9 Best Areas to Stay in New York City for First-Timers

Planning to visit the Big Apple for the first time? Well, you are in for treat because the city never sleeps!

From dynamism, different cultures and heterogeneity, this city will make you feel brand new indeed. Sometimes it feels like a whirlwind to even roundabout the countless places where you can stay in New York City.

New York City offers excellent places to stay at and there is always something available for everyone. Since there are thousands of places to choose from, one might find themselves in a dilemma.

If you are one of them, don’t worry, I got you covered! This guide will help you choose the best areas to stay in New York City.

*Disclosure: This post contains a few affiliate links, which means I may receive a small commission, at no cost to you, if you make a purchase through my link.*

Overview of the Best Areas to Stay in New York City

NYC consists of five different boroughs (Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, Bronx, and Staten Island) and there are hundreds of distinct neighborhoods throughout the boroughs.

Although Manhattan is the smallest of the five boroughs, it’s undoubtedly the most popular one among tourists looking for the best areas to stay in New York City.

New York City is a place that has something for everyone. Generally speaking, in order to avail the best offers and the best experience, you need to look out for the low seasons.

However, there is no surprise that New York City is filled with globetrotters all year round. So, one of the best tips I can give you is that if you find a great place to stay, make sure to book well ahead of schedule!

Here’s a quick overview of the best areas to stay in New York City with hotel recommendations for each area.

AreaRecommended Hotels
Midtown Manhattan (sightseeing)Hyatt Place New York/Midtown-South
Lower Manhattan (sightseeing, nightlife)Hotel 50 Bowery
Upper East Side (luxury shopping, museums, Central Park)Courtyard New York Manhattan/Upper East Side
Upper West Side (museums, architecture, family friendly)Hotel Beacon
Chelsea & Greenwich Village (nightlife, restaurants, chic hotels)The Standard, High Line New York
Soho & Lower East Side (restaurants, bars, nightlife)Hotel Indigo Lower East Side
Long Island City, Queens (local feel, contemporary art museums)The Collective Paper Factory
Harlem (restaurants, jazz bars)Aloft Harlem
Williamsburg, Brooklyn (shopping, coffee shops, restaurants)The Williamsburg Hotel

Best Areas to Stay in New York City

Wondering where to stay in New York City? Don’t worry, I got you covered! In this article, you will find all the best areas to stay in New York City together with a bunch of useful information about each area, pros and cons, and some hotel recommendations.

If you’re a visual type, you can use the below map to get familiar with each area mentioned in this article. Let’s dive right in!

How to use this map: This map is fully interactive, so you can move around, zoom in/zoom out, and click on the icons. If you want to see a larger map, click on the bracket in the upper right corner. To see more details and the different layers, click on the tab in the upper left corner. If you want to save it for later, click on the star icon next to the name of the map. Then simply open Google Maps either on your desktop or phone, go to ‘Saved’/’Maps’, and open the map whenever you need it.

1. Midtown Manhattan – Best area for first-timers to New York

View of the Manhattan skyline with Empire State Building in the middle from Top of the Rock

Midtown Manhattan is the best area to stay in New York City for first-timers. If you stay in Midtown Manhattan area, the famous sightseeing destinations like 5th Avenue, Times Square, Broadway Theatres, Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), Rockefeller Centre, Central Park, and Empire State Building will be just a stone’s throw away.

This way, you can explore New York City on foot without having to spend on transportation. By avoiding the tiring journey to the sightseeing spots, you will also save a lot of time.

Midtown Manhattan is also well connected to other parts of New York City. If you want to visit the far-off destinations in NYC, you are in for a treat as every major subway line runs through Midtown Manhattan.

Pros and cons of staying in Midtown Manhattan


  • Very well connected with other parts of NYC
  • Huge variety of hotels available at every price range
  • Famous tourist destinations within walking distance


  • Less number of restaurants
  • Overcrowded with tourists
  • Can get extremely noisy sometimes

Best places to stay in Midtown Manhattan

2. Lower Manhattan – Best for affordable accommodation

View of Lower Manhattan in New York

Lower Manhattan is undoubtedly among the best areas to stay in New York City for tourists on a budget. Why? Excellent accommodation options are available to book at a pocket-friendly tariff.

Lower Manhattan is also known for many walkable tourist spots like the Wall Street district, Statue of Liberty, Brooklyn Bridge, World Trade Centre, 9/11 Memorial, and Battery Park.

This helps you save on transportation costs and you can also walk to some fantastic neighborhoods around the Lower Manhattan area like Greenwich Village, East Village, Little Italy, and Nolita.

Pros and cons of staying in Lower Manhattan


  • Excellent sightseeing spots at a walkable distance
  • Best location to stay in New York City for amazing nightlife
  • Affordable accommodation


  • Less greenery
  • Less spacious

Best places to stay in Lower Manhattan

3. Upper East Side – Best area for museum lovers

Street in Upper East Side, New York City

Thanks to Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Sex and the City, and Gossip Girl, for the most part, you already know what the Upper East Side is all about.

Once home to empires like the Rockefellers, Whitney’s, and Astor’s, the Upper East Side area in New York City is a sweet haven for all luxury lovers.

Apart from luxury hotels and star restaurants, 5th Avenue at Upper East Side is the best neighborhood to stay in New York City as it is adorned with the city’s most famous museums that display NYCs finest collection of art, history, design, and culture.

Also known as the Museum Mile, 5th Avenue consists of museums like the Guggenheim Museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Jewish Museum, the Goethe Institute, and the Neue Galerie.

On the Upper East Side, things are a lot quieter, hence you can take a leisurely walk or go for a run in the famous Central Park.

Pros and cons of staying in the Upper East Side


  • You can find major museums within walking distance
  • Central Park is just a stone throw away
  • Quieter neighborhood


  • Expensive hotels
  • Restaurants and bars with a lower price range are harder to find
  • You have to consider a long journey while exploring the south of Manhattan

Best places to stay on the Upper East Side

4. Upper West Side – Best for architecture buffs

Upper West Side from the Lake in Central Park

Located on the west side of Central Park, the Upper West Side is hands down one of the best areas to stay in New York City.

The Upper West Side area is famous amongst architecture lovers who can stroll along Central Park West, West End Avenue, and Riverside Drive to marvel at the large, ornate buildings and apartments.

The Upper West Side area is also known for housing pristine institutions like the Lincoln Centre, Juilliard School, Fordham University, and the American Museum of Natural History.

If you are a Beatles fan, staying at Upper West Side could be the best way to feel close to them by paying homage to John Lennon at the Strawberry Fields memorial.

Pros and cons of staying in the Upper West Side


  • The area is extremely family-friendly
  • Global cuisines are available for all budgets
  • Best area of New York to stay in for its greenery


  • Even mid-range hotels could be a tad bit expensive
  • Not the right area for party-lovers

Best places to stay on the Upper West Side

5. Chelsea & Greenwich Village – Best area for party lovers

View from the High Line in New York

It doesn’t matter if it’s your first time or the billionth time in New York City, Chelsea and Greenwich Village are some of the best neighborhoods to stay in New York.

Greenwich Village with Washington Square and Chelsea with the High Line Park offers amazing New York City views and is filled with life.

The areas also have their fair share of glitz and fashion. They are home to the high-end boutiques of Diane Von Furstenberg, Tory Burch, and Alexander Wang.

If you are a real foodie, you can enjoy your food at one of the many beautiful restaurants these areas have to offer.

Also, if you are looking to tickle your funny bone, Greenwich Village has amazing comedy clubs that you should visit.

Pros and cons of staying in Chelsea & Greenwich Village


  • It’s a place for an authentic local experience
  • Best location to stay in New York City for nightlife and classy restaurants
  • Chic hotels at every price rate


  • No sightseeing at walking distance
  • Greenwich Village is rapidly disappearing due to commercialization

Best places to stay in Chelsea & Greenwich Village

6. SoHo & Lower East Side – Best for vintage lovers and foodies

View of Lower Manhattan with the One World Trade Center from the Manhattan Bridge

SoHo stands for South of Houston Street, and Lower East Side is surrounded by Houston Street in the north and South Street in the south.

If you are longing for a hipster vibe, travel directly to the SoHo and Lower East Side areas. From vintage clothing stores to drooling restaurants, SoHo and Lower East Side has it all.

You can have a laid-back experience in SoHo with bountiful cast-iron buildings, vintage art and design stores, and a quiet wine and dine.

The Lower East Side is a unique area with lots of history housed in the Tenement Museum, the International Centre of Photography Museum, and the New Museum.

If you have visited all the famous tourist spots New York City has to offer, then you can experience the local life in these areas of the town. Don’t forget to visit Little Italy, the Bowery, and Chinatown located within walking distance.

Pros and cons of staying in SoHo & Lower East Side


  • Best neighborhood to stay in NYC to experience local life
  • Restaurants, bars, and stores are abundant and available in every price range
  • Best area of New York to stay in for party lovers


  • Limited in terms of subway access
  • You have to take the daily commute to explore the other sightseeing destinations
  • You may have to put up with excessive noise and crowds

Best places to stay in SoHo & Lower East Side

7. Long Island City, Queens – Best areas for travellers on budget

Long Island City, Queens

Situated just across the East River from Midtown Manhattan, you can easily reach Long Island City with a quick subway ride.

The area hosts several flea markets and is home to the famous MoMA PS1 gallery and Silvercup Studios.

Long Island City is the best area to stay in New York City for travelers who want to save up on Manhattan’s expensive stay options.

Pros and cons of staying in Long Island City, Queens


  • Lower cost of living as compared to Manhattan
  • Very well connected – just one subway stop away from Manhattan


  • No sightseeing destinations at walking distance
  • Staying in Long Island means putting up with a lot of traffic
  • Far from the happening areas of the New York City

Best places to stay in Long Island City, Queens

8. Harlem – Best for food and jazz lovers

Harlem, New York City

If you want to have an exotic African-American experience while visiting NYC, make sure to stop by and stay in Harlem.

With a vibrant street life and West African soul food cuisines, Harlem treats people who love jazz.

Internationally known as the centre of Black Heritage and Culture, Harlem has everything to enjoy, from music to food to theatre.

Apollo Theatre, the Studio Museum, and the National Jazz Museum are must-visits while staying in Harlem.

Pros and cons of staying in Harlem


  • Amazing South African comfort food experience
  • Vibrant street life with cool jazz bars


  • You won’t be centrally located so travelling to other parts of the city can be tiring
  • It is one of the less clean areas of New York City – you may come across many homeless people and a lack of hygiene

Best places to stay in Harlem

9. Brooklyn – Best area for shopping

Dumbo Brooklyn

Williamsburg, Brooklyn has become a rapid zone of expansion. Bedford Avenue, situated at heart, is now flooded with beautiful cafes and boutique shops.

But compared to Manhattan, Brooklyn still has less crowd, feels calmer, has more trees, and is cheaper.

Other than this, Brooklyn is home to extremely famous rooftop cocktail lounges and beer gardens. Also, if you’re looking for hotels in New York with the best views, you’ll find many of them in this neighborhood.

There are some fantastic places to visit in this area like the Brooklyn Bridge, the Brooklyn Museum, and Prospect Park.

When strolling through the streets in Brooklyn, make sure to hit the Promenade, which will put you face to face with the Statue of Liberty, the Brooklyn Bridge, and the Manhattan skyline, all from one location.

Pros and cons of staying in Brooklyn


  • Beautiful coffee shops and restaurants
  • Amazing cocktail lounges
  • Lesser expensive than Manhattan


  • Other tourist destinations are not within walking distance
  • There’s no nightlife in Brooklyn, most shops and eateries close by 11 pm

Best places to stay in Brooklyn

Planning a trip to New York City?

Then you might want to take a look at all our other travel guides about NYC. I promise, they are just as awesome as this article was!

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