NYC Area's Best Kept Secret! A review of Comfort Inn
I had to book a 6-night stay in New York City for me and a friend recently and was shocked at how expensive hotels there cost! Most of the ones under $150 had horrible reviews here or were glorified hostels. Thanks to TripAdvisor, I found the Comfort Inn in Long Island City, which ended up costing us under $130 per night, including taxes, which was a relative steal.
The hotel is in a very convenient part of Queens, because it's less than a block from the Queensboro Plaza train stop, where you can board the N/W and 7 trains. We were apartment-hunting in Astoria, so this made it very easy, because we'd just take the N/W train straight up and be there in minutes. You can take the same train in the opposite direction and get to Manhattan very quickly too.
When we first arrived at the Comfort Inn, I was a little leary because it's not in the best part of town. However, the longer we stayed and the more I walked around, I realized that the area is in a state of change. The hotel is surrounded by old warehouses, tiny grungy convenience stores, hole-in-the-wall fast food restaurants, and a taxi-cab repair shop. But there's also a gleaming Citibank skyscraper, a new HSBC bank office, and other seemingly misplaced, new businesses. I read an article stating that Queens is going to become the next hip area, and that one of the first signs is the revitalization of Long Island City, which explains everything.
As soon as I walked into the Comfort Inn, I was struck at how new it was--it was quite a contrast to the mostly grungy, industrial area around it. A previous reviewer called it an oasis, which is the perfect word. The receptionist was exceedingly helpful--he gave us subway maps and went beyond the call of duty by giving us tips on how to use it. We already knew because we had been to NYC before, but we let him because it was so nice of him and he seemed eager to do it. I'm thankful we did, because he told us to avoid one of the local train stops because it was in a dangerous area--good tip!
In addition to the reception area, the lobby also had two modern couches and a few steps up from there was the breakfast bar area--a light and airy cafe-like area with a few tables and chairs where they provide free continental breakfast from 6-10am. We never got up early enough to try it though, so I can't comment on it. There's also juice and coffee machines. The coffee machine is awesome if you are like me and like gadgets because you can select from a number of drinks (coffee, tea, hot chocolate, cappucino, etc.) and it makes them for you on the spot. For coffee, it drops the grinded coffee and brews and extrudes it for you (almost like French-press style) and you can see everything because it's see-through. I'm a coffee snob and the coffee is much better tasting than what you get from those cheap vending machines you see in other places, or coffee that's been sitting in a pot for hours. Coffee and tea are free from this machine 24 hours a day, and other drinks are 75 cents.
Our room was on a non-smoking floor and had one queen bed. It happened to be handicapped-accessible but still quite small, but we didn't care. It was spotless and smelled new, and there was soap, shampoo, body lotion, and Kleenex in the bathroom (I didn't expect any amenities at this price). My favorite part was that there was FREE high-speed internet access in the room! That wasn't clearly stated at their website, so it was a very pleasant surprise, since I had to use the web a lot while there to look for apartments. We didn't have an ethernet cable, so they lent us one (just be sure to return it otherwise you get charged $20). The room was very comfortable and consisted of a bed, two nighstands, a short coat closet with safe (you swipe your credit card and get charged $2 a day if you use it), a desk with chair, 2 phones, an alarm clock, an electronic heater/AC/fan combo unit with digital thermostat, and a large remote-controlled TV with cable (not a whole lot of channels but they did have HBO). The bathroom had a fan and full bath/shower with nice stone walls.
Another terrific perk was that there was a "business center." We laughed at the term when we saw the center because it was just a corner of the fitness room with a computer and a printer, but it turned out to be a life-saver because I had to print some materials and they had a new HP laser printer there. The computer has a high-speed internet connection too. I just wish they had Microsoft Office on it, but since they didn't I just plugged their printer into my laptop and printer from there. We didn't use the fitness center, but that consisted of a treadmill, a stair-climber, a bike, and a water-cooler. Not bad for this price.
Security in the hotel is top-notch. There's a guard at the door 24 hours a day, and the door is always locked, so when you leave, in order to get back in, either the receptionist buzzes you in or the guard opens the door for you. We went in and out so much that they recognized us quickly, but if they don't, they're supposed to ask for your room key before you're allowed further in the hotel. Guests have to sign in. Someone was always around, so we never got stuck outside the hotel. The area can be a little creepy at night, but we didn't have any bad experiences. One night I had to walk to a nearby ATM to withdraw a large sum, so I was a little scared walking back, but the area was pretty dead and I didn't encounter any shady characters. You just have to use common sense and be alert as with any urban area.
There isn't a good selection of restaurants in the area, so you'll probably have to use the train to get to find a good full-service one (Astoria, which is minutes away, has tons of awesome and cheap ones, many ethnic). Within a block from the hotel you'll find a few little mom-and-pop stores and a Dunkin Donuts/Baskin Robbins. Right across the street there's a 24-hour hole in the wall greek-owned fast food place that has surprisingly good and dirt cheap food. You can get a slice of pizza for 99 cents, a western omelet with potatoes and toast for around $4, and some absolutely shockingly good greek salad and spinach and feta pie (I'm greek, so trust me, they were tasty!)
There is a 24-hour shuttle than you can take to/from either LaGuardia or JFK airports. We took it to LaGuardia and it cost $15, which they put on your bill.
Overall, the hotel was a pleasure. There were many free perks, the staff was friendly and helpful (the cleaning staff was especially sweet), and the location is awesome. Why should you pay so much for a Manhattan hotel when you can save a bundle right here and be just a few minutes away from all the fun?