My flight is into LGA, so that is why I have not really considered staying in New Jersey. The Stamford Super 8 is only $75/night and that includes breakfast. It was just totally remodeled too. Then on top of that is the daily roundtrip on Metro North to Grand Central, the 42nd Street Shuttle, then the #1 train up to Columbus Circle too.
I am leaning toward the hotel that my friend here in South Pasadena just told me about at 81st Street and Central Park West, right next to the Museum of Natural History. Of course, anything into Penn Station or the Path train gets you onto a connecting subway to Columbus Circle too. My friend is an artsy, fairly-liberal music and movie producer type who told me that I would enjoy that neighborhood too, but you are right, the Manhattan hotel tax is 14.75% plus a daily bed tax too. Trish told me about the Park79 hotel which is in the same neighborhood and is a bit less expensive too. But I would be willing to share someplace nice too.
One of the north city view suites at the Excelsior can be had for $269/night, which would include one or two queen beds and a sleeper couch in separate rooms. Or if you want a place that got lousy reviews on Trip Adviser.com, the Amsterdam Court can be had 200 feet from the 50th & Broadway #1 train for $179/night for a 2-bed room too. There is no subway service near the Hampton so I would have to take a cab from there.
Those Jersey hotels sound decent, but it would be a bit of a ride from LGA to get there. I would be willing to share a room if you are interested though.
"We stay here, we die here. We've got to keep moving". Trucker Mark