How do I find a hotel near good transit?

Map_of_hotels_near_washington_dc_metroHere's news you can use, or at least news I can use as an absurdly frequent flyer.  

All of the standard travel shopping sites make it very hard to assess the transit options from a hotel's location.  At most they have distances and sometimes car travel times.  So I often spend too long doing research, and pay too much for a hotel close to my destination when I might easily have stayed further away more cheaply if I knew good transit was there.

This, therefore, is a really good tool.  In the case of Washington DC, it helps you see all the hotels that are close (objectively close, not hotel-marketing-close) to a subway station.  It's the work of Jeff Howard, and he's also done one for Atlanta's MARTA subway.

You can get hints of similar output from Google, very crudely, by pointing Google Maps at a city and then specifying, say, "hotels near a DC Metro station," but Google is easily confused by excessively clear requests, and to Google, "near" means car-near, not transit-near.  Someday, maybe Google will understand "hotel within 400m of a frequent transit stop," or even "hotel within 30 min frequent transit travel time from ___".  But that's clearly a way off, and Google often seems more interested in interpreting vague search requests than replying to clearly stated ones.

In any case, even a competent search engine wouldn't produce Jeff Howard's very useful feedback about hotels.  Click on a station and there's a writeup about each station area, including a map showing the hotel's exact relationship to the station, and links to the hotels themselves, including a reservation widget.  Nice work, Jeff!


11 Responses to How do I find a hotel near good transit?

  1. Ilya Petoushkoff February 26, 2015 at 2:46 pm #

    Nice stuff.
    In case of big scale events when local hotels quadruple the prices, this idea also can be applied on a (inter-)regional level, if there are good commuting options available in a particular case.

  2. Miles Bader February 26, 2015 at 10:47 pm #

    In Google Maps you can just: (1) open your destination in Google Maps, (2) select “show transit” in the side menu (in the mobile versions, I think it’s a little more weird in the web version) which will optimize the display for transit (showing train lines and stations, deemphasizing roads and highways), and then (3) search for “hotel”… It will show little bed icons for hotels and a list of hotels in the current view on the side. You can then scroll around to find something to your liking and use the transit routing feature to see exactly how convenient a given hotel is to various destinations….
    [I tested this in the iPad app, the details may be slightly different in other versions of Google Maps.]

  3. Dexter Wong February 26, 2015 at 11:09 pm #

    When a friend of mine mentioned she was taking a trip to San Francisco and mentioned that she was staying at a particular hotel, I was able to use Google Maps to show her that the hotel was at the end of a well-known Muni bus line. I also used the Muni and BART websites to help plan trips in San Francisco for her.

  4. Easy February 28, 2015 at 11:00 pm #

    Google Hotel Finder lets you search for hotels within a certain number of minutes of travel from a destination. Just click on the Map button on the results page.

  5. calwatch March 1, 2015 at 4:47 pm #

    Also Rails to Rooms is available, which is a comprehensive list of hotels within walking distance of rail transit and Amtrak.

  6. Wanderer March 2, 2015 at 3:43 pm #

    City-specific: CTA posts a map of Downtown Chicago, and King County Metro has a map of Downtown Seattle showing hotels in relation to transit. New York and Chicago guidebooks will usually give you transit directions for hotels, it’s spottier for other cities.
    Airbnb hosts are well ahead of hotels on this. I’ve looked at a lot of Airbnb listings in Los Angeles and almost all the ones that aren’t in deep suburbia tell you where they are in relation to transit.

  7. Daniel Sparing June 19, 2015 at 2:00 pm #

    Jarrett, you might be interested, the software company behind the timetable planners of the majority of European railway companies has just came out with a product for transit travel time for real estate.

  8. Ale Baker October 15, 2015 at 4:48 am #

    Nice tool and nice information for the solo traveler like me. Last Time I tried it and save the enough time.

  9. hotels in nyc August 30, 2016 at 6:37 am #

    Very helpful and Great information,
    we appreciate advise especially coming from a professional.
    Thanks again and keep up the great work!

  10. hotels nyc October 2, 2016 at 5:18 am #

    Very helpful and Great information,
    we appreciate advise especially coming from a professional.
    Thanks again and keep up the great work!

  11. Ridley Fitzgerald August 10, 2017 at 12:46 pm #

    Staying in a hotel near public transportation is a good idea. Like you said, staying farther away from the actual destination is fine, if there’s good ways to get there. Next time we travel, I’ll look for something like this.