Where to stay in New York City

If you have no idea where to stay in New York City, we got you. Here are the trendiest neighborhoods, hotels and sights.
Where to stay in NYC
Photograph: Shutterstock
By Time Out New York contributors |
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Get ready to have the best time ever on your stay in New York City. From the best hotels in the city to outstanding restaurants to the trendiest new shops; we’re highlighting the best of the best in NYC's neighborhoods. These locales are the closest to the action, be it East Village eats or art galleries in Chelsea. If you’re feeling just a bit more adventurous, head to the outer boroughs of Staten Island and the Bronx. They’re not quite as packed as these go-to New York attractions, but that can be a good thing for the savy tourist. Whatever your flavour, our insider's guide to some of the best areas in New York City will have you living it up like a local in no time.

Where to stay in NYC

Chelsea, NYC

The far west side of Chelsea is NYC’s premier contemporary-art district, and it’s home to such high-profile spaces as Gagosian Gallery and Gladstone Gallery. The development of the High Line has brought more visitors to the formerly desolate area. The verdant, elevated promenade commands great views of the surrounding architecture—a mix of industrial landmarks and gleaming new structures—and passes through the old loading dock of the former Nabisco factory, which now houses the eateries and shops of Chelsea Market. You can also find worthwhile watering holes, restaurants and shops, and flea market aficionados can peruse vestiges of a sprawling hub for antiques and bric-a-brac.

EAT

Del Posto

With four-star ambitions and prices to match, Mario Batali’s cavernous restaurant has become nothing less than the city’s top destination for refined, upscale Italian cuisine. The clubby dining room, serenaded nightly by a twinkling pianist on a grand piano feels like the lobby of a very opulent grand hotel. The most showstopping dishes, intended for sharing, include hunks of lamb and veal and pitch-perfect risotto for two. The all-Italian wine list is suitably encyclopedic and exorbitantly priced.

DRINK

Gallow Green

In the early evening, the height of this dreamy, overgrown rooftop bar affords a regal view of gleaming West Side buildings and the cloud-streaked horizon. But as the sun descends over the Hudson and darkness encroaches, something stranger occurs. Christmas lights encircling small trees and the rafters overhead blink to life. The place is helplessly romantic, capturing the looseness and frivolity of a well-oiled summer wedding, but in a way that never feels saccharine (the name of the bar, after all, is borrowed from the famous Scottish field where six 17th-century “witches” were hanged and burned).

DO

Sleep No More

To untimely rip and paraphrase a line from Macbeth: Our eyes are made the fools of the other senses, or else worth all the rest. A multitude of searing sights crowd the spectator's gaze at the bedazzling and uncanny theater installation Sleep No More. Your sense of space and depth---already compromised by the half mask that audience members must don---is further blurred as you wend through more than 90 discrete spaces, ranging from a cloistral chapel to a vast ballroom floor.

STAY

The Standard, High Line

Perched above the High Line on concrete pillars, the Standard High Line’s super-modern rooms feature wall-to-wall windows, which ensure tons of light and stunning views of the city and the Hudson River. (The windows also allow outsiders a look in—perfect for exhibitionists!) The high-design Standard is one of the trendiest NYC hotels, with plenty of nightlife both nearby and inside—dine at the hotel’s Standard Grill and imbibe at the outdoor Biergarten. Play naughty at the clubby rooftop Le Bain, or drink in the exclusive views at Top of the Standard.

If you do just one thing…

Make sure to stop by the best Chelsea art galleries. Metro Pictures, 303 Gallery and James Cohan Gallery are some of the top spots.

Photograph: Virginia Rollison

East Village, NYC

The East Village, NYC’s neighborhood located east of Bowery between Houston and 14th Streets, has become a hot spot for everything from the newest restaurants to old-school record stores. Whether you head there during the day for a picnic at one of the best NYC parks (we recommend Tompkins Square Park), shop its unique vintage clothing stores or choose one of its newly opened bars for a first date, the East Village is easy to get to from just about anywhere in Manhattan and Brooklyn (until the L train shuts down, that is).

EAT

Hearth

The East Village needed a Hearth—an upscale yet relaxed place that wasn’t just another surprisingly good ethnic hole-in-the-wall. Skirting the small-plate trend, the hearty fare is big, rich and flavorful. Roasted and braised domestic lamb with lamb sausage, buttercup squash and chanterelle mushrooms is an excellent version of lamb three ways, and roasted sturgeon with prosciutto, sweet potatoes and sage is a novel treatment of this luxurious fish. There is a small hearth in the restaurant, but the real warmth comes from the staff, which takes pains in helping you pick the right dish, and is equally interested in finding out afterward what you thought of it.

DRINK

Death & Company

The nattily attired mixologists are deadly serious about drinks at this pseudospeakeasy with Gothic flair (don’t be intimidated by the imposing wooden door). Black walls and cushy booths combine with chandeliers to set the luxuriously somber mood. Patrons bored by shot-and-beer bars can sample the inventive cocktails, including a fiery Fever Dream (cucumber and chili-de-arbol-infused mescal), as well as top-notch grub such as roast chicken and seared filet mignon bites.

DO

UCBEast

This branch of the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre, which replaced the old Two Boots Pioneer Theater, brings the same sort of cheap, raw and rowdy shows featured on the West Side, though this space focuses more on sketch and stand-up than improv.

STAY

The Standard, East Village

The 21-story tenement-style East Village iteration of the iconic Meatpacking District hotel features a fair amount of original amenities while maintaining a minimal aesthetic. Designed by architect Carlos Zapata, the building itself is hard to miss as it towers 21 stories, a sharp contrast from the low-rise buildings that make up the neighborhood. From a nature-filled private garden to Narcissa, the restaurant from Michelin-starred chef John Fraser, the hotel is the ideal respite for entertaining. Through floor-to-ceiling windows, gaze out over gorgeous Manhattan views—which are obviously even more spectacular when you book a room on a higher floor. If hitting the pavement isn’t enough of a workout, The Standard East Village offers a complimentary pass to the nearby Crunch Bowery, as well as Standard bikes.

If you do just one thing…

Visit David Cheng’s 12-seat chef’s counter, Momofuku Ko, for a multicourse meal.

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Williamsburg, Brooklyn
Photograph: Matthew Williams

Williamsburg, Brooklyn

Brooklyn, NY, is Manhattan’s neighbor, but a notable borough in its own right. If it were its own city, it would be the third-most populous one in the country. And every neighborhood in the city wants to be the next Williamsburg (at least until the L train shuts down). This beating heart of Brooklyn is home to some of best and quirkiest restaurants, bars, shops, markets, tattoo parlours and much more besides.

EAT

Peter Luger

Although a slew of Luger copycats have prospered in the last several years, none have captured the elusive charm of this stucco-walled, beer hall-style eatery. This is the kind of steakhouse where the waiters wear waistcoats and bowties and excess is king. Even the tomato salad is hefty, with thick slices of tomato and onion. But you don’ come to a steakhouse to eat salad. Tuck into the famous porterhouse for two: 44 ounces of sliced prime beef. It’s a singular New York experience that’s worth having.

DRINK

See a show at Baby’s All Right

This eatery, bar and stage—located on a happening little Williamsburg strip—has fast become a local musical institution. It boats a lively schedule of fashionable bands and DJs that range from the experimental to the voguish. Plus the food's pretty good too.

DO

Brooklyn Charm

Forget buying off-the-shelf pieces. At Brooklyn Charm you can essentially make your own jewelry. If you don’t have time to attend one of the jewelry-making classes here, you can assemble your own necklace/bracelet/earrings thanks to a large array of chains and charms available. This cute shop was opened by Tracie Howarth in 2010, after a hugely successful launch via Etsy. Now she has a second branch in Manhattan, another in California and several in Japan.

STAY

McCarren Hotel & Pool

Looking for a dose of the decidedly newer, shinier and—dare we say it—friendlier Williamsburg? Look no further than this high-end boutique hotel, located just across the street McCarren Park, the sort of Central Park of this bohemian, North Brooklyn nabe. With 64 mid-century-designed rooms, ranging from compact 240-square-foot queens to a two-balconies-boasting penthouse, McCarren Hotel & Pool has Brooklyn-by-way-of-Miami vibe. On one hand, there are local touches like mini fridges packed with brewed-down-the-street Brooklyn lagers, and on the other, the bright and breezy décor (floor-to-ceiling windows, off-kilter decorative light bulbs) have a levity that screams beachside retreat. The tropical atmosphere continues on the rooftop, where you can take advantage of the daily happy hour (5–7pm), when you can nab oysters for just a buck a piece and a glass of rose for $5, while enjoying stunning views of Manhattan.

If you do just one thing…

Spend a couple of hours browsing the many stalls at Smorgasburg, where odd food vendors dole out everything from Dutch waffles to pasta doughnuts.

Astoria Park
Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/Costa Constantinides

Astoria, Queens

There are a ton of great things to do in this neighborhood in Queens. The nabe is thriving and enhancing its charm with new, budget-friendly restaurants and cool bars as well as independent boutiques and record stores that make shopping small worth it. Ride the Queens-bound N/W train to discover hidden gems such as speakeasy bars, as well as one of the best Greek restaurants in all of New York.

EAT

Café Triskell

Philippe Fallait brings the flavors of his native Brittany to Astoria with this blue-and-white-walled café. The diminutive spot specializes in sweet and savory crêpes; sample unique fillings like tomato confit with Swiss and herb butter, and poached pear with chocolate sauce and toasted almonds.

DRINK

Vesta Trattoria and Winebar

Some Astorians deem Vesta the best thing to have happened to the ’hood since Elias Corner. (Only, it’s Italian.) This perpetually packed trattoria attracts diners nightly with its modern rustic cuisine—and pasta in particular. We can’t say no to the cavatappi with spicy cauliflower and bread crumbs and hearty three-meat lasagna.

DO

Museum of the Moving Image

Only 15 minutes from midtown, the Museum of the Moving Image is one of the city’s most dynamic institutions. Rubbing elbows with Kaufman Astoria Studios, it includes a three-story extension that features a state-of-the-art 267-seat cinema and expanded gallery spaces. Muppet fans should check out the new and permanent Jim Henson exhibit.

STAY

Paper Factory Hotel

The design-minded will love the industrial-style concrete floors and reclaimed wood furniture used throughout this 122-room hotel in an old paper factory, as the name suggests. Its address is technically in Long Island City, but the neighborhood’s boundaries have started to blur with Astoria. There’s not much happening in the blocks around the hotel, but two avenues north of the property is the Museum of the Moving Image and Kaufman Studios, plus the bars and restaurants along Broadway and 30th Avenue in Astoria. Midtown is only a 20-minute subway ride away. Rooms are on the smaller side but feel larger thanks to 12-foot-tall ceilings and enormous windows. The lobby has serious bragging rights, from the morning coffee bar serving Forty Five Roasters beans to the outdoor garden for sipping evening cocktails. Book a table at its restaurant, Mundo, which blends Latin and Mediterranean cuisines.

If you do just one thing…

Swing by Pão de Queijo for Brazilian takeout grub. It’s a hidden gem with inventive sandwiches and fresh juices.

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Washington Square Park
Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/Guillaume David

Greenwich Village, NYC

Greenwich Village, NYC’s neighborhood of artists, is the best place to go for bohemian fares. Whether you want to chow down on sushi or Italian grub at the best Greenwich Village restaurants or stroll through Washington Square Park—one of the best NYC parks—this is the place to be. Located on the west side of Lower Manhattan, the Village also has one of the best comedy clubs, Bleecker Street and NYU—and thanks to some great hotels, you’ll never have to leave.

EAT

Shuko

To gauge the change in New York sushi, just look at the soundtrack. The soothing strings and serene jazz of topflight toro temples have been swapped out for the devil-may-care swagger of Jay Z and the Notorious B.I.G., pumped out at decibels more commonly befitting a beer dive than a sushi counter. For real sushi ballers, the $175 kaiseki menu expands on maritime beauts with a stomach-swelling array of delicate, seasonal composed plates.

DRINK

Analogue

Analogue is a craft cocktail and jazz bar located on the historic West 8th Street in the heart of Greenwich Village. While the bar boasts an extensive whiskey, bourbon and Scotch selection, along with house-made syrups, tinctures, bitters and shrubs, it continues to propound the philosophy that serious drinks don’t have to be taken too seriously—shedding pretense in favor of personality.

DO

Le Poisson Rouge

Situated in the basement of the long-gone Village Gate—a legendary performance space that hosted everyone from Miles Davis to Jimi Hendrix—Le Poisson Rouge was opened in 2008 by a group of young music enthusiasts with ties to both the classical and indie-rock worlds. With a top-notch sound system and modular stage that can be set up for in-the-round performances, LPR sounds great whatever the genre is.

STAY

Walker Hotel Greenwich Village

Pulling from the neighborhood’s bohemian roots, Walker Hotel Greenwich Village features a curated vintage and modern design. The hotel’s aesthetic is fitting to its surroundings with art-deco style rooms decorated with bespoke furnishings and bathrooms swathed in black and white subway tile. The property’s inviting exterior showcases copper bay windows and restored antique glass. The hotel’s sumptuous lobby is adorned with pieces by local artists and a romantic fireplace, creating an old-world vibe fitting to the legendary neighborhood. Modern accents round out the atmosphere, like Tivoli stereos, complimentary Wi-Fi and C.O Bigelow bath amenities.

If you do just one thing…

Walk along MacDougal Street to go laugh your face off at Comedy Cellar.

Upper East Side, NYC

Gorgeous prewar apartments owned by blue-blooded socialites, soigné restaurants frequented by Botoxed ladies who lunch, the deluxe boutiques of international designers.… This is the clichéd image of the Upper East Side, and you’ll certainly see a lot of supporting evidence on Fifth, Madison and Park Avenues. Recently, however, pockets of downtown cool have migrated north, notably the growing food-and-drink enclave pioneered by Earl’s Beer and Cheese. Encouraged by the opening of Central Park in the late 1800s, affluent New Yorkers began building mansions along Fifth Avenue. By the start of the 20th century, even the superwealthy had warmed to the idea of giving up their large homes for smaller quarters, provided they were near the park, which resulted in the construction of many new apartment blocks and hotels. Working-class folk later settled around Second and Third Avenues, following construction of the defunct elevated East Side train line, but affluence remained the neighborhood’s dominant characteristic.

EAT

Daniel

Even in the worst of times, a world-class city needs restaurants offering the escape of over-the-top coddling and luxurious food, with a star chef who's not just on the awning but in the kitchen and dining room, too—in short, a place like Daniel. It’s one of the most classically opulent of the city's rarefied restaurants.

DRINK

Seamstress

You’ll miss the entrance of this uptown lounge at least once, if not twice. Recheck the address all you want—this is the place. Inside a small leather-and-accessories shop with a pair of gold-leaf scissors emblazoned on the window, the shopkeeper-host leads you through velvet curtains and into a warm drinkery. With two bars turning out stellar cocktails and Ducks Eatery chef Will Horowitz whipping up food to match, this neighborhood haunt is a destination to look out for—literally.

DO

Barneys

Barneys sets the prodigious record for housing the most progressive, conceptual and hard-to-find labels in the city. You'll find Balenciaga and Commes des Garcons; Lanvin, Azzedine Alaia and Dries van Noten. The ground floor offers an excellent selection of accessories such as Hermes watches, Pucci scarves and an in-store shop from Parisian luggage company Goyard, while the shoe department hosts almost every Manolo Blahnik on over (as well as a range of pairs from Miu Miu, Christian Louboutin and Lanvin).

STAY

The Mark

Billing itself as New York’s most boldly lavish hotel, the Mark seems to know just how to sum things up perfectly, and who are we to argue? Maybe it’s the in-room dining manned by Jean-Georges, or perhaps it’s the stunning Jacques Grange-designed rooms and suites…either way, this magical Upper East Side gem is a Central Park–centric destination for the books.

If you do just one thing…

Walk Museum Mile—from 82nd to 105th Streets, Fifth Avenue is lined with more than half a dozen celebrated institutions, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and The Frick Collection.

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Greenpoint, Brooklyn
Photograph: Shutterstock

Greenpoint, Brooklyn

Following fast on the heels of Williamsburg, Greenpoint comes in at a close second for most happening neighborhoods in Brooklyn. You can only get here on the G train or the ferry, but the plethora of perfect restaurants, drinking joints and independent shops are worth making the trip for. The evening flea market, Brooklyn Night Bazaar, is a good go-to for vintage and one-of-a-kid buys; get a dot-work tat at East River Tattoo, where they specialise in hand-poke techniques; and admire the historic landmarks, like Manhattan Avenue’s wall-mounted timepiece – this cast iron sidewalk clock is the last remaining in Brooklyn.

EAT

Paulie Gee’s

While there are numerous Paulie Gee’s joints across the States, two of these fine establishments are in Greenpoint. On Greenpoint Avenue you’ll find the dine-in restaurant, where their custom-built, tiled, stone oven resides. Alternatively, you can pick up a single on Franklin Street, their brand new, ’70s vibe slice shop that has a few banks of seats, but is largely for takeaway. If you’re hoping to eat at the restaurant, note that they don’t take bookings, so try to head there early if you’re in a big group.

DRINK

Luksus

If craft beer and fine American dining sounds like the perfect night out, you won’t want to bypass Luksus. Founded by chef Daniel Burns and Danish brewer Jeppe Jarnit-Bjergsø, this mini restaurant – hidden in the back of Jarnit-Bjergsø’s Greenpoint bar Tørst – serves up the likes of fried cipollini (a type of onion) paired with Evil Twin’s Nomader Wit (white beer), although the menus, including the beer pairing menu, changes every few weeks.

DO

McCarren Park

This Brooklyn park is popular with the locals, hipsters and families alike. There are baseball, football and soccer fields, enclosed dog runs, tennis courts and more. In the summer months you can take advantage of the huge pool, which first opened in 1936 and was, at the time, the largest public pool in NYC. Look out for regular open-air movie nights in the park, as well as the farmers’ market.

STAY

Franklin Guesthouse

This cozy boutique hotel on Franklin Street in Greenpoint definitely lives up to its Brooklyn zip by delivering on the cool factor. Think custom art, woodwork and eccentric décor, not to mention its trendy address, packed with restaurants and bars. No matter what room you’ve booked, the units feel loft-like, luxurious and come complete with high ceilings, modern furnishings and comfy beds. There’s also a sauna, gym and onsite bar.

If you do just one thing…

Beeline for Dobbin Street. Here you can shop vintage, dine on charcuterie and grilled oysters, and attend an afternoon rooftop party.

Warm Up at MoMa PS1
Photograph: Filip Wolak

Long Island City, Queens

This evolving Queens neighborhood seems to change from block to block—a short walk takes you from desolate, early-20th-century industrial streetscapes to the gentrified “main street” vibe of Vernon Avenue and the urban riviera created by gleaming high-rises fronting waterside Gantry Plaza State Park. While sweeping Manhattan views, an easy commute to midtown, abundant warehouse space and low rents have been attracting artists and executives for more than a decade, the lures for nonlocals have been steadily growing, including destination culture hub MoMA PS1 where the Warm Up party takes place every summer, Obie-winning theater the Chocolate Factory, and writers’ and artists’ salon the Oracle Club.

EAT

Bel Aire Diner

Located within walking distance of Socrates Sculpture Park, the Bel Aire earns points for extras like the gratis beets and chickpeas you can nosh on while you wait for your order. And seen-it-all staffers won’t grimace when you mention your food allergies.

DRINK

Dutch Kills

By now, bar pioneer Sasha Petraske’s formula is pretty familiar: natty bartenders, precise drinks and little (if any) signage. What separates Dutch Kills from the rest is space. The plentiful elbow room makes it a comfortable place to enjoy cocktails like the rye-based Garibaldi, made with lime juice, Campari and mellow white grapes. The Infante takes the familiar pairing of tequila and lime, and lightens it up with homemade orgeat (rosewater and almond syrup) and nutmeg. And if you go on a weekday, you can escape the city crowds as well.

DO

Just Things

Hipsters and drag queens will be giddy over the selection at this thrift shop, which is run by sisters Ann Caporusso and Tishie Dooling (who inherited the space from their mother). Admire the window display, which is updated weekly with Caporusso’s newest finds, or browse the interior for grandpa-chic housewares. Then venture to the back, where you’ll find an abundance of glittery, metallic vintage purses, fur coats and other flamboyant garb.

STAY

Boro Hotel

The closest a Queens hotel can come to a true luxury experience is this 108-room property in Long Island City, two stops from Manhattan on the N or W subway lines. Designed by the firm Grzywinski + Pons (also behind the Hotel on Rivington in the Lower East Side) the minimalist rooms and suites start at 200 square feet and feature Frette linens, Hay Studio and Tom Dixon furniture, cement tiles in the bathroom and Apivita amenities. The Manhattan View Balcony options are the standout for their private patios. We also love the library in the lobby, which has books curated by Strand Books in Union Square.

If you do just one thing…

The LIC Market serves market-driven casual fare for breakfast and lunch, and sells its house-made sauces, jams and pickles in a small retail area.

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