Just like last year, the SODA hotel (in downtown NYC) claimed when I called on their 800 number to be sold out of the SIAM reserved block and wanted to charge $300/night for the privilege of staying there anyway. But just like last year, the non-800 number for reservations still had conference-rate rooms (at least, except for the last day of the conference when most people are leaving anyway). So if you're going to SODA, and were planning on staying at that hotel, you might want to try calling more than once.
The conference rate is still pretty expensive, of course. If you want a cheaper alternative, Google maps worked well for finding a place for me the last time this happened...
The nearest one is Hilton, even more unacceptable.
Everything downtown is going to be either expensive or bad. Fortunately New York has an excellent public transit system, so if you're willing to put a little more time into getting to the conference every day it should be possible to find something much cheaper but farther away.
New York has an excellent public transit system
Not anymore. At one time it was world class and it still has very good coverage, but by now is old, noisy and slow. In fact for certain routes is the slowest mode of transportation:
Still your point stands, in that you can enlarge your search space to include places which are 10 minutes away on the subway.
Interesting. I guess it's been a while since I depended on the NY subways. And it looks like they are about to raise prices and cut service some more, including eliminating some subway lines...