Midtown West, New York City Travel Guide
Midtown West Summary
- Close proximity to both Times Square and the Theater District, yet a bit removed from the crowds
- Central Park
- Incredible views of the city from both the "Top of the Rock" at Rockefeller Center and the Empire State Building
- Live recording of various TV shows, including Saturday Night Live, the Today Show, and the Late Show with David Letterman
- Close access to every major subway line from most areas
- Some of New York's best restaurants at the Time Warner Center in Columbus Circle
- Designer shopping along 5th Avenue and at the Time Warner Center
- Vibrant nightlife, gay clubs, and a variety of top-tier restaurants in Hell's Kitchen
- Expensive parking, even for New York
- Large office buildings, mostly; not the charm of many downtown neighborhoods
- Far from hip downtown nightlife; cabs downtown can be expensive
- Some areas around Central Park and Times Square can be congested with foot traffic
What It's Like
Outside the dazzling marquees of Times Square, Midtown West is made up of numerous smaller neighborhoods, each of which has its own character and appeal. West of Times Square, superb restaurants line 9th and 10th Avenues in the once-seedy, now revitalized Hell's Kitchen neighborhood. Across town, there are tourist must-sees like Radio City Music Hall, Rockefeller Center, the famous 5th Avenue department stores, as well as Bryant Park, with its free ice-skating rink in the winter and free classic-film screenings in the summer. At the northern boundary, marking the start of Central Park, there's Columbus Circle and the Time Warner Center's boutiques and acclaimed five-star restaurants. South of Times Square, the Knicks and Rangers play at Madison Square Garden, fashion designers seek samples in the Garment District, tourists perch atop the Empire State Building to overlook the city, and locals bustle between bi bim bap restaurants and authentic karaoke joints in Koreatown.
Where to Stay
As Midtown West is such a large and diverse part of the city, choosing the right hotel largely depends on what you'd like to do. Some of the most prominent (and most expensive) hotels in the city line the southern border of Central Park -- the Jumeirah Essex House, the Ritz-Carlton Central Park, the Plaza, and the Mandarin Oriental among them. There are more affordable choices as well, but in this part of Manhattan, if you don't want to pay top dollar you'll have to sacrifice something -- in the case of 6 Columbus and the Hudson Hotel, that's room size; in the case of the Salisbury or the Wellington, it's services, cleanliness, and up-to-date furnishings.
Farther south, the hotels are clustered around Times Square; for most visitors, a little distance from the tourist frenzy is a welcomed advantage to saying in Midtown West. East of Times Square, you'll find some of the most attractive (and most expensive) options, such as the sleek and sexy Bryant Park Hotel and the historic hotels along the flag-lined strip of West 44th Street known as "Club Row" (the Algonquin, Iroquois, and Sofitel, among others). South and west of Times Square, closer toward the parking lots, the Greyhound Bus Depot, and the tunnel traffic coming in from New Jersey, there are more affordable options, but these hotels often come at the cost of convenience -- they are much farther from the subway stations, tourist attractions, and restaurants. Even farther south and farther west, there are a select few hotels close to the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center. East of the convention center, closer to the Flatiron District and Murray Hill, a number of hotels are also concentrated near Penn Station (a major transportation hub that services Amtrak), Madison Square Garden (home of the New York Knicks and Rangers), and the Empire State Building; all three of these areas are a bit dull, comparative to elsewhere in New York, but they are still fine alternatives to paying top dollar to stay in the core tourist zones.