Think gasoline prices have gone through the roof? Try booking a hotel room in New York City. If you're planning a trip to Manhattan but haven't priced lodgings lately, be very afraid. The average hotel room rate in 2005 was $243 a night, according to NYC & Company, the city's tourism marketing organization, and it's edging ever upward-- and that's not including the onerous 13.6 percent extra in state and city taxes, plus assorted other fees. And that's just the average cost; if you're looking for some style, charm or character, be prepared for some serious payout.

Still, there's hope for the bargain hunter. In May, you could have snagged a double at the Sheraton Manhattan on Seventh Avenue, an easy walk to Broadway theaters, for $120. A bed at the Park South, a chic property near Union Square, was going for $179. A room at the handsome Mansfield, right off Fifth Avenue, was $219 -- including a buffet breakfast and complimentary espressos.

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