5 x Best areas to stay in New York

New York is such an enormous city and has so many and unique areas that it can be quite difficult to decide where to stay during your citytrip. Besides deciding where to stay you also have to think about the areas you want to visit. But in order to know which areas to visit you’ll have to find out which highlights are located where. However, to know which highlights are in what areas you’ll have to decide which highlights to see while you’re there. And so on and on.

Inevitably, I’ve spent so many hours figuring out where to stay, which areas to go to and combine it into a logical itinerary without wasting too much time traveling from A to B in the big city. This guide shows the five top areas to stay in (all for different reasons), tips on what to do and see, where to sleep and where to go for food and drinks.

1. Midtown – perfect for sightseeing

Midtown is the closest you will get to the main highlights that New York has to offer. In Midtown you’ll find – among others – the Empire State Building, Times Square, Grand Central Station and Central Park around the corner. When you either have only a few days in New York or it is your first time in New York, then this is the perfect area for you to stay. Personally, I wouldn’t choose an accommodation close to Times Square as it really is the only place in New York that was “too” crowded for my taste. Instead I would go for Nomad area, close to Madison Square Park.

View at Top of the Rock
View at Top of the Rock

See & Do

  • Visit Top of the Rock in the morning.
  • Visit Empire State Building at night.
  • Go to Grand Central Station.
  • See Times Square & Broadway.
  • Walk or bike around in Central Park: e.g. visit the Boat House Lake and Strawberry Fields.
  • Go shopping at Macy’s Department Store.
  • Eat at at typical American Diner.
  • Watch a game of the Knicks at Madison Square Garden.
  • Check out the Flatiron building and eat at Shake Shack in Madison Square Park.
Times Square Lights New York
Times Square

Sleep

  1. Arlo Nomad (fave!)
  2. MADE Hotel
  3. The Evelyn
  4. The Time
  5. ACE Hotel
  6. Pod39
  7. CitizenM Times Square
Booking.com
Waking up to the best views of Manhattan at Arlo Nomad

Eat

Breakfast at The Smith

2. Soho – best for shopping and foodies

Soho (South of Houston St.) is one of the nicest areas in New York and has lots of shops, food hotspots and has a perfect location in between Midtown and Downtown. This is definitely one of the areas to stay when you’ve visited New York before and have already seen all the highlights in Midtown. However, this area is also very suitable for first-timers as it’s less touristic and crowded compared to Midtown but still close to all the highlights. You could easily stay in Soho for a few days just to try all the amazing food spots, go shopping at boutiques and visit art galleries.

See & Do

  • Shopping at Broadway (high street).
  • Other shopping streets: Spring St, Elizabeth St, Mercer Street.
  • Visit Greene Street for the typical cast iron houses.
  • Also go to Nolita, an upcoming area next to Soho.

Sleep

  1. NobleDEN
  2. Sohotel
  3. Arlo Soho
  4. The James
  5. SIXTY Soho
  6. The Broome
Booking.com

Eat

3. Chelsea & Meatpacking District – best for nightlife, art and foodies

Chelsea and Meatpacking District are two interconnected areas on the West Side of New York and can be categorized as hip and upcoming. This used to be a dodgy area in New York and was known as an area for drug dealing. However, since a few years the area has been developed into a fun, cool, industrial area at the Hudson that offers many popular restaurants, hotspots, bars and fancy boutique shops. This is the perfect area to spend a morning: start your day with breakfast at Bubby’s, then walk The High Line, visit Chelsea Market afterwards. This can be combined perfectly with visiting Soho and West Village afterwards.

The High Line Winter New York
The High Line

See & Do

  • Visit The High Line.
  • Go to Chelsea Market afterwards (indoor at the former Oreo Factory).
  • Visit one of many art galleries in the area.
  • New: visit The Vessel at Hudson Yards (free entry).
The High Line view Empire
The High Line view at Empire State Building

Sleep

  1. The Standard
  2. Gansevoort Meatpacking
  3. The Jane
Booking.com

Eat

4. West Village – best for families and local vibes

West Village is also referred to as “Little Bohemia”. This is where a lot of stars live and is a quiet and relaxed neighborhood to simply wander around. There’s not a real must see or must do in this area but is it the perfect place to enjoy the green and cosy streets. The prettiest houses can be found in this part of the city (e.g. Friends apartment and Carrie’s Sex and the City’s house). This area is located below Chelsea and The Meatpacking District and is connected to Soho. If you have seen all the highlights during your trip, then visiting Chelsea, West Village and Soho in a day is ideal. Also, you’ll get to see a whole new vibe compared to Midtown Manhattan.

See & Do

  • Go to Perry Street to see the SATC house of Carrie.
  • Enjoy Washington Square Park or one of many other small squares and parks.
  • Go to the apartment of Friends at Grove Street.
  • Visit a Comedy Club such as Comedy Cellar or Greenwich Village Comedy Club.
Washington Square Park Fountain
Washington Square Park

Sleep

  1. Walker Hotel Green Village
  2. The Marlton Hotel
Booking.com

Eat

5. Williamsburg in Brooklyn – best for hipsters, art, shops and nightlife

So far each of the areas mentioned above are located in the borough of Manhattan, which is the perfect place to explore the highlights of New York. However, you can’t leave New York without at least visiting Brooklyn and in particular Williamsburg. This area looks out on the skyline of Manhattan on the other side of the river and can be reached within 10 minutes by metro from Manhattan. Although it’s location-wise not the best location to see the highlights of New York, it’s a unique area that can’t be compared to the rest of New York. Mostly low-rise buildings, amazing boutique shops, the best tattoo shops, coffee bars and restaurants. This area has it all and it the perfect place to stay for not first-timers or when you want to be further away from the hustle and bustle of Manhattan.

See & Do

  • Enjoy Domino Park for panoramic views of the Manhattan skyline.
  • Visit Williamsburg (or next door area Bushwick) for street art.
  • Visit the Brooklyn Flea Market.
  • Go shopping at vintage shops such as Junk.
  • Do a tour at the Brooklyn Beer Brewery (for free during the weekend!).
  • Visit a rooftop bar looking out on Manhattan’s skyline e.g. Westlight at the William Vale Hotel.
  • Summer tip: visit food market Smorgasburg.
  • Explore DUMBO area in Brooklyn.
  • Walk the Williamsburg Bridge (and of course the Brooklyn Bridge and/or Manhattan Bridge).
Washington Steet Manhattan Bridge

Sleep

  1. The Williamsburg Hotel
  2. The William Vale
  3. Wythe Hotel
Booking.com

Eat

Breakfast at Five Leaves

Want to read more about New York? Check out this extensive guide with everything you need to know and 20 must do’s for first-timers.

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