With over 75,000 hotel rooms to pick from, finding a great place to stay in New York City can feel like an impossible task.
And that’s before you even consider serviced apartments or sublet options.
Knowing which area to choose, which websites offer the best deals and how to find a cracking hotel deal can make all the difference.
With a little bit of forward planning and some insider knowledge, you can lock in the right place for your budget and be ready for a memorable trip to the city that never sleeps.
McCarren Hotel and Pool (Image: Supplied)
Know what you want
To find the right place to stay in New York City, it’s essential that you do your research and become best friends with Google Maps.
Nothing ruins a holiday faster than realizing too late that you’re staying in a sketchy part of town. Or in an apartment 30 minutes from the nearest subway stop. Or in a shoebox of a hotel room next to a noisy intersection.
Take the time to think about what you plan to do in the city and where you will spend most of your time, then choose your accommodation accordingly.
Consider how much space you need as hotels rooms in the Big Apple tend to be on the small side, so apartments are often a better choice for families. Decide in advance whether you need a lift as many older apartment buildings are “walk ups” (stairs only). Factor in extra features such as rooftop access if you want great views of the city or air conditioning if you’re visiting in August when the city is hot and sticky.
And remember, if you are booking an apartment through a website, make sure it has a good reputation by cross referencing it on Yelp and TripAdvisor because there are plenty of scams around that can trick even the most canny traveller.
1 Brooklyn Bridge (Image: Supplied)
Location, location, location
Midtown, especially around Times Square, is a popular choice for visitors but the noisy intensity of this area can make it a stressful place to stay and not really worth the trouble, unless you are planning to spend your entire visit seeing Broadway shows or visiting the Midtown sites.
The Upper West Side is a good choice for families as it’s relatively quiet, offers easy access to the major museums and is close to Central Park.
If you’re looking for something a little more exciting try downtown in Greenwich Village or Nolita. Both neighbourhoods are charming, full of excellent restaurants and only a short walk to the popular shopping district of Soho. Plus they are a short subway ride to all the action in Times Square if you feel like experiencing the bright lights.
Brooklyn has also become increasingly popular, but it’s crucial that you do your homework. Some parts of this borough can offer deceptively affordable accommodation but they are cheap for a reason. The basic rule of thumb is to stay fairly close to the East River, which will also make access to Manhattan quicker and easier.
Carroll Gardens (and nearby Boerum Hill, Brooklyn Heights and Cobble Hill) is an excellent choice. It’s a short subway ride from lower Manhattan, only 15 minutes on the F train, yet surprisingly peaceful and filled with bars and cafes. This area offers mostly apartment-style rentals but there are new hotel options popping up such as the freshly opened boutique hotel 1 Brooklyn Bridge.
Williamsburg also continues to be a popular choice but nearby Greenpoint has really come into its own in recent years and offers a great local experience of the city. Try to find somewhere to stay that is walking distance to the L train, which goes directly into the middle of Manhattan, such as the McCarren Hotel & Pool (that features a rooftop bar with spectacular views across the river of the city skyline).
Hotel 50 Bowery (Image: Supplied)
Seek the thrill of the new
Another good tactic is to look for newly opened hotels as these offer excellent deals as they build their reputation, while still maintaining a high level of service and accommodation.
Hotel 50 Bowery in Chinatown is a great example of this. This beautifully finished hotel, located on the oldest street in Manhattan, opened in May and features a rooftop bar with dazzling views of uptown.
It’s right in the thick of all the action, walking distance from popular neighbourhoods including the Lower East Side and Nolita and only a short stroll to the Brooklyn Bridge.
Plus they have a range of great deals on offer, from an early bird special to a limited summer offer that includes up to 30% off room rates and complimentary drinks on arrival.
Wing it (if you dare)
If you are willing to fly by the seat of your pants, or decide to visit NYC at short notice, Hotel Tonight is an excellent option. Hotels supply the app with their last minute unsold rooms at a drastically reduced rate, so it’s a smart way to snag a bargain.
But they are only available up to a week in advance, so you might need to be flexible when it comes to location.
One Fine Stay (Image: Supplied)
Live like a local
One of the best ways to experience New York City is renting a furnished apartment for your stay, especially if you’re planning to stick around for more than a couple of nights.
While Airbnb is the obvious choice, it’s important to know that it’s technically illegal in New York City unless you stay for more than 30 days or the host is present (in which case you are just renting a bedroom rather than a whole apartment).
To stay on the right side of the law and avoid possible issues, consider other options such as the luxury rental website One Fine Stay. It’s a pricey option but the level of service is high with all properties carefully vetted and an ongoing concierge service offered throughout your stay.If you’re on more of a budget, the Listings Project is a free weekly email offering a wide range of short-term sublets and the Facebook page Australians in NYC can occasionally throw up some gems.