No longer are bed and breakfasts the domain of rural hamlets. More and more metropolises are proffering private homes as less costly and more comfy options to big hotels. Unfortunately, New York City has not been among them. Since travelers there typically spend $25 an hour on sleep alone, a three-day downtown-Manhattan stay can cost $1,000.

Even habitually big-spending institutions are seeking alternative accommodations, and they've found some. New Yorkers may not own charming Victorian farmhouses, but they do rent efficient Victorian brownstones. Like their country cousins, they'll admit outsiders for a fee -- and fix them a bagel breakfast.

Staying in someone else's digs can cut room costs by as much as 50%, according to City Lights Bed & Breakfast (212-737-7049), a short-term matchmaking service devoted to cost-conscious businesses. City Lights claims to have more than 400 inspected listings for New York City and Long Island, and arranges for corporate discounts, monthly rates, and weekly billing. As a general rule, a private room in a well-located and hosted (that is, the family's at home) apartment goes for $60 to $95 a night; an unhosted, fully equipped, four-bedroom flat costs as much as $300 a night. As with hotels, you get a key to come and go at will. And you don't have to tip. -- Robert A. Mamis

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