Howto sleep in Boston for under $50

Boston is an expensive town to stay in I discovered. The first night I arrived here I got a room at one of the IA Hostels for $40 + tax + whatever. Did I say room? I mean a bed in a six person room, with shared toilet, dingy sticky carpeting, moldy walls, and a smell of times past. I also had to pay a taxi $15 to get there as I arrived late and was carrying a big box containing a robot. Like Dolphins that sleep with half their brain, in order to stop from sinking, as I recently discovered on NPR radio, humans have difficulty sleeping first nights in rooms, especially of course in shared rooms, and even more so when they carry a lot of valuable equipment around with them. Snoring room mates does not help, though I was lucky this time.

The next day I found out the cheapest hotel in the whole area are at $100 a night. If you sleep 8 hours, then that comes to $12 an hour, which seems a bit much to me for doing nothing. Most hotels are more expensive. In San Francisco, I could stay for $60 at the Elements Hotel in a spacious room with private bathroom, and for a little more stay at centrally located The Mosser Hotel in a very clean if small room with shared bathroom. So I was not expecting the Boston prices.

Given that I needed to drive to Sun offices in Burlington, which would require either paying a lot for a taxi and getting lost on public transport, I rented a car for $40 (including insurance and everything). As it happened I got quite a nice comfortable car, with reclining seats, so it occurred to me that here I had a good private bed, with shower in the Sun campus to go with it. So I slept overnight in the car.

The Sun campus has some very nice large rooms with comfy sofas that at night are completely deserted. These sofas also make for good beds. And the wireless connection is really excellent! Now you have to be a Sun employee to use those, so I can't recommend this for every Boston traveller. It's a pity to spend so much on property that goes unused at night, so I did my little thing there to help Sun make the best of its investments.

Yesterday, Friday, I stumbled upon "the plough and stars" in Cambridge just as a band of BlueGrass musicians were setting up (photo). The music was great. I could enjoy the band, drink some beers, and without fear go to my carhtel parked down the road. I was woken by some police early in the morning though, after pub closing hours, who were concerned that I was about to drive somewhere. I just explained to them that I was from Europe and that hotels were a little expensive in the area so that I had decided to sleep in the car. They confirmed that this was legal, and walked on.

Comments:

I found a nice hostel for $60 a night the YWCA on Berkeley Street.

Posted by Henry Story on June 18, 2007 at 11:06 AM CEST #

Won't Sun spring for a decent hotel room? Seems pretty cheap of them to make you sleep in your car. I mean, I know their stock price is in the toilet, but really.

Posted by Elliotte Rusty Harold on June 23, 2007 at 05:59 AM CEST #

Sun helped out nicely for my prolonged stay in San Francisco for JavaOne and then for the Semantic Technology Conference in San Jose. I like to travel around on my own accord, and that is easier if I don't have to ask my manager for contributions... If I can keep the costs to around $50 a day loging average, then that comes to the same as renting an apartment, so I don't mind paying for it myself.

Next time I come to the US, I think I will take my bicycle +gps with me, because the greatest wasted cost is car rental (an average of $40 a day, or more). In the Bay Area you can get most places quite comfortably combining cycling and public transport. The car just really gets in the way. Except of course when you sleep in it :-)

Posted by Henry Story on June 23, 2007 at 08:42 AM CEST #

"Seems pretty cheap of them to make you sleep in your car." My impression is, that you chose to sleep in the car. Sun is a multi-national-corporate-bigfish, but they don't have infinite money. But thats not the point, wasting money is something that can be avoided.
I am working for a research institute, and currently paid by European Union Funds. We have many many meetings all over Europe and the hotels that are suggested to us are usually BestWestern/IBIS/Hilton/\*.\* types of chains. They charge you 100$ per night, and thankfully you have to pay 10$ for Internet for an hour. As a tax-payer, I think this sucks and is a waste of my money, so we booked the Youth Hostel last time we had a meeting in Athens, Greece. First, its 15$ per day, second we had free Wifi.
Sometimes, I cannot step over this line where wasting money begins, even if its not my money. I think its a healthy brain exercise to care about these things. Thanks for posting, Henry!

Posted by Leo Sauermann on July 23, 2007 at 02:50 AM CEST #

I am working for a research institute, and currently paid by European Union Funds. We have many many meetings all over Europe and the hotels that are suggested to us are usually BestWestern/IBIS/Hilton/\*.\* types of chains. They charge you 100$ per night, and thankfully you have to pay 10$ for Internet for an hour. As a tax-payer, I think this sucks and is a waste of my money, so we booked the Youth Hostel last time we had a meeting in Athens, Greece. First, its 15$ per day, second we had free Wifi.
Yes, I am always disgusted by how much one ends up having to pay for 'corporate hotels', and then that they still charge you for every little extra such as wifi. I would be glad to pay for that on a honeymoon but for a night's sleep it gets to be a lot per hour.
I had the same experience you did at the foaf galway conference a few years back. The youth hostel was 3 times cheaper, was more fun - people usually have something interesting to say there - and had free wifi.
Having travelled around a lot now, I would say that one usually can have a reasonable single room at €35-55 a night, if one chooses to share the bathroom with other people. The problem in the US is that one has to add to that the cost of a rental car with insurance (and GPS if you are in a place you don't know) plus petrol which can easily come to $50 a day. Next time I go back to California, I am going to bring my bicycle with me, to reduce that cost down.

Posted by Henry Story on July 25, 2007 at 02:17 AM CEST #

Henry worked for me for a while and I can vouch that he is an absolute master of saving money while on the road. We (Sun) treat travel and program expense as roughly the same buckets of money, so saving on travel means more money for other things (like conferences). Again, Henry just boggled me with getting the most out of our money, and I was proud to have him maximize our dollar leverage. Although I still think he should figure out the mileage credit rate for riding his bike between countries.

Posted by Hal Stern on August 09, 2007 at 02:06 PM CEST #

The Elements Hotel was the absolute worst 'Hotel' I've ever stayed at!
Sure it's only $60, but it's just not worth it.

They advertise like they are a great boutique hotel with all the amenities but they are terrible! There's no hot water in the showers, the 'continental breakfast' is a couple of donuts with bad coffee, the first two floors of the hotel are a dance bar so forget about sleeping, the sheets and towels are not clean, the beds are really uncomfortable, the staff are terrible and never around when you need them, you don't even get a chair or anything in your room so theres no place to sit, the TVs don't work (you'll be lucky if you get one fuzzy channel), the 24hour internet doesn't work (the signal is too weak so you can't use your own computer and the computer station only has one working computer and it is \*very\* slow), they only clean your room after you leave and they don't give you extra towels soap or anything else, you aren't even allowed to bring food or drinks into your room, the roof top patio is nice but the food is totally over priced and bad, and since the whole thing is basically a bar open to the public you constantly have partiers walking through the hallways making lots of noise.

When we stayed there all of the hotel guests were hating it and wanting to get out but after you sign in they have a 48 hour cancellation policy so you will be charged for two days even if you leave!

It was absolutely awful and almost ruined our entire trip to San Fransisco.

I would totally recommend staying in the Mission District, its a really great neighborhood, but don't stay at the Elements, you will regret it.

Posted by sarah on August 12, 2007 at 11:43 AM CEST #

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