Top 10 Worst Hotels With Bed Bug Problems in New York City (As of July 2021)

By Andi Williams

Key findings:

  • The top three bed bug hotels in New York City for 2021 include the Queens County Inn & Suites of Long Island City (No. 1), Manhattan’s Wellington Hotel (No. 2), and The Bowery House (No. 3).
  • The frequency of bed bug complaints for NYC hotels stabilized at 86 or more reviews per year between 2010–2020.
  • Out of 188 NYC hotels with one or more bed bug reviews after 2016, about 80% of locations are located in Manhattan and contributed 85% of all online reports for hotels in NYC since 2004 (1,249 in total). 
  • Approximately 57.8% of NYC bed bug hotels are located within a quarter-mile radius of Times Square in Manhattan. 
  • Three hotels within the Top 10 already have bed bug reviews for 2021, while four other top-ranking hotels received their latest complaints in 2020. 

New York City will always be one of the top travel destinations in the United States. Whether it’s the food, music, people, art, or museums, there’s something for everyone in this beautiful, gigantic city. But before you pack your bags to appease your inner travel bug, you might want to assess your risk around the most notorious traveling pest around: bed bugs.

What are bed bugs?

Bed bugs (of the genus Cimex) are essentially the arthropod version of vampires: they are light-sensitive, feed on human blood, and are known to cause physical and psychological distress. But what makes bed bugs particularly menacing is that they destroy living spaces and are very difficult to remove once established. 

Bed bugs were nearly eradicated from the United States due to the use of potent pesticides like DDT. But since the US banned the environmentally dangerous agent in the 1970s, bed bug populations slowly made their way back into American homes. Only this time around, bed bugs (including their larvae) are resistant to most commercial pesticides, so the only way to remove them is through traps, vacuums, or heat treatments. 

There are other noteworthy reasons why bed bugs are notoriously difficult to exterminate: 

  1. Once-fed bed bugs can live anywhere between 135–277 days without a blood meal, so starving them of food is not an effective way to get rid of them. 
  2. Depending on temperature and food supply, bed bugs can live up to 2–16 months. So if you’re counting on typical insect life cycles, you’re sorely out of luck. 
  3. Encountering a single female bed bug can spell disaster, as one of the most common female bed bugs reported (Cimex lectularius) can lay 5–8 eggs per week. 
  4. Depending on the location and the severity of an infestation, average extermination services cost around $1–2K. (If you live in New York, that is basically your monthly living expenses for a small studio apartment.)

Bed bugs like to live in your bed, but you find them anywhere

Bug bugs infest new properties through human traffic by clinging to clothes or hiding inside someone’s belongings. In most cases, they are found in people’s homes, but it’s not uncommon to pick up these blood-sucking hitchhikers in hotel rooms, airports, bus stations, movie theaters, or even hospitals. 

As for New York City, public bed bug sightings have been as random as subway benches and the Apple store. However, such reports are just as common internationally within countries like India and parts of Europe. 

How to tell if your flatmate is a bed bug

The easiest way to detect bed bugs is to pull back blankets, sheets, bed skirts, and mattresses to find “harborages” (or “colony dwellings”). But as mentioned before, bed bugs can live anywhere, and especially where it is dark, concealed, and near people. 

After checking the mattress, double-check furniture drawers, loose light sockets, curtains, sofas, or closet spaces for obvious evidence of bed bug activity, such as: 

  • Bed bugs (obviously)
  • Bed bug larvae (tiny, pellucid eggs with brown spots)
  • Bloodstains from feeding or squished bed bugs
  • Fecal spotting and exoskeleton shedding around harborages
  • A “buggy” odor produced by bed bug pheromones 

Bodily symptoms of bed bugs also manifest in the following ways: 

  • Red bite marks (typically several along a curved line) 
  • Inflammation, redness, severe itching, pain
  • Blistering or necrotic lesions (in extreme cases)
  • Varying degrees of allergic reactions
  • Fatigue, anxiety, and irritability 

You’re not crazy. Bed bugs can appear overnight. 

Contrary to what a hotel manager might say, bed bugs don’t need to establish themselves in a room to find you. Hungry bed bugs emit pheromones in their dwelling, leave to find a “blood meal,” and then follow their scent back home. 

You can tell your landlord or manager that, according to science, bed bugs track down blood donors by detecting human skin chemicals, carbon dioxide, and body heat (we know, it’s almost too creepy to believe). 

Additionally, bed bugs often wait until 1-5 am to feed on sleeping victims, which is why even the most vigilant hotel guest can wake up to dozens of welts, blood spots, or live bugs in the bed.

Why rank the Top 10 bed bug hotels in New York City?

Nobody likes to talk about it, but New York has a sorted history with bed bugs from the last few decades. You see, the resurgence of bed bugs paralleled with grew with the availability of the internet, social media, and cable television. So when we say that a “media frenzy” ensued, we are not just talking about the news. 

There was no shortage of Animal Planet documentaries, viral YouTube videos, and, of course, the emergence of the Bedbug Registry in 2006. Bed bugs quickly became the boogieman of pests for both homes and hotels, haunting hotel staff and guests for years to come. 

The hysteria was not all for nothing, though. In 2011, Terminix and Orkin pest services ranked New York City within the US’ top 10 bed bug cities (ranking at No. 1 and No. 7, respectively). On either list, New York outpaced Philadelphia, Baltimore, Boston, Los Angeles, and Dayton, Ohio. 

Fast forward to 2021, and nearly every hotel in NYC has been affected by bed bugs at some point since the 90s. Their presence in the city is practically normalized, with many NYC Redditers readily providing tips on which pest treatments to use, slack landlords, or how to tell when one apartment is responsible for an entire building’s prevailing bed bug problems. 

But just because New York struggles with bed bugs, it doesn’t mean every traveler is doomed to an infestation. A common way to assess one’s risk before booking a room is to read through websites like Tripadvisor, Expedia, or Yelp, but it’s vital to know that such platforms rely on reviews written by unverified hotel guests. What this means is that if you’re unable to identify a bed bug on your own, you may end up believing a hotel has bed bugs when someone actually reported a crushed spider or potato bug (it’s more common than you think). 

To make everyone’s lives a little easier this year, we’ve compiled thousands of hotel reviews from Tripadvisor, Bed Bug Reports, and Bedbug Registry while filtering out the less-than-credible reviews. 

In doing so, we hope to provide travelers with a balanced perspective on bed bug risks in 2021 and encourage the US hospitality industry to be more transparent about matters regarding public health. After all, if hotels made bed bug reports available to the public, we wouldn’t need to rely on review websites to make safe, informed decisions before traveling. 

Selecting hotels for the Top 10 bed bug hotels in New York City

To create the Top 10 bed bug hotels in New York City for 2021, we began compiling bed bug reviews for 758 operating resorts, hotels, motels, bed and breakfasts, and vacation rentals from Tripadvisor, Bed Bug Reports, and Bedbug Registry

Locations with bed bug reviews on two or more platforms after 2016 made it to the next phase, leaving us with 188 locations with a consistent track record of bed bugs. The final consideration for making the Top 10 compares a hotel’s all-time bed bug count (all-time rank) against the number of reviews they received between 2019 and June 2, 2021 (2-Year rank). 

We chose to compare these numbers to avoid unfair scoring against hotels without a track record of systemic infestations. Therefore, the more consistent the issue is with a particular location, the higher their risk for future bed bugs. 

After ranking the hotel’s all-time bed bug count and the frequency of complaints since 2019, we averaged the two rankings to find which hotels pose the most consistent risk to incoming travelers in 2021. The average rank (All-time vs. 2-year) is worth 75% of the hotel’s final raw score. The final 25% of a hotel’s score is determined by the date of their last review.

Not all reviews made the cut

Due to the nature of user-generated websites, there are several reasons why we omitted specific reviews: 

  • Obvious ranting, slander, or malicious tones. 
  • Inaccurate descriptions accompanied by a lack of photo evidence.
  • Rude or prejudiced speech against hotel owners, staff, or guests. 
  • Post replies and arguments between hotel management, guests, or disgruntled employees.
  • Language that implies a review author makes an assumption based on previous posts rather than evidence or personal experience. 

All credible bed bug reviews must specifically indicate “bed bugs” and/or accurate symptoms of bed bugs. No flying insect, cockroach, tick, flea, ladybug, gnat, silverfish –– or any other bug you can think of ––  is a fair substitute for a “bed bug.” Likewise, not all rashes, bloodstains, or residues are automatically indicative of a bed bug issue.

We believe that the more objective our approach is in tallying each hotel’s bed bug reviews, the more our readers and hotels can benefit from understanding where certain hotspots exist around their city. 

The Top 10 Bed Bug Hotels in New York City (as of July 2021)

#1. Queens County Inn & Suites Long Island City

40-34 Crescent Street | Queens | Long Island City, NY

Tucked away in the Queens borough of NYC is the Queens County Inn and Suites, an unpretentious, 3-star hotel that unassumingly holds the third-highest bed bug review counts for all of NYC. 

Out of the 36 complaints received since 2010, seven complaints occurred between January 2018 and February 2020. But in case this doesn’t appear very high, here’s some perspective: the average rate of online bed bug complaints for NYC hotels is one review per year. Over ten years, this location received an average of three complaints per year. 

On the bright side, Queens County Inn and Suites saw their worst review years in 2012 and 2015 with six complaints each, which means their three reviews after 2016 are significant improvements, to say the least. And like any hotel, we’re sure there are plenty of redeeming qualities about this property that are not left out of online reviews. But when it comes to bed bugs, it’s safe to say you might be rolling the dice.

Data Summary for Queens County Inn & Suites Long Island City

Source count: 2

Date of last review: 1/2020

All-time rank: #3 (36 reviews)

3-Year rank: #5 (3 reviews)

Worst review years: 2015 & 2012 (6 reviews each)

#2. Wellington Hotel

871 Seventh Avenue | Manhattan | New York, NY

“The Wellington” sounds quaint, right? The name has a special ring to it that makes you think of an English story character embarking on a hero’s journey to save scones or something. But in reality, The Wellington is yet another 3-star hotel in the neverending battle against bed bugs. 

With 20 all-time reviews, The Wellington is not the most likely hotel to host bed bugs. However, the hotel received its latest complaint in November 2020 and four reviews over the last three years. At this rate, the hotel appears to be making little progress from its worst review years in 2013 and 2017, with three reviews each. 

Data Summary for the Wellington Hotel

Source count: 3

Date of last review: 11/2020

All-time rank: #13 (20 reviews)

3-Year Rank: #3 (4 reviews)

Worst review year: 2017 & 2013 (3 reviews each)

#3. The Bowery House

220 Bowery | Manhattan | New York, NY

Compared to other locations around NYC, The Bowery House does alright in terms of avoiding too many online complaints (or so it seems). For starters, the hotel has only been open since 2011, so it’s almost impressive that this 3-star “hotel hostel” managed to outpace older hotels in 2012 and 2015 with five reviews each year. 

Since then, The Bowery House has acquired eight bed bug complaints since 2018, which is technically more than any other New York hotel. As far as our ranking goes, the Bowery’s main saving grace is that it only received 20 all-time reviews (fingers crossed that it’s not because it avoided the internet between 2004–2010). 

Data Summary for The Bowery House

Source count: 2

Date of last review: 1/2020

All-time rank: #13 (20 reviews)

3-Year rank: #1 (6 reviews)

Worst review years: 2012 & 2015 (5 reviews each)

#4. Millennium Hilton New York One Plaza

 

1 United Nations Plaza | Manhattan | New York, NY

The Millenium Hilton New York One Plaza is a 55-story hotel in Midtown Manhattan. Since 2004, the 4-star establishment received 12 bed bug reviews and only three complaints over the last three years, which (historically speaking) isn’t shocking for NYC. But since the Millenium Hilton received two online complaints in April 2021, there’s reason to suspect that the hotel might pose a higher risk to visitors this year than other locations. 

Data Summary for Millennium Hilton New York One Plaza

Source count: 2

Date of last review: 4/2021

All-time rank: #26 (12 reviews)

3-Year Rank: #5 (3 reviews)

Worst review year: 2012 (5 reviews)

#5. Hotel Edison

 

228 W 47th Street | Manhattan | New York, NY

Hotel Edison is an NYC classic located in Midtown Manhattan (a mere three-minute walk from Times Square). The 4-star art deco hotel has been around since 1931, so it’s no surprise to hear that the hotel received 22 bed bug complaints since 2007. 

The upside is that Hotel Edison’s annual rate of reviews has declined since its worst year in 2009 (six reviews). But since the last complaint arrived in December 2019 (and it’s literally right next door to other bed bug hotels), we suggest checking those sheets before lounging on those sheets. 

Data Summary for Hotel Edison

Source count: 2

Date of last review: 12/2019

All-time rank: #10 (22 reviews)

3-Year Rank: #5 (3 reviews)

Worst review year: 2009 (6 reviews)

#6. The Manhattan at Times Square Hotel

790 7th Avenue | Manhattan | New York, NY

If you’re looking for easy access to some of NYC’s most popular attractions, then The Manhattan at Times Square Hotel is one of the most convenient locations in the city. But if you’re trying to avoid giving bed bugs easy access to your personal space, you might want to practice extra vigilance in this building. 

Over the last 13 years, the 3-star hotel has received 25 bed bug complaints, with its worst year appearing in 2010 with six reviews. But unlike many NYC hotels that shut down for the majority of 2021, The Manhattan at Times Square is back up and running, receiving its latest bed bug complaint in April 2021. 

Data Summary for The Manhattan at Times Square Hotel

Source count: 2

Date of last review: 4/2021

All-time rank: #7 (25 reviews)

3-Year rank: #29 (1 review)

Worst review year: 2010 (6 reviews)

#7. Courtyard by Marriott / Midtown East

 

866 3rd Avenue | Manhattan | New York, NY

The Courtyard by Marriott in Midtown East Manhattan (whew, that’s a long name) is yet another hotel near Times Square with bug reviews from April 2021. However, this location has a cleaner track record than most hotels in the Top 10. 

Since 2008, the 3-star hotel only received 12 bed bug complaints (which is fairly decent), and only two of these reviews appeared in the last three years. Still, April 2021 is too recent for comfort, and as we already know, when there’s one bed bug, there’s probably many. 

Data Summary for Courtyard by Marriott New York City Manhattan Midtown East

Source count: 3

Date of last review: 5/2021

All-time rank: #27 (12 reviews)

3-Year Rank: #14 (2 reviews)

Worst review year: 2008 (3 reviews)

#8. La Quinta Inn by Wyndham Queens

 

37-18 Queens Boulevard | Queens | New York, NY

La Quinta Inn by Wyndham Queens is now our second hotel from Queens and one of the few hotels in NYC to receive two bed bug reviews in 2020. The 2-star hotel provides convenient access to LaGuardia Airport and John F. Kennedy International Airport, but before you hop on your next flight out of the city, you might want to check for hitchhikers. 

Data Summary for La Quinta Inn by Wyndham Queens

Source count: 2

Date of last review: 8/2020

All-time rank: #27 (12 reviews)

3-Year Rank: #5 (3 reviews)

Worst review year: 2008 (3 reviews)

#9. The Empire Hotel

44 West 63rd Street | Manhattan | New York, NY

Anyone who’s read or watched Gossip Girl knows The Empire Hotel, an NYC staple located in the Upper West Side of Manhattan. But while the 4-star boutique has a prevailing reputation for “chic bohemian vibes” and an allure of exclusivity, no hotel in New York is immune to bed bugs. The Empire’s latest bed bug sighting appeared in March 2020 and holds an all-time count of 15 reviews since 2004.

Data Summary for The Empire Hotel

Source count: 3

Date of last review: 3/2020

All-time rank: #23 (15 reviews)

3-Year Rank: #14 (2 reviews)

Worst review year: 2018 & 2017 (3 reviews each)

#10. The Westin New York Grand Central

212 East 42nd Street | Manhattan | New York, NY

We know what you’re thinking: “The Westin!?” But as we’ve shown over again, even 4-star hotels can receive bed bug complaints. The Westin New York Grand Central Hotel is actually new to receiving bed bug complaints, having received nine total bed bug reviews in total. However, seven of these reviews emerged in the last three years, landing the 40-story building at the No. 2 spot for our 3-Year ranking. 

Data Summary for The Westin New York Grand Central

Source count: 3

Date of last review: 12/2019

All-time rank: #41 (9 reviews)

3-Year Rank: #5 (3 reviews)

Worst review year: 2018 (3 reviews)

Runner-ups

Not all NYC hotels made it to the Top 10, but there were several close calls. Here are the remaining locations found within the Top 25 bed bug hotels for 2021: 

#11. Millennium Broadway New York Times Square (Manhattan)

#12. LaGuardia Plaza Hotel (Queens)

#13. Hotel Pennsylvania (Manhattan)

#14. The Jane Hotel (Manhattan)

#15. Park Central New York (Manhattan)

#16. New York Marriott Marquis (Manhattan)

#17. Millennium Hilton New York Downtown (Manhattan)

#18. Row NYC (Manhattan)

#19. Hotel St. James (Manhattan)

#20. Holiday Inn Manhattan 6th Ave – Chelsea (Manhattan)

#21. Days Inn by Wyndham Hotel New York City-Broadway (Manhattan)

#22. Radisson Hotel JFK Airport (Queens)

#23. Intercontinental New York Barclay (Manhattan)

#24. Sheraton New York Times Square (Manhattan)

#25. Hampton Inn Manhattan – Chelsea (Manhattan)

Which NYC hotels have the worst reputation for bed bugs? 

Looking back on New York’s history with bed bugs, we don’t blame anyone curious to know which hotels received the most bed bug complaints since 2004. The following Top 15 hotels should come as no surprise, as many of these locations are featured on our high-risk list for 2021.

Rank

Hotel

Total BB reviews

BB reviews since 2019

Date of last review

Total sources

#1

New York Hilton Midtown

52

1

3/2019

3

#2

The Jane Hotel

49

1

11/2019

3

#3

Queens County Inn & Suites Long Island City

36

3

1/2020

2

#4

New York Marriott Marquis

32

1

11/2019

2

#5

The Manhattan at Times Square Hotel

25

1

4/2021

2

#5

Millennium Hilton New York Downtown

25

1

11/2019

2

#7

World Hotel

22

1

3/2019

2

#7

Hotel Edison

22

3

12/2019

2

#9

Park Central New York

21

2

10/2019

3

#10

The Bowery House

20

6

1/2020

2

#10

Wellington Hotel

20

4

11/2020

2

#12

Hotel St. James

19

2

9/2019

2

#13

Row NYC

18

1

1/2020

2

#14

Grand Hyatt New York

16

1

7/2019

2

#14

Hotel 31

16

1

10/2019

2

Data source: All reviews subjectively tallied from tripadvisor.com, bedbugregistry.com, and/or bedbugreports.com.

Is New York City’s bed bug problem lessening over time?

Based on the annual number of reviews counted from our list of 188 hotels, New York City’s problem with bed bugs doesn’t appear to be significantly lessening over time. 

Between 2004 and 2019, the annual number of bed bug reviews remained below 50, peaking at 43 in 2009. The number of yearly bed bug reviews then stabilized above 86 until the beginning of 2020, when many hotels in the city shut down in response to the coronavirus pandemic. As a result, our list of NYC hotels only received 24 beg bug reviews in total, mimicking the rates of 2008 with 22 complaints. 

Due to the unprecedented nature of 2020, we can only assume that the prevailing rate of bed bug reviews will continue where it left off as more hotels continue to reopen in 2021. Six months into the year, the number of bed bug complaints has already jumped to 14, so it’s possible that the final count for 2021 could outpace reports from previous years. 

How does the number of bed bug reviews correlate to city residential data?

According to a 2018 data study from The New York Times, Bronx landlords received the most bed bug violations per household between 2014 and 2018. The same research also ranks two Manhattan and Brooklyn neighborhoods within the Top 10 worst NYC neighborhoods for bed bug violations, indicating that Staten Island struggles the least with bed bugs compared to its northern neighbors. 

Pest Strategy’s data shows similar patterns for NYC hotels, although the Bronx hardly offers the buggiest stay in town (at least, that’s what the reviews say). Based on the 188 hotels with bed bug complaints after 2016, roughly 80% of locations are in Manhattan and contributed 85% of all online reports for NYC. Only 12.2% of our hotels are from Queens, and even fewer are located in Brooklyn, Staten Island, or the Bronx. 

NYC Hotels with bed bug reviews since 2016 by borough

Borough

Total hotels

% of total

Total BB reviews

% of total

BB reviews (1/2016 – 6/2021)

% of all BB reviews

% of recent BB reviews

Bronx

2

1.1%

7

0.6%

2

28.6%

0.5%

Brooklyn

10

5.3%

24

1.9%

11

45.8%

2.5%

Manhattan

149

79.3%

1076

86.1%

377

35.0%

85.1%

Queens

23

12.2%

126

10.1%

49

38.9%

11.1%

Staten Island

4

2.1%

16

1.3%

4

25.0%

0.9%

Total

188

100.0%

1,249

100.0%

443

35.5%

100.0%

Data source: All reviews subjectively tallied from tripadvisor.com, bedbugregistry.com, and/or bedbugreports.com.

The likely explanation for these discrepancies involves the sheer number of Manhattan hotels compared to surrounding boroughs (more hotels, more bed bug complaints). However, one interesting feature of NYC’s top bed bug hotels is that 108 of the 188 locations are located within a quarter-mile radius of Times Square. 

The same 57.8% of hotels contributed 62.6% of the city’s bed bug reviews since 2004, leading us to suspect how the centralized nature of these establishments enables heavy tourism to increase the risk of reintroducing bed bugs to hotels and spreading existing bed bug populations between individuals at nearby attractions. 

Additional considerations involve the proximity between hotels near Times Square, where bed bugs can move to different floors and hitch a ride on guests and employees to nearby buildings and boroughs. Pest Strategies is very interested to learn whether there is a correlation between city residential complaints and how tourism directly affects the prevalence of bed bugs in those neighborhoods. 

Sources

  1. Lee, Jennifer. “Where Bedbugs Ride Around, Besides Just Beds.” The New York Times, 9 May 2008. Link
  2. Potter, Michael F. “The History of Bed Bug Management: With Lessons from the Past.” American Entomologist, Entsoc.org, 2011. Link.
  3. Klein, Joanna. “Can You Pick a Bedbug Out of a Lineup?” The New York Times, 16 June 2017. Link
  4. Doggett SL, Dwyer DE, Peñas PF, Russell RC. Bed bugs: clinical relevance and control options. Clin Microbiol Rev. 2012;25(1):164-192. doi:10.1128/CMR.05015-11.
  5. Penn, Jerrod M., Hannah J. Penn, Michael F. Potter, Wuyang Hu. “Bed Bugs and Hotels:  Traveler Insights and Implications for the Industry.” American Entomologist, Volume 63, Issue 2, Summer 2017, pp. 79–88, https://doi.org/10.1093/ae/tmx023.
  6. Kolomatsky, Michael. “New York’s Worst Bedbug Neighborhoods.” The New York Times, 18 Oct 2018. Link.