You cannot beat the Larchmont for location! I lived there for a month when it was first converted from an SRO to a hotel (1996). Then it was $40. a night.
They upgrade every year, and finally have a good elevator. (I think there's one or two old guys still living there!) They also have full kitchens to share.
The bathrooms are shared, but I have never seen them dirty. Maids are in there all the time.
But don't take a room on the first floor in the winter. The heating was terrible and the windows drafty.
Another great place to stay is the Carlton Arms on East 25th. Every room is painted differently by an artist. There's a famous "Submarine Room" by Brian Damage. On the premier etage the shared bathroom has an incredible mosaic tile, floor to ceiling... It looks like a Kenny Sharf. (by Phillipe Dawkins) They did not have working phones in the rooms, just a buzzer to let you know you have a call in the lobby, but that doesn't matter anymore with cell phones.
They had some old guys living there from the days it was a SRO too. Find them sitting in the lobby with the German tourists.
The rate was $320. a week in 1998.
They made you move out after 25 days so you couldn't become one of the bums.
... it's still there and it's $75 a night now without private bath and $500+ for a week.http://www.carltonarms.com/hotel.swf
Go to 'Rooms' and scroll over the amazing looks...
One of the shared bathrooms on the top floor used to be painted all over with hieroglyphs, like the weird bathroom in "The Tenant," where the inhabitants went to pray...