Selina’s Guide to the Top 7 Best Places To Stay in New York
By David Bolaños on Aug 10, 2022
New York City. NYC. The Big Apple. Gotham- whatever you choose to call it. It is one of the greatest cities in the world. Sharing the top spots with other gems like London and Paris, New York has long been a magnet for all types of tourists from all over the world. That’s not surprising for a quintessential global city famous for gorgeous architecture, amazing culture, magnificent nightclubs and unforgettable dining and shopping experiences.
A puzzle everyone visiting Gotham has to solve is finding the best place to stay in New York. Finding accommodation in such a popular place can be both overwhelming and scary. Plus, it can get costly depending on your interests and the experiences you’re hoping for during your stay.
So for this post, we’ll offer tips for where to stay in New York City. We’ve identified seven places (six in Manhattan and one in Brooklyn) that we think are worth checking out whether this will be your maiden visit or you’re looking for new experiences.
New York City has multiple neighborhoods categorized into five major boroughs (self-governing towns): Manhattan, Queens, Brooklyn, Bronx and Staten. The island borough of Manhattan is the most popular and what most first-time visitors refer to when they think of NYC.
Locally known as The City, Manhattan is where almost 70% of New York City’s attractions are concentrated. So if you’re planning a trip to NYC for your first time, you may want to look for a good place to stay around this area.
Seasonality- Best Time to Visit New York City
Summer in New York brings long days and warm temperatures, opening up plenty of indoor and outdoor activities. Thus, June to August is the perfect time to visit New York with kids for its parks and water activities. Summer is the peak season in New York, so expect long queues at its top attractions.
Fall is another good time to visit New York if you wish to avoid the summer heat and humidity. The clear weather and nice temperature make this the perfect time to see New York attractions in full glory.
The best time to visit New York if you wish to spend the least money is between January and March. So long as you don’t mind facing the frost, the Big Apple will reward you with low flight and hotel rates and thin crowds.
Types of Attractions in New York
Iconic buildings– from the Empire State Building to the One World Trade Center and Chrysler Building, Gotham is home to some of the world’s easily recognizable architectural masterpieces.
Historic landmarks– filmmakers’ most beloved city, each corner in New York reminds you of a movie you’ve watched with its iconic sites like the Brooklyn Bridge, the Statue of Liberty and Central Park.
Diverse cultural life– the diverse culture of New York is reflected in its dense population, 800+ languages or dialects and cultural events.
Vibrant nightlife– there’s so much to do in New York late into the small hours, thanks to its non-stop transportation, all-night eateries and late-night clubs and bars.
How Much Time Do You Need in New York City?
Dubbed the most exciting city in the world, first-time visitors would need five full days at a bare minimum to take in the top attractions in New York City. There’s no doubt you’d still need to come back for more!
Top 7 Best Places To Stay in New York
Chelsea- Best Area to Stay for Nightlife in NYC
New York City has always been one of the best travel destinations for party lovers and nightlife fans. Even though the moniker “the city that never sleeps” applies to the entire city, places such as Chelsea and Greenwich easily stand out in this aspect.
Chelsea in NYC is an area on the western side of Manhattan. Its boundaries are variously described to be between West 14th and 34th streets. The area is bounded by Sixth Avenue to the east and the Hudson River to the west.
Dating back to the early 1740s, Chelsea has worn many hats throughout its 250+-year history. The area started as a native American trading post before morphing into an industrial center, a hub for punk art and music, a mecca for the LGBTQ community and eventually a renowned center for architectural development.
Located roughly three miles from downtown Manhattan, Chelsea ranks as one of the best places to stay in New York City if you want to be in the center of the action without the craziness of midtown. This area is widely known for its speakeasy bars, gay bars, rooftop bars, flea markets and upscale eateries.
In recent years, Chelsea has also earned the title of “Manhattan’s Art District” due to the dozens of Chelsea art galleries. The Chelsea Gallery District- straddling 10th and 11th streets- is a hub for true art admirers interested in world-class contemporary painting and sculptures from local and international artists.
The High Line- a park built on a retired elevated rail line- is another area to feast your eyes on public art and people-watch. If you’re in the mood for jogging or running, Chelsea Piers along the Hudson River is a good area to release pent-up energy. And don’t fail to visit the Chelsea Flea Market, which opens every Saturday and Sunday from 8 AM to 5 PM.
Particularly popular for its rooftop bar and handcrafted cocktails, Selina Hotel Chelsea NYC is where you want to go if you’re itching for a more New Yorker experience. Selina Chelsea Hotel has a contemporary and artistic setting, so it blends nicely into the creative vibe of this neighborhood.
This boutique hotel has an on-location restaurant, and free Wi-Fi is accessible throughout the facility. The High Line, Chelsea Piers and the trendy Chelsea Arts District are within walking distance, as are museums, chic bars, flea markets and the subway station.
Best area for: party lovers, nightlife fans, art lovers and architecture buffs
Upper West Side- Best Place to Stay in NYC with Family
Our next pick for the best area to stay in New York City is a neighborhood that doesn’t get enough attention from tourists. The Upper West Side is a neighborhood in Manhattan perched between the Hudson River to the west and the famous Central Park to the east. It runs from West 59th Street northward to West 110th Street.
The Upper West Side is primarily residential and is considered a home to the moneyed. It is located far from the noise of heavily crowded places, such as Midtown and Hell’s Kitchen, which gives it an admirably strong sense of community and impressively high safety rating.
We bet that’s exactly what you want to hear if you’re wondering where to stay in Manhattan with kids. This neighborhood will also fit the bill if you’re celebrating your honeymoon or looking for a quiet escape with your partner.
Besides the quiet, the other benefit of staying in this area is its proximity to Central Park. Widely regarded as the lungs of the Big Apple, this park is a masterpiece of landscape architecture and the most visited attraction in the city and country.
Central Park covers an area of 840 acres and gives you access to some of the best things to do in New York. From picnicking to hiking and strolling the conservatory garden, we’re certain you’ll have something new to do at Central Park throughout your stay on the Upper West Side. Riverside Park is another scenic park worth exploring on the Upper West Side with its stately old trees, rocky outcroppings and sloping lawns.
The Upper West Side is mainly known for its casual atmosphere. But it also boasts a high-culture appeal by presenting dance, theater performance, music, film and opera at the Lincoln Center. The American Museum of Natural History will be steps away, too, if you choose to base your stay here. And as a Beatles fan, the Upper West Side puts you close to John Lennon’s final resting place at the Strawberry Fields memorial.
Best area for:families, romantic couples, architecture buffs and honeymooners
The Upper East Side- Best NYC Neighborhood for Museum Lovers and Shoppers
The best word to describe Manhattan’s Upper East Side area is affluent. Although the Upper West Side is also upscale, a lazy stroll around the Upper East Side’s well-tended streets is all you need to understand why this is the playground of the Big Apple’s elites. For the record, this exclusive neighborhood is the home to celebrities like Donald Trump, Roman Abramovich, Mariah Carey and Ricky Martin, among others.
That being said, the UES also boasts some of the best hotels in the city. As you can expect, this is not where you find cheap places to stay in NYC. Hotel rates here can be ridiculously high. But that’s the price you pay for staying among NYC’s billionaires with Central Park as your backyard. And don’t even think about safety because the UES has one of the lowest violent crime rates in New York.
The Upper East Side is a neighborhood in Manhattan running from 59th Street to 96th Street to the north. It’s bounded by the East River to the east and Fifth Avenue to the west. Within it, the UES is home to other smaller and cooler neighborhoods, including Carnegie Hill, Yorkville and Lenox Hill.
Besides Central Park, the other key highlight of the Upper East Side area is the Museum Mile. This stretch of Upper East Side’s Fifth Avenue is home to six of the city’s best museums, including El Museo del Barrio, The Jewish Museum and the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
As home to the city’s and the country’s wealthiest folks, the Upper East Side has an urban and more relaxed vibe. The area boasts many upscale restaurants, bars, coffee shops and brand-name shopping stores.
Admittedly, this place lacks the vibrancy that makes neighborhoods such as Chelsea trendier. But the Q and Lexington Avenue trains make it easy to commute all around Manhattan and even the neighboring boroughs of The Bronx and Brooklyn.
Best neighborhood for families:museum lovers, shoppers and culture lovers
The West Village- Best Mellow and Laid-Back NYC Neighborhood
Located on the lower side of Manhattan is one of the best areas to stay in New York City if you’re interested in an environment that’s casual and laid-back but fun. The West Village, also known as Greenwich Village or simply The Village, is a picturesque neighborhood bordered by Broadway to the east and the Hudson River to the west. Its north and south boundaries are thought to be 14th Street and Houston Street, respectively.
While its boundaries are somewhat erratic, this place has a relaxed and creative bohemian vibe that’s unmistakable from the start. This area is characterized by leafy, cobblestone streets (most of which have featured in countless movies) lined with brick townhomes and brownstones. With most buildings here topping out at six floors, you’d be forgiven to think you’re out of New York.
The West Village balances its small-town European vibe with stylish cafes, restaurants, coffee shops and bars at every corner. The area also boasts a wealth of unique boutiques, jewelry stores and bookstores. And you won’t walk too far before finding an occasional nightlife venue.
Make no mistake- this charming part of the city has no shortage of exciting things to do, especially if you are adventurous. A perfect day in the West Village starts with a light breakfast at Partners Coffee- a locally-produced coffee shop located at 44 Charles Street, New York.
If you were a fan of the 1990s TV series Friends, be sure to check out one of the most recognizable apartments featured in the opening credits. The Friends apartment building is located at the corner of Grove Street at 90 Bedford Street. Although you won’t be able to explore its interior, the charming cafe below still provides a gram-worthy photo opportunity.
Other notable attractions of this place include New York University, Magnolia Bakery, Washington Square Park and Hudson River Park. Also, check out Grove Street, known for its old-world feel and quintessential rustic restaurants.
Best place to stay in NYC for: families, foodies and tourists looking to blend in with the locals.
SoHo- Best Place to Stay in NY City for Architecture Buffs
It’s impossible to think of the best places to stay in NYC without SoHo coming up. Soho (South of Houston) is a neighborhood in southern Manhattan just below Greenwich Village. It’s bounded by Houston Street to the north and Canal Street to the south. Its east and west boundaries are estimated to be Lafayette Street and the Hudson River.
Like Chelsea, Soho is one of those places in New York City that have had several incarnations before achieving their world-class status. This charming neighborhood started as a free black settlement back in the mid-1600s before growing into an early retail hub, a red light district and then an artist’s enclave.
Famous for its iconic cast-iron buildings, Soho is one of the most beautiful neighborhoods to stay in New York City today. While it’s not as affluent as it appears, this place is an alluring destination populated by a slew of the world’s most prestigious fashion brands, from Louis Vuitton to Gucci, Hermés, Christian Dior, Chanel and Proper Cloth.
A trendy area with an urban style, Soho is where to stay in NYC if you’re looking for a bustling, hip neighborhood surrounded by exciting places to explore and tons of things to do. Start with a tour of its 200+ iconic cast-iron buildings that make this place a popular attraction worldwide. During your walking tours, keep your eyes peeled for artistic surprises that cover its building exteriors, sidewalks and even lamp posts.
If you’re big into shopping, Soho is the place to grab iconic fashion investment pieces. You’ll be spoilt for choice, from top-of-the-range fashion staples like Christian Dior to budget-friendly commercial chains like The RealReal.
Although this place isn’t so popular with hip clubs, Soho has several nightlife options, including relaxed bars, themed pubs and jazz clubs where you can see, be seen and have fun!
Best place to stay in NY city for:shopping, fashion, nightlife, architecture, art galleries and museums.
Central Park- Best Place in NY City for Nature Lovers
The crown jewel of the island borough of Manhattan, Central Park is the most visited attraction in New York City. Its sheer size and attractions make it a must-visit for everyone visiting the Big Apple. If you’re visiting New York City for the first time, basing your stay near Central Park keeps you just minutes away from culture, art, dining, shopping and other top New York attractions.
Central Park is bordered by the Upper East Side and the Upper West Side areas of Manhattan. Its location makes it one of the best neighborhoods for luxury hotels and great restaurants in New York City. So, be ready to fork out a little bit more for the experience of waking up to jaw-dropping vistas of this iconic spot.
Central Park’s popularity didn’t start yesterday. Created purposely to resolve the recreational needs of the growing city, records show that Central Park was averaging seven million visitors annually by 1865. This urban park covers 850 acres and packs enough attractions to keep you on your toes for days on end.
At the center of this landmark is the Pond. Situated below the bustle of Fifth Avenue, this u-shaped lake is the perfect place when you want to unwind and escape the noises of the city.
Located in the south end of the park between 65th and 68th Streets, Sheep Meadow is one of the top attractions in Central Park. This 15-acre lawn offers an excellent spot to spread a blanket and just relax, sunbathe, read a book and have a picnic.
Central Park is also one of the best areas to stay in New York if you want to remain close to other must-visit attractions in the city. Downtown is a 20-minute subway ride away, while Chelsea’s iconic pop culture moments await just two miles away.
Best neighborhood in New York city for:luxurious hotels, fashion, shopping and nature lovers
Williamsburg- Best Area to Stay in NYC for Budget Hotels
Our last recommendation for where to stay in New York takes you across the East River to the borough of Brooklyn. For a neighborhood where the motto is “do your thing and have fun doing it,” there’s no doubt that this is one of the best places to stay in New York City, especially for young creatives and the young at heart.
The neighborhood of Williamsburg is located to the east of Manhattan’s Lower East Side across the East River. It’s bordered by Green Point to the north, Bedford to the south, East Williamsburg and Bushwick to the East and the East River to the west. From the heart of New York City, Williamsburg is an eight-minute subway ride away. You can also take the bus or even a CitiBike.
Formerly farmland, the last two decades or so have seen Williamsburg transform into a refined tourist destination dotted with waterfront high-rises, condos and unique boutiques and restaurants. Yet the hipster vibe of the old Brooklyn unfolds in the background, accentuated by vintage shops, creative food vendors, hip hangouts, lively nightlife and craft markets. This area also abounds with museums, cinemas and theater venues to complement your stay.
Whether it’s enjoying the nightlife or enjoying some indie music while enjoying classic dishes at a historic tavern, Williamsburg is one of the coolest neighborhoods in New York City for pretty much everything.
Walking, biking or jogging the iconic Williamsburg Bridge is one of the most recommended things to do in this area. This 1.38-mile bridge covered with graffiti connects lower Manhattan and Brooklyn and offers you a vantage point for some lovely views of both boroughs of New York City.
Head to Nighthawk Cinema for the most intimate dine-in movie experience. Better yet, visit the Brooklyn Brewery for a classic taste of various varieties of Brooklyn beer. If a cocktail is your thing, explore the small cocktail bars that dot this neighborhood.
Best place in New York City to stay for: foodies, culture lovers, young creatives and budget travelers
Millions of people worldwide often say, “I love New York.” If you’re among them and would like to wake up to it, rather than simply visiting it, we hope our guide to the best neighborhoods in NYC leads you to a place you’ll love.
Generally speaking, choosing between the top New York places to stay comes down to your budget and the type of experiences you’re looking for. Luckily, New York City has one of the best subway systems in the world. Wherever you choose to stay in the city, you could be exploring other neighborhoods in 10-20 minutes.
Best Places To Stay in New York FAQs
Is it good to stay in Times Square?
It’s an easy YES if you like the thrill and buzz of staying in the city’s heart, where the top attractions are within walking distance. But be ready to elbow your way through a wall of people every time you get out of your hotel. Also, remember that hotel rates can get eye-watering high during the peak season.
Is it better to stay in Brooklyn or Manhattan?
Manhattan has the highest concentration of attractions in New York. So if you wish to take them all in within a short time, then this will be the best place when staying in New York.
Is it safe in Central Park at night?
Central Park is generally safe at night if you remain in the lit and well-traveled sections. In dark and secluded areas, it is less so. That being said, it’s best not to be in the park when it’s supposed to be closed between 1 AM and 6 AM.
Is riding the New York subway safe?
The New York subway is perfectly safe, even with kids. But it’s important to follow a few safety tips:
Wait behind the yellow line
Remain alert and avoid falling asleep
Keep backpacks and purses in front of you
Keep your valuables and wallets safely hidden away
Use your instincts. Switch trains if you feel unsafe
What is the best way to get around New York City?
As the most walkable city in the country, the easiest and most fun way of exploring NYC is on foot. The subway system is another convenient method of getting around New York. The subway will likely take you anywhere you want to go throughout Manhattan and other neighboring boroughs and doesn’t experience snarl-ups.
What is the safest area to stay in New York City?
While safety is not a major concern in New York, the Upper West Side ranks as the safest place, thanks to its family-friendly vibe and low crime rate. The fun little village of Chelsea- south of Midtown West- is another recommendable area if you want a neighborhood that’s a little more vibrant but still secure.
Is it cheaper to take a taxi or Uber in NYC?
Taxis are cheaper than Uber in NYC.
What part of New York should you visit?
If time allows you to visit only one area of New York, let that be Midtown Manhattan. This area is home to most of the top attractions and things to do in New York City, including the Empire State Building, Rockefeller Center, the Chrysler Building and Times Square.
What are the best months to visit New York?
The best months to visit New York for good weather are April to June and September to mid-November. The cheapest months for a trip to New York are January through mid-March when hotel rates and flight tickets are at their lowest.