Best Area to Stay in New York for First Timers

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New York is a city that never sleeps. With the bright lights and fast-paced life of locals whizzing past from every corner, it can be overwhelming for first-timers.

From Midtown to Upper East Side, there are so many neighborhoods, each with its own distinct character.

To help you get acquainted with your surroundings faster, we’ve compiled the ultimate guide to the best areas and hotels to stay in New York.

Our Top Pick

The best tourist hubs are mostly found within Manhattan; this New York borough is stuffed with famous landmarks.

Our top pick for the best area to stay in New York for first-timers is Midtown Manhattan

This central neighborhood is home to some of the city's most iconic landmarks, including Times Square, Rockefeller Center, and Central Park.

Plus, it's convenient for public transportation and has plenty of hotel options.

While it can be touristy, Midtown is a great place to get your bearings and start exploring all that New York has to offer.

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Midtown

Topping the list is Midtown Manhattan, the star of too many movies and TV series. Yes, it is jam-packed with tourists and locals, but it’s one of the best areas in New York for first-timers.

Within walking distance are New York’s most iconic stops: 5th Avenue, Times Square, the Broadway theaters, the Museum of Modern Art, Rockefeller Center, Central Park, and the Empire State Building.

Major subway lines also connect this central location to other parts of the city.

The Langham New York

You don’t need to know terms like ‘Duxiana beds’ and ‘Pratesi linens’ to see that The Langham New York is all about refined luxury.

Compact but full of amenities, this New York staple is a relaxing oasis in the center of Manhattan.

Langham Hotel NYC presidential suite
Photo by Langham Hotel

Lotte New York Palace

Nestled on Madison Avenue, Lotte New York Palace covets cathedral views and over a hundred designer boutiques.

Fashionistas would fight to bag a suite so that they can literally shop until they drop, and kick off those heels in a matter of minutes.

The Knickerbocker

When thinking about where to stay in New York, The Knickerbocker knocks other hotels out of the running.

Massive renovations have given this 1906 hotel a facelift but kept the essentials: 330 guestrooms with muted sophistication, varied dining and effective staff.

Theater District

To narrow down your Midtown stay, consider making base in the Theater District.

Running between 42nd Street to 50th Street, it’s just big enough to house several hotels. The best thing about these streets?

There’s no need to jostle about public transport after watching a Broadway show.

The Chatwal, New York

The Chatwal is truly the face of luxury, decked out with themed suites and spacious designer terraces.

Personalized butler services and private bars prove that good service is the backbone of a refined hotel experience.

The Chatwal New York City
Photo by The Chatwal New York

Casablanca Hotel by Library Hotel Collection

A block from Times Square and minutes from the Broadway Theaters, Casablanca is the best base for every theater fan.

While the hotel may be more dated than some, its warm ambiance and thoughtful accommodations (like 24/7 Rick’s Café) make you feel at home.

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Hyatt Centric Times Square New York

Clean and bright, Hyatt Centric offers relaxing spaces with eye-catching art.

Sip at a cocktail on the outdoor terrace and plan your next steps; the Broadway Theaters, Radio City Music Hall, New York Public Library and other attractions are right out the door.

Greenwich Village

If you’re looking for autumn tones and seasonal charms, Greenwich Village fits like a glove. Its charms lie in 19th-century townhouses, curved streets and coffee houses.

Within this artist hub, the Meatpacking District has carved out a corner to become the happening area.

Old industrial buildings and cobbled streets now play home to boutiques, bars, trendy restaurants and Whitney Museum.

Young adults who want easy access to cafés and dance clubs will find this area a great place to stay.

The Standard, High Line

Sitting on New York’s coolest elevated public park, High Line, The Standard boasts sweeping views of Manhattan.

Leave your comfortably padded room for any of the shared spaces: the German beer garden, rooftop discotheque, outdoor art plaza and winter-only ice rink.

Gansevoort Hotel
Photo by Gansevoort Hotel

Gansevoort Meatpacking NYC

Gansevoort is fun, young, and enhanced with tech – exactly like its neighborhood.

A full top-to-bottom renovation dished out multi-bedroom suites with interactive tech, rooftop bars and even a 45-foot heated rooftop pool.

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Soho House New York

It is speakeasy vibes meet Parisian-chic at Soho House New York.

While small, the property balances charm and cost to offer up quality concierge service, rooftop terrace, a pool and lounge.

Chelsea

Just a block or two away from the Meatpacking District is Chelsea, another neighborhood that received a recent glow-up.

Over 300 contemporary art galleries have moved into the old warehouses, making it inspiration grounds for creatives.

The High Line Park, an elevated pedestrian park on a former rail line, runs through the length of this neighborhood.

It’s a great alternative for tourists who seek a nice selection of restaurants and an authentic New York experience.

Equinox Hotel New York

To quote Equinox Hotel: stay where high-performance lives.

Sleek rooms are outfitted with flat-screen TVs and minibars, the modern amenities carrying over to a terrace restaurant, expansive fitness center and elevated pool.

Equinox Hotel
Photo by Equinox Hotel

Pendry Manhattan West

Neutral tones and mid-century modern furniture create a comfortable but stylish Pendry Manhattan West.

To complement the 164 guestrooms are four food-centric spaces, an equipment-heavy gym and an intimate Movement Studio to destress.

Save Money on Hotels in NY

New York is one of the most expensive cities to visit, but that shouldn’t deter you from planning your trip here. 

There are many affordable hotels in the city and you can save money by booking your stay in advance. Plus, there are many accommodation deals during certain times of the year. 

If you don’t mind colder weather, hotels reduce their prices during the off-peak season (January to March). Book your stay during this time if you don’t want to spend a fortune on accommodation.

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SoHo

SoHo may not be a collector of iconic landmarks, but it’s connoisseur of everything hip.

Cast-iron buildings and various design shops make the bulk of your street views, with boutiques of all price ranges scattered throughout.

It’s a paradise for foodies, featuring some of the city’s highest-rated finds; whether expensive gourmet dining or hidden gems.

Its close proximity to both Little Italy and Chinatown also promises more of your typical New Yorker life.

Crosby Street Hotel

The boutique Crosby Street Hotel is a cozy experience with only 86 bedrooms; some overlook a private leafy courtyard.

Every room is designed by Kit Kemp to be refreshing and quirky, capturing the ‘trendy’ that characterizes SoHo.

The Dominick Soho
Photo by The Dominick Hotel

The Dominick Hotel

From the high-ceiling lobby to contemporary guestrooms, The Dominick Hotel offers a spacious and sophisticated New York stay.

The only things better than the Hudson River views are the Michelin-headed restaurants and BABOR Signature Spa.

The Broome

Lean into SoHo’s fun-loving nature by staying at The Broome. The open-air Moroccan-tiled courtyard and organic breakfasts let you relax in style.

Upper West Side

Families looking for places to stay in New York can settle comfortably in the Upper West Side.

Surrounded by plenty of parks and playgrounds, it’s a residential neighborhood where kids can expend their energy.

Central Park and Riverside Park are two major attractions along the block, while cultural stops include Lincoln Center, the Beacon Theater, and the American Museum of Natural History.

Mandarin Oriental, New York

244 luxurious guestrooms tower over the Midtown border with floor-to-ceiling windows and plush furnishings.

From the crafted cocktails at MO Lounge to the full-service spa, Mandarin Oriental upholds its reputation at this New York branch.

Mandarin Oriental NYC
Photo by Mandarin Oriental

The Lucerne Hotel

Taking advantage of the Upper West Side’s residential tranquillity, The Lucerne Hotel offers spacious and quiet rooms for families and business travelers.

Full-size work desks and plush bedding is their signature, but it’s the proximity to public transport and restaurants that keep visitors coming back.

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Trump International Hotel

Park views are guaranteed at Trump International Hotel, as the elegantly decorated rooms face out over the green space.

Aside from the pool and breakfast inclusive, guests enjoy the plethora of attractions nearby which include the Love Sculpture, Rockefeller Center and various museums.

Upper East Side

Wealthy residences characterize the Upper East Side, bordered by Central Park and Carl Schurz Park. Luxury hotels? Check.

Museum Mile with eight attractions to visit, the ever-so-famous Metropolitan Museum of Art included? Check. Easy access to Central Park? Check.

Don’t forget Madison Avenue for your designer brand shopping sprees either, with delicious dining to boot.

It’s the New York place to stay if you want to recreate scenes from Gossip Girl or Sex and the City.

The Pierre, A Taj Hotel

The Pierre has been part of the Upper East skyline since 1930, embodying New York grandeur with its old-world façade.

Attentive staff and amazing dining at restaurants Rotunda and Perrine are common praises, as is the hotel’s location by Central Park.

The Pierre New York
Photo by The Pierre

The Mark Hotel

The Mark Hotel brings the 21st century into its 1927 landmark building, which sits at the 77th Street and Madison Avenue intersection.

Voted the “Best Hotel in New York” in 2020, this 5-star stay isn’t just witty marketing – it’s genuinely friendly staff, thoughtful amenities and gourmet dining.

The Surrey

Having housed celebrities like J.F.K and Bette Davis, The Surrey has met with New York’s most eccentric since 1926.

If the French restaurant and live jazz doesn’t give it away, the marbled bathrooms and traditionally beautiful bedrooms is proof that this boutique hotel was designed with high fashion in mind.

Financial District

Not knowing where to stay in New York can be a headache for business travelers.

The Financial District is by far the best for business travel, with Wall Street and The New York Stock Exchange located within this epicenter.

History steeps deep in the cobbled streets and 1800s buildings, not to mention the World Trade Center and 9/11 Memorial.

You’re also within walking distance to Brooklyn Bridge and the Staten Island ferry, making it a great connect for people who want to explore outside of Manhattan.

The Beekman, A Thompson Hotel

The Beekman, A Thompson Hotel exudes old-world opulence with elaborate ceilings and wood-paneled walls, but the rooms speak in simple elegance.

When you step out of the lobby, iconic spots like Battery Park and the Brooklyn Bridge are just down the block.

The Beekman Penthouse
Photo by The Beekman

Artezen Hotel

Conveniently located between various subway lines and just a walk from Wall Street, the 9/11 Memorial and other attractions within the Financial District, Artezen Hotel is a solid 4-star accommodation.

Kids can stay for free, letting you enjoy family holidays without breaking the bank.

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Mint House at 70 Pine

Mint House at 70 Pine isn’t your regular hotel – it offers modern apartments within an Art Deco landmark.

Stylish and generous with amenities, it spoils guests with: a bowling alley, golf simulator, Michelin-starred restaurant and coffee shop, a gourmet grocer and rooms big enough to actually move around.

Williamsburg, Brooklyn

Directly across from the East Village in lower Manhattan, Williamsburg is another great place to stay in New York – especially for nightly foodventures and bar hops.

Many young families (and hence small businesses) have moved into the neighborhood, casting the “hipster” brand onto its nightlife and arts scene.

With easy access to Manhattan, amazing skyline views and green spaces, it’s a compromise between convenience and comfort.

The Williamsburg Hotel

A cross between brick-building-quaint and industrial-modern, the Williamsburg Hotel features cozy rooms with stunning views.

Located on the stoop of Brooklyn hotspots and minutes from Manhattan, it’s an ideal place to stay for walkers and restaurant hunters.

The William Vale
Photo by The William Vale

The William Vale

Decked with a rooftop bar, wood-fired coastal cuisine, and public green space; The William Vale treats 183 rooms to quality service and views.

The Wythe, Bedford, Kent and Union Avenues are all within walking distance for your eating and shopping needs.

1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge

An alternative to Williamsburg is staying by the Brooklyn Bridge.

1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge looks out across to Manhattan and the Statue of Liberty, and is parked right by Dumbo’s food truck haven.