Overlooking view of buildings in New York City during sunset

Where to Stay in New York City (12 Best Places, By a Local)

Deciding where to stay in New York City (especially for the first time) can be challenging. The sheer number of neighborhoods and boroughs can be overwhelming and stressful to navigate, and you’ll have to take your budget and travel style into account before you start planning.

I’ve been a New York City local for almost seven years, and I want to help make your stay in NYC fun and simple to plan.

Let’s take a look at the best hotels to stay at in New York City before exploring some of the best neighborhoods and places to stay in New York City!

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Best Places to Stay in New York City

Aerial view of Central Park during a sunny morning

Just looking for a quick answer on the best places to stay in New York City? Here are my top picks: 

Any of these New York City hotel options would make for a great home base during your visit to New York. Now let’s do a deep dive into the best areas, hotels, and neighborhoods in New York City: 

12 Best Neighborhoods & Areas to Stay in New York City

There are five boroughs in New York City: Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, The Bronx, and Staten Island. I recommend staying in Manhattan so you can easily get to the main attractions and sites like the Empire State Building, Grand Central Station, Metropolitan Museum of Art, and Central Park. 

All of the NYC neighborhoods have a distinct and unique personality and style, from luxurious and trendy to family-friendly. Depending on your travel style, preferences, and who you’re traveling with, choose to avoid certain areas to make your trip more enjoyable. 

For budget travelers, staying in an adjacent New Jersey neighborhood is also a great option to save money and find more budget hotels.

These are the twelve NYC neighborhoods I recommend considering for your visit! 

Midtown Manhattan

View of billboards and cars on the busy Time Square in New York City
A busy afternoon in Times Square (photo: Luciano Mortula – LGM / Shutterstock)

👉 Best Area For First Time Visitors | ✨ Best Midtown Hotels: citizenM New York Times SquareBryant Park HotelThe Peninsula New York

When you see New York City on TV or in a movie, you’re almost always looking at images of Midtown Manhattan. Centrally located, Midtown is where you’ll find iconic sights like Times Square, the Empire State Building, Broadway, Bryant Park, the Museum of Modern Art, and Rockefeller Center. 

Because there are so many tourist attractions in the area, keep in mind that it’s constantly busy and crowded. Most of the main subway lines connect through Midtown, making it easy and convenient to travel to different areas during the day.

Midtown Manhattan is the perfect place to stay in New York City for first-time visitors, and there are hotels for every budget. Visit a rooftop bar or restaurant to take in the best views of the Manhattan skyline!

Pros of Staying in Midtown Manhattan:

  • Heart of the tourist area
  • Plenty of budget options
  • Walkable, central location
  • Great for families and first-time visitors
  • Close to Grand Central Terminal and Penn Station

Cons of Staying in Midtown:

  • Crowded and loud, especially at night
  • No “cool” factor or neighborhood style
  • Dining options can be expensive

📚 Midtown Mini Guide 📚
Best Area to Stay for First Time Visitors
Google Map

Upper East Side

View of people outside the Metropolitan Museum of Art
The iconic Metropolitan Museum of Art.

👉 Best Area For Museums and Park Access | ✨ Best Upper East Side Hotels: The Pierrevoco The Franklin New YorkCourtyard New York Manhattan/Upper East Side

Fine dining meets luxury fashion on the Upper East Side (UES), which spans 59th street to 96th street along the East River. This neighborhood is known to be upscale thanks to the families who’ve called it home (such as the Rockefeller’s and Kennedy’s) and has been featured in popular shows like Gossip Girl and Sex and the City.

The UES is also home to Museum Mile which runs up Fifth Avenue along Central Park and includes some of the best museums in the city (and the world).

Even though you’ll be further away from the main attractions in Midtown, you can get there in about twenty minutes by taking the subway or bus. It’s a family-friendly neighborhood and more residential than some areas further downtown in New York City. You’ll see plenty of young families and dogs walking around and spending time in the parks!

The Upper East Side is very walkable, especially around Central Park. If you’re looking to museum hop, shop designer brands on Madison Avenue, and enjoy some delicious meals, then this is the perfect neighborhood to stay in during your trip.

 Pros of Staying on the Upper East Side:

  • Close to Museum Mile
  • Easy access to Central Park
  • Lots of great dining options
  • Quieter and family-friendly 

 Cons of Staying on the Upper East Side:

  • Hotels and dining can be pricey
  • Further from popular attractions in Midtown
  • Not much nightlife

📚 Upper East Side Mini Guide 📚
Best Area to Stay for Museums and Park Access
Google Map

Upper West Side

View of people and a water fountain in front of Lincoln Center
Visit the Ballet at Lincoln Center (photo: meinzahn / 123RF)

👉 Best Area For Families | ✨ Best Upper West Side Hotels: Mandarin OrientalHotel BeaConsHotel Lucerne

The Upper West Side (UWS) is bordered by the Hudson River and Central Park and spans from West 59th Street to West 110th Street. If you’re looking for a family neighborhood and hotel, then this is one of the best places to stay in New York City.

On the Upper West Side, you’ll find cultural New York institutions such as Lincoln Center, the Beacon Theater, and the American Museum of Natural History. The UWS houses some of the most beautiful apartment buildings and townhouses, such as The Dakota and the San Remo, which face Central Park. 

There are a number of playgrounds and smaller parks, as well as family-friendly hotels (some even offer programs for children), making it a great option for young families to stay and explore. You can travel to Midtown and other neighborhoods via the subway or bus in about twenty minutes, allowing you the chance to escape some of the more crowded areas. 

You can travel to Midtown and other neighborhoods on the subway or bus in about twenty minutes, so it’s easy to escape some of the more crowded areas at the end of the day. 

 Pros of Staying on the Upper West Side:

  • Great location for families
  • Walking distance to Central Park and Riverside Park
  • Quiet and relaxed residential neighborhood

 Cons of Staying on the Upper West Side:

  • Not much nightlife or bar scene
  • Hotels and dining can be expensive
  • Further from tourist attractions

📚 Upper West Side Mini Guide 📚
Best Area to Stay for Families
Google Map

Financial District 

View of the Financial District skyline from Brooklyn
View of the Financial District and Lower Manhattan from Brooklyn.

👉 Best Area For Business Travelers | ✨ Best Financial District Hotels: Conrad HotelThe Beekman HotelArtezen Hotel

New York is often referred to as the financial capital of the world, and the Financial District is its epicenter. This neighborhood in lower Manhattan is home to Wall Street and The New York Stock Exchange and is where to stay in New York City for business travel.

The Financial District is a business-oriented neighborhood steeped in history. Some of the cobblestone streets, historic restaurants, and bars date back to the 1800s! You can usually save money and find great deals on hotels over the weekends since most business travelers will be gone by then.

The World Trade Center and 9/11 Memorial are both located in the Financial District. Pay your respects at the memorial and museum or visit the top of One World Trade for incredible views of New York City from above. You can easily travel to the Lower East Side bar scene from this neighborhood by subway.

This neighborhood is also a great place to take in the activity in New York harbor, with views of the Statue of Liberty on Ellis Island and the Staten Island ferry. You’ll be within walking distance to the Brooklyn Bridge, which connects Manhattan to Brooklyn over the Hudson River. Grab a drink at Pier 17 and watch the ferry traffic on a sunny afternoon by the water. 

 Pros of Staying in Financial District:

  • Close to Brooklyn Bridge 
  • Quieter and more budget-friendly on the weekends
  • Quick access to Staten Island and Statue of Liberty ferries
  • Budget and mid-range hotel options available

 Cons of Staying in Financial District:

  • Not many unique dining options 
  • Nightlife is lacking
  • Business-oriented neighborhood
  • Further from sights in Midtown 

📚 Financial District Mini Guide 📚
Best Area to Stay for Business Travelers
Google Map

SoHo

The Balthazar restaurant from the outside in SoHo
Enjoy dining at the iconic Balthazar restaurant in SoHo (photo: zhukovsky / 123RF)

👉 Best Area For Shopping | ✨ Best SoHo Hotels: SoHo Grand HotelThe BroomeThe Dominick Hotel

South of Houston Street, you’ll find designer boutiques, shops, and art galleries lining the cobblestone streets of SoHo. SoHo is a more residential neighborhood so you won’t be faced with crowds getting into major attractions–just the shops and art galleries!

There are several high-end restaurants and bakeries in SoHo, such as Laudurée and Dominique Ansel, and some of the best pizza in New York City. Fashionable crowds come to this neighborhood which is conveniently located near Little Italy. It’s also within walking distance to the West Village and other areas in lower Manhattan. 

SoHo is the ideal place for the fashionista or pizza enthusiast to stay. Make sure your phone is charged for some Instagram-worthy street shots and possible celebrity sightings!

 Pros of Staying in SoHo:

  • Plenty of places to shop
  • Great people watching
  • Not as many crowds
  • Several restaurant and bar options

 Cons of Staying in SoHo:

  • Further from public transportation
  • Can be crowded during peak hours of the day
  • Dining options are expensive

📚 SoHo Mini Guide 📚
Best Area to Stay for Shopping
Google Map

Greenwich Village

View of townhouses in Greenwich Village
Classic townhouses in Greenwich Village (photo: demerzel21 / 123RF)

👉 Best Area For Nightlife | ✨ Best Greenwich Village Hotels: The Marlton HotelWalker HotelWashington Square Hotel

Greenwich Village is a smaller neighborhood on the lower west side of Manhattan. Also known as “The Village,” this neighborhood is bordered by the Hudson River to the west and Broadway to the east. It’s one of the most coveted (and expensive) places to live, and home to some of the best restaurants and bars, making it the best area to stay for nightlife. 

Greenwich Village is outside of the grid system of New York City, and brownstones line the narrow, curved streets. This is where to stay in New York City to wander around and take in the classic New York City architecture and historic homes.

Fan of Friends? Walk by the apartment that you know and love on the corner of Grove and Bedford Street.

New York University and The New School are both based in this neighborhood, so be aware that it’s filled with students during the school year and can get rowdy at night. 

 Pros of Staying in Greenwich Village:

  • Close to Washington Square Park
  • Fantastic dining options
  • Great nightlife and bars

 Cons of Staying in Greenwich Village:

  • Can be loud and crowded at night
  • Dining options are pricey
  • Not many hotel options

📚 Greenwich Village Mini Guide 📚
Best Area to Stay for Nightlife
Google Map

Long Island City (Queens)

View of the Hunters Point in Long Island City
Hunters Point in Long Island City

👉 Best Area For Budget Travelers | ✨ Best Long Island City Hotels: Home2 Suites Long Island CityLIC Plaza HotelHyatt Place Long Island City

Across the East River from Manhattan is Long Island City (LIC) in Queens. If you’re traveling on a budget, then this is where to stay in New York City for a great affordable option. There are several subway lines that run through LIC and you can reach Midtown in just under 20 minutes. If it’s a nice day, then hop on the ferry and take in the city views from the water for a different mode of public transportation.

Visit some of the local art galleries, music venues, and waterfront breweries (the views are unreal) during your stay to get a feel for this residential neighborhood. If you have time, stop by the LIC Flea Market for delicious food, drinks, and vintage goods. Also, Long Island City is one of the most ethnically-diverse food neighborhoods in the city which makes it an ideal destination for foodies.

Pros of Staying in Long Island City:

  • Diverse dining options
  • Easily accessible from other boroughs and neighborhoods
  • Budget hotel options available
  • Multiple modes of public transportation are available

 Cons of Staying in Long Island City:

  • Not much nightlife
  • Public transportation is required to get to tourist attractions

📚 Long Island City Mini Guide 📚
Best Area to Stay for Budget Travelers
Google Map

Williamsburg (Brooklyn)

View of people in Domino Park during a sunny morning
Stroll along the East River in Domino Park (photo: solepsizm / Shutterstock)

👉 Best Area For Trendy Restaurants & Bars | ✨ Best Williamsburg Hotels: The William ValeThe Williamsburg HotelWythe Hotel

Williamsburg is directly across the East River from the East Village in lower Manhattan. It’s one of the most sought-after foodie areas and is a great place to stay in New York City if you want to hit the bar scene. Some of my favorite rooftop bars (with incredible skyline views!) are in Williamsburg and are definitely worth the short trip across the East River.

Williamsburg is home to many young families and has famously been called the “hipster” neighborhood thanks to its trendy nightlife and arts scene. Take in views of the East River from Domino Park or Brooklyn Bridge Park or walk across the Williamsburg Bridge for stunning views of the city. 

Overall, Williamsburg is where to stay in New York City to take advantage of the local arts and music scene, explore boutique shops, and pick up some vintage treasures. The main street here, Bedford Avenue, is only a few minutes away from Union Square in Manhattan by subway.  

 Pros of Staying in Williamsburg:

  • Easy access to Manhattan via public transportation
  • Amazing views of the city skyline
  • Trendy bars and varied dining options
  • Less crowded and touristy
  • Many parks and green spaces

 Cons of Staying in Williamsburg:

  • Further from main attractions in Manhattan
  • Can be crowded at night

📚 Williamsburg Mini Guide 📚
Best Area to Stay for Trendy Restaurants & Bars
Google Map

The Bronx

Aerial view of The Bronx and the Yankee Stadium
Yankee Stadium in The Bronx

👉 Best Area For Access to Yankee Stadium | ✨ Best Bronx Hotels: Opera House HotelResidence Inn by MarriottComfort Inn & Suites 

Although The Bronx is technically one of the five boroughs and not a specific neighborhood, the area is worth highlighting in its entirety. Located north of Manhattan (separated by the Harlem River), The Bronx is where to stay in New York City if you’re a baseball fan or traveling with kids.

Home to Yankee Stadium, The Bronx has seen significant development over the past few years and is now a trendy area to visit. Visiting for a home game? This is a great place to stay in New York City for easy and convenient access to the stadium. 

Traveling with kids? Be sure to stop by the Bronx Zoo to visit hundreds of animals from around the world. Depending on the time of year, I highly recommend spending a day exploring the lush plants and flowers at the New York Botanical Garden. If you’re staying in another neighborhood, it’s worth taking the Metro North train directly to the Garden for an afternoon.

The Bronx is also a fantastic option for Italian food enthusiasts. Arthur Avenue is its own Little Italy and runs over a mile long. Pick up some pastries to bring home or enjoy a classic red sauce meal for dinner. 

Be aware that certain areas in The Brox aren’t as safe, especially at night, so plan your travel carefully.

Pros of Staying in The Bronx:

  • Classic Italian dining options 
  • Close to Yankee Stadium
  • Accessible from Manhattan by public transportation

 Cons of Staying in The Bronx:

  • Not many hotel options
  • Certain areas aren’t as safe 
  • Not as walkable as other neighborhoods

📚 The Bronx Mini Guide 📚
Best Area to Stay for Access to Yankee Stadium
Google Map

Greenpoint (Brooklyn)

The main street in the Greenpoint NYC neighborhood
The main shopping street in Greenpoint (Shutterstock / Massimo Salesi)

👉 Best Area For Neighborhood Cool Factor | ✨ Best Greenpoint Hotels: Henry Norman HotelThe Box House HotelFranklin Guesthouse

Greenpoint is the northernmost neighborhood in Brooklyn and runs along the East River. The neighborhood borders Williamsburg and is formerly home to a large Polish community. If you’ve visited before, then Greenpoint is where to stay in New York City for a quieter, more residential neighborhood.

Similar to Williamsburg, Greenpoint is a very hipster neighborhood and new luxury apartment buildings line the waterfront. There are endless restaurant options that can get crowded on the weekend (make a reservation!) and fantastic bar and nightlife options. 

There are also multiple parks in Greenpoint where you can head for a picnic, stop by the seasonal farmer’s market, or exercise. McCarren Park and Msgr. McGoldrick Park are centrally-located local favorites. Take in the beautiful architecture and classic townhouses that line the streets on your way to shops and art galleries. 

Getting to Greenpoint on the subway is more difficult than other neighborhoods in Brooklyn because only one line (G) goes directly there. My solution is to take the ferry (which is the same price as the subway) and enjoy the waterfront views of the skyline, especially around sunset. 

 Pros of Staying in Greenpoint:

  • Less crowded and more residential
  • Multiple parks and green spaces
  • Hip bars and restaurants

 Cons of Staying in Greenpoint:

  • Only one direct public transportation option
  • Certain areas might not be as safe, especially at night

📚 Greenpoint Mini Guide 📚
Best Area to Stay for Neighborhood Cool Factor
Google Map

Jersey City (New Jersey)

View of the Jersey City skyline and the Statue of Liberty
The Jersey City skyline featuring the Statue of Liberty

👉 Best Area For Easy Access to Manhattan | ✨ Best Jersey City Hotels: Residence Inn by Marriott Jersey CityCanopy By Hilton Jersey City Arts DistrictHyatt House Jersey City

Across the Hudson River from Lower Manhattan is Jersey City. Part of northern New Jersey, Jersey City is where to stay in New York City on a budget. You can travel into Manhattan in under 30 minutes on the PATH trains or by ferry, but be sure to pay attention to weekend travel schedules.

Walk along the riverfront paths and explore Liberty State Park to take in unparalleled views of the west side of Manhattan. Jersey City is also known for its street art and murals which are supported by a public arts program. You can take a self-guided tour of the street out for an outdoor gallery experience!

Jersey City is one of the best places for diverse dining in the area, so it’s another great neighborhood option for visiting foodies. There are also multiple music venues and bars to enjoy in terms of nightlife.  

Be sure to check out our New Jersey travel guides for more New Jersey tips. 

 Pros of Staying in Jersey City:

  • Close to the PATH trains
  • Fantastic dining options
  • Quieter than Manhattan neighborhoods
  • Beautiful water and skyline views

 Cons of Staying in Jersey City:

  • Dining options can be expensive
  • Certain areas are not as safe at night
  • Public transportation doesn’t run as frequently on weekends

📚 Jersey City Mini Guide 📚
Best Area to Stay for Easy Access to Manhattan
Google Map

Hoboken (New Jersey)

The Manhattan skyline during sunset from Hoboken
View of the Manhattan skyline from Hoboken

👉 Best Area For Nightlife in New Jersey | ✨ Best Hoboken Hotels: W HobokenCourtyard by Marriott Jersey City NewportResidence Inn by Marriott Jersey City

Another New Jersey hotspot that offers a cheaper alternative to Manhattan is Hoboken. The “mile square city” is directly across the Hudson River from Greenwich Village and just a quick train or ferry ride away. You can get into the city for under $10 in about 20 minutes while avoiding some of the crowds. 

Hoboken offers excellent dining options and is home to many young families and professionals. It’s also the birthplace of Frank Sinatra! Pay a visit to the Hoboken Historical Museum to learn more about the singer and his amazing career. 

Hoboken is the best place for nightlife with lots of bars, lounges, and dancing options for late-night fun. Keep in mind that even though you’re in New Jersey, Hoboken is still a city and can be expensive. 

Looking for more info about Hoboken? Read our guide about where to stay in New Jersey to help plan your trip.

 Pros of Staying in Hoboken:

  • Plenty of dining options
  • Close to Manhattan on public transportation
  • Beautiful architecture

 Cons of Staying in Hoboken:

  • Can get crowded, especially at night
  • Dining can be expensive
  • Parking options are limited
  • Not many hotel options

📚 Hoboken Mini Guide 📚
Best Area to Stay for Nightlife in New Jersey
Google Map

Tips for Staying in New York City

Decide on Your Budget Early

New York City can get expensive very quickly. Decide how much you want to spend early on in your planning process so you can plan your itinerary around your budget. Check out museum or tour packages to save some money on combination deals.

Plan for NYC’s City Tax and Resort Fees 

Many people don’t realize that New York City hotels add a resort fee to each night of your stay in addition to city tax. All of these smaller fees and taxes can add up, so be sure to plan for and include these amounts in your budget. 

Identify Your Must-See Attractions in New York City

Many of the main sights and attractions are located in Midtown, but there can be long lines and you might end up spending more time at each one than you think. Identify your must-see attractions and locations and plan out how you’ll travel between each area.

Plan as Far in Advance as Possible

Hotel rooms can be hard to come by depending on the season, especially if you’re looking for budget options. 

Book Reservations and Tickets in Advance

Many restaurants, museums, and other attractions also require timed tickets or reservations. Plan and book any necessary reservations as far in advance as possible.

Consider Staying Near a Subway Station 

If you plan on traveling to different neighborhoods, consider staying near a central subway line or station. Many hotels in Midtown are close to subway stations making connections quick and simple.

When to Visit New York City

Spring and fall are the best times to visit New York City for comfortable temperatures, views of the changing foliage and florals, and fun events across the city. Summer in New York City is a very busy time, especially on weekends, and the heat and humidity can be stifling. Winters can be brutal, with snow and wind making travel difficult and dangerous. 

FAQs About Where to Stay in New York City

What area is best to stay in NYC?

Midtown is the best place to stay in NYC for visitors due to its central location, multiple transportation options, and proximity to attractions.

Where should you not stay in NYC?

You should avoid staying in NYC neighborhoods such as the Lower East Side, East Village, Chelsea, and Meatpacking district because they can get loud and may not be as safe late at night.

Is it better to stay near Central Park or Times Square?

For a first-time visitor, it is better to stay near Times Square due to its location and access to entertainment options. 

How do I visit New York City for the first time?

Plan out your visit in advance and budget carefully when you’re visiting New York City for the first time.

***

Thanks for reading my guide to where to stay in New York City! Know that you might not get to do everything on your list during your visit, but there’s a reason people come back. 

Hopefully, this guide has been a helpful introduction to the different neighborhoods in the city. For more things to do and places to visit in the Tri-State area, take a look at our roundup of the best places to visit in New Jersey.

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