Where to Stay in New York City – Complete Guide to the Best Neighborhoods

Written By: James Maher

If you are planning on visiting New York City then you already know how great the city is. From must visit places like Times Square and the Empire State building to the landmarks like Central Park and the Statue of Liberty. It is no wonder a trip to New York is on everyones bucket list.

It is no secret that New York is an expensive city so when deciding on where to stay in New York City one of the first things you will want to do is to pick the neighborhood you want to base yourself in.

Where you choose to stay in New York will largely depend on two things. What your budget is and what your interests are.

We want to help you and make that decision as easy as possible. After visiting the city multiple times over the years and staying in different neighbourhoods each time, these are our suggestions on the best areas to stay in NYC as well as our hand picked hotel recommendations.

As an added resource we also consulted New York City local James Mahar and got his recommendations and inside tips as well.

Where to Stay in New York City

Quick Tips

Hands down the best place to stay in New York City for first-time visitors is Mid Town Manhattan. This puts you right in the middle of everything, gives you easy access to public transportation, and has some of the best hotels in the city.

Book as far in advance as possible. New York City is a major tourist destination and things sell out fast. If you want the best choice of places to stay then start planning early.

Budgeting Tip

Additional Fees: Most people are unaware that in addition to the cost of your hotel the city also implements a 14.75% hotel tax on the total cost of the room and an occupancy tax of $3.50 USD per day. When looking at hotel prices make sure to see if these are included or not.

Best Neighborhoods in New York

new york city neighborhoods map

Click on the link to Google map

New York consists of 5 “Burroughs” or areas which are Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, Bronx and Staten Island. These are further broken down into neighbourhoods that have their own unique charm and feel.

When it comes to choosing the 8 best New York City neighborhoods we wanted to focus on these which are located in Manhattan and Brooklyn. Each one appeals to a different travel style and where you base yourself will depend on what type of traveler you are.

Should I Stay in Manhattan or Brooklyn?

This is really a personal choice but most people stay in Manhattan as it is centrally located and close to all the major sights. If you are looking for some more affordable hotel options, that are a little further away, then the best area would be Brooklyn.

Regardless of whether you decide to stay in Manhattan or Brooklyn both offer great hotel choices and you are almost always near a subway to getting around NYC won’t be a problem.

So Grab your New York Pass and let’s get ready to start planning your New York City trip.

1. Midtown and Times Square – Best Place to Stay in NYC for the First Time

Where to stay in the city for First timers is Midtown NYC

We have to admit, we love staying in the heart of Manhattan. You are within walking distance to so many top New York Attractions when staying in Times Square.

Plus, when you are in New York for the first time, you’ll never tire of coming back to the hustle and bustle of the neon lights of Times Square.

Midtown Manhattan was the area that we stayed in when we visited New York City for the first time and we still stay there from time to time. It offers some of the best accommodation in New York and you have everything at your fingertips.

The main thing we loved about this area is that you are walking distance to many of the famous New York attractions. It really allows you to explore a lot in a small amount of time.

In Midtown Manhattan you will find:

  • Times Square
  • Broadway
  • Rockefeller Center
  • Radio City Music Hall
  • Bryant Park
  • Empire State Building
  • Fifth Avenue

It may not be the cheapest area in New York City but if you want to be close to everything this area is perfect.

Need help deciding on what to do when you are in NYC? Check out our guide on the Best Things to do in NYC for suggestions.

Luxury ($300 USD and Up):

Casablanca Hotel by Library Hotel Collection – Located steps from Times Square this hotel has well-appointed rooms, great amenities, and wine and cheese every afternoon! Definitely one of the best places to stay in Manhattan. Check out Availability and prices on TripAdvisor or Booking.com

Mid Range ($150-250 USD):

Hilton Garden Inn Times Square – The perfect location really close to the subway station. Rooms are small but you are steps from Broadway theaters, Restaurant Row, TKTS, famous 42nd Street, and much more. Check out Availability and Prices on TripAdvisor or Booking.com

Budget ($100-150 USD):

Park Central Hotel New York – Located in Upper Midtown, a short walk from Times Square, this hotel is within walking distance to all the main sights, close to Central Park and the subway. The rooms are really comfortable. Great value for your money. Check out Availability and prices on TripAdvisor

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2. SoHo and Tribeca (Manhattan) – Best Place to Stay for Culture

Best Neighbourhood to stay in New York City for shopping is SoHo and Tribeca
The old silk exchange building and cast-iron buildings in SoHo.

SoHo and Tribeca are becoming hot neighborhoods to visit and live in Manhattan. So much so that they are two of the top five most expensive areas for real estate in New York City. That being said, you should stay and visit here while in NYC.

Historically the factory center of Manhattan, these neighborhoods are for architecture buffs. You can explore endless streets of the most stunning cast-iron buildings in the world, with gorgeous pillars, fire escapes, water towers, and cobblestone streets.

SoHo and Tribeca - Where to stay in NYC
A cast-iron converted warehouse.

As the factories left New York in the ’60s and ’70s, artists moved in turning them into lofts. Galleries followed, and then shopping, turning the area into a giant shopping mecca.

The Film Forum is also nearby for film buffs to catch a classic movie.

  • Pros of Staying in Soho Tribeca
    • Architecture
    • Food
    • Shopping
    • Galleries
    • Convenient to downtown areas
  • Cons of Staying in SoHo / Tribeca:
    • It is expensive
    • Certain areas are crowded

Luxury ($300 USD and Up):

Crosby Street Hotel – In the heart of SoHo, this hotel has some of the most gorgeous yet slightly whimsical hotel rooms in the city. Top-notch design with a loft-type feel. Check out Availability and prices on TripAdvisor or Booking.com

Mid Range ($150-250 USD):

Soho Grand Hotel Located on a quiet side street in SoHo. This hotel is one of the best designed in the city with numerous bars, restaurants, and sitting areas, both inside and out. Check out Availability and Prices on TripAdvisor or Booking.com

Budget ($100-150 USD):

Sheraton TribecaVery clean and everything you would expect from a Sheraton hotel. Gorgeous rooftop views. Parking, Free Internet, 1000 sq ft. Fitness Center. Check out Availability and prices on TripAdvisor or Booking.com

3. Greenwich Village – Best Place to Stay in New York City for Nightlife.

Best Area to stay for nightlife is Greenwich Village
Grove Court.

For history buffs, there are few neighborhoods as evocative as The Village. If you want to stay in an area that has an authentic feel of New York, this is one of the best neighborhoods.

The village was once the Bohemian capital of New York and the center for the LGBT, ’60s Counterculture, and Beat movements. While that era is long gone, the feel of the neighborhood is not.

Get lost on a side street after side street of gorgeous townhouses and tree-lined blocks. The neighborhood is simultaneously quiet and happening with a great music scene. If you arelooking for where to stay in New York City that has a great history this is it!

View from Greenwich Village

Visit Washington Square Park, the Cherry Lane Theater (New York’s longest continuously running Off-Broadway theatre), see a jazz performance at Blue Note or Village Vanguard in the West Village or have a drink at the White Horse Tavern, Chumley’s, or the Stonewall Inn.

Pros of Staying in Greenwich Village 

  • Within walking distance to many downtown neighborhoods
  • Washington Square Park
  • IFC
  • Cinema Village
  • Angelika Film Center
  • Shopping, music and close to NYU

Cons of Staying in The Village:

  • Expensive
  • Close to NYU so a lot of students

Luxury ($300 USD and Up):

The Marlton – One of the best hotels in NYC, with wood details, a great bar and lobby, and an excellent location in an area devoid of hotels.

Check out Availability and prices on TripAdvisor or Booking.com

Mid Range ($150-250 USD):

Washington Square Hotel Small, clean rooms in an area without many hotels. Located right off the Park.

Check out Availability and Prices on TripAdvisor or Booking.com

Budget ($100-150 USD):

Hotel Four Points by Sheraton (SoHo Village) Well rated and clean budget hotel (for the area). everything you would expect from this hotel chain.

Check out Availability and prices on TripAdvisor or Booking.com


4. Lower East Side / East Village / Nolita – Where to Stay in NYC on a Budget

Stay in the New York City area of the Lower East side for the local vibe.
A side street in the East Village.

These three neighboring neighborhoods cover a vast amount of the most vibrant real estate in Manhattan and are situated on the east river side of the island.

The Lower East Side, East Village, and Nolita are filled with incredible and varied restaurants, gorgeous old tenement buildings with beautiful fire escapes.

You feel what it is like to “live” like New Yorkers do if you stay in these areas of Manhattan.

The best thing I love about these neighborhoods is that many parts of the city are easy to get to on foot from here.

Most importantly for some, the people watching can be the best in the city!

There is a range of bars and nightlife for every type, from younger clubs to old, grizzled dive bars.

The restaurant/food scene is one of the best in the city and includes numerous old mainstays such as:

New York Foodie Mainstays

  • Katz’ Delicatessen
  • Russ & Daughters
  • John’s of 12th
  • Emilio’s Ballato
  • Economy Candy
  • Veselka.

As well as newer trendy restaurants that are too numerous to name.

Lower East Side - Where to stay in New York City
View from the Manhattan Bridge.

Pros of staying in the Lower East Side:

  • Proximity to Chinatown
  • Walking distance to some of the best downtown areas in Manhattan
  • Incredible food, cultural institutions, and theaters (including the Tenement Museum)
  • Shopping, bars and clubs, many new hotels.
  • Close to the Brooklyn Bridge, Manhattan Bridge, Staten Island Ferry and the Financial District.

Cons of Staying on the Lower East Side:

  • Nightlife in certain areas can get very loud and crazy (particularly on Avenue A and in Hell Squarez)

Luxury ($300 USD and Up):

The Bowery Hotel – Gorgeous lobby, loft-style rooms with  Hardwood floors & floor to ceiling factory windows and an excellent restaurant. Check out Availability and prices on TripAdvisor or Booking.com

Mid Range ($150-250 USD):

The Nolitan HotelLuxury Boutique hotel. An excellent, hip hotel with a great restaurant in the heart of Nolita and Little Italy. Check out Availability and Prices on TripAdvisor or Booking.com

Budget ($100-150 USD):

The Leon HotelCheap, super clean budget hotel. This is a great no-frills hotel in the center of Chinatown, The Lower East Side, and Little Italy. Check out Availability and prices on TripAdvisor or Booking.com

5. Upper West Side (Manhattan) – Where to Stay in New York City for Families

The Upper West Side is one of the best places to stay in New York City

The Upper West Side is a wonderful Manhattan neighborhood to stay in for families and couples.

We recently returned from New York and stayed in this area and loved it. It is not as hectic as some of the other areas but still close to cool things like Central Park, Lincoln Center, American Museum of Natural History and Riverside Park.

Upper West Side - one of the best areas of NYC
Central Park

The hotels are more affordable, the trains are good and reliable, and the area – while still vibrant – is not packed with people.

If you are looking for where to stay in New York City that is family-friendly this is where you will want to stay. It gives you easy access to the subway lines and some great eats as well.

  • Pros of Staying on the Upper West Side:
    • Close to Central Park and Riverside Park
    • Easy Access to the Museum Mile, Metropolitan Museum of Art, and all the other cool museums in New York
    • It is quieter than other New York neighborhoods.
  • Cons of Staying on the Upper West Side: 
    • Far from The Lower East Side, financial district, and Brooklyn.
    • Not the most interesting people watching
    • Hotels are quite expensive.

Luxury ($300 USD and Up):

Hotel Beacon – Well run and beautifully designed hotel, close to the subway lines in a very family-friendly area. Check out Availability and prices on TripAdvisor or Booking.com

Mid Range ($150-250 USD):

NYLO New York City Loft style boutique hotel, larger rooms at a great price. Beautifully designed. Some rooms have balconies. 3 Bar and Restaurant venues on Site. Check out Availability and Prices on TripAdvisor or Booking.com

Budget ($100-150 USD):

Empire Hotel This budget hotel is in an excellent location right off of Lincoln Center. Beautiful rooftop bar and lobby. The rooms are a little dated. Check out Availability and prices on TripAdvisor or Booking.com

6. Upper East Side (Manhattan) – Best Neighborhood to Stay for Museum Lovers

To be close to museums on the Upper East Side of New York City

The Upper East Side is definitely one of Manhattans’ wealthiest areas.

Located between 59th and 96th streets to the north and south and the East River and Central Park to the east and west, it is a quieter area stay in comparison to Chelsea or Midtown.

It is also where you will find the Museum Mile which houses a lot of museums like the Guggenheim Museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Jewish Museum, and the Goethe Institute just to name a few.

Hotels here are on the expensive side, but if you are into shopping you are close to Bloomingdales, Fifth Avenue and one of the best shopping streets, Madison Avenue.

  • Pros to Staying on the Upper East Side:
    • Close to all the Museums
    • Access to Central Park
    • Some of the most upscale dining in NYC
    • A quiet residential neighborhood
  • Cons of Staying on the Upper East Side:
    • Hotels are expensive
    • You are further away from NYC main attractions
    • Not much in the way of Nightlife

Luxury ($300 USD and Up):

The Mark Hotel – Well run and beautifully designed hotel, close to the art galleries and museums. Comfortable rooms and great service. The best hotel in the area. Check out Availability and prices on TripAdvisor or Booking.com

Mid Range ($150-250 USD):

Loews Regency New York – This hotel has spacious rooms, a great location on Park Avenue, and the service is some of the best in the city. Check out Availability and prices on TripAdvisor or Booking.com

Budget ($100-150 USD):

Gardens Suites Hotel by Affina– This hotel is discreetly located on the Upper East Side on an intimate, tree-lined street. Suites offer generous living space, including a full kitchen. there is a wine hour each night. Check out Availability and Prices on TripAdvisor or Booking.com

7. Chelsea (Manhattan) – Favorite Neighborhood in New York City

Chelsea - New York Place to Stay
The High Line.

Chelsea is a great area to stay in as it is so central to everything. If you want to be in the heart of it all without all the craziness then this is the place to stay.

Located on the west side of Manhattan between Midtown and Greenwich Village. We loved walking around cobblestone streets, sitting in one of the trendy cafes sipping a latte, and just getting lost in the vibe that comes with being in this part of the Big Apple. People love it.

You must make sure to visit Chelsea Market and take a stroll over to Union Square where they have a great Greenmarket every Monday and cool Christmas Market during the winter.

Chelsea neighbourhood

The High Line is still very fun with the incredible Hudson Yards development to the north and the vibrant and crazy nightlife of the Meatpacking district to the south. The Whitney has some great works of art and wonderful views. And there is some serious shopping around as well. There is a lot to do here without ever leaving the neighborhood.

  • Pros of Staying in Chelsea:
    • Close to almost everything including public transportation.
    • Packed with tourist-friendly locations
    • Great nightlife
    • Trendy restaurants and bars
  • Cons of Staying in Chelsea:
    • Touristy
    • Not evocative of the real old New York
    • Expensive

Luxury ($300 USD and Up):

Innside by Melia – One of the best hotels in Chelsea. The rooms are spacious, efficient, modern, and well-appointed. Great staff and location make this a great choice. Check out Availability and prices on TripAdvisor or Booking.com

Mid Range ($150-275 USD):

The Standard, High Line The best rooftop views in the area, bar/nightclub, hip hotel but can get very loud. For the cost of the area, it is considered mid-range. Check out Availability and Prices on TripAdvisor or Booking.com

Budget ($100-150 USD):

The Jane Hotel – This hotel is super cheap, so make sure it is right for you. Some of the smallest hotel rooms in Manhattan and shared bathrooms. But a hip hotel and a gorgeous lobby. Check out Availability and prices on TripAdvisor or Booking.com

8. Williamsburg, Brooklyn – Best Places for Affordable Hotels in New York

Located across the East River from the East Village in Manhattan, and connected by Williamsburg Bridge, Brooklyn is where you want to stay if you want to get away from the crazieness of Manhattan.

We recommend the Williamsburg neighborhood. You are still close enough to the main sights (only a 20-minute subway ride away to Times Square) but it is a more residential neighborhood feel.

There are great places to eat, cafes and pubs as well as great accommodations. This can be a nice reprieve, especially if you are not a first time visitor to NYC.

Luxury ($300 USD and Up)

The William Vale: If you want the royal treatment this is the perfect place to stay. Close to the subway, this hotel is beautiful. With a rooftop pool, amazing restaurant and stunning rooms.

Mid Range ($150-275 USD)

Hotel Indigo: Located in Wiliamsburg, Brooklyn this hotel has clean, nicely decorated rooms and has breakfast included. It is close to the airports and has free wifi and parking.

Budget ($100-150 USD)

Pointe Plaza Hotel: This hotel has modern well appointed rooms with free wifi and complementary continental breakfast. Located close to the Brooklyn Navy Yard and the subway lines this is great for anyone on a budget.

What You Need to know Before Booking a Hotel in New York City

  • New York hotel rooms are small. I mean really small. It is not uncommon to pay $200-300USD for 160-170 square feet. This usually comes as a shock to most first-time visitors so pack accordingly.
  • Room Rates are expensive. In fact, budget hotels are almost non-existent. You can expect to pay around $200 USD/night for mid-range hotels in a good location.
  • Book Early. NYC is an incredibly popular destination and good hotels fill up fast. Our suggestion is to book at least 3 months out if you can. More if you are traveling during peak season.
  • Be aware of Hotel Tax and Occupancy Fees. As stated above, the city charges these fees on top of the regular room rates. So make sure to take this into consideration when you budget.
  • Try to stay close to a subway station with access to multiple subway lines. This will make getting around the city easier and faster.

Getting Around New York

Best way to get around New York city
  1. Take the subway. It’s faster! You can purchase a MetroCard at any station as an individual ride card or a 7-day or 30-day unlimited card.
  2. Download the Citimapper app to tell you the fastest ways to travel throughout the city.
  3. Avoid empty subway cars! It’s too good to be true. Usually, the AC is broken or there is a terrible smell.
  4. New York is a walking city but pace yourself, make sure to stay hydrated and give yourself enough time to rest.
  5. Don’t stop suddenly in the middle of a busy sidewalk. Walk to the sides before stopping, and make sure to look behind you before you stop short.
  6. Get the Curb Taxi App or use Uber or Lyft: Note from Deb and Dave: Taxis and Ubers in NYC are very reasonable and make it easy to get around.

Regardless of whether you are planning a trip to see the many art galleries and museums or take in the popular attractions like the Rockefeller Center and the Statue of Liberty, New York has a great mix of different neighborhoods that appeal to every type of traveler.

I hope this guide to New York accommodation helps make your next vacation planning a little easier. We have covered everything we feel you need to know. From the layout of the city to our hand-picked personal recommendations for hotels in both Manhattan and Brooklyn.

If you have any more suggestions be sure to leave them in the comments below.

Plan more of your New York City travels:

Traveling to the United States, see our United States Travel Guide

You may also want to check out these other city guides

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, but these are all products we highly recommend. We won’t put anything on this page that we haven’t verified and/or personally used.

Travel Planning Resources

Looking to book your next trip? Why not use these resources that are tried and tested by yours truly.

Flights: Start planning your trip by finding the best flight deals on Skyscanner

Book your Hotel: Find the best prices on hotels with these two providers. If you are located in Europe use Booking.com and if you are anywhere else use TripAdvisor

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Need more help planning your trip? Make sure to check out our Resources Page where we highlight all the great companies that we trust when we are traveling.

About James Maher

James Maher has lived in New York for his entire life. Like many Manhattanites, he is a terrible driver and cook, but is an excellent navigator and knows where to get the best dumplings in Chinatown. He is a professional photographer, a certified tour guide, and runs New York photography tours and street photography workshops. He is the author of the New York Photographer’s Travel Guide: The Best Places to Photograph from a Professional Photographer, Tour Guide, and Lifelong New Yorker. Buy it here on Amazon

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27 thoughts on “Where to Stay in New York City – Complete Guide to the Best Neighborhoods”

  1. believe it or not but I laid bricks for two of these places, back when i was a stone mason in New York. Dang, that was back in tha dayz!

    Reply
  2. Sweet! This is perfect and will help greatly as we are heading to NYC in a few months… or planning to anyways! Thanks for the ideas!

    Reply
  3. Took my 6-year old daughter to NYC over Christmas last year. She loved it and wants to go back! I’ll have to refer to this blog when we go. Thanks!

    Reply
  4. Thanks so much for putting this guide together. I recently took a trip to NYC and found this super useful. It seems really well researched and thought out.

    Reply
  5. This is such a useful post! I live in New York City and since I don’t stay in hotels here, I never know which ones to recommend to out-of-towners. Thanks for this!

    Reply
  6. Many folk have asked me about this (to me, one of the greatest in the world) city, and my answers have never been as structured or complete, or have sufficiently captured my enthusiasm for it, as this piece by you. Thanks a gazillion JM, I shall “draw deep from this well” from now on!

    Reply
  7. Thank you James – my dream is to visit New York and hoping too in 2019 so I really appreciate your guide 🙂 – along with that I love your photography especially the B & W Grand Central railway station image of the lady with the suitcase and people doing there own thing. My Grandma became a US citizen, loved New York and loved the US!

    Reply
  8. I never read a blog as detailed and informative as this one. Thank you, James, for sharing. I don’t think anyone will require an additional guide of where to stay in New York after reading your blog. The Lower East Side, East Village, and Nolita are my favourite neighbourhoods.

    Reply