Most visitors to New York City think of Queens as the place where they arrive and leave via the airports—but it turns out that the borough is increasingly where travelers rest their heads at night.
Queens is leading the outer boroughs in new hotel development, spurred by one of its hottest neighborhoods, Long Island City, which has become a magnet for nearly every prominent hotel brand. Queens added about 500 rooms this year through mid-April, or 9% more than the same period last year, according to STR, a research firm that tracks hotel data. By contrast, Brooklyn did not generate any new hotel rooms during the same period.
Queens may not enjoy Brooklyn's cachet, but it dwarfs its hipper neighbor in hotel rooms. There are 10,489 rooms in Queens compared with just 3,986 in Kings County (of course, they both lag far behind Manhattan's 86,044). The majority of hotels in Queens are clustered around LaGuardia and JFK, but the significant growth is occurring outside the airport markets.
Long Island City may be trying to be Queens' answer to Williamsburg, but it has a way to go before it can command Brooklyn's room rates and wide recognition. The average daily rate in Brooklyn during the first four months of this year was $153, compared with $128 in Queens, according to STR.
What's more, despite rapid residential development, Long Island City still lags in amenities that would lure visitors.
"There are not enough restaurants in Long Island City to handle all the residents," said Ravi Patel, who opened the Ravel Hotel in 2008, a boutique property at the foot of the Queensboro Bridge.