When planning a trip to New York it is very important to understand where the best area to stay is.
To decide where to sleep in New York it's not easy, especially for those who are preparing to visit the "big apple" for the first time. In fact, the city is huge and there are many neighborhoods, each with its own characteristics. It is therefore impossible to say which is the right area, it depends on your needs, what you are looking for and the budget available.
There are several neighborhoods that can be strategic and ideal for a stay in New York, ranging from the most central and touristy areas of Manhattan to more peripheral neighborhoods but well connected to the center, such as Brooklyn or Queens.
In this guide we will see in detail what the main districts are and what they are the most suitable areas to stay in New York.
Where to Stay in New York
First you need to understand how New York is structured, administratively it is divided into 5 districts:
- Staten Island
The first fundamental tip, regardless of which area of New York you choose, is to book a hotel near a subway station.
Manhattan is the most central district and is the area where the main attractions of the city are concentrated. For this Manhattan is the best choice where to sleep in New York, especially for those visiting the city for the first time, in fact, it is the true hub of the city, the most famous area of New York where you will probably spend most of your vacation.
However, it is a large district and you must therefore know the various districts to choose the perfect one for your needs.
So let's see in detail the main areas of Manhattan and other areas recommended for a vacation in New York.
Midtown is the most touristic area, the real center of Manhattan that stretches between 23rd and 59th streets. Staying here will have the advantage of being able to walk to many of the city's main attractions, including Times Square, Empire State Building, Rockefeller Center, Chrysler Building, Grand Central Station, Central Park and more.
Do not miss the opportunity to stay in one of the most famous areas of New York, among the thousand lights of Times Square and the charming theater district.
Also the location is very convenient for moving to others neighborhoods of Manhattan, both on foot and by public transport. Those who prefer to stay in Midtown in the evening and stroll among the spectacular skyscrapers will find many clubs and restaurants here.
Midtown is perfect for those who want to stay a stone's throw from major sightseeing. It is true that New York is well served by public transport, but being able to visit most of the attractions comfortably on foot is a great privilege.
Obviously this involves a greater expense, but eventually you can look for the hotel in a less central and more secluded point of Midtown, perhaps going towards 10th Avenue.
If we really have to find a fault, Midtown is a very chaotic, busy neighborhood and it is a particularly tourist and commercial area.
Times Square is one of the true symbols of New York, it is located between Broadway and 7th Avenue near 42nd Street, practically in the heart of Midtown. The iconic square is known all over the world for its thousand lights and advertising billboards that color the buildings.
A few steps from Times Square is the well-known theater district where you can admire the spectacular musicals that have made Broadway famous.
It is a perfect area to stay in New York, close to many points of interest and well connected to the rest of the city.
Being very touristy, Times Square is also chaotic and busy and accommodation prices are higher than in other neighborhoods.
Alternatively, you could move a little west where the lively Hell's Kitchen district stands on the border with the Hudson River, a good compromise for those who want to stay in the central area without spending exorbitant amounts.
Upper West Side, Manhattan
The Upper West Side, one of the most beautiful areas of Manhattan, is located to the left of the immense Central Park, between 58th and 110th streets.
Compared to Midtown it is a quieter, residential and less busy area, with typical red brick New York houses.
The Upper West Side is a 10-minute walk from Times Square, is adjacent to Central Park, one of New York's must-see attractions, and is convenient for visiting famous museums such as Lincoln Center and the Natural History Museum.
In general it is a 'great area to sleep in New York, ideal for families with children and for those looking for a less touristy and more residential holiday.
Upper East Side, Manhattan
Between Central Park and the East River lies the elegant Upper East Side. It is a residential area with a chic atmosphere with beautiful buildings and luxury apartments where New York celebrities and high society people reside.
Upper East Side is an area well served by public transport, safe and quiet. It is also the perfect place for culture lovers, where the most important museums of the city, such as the Guggenheim and Metropolitan Museum of Art. It is no coincidence that a stretch of Fifth Avenue is known as “Museum Mile”, about 1 km of road where there are at least a dozen museums.
Upper East Side is ideal for strolling among shops, cafes and elegant streets, obviously being one of the richest areas in New York, expect high prices.
South of Midtown is the vibrant and alternative neighborhood of Chelsea, famous for its typical New York lofts, full of trendy shops and art galleries housed in former warehouses.
Compared to Midtown, the Chelsea scenery changes completely, from the imposing skyscrapers to small buildings, shops, antique shops and restaurants, which make up one of the most fascinating neighborhoods in New York.
Do not miss the Chelsea Market, an old biscuit factory converted into a huge indoor market, with restaurants and shops.
Another famous attraction in the area is the Highline, a public park built on what was an old raised railway.
Chelsea is the best place where to stay in New York if you are passionate about modern art and if you are looking for a safe and quiet area but at the same time lively and with its own distinct personality. The location to reach the best attractions is also excellent.
Greenwich is located south of Chelsea and like the latter is characterized by low-rise buildings and the typical American houses that are seen in films and television series. In fact, it is here that the Friends Building is located, the building of the homonymous series, while in Perry Strett there is the house of Carrie, the protagonist of Sex and the City.
In addition to this it is a strategic base for touring New York, full of restaurants and trendy clubs, the perfect place to experience lively and alternative New York nights.
SoHo & Tribeca, Manhattan
The SoHo and Tribeca area è lively, full of shops, art galleries and restaurants, here you can experience a suggestive and less touristy atmosphere than the Manhattan of skyscrapers.
By staying in these neighborhoods you will have many attractions nearby and within walking distance, such as the Ground Zero, Wall Street, the Statue of Liberty and the Brooklyn Bridge
The neighborhoods of SoHo e Tribeca, are among the most beautiful of Manhattan, especially recommended for shopaholics and for those looking for a lively nightlife.
The Financial District is located in Lower Manhattan, an elegant area where some of New York's main points of interest are concentrated: Wall Street, Ground Zero, Battery Park and City Hall, just to name a few.
The location is great for walking around all parts of Lower Manhattan and is perfectly connected to the rest of the city by the subway.
Keep in mind, however, that since it is the financial area, the evening does not offer much.
As I told you at the beginning of this guide, in addition to Manhattan there are 4 other districts that make up the city. Among these we cannot fail to mention Brooklyn. A valid alternative for those looking for a quieter place, away from the chaos of Manhattan and the more touristy areas, but above all for those looking for a place to sleep with a better value for money. At the same time the heart of Manhattan can be reached by subway.
Major Brooklyn neighborhoods include Brooklyn Heights, Dumbo and Williamsburg. The first two are practically adjacent and face the iconic bridge.
Williamsburg was an industrial area, now redeveloped, which however maintains an authentic soul. It is the hipster district, full of alternative clubs, restaurants and vintage shops.
I recommend choosing a hotel close to a subway station to reach Manhattan and the main points of interest in New York.
Long Island City, Queens
A cheaper alternative to Manhattan is the Long Islands City area (not to be confused with Long Island) in Queens, where even on a budget you can find comfortable, spacious and clean rooms.
Although located off-center, Long Island City is well connected by subway and takes you to the heart of Manhattan in about 20 minutes.
There is no shortage of interesting attractions such as the MoMA PS1, a detachment of the MoMA, exclusively dedicated to contemporary art.
Long Island City is the perfect choice to stay in New York, for those looking for a quiet area not far from the center and at reasonable prices.
We have seen what are the main choices where to stay in New York for every need. As you can see, there are several alternatives and even though New York is definitely expensive, you can find cheaper areas.
That said, my advice, especially if it's your first trip to New York, is to stay in Manhattan, even if it means spending more. In my opinion, the convenience of being able to walk mostly and enjoy the best points of the city even in the evening without having to take public transport is priceless!
In particular, although the Midtown area is very touristy is my favorite, having the hotel within walking distance of Broadway theaters is priceless.
However, if you want to opt for more authentic areas, just move to the other neighborhoods I told you about.
For anything do not hesitate to contact me or comment on the article ... you just have to enjoy the Big Apple!
Start with the Best Guide to Visit New York
Tips, information, suggested itineraries and maps to visit the city of New York
Don't leave without Lonely Planet!