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We have family in Upper West Manhattan, but it seems impossible to rent in that area for less than a month. Can you help? Add to ...

The Question: We have family in Upper West Manhattan, but it seems impossible to rent in that area for less than a month. Can you help?

TRAVEL CONCIERGE: For short-term furnished apartments, you're out of luck. As of May, it will be illegal to rent an apartment in New York for less than 30 days.

This law, of course, is not aimed at doting grandparents like yourself, but landlords who were converting condos and apartments into "illegal hotels." Advocates of the law said this practice created unsafe and unregulated accommodation for visitors, and limited rental options for New Yorkers and forced tenants to deal with hostel-like living conditions.

So, with free babysitting - I mean, quality grandchild time - at stake, here are some money-saving options:

Do your research. Visit off-season, January through March, when hotel rates are lowest. Find deals through sites, such as Priceline.com or the city's tourism site, currently promoting deals in the new year at nycgo.com/getmorenyc/hotels.

Find a hotel with a kitchenette. The Hotel Beacon NYC (www.beaconhotel.com) is in your son's neighbourhood, and its many suites and standard rooms are equipped with all the essentials to scramble your own eggs. Rates start at $205 to $275 a night (all figures in U.S.), depending on the season.

Consider the boroughs. Holiday Inn-Manhattan View in Long Island City, an area of Queens, offers skyline vistas in a diverse and arts-rich community, general manager Greg Riley says. "Yet we're a block and a half from the train station, and in two stops you're in Central Park." Rates start at $129 to $169 a night, depending on the season.

Under the new law, there are alternatives to hotels, says Sascha Segan, a New Yorker who writes a column for Frommers.com. This includes bed and breakfasts, spare-room rentals (such as through AirBNB.com), apartment-hotels zoned as hotels (such as the Affinia chain), hostels and home swaps.

So what about sites such as VRBO.com or HomeAway, which list hundreds of lofts and condos in New York?

Vacation rental sites argue that they can't verify each posting against local laws around the world, Mr. Segan says.

"That means anything you book on those sites is a legal crap shoot."

Christmas crazies? How do you survive travel during the holidays? E-mail your best tips to concierge@globeandmail.com.

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