New York City Travel Guide
New York City Summary
- Easily walkable, and taxis are available everywhere
- Safe, reliable public transportation to anywhere in the city
- Three international airports: JFK, LaGuardia, and Newark
- Cultural melting pot with restaurants of every cuisine
- World-famous museums: Metropolitan Museum of Art, the American Museum of Natural History, the Guggenheim, the Museum of Modern Art, and more
- Great shopping -- a mix of local and luxury boutiques, plus artists markets
- Trendy nightclubs, bars, and lounges -- many open until 4 a.m.
- Central Park, with its zoo, performances, and activities galore
- Historic Washington Square Park, a gathering place for artists and activists
- Prewar architecture, beautiful brownstones, and cobblestone streets (in some areas)
- Prevalent LGBT culture
- Iconic skyscrapers: the Chrysler Building, the Empire State Building, and the Seagram Building
- Small standard rooms at most hotels
- Street noise at all hours
- Crowded sidewalks, occasional vagrancy
- More expensive food and drinks than elsewhere in the U.S. -- $8 beers and $12 sandwiches are the norm
- Unpredictable day-to-day weather
- Generally hot, humid summers and cold, windy winters
- Crowds can feel overwhelming, especially in Times Square.
- Very difficult (and very costly) parking in most neighborhoods
- Upper West Side: Upscale, residential community alongside Central Park, with family-focused museums like the Museum of Natural History
- Upper East Side: Affluent residents, world embassies along Central Park, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and "Museum Mile"
- Midtown West: Central Park carriage rides, Rockefeller Center, the Empire State Building, Radio City Music Hall, New York's finest dining, and so much more
- Times Square: Flashing heart of New York's tourism, known for Broadway shows and the New Year's Eve ball drop
- Midtown East: Safe, central, convenient, and surrounded by corporate skyscrapers
- Gramercy and Murray Hill: Quiet, residential 'hood just outside the business centers
- Flatiron District: Small pocket in the center of Manhattan, home to the "Silicon Alley" business district the locally loved Madison Square Park
- Chelsea: A gay culture center as well as the heart of New York's contemporary art and design scene
- East Village: Youthful culture with cheap, diverse dining and great bars
- West Village: Quaint streets, nightclubs, cute restaurants, and NYU
- SoHo: Boutique shopping and be-seen restaurants along cobblestone streets
- Lower East Side: Young, gritty, and full of bars, fashion boutiques, and trendy restaurants
- TriBeCa: Like SoHo, but quieter
- Lower Manhattan: Wall Street, Ground Zero, historic streets, and little action on weekends or after dark
- Brooklyn: The second largest city in the country; all of Manhattan's appeal, on a slower-scale
- Hoboken, New Jersey: Quieter, more affordable, waterfront real estate, just 15 minutes outside the West Village
What It's Like
A high-density, vertical city with tourists and locals from everywhere on the planet, New York delivers -- no matter who you are. In the subway, which connects the entire city, classical quartets, breakdancers, and struggling immigrants picking at an mbira, a pipa, or a folk guitar entertain for tips and applause. Pedestrian-friendly Times Square bedazzles visitors with its Broadway plays, glittering billboards, and streetside characters. Well-manicured Central Park, lined with iconic museums, draws class field trips, jogging locals, and Hollywood film crews. South, at Union Square, students take to the streets on skateboards and New York's premier chefs seek out locally grown produce from the farmers' market. Shoppers can splurge on Chanel, Prada, and Gucci along 5th Avenue, or venture deep into SoHo, the West Village, or the Lower East Side for insider boutiques, where one might glimpse New York's acting elite (and, yes, Sarah Jessica Parker). Art lovers can bask in the grand museums of the Upper East Side or preview up-and-coming imagery at a Chelsea gallery. College kids and clubhoppers pack the streets outside East Village dive bars or behind the velvet ropes of the Village's Meatpacking District until 5 a.m., or later. On Wall Street, at night, traders leave their desks, rub their eyes, and look out to a distant Statue of Liberty as she stares back at the city that is -- at least to most New Yorkers -- the center of the world.
Where to Stay
Throughout the city, expect to pay a premium for cramped rooms -- a cozy 200 square feet is about the norm. But remember that in New York, location is everything -- be sure to find the neighborhood that's right for you.
For old-world grandeur, Midtown East and the Upper East Side are home to the Waldorf-Astoria, the Peninsula, and the Pierre. Hip downtown spots include such notables as the Gramercy Park Hotel, SIXTY SoHo, the Soho Grand, and the Bowery Hotel.
Of course, you'll also find outposts of every major hotel franchise -- from the Four Seasons and Mandarin Oriental up by Central Park to the more down-to-earth Hilton, Westin, and Marriott Marquis in Times Square.
And there's still room for stylish, independent boutiques: NYLO New York City is a steal on the Upper West Side; the Ace is set to invigorate Murray Hill; and the Library Hotel provides a cozy respite from the gray skyscrapers of Midtown East.
New York City Hotel Guides
We compiled lists of the best hotels for luxury, families, romance, celebrity sightings, business, famous affairs, great service, peace and quiet, notable restaurants, cleanliness, pets, iconic history, amazing rooms, well-appointed bathrooms, and quality gyms, and selected one hotel from each list that bests its competitors (if only slightly).
Some argue that there's no such thing as a good value when it comes to New York hotels. Happily, an increase in New York hotel room supply, and a recession-induced reduction in demand, has resulted in some of the lowest prices in years, making it an ideal time to visit.
Whether you're looking for old-world opulence, celebrity-studded party scenes, a fawning staff, or historic charm, you'll find it in one of New York's most luxurious hotels. To ensure that you can also expect the royal treatment, we slept on the high-thread-count linens, sipped the $18 cocktails, and befriended the famous -- it's a tough job, but somebody's got to do it.
New York may be full of parks, ice cream, and toy stores, but rooms are often tiny, pools are scarce, and finding a great hotel for the family can be tricky. That's why we compiled a list of the best hotels for families in the City.
New York may be the setting for about a thousand romantic movies, but the truth is it's hard for romance to blossom amid blaring taxis and jostling crowds. That's why we've compiled a list of the best hotels for love in the city that never sleeps: They're quiet, relaxing, and filled with old New York charm. Whether you're a long-time married couple, honeymooners, or brand-new acquaintances who met on the dance floor, New York has something to offer.
It might seem impossible for a great hotel to stay under the radar in New York, where everything new and noteworthy gets hyped to death within, well, a New York minute. And yet we've come across a surprising number of charming, quirky, or otherwise under-appreciated hotels that clearly deserve more attention than they get. Perhaps some folks would like these hidden gems to remain their own little secret. Sorry, guys.
Couples planning a honeymoon in New York City have no shortage of romantic options, from charming old-world hotels to chic downtown boutiques. We slept in the beds of more than 100 hotels, ate in the restaurants, ordered from room service, and checked out the neighborhoods, all with an eye toward selecting the most distinguished properties. Here is our list of the best honeymoon destinations in New York.
Not every hotel is equipped to handle the needs of 21st-century business travelers. Fast and reliable in-room wireless Internet connection is only a baseline requirement these days. To make our list of the best New York business hotels, a property needed to offer a comfortable and well-equipped business center, a professional staff used to handling business-oriented requests, and a quiet location convenient to the Wall Street or the Midtown business district.
By offering discreet service and posh accommodations, some New York hotels have drawn notable public figures -- from JFK to Ashlee Simpson -- for their adulterous romantic getaways.
For spa lovers, a vacation just isn't a vacation without some regimented relaxation, especially in New York, where the grit and grime can really get under your skin -- both literally and figuratively. So we've compiled a list of the best hotel spas in the city.
The Manhattan skyline is of course one of the world's most iconic, an awe-inspiring tribute to human ingenuity and America's economic success. To see it at night is magical. To see it at night from atop a Manhattan roof -- to be part of the skyline, in other words -- is more magical still. And to do so with a well-mixed cocktail in one's hand is an experience simply not to be missed. Here is a list of the best hotel-rooftop bars in New York City.
While many New York hotels allow pets, some hotels really go out of their way -- offering everything from gourmet food to pedicures. But animal lovers take note -- not all pets are created equal. Most hotels allow only small dogs and gear their amenities specifically toward them. If your best friend is a cat, an iguana, or a 110-pound Great Dane, 70 Park Avenue and the Affinia hotels will be the most accommodating. When booking at any hotel, be sure to let them know you're bringing a pet, and confirm their policies haven't changed. You'll want to be wary of steep fees, weight limits, and off-limits areas.
In addition to sleeping at and photographing the best hotels throughout New York, we also tested their service by probing their concierges, detailing our arrival process, timing our room service deliveries, making plenty of special requests, and interviewing other guests to find out their experiences. We did this in order to seek out the hotels with the best service -- the few hotels that really go above and beyond to ensure every guest has a perfect, hassle-free stay.
Some hotels might charge an outrageous price for a cold omelet or a soggy burger and fries, but others -- such as the hotels on this list -- offer excellent cuisine (sometimes from a restaurant led by a celebrity chef), 24 hours a day, and always in a hurry.
New York is a loud city, and certain sections of it stay loud all night long. Getting a good night's sleep is never easy when it's interrupted by honking taxis and the shouts of drunken revelers. Anyone who needs peace and quiet when they head to bed should take a look at our list of New York's best quiet hotels. Some are located in sleepy, residential neighborhoods; other just have genuinely soundproof windows; all will have light sleepers snoring in no time.
No doubt, there are horror stories about New York hotels with dark, dingy rooms, cockroaches in the bathrooms, and stains on the sheets. But in general, the great majority of hotels in New York are very clean. Still, it takes a lot for us to qualify a hotel as super clean. Here is a list of immaculate hotels that will put even the most extreme germaphobe at ease.