Hip, Affordable Hotels in the Best Cities

NEW YORK (MainStreet) — Don't think you can afford a hotel room in New York, San Francisco, Washington D.C. or Chicago?

You can because just about every big American city has at least one gem of a hipster hangout with prices suited to the PBR set.

No, you cannot afford $925 per night, which is the price we found for this weekend at the Plaza on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan, or $539 for the Ritz Carlton in San Francisco, or $523 at the Jefferson Hotel in Washington, D.C., or $515 for the Waldorf Astoria Chicago.

But you can afford my personal favorite San Francisco hotel, the Hotel Carlton on Sutter Street, in what is arguably Lower Nob Hill or the Tenderloin neighborhood. This neighborhood also is remarkably near Market Street (the hotel is an easy walk from the BART stop), Union Square, North Beach, pretty much wherever you are going.

A big plus: the Tenderloin also is where Dashiell Hammett lived and wrote The Maltese Falcon. You could call the neighborhood a character in that classic noir novel.

On my last trip to this hotel, part of the stylish and value conscious Joie de Vivre group, I paid $135 per night. Inclusive of free WiFi, a nightly wine hour and decent in-room coffee. That was for a good sized room.

Who stays at the Hotel Carlton? In my informal study, lots of foreign tourists, frugal hipsters and low budget business travelers. It's a mixed crowd; anybody fits in. And at a price that leaves you plenty to enjoy San Francisco.

The Hotel Carlton is not the exception, it's the rule. In whatever big city you find yourself, know there are going to be smart, fun, budget friendly hotel choices but you have to hunt them out. Do that and you'll enjoy a stay that is friendly on the wallet but, in many cases, you will also get a bigger room and sometimes better service than that dished out by the chains.