Where To Stay in New York City

Updated: June 21, 2018

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Best Areas to Stay in New York City

Where to stay in NYC near Times Square and Broadway Shows.

Staying in the center of it all: Times Square in Manhattan, NYC.

New York has neighborhoods for almost any interest whether it is theater, art, nightlife, or food. The best things to do and best hotels in NYC are spread around Manhattan, but wherever the home base, it is easy to get around as long as lodgings are near a subway station (or even a bus stop). Learning the system is not difficult since much of central Manhattan is laid out on a grid with cross streets clearly numbered. If numbers go up, they are leading north or uptown, descending numbers head south or downtown. Most of the avenues are one-way, so buses travel in only one direction (route maps are posted at every stop). Subway stations are labeled either uptown or downtown to show the direction of the trains on that track.

“Crosstown” literally means going across the city from east to west. Fifth Avenue is the dividing line between what New Yorkers call “east side” and “west side.” Major two-way arteries like 14th, 34th, 42nd and 57th streets have buses going in both directions and a subway shuttle train crosses the city on 42nd Street from Grand Central Terminal to Times Square.

To calculate distances, 20 blocks in Manhattan equals roughly one mile. For example, Midtown between 34th and 59th streets, where many famous sights are found, is less than a mile and a half long and easily walkable. The winding lanes in the older parts of the city also are quite walkable, but in these areas street maps or cell phone maps are recommend to guide your way.

The Best Places to Stay in NYC

Staying in Midtown New York City - Close to sightseeing, shopping, and Times Square.

Midtown New York – great for shopping, sightseeing, and many of NYC’s best hotels.

  • Best NYC Neighborhood for Sightseeing: Midtown
    While there’s much to see everywhere in the city, the most sights in one neighborhood by far are those clustered in Midtown, the heart of New York shopping and theater and home to some of its most iconic buildings.
  • Best NYC Neighborhood for Nightlife: Meatpacking District
    The sidewalks are crowded with young fun-seekers until late at night in this happening area, home to many popular cafes and dance clubs. But New York nightlife isn’t confined to one neighborhood. More clubs, both straight and gay, are found in “Hell’s Kitchen,” a neighborhood in the 40s west of 9th Avenue, and a lot is happening across the East River in Brooklyn’s Williamsburg. For jazz bars and clubs, check out Greenwich Village.
  • Best NYC Neighborhoods for Foodies: Tribeca & SoHo
    Check any dining guide and you’ll find a host of the highest rated dining places in these neighboring hoods, from classic cooking to top of the line ethnic choices. For expensive gourmet fare, the West 50s boasts several well-known culinary stars, including a trio in the Time Warner Center.
  • Best NYC Neighborhood for First-Timers: Theater District
    Yes, it gets crowded but there is no more convenient home base than the Theater District, roughly 42nd Street to 50th Street west of Sixth Avenue. This area has the greatest variety of affordable lodging choices, is an easy walk to Fifth Avenue and, of course, to theaters, eliminating fighting crowds for transportation after the show. Another plus: The 42nd Street Broadway subway stop is served by many lines, making it easy to visit other parts of the city.
  • Best NYC Neighborhood for Families: Upper West Side
    Bordered with parks and playgrounds and boasting both a children’s museum and the famed dinosaurs at the American Museum of Natural History, this is an excellent neighborhood for families. Several hotels offer family accommodations and the area is served by two subway lines and several buses, making it easy to get around.
  • Trendiest NYC Neighborhood: The Bowery
    The fast-evolving Bowery, near the East Village between Houston Street and Cooper Square, is home to the avant-garde New Museum, new headquarters for the International Center of Photographer, sleek art galleries, and an expanding list of trendy new hotels and dining. There are still rough edges here but there’s no better place to experience the vibes of change in New York.
  • Safest Areas of NYC: Upper East Side, Upper West Side, Lincoln Center
    Safety generally is not an issue in New York, one of the country’s safest big cities. But for those who are concerned, consider staying in the Lincoln Center area or the quiet residential Upper East and Upper West sides. Among these, the Upper West Side has more reasonable prices.

The Best Areas in NYC for Tourists

Staying in Soho and Tribeca in Manhattan.

The unique architecture and trendy vibe of Soho and Tribeca neighborhoods.

Lower Manhattan and the Financial District

Narrow twisting streets are evidence that this is the oldest part of the city, though today Wall Street and its surroundings are home to a forest of skyscrapers dwarfing the few remaining historic sites. With the completion of the new 1 World Trade Center and the 9/11 Memorial and Museum, this area is booming with tourists and new shops, hotels and restaurants. Many financial district hotels have good rates on weekends when business travelers go home.

Lower East Side, Chinatown, and Little Italy

The old ethnic neighborhoods of the city are changing. Crowded and ever-fascinating, Chinatown has mushroomed, taken over all but one street of what was Little Italy and rapidly absorbing much of the Jewish Lower East Side. However, on Orchard Street and blocks closer to Houston border the East Village, the area has been rediscovered by a new generation, and cool shops, clubs and restaurants are blooming. The Tenement Museum is the best evidence of what used to be and some Jewish culinary landmarks remain on Houston Street.

Tribeca and SoHo

Named for their locations (triangle below Canal, South of Houston), these neighborhoods of former warehouses have been reborn. Thanks largely to resident Robert DeNiro, Tribeca is home to a noted film festival and its spacious, pricey loft apartments and fine dining attract the rich and famous. Soho’s loft spaces first drew artists and galleries, but rising rents have changed the area into a trendy shopping and dining district.

East Village and Bowery

This gentrifying, one-time hippie haven from Houston to 14th Streets east of Third Avenue still offers many affordable restaurants, but new development near Houston and the neighboring formerly-derelict Bowery have brought avant garde museums, galleries, more upscale dining and hotels. Still in flux, it might appeal as a classic example of how fast neighborhoods can change in Manhattan, where people are in a constant search for the next big thing.

Greenwich Village

No grid plan here, just a crazy maze of leafy lanes lined with charming 19th century townhouses, many of which once housed famous artists, writers, and musicians. The cafes, clubs and coffeehouses of “the village” as the locals call it, have long been magnets for young people, including students at New York University, which occupies many of the blocks around Washington Square, one of the city’s liveliest park spaces. A great area to visit, but with few hotel options.

Meatpacking District and Chelsea

Once home to wholesale meat packers and desolate at night, the cobbled streets west of 10th Avenue near 14th Street have become one of the city’s liveliest centers for dining and clubbing. Further north, from 22 to 28th streets, the old warehouses of Chelsea now house dozens of art galleries. Both areas have blossomed and new hotels and the Whitney Museum have arrived since the opening of the High Line, an elevated pedestrian park on a former rail line running from 13th to 34th streets.

Midtown

Fifth Avenue shopping, 57 Street and Madison Avenue boutiques, the landmark buildings of Rockefeller Center, the Empire State Building, St. Patrick’s Cathedral, the Museum of Modern Art, the bright lights of Broadway and dining choices from budget to haute cuisine are all found in this area, the heart of Manhattan. It is a must for visitors and has the city’s largest concentration of hotels.

Upper East Side

Some of the city’s wealthiest residences are found in this tranquil area roughly between 59th and 96th streets east of Fifth Avenue. It is home to “Museum Mile,” eight excellent institutions along Fifth Avenue, including the world famous Metropolitan Museum of Art. The area is bordered by two green oases, Central Park to the west and Carl Schurz Park, with a promenade along the East River. Restaurants abound, from neighborhood diners to fine dining, but hotels are on the expensive side.

Upper West Side

From twin-towered luxury buildings along Central Park West to side streets lined with classic New York brownstones, this is a prime residential area and also home to Lincoln Center, the city’s cultural hub, and the American Museum of Natural History. Like its East Side counterpart, this neighborhood is bordered with parks, Central Park to the east and beautiful Riverside Park along the Hudson River. Many hotel choices make it a good area for those who prefer a quieter neighborhood.

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8 Questions and Comments

  1. Hotel in NYC for 3 Adults

    Hihi,

    Will be travelling to New York this December for Christmas and New Year for Times Square. But the hotels near Times Square are so pricey. Would you help to recommend the good place to stay for a group of 3?

    1. Santorini DaveSantorini Dave The Hotel & Travel Expert

      The Freehand Hotel in Midtown has cozy 3-bed and 4-bed rooms that are great value. (Some have boutique-style bunk beds.)

  2. NYC Interconnected Rooms for Family

    We are a family of 4 with two teens. Going to NYC for 1st time in October. Please can you advise on how to find a hotel that has interconnecting rooms. Need main room with double bed and connecting room with 2 separate beds. All searches so far come up with 2 doubles. Or would we need to have 2 seperate rooms? Thank you.

    1. Santorini DaveSantorini Dave The Hotel & Travel Expert

      Interconnected rooms are rare. Take a look at the AKA Times Square – great location and the 2-bedroom apartments with kitchens are great for families.

  3. Stay In Brooklyn or Manhattan?

    We are considering staying in Brooklyn to save money on a cheap hotel. Is this worth the money? Is it easy to commute from Brooklyn to Manhattan for sightseeing in NYC?

    1. Santorini DaveSantorini Dave The Hotel & Travel Expert

      Brooklyn has some great areas and is a destination in its own right but (for most people) Manhattan is what they’re here to see and makes the best base for sightseeing. The big considerations are where in Brooklyn are you staying, how close is it to a subway stop, and how much money are you saving? If you are near a subway stop then getting into Manhattan will be quick and easy.

  4. New York City Recommendations

    You are right on point with recommendations for NYC!

    Angelique

    1. Santorini DaveSantorini Dave The Hotel & Travel Expert

      Thanks Angelique.

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