Where to Stay in New York City: The Best Areas in NYC

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Choosing where to stay in New York City can be time-consuming because there are so many unique neighborhoods around the city. This guide will help you understand the layout and personality of New York City.

Whether you’re a first time visitor, looking to visit the Statue of Liberty and Times Square or someone who has visited the city before, this guide will help you choose where to base yourself depending on what you want to see and experience.

We took our knowledge from staying in many different neighborhoods in NYC and paired it with local New York expert James Maher to make choosing where to stay in New York City much easier for you.

Where to Stay in New York City

Where to stay in New York City for First-timers?

Midtown/Times Square is the best place to stay in NYC if you are visiting for the first time. It is in a central location and is close to all of the main attractions.

Where to Stay in New York for Families?

Upper West Side is an affordable and convenient neighborhood that has lots to do, particularly for families.

Where to Stay in New York on a Budget?

Lower East Side is the best place to stay if you are on a budget. Hotels are expensive in NYC but you can find better-priced hotels in this area.

Best place to Stay in New York City for Nightlife?

Greenwich Village blends the lines between quiet tree-lined streets with multi-million-dollar townhouses, cute cafes and restaurants, fantastic bars, and a great music scene.

What is the best neighborhood to stay in New York City for Shopping?

SoHo-Tribeca is filled with gorgeous cast-iron warehouses, top-notch shopping, fantastic people watching, and in the center of downtown.

where to stay in new york city neighborhoods

Other New York Neighbourhoods

  • Chelsea: If you are a romantic, love to be central and like history, this is the area to stay in.
  • Upper East Side: Perfect if you are looking for some luxury, love museums and are looking for a quieter neighborhood.

Best Places to Stay in New York

new york city neighborhoods map | where to stay

Click on the link to Google map directions for Where to Stay in New York City by neighborhood

There are so many fascinating areas to stay in New York City. With a vast transit system to accommodate travel, it can be very confusing to figure out the ideal place to settle down in.

Add to this the fact that New York City is now safer than it has been since the 1950s, you can see why travelers are beginning to adventure beyond the old mainstays.

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 Area to stay in New York City for First timers is Midtown

We have to admit, we love staying in the heart of the city.

Midtown 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.

What we loved about this area is that you are walking distance to many of the famous attractions. It really allows you to explore a lot in a small amount of time. In Midtown you will find:

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

It may not be the cheapest area to stay in New York City but it is definitely the most convenient.

To get the most out of your time in New York City make sure to check out our New York City Itinerary!


Where to Stay in Midtown

  • Best AirBnB: Designer Times Square Apartment– Contemporary 1BR apartment in the heart of Manhattan. Close to Restaurant Row with eateries, bars, and nightlife. It is walking distance to Times Square, Central Park, Rockefeller Center, Broadway, and the subway station.

Check out Availability and Prices on Air BnB

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  • Best Mid Range Hotel in Midtown: Hilton Garden Inn Times Square – The perfect location really close 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

  • Best Budget Hotel in Midtown: Park Central Hotel New York – Located in Upper Midtown, this hotel is 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


You can get it for 1 to 10 days and it includes everything below and more!

  • Fast Track entry to the Empire State Building
  • Fast Track entry to the Top of the Rock
  • Hop on Hop Off Bus for 1 Day
  • 911 Memorial and Museum
  • Statue of Liberty Ferry and Ellis Island
  • Entry to MOMA, The Met and Natural History Museum
  • Radio City Music Hall Behind the Scenes
  • Top of the Highline and Vessel Tour

Get Your New York Pass Now!

2. SoHo and Tribeca

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.

Architecture and Shopping

SoHo and Tribeca are becoming hot neighborhoods to visit and live, 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 New York City
A cast-iron converted warehouse.

As the factories left 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

Where to Stay in Soho Tribeca

  • Best AirBnB: Historic Soho Townhouse– Located in SoHo in a historic townhouse building. It has views of the park, is steps away from fabulous restaurants, ideally located away from the fray but close to amazing shopping, dining & exploring NYC.

Check out Availability and Prices on Air BnB

  • Best Hotel in Soho: 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

  • Best Mid Range Hotel in Soho: 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.

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  • Best Budget Hotel in Soho/Tribeca: Sheraton Tribeca – Very 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 Area to stay for nightlife is Greenwich Village
Grove Court.

History, Homes, and Quiet Streets

For history buffs, there are few neighborhoods as evocative as The Village, 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.

If you arelooking for where to stay in New York City that has a great history this is it!

Washington Square in Greenwich Village
View of the Empire State Building from Washington Square Park.

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 

  • Convenient to walk 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

Where to Stay in Greenwich Village

  • Best AirBnB: West Village Charm in the Best Location – This perfect studio complete with a king-size bed is in the heart of the West Village, steps from Bleecker Street shops, amazing Village restaurants, and all west side subways.

Check out Availability and Prices on Air BnB

  • Best Hotel in The Village: The Marlton – Elegant hotel with wood details, a great bar and lobby, and an excellent location in an area devoid of hotels.

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  • Best Mid Range Hotel in Greenwich Village: Washington Square HotelSmall, clean rooms in an area without many hotels. Right off Washington Square Park.

Check out Availability and Prices on TripAdvisor or Booking.com

Check out Availability and prices on TripAdvisor or Booking.com


4. Lower East Side / East Village / Nolita

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

Fun, Funky Neighborhoods

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 a New Yorker if you stay in these areas.

The best thing I love about these neighborhoods is that you can access many parts of the city 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 and Manhattan Bridge

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 Square on the Lower East Side)

Where to Stay Lower East Side / East Village / Nolita

  • Best AirBnB: The Small Chateau in the Trees – The apartment is in the heart of the East Village Manhattan. You will have an entire studio apartment for yourself. Tastefully decorated and located in a really quiet neighborhood.

Check out Availability and Prices on Air BnB

  • Best Luxury Hotel: The Bowery Hotel – Gorgeous lobby, loft-style rooms with  Hardwood floors & floor to ceiling factory windows and an excellent restaurant.

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  • Best Mid Range Hotel: The Nolitan HotelLuxury Boutique hotel. An excellent, hip hotel with a great restaurant in the heart of Nolita and Little Italy.

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  • Best Budget Hotel: 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.

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5. Upper West Side

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

The Upper West Side is a wonderful neighborhood to stay 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 - Where to stay in New York City
Central Park

The hotel prices are cheaper, the trains are good and reliable, the areas – while still vibrant – are not packed with people.

If you are looking for where to stay in New York City that is family-friendly this is the place for you.

It gives you easy access to the Subway 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 and all the 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 and Brooklyn.
  • Not the most interesting people watching
  • Hotels are quite expensive.

Where to Stay on the Upper West Side

  • Best AirBnB: Local Living on the UWS – A charming one-bedroom apartment located in a pre-war brownstone on the beautiful Upper West Side. The apartment very quiet and private in the middle of a residential neighborhood close to public transportation.

Check out Availability and Prices on Air BnB

  • Best Luxury Hotel Upper West Side: Hotel Beacon – Well run and beautifully designed hotel, close to everything in a very family friendly area.

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  • Best Mid Range Hotel Upper West Side: NYLO New York CityLoft style, larger rooms at a great price. Beautifully designed. Some rooms have balconies. 3 Bar and Restaurant venues on Site.

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  • Best Budget Hotel: Empire HotelExcellent location right off of Lincoln Center. Beautiful rooftop bar and lobby. The rooms are a little dated.

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6. Upper East Side

To be close to museums stay 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 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 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 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

Where to Stay on the Upper East Side

  • Best AirBnB: Modern Luxury on UES – This bright 1 bedroom, 1 bath condo has all the luxuries, including a washer and dryer. The modern decor adds to the location as you feel like you are living the high life here.

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  • Best Luxury Hotel Upper East Side: The Mark Hotel – Well run and beautifully designed hotel, close to everything in a very family friendly area.

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  • Best Mid Range Hotel: Loews Regency New York – Spacious rooms, great location on Park Avenue and the service it some of the best in the city.

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  • Best Budget Hotel Upper East Side: Gardens Suites Hotel by Affina– 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

Chelsea - Where to stay in New York City
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 city.

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.

Walk the Highline in Chelsea neighbourhood of New York City

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
  • Packed with tourist-friendly locations
  • Great nightlife
  • Trendy restaurants

Cons of Staying in Chelsea:

  • Touristy
  • Not evocative of the real old New York
  • Expensive

Where to Stay in Chelsea

  • Best AirBnB: The Heart of Chelsea – This place is close to everything. The subway is right outside the door. It’s just a few blocks (walking distance) from many attractions including Times Square. Safe, and clean.

Check out Availability and Prices on Air BnB

  • Best Hotel in Chelsea: Innside by Melia – The rooms are spacious, efficient, modern, and well-appointed. Great staff and location make this a great choice.

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  • Best Mid Range Hotel in Chelsea: The Standard, High Line Rooftop views, bar/nightclub, hip hotel but can get very loud. For the expense of the area, it is considered mid-range.

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  • Best Budget Hotel in Chelsea: The Jane HotelThis 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


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.

We use Get Your Guide to Day tours and City Passes. Most tours can be canceled easily within 24 hours of departure and many tours can be booked last minute.

So there you have it. These are the best recommendations for where to stay in New York City from us and a local expert.

Author Bio

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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