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The Pod: New York's most stylish budget hotel?

I wrote about a few of the photogenic places we ate, slept and shopped on holiday in the US earlier this year – in Mississippi, Nashville and New York. Today, a bit more New York, as I never shared the pictures our brilliant budget hotel.

The bar/restaurant downstairs. Meanwhile upstairs, on the 17th floor...

...the incredible rooftop bar. And here's the view from the seating area tucked behind the bar.

Doesn't look like the budget option, does it?

And if you've been to the Big Apple recently, you'll know that hotel rooms are astonishingly expensive – even the ones we found in various "affordable" round-ups were totally out of our league.

The original plan had been to Air BnB it, but there was nothing available. And now, of course, with the recent NYC law wranglings about these sorts of accommodations (they've been deemed "unlicensed hotels" and therefore potentially illegal, in case you missed this depressing development) cheap hotels are even more in demand.

Our hotel is one of two in a New York mini chain owned by hotelier duo, Richard Born and Ira Druckier of BD Hotels. It's called The Pod – we stayed at the newer premises, Pod 39 (so-called because it's on the corner of E39th Street – the other hotel is Pod 51, a few blocks up on E51st street). Aside from the astounding roof terrace cocktail bar pictured above, it also has a Mexican themed bar / restaurant on the ground floor, also shown in the opening image. And before we get onto the colourful decor, I should mention how excellent the cocktails were – particularly the unusual Salvation Michelada, which sounds weird but tastes amazing and blends Mexican beer with home-made chipotle hot sauce and lime, and the Sonora Old Fashioned – a mix of tequila and bacanora, a Mexican spirit that was once illegal, with chilli-honey and grapefruit bitters.

And the design, by Vanessa Guilford and New York restaurateur Ken Friedman, had just as much of a sunny theme.

Love the clash of patterns and the monochrome / colour combination.

This carved, illuminated wall, drawing on the traditional Mexican style, is filled with tiny religious and folk art figurines and objects in each cavity, backlit for drama.

I do love a tiled table. In fact, I'm coming right back round to the idea of a tiled worktop, despite advice against it when I wrote about the topic last year.

The bar, below, was also brightly patterned.

 More monochrome / colour clashes in this shelf niche. Nice.

What a great colour palette: bright as well as cool and calming all at once.

This beautiful woven rug pulls in all the colours throughout the bar. Along with incorporating some solid black elements or structured monochrome to anchor things, this is another good trick if you're going a bit colour crazy. You might need to find the rug – or fabric or painting – first though, and build the room around it unless you get very lucky. It's sort of what I tried to do when I painted my stairs seven different colours.

One of the walls in the bar / restaurant area.

And the long view.

Now for the rooms, and it's here that you'll see how the hotel has done the budget thing: they are tiny. But also extremely well designed to maximise space – for example there's room under the beds for luggage – so simple but such an under-used idea in the average hotel or B&B.

This was our room. A standard double, I believe. I think the Queen rooms have a smidgen more space and two bedside lights and tables.

I thought the bathroom design was really clever.

The shower and loo area were separated by the shower curtain, and you'd enter the room via the side with the basin and loo. (Great toiletries packaging too.)

The whole bathroom was behind glass, partially frosted for modesty, one half of which was also a sliding door. The wall-sized mirror facing back out into the room brilliantly bounced space back at you.

You can also get bunk rooms and single rooms.

For around $285 (£177) per room per night – £88 a night (per person) we thought it was pretty damn good for an immaculately clean, central New York hotel. I remember, a good few years ago, staying in an altogether different approach to budget in Times Square – we had to change rooms twice because of visible (and smell-able) remnants from previous guests.

See a bit more of the hotel and listen to Vanessa Guilford talking through the Pod's compact design.

Post by Kate


  1. That place looks AMAZING! We did Air B&B when we went to NY and had a fantastic experience, so I was really disappointed to hear about the licensing problems. Next time, maybe we'll stay here instead!


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  3. Wow, this is one really amazing POD! I just reserved for February 2014 and I'm staying at a bunk bed room. Did you feel safe there? I'm a single travelling female.... I've done my reservation through and got a better rate than through the official site of The POD.

  4. If you are ever in need of a recommendation for a fancy hotel in NYC, I would recommend one by Grandlife hotels - they are quite nice if you can afford them :)