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Originally published Saturday, September 24, 2011 at 7:03 PM

Cheap sleeps in New York

If you're looking for a hotel room priced under $200 in Manhattan, maybe what you're looking for isn't a room. Maybe it's a pod, a cabin...

Austin American-Statesman

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NEW YORK — If you're looking for a hotel room priced under $200 in Manhattan, maybe what you're looking for isn't a room. Maybe it's a pod, a cabin or a capsule.

The city's newest budget hotels make the most of minimal space with hip décor designed to make a guest feel exceptionally cool, even in a tiny room. There are still some traditional rooms available at a good price, too, especially if you're willing to walk up stairs or share a bathroom.

When I wrote about affordable New York hotel rooms five years ago, I pegged affordable as anything under $150. I'm bumping the ceiling up to $200 this time, even though I've found some good ones for considerably less.

Everyone's definition of affordable is different, as is everyone's concept of what's an acceptable hotel room. See if any of these work for you (and be aware that rates can vary widely, with substantially higher prices during the fall and holidays):

Pod Hotel: Here's your best bet if you're dying to stay on New York's East Side but don't want to pay a fortune.

Small but contemporary rooms are designed to have the look and feel of a railroad sleeper car, right down to a pull-down hook for your coat and lighted icons over the door to let you know if one of the communal bathrooms is free. And, yes, the least expensive room — called the Single Pod — lacks a private bathroom. It includes a twin bed, safe, small desk, small flat-screen TV, iPod dock and free Wi-Fi. (Communal bathrooms are cool, with rain-head showers and granite counters). Or get essentially the same room with bunk beds. Fall rates start at $159 on Sunday nights. 230 E. 51st St., www.thepodhotel.com.

Jane Hotel: Can you handle a communal bathroom in order to stay in one of the city's hippest neighborhoods?

If so, the Jane is a deal. An updated 1912 building in the Far West Village, near the hip Meatpacking District restaurants and clubs as well as the High Line elevated park, the Jane also carries the train theme, but this time, it's a vintage train room.

A Standard Cabin includes a single bed — albeit with 300-thread-count sheets — flat-screen TV, DVD player, iPod dock, free Wi-Fi and safe. Rates start around $125 in the fall. (The Jane has rooms with private baths, but those, called Captains Cabins, are considerably more expensive.) The hotel will also lend you a bike. 113 Jane St. www.thejanenyc.com

Older budget hotels

Here are some older hotels, sometimes with quirks, but with relatively reasonable rates:

Chelsea Inn: This homey European-style hotel in Chelsea is a great option for those who don't mind climbing stairs, with rooms starting around $159 a night in the fall. You'll have a TV, fridge, sink, safe, free Wi-Fi as well as a free breakfast. 46 W. 17th St., www.chelseainn.com.

Chelsea Lodge: Wooden ducks and art adorn this immaculate, quirky inn where the toilets are down the hall but the shower and sink are in your room. Rates start at $124 (single occupancy, $134 for two people). The sun-splashed rooms also have TV and free Wi-Fi. 318 W. 20th St., www.chelsealodge.com.

DaVinci Hotel: Rooms at this Midtown hotel just east of the Theater District can be more than $200 in the fall (but drop significantly in January and other slow-travel times). Rooms have TV, a safe, a fridge along with a private bath. Pay a bit extra for a dinner package that includes a full Italian meal. 244 W. 56th St. www.davincihotel.com

East Village Bed & Coffee: Rates at this Lower Manhattan inn start at about $120 single occupancy (including tax). It's a B&B without the breakfast; they do give you coffee, though. Bathrooms are shared; resident dogs will greet you; and it's a place with a fun atmosphere. 110 Avenue C. www.bedandcoffee.com

Seattle Times staff contributed to this report.

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