When I moved to New York City over a decade ago, I knew I had found my home.

If you had told me back then that one day I’d give up my favorite rent-controlled apartment on the Upper East Side to set out as a digital nomad just as the entire world shut down because of a mysterious illness, I’d have said you were absolutely crazy.

Turns out the beauty of life is that you never know what’s going to happen next, so here I’m three years after leaving my home to travel full time, constantly searching for deals on hotels anytime I want to go home to the city.

After years of alternating between hotels and crashing with one of my best friends in Brooklyn when my income was low, I’ve become a bit of an expert on finding the best deals in the city for any budget.

Plus, as an ex-local, who’s spent over a decade running around the city, I have the best perspective on each neighborhood.

Below is everything you need to know about where to stay in New York City.

Tips for Planning Where to Stay in New York City

Decide on a Budget

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One of the biggest factors when planning where to stay in NYC is your budget.

Sit down and figure out how much you want to spend per night, or how much extra you’re willing to spend to be in a better neighborhood.

I normally reason that I’m willing to spend a bit more on a hotel if I know I’ll be spending a good amount of time in the room or if it’s going to save me time and money transiting back and forth.

Plan Ahead

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Anyone who knows me well knows that I’m a last-minute planner. I guess I just love being open to the possibility of anything could happen and don’t want to commit myself too far ahead of time.

I will admit that personality traits haven’t always been helpful when planning travel in certain parts of the world, but it actually benefits me when I go to NYC.

When I go to New York these days, I play it risky and book my accommodation after landing.

I’m sure some people probably got anxiety reading that, but after three years of back and forth, I’m here to tell you it works, especially if you compare websites.

Hotels drop way down in price day of, especially if check in has already begun.

While I wouldn’t urge just anyone to wait that long to book a hotel, it’s beneficial to wait until closer to your departure day to book. 

According to a 2021 NerdWallet study, hotels are cheaper when you book within 15 days of your stay.

Get Familiar With the Neighborhoods

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New York City has lots of neighborhoods to choose from, so pull up a map of the city and eyeball where things are in relation to where you’re thinking of staying. 

Most booking sites will let you see the hotel location on a map, making this an easy check before booking something. 

Since I love walking as much as possible, I normally see where it is in relation to the major places I know I’ll be hitting up during my trip.

I know most people who haven’t been to NYC can only tell so much from a map, so I’ve listed out all the pros and cons of each neighborhood below to help you pick the right one for you.

Best Neighborhoods & Areas to Stay in Manhattan

Midtown Manhattan

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Midtown is one of the most popular places for tourists to want to stay, thanks to Times Square

It also makes it easy if you’re seeing Broadway shows, and want to do touristy things like checking out Rockefeller Center, Central Park, 5th Avenue, and Herald Square, since these are all easily walkable.

Since this is such a popular area for tourists, it’s always loud and hectic. This means if you’re a light sleeper, someone who is anxious in crowds, or wanting to have a more local NYC experience, you’ll likely want to avoid staying in this area.

Every time I go back to NYC I almost always end up staying in midtown, not because I love it, but because a lot of these hotels end up with last minute price drops that make them the cheapest option.

What I Like

  • Close to major tourist attractions

  • Lots of hotel options with competitive pricing

  • Close to all major trains and subway lines

What I Don’t Like

  • Generally having to deal with crowds at all hours of the day

  • Lots of noise at night

  • Too many chain restaurants

The Verdict

Book a room here if it’s your first time visiting NYC and you want to be near all the major tourist attractions.

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Best Midtown Manhattan Hotels

Upper West Side

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The Upper West Side was the very first neighborhood I lived in when I moved to New York at 18 to attend acting school, so I’ve got really wonderful memories in this area.

If you’re looking for a quieter neighborhood close to the chaos of midtown, the Upper West Side is the perfect option.

It’s very family friendly, is home to a ton of great restaurants, Central Park, Lincoln Center, and The Museum of Natural History. 

My only complaint with this neighborhood when I was living there was that there’s very little nightlife and only a couple of places stay open late.

So if you’re young and looking for a hip neighborhood to go out partying at night, look elsewhere.

What I Like

  • Quiet more local neighborhood

  • Near Central Park, Lincoln Center, and The American Museum of Natural History

  • Lots of great local restaurants

  • Easy train ride to most touristy spots

What I Don’t Like

  • No real nightlife or bar scene

The Verdict

This is the perfect neighborhood for families and people who want a low key and quiet area to return to after a day of running around exploring the city.

Best Upper West Side Hotels

Upper East Side

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After living in this neighborhood for over a decade, the UES will forever be my favorite place to stay in New York City.

I seriously long for the day I can call this area home again. It’s got the perfect balance of calm family friendly vibes, but balances them with a really fun local nightlife scene. 

The Upper East Side has tons of amazing restaurants and bars, Museum Mile, Central Park, and tons of fabulous shopping, including Bloomingdale’s flagship store.

In fact, the only thing that really annoys me about this neighborhood is the fact it’s really difficult to find an affordable hotel. 

Also, if it’s your first trip to the city and you’re not planning on doing lots of museums, staying in this neighborhood can make you feel far away from the major attractions.

What I Like

  • Proximity to Museum Mile, shopping, and Central Park

  • Amazing restaurant and bar scene

  • Chill local neighborhood vibes

What I Don’t Like

  • Not enough budget friendly hotels

The Verdict

If you can find a hotel in this neighborhood that you can afford to stay in, do it! Whether you’re looking for quiet family time or a solo traveler looking for a laid back and fun social scene, the UES has you covered!

Best Upper East Side Hotels

The Village

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I know I said the Upper East Side is my all-time favorite neighborhood, but the Village is a very close second.

In fact, if the rentals weren’t so overpriced in this area, I’d have totally moved here during my time in the city.

To keep things easy, I’ve basically grouped Greenwich Village and the West Village into one giant category, since most non-locals wouldn’t be able to tell much of a difference.

These areas have great nightlife, shopping, and incredible bars and restaurants. 

The West Village, which is a bit more upscale and calm during the day, while still providing tons of opportunities for crazy nights out.

Families shouldn’t be totally put off, especially if you’re considering the West Village. There are some lovely quieter streets, and this is an area many people who have money choose to buy in when starting their families (Sarah Jessica Parker used to live here with her family).

What I Like

  • Amazing restaurants and bars

  • Fabulous shopping

  • Locals actually love to hang out in these areas (always a good sign)

What I Don’t Like

  • Hotels can be expensive

The Verdict

If you love picturesque neighborhoods with great shopping that also offer amazing restaurants and wild nights out bar hopping reserve a hotel in the West Village!

Best Greenwich Village Hotels

Lower East Side

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If you’re looking to stay in an area of NYC where there’s tons of nightlife, look no further than the East Village.

This definitely isn’t a spot for families or older people who want peace and quiet at night. The LES is a popping neighborhood into the wee hours of the morning.

There’s a bunch of lounges, clubs, bars, and cool restaurants to hop between on nights out. 

I’ve had so many amazing nights out in this neighborhood.

In fact, this is the area my friends and I used to go dancing in every Saturday night. I’ve got hundreds of fond memories running around the LES after midnight, and seriously cannot wait to make more one night soon.

Don’t worry, you’ll also find some killer brunch options to help you with that hangover in the morning.

If you want to do sightseeing, just expect to be hopping on the train or hailing a cab, since there’s not really any touristy spots within walking distance, short of Katz’s Deli.

What I Like

  • Amazing nightlife

  • Great brunch options

  • Young and hip neighborhood

What I Don’t Like

  • Is loud at night

  • Will need to take a train or cab to touristy spots

  • Not great for families

The Verdict

If you want a young and hip neighborhood with lots of nightlife options and great restaurants, the LES is a must!

Best Hotels on the Lower East Side

SoHo

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SoHo is one of my favorite places to spend a lazy day brunching and shopping with friends. 

This area has some of the cutest designer boutiques, plus two storefronts for 260 Sample Sale, which always has incredible deals happening.

There are also lots of great art galleries to stroll through and high end spas to hit up.

You’ll also find adorable cafes and restaurants that are perfect for a chill afternoon, or a trendy drink to start a night out on the town.

The downside is that this area isn’t near any major tourist attractions, so you’ll need to hop in a cab or onto a train.

Since this is a pretty trendy area, expect some noise at night, especially on the weekends, though nothing compared to the noise of Times Square.

What I Like

  • Tons of trendy bars and restaurants

  • Great shopping

  • Lots of cute boutique hotels

What I Don’t Like

  • Not near major tourists attractions

  • Can get a bit loud on the weekends

The Verdict

This area is perfect for people who love staying in upscale trendy areas with all the necessities for a fun weekend in the city.

Best Hotels in SoHo

The Financial District

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After three years of getting hotels anytime, I’m back in NYC, I’ve noticed that midtown and the Financial District always have the best deals.

The Financial District was never an area that was super appealing to me, especially since I mainly spend my time in the city catching up with friends, seeing shows, or working in Central Park, but it quickly grew on me when I gave it a chance last year. 

Staying downtown means you’ll be near One World Trade, Lady Liberty, Wall Street, and South Street Seaport, making it a simple choice for tourists.

The only thing I don’t love about the area is that there’s not much in terms of nightlife or restaurants, though there are some fabulous ones inside South Street Seaport.

What I Like

  • Near tourists attractions like Lady Liberty, One World Trade, and Wall Street

  • Tends to have great hotel deals

  • South Street Seaport

  • Great for families who want a quieter evening enviroment

What I Don’t Like

  • No nightlife

  • Streets feel a bit empty at night

The Verdict

FiDi is perfect for tourists and families who want a quieter neighborhood in the evenings.

Best Hotels in FiDi

TriBeCa

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Wondering where TriBeCa is?

The abbreviation comes from its location, which is the triangle below Canal Street.

This area of lower Manhattan has great restaurants and bars to enjoy, though not really anything for tourists to check off their NYC bucket list, except for visiting nearby Chinatown.

What I Like

  • Great bars and restaurants

  • Cute boutique hotels

What I Don’t Like

  • Not near major tourists attractions

The Verdict

If you want to stay in an area that has nightlife, but doesn’t get totally wild, then TriBeCa is a great pick.

The Best Hotels in TriBeCa

Chelsea/Meatpacking District

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One of my favorite things about staying in Chelsea is that it isn’t too far away from the West Village, and a quick subway ride away from Broadway.

With luxury, boutique, and budget hotel options, this area has something for everyone.

It’s a subway ride away from most major tourist attractions, but makes up for it with the High Line, Chelsea Market, The Whitney, Chelsea Piers, and tons of cool art galleries.

What I Like

  • A quick train ride away from most sights

  • Great art scene

  • Boasts the High Line, Chelsea Market, and The Whitney

  • Has a variety of hotels at different price points

What I Don’t Like

  • Can be loud, especially on the weekends

The Verdict

If you want a little taste of nightlife mixed with sightseeing, Chelsea is a great option since it’s a quick subway ride away from most attractions.

Best Hotels in Chelsea/Meatpacking

Best Places to Stay in Brooklyn

Williamsburg

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If you’re looking for upscale hipster vibes, look no further than across the bridge in Williamsburg.

This neighborhood has rooftop bars with amazing views of the Manhattan skyline, tons of trendy bars and restaurants, lots of cool vintage shopping, and tons of independent shops, including Catbird, which is my all-time favorite little jewelry shop. 

The only downside about this neighborhood is that it’s a good subway ride to midtown.

What I Like

  • Amazing boutiques and vintage shops

  • Great foodie scene

  • Lots of trendy bars

What I Don’t Like

  • Far from midtown if you’re doing touristy things or seeing a show

The Verdict

If you want to stay in a hip and more low key neighborhood that’s removed from the chaos of Manhattan, Williamsburg is the place for you.

Best Williamsburg Hotels

DUMBO

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With incredible views of the city, DUMBO is a dreamy area of Brooklyn to base your stay out of.

You’ll be easily able to walk the Brooklyn Bridge, ride Jane’s Carousel, and hang at Time Out Market.

Not to mention their waterfront park is seriously gorgeous to picnic in during the summer.

The only downside is that you’ll have longer transit times if you want to go anywhere in Manhattan.

What I Like

  • Amazing views of Manhattan’s skyline

  • Good restaurant scene

  • Beautiful waterfront park

  • Easy access to walk the Brooklyn Bridge

What I Don’t Like

  • Long transit time to Manhattan

The Verdict

This area is great if you want to remove yourself from the chaos of Manhattan while still getting all the perks of city life.

Best DUMBO Hotels

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Greenpoint

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Not too far from Williamsburg, you’ll find the latest trendy neighborhood in Brooklyn, Greenpoint.

This area has tons of trendy restaurants, bars, and cafes, plus a great waterfront with stunning views of the city skyline.

If you don’t mind a bit of a longer commute to most touristy hot spots, this neighborhood is a fabulous choice.

What I Like

  • Trendy bars and restaurants

  • Great waterfront with views of the Manhattan skyline

What I Don’t Like

  • Bit of a commute to most major tourist attractions

The Verdict

Pick Greenpoint if you want a chill local experience while visiting NYC.

Best Greenpoint Hotels

Best Places to Stay in New Jersey

Hoboken

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With beautiful brownstones and a thriving restaurant scene, Hoboken is a convenient area just a train ride away from NYC.

The major drawback is that once you’re in the city, you’re basically out for the day, because nobody wants to be riding the PATH train back and forth multiple times a day.

What I Like

  • Great restaurant and bar scene

  • Hotels tend to be cheaper

What I Don’t Like

  • You have to take the PATH train back and forth

The Verdict

This is a great option for people who are on a budget.

Best Hotels in Hoboken

Jersey City

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More and more of my friends are making the move to Jersey City and loving it.

They say there’s great nightlife, lots of delicious restaurants and bars, plus amazing views of the Manhattan skyline.

Like with Hoboken, the downside is having to take the PATH train back and forth to the city.

What I Like

  • Beautiful views of Manhattan skyline

  • Great foodie scene

What I Don’t Like

  • The PATH train is a ride you won’t want to take more than twice a day

The Verdict

Jersey City is the perfect spot for people who want to save money while still enjoying all the city has to offer.

Best Jersey City Hotels

Best Places to Stay in Queens

Astoria

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Astoria has one of the best foodie scenes in NYC, so staying in this area is a no-brainer if you want to eat well on a budget.

It’s the hub of Queens and offers lots of cafes, shops, bars, and parks, all of which have a real neighborhood feel to them.

This is one area where you’ll really feel like a local. 

Depending on where you’re catching the train, your ride to Manhattan will likely be about ten minutes.

What I Like

  • Amazing foodie scene

  • Quick train ride to Manhattan

  • Affordable hotel options

What I Don’t Like

  • Limited train lines can be annoying if there’s a delay

The Verdict

Astoria is the perfect option for anyone who wants a relaxed budget neighborhood experience with quick access to Manhattan.

Best Hotels in Astoria

Long Island City

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LIC is a quick 15 minute train ride away from Manhattan and offers lots of budget friendly hotels.

The area itself has lots to offer including a beautiful waterfront park with great views of Manhattan Skyline, plus lots of cute boutiques, and delicious restaurants. 

Overall, Long Island City is a great choice for your stay in New York City if you’re looking for a budget option in an area that’s not too hectic.

What I Like

  • Budget friendly hotels

  • Solid restaurant scene

  • 15 minute subway ride to Manhattan

  • Great views of the Manhattan skyline

What I Don’t Like

  • Can be a bit quiet at night, not coolest social scene

The Verdict

Long Island City is perfect for families and people who don’t want to spend a ton on a hotel, while still being near all the action.

Best Hotels in Long Island City

FAQs About Where to Stay in NYC

What area should a tourist stay in NYC?

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It depends on what you’re hoping to do while visiting New York. If you’re dying to do all the major touristy stuff, midtown is a great place to base yourself out of since there’s a lot around, and tons of train lines available.

If you’re wanting a calmer area check out either the Upper East Side or Upper West Side, or downtown in the Financial District.

For a trendy boutique experience, book a cute place in the Village, TriBeCa, SoHo, LES, or Williamsburg.

Where should first time visitors stay in NYC?

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I always tell first time tourists to stay in midtown because let’s face it everyone is obsessed with spending time in Times Square on their first visit to the city.

If you’re a light sleeper, or get anxious in crowds, skip staying directly in Times Square and opt for a hotel in midtown east near a subway line.

Is it better to stay in midtown or Times Square?

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Times Square is in midtown, so basically if you choose to stay in there, you’re staying in midtown, Manhattan.

There’s also Hell’s Kitchen, which is to west of Times Square, and midtown east, which is obviously to the east. All of these areas have their perks, like midtown east is near Grand Central Station, and Hell’s Kitchen is near the theater district.

I like staying near 5th avenue in midtown, near Bryant Park, which generally has good pricing, great access to major subway lines, and is a few blocks outside of the chaos of Times Square, while still being close enough to walk to a Broadway show.

Checking Out

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I hope this post helps you pick the perfect place to stay in New York City.

Writing it has certainly made me eager to get back to the city later this year to see friends and catch up on all the Broadway shows I’ve missed.

If you’ve been to the city before, let me know in the comments below which neighborhood is your favorite place to stay in NYC.

TodayTix

Besides offering great prices, TodayTix also offers rushes and lotteries helping you score amazing deals on last minute tickets to some of the hottest shows in town!

Book a Show!
If you click this link and make a purchase, I earn a commission at no additional cost to you.
 

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