Welcome to NYC — Your Mediocre Hotel Room is now $500 Per Night

I admit to traveling less of late (and I wear the badge of losing my super elite airline status with aplomb). After all, I'm no longer the road warrior consultant of my youth and I long for nights at home with the family versus those dodging bed bugs in shady hotels in the middle of nowhere or even five star establishments in metropolitan areas. One of the cities I've been visiting less recently than the past is New York. And I've been isolated from hotel prices in the city because I usually end up staying with friends or family in the area. But last week on a trip, my schedule was too tight to stay anywhere but a hotel. As my schedule was crazy and because someone else made the reservation, I did not even look at the price until check-out, which exceeded $500 including tax (and the gym was ten bucks extra). Now, this was not the Ritz or even some funky Ian Shrager hotel where razor-thin fashionistas sneer at business types like myself (but it's worth the brush off for the eye candy effect). No, it was a mid-range Westin that could have used a good dusting and a vacuum (not to mention some new hardware on the sink that had two speeds -- Niagra Falls and stop).

When I asked around, I quickly discovered why prices were so high everywhere in the city -- it's those Europeans who have come to spend their pounds and euros to see New York. In fact, in the hotel lobby, I barely heard a word of American English among the guests. German, French, British and Irish accents dominated in the hotel as well as the surrounding streets, where shopping bags from famous stores seemed to be tucked away under every tourist's arm. So I suppose for our economy's sake, being a low-cost tourist destination has its advantages. And as someone who loves globalization, I suppose I should be happy. But if this keeps up, I'll be sleeping on a street corner next time I visit Manhattan.

- Jason Busch

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