While it’s not quite the nerve-blasting, gut-churning ordeal that is the San Diego Comic-Con hotel lottery, getting a hotel room for some other popular comics events has gotten a bit harder. And as more and more people travel – and hotel rates soar – that’s unlikely to change.

For San Diego, as you probably know, hotel rooms close to downtown are at such a premium that a hotel lottery is held, with thousands of people around the world desperately watching a little digital man walking across their screen as they hope the hotel gods will favor them with a close hotel room….and not the Motel 6 in Mission Valley.

The system is so well known by now that getting a lucky hotel room is just a regular part of the whole SDCC process. Even for those far out there are shuttles and trolleys and it all works out.

For some other shows, the ordeal is just developing.

SPX in North Bethesda, has actually had a small hotelpocalypse situation even prior to the pandemic. SPX is a relatively small show, but a much beloved one where tablers make a lot of money. The exhibitor lottery has become its own reach-for-the-Pepcid process, and because it’s a destination con where the show is held in a hotel and everyone stays at that hotel, the window for getting lodging there has gotten shorter and shorter. Making matters more complicated, this year hotel rooms didn’t open up until later than usual. 

Being a bit of a dawdler, and not having my usual highly organized travel companions, I forgot to get a room at the show hotel and…well, I’m staying at the Canopy a few blocks away for the very first time. I snoozed and I losed. It could very well be that I am the only person who forgot to get a hotel room at the Bethesda North Marriott, but suffice to say, I won’t make that mistake again, and I expect others will make sure their Calendar app sends them a reminder well in advance.

The situation at the SPX hotel HQ is particularly tight because the show is known as “Camp Comics” – everyone basically hangs out for the whole weekend and it’s a big community builder.  The showrunners have also negotiated a reasonable rate that even small press cartoonists can afford – especially when they bunk three or four to a room. I did ask a pal if they could get a cot but the hotel said “no cots are available for the weekend.” I believe rooms are just too tight for a cot, so bunk up, buttercup! 

As for NYCC hotel rooms, no one ever stresses about getting a hotel room because if there’s one thing NYC has a lot of, it’s thousands and thousands of hotel rooms. Unfortunately, they are usually very expensive, and looking at fall travel rates for ’23, anything resembling a bargain is a thing of the past.

The show does have a block of somewhat discounted hotel rooms, which became available back in June or so, but anything cheap (under $300 a night) got snapped up faster than chicken legs at a barbeque. And if on this very day you wanted to make a reservation for Wednesday-Sunday of the show…too bad, nothing is available on the con website for any price.

Once again, I know most people make travel plans farther out than a month before an event, but I know several Beat pals who are just getting around to it, and they were in for a surprise.

Oddly enough at this very moment you can stay wherever you want in NYC for under $200 a night. For some reason, battling the insects, rats, sweat, incredible street smells and muggy conditions of August in New York City isn’t a big vacation draw. 

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But come October, prices have skyrocketed to a minimum of $350 a night – with most much, much more. (By comparison, the Hilton and the Marriott, SDCC’s most wanted hotels, go for the same price.) Even the Yotel, usually a cheapish outpost for anime fans, is more than $500 a night – one hotel app I use actually lists it for $700 a night! Compare the price of the Pod Times Square above (August) and below (October)!

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One quirk about NYCC hotel rooms: there really aren’t any hotels close to the Javits Center, even with the massive Hudson Yards development going on across the street. Unless you count the Equinox, located across from the deadly and obnoxious Vessel attraction, which is going for a cool $1100 a night. At only $400 more than the Yotel, it’s probably a bargain.


It is a beautiful hotel, however, and includes a gorgeous fountain designed by sculptor Jaume Plensa!


Anyway, NYCC vets know that you’ll have to stay a few blocks away, or even further, so travel distance isn’t really a factor in choosing where to stay, since there are so many transit and walking options. Also, NYCC isn’t quite as much of a destination con as SDCC, with fewer out of towner attendees…but far more artists from around the world, by my guestimate.

New York has never been a cheap town to visit, so a lot of folks arrange to stay with pals or family in Brooklyn. Some bold folks even stay over in Jersey which is a pleasant ferry ride away – although getting home at night from NYCC’s legendary BarCon is bit more of a problem. Also some of the facilities look a bit quirky, if by quirky you mean looking like a renovated prison guard hostel outside the Holland tunnel.


UPDATE: I was chided in the comments for putting down the cheaper, economical hotels of New Jersey, and quite rightly. People are low on cash and affordable options are a godsend. I do think the Holland Hotel should put out better pictures, though, because other photos make it look quite pleasant! 

The Holland Hotel Reviews, Deals & Photos 2023 - Expedia

Gallery image of this property

While studying the hotels of San Diego is one of my life’s works, when people ask me where to stay in NYC, as a native, I’m usually flummoxed. I would suggest that there are a lot of odd, cheap but relatively safe hostel type situations in NYC, so if you’re really on a budget for NYCC, check them out. And if you don’t mind paying $400 a night, I tell people to stay on 28th St between 6th and 7th. It’s the middle of the flower district and in the mornings it’s like being in a botanical garden, and basically close to everything.

“Post” Covid, travel is soaring, along with prices, while basic amenities we once took for granted, like early check-in or not having your knees destroyed by an airplane seat, are disappearing fast. And comic cons, like other in person experiences, are bouncing back strongly. People want to get out and travel and do things!

As mentioned above, SDCC aside, I’ve usually been a dawdler where finalizing travel plans are concerned. It’s a habit I’m going to break for future travel, because it seems that hotel insecurity is here to stay….and for more shows than ever.



  1. As someone who has been employed by both ReedPop and the Holland Hotel, I believe I’m equipped to chime in at what reads like dismissive snobbery towards more affordable budget hotels in NJ. You might have pointed out the Holland Hotel’s nearness to the Path Train and how potential con attendees can park their cars at the hotel- which has a nightly security guard to patrol the parking lot- therefore also saving funds on expensive Manhattan parking.

    As comics culture continues to grow, so too does the lack of inclusion towards, well, poorer people. I know that conventions are a luxury but not everyone can afford those ReedPop VIP passes. Or the Holland Tunnel toll.

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