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Where to stay in New York City | Best Areas & Hotels

Where to stay in New York City | Best Areas & Hotels

The only reason why it’s so difficult to figure out where to stay in New York City is that there are a lot of great places that you can visit and attractions that you can see.

The truth is that there are just too many things to go over in one visit, but our article will help you decide how to get the most out of your first visit to this remarkable city.

Where to Stay in New York City

Vertical view looking down at the 5th avenue intersection, a top pick for where to stay in New York City

Stephan Guarch/Shutterstock

The Big Apple, the Empire State, the City That Never Sleeps. New York has almost as many nicknames as there are songs that are dedicated to this one city. But what is it that causes people to fall in love with New York so much?

For one, New York City is a giant melting pot of different people, cultures, and traditions.

The history of this city is undeniably tied to the Irish and Indian people that emigrated here more than a century ago, and places like China Town and Little Italy stand as a testament to the diversity of cultures NYC has.

All of these cultures and districts give the city an undeniably unique vibe that can’t really be replicated anywhere else.

This also results in plenty of different attractions, like the many museums scattered around the town dedicated to different aspects of the city’s history. Aside from the multicultural influence on the city, there are plenty of spectacular views as well.

You can marvel at the hugeness of the Empire State and the Chrysler Building; you can take an elevator to the top of these giant spires in the sky and marvel at the view. New York is not without its natural beauty either.

You can take a brief respite from the urban jungle beside the tranquil lakes and trees in Central Park, right there in the center of the city. 

Lastly, monuments like the Statue of Liberty are considered must-see attractions by almost everyone that’s ever visited NYC. What we’re trying to say is that the question isn’t really where to stay in New York City, as much as it is what to see first.

New York City’s 5 Best Areas

We’ve outlined the areas of the city that have the most interesting attractions for tourists and gave you plenty of reasons why you might want to check them out for yourself. The only thing left for you is to check them out!

  1. Downtown Brooklyn: A little bit of everything for everyone
  2. Upper West Side: Natural history museums and beautiful parks
  3. Midtown: The go-to place to catch a play or get a great view of the city
  4. Lower Manhattan: A cultural hotspot and home to some of the best restaurants and bars in New York
  5. Upper East Side: Home to some of the biggest and most interesting museums in the city

New York City’s Best Areas and Hotels

There’s no shortage of hotels in New York. Regardless of which area you stay in, you’re almost guaranteed to have a hotel right on the doorstep of any attractions that you want to visit.

Unfortunately, the other side of the coin is that New York City has some pretty expensive hotels. This is especially true for the ones located in tourist hotspots, where reservations are usually made months ahead of time.

Either way, we’ll take you through some of the best hotels that you can find in this city, regardless of your budget, so you don’t have to worry about accommodations at all.

1. Downtown Brooklyn

Downtown Brooklyn with the Brooklyn Bridge pictured in the background and buildings in the front for a piece titled Where to Stay in New York City

Felix Lipov/Shutterstock

Can a trip to New York really be complete without visiting the Statue of Liberty? The answer is obviously no. On the riverbank of Downtown Brooklyn, you’ll find plenty of ferries that make repeat visits to the tiny island multiple times a day.

Tourists can see one of the most famous monuments in the world up close and maybe even get a commemorative shirt or figurine from one of the many souvenir shops at the base of the statue.

Aside from the fact that it’s adjacent to the Statue of Liberty, Downtown Brooklyn also has a lot of interesting attractions that you might want to check out.

One of these attractions is the New York Transit Museum, which is a pretty unique museum, displaying items like maps and tokens from the old Brooklyn subway system. It even has several subway cars that date back to the early 1900s.

The Brooklyn Museum has a lot more standard fare when it comes to exhibits, and you’ll be able to find plenty of beautiful pieces of art — around half a million, to be exact.

Additionally, the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens are also just a short trip away, so your tastes are covered, regardless if you prefer nature exhibits.

You’ll easily be able to find something that you enjoy in Downtown Brooklyn given the multitude of attractions. Unfortunately, this also means that you’ll likely have to make your way through giant crowds.

Things to Do

  • Visit the distilleries in this area and get a sample of the fine whiskey that they make while also getting a lesson on the distillery process as a whole.
  • Go to the famous Brooklyn Flea Market and check out all of the stalls here that sell everything from small figurines to homemade art pieces.
  • Animal lovers will want to visit the cat cafes, where you’ll be able to spend some time just chilling out with a small furry four-legged companion.
  • The House of Wax here displays body parts rather than celebrities, and it offers a strange and slightly creepy experience that’s also very fascinating in a morbid way. 

Where to Eat

  • Junior’s is famous for its cheesecakes, so anyone with a sweet tooth will want to visit this place at least once.
  • Pollo D’Oro has a very impressive menu full of dishes from different parts of the world.
  • Gage & Tollner looks like an old-school bar and has a pretty impressive drinks menu.

Downtown Brooklyn Budget Hotels

  • Holiday Inn Brooklyn Downtown provides all of the guests with free wifi, a front desk that’s always available, and an in-house cocktail lounge.
  • Aloft Brooklyn comes with a flat-screen 50-inch screen cable TV in every room, an in-house bar, and an indoor swimming pool.

Downtown Brooklyn Mid-Range Hotels

  • NU Hotel comes with a flat-screen cable TV and free wifi in every guest room, a free breakfast each morning, and an in-house bar.
  • EVEN Hotel Brooklyn has a front desk that’s always open, free wifi throughout the property, and an on-site restaurant.

Downtown Brooklyn Luxury Hotels

  • Hampton Inn Brooklyn Downtown has an on-site bar where guests can enjoy a drink, an on-site mini-market where they can buy a few things, and rooms that come with a flat-screen cable TV and a coffee maker.
  • New York Marriott at the Brooklyn Bridge comes with a flat-screen TV and a coffee maker in every room, an on-site spa that guests can take advantage of, and a fitness center where they can work out.

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2. Upper West Side

Photo of buildings and homes with taxi cabs on a busy street in one of the best places to stay in New York City, the Upper West Side

Lucasinacio.com/Shutterstock

If you had to say one thing about the naming convention of the areas of New York, then it would have to be that they’re to the point. Located in the upper west side of New York, this area is known for its many attractions.

The most notable ones include the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, the Lincoln Center, and the Beacon Theater, but the most famous one would probably have to be the American Museum of Natural History.

The museum is a big draw for everyone from the ages of 2 and up. The dinosaur skeletons, the animal displays, and the informative animal behavior exhibits are always interesting to see.

Additionally, there’s enough to go through that you won’t even be able to scratch the surface in a single visit.

Another big draw to this area is Central Park. There are plenty of things to do here, but a lot of people like to rent out a boat and spend a bit of time on the lake. Others just want to walk around and take in all of the natural beauty in this place.

Upper West side is known for the interesting attractions and being adjacent to Central Park, but it’s also known for being pretty pricey.

You might be able to get away with spending a reasonable amount on your hotel room, but you’ll likely find a few more zeroes than you were expecting on the bill if you sit down for a drink or a meal at a restaurant.

Things to Do

  • Check out the venue in the Lincoln Center and the Beacon Theater and see what’s on the agenda for this week and whether you’d like to get tickets to any shows.
  • Visit the Natural History Museum and check out some of the most intact dinosaur skeletons that you’ll ever see.
  • The Cathedral of St. John is the most famous and the largest church in New York, and it actually still remains unfinished to this day.
  • Visit the Metropolitan Museum of Art and check out all of the exhibits that range from ancient Egyptian artifacts to musical instruments and even old firearms.

Where to Eat

  • Osteria Cotta is a wine bar that also makes a fantastic pizza if you’re feeling peckish.
  • Cafe Luxembourg serves some great traditional French cuisine.
  • Spaghetti Tavern is where you go if you’re in the mood for some Italian-style pasta.

Upper West Side Budget Hotels

  • West Side YMCA may come with bunk beds, but all of the rooms actually come with a TV and free wifi, as well as an indoor pool that guests can use, which is pretty good for the low price of the rooms.
  • Night Hotel Broadway has a 24/7 front desk, an on-site fitness room that guests can use, and a cable TV in every room.

Upper West Side Mid-Range Hotels

  • Hotel Lucerne comes with an in-house French restaurant, it offers a complimentary breakfast with both tea and coffee-making facilities, and all of the rooms come with free wifi, cable TV, and even a selection of video games.
  • Empire Hotel has a seasonal outdoor pool on the rooftop that comes with a sun deck and a great view of NYC, as well as a flat-screen TV and iPod docking station in every room.

Upper West Side Luxury Hotels

  • Trump International New York provides all of the guests with access to an in-house full-service spa that comes with massages and a selection of beauty treatments, an indoor heated pool, and a health club with a sauna that offers yoga classes.
  • Mandarin Oriental New York has the famous restaurant Asiate located near the roof, where you get a fantastic view of manhattan to go with your meal, and the hotel also comes with a full-service spa and fitness center.

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3. Midtown

Aerial photo of the skyline of Midtown, a top pick when considering where to stay in New York City

TTstudio/Shutterstock

Midtown is the home of the Empire State Building, which is one of the most iconic buildings in the US. Since it was built in 1931, this building has become a famous landmark of New York and is as closely associated with the city as the Statue of Liberty.

Anyone that comes to this building will want to immediately go up to the 86th floor because that’s where the observation deck is. Empire State simply has the best view of the city.

Rockefeller Plaza is another famous building, and it has three floors on the top that are all observatories equipped with cafes where you can take a break.

The plaza is also known for the outdoor skating rink that’s at the base of the tower and the Christmas tree that’s always erected adjacent to it. However, you’ll only be able to see the latter of these attractions during the winter.

Scenic views and famous buildings aside, Midtown is perhaps most notably known for being the home of Broadway and the theater district as a whole. We don’t really need to go into too much detail since everyone knows about Broadway and all of the fantastic plays that you can catch.

We’d recommend just walking around and checking out the schedule — you really can’t miss regardless of your decision. The main attractions in this area of the town are really dependent on timing.

If there isn’t a play that piques your interest, or if you’ve already seen a particular performance, then the observatory buildings, Madame Tussauds, and Times Square will have to suffice.

Things to Do

  • As long as you’re visiting Rockefeller Plaza, then you might as well take a few minutes and try to catch a good pic of yourself in front of the Statue of Atlas that’s just in front of the entrance.
  • Madame Tussauds is famous for its exhibits on the lifelike wax depictions of famous figures, and some of them are so realistic that you really need to see them for yourself.
  • Times Square is full of cafes, restaurants, shopping malls, and people that are trying to get a good pic in front of the famous billboards, so if any of that interests you, then we’d suggest swinging by this location.
  • St. Patrick’s Cathedral is a massive spiraling structure in the middle of New York, and it’s a must-visit destination for people that are interested in Neo-Gothic architecture.

Where to Eat

  • Birdland Jazz Club offers a very mellow atmosphere where you can enjoy a nice drink.
  • Swing 46 is the place to go if you want to have a bit of fun swing dancing or maybe take a few lessons.
  • Feinstein’s/54 Below is an old-school cocktail bar that has a pretty big menu for drinks.

Midtown Budget Hotels

  • Millennium Hotel Broadway Times Square has rooms with a great view and a concierge service that’s always available.
  • Stewart Hotel has a flat-screen satellite TV and an iPod docking station in every room, as well as in-room spa service and room service.

Midtown Mid-Range Hotels

Midtown Luxury Hotels

  • Hampton Inn Times Square Central is from the same hotel chain that we just mentioned, and it comes with free wifi, AC, and a flat-screen TV in every room, a front desk that’s always on call, and a complimentary continental breakfast every morning.
  • Park Lane New York provides all the guests with access to the on-site fitness center, as well as a restaurant with a pretty impressive menu and a bar with quite a selection of drinks to choose from.

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4. Lower Manhattan

Aerial view of Lower Manhattan, a favorite when considering where to stay in New York City, pictured from the air on a clear day with lots of boats on the water

TierneyMJ/Shutterstock

This area of the city is best known for its diverse cultures and areas such as Chinatown or Little Italy. While Little Italy has a lot of great restaurants and clubs, Chinatown is definitely the place to go in Manhattan if you want to grab a bite. 

Not only do you have a large number of Asian food restaurants, but you also have a lot of eateries in general. Any foodie worth their socks really needs to come to Lower Manhattan’s Chinatown when in New York.

Close to these two areas is Tribeca. While it may have quite a lot of restaurants and cafes as well, it pales in comparison to Chinatown, so people that are staying in this general area of Manhattan usually go for the former when making dinner plans.

However, when it comes to the thriving nightlife scene and the sheer number of fun bars and clubs that you can visit, then Tribeca is second to none in the entirety of New York.

Lower Manhattan is a cultural hub and there’s plenty to do both during the day and at night, but it can also be a dangerous place if you’re not careful.

Most New Yorkers would probably tell you that the northern side of the city is much more dangerous than Lower Manhattan. Either way, that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t be careful and walk down empty, dimly lit streets.

Things to Do

  • Since we’ve already gone over most of the other famous landmarks in NY, we’d be remiss not to mention the Brooklyn Bridge.
  • Union square is full of big-name chain restaurants and shops, trendy cafes, and even fresh produce and artisanal food shops that you can visit.
  • Aside from Tribeca, the Financial District also has quite a few big and illustrious bars and restaurants where you can sit down and enjoy a live performance and a drink.
  • If you’re in a bit of a somber mood, then you might be interested in checking out the 9/11 memorial that stands as a testament to the famous terrorist attack.

Where to Eat

  • Katz’s Delicatessen is a great place to go if you want to get yourself a sandwich.
  • Momofuku Ko is a famous Asian restaurant that’s hard to get into, but the food makes it very worth it.
  • Balthazar is a French boulangerie where you can get some tasty pastries.

Lower Manhattan Budget Hotels

  • The Jane Hotel offers free wifi and a flat-screen TV in every room, as well as pretty reasonable prices for staying here.
  • U.S. Pacific Hotel offers a very simple room at a remarkably low price, so if you’re trying to save a few bucks, then this is a great choice for you.

Lower Manhattan Mid-Range Hotels

  • Four Points by Sheraton comes with a flat-screen cable TV and free wifi in every room, as well as a fitness center. 
  • Holiday Inn Express has free wifi and a safety deposit box for every room, a business center, and dry cleaning services for guests.

Lower Manhattan Luxury Hotels

  • Sixty LES comes with a cocktail bar on top of the hotel roof that has a fantastic view of the city at night, as well as an outdoor pool on the same rooftop and even an in-house sushi restaurant.
  • Soho Grand Hotel has both a business center and a fitness center which are both available to the guests all day and all night, in addition to the bar/lounge where you can enjoy a drink and unwind at night.

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5. Upper East Side

Shot of some gorgeous apartment buildings on the Upper East Side for a piece on the best places to stay in New York City

Francois Roux/Shutterstock

The Upper East Side is located on the exact opposite side of Central Park as the previously mentioned Upper West Side. And let’s get this out of the way early — yes, it’s also known for having a lot of bars and restaurants; it’s New York, after all.

Unfortunately, though, they’re equally as expensive as the spots that you might find on the Upper West Side. This area is also the home of Bloomingdale’s department store, which is known as one of the most upscale clothing stores in the entire US.

Here you’ll be able to go on an absolutely massive shopping spree and find clothes for men, women, and children to be able to reinvent their entire wardrobe if they want to.

You’ll also find the Neue Galerie in this area, which is full of artwork created by notable German and Austrian artists. You also have exhibits that date back to ancient times in the Jewish Museum. Additionally, the Frick Collection houses artworks from both the Rennesaince and the early twentieth century.

And finally, you have the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, which is also just called the Guggenheim. The pieces on display in this particular museum are a lot more difficult to describe due to the fact that most of them are of an abstract nature.

However, even without knowing what you’re looking at, taking your time and perusing through the selection of weird pieces can be an experience in and of itself. The Guggenheim is world-renowned, after all.

Things to Do

  • Go to Comic Strip Live and try to catch one of the stand-up shows that’s organized there at least once a day.
  • Book a tour of the Museum Mile and get taken through the most notable museums that we just covered by a guide that can share a lot more history about the exhibits than you’d be able to discover by yourself.
  • Visit Earthworks NYC and book a pottery lesson if you want to try your hand at making a vase or a bowl out of clay.

Where to Eat

  • Cafe d’Alsace has a great selection of beers that you can try out.
  • Orsay is a chic restaurant with a menu full of French cuisine
  • The Penrose is an old-school cocktail bar with a great menu

Upper East Side Budget Hotels

  • Bentley Hotel comes with a flat-screen cable TV in every room, a rooftop bar that guests can enjoy a drink in, and a fully-equipped fitness center where they can work out.

Upper East Side Mid-Range Hotels

  • Courtyard New York Manhattan provides the guests with access to fully-equipped business and fitness centers, as well as dry cleaning services and a reception desk that’s always available.
  • Loews Regency New York Hotel has luxuriously large rooms that come with a flat-screen TV and a mini-bar, and the hotel itself is located remarkably close to the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Upper East Side Luxury Hotels

  • The Gardens ES Suites New York provides all of the guests with suites that come with fully-equipped kitchens and sitting areas, as well as business and fitness centers that all of the guests have full access to.
  • The Pierre, A Taj Hotel, New York provides the guests with everything that they might need, and this includes a concierge service that can book them tickets to any event or location that they’re interested in visiting, as well as a bar lounge that has live jazz performances on a daily basis.

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So, Where Should You Stay in New York City?

If you’re a history buff or if you’d like to check some very interesting and colorful art exhibits, then the Upper East Side is the place for you. If you want to try out different foods and you want to experience the nightlife of NYC, then Lower Manhattan is your best bet.

And finally, if you’re interested in visiting some of the most famous attractions in New York City, then Midtown will have the most to offer. In any case, every area you pick has something amazing to see, just around the corner. Happy travels!