NYC Tourists Keep it Frugal, Find Community With Religious Hotels

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By Emily Drooby

Tucked away on West 23 Street in Manhattan sits the Leo House. 

From its reception desk to its key drop, it looks just like an ordinary New York City hotel.

But  the hotel’s president, Michael Coneys, can tell you that it’s not. 

“We have all the amenities of the Catholic Church combined with a modern guest house,” he explained.  

Sister Marilyn Ellickson has walked these halls as an employee for 12 years. The Catholic guest house has a chapel for mass, the rosary is prayed daily, and religious symbols adorn the walls. 

From Mother Teresa who stayed there to a non-believer, everyone is welcome. 

“The mission of the Leo House is hospitality and it carried out because first of all everyone is invited to stay here and we have had guest here from all over the world, every religion.”

In 2018 65.2 million people visited New York, where the average cost of a hotel room is at least $216 per night. 

Guesthouses are one of travel’s best kept secrets, offering budget-priced accommodations. 

The Menno House in Gramercy Park is one such house. Run by the Christian Mennonites, it has a few guest rooms for $100. Seafarers International House in Union Square  an affiliate of the Evangelical Lutheran Church offers rooms at close to $100 a night. 

And at The Leo House, rates are as low as $189 and include a free breakfast. Due to its non-profit status, guests are not required to pay taxes at the Leo House, which also offers discounted rates under $100 for clergy, those visiting the sick, and service members.

Price was why main reason why Silvia chose to stay at The Leo House

“I was comparing the prices. I’m traveling alone, and I think it’s a very good price,” she explained.  

Every year about 40,000 guests from all over the world make The Leo House their home for a little while, enjoying the price, the community, and as their guests say, “seeing Jesus around every corner.”