 51 | Lucky Cat Ramen – 232 E 53rd St
- Pod 51 | Obao – 222 E 53rd St
- Pod 51 | The Halal Guys – Corner of 53rd St and 6th Ave
- Pod 51 | Xi’an Famous Foods – 37 W 54th St
⇣⇣⇣ Click on this little square thing to see the key and layers.
- To get almost anywhere you want to go, you have to walk through the Times Square / 5th Avenue madness. And if this is, in fact, not your first, second, or even tenth time visiting New York City, this can get old fast. Obviously there are ways (literally) around this, I just always seem to find myself swept up in the craziness if only by accident.
THE NEW YORK CITY POD HOTEL | THE ROOMS
If the New York City Pod Hotel is known for one thing, it’s the tiny rooms from which it gets its name. The rooms can totally be called ‘pods’ though they’re not nearly as miniscule as those in the similarly named capsule hotel whose rooms are little more than a drawer in the morgue. The rooms at the New York City Pod Hotel are small, sure, but this is Manhattan, dahling! How much time are you really going to spend in your hotel room? If the answer is anything more than “hardly any at all,” you’re doing the Big Apple all wrong.
Pod Hotels offer a variety of room types catering to different budgets, party sizes, and how big your suitcase is because, yeah, every inch counts in this situation. All situations really. Some come with private bathrooms, some don’t. But all sound like hipster coffee shop orders. However, unlike Starbucks, the New York City Pod Hotel doesn’t try to hide the fact that their rooms are itty bitty by giving them confusing-as-hell names like tall or grande. I ordered a “tall white mocha” at Starbucks the other day and when my husband saw it he goes, “I think they gave you the wrong order!” Hah.
THE DIFFERENT ROOM TYPES INCLUDE:
Mini Bunk (39 only) | Contains a twin-sized bunk bed tucked away in the coziest 90 square feet in Manhattan. When you climb down the ladder from the top bunk your ass will touch the opposing wall. Sleeps two and comes with a private bathroom (that is anything but in a 90ft2 room, am I right?)
Bunk (39 & 51) | Contains a twin-sized bunk bed but in a slightly larger room than the Mini—a gluttonous 120 square feet. Sleeps two and comes with a private bathroom at Pod 39 and a shared bathroom at Pod 51 (more on the bathroom sitch ⇣⇣⇣).
Double Bunk (39 only) | Contains two twin-sized bunk beds. Sleeps four and comes with a private bathroom so make sure these are three people you’re really close with.
Queen + Mini Bunk (39 only) | Contains a queen-size bed + twin-size bunk bed. They market it towards families wherein the kiddos sleep in the bunk and the totally respectable adults sleep side-by-side in the queen bed, not in the bunk bed holding hands over the side like I’ve only heard of people doing and that I’ve never done myself, okay? Gah, cool it with the third degree. Sleeps four and comes with two private bathrooms.
Single (39 & 51) | Contains one twin-sized bed and may just be the only place in Manhattan where you can be really, truly alone. Comes with a private bathroom at Pod 39 and a shared bathroom at Pod 51. Sleeps one (read that in Eeyore’s voice for full effect).
Full (39 & 51) | Contains one full-sized bed and a private bathroom at both properties. Sleeps “two” and it better be someone you love dearly because a full-sized bed is barely enough room for myself. Be prepared to either be shoved face-first into the wall or pushed onto the floor. Starfish sleepers FTW!
Double Full (51 only) | Contains two full-sized beds and a private bathroom. Sleeps four who are way too cool for bunk beds. Who even are you people?
Queen (39 & 51) | Contains a queen-sized bed (for two) and a private bathroom at both properties inside a whopping 140 square feet! Helloooo pillow fight!
Studio (51 only) | Sleeps four (in a queen bed + two twin-sized beds from what I can tell?) and is the only instance of something being called “Studio” that is actually the biggest option. It comes with a sitting area, private bathroom with tub, and a full-sized closet for when you just feel like this is where you’re going to live now.
The rooms are cozy and the beds comfortable. However, Kareem Abdul-Jabar or Gwendoline Christie may have differing opinions.
All rooms, regardless of whether they have private or shared bathrooms, have an area with a sink and mirror where you can do all your essential bathroom duties outside the realm of pee, poop, and shower.
The rooms have everything you need despite their small size: a plethora of electrical outlets (even two next to each bed and bunk), flat-screen TVs (one for each bed in the bunk rooms), a hair dryer, towels, a desk and chair (does anyone ever use these, really?), windows, a closet with hangers, luggage storage area, and lots of hooks on the walls. Some rooms even comes with an iron and ironing board. I know, right? I know.
The rooms are very quiet. Despite this being Manhattan and the teeny tiny rooms, you’ll almost never hear a peep from inside or out. The streets are quiet and the clientele is pretty respectful. Unless some jerk is standing in the hallway right outside your room screaming down the hall. But that happens everywhere.
The ladder for the bunk bed is stupid and I hate it. I’m a bottom bunk kinda girl as it is but sometimes you gotta take the top. Climbing up and down that ladder is cumbersome, uncomfortable, and I almost always come tumbling down after missing a step. It’s a metal ladder on a metal bed frame so it rattles constantly; it’s not steady when you’re on it; and it gets hella in the way.
THE NEW YORK CITY POD HOTEL | THE BATHROOMS
The bathroom situation at a New York City Pod Hotel is either “private” or “shared”. But again, this is not a hostel, so throw your notion of “shared bathroom” right off the roof because you can’t actually open the windows. The “shared bathrooms” are really private bathrooms but ones that can be used by anyone on your floor. There are four to a floor and each contains a private toilet/shower/sink. There are two locks on each bathroom door and they can only be entered using a room key. You don’t have to shower with strangers; they aren’t big rooms with multiple toilets and showers; they should really call these something else, for the love of God.
Each bathroom has a vacant/occupied panel on the door itself and with a special light board you can tell without ever leaving your room which ones are currently occupied. It’s actually a great system they’ve got going.
When I booked my first New York City Pod Hotel for myself and a (very close) friend, my instinct was to go for the private bathroom. I’ve learned since that I actually prefer the shared bathrooms so don’t jump the bathroom gun when choosing your hotel room. Hear me out…
PRIVATE BATHROOM PROS
It’s nice to take a shower in your own room, then get dressed right there. As opposed to sprinting wet down the hall in a towel or, worse, getting out of the shared shower and realizing you forgot to bring a towel with you. Now whatcha gon’ do, hmmm?
You don’t have to worry about forgetting to bring a towel with you. I think I just made that clear but, ya know, sometimes people just don’t read past the bold points.
PRIVATE BATHROOM CONS
When you shower, the entire teeny-weeny room turns into a sauna. Everything gets fogged up and cloudy and forget about even trying to keep your hair under control.
The private bathrooms allow for almost zero privacy. You must keep in mind that the entire hotel room is about 100 square feet and the only thing separating the bedroom from what happens in the bathroom is little more than a frosted glass door (that’s only frosted up to like your shoulders, and I’m short). Every sound and smell that comes out of there is shared up-close and personally with your travel buddy. Everything you do in there be it low, high, or behind closed frosted door can be seen clear as day to the unlucky one who ended up on the top bunk. Keep in mind: where a New York City Pod Hotel private bathroom is concerned, there are no secrets.
It’s crowded and inconvenient. With a private bathroom, the sink/mirror are in the bathroom, behind the frosted door. So if one person is showering, the other person has to be in the bathroom with that person to use the sink and mirror. If it hasn’t become blatantly clear by now: Pod Hotels are for very close travelers.
I hate rain showers. Both private and shared showers have those rainfall shower heads. I think most people would consider this a pro, judging by how they’re always presented as a perk, but I hate them.
SHARED BATHROOM PROS
Being able to go down the hall and do your business is actually more private than the “private” bathroom. The shared bathrooms are individual bathrooms with toilets, sinks, a mirror, a shower, thick walls and secure doors. Your secrets are safe.
The shared bathrooms are stocked with shampoo, conditioner, body wash, and hand soap so you don’t have to carry a bunch of stuff with you or fear forgetting something. Except a towel. Forgetting a towel is how secrets get spread.
You can tell from the panel in your room which shared bathrooms are occupied and which are vacant. This way you don’t have to keep going down the hall to check if there’s a bathroom open or wait around in the hall for one. Besides, I’ve never seen an instance where all four shared bathrooms have been occupied at the same time.
When you get up in the middle of the night to do whatever you have to do, you won’t wake up whoever you’re sharing the room with. Unless you suffer a violent fall coming down out of the top bunk.
The shared bathrooms are constantly maintained. They’re always clean and stocked with toilet paper.
SHARED BATHROOM CONS
Not for the claustrophobic. The shared bathrooms are spacious enough that there’s no issue with feeling cramped, but there aren’t any windows and the fear of those heavy locks on those thick doors not unlocking is real.
The shared bathrooms aren’t stocked with towels. This is easy enough to remember when showering but, when simply going to use the toilet, you won’t realize you forgot a towel until you wash your hands and can’t dry them.
THE NEW YORK CITY POD HOTEL | THE HOTEL AS A WHOLE
Each New York City Pod Hotel is a little different from the other but both provide more or less the same experience. I stay at both them on a regular basis and only make my decision as to which one based on price and availability. They’re similar enough to get them confused with each other after you’ve stayed multiple times; they’re similar enough that you can expect the same level of service at both; and they’re similar enough for me to just totally generalize my points here…
The rooms may be tiny but the common areas are big. Both have lobbies and seating areas that are large enough for Shaquille O’Neal and all his freakishly tall friends. Each has plenty of seating, a “play area” with foosball and such but I’d stay clear of this when Shaq’s around—he strikes me as violently competitive at tiny fake soccer.
Both Pod 39 and Pod 51 have spacious rooftop decks with fabulous views. Pod 39 has a rooftop bar that also sells tacos (it’s like they brought to life exactly what we were all wishing for) and Pod 51 has a wide open roof deck with plenty of seating options and awesome 360° views. Who doesn’t love a New York City rooftop? Pod 51 also has an outdoor garden area on the ground floor.
Both have on-site food and drinks. Pod 39 has Salvation Taco, a collaboration between a Michelin-starred chef and an acclaimed restaurateur but I lost you after “tacos” because who really cares about all that other stuff. Pod 51 has the Pod Café, a literal hole-in-the-wall offering coffee and breakfast items but also beer because they know a thing or two about people on vacation.
Both offer luggage storage, even after you check out. This service is free and your belongings are stored behind lock, key, and either one or two uniformed bellmen.
Both Pod Hotels offer free walking tours. I’ve never used this service but still, there they are—a different tour for each day of the week.
Free, fast Wi-Fi. Yes, shockingly there are still hotels today that make you pay for Wi-Fi or don’t have it all so this is, and probably always will be, a bonus worth mentioning.
That noon checkout time is HUGE. ‘Nuff said.
The staff is less than enthused. Some employees are nicer than others but when dealing with Pod Hotel staff members—from the concierge, to the receptionists, to the bellmen, and everyone in between—you get a general sense of “blah” or of them just not wanting to deal with you. This has been consistent over the two years I’ve been staying at a New York City Pod Hotel so, no, it’s not just me and it wasn’t just a case of the Mondays.
At possibly the worst time every morning, one of the three elevators gets shut down for housekeeping duties. This creates an absolute shit show between 9-10 am for the entire hotel of people leaving for the day to go enjoy the city and this happens at both properties. The elevators are small and the buildings are tall and when I say “shit show” I mean one time there was a 30-minute wait just to get down to the lobby. Obviously stairs are an option, but for some visitors they absolutely are not. Waiting half an hour to get to the lobby is ludicrous. After climbing down eleven flights of stairs, I saw there was also a line of people waiting to head up. Like, a long line. There’s got to be a better way!
THE NEW YORK CITY POD HOTEL | THE PRICE/VALUE
I’ve stayed at a New York City Pod Hotel the last four out of five times I’ve stayed overnight in Manhattan—I think that shows I find the Pod Hotels to be a fantastic value. Sure, some people might be turned off by the Pod Hotel’s lack of coffee makers in the rooms, gyms, business centers, room service, etc.—but maybe those people don’t understand the definition of the word value. What you get at a New York City Pod Hotel far exceeds what you pay for it. You don’t need coffee in your room–this is Manhattan; coffee is everywhere short of flowing out your sink faucet. You don’t need a gym–this is Manhattan; trust me you’ll get your exercise. You don’t need a business center—hello? I told you there was a desk and chair in every room. It even comes with a pen and a pad of paper! Remember paper?
Especially given their locations, you can’t get a better deal anywhere in Manhattan than at either of the Pod Hotels. I’ve stayed during the summer and fall and over major holiday weekends (July 4th, Labor Day, Thanksgiving) and their rates are always consistent and fair.
When staying at a hostel, you often sacrifice cleanliness, bedsheets, safety, or sleeping without a stray cat in your bed for those low, low prices. But at the Pod Hotel I don’t feel like there’s anything necessary I have to go without in exchange for being able to still pay my bills that month.
ESSENTIAL NEW YORK CITY POD HOTEL INFORMATION
POD 39 ★★★
CHECK OTHER REVIEWS AND CURRENT RATES: Here
ADDRESS: 145 E 39th St, New York, NY
PHONE: (844) 763-7666 / (844) POD-ROOM — Cute, guys.
CHECK IN: 3:00 pm CHECK OUT: Noon
SOCIAL: Facebook | Instagram | Twitter
POD 51 ★★★