Where to stay in New York City

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Uncertain about where to stay in New York City? You’re far from alone. The iconic English writer Agatha Christie once called New York City a detective story, a description that couldn’t be more accurate. New York City is a cultural melting pot bigger than many states and countries, and one that’s constantly evolving.

Thankfully, with this guide you don’t need to be a Hercule Poirot to find the best place to stay in New York City for you. Let’s solve the case by walking through NYC’s best neighborhoods and hotels.

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Know: Manhattan is where you find most of those famed sights, making its neighborhoods top picks for first-time and return visitors alike. In addition, there’re four more boroughs in New York City: Brooklyn, Queens, The Bronx and Staten Island.

Manhattan

So full of energy, Manhattan has streets teeming with yellow cabs, awe-inspiring skyscrapers reaching above the clouds and world-famous attractions that could entertain you for weeks. But where in Manhattan should you stay?

Midtown Manhattan

As the central business district, Midtown Manhattan offers the quintessential New York City setting. Picture buzzing hordes of people marveling at Times Square’s flashing billboards while the Empire State Building imposingly towers up towards the sky like no other building in the world can.

After ticking off Times Square and Empire State Building, continue your sightseeing with Rockefeller Center, Grand Central Terminal, Broadway and the Museum of Modern Art — Midtown’s sights could occupy you for an entire weekend, if not more.

No neighborhood shows better than Midtown why New York City is the City That Never Sleeps. Here, you’re surrounded by both renowned attractions and action around the clock.

But being constantly exposed to blinking lights and clamoring crowds can be intense. To seek respite, head to Midtown’s own 10-acre Bryant Park; or, for complete salvation, target the Hollywood-loved 843-acre Central Park, which marks the northern end of Midtown.

For exploration of other areas, you easily get there from Midtown too. Tying Manhattan together, this is New York City’s epicenter and most convenient base for sightseeing, equipped with excellent hotels.

Pick Midtown for: Sightseeing.

Best hotels in Midtown

  • CitizenM Times Square – Want the most central hotel in New York City? A strong contender, with small but efficient rooms, CitizenM puts you a 1-minute walk from those iconic Times Square billboards.
  • LUMA Hotel – An array of room options await at the modern LUMA Hotel, providing a perspective for every mood. Regardless if you opt for an urban, metro, park plaza or skyline room — you’re at New York City’s heart.
  • The Sherry Netherland – Experience service with European flair at the Sherry Netherland, nestled at Midtown’s northern end. Each room and suite at this lovely NYC hotel is both luxurious and unique, but those with dramatic Central Park views are the most sought after.
  • The Blue Angel Hotel – In Midtown East, this boutique-style hotel is central yet sheltered from the biggest “craziness” of NYC. Be sure to take advantage of the gorgeous open-air terrace, a great place for planning excursions or recharging after walking around the city all day long.
Buzzing Times Square in Midtown Manhattan, New York City
Midtown Manhattan — always on the move.

Upper East Side

Flanked by Central Park and East River, the Upper East Side (UES) lets New York City visitors take a step back from the hectic Midtown atmosphere. This is an upscale NYC area where awe-inspiring art displays abound.

Tour the Museum Mile, a Central Park-hugging stretch of Fifth Avenue with a unique art-exhibition concentration.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art (MET) harbors over 2 million items from different eras and every corner of the planet. A stone’s throw away, the Guggenheim Museum showcases masterpieces by all-time greats such as Chagall, Picasso, Manet, Van Gogh and Pollock — to name a few.

On the parallel Madison Avenue, exclusive boutiques await: shop until you drop or — if the high price tags put you off — just window shop enjoying the high-end ambience. Either way, top it all off with a beverage at the elegant Ralph’s Coffee, a dutiful Upper East Side lifesaver.

Unfortunately, what you can’t avoid is that the Upper East Side’s exclusive aura is reflected in its nightly hotel rates. So if you look for a budget-friendly place to stay in New York City, gaze towards other areas.

Pick Upper East Side for: Museums.

Best hotels in Upper East Side

Loews Regency – Behind a residential-looking facade, Loews Regency provides contemporary five-star luxury. The location at the southern end of the Upper East Side, only two blocks from Central Park, makes sightseeing easy.

Tree-lined pathway along the Museum Mile in the Upper East Side
Get inspired on the Upper East Side’s Museum Mile (MET is to the right).

Upper West Side

Families, couples and solo travelers alike love the Upper West Side (UWS) area for its peacefulness yet Midtown proximity. Between Central Park (east) and Hudson River (west), you find a relaxed neighborhood loaded with gifts.

The Lincoln Center houses world-famous organizations — what about the New York Philharmonic, The Metropolitan Opera and New York City Ballet — passionately performing music, dance and theatre. Catch an unforgettable performance but also consider taking a guided tour around the sprawling complex.

Those with kids gravitate towards another cultural Upper West Side institution, the American Museum of Natural History. But let’s be honest: Its three iconic dinosaur halls, huge blue whale model and in total 30 million-plus specimens and artifacts ground each visitor, regardless of age.

While many visitors never get there, something would be missing without Riverside Park, running for 4 miles (6 km) along the Hudson River, adding to the calmness of the Upper West Side. Especially at the heart of tourist season, it’s a refreshing complement to Central Park.

Ready for a pleasant surprise? Despite being a loved Midtown-adjacent area, the Upper West Side provides — drumroll, please — budget friendliness. This is one of the best options for where to stay in New York City on a budget (at least for now).

Pick Upper West Side for: Relaxed vibe.

Best hotels in Upper West Side

  • Hotel Beacon – The red-brick Hotel Beacon provides kitchenette-equipped units spread across 24 stories. There’s an impressive array of accommodation options, with the bigger suites feeling like apartments — this is one of the best places to stay in New York City with family.
  • The Wallace Hotel – Guests return to The Wallace Hotel for its affordable luxury. Choose from 124 bright, carefully curated rooms and suites, which for their high standard and Manhattan location come at surprisingly low rates.
Pigeons in an empty Central Park, adding to the calmness of the Upper West Side
In the Upper West Side, you’re always close to a park.

Chelsea

Wandering through Chelsea, you can’t help but notice two things: One, the streetscape with elegant rowhouses and tree-lined streets forming a perfected NYC environment; two, all those art galleries — there are more than 200 of them trying to pull you in.

Wind through the streets between 10th Avenue and 11th Avenue to treat yourself to Chelsea’s biggest concentration of art galleries. Where one showroom ends, another begins, and they represent both established and new artists on the block.

At the art cluster’s southern end, red-brick Chelsea Market draws visitors for its food and retail offerings. Sample delicacies ranging from seafood to meats to fruit and browse the eye-catching adjoining stores for that unique NYC trinket.

Then discover Chelsea’s impressive scene of performing arts venues, trendy watering holes and electric nightclubs. Or, maybe catch a concert or sporting event at Madison Square Garden, home to the New York Knicks (basketball) and New York Rangers (ice hockey).

Pick Chelsea for: Art galleries.

Best hotels in Chelsea

  • The Hotel Chelsea – The history-steeped Hotel Chelsea claims to be the best hotel in New York City, and with a unique bohemian aura, it very well could be. Throughout the years, since first occupied in 1884, countless of writers and entertainers (from Mark Twain to Jimi Hendrix to Madonna) have found inspiration here: Will you?
  • Motto By Hilton – With great attention to detail and floor-to-ceiling windows, Motto By Hilton provides the highest level of compact lodging. Secure a room offering landmark view for some extra “wow” factor.
  • The Maritime Hotel – Adjacent to the Chelsea Market, this landmark hotel has a whimsical nautical theme, complete with unique porthole windows. Ship ahoy!
Narrow road surrounded by red-brick buildings in the Chelsea neighborhood
Savor art and food in Chelsea.

The Meatpacking District? This sub-neighborhood shared by Chelsea and Greenwich Village was once dotted with slaughterhouses and packing plants. Today, the Meatpacking District is a chic area boasting some of NYC’s best stores, restaurants and bars.

Greenwich Village

Despite overlapping designations — some say Greenwich Village, some just The Village and others West Village (which actually is a part of Greenwich Village) — life is refreshingly uncomplicated in this NYC neighborhood.

Good vibes radiate out from the centerpiece fountain in Washington Square Park. Absorb the atmosphere while inspecting the adjacent Washington Square Arch, commemorating George Washington’s 1789 inauguration.

Head west of Washington Square Park to enter the West Village part of Greenwich Village. Here, off Manhattan’s dominating grid road system, narrowing streets with unusual angles add to the neighborhood’s romantic charm.

As you roam, expect to meet high-spirited students: New York University has its main campus around Washington Square. The thriving student scene breeds an impressive diversity of eating and drinking options, with something for every budget and style.

How about some TV nostalgia? Stop by on the Grove Street-Bedford Street corner to photograph Monica’s place (Friends) and Perry Street for Carrie’s apartment (Sex and the City).

Pick Greenwich Village for: Peoplewatching.

Best hotels in Greenwich Village

  • Washington Square Hotel – The 1902 Washington Square hotel is just like its home neighborhood, friendly and full of character. Think Art Deco architecture, cozy lighting and vintage artwork — on the corner of the bubbling Washington Square.
  • The Marlton – Check in at The Marlton to see what a “baby grand hotel” is. While the rooms are small even by NYC standards, they radiate timeless glamour. If you need more space, spread out in the fireplace-equipped lobby.
Narrowing street in Greenwich Village
Embrace the narrowing roads of Greenwich Village.

Lower East Side & East Village

Craving a big night out, or two? Then the Houston Street-separated Lower East Side (LES) and East Village (EV) are strong contenders for where you should stay when visiting New York City.

These trendy neighbors share a massive immigrant past. During the 1800s and 1900s, a majority of NYC’s arrivals moved into cramped tenements here: See for yourself what life was like in the world’s densest district at the Tenement Museum.

They also know all about having a good time, standing out for their vibrating nightlife scene even in The City That Never Sleeps (which says a lot). Choose from an abundance of high-spirited venues ranging from cool restaurants to dimly-lit dive bars to flashing nightclubs.

Speakeasy-like Attaboy neither has a sign outside or a menu to show. But if you find your way there — it’s on 134 Eldrige Street (look for the long line) — innovative drinks reward you.

Top off the brilliant nightlife scene with some of New York City’s best views. Williamsburg Bridge connects the Lower East Side with Brooklyn, offering a one-of-a-kind stroll or bike ride — bring your camera.

Pick Lower East Side & EV for: Nightlife.

Best hotels in Lower East Side & East Village

  • The Ludlow Hotel – Sitting just down from Houston Street, the chic Ludlow Hotel makes it effortless to hop between the Lower East Side and East Village (why choose when you can have both?). Pro tip: Enjoy the sunset from the rooftop terrace.
  • Citizen M Bowery – Expect tiny but clean rooms at the Citizen M, a celebrated minimalist.

Neighborhoods change: NYC’s neighborhoods are constantly evolving. Back in the days, the Lower East Side encompassed not only East Village to the north but also Chinatown, Little Italy and Nolita (north of Little Italy) to the west.

SoHo

Hundreds of cast-iron buildings, most built right after the American Civil war, set the scene in the atmospheric SoHo, expanding SOuth of HOuston Street. This neighborhood is less about its attractions and more about its celebratory environment, perfect for eclectic shopping and romantic date nights.

Begin your Soho shopping spree on Broadway, a domain containing all from independent boutiques to big-chain stores. While Soho is known for upscale shopping, there’re options for every wallet.

After a healthy dose of retail therapy, refuel at one of the countless inviting coffee shops and eateries. For something sweet, try SoHo’s signature Cronut — half croissant, half doughnut — at the Dominique Ansel Bakery.

Although SoHo doesn’t display the kind of famed sights that some NYC enclaves boast (partly good as you dodge the biggest crowds), the myriad of shopping and dining opportunities make up for it.

But if you think SoHo doesn’t have any attractions at all, think again. A yummy addition to any New York itinerary is the Museum of Ice Cream, where all-you-can-eat treats are included.

Pick Soho for: Shopping.

Best hotels in SoHo

  • Crosby Street Hotel – Embrace Soho’s creative spirit at the upscale Crosby Street Hotel, where each room feels like its own soothing home. Even if you don’t stay here, soak up the elegant ambience at the Crosby Bar’s popular afternoon tea. The setting? A quiet cobblestoned street parallel to the buzzing Broadway.
  • ModernHaus SoHo – Aptly named, the ModernHaus SoHo has everything you expect from a modern luxury hotel in New York City — plus jaw-dropping views. The rooftop bar, Jimmy, serves thirst-quenching beverages against the backdrop of Manhattan’s skyline.
Cast-iron buildings in the SoHo neighborhood
Signature cast-iron architecture of SoHo.

Financial District

If you ever have wanted to step into the Wolf of Wall Street movie — maybe as Jordan Belfort himself — this is your chance. The Financial District is home of Wall Street, the narrow street running from East River to Broadway that symbolizes the American love for big business and investing.

Marvel at Gilded Age skyscrapers occupied by powerhouses within the world economy, such as the New York Stock Exchange and the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. Snap a photo of the iconic Charging Bull bronze statue, which brings hope to investors even during the worst bear markets (when stocks fall).

There’s a lot of old-world charm in the Financial District, which goes back to New York’s earliest days: Wall Street is named after an actual wall erected by Dutch settlers in 1653, and Stone Street became the first cobbled street in the New Amsterdam colony in 1658.

But to see the new New York City — or, well, all of New York City — climb to the crown of the glittering One World Trade Center majestically rising up 1,776 feet (541 m) above the 9/11 Memorial.

On top of the Financial District’s own attractions, what also makes it a great option for where to stay in New York City is the access to Battery Park, where ferries for the must-see Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island depart.

Pick Financial District for: Lower Manhattan sights.

Best hotels in Financial District

  • The Wall Street Hotel – This 180-room hotel blends glamorous with residential right on Wall Street, inspiring you to snap up a few stocks (return isn’t guaranteed).
  • World Center Hotel – World Center Hotel is one of the most budget-friendly hotels in Manhattan. The rooms are comfy and views of the 9/11 Memorial, backdropped by the One World Trade Center, overwhelming.
  • Hotel Indigo NYC Financial District – Overlooking Trinity Church at the western end of Wall Street, this stylish hotel celebrates the neighborhood’s historic roots with a Dutch-inspired theme extending from the art on the walls to the restaurant menu.
Broad Street and Wall Street signs in the Financial District
Right on that storied street, the Wall Street Hotel offers tasteful lodging.

Williamsburg, Brooklyn

Across East River, Williamsburg is the hottest option for where to stay in New York City outside Manhattan. This is a Brooklyn neighborhood oozing with creativity and boasting a pulsating nightlife scene.

Vivid murals decorate Bedford Avenue, the neighborhood’s focal point (conveniently just one subway stop from Manhattan — blink, and you’re there) and connecting streets, adding to the bohemian vibe. Other inspiring elements include vintage stores, trendy eateries, bustling bars and hip clubs.

For a memorable night out, the options are many: Join fellow beer lovers at the Brooklyn Brewery, complete with a social tasting room and tours plunging into beer brewing science; be amazed by the Brooklyn Bowl, a part music venue, part bowling alley and part restaurant; or just see where the evening takes you.

No matter where you end up, few things can compare to the vistas showcasing Manhattan’s rising skyline. To best soak it up, recline in Marsha P. Johnson State Park or stroll through Domino Park, a former sugar refinery compound; both are waterfront and jaw dropping.

Pick Williamsburg for: Buzzing Brooklyn.

Best hotels in Williamsburg, Brooklyn

  • Wythe Hotel – That jaw-dropping Manhattan view is just one of the many reasons making the Wythe Hotel one of the best places to stay in New York City. Relish a former Brooklyn factory combining the best of old and new.
  • Penny Williamsburg – It’s easy to settle in at Penny Williamsburg, a homey hotel full of little touches; bonus points are awarded for the fun artwork by local creators.
Mural depicting a thinking girl backdropped by Williamsburg Bridge in Williamsburg
Consider Williamsburg for where to stay in NYC, especially if you already have been to Manhattan.

Manhattan vs Brooklyn? Keep in mind that many of those iconic sights that you come for are located in Manhattan. In particular, Brooklyn stands out as an exciting option for where to stay in New York City for those who visit a second or third time, having ticked off many of the must sees already.

Long Island City, Queens

Budget travelers, don’t pull your hair out in frustrations just yet. The borough of Queens, over East River from Manhattan (and northeast of Brooklyn), is where to stay in New York City on a budget.

Above all, Long Island City (LIC) is the Queens neighborhood in the front row for Manhattan attractions. From here, you can travel by subway to the heart of Midtown in under 10 minutes.

Yet Gantry Plaza State Park, named after eye-catching gantries once used to handle cargo, makes visitors linger around. Embrace a long waterfront promenade, four piers and green spaces offering brilliant views of Midtown Manhattan’s skyline — what a spot to gape at Empire State Building.

For more mirage-like perspectives, discover Long Island City’s growing art scene. A forefront institution, MoMa PS1, set in an 1892 school building (PS1), inspires with artistic experimentation.

Pick Long Island City for: Budget friendliness.

Best hotels in Long Island City

  • LIC Plaza Hotel – LIC Plaza Hotel presents affordable NYC lodging without sacrificing comfort. Sure, it’s not a smoking hot Manhattan location, but the value here is unmistakable.
Manhattan's skyline from the Long Island City neighborhood, Queens
Marvel at Manhattan’s skyline from Gantry Plaza in Long Island City.

The Bronx

To the north of Manhattan, The Bronx is simply too far out of the way to be the best area in New York City to stay for most visitors. Still, for those with a certain focus, it may turn out as the real winner.

Sports fans flock to Yankee Stadium. Most famously, this is where the New York Yankees proudly swing their bats in the Major League Baseball (MLB). In addition, it’s also the home of the increasingly popular New York City FC in the Major League Soccer (MLS).

Animal buffs of all walks of life come together at Bronx Zoo. Be amazed by over 700 species and 10,000 animals spread across 260-plus acres in what’s the best zoo in New York City, and one of the best in the USA.

How far it is from The Bronx to Manhattan? Without delays, you can travel by subway from Yankee Stadium to Midtown in 20 minutes; from Bronx Zoo, make that 30 minutes instead.

Pick The Bronx for: Yankees & the zoo.

Packed Yankee Stadium in The Bronx neighborhood
Join other sports fans at The Bronx’s Yankee Stadium.

Staten Island

Reserve the word “suburbia” for NYC’s least populated borough. Staten Island, marking the southwestern end of both New York City and New York State, reminds more of suburban New Jersey than bustling Manhattan.

However, Staten Island has an ace in its sleeve, one that at least warrants a visit.

Around the clock, the free Staten Island Ferry connects Staten Island with Manhattan’s southern tip, passing the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island while doing so. Side by side, commuters and tourists take in the sights during the 25-minute ride (though those not on vacation with, understandably, slightly less interest).

Is that it? Upon arriving on Staten Islands, many visitors head straight for the return ferry. The journey to get there is, proved time after time, the number one touristic draw of Staten Island.

But extending your visit is rewarding: Browse the stores handily located adjacent to the ferry terminal, explore the National Lighthouse Museum and enjoy a cold one at the Flagship Brewing Company.

Pick Staten Island for: Suburban life.

Best hotels on Staten Island

  • Fort Pl B&B – Feel like a New York City local at the Victorian-style Fort Pl B&B, sitting only a 10-minute walk from the Staten Island Ferry terminal. There’re just three suites spread across three stories — act swiftly!
Yellow Staten Island Ferry making its way from Manhattan to Staten Island, New York City
For most tourists, Staten Island is about the journey.

Where to stay in New York City FAQ

Where should I stay when visiting New York City?

Five boroughs make up New York City: Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, The Bronx and Staten Island. Manhattan is where you find most of the major tourist attractions, and its neighborhoods — from always busy Midtown to quaint Greenwich Village — are for different reasons excellent options for where to stay when visiting.

What area should I stay in New York for the first time?

Midtown is the New York City area that offers the most convenient base for sightseeing. However, the subway makes it easy to get around NYC, making those quieter enclaves hot items too.

Which are the coolest hotels in New York City?

The definition of cool, The Hotel Chelsea possesses a bohemian aura that has attracted Mark Twain, Jimi Hendrix and Madonna along with countless other icons over the years.

Where to stay outside Manhattan?

Brooklyn’s Williamsburg neighborhood is a vibrating place to stay outside Manhattan, dotted with colorful murals and friendly nightlife venues. Here, the stylish Wythe Hotel provides epic Manhattan-facing rooms. If you still miss Manhattan, it’s only one subway stop away.

Where to stay in New York City on a budget?

Although it’s not easy to stretch your budget in one of the world’s most popular cities, there’re cheaper areas to stay in New York City too. In Manhattan, the Financial District and Upper West Side are top options; to dodge the Manhattan premium altogether, consider Queens’ Long Island City, less than a 10-minute ride from Midtown.

Where to stay in New York City as a tourist?

Especially for a short stay, Midtown provides sightseeing opportunities that it’s hard to overlook. From here, you effortlessly get to all the major tourist attractions of New York City. However, each NYC neighborhood has its own distinctive advantages.

Where to stay in New York City with family?

The combo of tranquility and budget friendliness makes the Upper West Side the best option for where to stay in New York City with family. Add to that the magical world of the American Museum of Natural History, catering to visitors of all ages (watch Night at the Museum before you go).

This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. Ida

    Super great guide 👍🏻 Our family fell in love with the Upper West Side.

    1. Avatar photo
      Olof Arnberg

      Hi Ida! I agree — the Upper West Side is a lovely neighborhood in NYC.

  2. Muham Shirvani

    Any tips for how to find cheap hotels in NYC?

    1. Avatar photo
      Olof Arnberg

      Hi Muham,

      If you’re visiting NYC on a budget, it’s hard to overlook Long Island City. It’s such a short ride away from Manhattan, but the hotel rates are usually much lower.

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