When it comes to the best place to stay in New York, there are just so many options out there. You have an endless amount of neighborhood choices throughout the city, each offering a unique type of experience and atmosphere.
Choosing where to stay is no easy task as there are various considerations to think through. Nearby activities & attractions, ease of transport, food & drink options, shopping, & more can all vary depending on where you base yourself.
This guide will go through some of the top places around New York City to choose from, and touch upon many of the considerations listed above. In addition, I will mention some of the top hotel choices in each area so you can get your trip going in the right direction.
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1) Best Places to Stay in New York Overview
As someone who has lived in New York City for the past 10+ years, I have had the chance to explore all corners of the city.
I have walked the streets, visited the attractions, eaten the food, taken the subways, and engrained myself in this city. And while I have seen and done so much during my time here, I still find myself finding new things to do and new places to see.
While most people think of New York City as one place, I see it as a vast number of places. This is because each neighborhood in the city can be so different and so unique from one another.
In one day of walking throughout NYC, you will feel like you just walked through several different cities as there are so many neighborhoods in such a small range of area.
While I am sure you will get to visit many different places all throughout New York during a visit, you will need to think about which area to base yourself in.
From all of my experiences, I have built up a solid understanding of the best places to stay in New York and why some areas may be better than others for certain individuals.
Choosing a neighborhood will have many different factors to take into consideration. And that is what this guide is meant to help you out with.
In the next section, I will first introduce you to the boroughs and neighborhoods of NYC so you can get a better understanding of the city’s layout.
2) NYC Boroughs and Neighborhood Breakdown
Many people may not realize it but New York City encompasses five different boroughs – Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx, and Staten Island.
Within each one of these boroughs you will find various neighborhoods, each one a bit different than the next.
The most popular borough is of course Manhattan as it is home to most of the main attractions and activities in NYC. Most people who visit the city will stay in Manhattan because of this.
The second most popular borough to stay in will be Brooklyn, just across the East River.
Many people enjoy staying in Brooklyn to get away from the hustle & bustle of Manhattan, while still being well connected by public transport. Not to mention, some of the best views of Manhattan are from Brooklyn!
While Queens, the Bronx and Staten Island, can be worth a visit for particular attractions & activities, you won’t find as many people recommending to stay in them as a top choice when visiting NYC.
For the purpose of this guide, I will be focusing on some of the top Manhattan and Brooklyn neighborhoods to choose from. Below is a map that outlines the many neighborhoods in NYC that I will be talking about in this guide..
This map can be used so you can gain a better understanding of where each neighborhood is situated in the city.
3) Where to Stay in New York City
The remainder of this guide is going to walk through some of the best places to stay in New York and talk about the pros and cons for each one.
Remember, just because you stay in one neighborhood, doesn’t mean you won’t be able to fully enjoy other neighborhoods as well.
At the end of the day, choosing where to stay in New York City will just be your home base. From there you should be able to fully take advantage of what the rest of the city has to offer.
It is also important to note that some neighborhoods can be quite large. So, it may also depend where you stay within the neighborhood itself to fully take advantage of the things to do, transport, and nearby attractions.
For the purpose of this guide, I will talk through the following neighborhoods in NYC:
- Flatiron District
- Greenwich Village
- East Village
- Upper East Side
- Upper West Side
For each one of these neighborhoods I will go through a breakdown of the following topics
- Nearby Things to Do
- Hotel Options
4) Flatiron District
We will start off with the Flatiron District in Manhattan which makes up the area between Park Avenue to 6th Avenue, from 14th Street to 26th Street. Within the area you have the two main parks of Union Square & Madison Square.
In my opinion, the Flatiron area is one of the best centrally located places to stay in the city with easy access to nearly every subway line nearby.
Nearby Things to Do
Within the Flatiron District itself, you will be able to easily walk to Union Square Park & Madison Square Park.
Union Square has one of the best farmer’s markets in the city and plenty of restaurants & stores surrounding it. For an underrated and relatively unknown view, you can head to the top floor of Burlington Coat Factory (south side) and Barnes and Noble (north side) for great views of the NYC skyline. The area also has some of the best bookstores in NYC.
Madison Square is one of the most relaxing parks in the city with plenty of seating, a variety of trees & plants, and some great views of the surrounding city (and where you can catch some NYC cherry blossoms).
At the southern end of Madison Square Park, you will find the famous Flatiron Building at the corner of Broadway and 23rd Street.
While those are the two highlights within the area, you are also within walking distance to the Empire State Building, the Chelsea & Greenwich Village neighborhoods, & even the Hudson River.
When it comes to transportation options, it won’t get much better than Flatiron. Within the neighborhood you will find the 4/5/6 trains, N/Q/R/W trains, the L train at Union Square, PATH trains to New Jersey, and the 1/2/3 trains another avenue west at 7th Avenue.
So, whether you are trying to go uptown, downtown, or crosstown, there will certainly be a nearby option for you to choose from.
I touched on this a bit before, but Flatiron is also a great place to base yourself in if you are looking to walk to various nearby neighborhoods.
All within a 20-30 minute radius you will be able to visit the Empire State Building, Pier 57, Little Island, the High Line, Hudson River Park, Washington Square Park, the East River Greenway, among plenty of other places.
This is also right near the area I live. I just love the fact that I can get a taste of several different neighborhoods and experiences by just walking outside my door and heading in another direction for 20 minutes.
Below are my three top recommendations for Flatiron District hotels to choose from during your stay:
Just west of the Flatiron District, you will find the Chelsea neighborhood. This area runs from 6th Avenue to the Hudson River, between 14th Street & 30th Street.
It is technically broken up into two areas, with West Chelsea making up the area from 9th Avenue westbound to the river.
Nearby Things to Do
For me, the highlight of staying in the Chelsea neighborhood is that you are just so close to the Hudson River.
If you are not aware, all along the Hudson River you will find a pathway full of parks, piers, viewpoints, activities and more.
Spending a full day just walking along the river, taking in the views, and relaxing on the lawns will be a true highlight of your time in NYC.
In general, some of the top highlights that are within the Chelsea area nearby the Hudson River include the Whitney Museum, Little Island, Pier 57 Rooftop, Chelsea Piers, and the Frying Pan.
You will also have Chelsea Market nearby, which has some of the best food selections in the city, as well as the High Line walking path.
Chelsea is another neighborhood that has a higher walkability score. This is mostly due to all those highlights that I have just mentioned. Within 10 minutes, you can be at any one of these attractions.
Not only can you visit the places in Chelsea, but just north of the neighborhood you will find Hudson Yards. Around the area are other top highlights such as the Vessel and the Edge.
In addition to Chelsea and Hudson Yards, the nearby Hudson River walkway gives you easy access to head along the river uptown or downtown. Instead of walking through the city with traffic, noise, and congestion, you can simply just walk down the more peaceful Hudson River Park.
If you really wanted to, you could make your way all the way down to Battery Park and the World Trade Center area.
The main subway line that you will find in Chelsea is the 1/2/3 line and A/C/E line that run up and down the western side of Manhattan.
If you are looking to get to some other train lines, you will either need to make a transfer or just walk a bit east until you hit the other train lines located in the Flatiron District.
This may be inconvenient for some depending on how far west in Chelsea you may be staying. However, at the end of the day, the walk on over is not too far.
Below are my three top recommendations for Chelsea hotels to choose from during your stay:
6) Greenwich Village / West Village
West of 4th Avenue in Lower Manhattan between Houston Street and 14th Street you will find the Greenwich Village / West Village neighborhoods.
Home to New York University, Washington Square Park, and some of the best restaurants & bars in the city, these neighborhoods always have something going on.
Nearby Things to Do
When it comes to nightlife, eating out, or grabbing drinks, there are endless options when it comes to Greenwich Village & the West Village.
On the eastern side of Greenwich Village you will find the NYU campus and Washington Square Park. The park itself is a great place to relax, hang out, and people watch.
You have the famous Washington Square Arch & Fountain in the middle of the park, surrounded by benches, lawns, and walkways.
When it comes to parks in the city, none will match the energy and diversity that Washington Square Park has to offer.
Surrounding the park you will have many bars & restaurants to choose from as you are in the heart of the NYU campus.
As you move more west through Greenwich Village, you will be welcomed to the West Village (a subset of Greenwich Village). Here is where the Manhattan grid can get a bit more complicated as you leave the numbered avenues and streets.
While you may not find “touristy” highlights in the West Village, it is one of the most desirable and beautiful neighborhoods to walk around.
You will find many cobblestoned streets with old picturesque townhouses lining the sidewalks, giving the neighborhood its own unique vibe.
Original restaurants, speakeasies, comedy clubs, and more line the streets of the West Village, and you will always be close by to something that will keep you busy.
Lastly, if you make your way just a bit more west, you will soon hit the Hudson River pathway. Spending time enjoying the streets and also the riverfront is a perfect way to go about your time around the area.
Since the Greenwich Village area can be pretty wide, it does depend on where you will be located to better understand transport options.
In general, though you do have the 1/2/3 and A/C/E trains on the West Village side. These can take you pretty much up and down the west side of Manhattan.
If you begin to head further east within Greenwich Village, you will start to get closer to all those train lines that circle Union Square. This means you won’t be too far away from the 4/5/6 & N/Q/R/W trains.
In addition, the L train runs through Greenwich Village as well as a couple of the PATH stations that can take you to New Jersey.
This is another area of the city where the walkability factor is still on the higher end. Whether you are exploring the village itself or if you want to check out other nearby neighborhoods, you shouldn’t have an issue doing so by foot.
To the north is Chelsea & Flatiron, to the south is Soho, and to the east is the East Village. In addition, you have easy access to walk up and down Hudson River Park as you take advantage of all that has to offer.
7) East Village / Lower East Side
Running along eastern side of downtown below 14th Street you will find the East Village and the Lower East Side. Both of these areas are known to have some of the best restaurants and bar options in the city.
You certainly will always find something to do as the streets come alive with the younger crowds throughout the night.
Nearby Things to Do
When it comes to things to do in the East Village & Lower East Side, you won’t find many of NYC’s top attractions.
While there are certainly some local activities, smaller museums, and parks to visit, these areas are more so enjoyed for what they are.
However, you are surrounded by some other neighborhoods, making it an accessible place to base yourself if you want to explore Lower Manhattan.
In addition, you do have the East River Greenway nearby, where you can spend some time by the water.
From a transport side of things, it will really matter where in the area you stay. If you are staying too far east or south, then transport can certainly be an issue.
However, if you are basing yourself closer to the heart of these areas then the 4/5/6 and F/M trains do make their way through the neighborhoods.
Again, this will all come down to where you base yourself within the neighborhoods. The East Village for example can be one of the most well connected places in the city when it comes to walking around to other areas.
You will have Flatiron to the north, Greenwich Village and Soho to the west and the Lower East Side to the south.
However, if you are staying in Alphabet City (the eastern part of the village), that may not be the case at all.
As I mentioned at the beginning of this guide, the neighborhood itself is one decision to make and where within the neighborhood you stay is another decision.
Below are my three top recommendations for East Village hotels to choose from during your stay::
Tribeca is a neighborhood located closer to the southern tip of Manhattan. The name Tribeca actually comes from the longer description of TRIangle BElow CAnal. Combining those first few letters of each word and you get “Tribeca”.
Nearby Things to Do
Tribeca is surrounded by various things to do, making it a very solid option for those that want to situate themselves in downtown Manhattan.
Just to the north of Tribeca you will find the Soho neighborhood. When it comes to shopping options, there are few other places in NYC that can compete with what Soho has to offer.
To the east of Tribeca you will find the entrance point of the Brooklyn Bridge walking path. The Brooklyn Bridge is the most famous of bridges in NYC and offers visitors the chance to walk along an elevated pedestrian pathway in the middle of the bridge.
In addition, just north of the Brooklyn Bridge walking path, you will find the Manhattan Bridge walking path. This is a great option for those that want to get views of the Brooklyn Bridge with the Manhattan skyline out in the backdrop.
South of Tribeca you will have Battery Park & the Financial District. Here you will find places to visit such as One World Trade, the 9/11 Museum, the Statue of Liberty boat docking point, and the South Street Seaport.
Finally, you can also head to the western end of Tribeca to walk the Hudson River pathway and visit the nearby Pier 26 (one of my favorite piers in the city!).
As you get lower in Manhattan, you will find that the island begins to narrow. Due to this, the subways begin to converge into a smaller area.
This makes it perfect for those trying to travel further uptown or down into Brooklyn. The 1/2/3, A/C/E, N/Q/R/W, and 4/5/6 are all nearby Tribeca, making it one of the most accessible parts of NYC.
Along the same mindset as the transport, walking around Tribeca and to nearby neighborhoods should be a pretty easy task. Since the island is narrower in Tribeca, you can literally walk from the Hudson River to the East River in 20 minutes (something that would take double the amount of time higher up in the city).
In addition, all of those highlights I mentioned above would all be in walking distance (some places further than others depending on where in Tribeca you would be located).
At the end of the day though, if you are looking for one of the best places to stay in New York, where you can simply walk out your doorstep and visit several different types of attractions & activities, Tribeca should be near the top of your list.
Between 30th Street and 60th Street you will find Midtown Manhattan. Now, the area is really broken up into even smaller neighborhoods here from east to west. These include Midtown East, Midtown, Midtown West, Hell’s Kitchen, among a few others.
You will find many top highlights in Midtown Manhattan, but it is also one of the less scenic and tranquil places in the city.
High-rises, traffic, tourists, and commercial buildings frequent the space and it can feel like a completely different city than some of the others mentioned on the list.
Nearby Things to Do
There is certainly a lot going on in Midtown Manhattan and you will find some of the most popular attractions nearby.
In the center portion of Midtown you will find the Empire State Building, where you can head up to the top floors for some unparalleled views of NYC.
Just north of the ESB, you will come across Bryant Park and the New York Public Library – both iconic locations to walk through during your time in the city.
While the area around Times Square is on the bottom of most local’s bucket lists, it is on the top of most tourist’s lists. For several blocks you will find bright lights, massive billboards, street performers, and more. It is quite an experience for a first time visitor.
Within this area you will also be welcomed to many of the Broadway theaters that line the streets. If looking to head to a Broadway show, then Midtown is where it will be.
Other top highlights in Midtown Manhattan include Rockefeller Center, Top of the Rock, Radio City Music Hall, the Museum of Modern Art and Grand Central Terminal. The list really goes on and on.
If you are looking for some less visited spots, check out the best non touristy things to do in NYC.
Since I did group Midtown into one bucket here, transport can be misleading depending on where you are in the area. While all of the north-south subway lines make their way through Midtown, it will just depend whether you are more east vs west within Midtown to understand which subways will be closest.
There is a ton to do in Midtown, and you can spend days just visiting highlights within the neighborhood itself. However, I would not consider it a walking friendly area of the city.
Midtown is where there is just a ton of pedestrian and vehicle traffic as there are many top attractions and office buildings in the area. This can make Midtown feel a bit more congested and less scenic than some of the smaller neighborhoods in NYC.
In addition, you will probably be less inclined to walk to other neighborhoods unless you are closer to the north/south borders. That is fine for most though, as there will be plenty of public transport to get you further outside of Midtown itself.
10) Upper East Side
Once you reach 60th Street, you begin to get to Upper Manhattan. You have the Upper East Side on one end and the Upper West Side on the other (more on that next).
In between the two you have the 843-acre Central Park, a true highlight of any NYC experience.
The Upper East Side is more family oriented with quieter townhouse and high-rise filled streets all throughout. Museums, restaurants, shops, and more make up the real estate around the area.
Nearby Things to Do
You may have already guessed it, but the top attraction around the Upper East Side is going to be Central Park. The park runs from 60th Street to 110th Street and it is 3 avenues wide. You will find just so much to do and see all throughout the area.
Take a look at the guide I put together that dives into the top things to do in Central Park to learn more.
In addition to the park, you also have the upper portion of the East River Greenway that runs alongside the river. Walking the pathway is a relaxing activity to take part of that gets you a bit out of the city itself.
Another great option here is to take the Roosevelt Island tram that heads from the Upper East Side to the island itself. It is the only tram in NYC and offers some great views of the city and river.
And if you are a museum lover, there are plenty of options to choose from. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Guggenheim Museum, Frick Collection and Neue Galerie are just a handful of options.
Finally, if you are looking to do some high end shopping, then take a walk up and down Madison Avenue where you will find a whole array of luxury shops to choose from.
When it comes to the Upper East Side, you will be dealing with two main train lines – the 4/5/6 that heads up and down Lexington Avenue and the N/Q/R that curves around and heads up 2nd Avenue.
While there are fewer transport options here, those two train lines should offer easy connections to other trains around the city. If you are up for it, the walk across Central Park to the west side will get you connected with other potential subway options.
The Upper East Side is a charming place to walk around in of itself. However, I would not consider it the best place to stay if you are looking to walk to other areas of the city.
In general, the Upper East is best for easy access to Central Park and the attractions within the neighborhood itself.
Nearly all other places you will want to visit in NYC will require public or private transport to get to. You certainly can take some longer walks all around the city from the UES, but understandingly that will not be for everyone.
Below are my three top recommendations for Upper East Side hotels to choose from during your stay (note that there are fewer hotel options as you get more north in the UES):
Be sure to also check out some of the best hotels with a Central Park view!
11) Upper West Side
The Upper West Side of NYC runs all along the west side of Central Park (from Central Park West to the Hudson River).
In some respects, it is similar to the Upper East Side in terms of things to do and accessibility (and of course Central Park).
Nearby Things to Do
I will certainly mention this again, but the highlight of upper Manhattan is going to be Central Park. Throughout the UWS, you will have easy access to the park through the various Central Park entrances.
Within the park, you can enjoy some of the best NYC skyline views, and spend plenty of time just relaxing within this hectic city.
Just off of Central Park West you will find the Museum of Natural History, located between 77th and 81st Streets. There are some other museums around the area, but this one is by far the most famous of them.
At the southern end of the Upper West Side you will find Columbus Circle (southwest corner of Central Park). Here there are plenty of shops and Central Park restaurants, with some of them offering top notch views of Central Park and the NYC skyline.
Nearby you also have Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, if you are up for a show. Lastly, you will have easy access to the Hudson River and the Riverside Park area. Multiple walking paths make up the waterfront with plenty of great views throughout.
There are also two main subway lines that run throughout the Upper West Side. You have the 1/2/3 trains that head up Broadway and the A/B/C lines that head up Central Park West.
All other trains will require a transfer or a nice walk across the park (or downtown).
The Upper West Side is another one of those areas where you are essentially just going to be able to walk around the neighborhoods, park, and riverside.
If you are trying to walk to other neighborhoods around the city, you will most likely need to take additional transport to get there.
But if you are looking for a peaceful and charming neighborhood away from a lot of the action, then the Upper West Side can be a great option.
Moving onto the Brooklyn side of NYC, I will go over two main neighborhoods. The first of these will be Dumbo, an acronym that stands for “Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass”.
Dumbo is a happening place right along the waterfront with shops, restaurants, and plenty of NYC skyline views throughout.
Nearby Things to Do
One of my favorite places in the city has to be Brooklyn Bridge Park. All throughout this 85 acre park you will find viewpoints, walkways, piers, activities, green spaces, restaurants and much more to enjoy.
The park runs parallel to Dumbo and the Brooklyn Heights neighborhood of Brooklyn.
While the park is just a great way to spend some time, you will also be right nearby the entrance points for two of the top bridges in the city.
The Brooklyn Bridge is the most famous of bridges and you can decide to make the walk in Manhattan as you enjoy the skyline out back. The Manhattan Bridge is another option if you want to see views of the Brooklyn Bridge.
And don’t forget to check out the famous Dumbo bridge viewpoint when you are there. Located on Washington Street you will find a view of the Manhattan Bridge with the Empire State Building popping up through the bridge’s columns.
Within Dumbo itself, there aren’t many train options. There is the F train at York Street, but beyond that you will need to walk a bit to get to other subway stops. The A/C, 2/3, 4/5, and R trains are in the vicinity but do prepare to have some walking involved too.
Dumbo is a great spot if you are looking to walk around the Brooklyn Bridge Park area and to some nearby neighborhoods like Brooklyn Heights (and the nearby Brooklyn Heights Promenade). However, you will be far removed from most of the Manhattan attractions.
While you can certainly walk across the Brooklyn Bridge and be right by Battery Park, all other attractions will require a subway ride.
But when it comes to Brooklyn, I would consider it one of the most walkable places if you consider its proximity to Manhattan over the bridge.
Below are my two top recommendations for Dumbo hotels to choose from during your stay (note that 1 Hotel is essentially the only main hotel within Dumbo & one of the best hotels in NYC with a view):
Last up on the list is Williamsburg, which sits north of Dumbo area all along the East River waterfront. Within Williamsburg you will find smaller neighborhoods as well – some closer to the waterfront while others will be more inland.
When it comes to trendy and hip Brooklyn places to stay, Williamsburg will always be on the top of the list.
Nearby Things to Do
While you won’t have the major attractions of NYC within Williamsburg, there is still a fair share to do and see within the neighborhood.
Along the waterfront you will find Domino Park. Here you will find a park along the East River filled with NYC skyline views.
In addition to enjoying the views from the park, you can also head onto the pedestrian pathway of the Williamsburg Bridge nearby. The bridge connects Williamsburg with the Lower East Side of Manhattan. It is a great walk across as you get to take in the views over the East River.
Other nearby parks within Williamsburg include Bushwick Inlet Park, McCarren Park, and Marsha P Johnson Park. Enjoying a walk near the waterfront visiting some of these is another great thing to do while in the neighborhood.
There are plenty of bars, cafes, vintage shops, and small museums throughout the neighborhood to enjoy as well. Other highlights include a fun activity at Brooklyn Bowl, where you can take part of some bowling and even attend some concerts, and heading to the Brooklyn Brewery.
You will find a few different subway lines making their way through Williamsburg including the J, M & G trains. However, the most useful train line here is most likely going to be the L line. The L gives you the chance to be at Union Square in no time as you head right under the East River.
From Union Square, you should have no issues getting yourself around to the rest of NYC and its main attractions.
When it comes to walkability in general, Williamsburg is going to be on the lower end of the spectrum. Beyond having easy access to the various things to do within Williamsburg, nearly anywhere else you will want to go will require some transport.
As I just mentioned though, if you are near the L train in Williamsburg, you should be in a good shape from a transport standpoint.
14) Best Area to Stay in by Category
Below are some of the best areas to stay in New York by category. Some of these I may have covered throughout the guide, but for some others I will dive into which neighborhoods fit in best.
For First Timers
If you are someone who wants to be close by to all the main NYC attractions, Midtown Manhattan will be best for your first time in New York.
However, if you want to get away from the Midtown area, then I would recommend basing yourself in Chelsea or Flatiron as you will still have easy access to all of the main attractions.
For Young Adults
I would recommend staying in downtown Manhattan for young adults visiting New York. This would include the West & East Village areas, Chelsea, & Flatiron.
You will still have easy access to attractions but will be in the heart of some of the best nightlife and restaurants that the city has to offer.
When it comes to foodies in New York, some of the best neighborhoods will include Williamsburg, Chelsea, and Greenwich/West Village.
You will be surrounded by food top spots with a broad price range. I have a hard time believing you will be leaving NYC feeling unsatisfied with the food options in these neighborhoods.
For Young Couples
As a young couple in NYC I would either recommend staying downtown in areas like Chelsea, Flatiron or Tribeca or the Upper East/West Side.
If you want to be close to a little more nightlife action then downtown is the way to go. If you are looking for a bit more laid back area, then uptown may be the better bet.
This one can surely have some different answers to it, but I would probably say the Upper West and Upper East are best for families. In general, these are safer neighborhoods, they are closer to the park, and you will be in close enough proximity to visit the highlights of Midtown.
While you will need to travel a bit to those Lower Manhattan attractions, the subway downtown can be very quick if you get on those express trains.
When it comes to shopping in New York, you will have two main areas to choose from – Soho will be your downtown bet and the upper Midtown/Upper East Side neighborhood will be your uptown option.
I find Soho to be the better place in general to base yourself for shopping as there is just way more variety across a whole bunch of stores.
If you are visiting New York during Christmas, I would recommend staying in Midtown Manhattan or the Upper East Side (if you want a bit more pace and quiet).
The NYC Christmas highlights include Rockefeller Center, the 5th Avenue shops, the Bryant Park market, and more. If you experience a snow day during Christmas time, there is no better place than a winter in Central Park.
That about wraps up a guide to the best places to stay in New York. If you have any questions or comments, feel free to add them in below.