Figuring out where to stay in New York City can seem impossible. There’s an endless amount of hotels in all the different NYC neighborhoods. Not to mention the prices for hotels in Manhattan can range from somewhat budget-friendly to budget-busting and everything in between!
After living in NYC for 20+ years and helping countless family, friends, and now, blog readers plan their New York City trips, I can sort through the endless lists of places to stay in New York City, use my local insider knowledge of the area, and help you choose the best hotel in NYC for your travel plans.
This guide breaks down the best areas to stay in New York City, the standout hotels in each one, neighborhood highlights, and which NYC subways are closest.
Where to Stay in New York City
Before getting to each neighborhood and specific hotels, let’s take a quick second to get the lay of the land, so to speak. New York City is made of 5 boroughs.
- the Bronx
- Staten Island
The vast majority of New York City visitors stay on the island of Manhattan, while parts of Brooklyn and Queens have also become trendy and, in some cases, more affordable.
With the exception of lower Manhattan, New York’s streets are set up in a grid pattern. If you’ve read my first time in New York guide, you’ll remember the comparison of the grid to a tic-tac-toe board with 5th Avenue as the dividing line between the west and east sides of Manhattan.
Streets run east and west, cross-town as NYers say. Avenues run north and south, which you’ll hear as heading uptown or downtown.
The distance from street to street (42nd St., 43rd St., etc.) is much shorter than the distance from avenue to avenue (8th Ave., 9th Ave., etc). So you can begin to calculate what this means for actual walking distance, think of 20 “street” blocks as 1 mile compared with 3-ish “avenue” blocks as 1/2 a mile.
When looking at hotels on a map and their distance from other places and subway stations, you’d much rather be 2 “street” blocks away than 2 “avenue” blocks away.
Regardless of where you choose to stay, the best location to stay in New York is near a subway station. The New York City subway can get you anywhere you want to go in NYC, not to mention help you bypass the clogged city streets and maximize your time.
Finally, readers always ask me for my best NYC travel tips including, where would you stay if you were visiting? It’s such a tough question because everyone has different trip goals and travel styles.
But, if it was me, I’d try to stay on the west side of Manhattan, within 5 street blocks or 1 avenue of a subway station (preferably with more than 1 train line). The best places to stay in New York City are just enough out of the main action to get a feel for the city but still feel conveniently located with places to eat nearby. This would include areas like:
- the Upper West Side,
- Greenwich Village,
- and even though it’s a bit further east, Union Square.
Best Place to Stay in New York City
Midtown West: Best Area to Stay in New York for First-Time Visitors
This area makes up Times Square, the Broadway Theater District, and all the way west to the Hudson River between 30th Street and Columbus Circle at 59th Street. First-time visitors will be in walking distance to the main sights in Midtown East and have plenty of transportation options. There are also familiar restaurants in Times Square but I strongly encourage NYC first-timers to skip these tourist traps and head a bit further west to 9th Avenue for restaurants and bars more typical of what you’d find in New York.
Times Square, Broadway Theaters, Columbus Circle, Macy’s, Restaurant Row, TKTS discount theater ticket booth, Bryant Park, Intrepid, Cruise Ship Terminal, Madison Square Garden, Penn Station, Javits Center
Midtown West makes where to stay in New York City for the first time easy. It’s perfect for travelers doing a lot of sightseeing. Hotels in the NYC Theater District make it super easy to see Broadway shows. It’s also great for people who want to be in the action with street performers, bright lights, and just steps away from countless restaurants and bars.
Hotels in Midtown NYC are surrounded by busy streets, always congested with foot and street traffic. Hotels in Times Square can be really bright from all the lit-up billboards outside. If you’re concerned about noise and/or are a light sleeper, think about a different neighborhood. It’s also super touristy so if you were hoping to get local on your NYC trip, this isn’t the neighborhood for you.
Many subway lines converge in Times Square making it easy to get to and from many parts of the city and to different boroughs like Brooklyn and Queens. Subway lines include the N,Q,R,S,W,1,2,3,7.
Top Ranked Hotels in Midtown West:
Midtown East: Best Area to Stay in New York for Sightseeing
Midtown East is a concentrated tourism zone, but also a corporate hub with towering skyscrapers and workers keeping busy 40, 50, 60+ stories high and an increasingly residential vibe the farther east you head. Covering the same streets as midtown west, (30th-59th streets) but on the opposite side of 5th Avenue to the East River. You could easily grab a New York CityPASS fill a weekend just with the sights to see in Midtown East!
Rockefeller Center, St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Empire State Building, Chrysler Building, Grand Central Station, MoMA, New York Public Library, 5th Avenue, Top of the Rock, Saks Fifth Avenue, Radio City Music Hall, United Nations
Midtown East has tons to see and do. It’s perfect if you’re spending just 2-3 days in NYC and want to do a lot of sightseeing. Midtown West (a.k.a the Times Square and the Theater District) are in walking distance. The neighborhood is also great for discovering lesser-known ethnic pockets like Koreantown (great food and karaoke) and Little Brazil.
With so many NYC things to see and do, there’s always a lot of foot and car traffic. Particularly during the Christmas holiday season, Midtown East can be wall-to-wall people. Midtown East can also be an expensive area for hotels and food, not to mention the selection of eateries is less than in other Manhattan neighborhoods.
Lexington Avenue is the farthest in Midtown East served by a nearby subway line. These trains include the B,D,F,E,M,N,R,W,Q,S,6,7. The further east your hotel is (2nd Ave, 1st Ave, and beyond) the longer you will have to walk to a subway or possibly even connect with a city bus first.
Top Ranked Hotels in Midtown East:
Lower Manhattan: Best area to stay in New York for Tourists who are Light Sleepers
Lower Manhattan, also known as the Financial District is at Manhattan’s southernmost tip. Dutch settlers established the colony of New Amsterdam right here because of its prime business location for sailing goods in and out of the harbor. Clearly, they were onto something. Lower Manhattan is arguably the financial capital of the world. It’s busiest during the week when corporate America is hard at work. The hotels in the area are more expensive during the week as they cater to business travelers. Weekend visitors, however, could get lucky with a surprise hotel deal.
One World Observatory, 9/11 Memorial & Museum, Brooklyn Bridge, South Street Seaport, Wall St. Battery Park, Statue of Liberty departure piers, Ferries to Staten Island & Governor’s Island* (*seasonal), Trinity Church, Federal Hall, Stock Exchange
You’ll have quiet nights and weekends once the work crowd heads home. With a little digging, history buffs can walk in the footsteps of George Washington, Alexander Hamilton, and many other historical figures. Fraunces Tavern is where General Washington thanked his Revolutionary military officers over dinner. Federal Hall was where he was first inaugurated.
It’s busy on weekdays with locals going to work in the Financial District. Some restaurants and delis are only open during office hours. It’s a 15-20-ish minute subway ride up to midtown if things run smoothly.
There’s no shortage of trains that head south to Lower Manhattan. These include the A,C,E,R,W,J,Z,1,2,3,4,5,6. Some trains may run a little less frequently on weekends. This area also has easy train access to Brooklyn.
Top Ranked Hotels in Lower Manhattan:
Upper West Side: Best Area to Stay in New York for Families
The Upper West Side (UWS) of Manhattan goes hand in hand with Central Park and the Arts. Locals love how easy it is to be shopping on bustling Broadway one moment and walking on the leafy paths within the neighborhood’s parks the next moment. Lincoln Center is home to the Metropolitan Opera and New York City Ballet. The quiet, brownstone-lined streets leading to museums and family-friendly restaurants are perfect if you’re visiting NYC with kids. The Upper West Side also ranks as a safest place to stay in New York when compared to other neighborhoods.
Lincoln Center, Central Park, Riverside Park, American Museum of Natural History, New York Historical Society, Children’s Museum of Manhattan, St. John the Divine, Hudson River Bike/Walking Path, Levain Bakery, lots of classic prewar apartment buildings and tree-lined brownstone streets
There’s lots of green space with Central Park and Riverside Park placed perfectly on either side of the neighborhood. It has a great local feel with famous markets, local favorite restaurants, and shops. If your visit lines up with fall in NYC and the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, visit the Upper West Side (near the Museum of Natural History) to see the big balloons get inflated the day before. Then, pop into a local restaurant or pub to join in the pre-Thanksgiving festivities.
More residential means less nightlife. The UWS isn’t as diverse in the cuisine department as other neighborhoods in NYC.
The neighborhood is serviced by the 1,2,3 trains. It’s a quick and easy ride to Midtown West and the Broadway theaters. You can connect at Times Square to access numerous other subway lines.
Top Ranked Hotels on the Upper West Side:
Upper East Side: Best Area to Stay in New York for Museums
The Upper East Side (UES) is a residential area on the opposite side of Central Park from the Upper West Side. It’s one of Manhattan’s ritziest neighborhoods with grand apartment buildings and expensive private schools. 5th Avenue between 82nd St. and 105th St. is known as Museum Mile. Visitors could spend a week just going to one museum after another and still not see everything! Shoppers will rejoice all the way from Bloomingdale’s to the swanky shops along Madison Avenue.
Central Park, Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Frick Collection, The Guggenheim, The Cooper-Hewitt, The Asia Society, high-end shopping
You’ll feel right at home on the UES if you’re looking for a posh vibe, upscale dining, and lots of museums. It’s also super residential making it another one of the best places to stay in New York City for families. Hotels closer to 5th Avenue will be just a few steps from Central Park.
Because it’s a residential neighborhood, it’s very quiet at night and points farthest east (1st Ave, York Ave) are a very long walk from Central Park at 5th Avenue.
The 4,5,6 trains run along Lexington Avenue. The newly opened 2nd Avenue subway makes stops at 96, 86, and 72nd Streets. Try to stay within easy access to one of these subway lines to avoid long walks.
Top Ranked Hotels on the Upper East Side:
Chelsea, Union Square, Flatiron: Best Area to Stay in New York for Foodies
Chelsea is on Manhattan’s west side and is one of New York’s trendiest neighborhoods with great shopping, dining, and nightlife. The Flatiron and Union Square are a bit to the east but all relatively within the same 28th-14th Street range. Visitors will love the cobblestone streets with boutiques and cafes, the green market in Union Square and the overall modern urban chic vibe in these areas of Manhattan.
Chelsea Market, Union Square market, Rubin Museum of Art, Eataly, Flatiron Building, the Highline, Chelsea Piers, antique and vintage flea markets
Chelsea is just south of Midtown West, making it one of the best neighborhoods to stay in New York based on location alone. It’s a great compromise for visitors who want to be close to midtown but not directly in the action of midtown. Union Square hosts the Greenmarket every Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday. During the holiday season, Union Square transforms into one of NYC’s most popular Christmas Markets.
Points farthest west can still feel industrial and quiet at night.
Chelsea and Union Square are served well by several subway lines taking people to and from midtown. Subway lines include the A,C,E,B,D,F,M,L,1,2,3 trains.
Top Ranked Hotels in Chelsea, the Flatiron, and Union Square:
Soho & Tribeca: Best Place to Stay in Manhattan for Shopping
Soho (South of Houston St.) is south of Washington Square Park in Greenwich Village and Tribeca (triangle below Canal St.) is a bit further downtown, south of Soho. Both neighborhoods have trendy boutiques and classy restaurants that draw visitors and locals alike. Soho is also where to find upscale art galleries and street vendors selling local/original art and trinkets. Every spring, Tribeca hosts the annual Tribeca Film Festival which features up and coming films, Q&A sessions with the directors and casts, music events, and more.
Shops & more shops, Dominique Ansel Bakery (Home of the famous Cronut), Fanelli’s Cafe, street art, cobblestone streets, art galleries, cast-iron architecture, a great restaurant scene
Soho is a shopper’s paradise! Tribeca has terrific restaurants and is close to the Lower East Side which can be tricky to get to from other parts of the city.
This is not the place to look for cheap accommodation in New York. Hotel prices in Soho and Tribeca are among the highest in Manhattan.
The R,W,C,E,B,D,F,M,6 subway lines make stops in Soho at places like Prince and Spring Streets, as well as Broadway-Lafayette. It’s also possible to take a subway to Canal St. and walk north for Soho or south for Tribeca.
Top Ranked Hotels in Soho and Tribeca:
Greenwich Village: Best Area to Stay in NYC for Nightlife
Greenwich Village, the Village for short, is south of Chelsea on Manhattan’s west side. The city’s rigid, predictable grid pattern relaxes and is reminiscent of Manhattan long ago with curving lanes and house-lined streets. Greenwich Village and the West Village is one of the best neighborhoods for restaurants. You’ll find everything from grab and go bites to romantic cafes tucked away on tiny streets. The vibe of the area is young (NYU students), classic, and attracts actors, artists and the like without the edginess of the Lower East Side.
Washington Square Park, Chumley’s, Bleecker Street, IFC Center for independent films, Grove Court, Friend’s Apartment, multiple Sex and the City filming locations, brunch spots, celebrity sightings, classic Federalist style row houses, former home to countless artists, writers, and musicians, Whitney Museum of American Art, Meatpacking District (nightlife central!)
Greenwich Village has an authentic, cool New York City vibe, with great tucked-away local favorite restaurants, the best cluster of NYC pizza places all within walking distance from one another (start at Bleecker St. & 7th Ave and walk SE on Bleecker up to MacDougal. Don’t miss the artichoke slice at Artichoke Pizza). Look no further for nightlife! From Beer Gardens to swanky clubs to dance the night away, the Meatpacking District has you covered.
With so many fantastic bars, comedy clubs, live music spaces, clubs, and restaurants, the area gets congested and loud on nights and weekends.
The Village is easy to get to and from, particularly from midtown and Chelsea. The 1 train makes a stop at Christopher St. and the A,B,C,D,E,F,M lines stop at W. 4th St.
Top Ranked Hotels in Greenwich Village:
Lower East Side: Best Area to Stay in New York for Hipsters
The Lower East Side (LES) is everything artsy and creative. While trendy (pricier) shops have moved into the neighborhood, the LES is still the place to find vintage shops and hidden-entrance speakeasies with artisan cocktails. The diversity in the neighborhood has also created a foodies dream with all kinds of ethnic cuisines and creative food options for some of the hottest restaurants in the city.
Tenement Museum, Merchant House Museum, Eldridge Street Synagogue, the New Museum, walking distance to Little Italy & Chinatown
Wondering where to stay in Manhattan that has an authentic, yet edgy New York City Vibe? Look no further than the LES. The Lower East Side is also great for anyone looking for a relatively cheap stay in New York.
The Lower East Side isn’t the easiest neighborhood to get to and from, even with the subway. Sightseers with limited time in NYC will probably want to stay in a more convenient neighborhood closer to midtown to maximize their stay.
The F,J,M,Z make LES stops, as well as stops in the areas of Chinatown and Little Italy nearby. It’s slightly misleading, however, because the F and M trains run from other points in Manhattan, while the J and Z lines only come from Brooklyn.
Top Ranked Hotels on the Lower East Side:
Long Island City, Queens: Best Area to Stay in New York on a Budget
Long Island City (LIC) is an industrial neighborhood transforming bit by bit into a reinvigorated neighborhood ready to capitalize on its prime position along the East River with wide-open Manhattan city views. The area is still up and coming but with steady and solid growth. NYC on a budget can be tricky but it’s not impossible. Visitors love the more affordable hotel prices and the easy access to midtown Manhattan via the subway.
Incredible city views from the waterfront parks and promenade, Noguchi Museum, MoMA PS1
You’ll find cheap hotel options (at least for NYC) and you’ll love the quick subway ride into Manhattan.
LIC is still up and coming and doesn’t yet have the number of shops and restaurants as compared to neighborhoods in Manhattan or Brooklyn.
The area has a good number of trains including the E,M,R,N,W,F,7. Not every train will be at every station, though, so know which subway line your hotel is near. Subways run all night so if you’re considering a cost-friendly hotel in LIC, there’s no worrying about missing the last train back. Check the MTA website for weekend subway work that could affect service.
Top Ranked Hotels in Long Island City, Queens:
Brooklyn: Best Places to Stay Outside of NYC (Manhattan)
Brooklyn is also a fantastic option for travelers looking to save on hotel costs. Popular neighborhoods like Williamsburg, Greenpoint, Brooklyn Heights, Park Slope, and Dumbo are on or near the Brooklyn waterfront. These neighborhoods have been revitalized from their industrial pasts into a trendy, bohemian scene. Warehouse spaces are now art galleries, coffee shops, artist spaces, restaurants, beer gardens, and apartments. Regardless of which of these neighborhoods you look to stay, remember it’s less about the neighborhood and more about how close your hotel is to the subway.
Brooklyn Bridge Park, Barclays Center, fantastic Manhattan views, trendy eats, Smorgasburg, street art, flea markets, vintage & artisan shopping, Coney Island, Brooklyn Botanical Garden
Most hotels will be more affordable than those in Manhattan. Delicious food choices, whether it’s from an ethnic specialty restaurant, a trendy food truck, or a classic slice of NYC pizza.
As convenient as the subway is, staying outside of Manhattan means needing public transportation or a taxi to get to NYC’s top sights.
With the biggest population of all the boroughs, many parts of Brooklyn have great subway access. Nearly every train line makes stops somewhere in Brooklyn. Use Google Maps to know which subway station is closest to the hotel you’re considering. As with Long Island City, check the MTA website for weekend subway work that could affect service.
Important: The L train which makes stops in Williamsburg is closing in April 2019 for 15 months. It will also be shut down for several weekends leading up to this closure. I don’t recommend staying in a place where you’ll need the L train unless you’re a seasoned NYC visitor who’s comfortable with public transportation. So even though I know how trendy Williamsburg and other neighborhoods are, for now, my hotel suggestions below avoid areas served by the L Train.
Top Ranked Hotels in Brooklyn:
New York City is an absolute bucket list trip! Finding places to stay in Manhattan for the right price is a big piece of the planning puzzle. Luckily, NYC is such an amazing place that by using this guide to help sort through the best NYC neighborhoods and the best NYC hotels, you’re sure to make a great choice for your trip. 🙂
Where would you like to stay for your NYC trip?
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