NYC hotel prices soar nearly 20% as Airbnb ‘ban,’ surge in asylum seekers push room rates to new heights

Holiday travelers flooding into New York have no other option than to book a hotel room following the city’s clampdown on Airbnb this fall and an influx of asylum seekers — pushing hotel room rates to new heights.

According to Trivago’s Hotel Price Index, the average room is currently going for $529 per night — up nearly 20% from November, when the average nightly rate was $452 as tourists flocked into town for the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

The figure also marks a roughly 8% advance from last December, when nightly rates averaged $490, according to Trivago.

Prices in December notoriously surge as visitors set their sights on seasonal stops like the glittering Rockefeller Center Christmas tree and the nearby Saks Fifth Avenue window displays.

However, NYC’s Airbnb clampdown — known as Local Law 18 — took effect in September, limiting rentals to two guests and reservations to more than 30 days unless it’s registered with the city.

Tourists in NYC can expect to pay $529 per night for a hotel room — roughly 8% more than they would have during last year’s holiday season, according to trivago’s Hotel Price Index. Corbis via Getty Images
Aside from increased demand, Local Law 18 taking effect and preventing Airbnbs from renting out entire apartments for less than 30 days has pushed hotel prices higher.

The new rule also bans separate apartments or living quarters for short-term stays in both apartment buildings and private homes, imposing stiff penalties of up to $5,000 per violation. 

Airbnb has seen its listings plunge more than 75% since the rule went into effect, eliminating a key competitor for the hotel industry.

Experts also attributed increased room rates to asylum seekers, who are currently occupying more than 10,000 lower-cost rooms.

“Visitors to New York City have thousands of fewer rooms to stay right now, which is resulting in less choice and higher prices,” Taylor Marr, housing market economist at Airbnb, told local news outlet The City.

“The impact is likely to grow after December and especially during peak travel nights, such as on New Year’s Eve,” Marr added.

Meanwhile, more tourists than ever are descending on the Big Apple.

Local tourism bureau NYC Tourism & Conventions forecast that New York City will welcome over 63.3 million sightseers by the end of the year — a 12% increase from last year.

Seasonal tourist sites have become so crowded that early birds are stopping at the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree before sunrise to snap the perfect photo. Stefano Giovannini

The influx has locals and tourists alike waking up before sunrise to visit the most popular sites, like Rockefeller Center, which is usually thronged with selfie-seekers.

Just this week, a handful of people braced the 35-degree weather and gathered at Rock Center as early as 4:45 a.m. for the chance to nab a crowd-less picture and watch the famed Christmas tree spring to life at 5 a.m. sharp — when the Swarovski crystal star above the 80-foot Norwegian spruce bursts to life, followed by its 50,000 multicolor lights.

For reference, trivago found that in January, after all the holiday buzz died down, the average nightly rate was just $261 — a staggering more than 102% less than the $529-per-night rate visitors are currently dishing out.

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