Last updated on April 19, 2024 by Stefano Ferro, founder of MEL365, following extensive travelling in New York

Where to stay in Manhattan

Manhattan is one of the most populated parts of the world with a population of 1.6 million people, no wonder you may find it difficult to understand where to stay in Manhattan.

To make things easier, I have organized this guide in just 5 distinctive areas, each catering to a different type of traveler (family or couples, relaxed or nightlife) and budget too.

I will tell you all you need to know about each area so that you can decide which one works best for your kind of trip.

Moreover, I have added a few suggested Hotels and AirBnb that may be all you need for your vacation in Manhattan

Without further ado, let’s dig into it.

Where to stay in Manhattan – In a nutshell

  • The 5 areas of Manhattan: the island can be grouped in Upper Manhattan, West Side, East Side, Midtown and Lower Manhattan. Check the map below for more details
  • Where to stay in Manhattan with family: the most family-friendly area in Manhattan is the West Side. It’s very quiet, perfect for a trip with small kids, and next to Central Park and the zoo. Midtown can be another option if you are traveling with grown-up kids, however, accommodations can be expensive there
  • Where to stay in Manhattan on a budget: this is one of the most expensive parts of the USA and probably the world. The words budget and cheap have a different meaning in New York. In saying that Upper Manhattan is where you will find the most budget-friendly accommodations. 
  • Where to stay in Manhattan for cheap: there are only a bunch of cheap places to stay in Manhattan and they get booked well in advance. They are mostly hostels and they are in Upper Manhattan, however, there are also some unique surprises in other areas which I will highlight below in the area description.
  • Best place to stay for nightlife: Lower Manhattan and Greenwich Village in Midtown are the best areas to stay for the nightlife. That’s where you can find plenty of bars and clubs open till late.
  • Best quiet area to stay in Manhattan: West Side and East Side are both very quiet areas, together with Upper Manhattan, the quietest of all.
  • Arty part of Manhattan to have a breakaway: Most of the galleries and Museums are concentrated in the East Side of Manhattan. This is where you can spend an entire day roaming between exhibitions and openings
  • Safest part of Manhattan to stay: I consider the whole of Manhattan a safe place to go around, although you need always to take the usual precautions (like in any other big city). As an example, avoid Central Park at night as well as any dark alley at night, and even during the day. In saying that, West Side is probably the safest part of the city.
  • Where is best for a luxurious stay: Midtown has the most luxurious and expensive accommodations, followed very closely by Lower Manhattan.
  • My recommended hotel: Iberostar 70 Park Avenue, lovely hotel and amazing destination, right in the middle of Manhattan
  • Do you suggest any other area outside Manhattan? Yes, there are other options outside the island of Manhattan. You should check my late guide on where to stay in New York.
Where to stay in Manhattan
Where to stay in Manhattan

Upper Manhattan (from Harlem to Fort George)

GREAT FOR

  • Budget trip in Manhattan
  • Quiet and relaxed stay
  • Eclectic community with plenty of music around
  • Historical houses – neo-Georgian era

Upper Manhattan is located in the northernmost region of the New York borough.

For the most part, it is predominantly a residential area featuring the most beautiful collection of neo-Georgian townhouses.

If you manage to get accommodation in one of these homes through a tourist rental service then you will have the perfect opportunity to experience authentic Manhattan living.

If you don’t, you could still take a stroll around and take in the tranquil beauty that this area has to offer.

In spite of this prolific status as a residential neighborhood, Upper Manhattan has a lot to offer in terms of tourist attractions.

Some of the most notable in this case are the Apollo Theatre and the National Jazz Museum in Harlem.

If you are looking for a place that is beautiful, calm and full of things to do or see then Upper Manhattan is the place to visit.

Suggested accommodations in this area:

For even cheaper accommodations, you may want to check out also outside Manhattan. I wrote more on my guide to New York City about Long Island and  Union City.

Houses of Harlem
Houses of Harlem

West Side (west of Central Park)

GREAT FOR

  • Family stay with kids
  • Next to Central Park – Great for morning or sunset walks, and time with the kids
  • Safe and quiet
  • Well connected to the rest of Manhattan

Located west of Central Park, one of the world’s largest and most famous recreational parks, the West Side is a true natural escape from the hustle of city life.

You get to enjoy the concrete jungle without losing touch with nature and all its wonders.

The park alone should be enough to motivate you to stay there but West Manhattan doesn’t hold back in terms of attractions.

It is home to some real bucket list-worthy gems including the American Museum of Natural History, Levain Bakery and Lincoln Center.

And if you time your visit right, you might get to be a part of the legendary Macy’s Day Parade.

Suggested accommodations in this area:

View from an helicopter of Central Park
View from a helicopter of Central Park

East Side (east of Central Park)

GREAT FOR

  • First-time and sightseeing
  • Trendy trip
  • Museums, galleries and special exhibits
  • Next to Central Park – Great for morning or sunset walks

This is an upscale residential neighborhood in New York known mainly for the grand architecture, upmarket shopping experience and of course, the museums.

In fact, the East Side has so many museums it is sometimes referred to as Museum Mile.

These include the Museum of Jewish Heritage, Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Guggenheim Museum.

And the list really does go on.

These attractions make it a hub for history and art enthusiasts from all over the world.

However, despite being so busy the East Side maintains an air of calmness in stark contrast to other chaotic parts of town with just as much foot traffic.

Suggested accommodations in this area:

Midtown Manhattan (South of Central Park)

GREAT FOR

  • Centrally located, closed to the most iconic attractions, first-time trip
  • Luxurious stay
  • Vast bars and restaurants selection
  • Nightlife
  • Very well connected to everywhere in NYC

Midtown is located in the center of the Manhattan borough and truly is the heart of the city.

It is the Manhattan central business district and the largest commercial settlement in the entire world.

In addition to all the businesses and financial developments that this area hosts, there are a lot of attractions for you to check off your list.

Some of the most famous in this case include Times Square and Broadway Theatre just to name a few.

While there is so much to see and do in Midtown Manhattan, it may be not the best place to stay as a visitor if your budget is limited.

In fact, the accommodations here tend to all be in the luxurious range, offering the best quality you can experience in NYC.

Midtown is a great area to visit even if you don’t book your accommodation there

Suggested accommodations in this area:

Walking in the Flatiron neighborhood in Midtown
Walking in the Flatiron neighborhood in Midtown

Lower Manhattan (also known as Downtown Manhattan)

GREAT FOR

  • Boutique and lux stay
  • The edgy upscale Soho (galleries and lux shopping)
  • The nightlife in Greenwich Village
  • The cultural experience of Tribeca
  • Historical buildings

This is Manhattan’s financial district and is the more serious and formal part of town.

It is home to the world-famous Wall Street as well as the solitary World Trade Center Tower.

Downtown Manhattan is also a major administrative district and is where you will find City Hall and the Manhattan Municipal Building.

Before you snooze off and dismiss Lower Manhattan as the capital of boredom, it is important to note that there is so much to see and do.

Neighborhoods like Soho, Little Italy, Tribeca and Greenwich Village offer a nice escape from the business-formal side of the district.

Most of the districts are very quiet during the night (except Greenwich Village) and, if this is what you are looking for, just a quiet night, it may fit your bill.

Suggested accommodations in this area:

Public transportation to Manhattan
Public transportation in Manhattan
Stefano Ferro - MEL365.com Founder and Editor

About the Author

Stefano is a seasoned travel expert and the visionary founder of MEL365.com, a leading travel website with traffic across 6 continents. With a rich background in the travel industry, Stefano spent four pivotal years at Amadeus Travel Distribution System, gaining invaluable insights into travel technologies and distribution.

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