Where to stay in New York City

written by
Stephen Keeling

updated 26.03.2024

How do you decide where to stay in New York? For dynamism, cultural impact and sheer diversity, it's a hard city to beat. It's also a global leader in art, architecture, music and food. It's crammed with iconic sights, too, from the raised torch of the Statue of Liberty and the Empire State Building to Coney Island and some of the top beaches on the East Coast. So it's often difficult to know which is the best area to stay in New York City.

But with accommodation in NYC eating up the lion’s share of most travellers’ budgets, deciding where to stay may be your most important choice. So, whatever kind of trip you’re planning, here’s the lowdown on where to stay in New York, area by area.

The Meatpacking District — where to stay in New York for nightlife


The High Line, New York © Shutterstock

These days the Meatpacking District is the domain of late-night clubs, wine bars and fashion designers. Here the boutiques of Diane Von Furstenberg, Tory Burch, Alexander Wang and friends line the cobblestone streets. Just to the north, Chelsea has been at the heart of New York City’s art scene since the 1990s, with hundreds of galleries slotted into warehouses beneath the High Line.

    Where to stay in the Meatpacking District

  • For stylish stays: Gansevoort Meatpacking offers rooms at the heart of the Meatpacking District's fashion scene, and gives you access to one of the most stylish rooftop pools and bars in the city.
  • For cool stays: The Standard, High Line is the super-hip André Balazs hotel with fabulous views from floor-to-ceiling windows and the High Line running under it.
  • For designer stays: Dream Downtown features a roof-top lounge with club overlooking the skyline, an on-site restaurant, and an outdoor pool with private cabanas.

Find more accommodation options in the Meatpacking District

Choose Harlem for community and soul food


Harlem is where to stay in New York City for pretty streets © Shutterstock

Harlem, a historic neighbourhood in New York City, is renowned for its vibrant cultural heritage, rich history, and influential contributions to art, music, and literature. Harlem has not been spared New York City’s rapid gentrification, but it remains a bastion of African-American culture. This is where to stay in New York for vibrant street life, fabulous West African and soul food restaurants, a dynamic local jazz scene and some of the city's prettiest streets.

    Where to stay in Harlem

  • For guesthouse stays: Soul Food (Mount Morris) is an elegant 19th-century brownstone, just across from Marcus Garvey Park, with shared kitchen and freshly baked cakes every day.
  • For apartment stays: The Harlem Pearl features small apartments with kitchenettes, in a lovely building, that dates from 1910, in the Sugar Hill neighbourhood.
  • For loft stays: Aloft Harlem is the first hotel to open in the neighbourhood since the 1960s. It has a bright, stylish interior and features airy, loft-inspired rooms with platform beds.

Find more accommodation options in Harlem

If you want to know exactly where to stay in New York City, what to do and what to see, take a look at Rough Guides tailor-made travel service and let us help plan a fully personalised trip just for you.

Discover hip Williamsburg in Brooklyn


Williamsburg Bridge © Ryan DeBerardinis/Shutterstock

A once-gritty Brooklyn community, Williamsburg is a dynamic neighborhood. It is known for its hipster culture, trendy shops, eclectic eateries, and thriving art scene. This is a fantastic choice for those travelling to the Big Apple alone.

Check out Bedford Avenue at the heart of Williamsburg's rapidly expanding zone of coffee shops, boutiques and bars where you'll find everything from the taproom at the Brooklyn Brewery to venerable Pete’s Candy Store. It's also home to some of the city’s swankiest rooftop cocktail lounges, beer gardens and cool places to stay.

    Where to stay in Williamsburg

  • For five-star stays: The William Vale has a 19m rooftop pool. All rooms come with floor-to-ceiling windows, open-air balconies and amazing city views.
  • For waterfront stays: The Wythe sits on the waterfront in Williamsburg. Designed into a 100-year-old factory building, all rooms feature original timber ceilings, huge windows and heated concrete floors.
  • For chic stays: The McCarren is just off the main Williamsburg strip, overlooking McCarren Park. It features a seasonal outdoor pool, rooms are compact and comfortable and the hotel has a rooftop lounge with Manhattan views.

Find more accommodation options in Williamsburg

Indulge your inner socialite in the Upper East Side

Upper East Side, NYC

Upper East Side junction © Jon Bilous/Shutterstock

The Upper East Side has been home to dynasties such as the Rockefellers, Whitneys and Astors since the 1890s. It's an indulgent area famous for its luxurious residences, prestigious museums, elegant boutiques, and refined dining options.

Aptly portrayed in Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Sex and the City and Gossip Girl, this is where to stay in New York if you're searching for the plushest hotels, and the swankiest shops. Looking for somewhere more affordable? See our guide to the cheapest places to travel.

    Where to stay in the Upper East Side

  • For elegant stays: The Sherry-Netherland has been the epitome of absolute luxury since 1927. Its ornate lobby is modelled after the Vatican Library and room service comes from the in-house Harry Cipriani restaurant.
  • For independent stays: The Garden ES Suites sits minutes from Lexington and 63rd Street. All suites feature fully equipped kitchens, separate living areas, large windows and modern interior design.
  • For family stays: Loews Regency New York offers both rooms and one or two bedroom suites sleeping up to six guests. It sits on Park Avenue and both Central Park and the Rockefeller Centre are a short walk away.

Find more accommodation options in Upper East Side

Midtown Manhattan is where to stay in New York for good value

Central Park, NYC

Central Park in autumnal bloom © Songquan Deng/Shutterstock

Midtown Manhattan is the most obvious area to stay in New York. It’s where most of the city’s accommodation is located, nearly all within walking distance of key attractions such as Times Square, MoMA and Central Park. You’ll be sharing the sidewalk with plenty of other tourists but the proliferation of hotels means there are lots of bargains to be had (in New York terms, anyway).

    Where to stay in Midtown Manhattan

  • For quirky stays: Pod 51 hotel features top value “pods” (solo, double, bunk, queen and “double double”), each reminiscent of colourful ship's quarters.
  • For eco-luxe stays: 1 Hotel Central Park is an eco-friendly hotel with a three-storey living wall, reclaimed rustic-chic furniture, cardboard clothing hangers and everything organic.
  • For iconic stays: The Algonquin, New York’s legendary literary hangout, is where you'll find a resident cat named Hamlet, suites with silly names and a whole lot of style and tradition. Rooms have been refurbished to good effect.

Find more accommodation options in Midtown Manhattan

Explore up-and-coming Long Island City

Long Island, NYC

Long Island © View Apart/Shutterstock

This up-and-coming neighbourhood in Queens lies just across the East River from Midtown Manhattan (effectively a short subway ride away). Long Island City itself boasts one of the city’s best flea markets, as well as the highly rated MoMA PS1 gallery and Silvercup Studios.

    Where to stay in Long Island City

  • For stylish stays: The Modernist Hotel incorporates a roof terrace with fabulous views. Rooms are sleek and elegant and several large doubles feature open-air balconies or private patios.
  • For central stays: Sonder The Dutch sits right at the heart of Long Island City. A choice of doubles, king or queen rooms is available and all bedrooms feature their own private terrace.
  • For family stays: Sonder Court Square aparthotel offers a range of one-bedroom apartments, studios and suites. All come with fully equipped kitchens and superior suites that sleep up to six guests.

Find more accommodation options in Long Island City

Get excited about Manhattan's Lower East Side

Lower East Side, NYC

A store advertising its wares © Sean Pavone/Shutterstock

New York may not be the most beautiful city in the world, but it is thrilling. And today, one of the most exciting areas in Manhattan is the Lower East Side. Historically the epitome of multiculturalism, this is the neighbourhood for the city’s best vintage-clothing stores, restaurants and especially happening spots for drinking, dancing and live music.

    Where to stay in the Lower East Side

  • For historic stays: The Historical Blue Moon Hotel is a five-storey Lower East Side tenement with rooms named after the 1930s and 1940s celebrities. Book 6th to 8th-floor rooms for fabulous city views. Dorm rooms are also available.
  • For boutique stays: The Ludlow is a chic boutique hotel with gorgeous terraces, black and cream silk rugs, white-marble tables and round brass chandeliers from Morocco.
  • For stylish stays: Sixty LES features a seasonal rooftop pool, beer garden and sushi restaurant. All rooms have floor-to-ceiling windows, slate showers, gourmet snacks and oversize bathrobes.

Find more accommodation options in Lower East Side

Ready for a trip to New York City? Check out the Rough Guide to New York City or the Rough Guide to The USA.

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Stephen Keeling

written by
Stephen Keeling

updated 26.03.2024

Stephen Keeling grew up in England and graduated from Jesus College, Oxford in 1992 with a degree in history. After working as a financial journalist in Eastern Europe and East Asia, he moved to New York City in 2006. Since then he has authored and updated numerous Rough Guides, Insight Guides, Frommer's guides and DK travel books in addition to writing for Google, Zagat, the Independent, Budget Travel and other publications.

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