NYC on the Cheap and Chic

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Believe it or not, you can do the Big Apple on a small budget. Here, our top picks for a super fun getaway that won’t break the bank.

    WHERE TO STAY *

    Tend to think of purchasing a “package” only when it comes to booking a beach getaway down in the Caribbean? Think again. A package may be the cheapest way to get yourself down to NYC. We recently found a flight-and-hotel package on www.redtagvacations.com for $872 US per person for three nights at the über hip Hudson hotel. 356 West 58th St., 212-554-6000, hudsonhotel.com

    Staying at the Pod Hotel is kind of like staying in a super cool dorm room—think bright graphic bedding, with some rooms furnished with bunk beds. If you only need a place to crash for a night or two on your own, a single Pod Room goes for $159/night. Not, however, recommended for those who need space (the room’s not much wider than the twin bed in it) or those squeamish with shared bathrooms (even if they are kept very clean, as they are at the Pod). 230 East 51st St., 212-355-0300, thepodhotel.com

    A single room for under $100—yes, you read right. The Jane Hotel is located in the West Village (where you might just spot Sarah Jessica Parker herself—it’s where the fashion icon calls home) and while the decor might be a little faded and the bathrooms shared, you certainly can’t beat the price. Bonus: Café Gitane (see “Where to Eat”) is right downstairs, and did we mention that Magnolia Bakery is just steps away? 113 Jane St., 212-924-6700, thejanenyc.com

      WHAT TO DO

      Check out the events calendar on themoth.org and if you’re lucky enough to be in town on the night of a NY StorySlam or Stories at The Moth, escape the throngs of tourists and be sure to attend this most excellent live storytelling event put on by The Moth, a New York City-based non-profit organization. Past Stories at The Moth headliners have included Candace Bushnell, Simon Doonan and Malcolm Gladwell.

      What could be better for your easy-on-the-pocketbook vacation than finding things to do that are free? Visit nycgo.com and click onto Free in NYC, an online roundup of events and activities for every night of the week, where you’ll find details on upcoming free events such as Fashion’s Night Out or a complimentary capoeira class.

      Always wondered what that long line in the middle of Times Square is for? These people are waiting in line Broadway theatre tickets. Here’s the deal: head to TKTS on the day of the evening show you want to see (or for the next day’s matinee show). Double check the display for the shows on sale and grab your spot at the back of the line. What make it worth the wait? Tickets are 50 percent off here. N.B. If you’re wary of waiting in line for a long time, head down to the South Street Seaport where the line is often much shorter than the one in Times Square.

        WHERE TO EAT

        If you’re already heading to the Brooklyn Flea on Saturday morning, grab brunch nearby at The General Greene in Greenpoint, where you can dine on a chorizo and scallion scramble for $9 and share a scrumptious macaroni and cheese for $8. 229 Dekalb Ave., 718-222-1510, thegeneralgreene.com

        If you need to take a quick break from shopping in Nolita, grab a chair at the charming Café Gitane, where you can enjoy a cafe crème ($3.50) with your almond chocolat croissant ($3). 242 Mott St., 212-334-9552, cafegitanenyc.com

        You’ll always find a crowd at Café Habana (a cozy diner with a Cuban-Mexican twist)—and with good reason. The grilled corn Mexican style ($4.25)—two cobs covered in chili powder, lime and cotija cheese—is the best we’ve ever had, and the beer-battered Baja-style fish tacos are also just as sublime (and only $10.50). 17 Prince St., 212-625-2001, cafehabana.com

          WHERE TO SHOP

          Plan for at least a couple of hours of deal-hunting at Century 21—it’ll be worth the effort. We found a Phillip Lim dress that normally retails for $695 for $99.97, and a $775 Matthew Williamson skirt on clearance for $39. 22 Cortlandt St., 212-27-9092, c21stores.com

          If you love the relaxed, beachy aesthetic of the gorgeous offerings of Calypso Christian Celle but not the hefty price tags, you’ll definitely want to make your way over to the Calypso Outlet in Soho, where we scored a sweater dresses for under $100. 424 Broome St., 212-625-9616, calypso-celle.com

          Squeeze into this tiny Marc Jacobs Collection accessories shop in the West Village where you’ll find scores of inexpensive trinkets, such as cotton tote bags ($28), umbrellas ($18) and plastic rings ($12). Probably not worth waiting in line to get in, but it’ll be interesting people-watching time if nothing else. 385 Bleecker St., 212-924-6126, marcjacobs.com

            * Based on a double-occupancy stay unless otherwise noted. Meals and activities calculated per person.

            Prices are in U.S. dollars.

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