Most of the hotels I know in NYC I have experienced through photo-shoots, which does not necessarily provide a good indication of what they would be like to stay in. Places like the penthouse at The Rivington Hotel in the East Village, the Flop House in Harlem, the Gershwin Hotel on 27th street – are all very extreme options. So I rely on feedback from people for recommendations, but also suggest looking at the area in the city you want to be in. Soho? Village? Central Park? Staying at the W Hotel in Times Square is going to be extremely different than staying at the W Hotel in Union Square or the Financial District. You may be a tourist but do not necessarily want to spend your holiday surrounded by them! Hotel rooms here are famously small, so if you are staying for more than a week, apartment style hotels like the Affinia in east midtown have small kitchens and separate bedrooms that could be handy. Doing a house swop via craig’s list can be enormously rewarding if you have time to do the research, and would put you in a ‘real’ New York situation. This gives you a completely different perspective of the city – and can link you with like minded people that become wonderful friends.