The Staycation is a contentious affordance here in Brooklyn. Amidst an ongoing affordable housing crisis that leads to things like this and this, there’s just something icky about the practice of spending hundreds of dollars to enjoy a fancy weekend in Brooklyn a few blocks from you actually live. But hey, maybe you work hard to earn that chunk of vacation change and you couldn’t afford to fly anywhere (though FYI, yuge airfare savings are coming later this fall). So if that’s how you wanna spend Labor Day weekend, we’re not judging.
We recently learned from Bedford & Bowery that the Wythe Hotel, like so many other #brands these days, is trying to appeal to the Brooklynite population by offering half-price rooms to BK residents over Labor Day weekend. That’s right folks, with proof of a BK address comes a shiny $132/night bunk bed room, half off its regular $265 price tag. I mean yeah, bunk beds. But in bunk bed room’s defense, it has flat-screen TVs in each bunk.
Even with this discount, though, is it better to rent with Airbnb? Avoid the capitalist machine, and all that? We compared two Labor Day weekend rentals, both alike in dignity and available at the time of this post: a bunk-bed room at the Wythe Hotel in Williamsburg (still available to book, as of this post time) and this comparable Airbnb room right next door.
To help you make a bed-ucated decision about where to lay your head this Labor Day, we looked at how each one stacks up in room quality, amenities, even ethics. Yes, ethics. Whereas Airbnb is oft-accused of hurting the affordable housing stock in the city, The Wythe is practically a pillar of achievement for slimy developers seeking to make Williamsburg the “New Manhattan.”
The Wythe: $132/night + taxes and fees
Sidiq’s Airbnb: $99/night + taxes and fees
The Wythe is a 200 sq. ft, west-facing room, with two XL bunk beds (just like NYU!), floor-to-ceiling windows and a private bathroom. It sleeps two. The AirBnb is a private bedroom in a 2br apartment, with a daybed that pulls out into a king and a shared bathroom. It also sleeps two.
Both rooms have a nostalgic feel. The room at the Wythe hearkens to a bygone era of siblings or summer camp, allowing you to do upsy-daisies to the top bunkmate or have them hang down as you exchange dreams for the future. The room at Sidiq’s is similarly childlike—as in, it looks like it actually belonged to a kid. Replete with zoo animal decals and kid-size furniture on either side.
At the Wythe, you’re on the second or third floor of a posh hotel and would exit among a sea of tourists through the swanky lobby every day. At Sidiq’s, you occupy the entire floor of a North Williamsburg apartment and upon exiting would likely rub shoulders with REAL BROOKLYN TENANTS like yourself.
Both rooms are within a stone’s throw of McCarren Park.
The Wythe offers floor heating plus heating/AC, all bathroom essentials, LED TVs in the bunks, a full-service minibar and free wifi. Sidiq’s room offers heating and A/C, kitchenette, TV in the common room, limited essentials (soap, towels and TP), and free wifi.
So with the Wythe, since it’s still summer, you don’t really need the floor heating. But the TVs and wifi and bathroom stuff is certainly useful. Sidiq’s amenities are similar. You may not be able to grab a $6 chocolate bar from a tiny fridge, but if you actually use minibars when you travel then that’s a different problem entirely. The AirBnB allows you to grocery shop, which is kind of an amenity of its own.
There are also, of course, the unspoken amenities of a hotel staycation: the 24-hour concierge at the desk, a security box for your valuables, and the fact that won’t be locked of your apartment if you lose a key. Sidiq’s AirBnB has an intercom and buzzer, but that’s about it.
THE ETHICAL ARGUMENT
It’s easy to rail against the tourist-hungry New York machine that results in such egregious Brooklyn hotel room costs. $265/night to room in a bunk bed is pretty crap, and hotel developers are certainly as much to blame for BK residents’ displacement as any other slimy landowners and buyers. But it’s worth acknowledging the comparable argument against AirBnB—namely, that it’s a lawless service that “incentivizes the removal of rental units from the already stresses housing market,” driving up rental costs by reducing housing supply while avoiding taxation laws and other levies imposed on hotels.
Ultimately, it’s a preference thing. It’ll cost you about $100-150 more to stay at the Wythe than at a nearby AirBnB alternative, but if you want a guaranteed comfy bed and the fancy feeling that a hotel affords, you know where you’re going to get it.
Either way, if you’re a local considering a staycation, in an AirBnB or otherwise, it’s worth doing some research on what you can do to balance the scales in the wake of your stay, such as getting involved with your local tenants’ union or trying your hand in a cycle of participatory budgeting for your neighborhood.