Here’s what a $39-a-night Airbnb in New York City looks like

TRD New York /
Jun.June 26, 2016 10:03 AM

New York City, in all its glory, isn’t cheap. If you’re visiting just for the night, expect to drop over $260 on a hotel room. You might find a better deal through Airbnb, where the average nightly rate is $149. Alternatively, you can sleep in a converted taxi cab for $39 ($50 after the cleaning and service fees).

One Airbnb host has converted vans, campers, and iconic New York City taxis into ‘rolling rooms’ for all of the budget travelers out there.

What is it actually like to stay overnight in a yellow cab?

I ditched my overpriced Manhattan apartment for two nights and tried it out. Here’s what it was like:

Knowing it would be a tiny space, I wanted to pack lightly, yet still cover all of the essentials to make it a comfortable stay. Among the things that made the cut were: work clothes, a few toiletries, two washcloths, an extra blanket, portable speakers, a laptop, a book, and melatonin to help me sleep.

Two last-minute additions — toilet paper and hand sanitizer — were game-changers. We (I brought my roommate along) also bought two bottles of water on the way, which we figured we would use to brush our teeth and wash our faces.

We made the easy commute from Manhattan to Long Island City, Queens, where we found our home for the next two nights parked on this dead-end street.

The view from our ‘front door’ wasn’t shabby. Check out that Manhattan skyline!

We were greeted with this lovely minimalist setup, which included a battery-powered fan, full-size mattress, curtain, and a few decorative touches.

Here’s the view from the front seat (and no, you cannot drive the taxi).

And the view from our ‘front door.’ Can you spot the Empire State Building?

Our first night there, we ordered Seamless and fired up Finding Nemo. It was dark outside by the time our food arrived (directly to our window!), so we ate inside. It was a mistake that the lingering aroma of fried rice reminded us of all night. Not only is eating in close quarters tricky, but we had nowhere to preserve the copious leftovers and ended up wasting a lot of Chinese food.

When it came time to sleep, I quickly realized it was going to be a long night. The bed was more than comfortable, but the combination of sleeping in a new and unfamiliar place, cars and trucks whizzing by, and temperature fluctuations (we went from sweating to shivering within a few hours), made for a lot of tossing and turning. I slept no more than eight hours over the course of the two nights, despite the melatonin.

If you don’t mind sacrificing sleep (and if you’re not visiting for too long), the taxi could be a good option if you want to do NYC on the cheap. After all, you’re only there to get some shut-eye. That being said, not having conveniences like an outlet or bathroom requires a lot of planning ahead — you’ll have to set aside time throughout the day to charge any electronics at cafes and find public bathrooms to use.

Overall, the experience is like glorified camping … with sweet skyline views.

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