We stayed at the www.lafayettehotelneworleans.com in New Orleans. It's walkable, if you can walk a mile (we did, both directions). Kind of a faded-glory place, not spotless (some complaints in the reviews), but perfectly adequate for our needs -- friendly, safe, convenient location, oozing charm, etc. I never expect them to be able to keep an older building perfectly maintained, I'm happy with "good enough" for what we can afford. I stayed at a HI-hostel in Baltimore (not one of your cities) for about $30, and was more than satisfied. Just keep your electronics with you (all my dorm-mates were on the level and very nice, but you never know). It was winter, so the eight-bed dorm was only half-occupied.