I found Hotel 17 on Air BNB. I chose this spot for my extended stay in NYC because it is located on 17th, between 2nd and 3rd avenue opposite the historic Stuyvesant Park in Manhattan, a 10 minute walk from Union Square and it’s affordable pricing.
It is the definition of an old school New York Hotel. Small dorm-like rooms, shared bathrooms, tiny corridors and aged, bordering on spooky décor. On my first day I was so afraid of seeing my new place that I made my girlfriend come along with me to look at it for the first time.
I checked in at the front desk, and nervously made my way into the elevator which was playing Beat It by Michael Jackson. I giggled to myself and thought well this can’t be that bad. The music in that elevator eventually became something I looked forward to as I came in and out from my various NYC adventures.
My girlfriend and I, carrying my luggage made our way down the tiny hallway on the 5th floor down to room 510. When I opened the door I was pleasantly surprised.
My room was small, yes, but it was clean and provided a space for me to hang and organize my clothes. A desk for me to work on, and a sink. A nice big window to let in the light and fresh air. A small window unit, a safe and a television for background noise. Relief swept over my body. I felt at home.
The staff at Hotel 17 ended up being some of the kindest and most helpful people I’ve ever encountered. Tariq, the manager was always there with a smile willing to listen to my latest story and help me when I locked myself out of my room while on the way to the shower or hand me a package.
One day he told me that Madonna used to stay there before she became famous. I said to him, “I will be your next famous person.” He said, “I believe you.”
The wonderful cleaning ladies kept my room spick and span. There was an older gentleman there who was always willing to help me when my AC was making weird noises or I could not figure out how to open the window.
The other guests could often be seen making their way into the building wearing fantastic costumes or carrying camera equipment. From time to time I would hear the bark of a small dog. Some people even live there. We made our way up to our rooms listening to Toto Africa (my favorite), Michael Jackson and Cindy Lauper at times laughing at the absurdity of the music being played.
My neighbors were a combination of models, artists, designers. All sorts of creatives who were, like myself, working towards their dream of making it in the big city come true. Some were eccentric. All were kind and respectful.
I affectionately referred to the place as “The Curvy Trini Manhattan Headquarters- Bathrooms are down the Hall.” I decided to take some photos of my friends who came to visit me during my stay, as I decided that one day this place would be a very important part of my journey to creating the life of my dreams.
Speaking of bathrooms, they were always clean and always available. That was something that I worried about profusely before moving in.
There is something very calming about living in a small space. Less clutter, less things to take care of. More time for living. In that tiny room I slept, I wrote press releases, I co-produced events with celebrities. I laughed, I cried, I celebrated with friends, I lived in Manhattan for 3 months.
I have tears in my eyes as I am sitting here writing this. I felt safe and happy in that tiny room, and over time it became my home.
If you are planning an extended stay in NYC, and are looking for a combination of convenience but are ok with the nontraditional, book yourself a room at Hotel 17. You will share bathrooms with strangers, but you will have an elevator, cleaning service, doorman and be walking distance from a major train line/ transport hub. You can’t always have everything you want when you are starting out in NYC. But this place is everything you need.