Where to Stay in New York City: Top Areas and Hotels
Choosing where to stay in New York isn’t easy. With so many choices of cool and central neighbourhoods and some of the world’s most iconic hotels, keep reading to find out the best place to stay in New York City.
Deciding where to stay in New York can be overwhelming. Let’s be honest, in one of the largest and most iconic cities in the world there is no shortage of choices of buzzing neighbourhoods or swoon-worthy hotels to kick back in.
From luxury historic properties to neighbourhood boutique stays, we’re here to help you navigate the city and decide on where to stay in New York. We all know that where you choose to stay can make or break a trip and we’re here to make sure you have the perfect stay in New York City.
For the slow and wellness focused traveller, New York can also be a difficult city to navigate. It’s fast-paced, always changing and always on the go but when digging a little deeper, you’ll find a fantastic range of proprieties to suit your needs.
From urban spas to sleep quality-orientated hotels, we’re here to help you find that perfect stay in New York City.
Keep reading to find out the best areas to stay in New York City, for both first-timers and seasoned New York visitors as well as the best hotels to choose from for all budgets.
*This ‘where to stay in New York’ post contains affiliate links meaning I might make a small profit if you choose to book at no extra cost to you. This helps me to keep providing you with top-quality content for free.
Read more: The Best Wellness Retreats in New York
Top Tips for Choosing Where to Stay in New York City
Before we dive into the best areas and hotels in New York City, here are some of our top tips and the best things to know before booking accommodation in New York.
Taxes and Resort Fees – If it’s your first time in the US then you need to know that all prices you see advertised, whether online or in store are BEFORE tax. Hotels included.
When budgeting your stay in New York you’ll need to take into consideration the added city tax.
In addition to this, most New York City hotels, especially those on the more luxury side also add a resort fee to each night of your stay. All these extra charges mean that accommodation in New York City is some of the most expensive in the world.
Book Accommodation Early – Especially if you’re visiting during some of the busiest times of year e.g. Christmas it really helps to book early, also to be able to get better rates.
Identify where you want to be – You probably already have an idea of how big New York is. It can take quite a long time getting from one neighbourhood to another, especially from parts of Manhattan to Brooklyn or Williamsburg so it’s a good idea to stay within walking distance of the things you want to see.
Before deciding on a New York place to stay or booking a hotel, I’d encourage you to use Google Maps and pin all the places you plan to visit and then choose a hotel in that area, close to it or with good transportation links to it.
If you’re on a serious budget time your visit for the low season. New York City is expensive and accommodation is too. If you want to experience good hotels even on a budget, the best time to visit is during the low season.
November or February are great low season months to visit. Visiting during the low season will mean you’ll get much more for your money.
Where to Stay in New York City: The Best Areas and Top Hotels in Each
Want my quick answers for the best places to stay in New York? Here are my favourite areas and hotels for each and where I would personally stay going back to the city.
Best Area to Stay in NYC – Flatiron, NoMad or Midtown
The Best Hotel Overall – Ace Hotel – Can’t go wrong with this design-forward yet functional chain.
Best Budget Hotel– Pod 51– the best hotel location in New York for budget travellers.
Top Luxury Hotel – The Beekman – Unique design, history and all the luxury rolled into one.
Best Wellness-Focused Hotel– Aman New York – It’s doesn’t get better than this.
Best Urban Spa Hotel– Bamford Wellness Spa at 1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge – Pamper yourself in style and comfort. The ultimate wellness escape in Brooklyn.
Best Place to stay in NYC for Families– Freehand New York – A stunning new hotel/hostel hybrid that’s very family-friendly.
Top Boutique Hotel– Hotel Hugo – great design and amazing rooftop bars.
Best Apartment Rental– City Moves Apartment– Beautiful design-focused apartment in Greenwich Village for two.
While this post mainly focuses on hotels, do you prefer to rent an apartment in NYC? If so make sure to check out the exclusive list of listings on The Plum Guide. They only work with the best apartment rentals in New York so your stay is nothing short of perfect. Click here for more.
Let’s now focus on each area and neighborhood in New York that would make a perfect base for exploring the city.
Any of the following areas and hotels would make a great place to stay in New York depending on your interests and itinerary.
The five main boroughs of New York City are Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, The Bronx and Staten Island. Most visitors stay in Manhattan simply due to the easy access and good transport links on the island to all the major New York City attractions.
Having said that Brooklyn is also a strong contender for a great stay.
So, where is the best place to stay in New York? I’d personally choose to stay in Manhattan, especially if you’re visiting NYC for the first time. It just means less time trying to work out subway lines and how to get around.
Each neighborhood and district in New York has its own unique style, vibe, and personality that range from business to trendy and hipster. Depending on your travel style and your interests you’ll be able to choose the best one to suit your needs.
Want to book one of the best places to stay in NY quickly? Check out all the options below:
Here are the best areas to stay in Manhattan and Brooklyn to help you decide where to stay in NYC.
Upper East Side
The place where upscale New Yorkers reside and go to meet, dine and shop, the Upper East Side spans from 59th Street to 96th Street and is sandwiched between the East River and Central Park.
The area is known for its fine dining restaurants, beautiful residences and trendy boutiques which can be found up and down the neighbourhood.
This area has also been made famous by a few different movies and series, Gossip Girl and Sex and the City are just a couple of them.
The Upper East Side doesn’t have too many major attractions but it is where you’ll find Museum Mile which runs by Central Park.
Here you’ll find some of New York’s most important museums such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Guggenheim Museum. Midtown, where most of New York’s attraction are based, is just a short subway ride away.
This makes the Upper East Side a convenient, safe and comfortable area to stay when in New York City. These are some of our favourite hotels you’ll find there.
The Best Hotels on the Upper East Side
The Carlyle – A Rosewood Hotel Upper East Side institution, The Carlyle is the property that comes to mind when thinking about where to stay in New York in the Upper East Side. This grand building, spread across 35 floors (don’t worry it has elevators and they are stunning) has everything you need and more from a luxury hotel.
Rooms vary quite a bit, some are very 1920s, others very floral and others more modernistic so choose the one that best suits your taste. For one of the best hotels in New York City for first timers with New York historical flare book your stay here.
Lowell Hotel– For New York grandeur as it should be don’t miss the magnificent Lowell Hotel. Renovated and reopened in 2017, the hotel now boasts a stunning neoclassical foyer, and elegant suites with hardwood floors and Persian rugs.
It’s one of the most luxurious and historical properties on the Upper East Side- definitely a stay you’ll remember for years to come. Check availability and book here.
Courtyard Upper East Side– No thrills yet still comfortable Marriott option for those with a lower budget wanting to stay on the Upper East Side. Check rates and book here.
Upper West Side
For those wanting to be close to Central Park and Midtown, staying on the Upper West Side is another best area of New York to stay in.
The Upper West Side is one of Manhattan’s most culturally rich areas and it’s full of beautiful homes that line Central Park, diverse businesses and many great cosmopolitan restaurants.
Staying on the lower end of the Upper West Side will also mean that you’re close to Midtown and most of Manhattan’s main sights yet you’ve still got access to New York’s green lung- Central Park. This is the best area to stay in Manhattan for those who want to make the most of Central Park.
The Best Hotels on the Upper West Side
Some of the best hotel options on the Upper West Side are:
Mandarin Oriental – First class views, facilities and service, the Mandarin Oriental provides the ultimate luxurious stay on the Upper West Side.
Located in Columbus Circle, this luxury hotel has one of the best hotel spas in Manhattan, large, comfortable suites and the views are just breathtaking. Check availability and book here.
Hotel Beacon- One of the best mid-range hotels in the area, hotel Beacon provides a really great base in Manhattan. Rooms and suites here are spacious and comfortable and most rooms come with a kitchenette- perfect for making light meals or coffee after a long day of exploring.
There’s also a fitness center and an onsite bar. Central Park is just a few blocks away. Check availability and book here.
Midtown has to be the best location to stay in New York for tourists. When most think of New York and the flashing neon lights, the energy, the billboards and skyward buildings it’s Midtown that comes to mind.
Midtown is the most central place to stay in New York City with so many attractions on your doorstep like Rockefeller Center, Bryant Park, the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA), the Empire State Building, Times Square and more.
For first-timers and those heading to New York for a short time staying in Midtown is beyond tempting.
While the energy and transportation links in Midtown are unrivalled, this is also one of the most touristy, commercialised, and loud places in New York. This isn’t the place to stay for experiencing the local NYC, great dining or even a bit of peace.
If you’re looking for where to stay in New York for the first time, midtown might just be the best option. If you’ve already seen the main attractions I highly recommend staying elsewhere to get to know the real NYC a little better- the one outside the tourist bubble.
The Best Hotels in Midtown
Aman New York – One of the newest wellness-focused hotels in New York City and Aman’s first urban location. Located in busy midtown, Aman is the best place to stay in NYC for luxury travellers.
Inside you’ll find a truly luxurious and ample space that allows you to really retreat, even in the center of Manhattan.
There’s a lot to talk about but the highlight here is Aman’s two spa houses- one modelled on a European banya and the other the Moroccan hammam where you can spend your evenings indulging in the best treatments in the city.
Don’t forget to also dine at Arva- Aman’s signature Italian restaurant. At over $3,000 per night, this is also New York’s most expensive hotel option, but it might just be worth it! Check rates and availability here.
Conrad New York Midtown – If you’re looking for the best location hotels in New York but not up for forking out that much on the Aman, the Conrad is another great Midtown alternative. Here you are just blocks away from the best NYC sights and attractions.
Contemporary design, bright and airy rooms and a real homely feel make this new addition to Midtown a great place to stay. Check it out here.
The Jewel Hotel– For those putting comfort and price first on their trip to New York, do not overlook The Jewel.
This fully functional hotel offers large (for NYC) rooms with desks and everything you might need from a stay in NYC. They also have room service and a fitness center, all for really good rates, especially in the low seasons. Book your stay here.
Pod 51 – For one of the best hotel locations in New York City for budget travellers, Pod 51 is one of the best non-hostel options. Rooms here are small but clean and comfortable and the location makes a brilliant base for exploring all the best of New York City’s attractions.
They also have an outdoor terrace with stunning views of the concrete jungle. Check availability and book here.
Flatiron & NoMad
The Flatiron and NoMad neighbourhoods are probably the best places to stay in New York City. It’s here you’ll get the best of everything NYC has to offer.
NoMad and Flatiron essentially sit just below Midtown yet they don’t have the same commerical/touristy air to them. You still are, however very close to the best attractions of Midtown.
When it comes to dining this area is also worth looking into. The area has some great bars and restaurants to choose from but you’re also really close to Greenwich Village and Chelsea which have some of the best dining options in Manhattan.
The area also has plenty of great shopping, green spaces and access to spas/gyms/wellness facilities. From Flatiron and NoMad you can also get uptown or downtown in a flash but it is a little far to Brooklyn. This makes it the best area to stay in New York for first timers.
The Best Hotels in Flatiron and NoMad
The Ace Hotel – The Ace Hotel is one of the best hotels you can book, not only in NoMad but in the whole of New York City. Not only is it decor and comfort-focused, it’s also one of the most budget ‘nice’ hotels in the city.
Given that it’s also located in NoMad, the best area to stay in the city, the Ace Hotel is a no-brainer.
The hotel and its rooms have a lovely vintage feel and the lobby is the place to grab a coffee or work. Check rates and availability here.
The MADE Hotel – One of the best boutique hotels in Manhattan if not New York, the MADE beautifully combines Japanese design concepts with jungle vibes. Located in trendy NoMad not far from the lower parts of midtown, the hotel features two bars, the rooftop one has views of the Empire State Building.
Rooms see lots of elements of minimal Japanese design with lots of repurposed wood and earthy tones. Make sure to grab a coffee from their lobby coffee shop too before leaving to explore each morning. Book your stay here
Freehand New York – There’s always something new in New York City and the Freehand New York is a perfect example of that. Beautifully combining upscale hotel with a trendy hostel, this is the place where you can opt for family-friendly bunks in beautifully designed rooms.
They have modern private suites too and the communal area features tasteful mid-century furniture along with many plants.
Make sure to also dine at Studio, the Freehand’s all day cafe and bar for Middle-Eastern snacks that are a feast for the eyes (and the tastebuds). Check availability and book here.
Financial District, Lower Manhattan & Lower East Side
Okay, so you might be thinking why would you want to stay in the most soulless part of the city with nothing but office blocks, Wall Street guys in suits and the occasional park?
Well, there is quite a bit more to Lower Manhattan than meets the eye.
Yes, this part of town is the financial heart of the city but there are quite a few attractions in Lower Manhattan, most recently the 9/11 Memorial Museum, the stunning Oculus and One World Trade Center Observatory.
In recent years there have also been more and more dining options in the area too.
Staying in Lower Manhattan also means great access to transport links. From here it’s easy and fast to get just about anywhere including Central Park and Midtown as well as Brooklyn and beyond.
The Best Hotels in Lower Manhattan
PUBLIC Hotel– Another brilliant property offering some bang for your buck is the new PUBLIC Hotel on the Lower East Side. Their goal is to keep prices low through their minimalist, small rooms and no room service yet offering a design-focused spot you can relax in after a long day of exploring.
Views of New York from the rooms are amazing and so is the gorgeous hotel restaurant garden which is just irresistible in the warmer months. Perfect for those after a stay with more for less. Book your stay here.
The Beekman – For many, lower Manhattan might not be the first choice of neighbourhoods to stay but we might just make an exception for the Beekman.
Simply one of the most beautiful properties in the area with all the vintage feels, The Beekman isn’t just a place to stay, it’s a place to be. Located inside a landmark building from the 1880s, the main atrium of the hotel includes unique glasswork and wrought-iron railings.
Suites here have a dark and vintage feel yet with all the comfortable and airy nooks you need to really feel at home. Don’t miss a pre-dinner drink in the lobby’s stunning Art Deco bar. Book your stay here.
Nine Orchard – A little gem in the Lower East Side, Nine Orchard is located in a landmark building, the resorted century-old Jarmulowsky Bank.
Combining together Neo-Renaissance flare with Japanese style details, this beautifully crafted hotel is one of the most homely hotspots on the Lower East Side. Check availability and book here.
Soho & Tribeca
Known mostly for its art galleries, boutique shopping, dining and bars, SoHo is a buzzing New York neighbourhood for those looking for more than just New York’s biggest sights.
Sandwiched between Lower Manhattan and the Financial District to the south, Greenwich Village to the North and the Hudson River to the West, the area is a great place to base yourself when in New York.
SoHo in itself is a buzzing neighbourhood and once you’re finished exploring the sights for the day, you can retreat to your hotel before going out to the hottest restaurants to eat locally. It’s also full of galleries and opportunities to find that perfect item to bring home.
The Best Hotels in Soho & Tribeca
The Dominic Hotel – Few spots come close to beating the views from the Dominic. Opt for one of their higher suites and watching the New York sunrise in the morning will be the best way to start the day.
Apart from the view, rooms here are lofty and spacious, beds are beyond comfortable and the service is great. There’s also an outdoor pool for the warmer months, full-service spa and gym and four different restaurants. Check availability and book here.
The Greenwich Hotel – Italian charm meets touches of Japanese all under a curtain of minimalism, Robert DeNiro’s hotel in Tribeca is probably one of the most charming stays in New York City.
With unique art and furnishings, it’s a space you just want to move into. For those looking for luxury, privacy and silence, this is your space. Book it here.
Chelsea & Greenwich Village
Other great under-appreciated neighbourhoods in Manhattan by visitors are Chelsea and Greenwich Village. For foodies these two neighbourhoods offer some of the best restaurants in the city so it certainly helps staying close by.
These are also the best locations in New York to stay for inner city green spaces with Washington Square Park and Union Square in the area. Here you’ll also find small and stylish bars and great shopping.
Staying in Greenwich Village, West Village and Chelsea also means you’re close to The High Line, Chelsea Market, and Whitney Museum of American Art some of NYC’s highlights.
Staying in Chelsea or Greenwich Village also means you’re not too far from Midtown and New York’s most famous sights.
The Best Hotels in Chelsea & Greenwich Village
Hotel Hugo – My top pick for a design-friendly stay outside touristy midtown, this art deco-inspired hotel features a lot of marble, wooden panelling and leather. Rooms here are small but big enough for a comfortable, short stay.
One of my favourite features of Hotel Hugo however is the two rooftop bars. Cuban-style Azul in particular is the place to be in the summer with its open-air terrace, relaxed vibe and amazing New York views. Check availability and book here.
The Standard, High Line – Located right above the High Line with sweeping views of the city. The Standard has modern decor, a beautiful casual bar and everything you need for the perfect stay. Check rates and availability here.
Equinox Hotel Hudson Yards – OK so maybe a tiny bit outside Chelsea, but I couldn’t miss Equinox off the list. One of the best fitness-focused hotel brands out there, rooms here are super modern, and spacious and feature a lot of velvet and marble.
The highlights here aren’t just the spaces however, as you might expect from Equinox, the fitness center is top-class- one of the best for any hotel in NYC.
There’s also a wellness center and spa and a pool. Didn’t pack your workout gear on your trip to NYC? Don’t worry, you can borrow it here. Check it out and book your stay here.
The Jane Hotel– One of the most well-known budget hotel options in New York City. Don’t expect 5-star reviews or service but you won’t pay a fortune either. Book your stay here.
Williamsburg is a trendy neighbourhood famous for its foodie, bar and arts scene. It’s a great place to stay if you’re planning to make the most of NYC’s culinary gems.
Williamsburg is also famous for its bars- you’ll find many rooftop bars with incredible views here- and there are some pretty awesome galleries here too.
For those wanting to experience a real NYC neighbourhood and see New York like a local then there’s no better place.
What Williamsburg doesn’t have in terms of attractions it makes up for in stays and dining. Here you’ll be able to stay in some of the coolest, design-forward hotels at a fraction of the price you might pay over the river in Manhattan.
If you’re searching for a great stay at a good price, great food options and don’t mind the ride across the East River into Manhattan on occasion then staying in Williamsburg is definitely something to think about.
The Best Hotels in Williamsburg
The Hoxton – Williamsburg might be a little far from the attractions of Manhattan but The Hoxton kinda makes up for it.
With swoon-worthy, retro design, velvet armchairs, incredible views from all rooms, and great dining and drink options, this is your sanctuary from which to explore hip Williamsburg. Book your stay here.
The Williamsburg Hotel– A 5 star- gem in Williamsburg, this almost-riverside property boasts stunning retro design and furnishings.
Rooms here are comfortable, and airy and make sure to grab one with a view of the river and the Manhattan skyline beyond. The best part of this hotel? The converted water tower that’s now the hotel’s rooftop bar offers 360-views over New York City. Check availability and book here.
42 Hotel– A really solid choice for a design-focused stay on a budget in Williamsburg. Industrial-chic vibes all around and right around the corner from Hewes St subway station for easy access around the city. Book your stay here.
Penny Williamsburg– Great value, great location and great amenities and design, Penny Williamsburg is another great option on this side of the river. Cute, colorful yet small rooms with great use of space give you everything you’ll need for a great stay in New York City.
The best part? There’s no gym but they’ll leave you a yoga mat and blocks in your room so you can still get that workout in each day. Book your stay here.
While Dumbo itself doesn’t have too many places to stay, nearby Downtown Brooklyn has a few great options for where to stay in Brooklyn NYC. So why base yourself in Brooklyn?
Even though it’s not Manhattan, Brooklyn remains the best location to stay in New York, especially for those who have already visited the main attractions.
For one, the views of Manhattan are simply stunning and even if you end up not staying in Brooklyn you’ll need to come down to the Brooklyn Bridge to see them for yourself.
Dumbo is also a pretty relaxed and cool area to be in. There are plenty of great dining options and cafes for morning breakfast or brunch and the same goes for dinner. Staying in Brooklyn will give you much more of the NYC local experience than staying in Midtown Manhattan.
The Best Hotels in Dumbo (Brooklyn)
1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge– It’s all well and good staying in Manhattan but then you won’t get any views of that spectacular Manhattan skyline.
Queue 1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge. Located in Dumbo at the foot of Brooklyn Bridge, this new eco-chic hotel has some of the best views of Manhattan that you could ask for. Making a huge plunge into sustainability here you’ll find a lot of repurposed wood, filtered taps and recycled materials being used throughout.
Make sure to grab a corner suite where you’ll find a hammock to park yourself in to enjoy the incredible Brooklyn Bridge views.
The best time to stay is in the summer when you can make the most of the rooftop bar the outdoor pool and its stunning Manhattan views. Also, don’t miss the spa, it’s one of the best spas in New York City. In my opinion this is the best place to stay in New York. Book your stay here
If you love this hotel but don’t want to stay in Brooklyn then make sure to check out 1 Hotel Central Park in the Midtown area.
Hilton Brooklyn Bridge– Located in downtown Brooklyn, a little further inland than Dumbo, itself, the Hilton offers a good place to stay for those looking for a centralised option in Brooklyn with great transportation links- Borough Hall, Jay St and Hoyt Street subway stations are all within minutes.
Rooms are modern, bright and on the larger side which is quite rare for New York City. Book your stay here.
Other Areas to Stay in New York
While in this guide we have covered the main areas when it comes to where to stay in New York, there are a few others that you also might want to consider.
East Village – Located just above the Lower East Side, the East Village has some great dining options, good hotels and great transport links.
Long Island City– It might seem really far from Manhattan on the map but getting from Long Island City to Manhattan isn’t too difficult. Long Island City also has some great boutique hotel options for a fraction of the price compared with Manhattan. If you’re travelling on a budget, perhaps consider staying here.
Hoboken– OK so it might not be New York at all but this New Jersey district is right across the Hudson River from Chelsea. It might take a little longer to get into Manhattan but you might find some great stays in the area that are cheaper than New York City.
Where to Stay in New York City for the First Time
For those planning a trip to New York City for the first time, the best area to stay in New York is Flatiron and NoMad.
This area is very central- you’re just south of all the main sights of Midtown yet also among some great dining options. You’re also very close to Chelsea and Greenwich Village which are great places to hangout in the evening.
NoMad also has brilliant transport links around the city and everything you need is on your doorstep.
Where to Stay in New York City for Luxury Travellers
The Upper East Side is the upscale neighbourhood in New York City with all the best fine dining options, luxury shopping and stays.
Having said that you’ll find luxury hotels scattered all around the city and in my opinion, the best luxury stays are actually not located in the Upper East Side.
Where to Stay in New York City for Families
Many attractions around New York will keep the little ones happy and entertained. Midtown is a great option for families as you’re always close to the main sights and to Central Park without having to commute much around the city.
However if you are looking for somewhere quieter and less buzzing, then Williamsburg might be a better option.
Where to Stay in New York City for Wellness
You’ll find pockets of wellness all around New York, with hotel spas, urban spas and wellness centers all around the city.
This means that there isn’t any one area that’s better for wellness. If you prioritise nature and outdoor spaces then stay near Central Park, otherwise make sure to choose the ultimate wellness stay in New York, Aman New York or the brilliant 1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge.
Read more: The Best Wellness Retreats in New York
Where to Stay in New York City for Dining and Nightlife
You’ll find great dining all over New York, perhaps except Midtown and the Financial District. Some of the areas that stand out to us are Chelsea, Greenwich Village, Flatiron, NoMad and Soho.
Many other areas of New York have recently established themselves as centers of great dining and nightlife. Williamsburg and Brooklyn for example have some really great local finds.
Where to Stay in New York City for Design-Focused Travellers
You’ll find numerous design-focused hotels all around the city but to be close to art galleries and design stores you might want to stay in Soho. Design and style are everywhere in New York and it’s not difficult to find those really special places to stay.
Ready to book your stay New York City? Have any questions or comments bout where to stay in New York? Let me know in the box below.
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