Being at the 'crossroads of the world', New York provides an endless list of opportunities for you as a traveler. And this list becomes even more exciting partly because of the truly global stature of New York City, which brings with itself not just a mix of all kinds of people, industries, lifestyles, artworks, but cultures all together. Traveling around the city having been made seamless by the transit line networks (the New York Subway most notably) and a wide network of other public transportation, it is up to you to decide which part of the city you want to experience the most closely. With such varying options available to you as a traveller in Manhattan, here we have made a shortlist the best neighbourhoods in the Manhattan that you just won't be able to resist planning your stay in.
Where better than a central neighborhood of Manhattan to begin a stay in New York with? Midtown is the centre of New York's bustling crowds and home to some of the city's most iconic landmarks, including the Empire State and Flatiron Buildings, Rockefeller Center, Times Square, and the Broadway Theatre district. You can easily begin exploring the city from the Times Square, the crossroads of the world as it has come to be known and find your way around the neighborhood.
If you manage to spare any time from exploring every inch of the Times Squares, immerse yourself in a musical performance at the Gramercy Theatre or a nearby jazz club, or visit the Museum of Modern Arts for breathtaking exhibits, or simply take a walk around the High Line or the Bryant Park. The list of possibilities in Midtown are endless with eating options ranging from the fanciest of restaurants to subdistricts like Korea Town. And while still in Midtown, you can always go on a shopping spree at one of the world's largest railway station and shopping centres, the Grand Central Terminal to cap off a busy day in the neighborhood.
Needless to say, the New York City Subway operates in Midtown through multiple routes. From iconic hotels like The Plaza and St. Regis to more affordable options, Midtown has a wide variety of hotels in the office.
Soho and Nolita
Just South of Midtown are the trendy shopping districts of Soho and Nolita, lined with designer boutiques and handmade designer jewelry stores. What makes the district even more tourist friendly are picturesque cobblestone streets, the kind that you can walk all day without getting tired. It helps that the entire neighborhood is as artsy at its famed shopping district. You'll find tourists flooding Soho all year long and it can get crazy in terms of foot traffic.
Go window shopping in the neighborhood if nothing else and while you're in it, marvel at the architecture of cast iron buildings that make up most of Soho's central district. There are plenty of bars and breweries in the area to choose from for a quick breather on your day. If that does not excite you maybe the Italian restaurants in the nearby neighborhood if Little Italy might do the trick. Do not have time to spare from all the shopping? Well, Nolita has more the streetside grab and go cafes than you imagine in a shopping district, so you take your pick. Rest assured there is never a dull moment in neighbourhoods.
Serviceable through the Lines A, C and E of the New York Subway, Soho is easy to get to. While in the neighborhood, you might want to try out a fancy boutique hotel, the kind that the Soho has in abundance and have invaded Nolita as well.
Upper West Side
While in Manhattan, you will find yourself within walking distance from the Central Park, the vast patch of green space in New York. Bound by the neighborhood of Upper West Side on most of its western end, a quick walk in the park is bound to relax you and take you away from buzzing urban crowd. In fact the Upper West Side, a mostly affluent residential neighborhood is likely to do the same for you.
Best suited for family outings, the area has many charms. Be it the need for a quick brunch or a craving for desserts, Upper West Side's chic restaurants and eateries have got you covered. The neighborhood has some iconic hotels that offer beautiful rooftop dining options that offer a glamorous view not only the city, but also the waterfront of the Hudson River. And while you're still there, take another comforting stroll in the Riverside Park or the riverside landscape walkways in the adjacent neighborhood of Hell's Kitchen with your family to cap a perfect getaway.
Two corridors of the New York Subway run through the district, making it easily accessible. From high end hotels like the Arthouse and Empire to hotels to more affordable hostels, Upper West Side has it all in terms of accommodation choices.
Moving further down South into Lower Manhattan and the streets start getting quieter. The best neighborhood in all of Manhattan to a enjoy a quaint stay has to be the West Village. Fans of daytime television will recognise it as the filming location for the long running hit series Sex and the City, but there is plenty more for others to be excited for as well. While the streets are picturesque and less crowded in the day (perfect for an afternoon stroll), it is the complete opposite post sunset.
The district has a very active nightlife, with trendy jazz clubs, piano bars, comedy clubs and cabaret theatres. Some of the most iconic ones being the Village Vanguard, which attracts huge crowds for their jazz performances and the Stonewall Inn Bar, which was a central point of the 1960's gay rights movement. Safe to day, you will find yourself in fine company in terms of musicians and artists while in West Village.
The rent might be a little pricey in the neighborhood, but credit where it's due, every hotel in the West Village looks and feels like it has been ripped out of a picture perfect real estate catalogue for urban townhouses. Grab a ride on the A, C or L transit lines of the New York Subway to make your way to the neighborhood.
Let's move on from the southernmost to the exact opposite end of Manhattan. Right on the waterfront of the Harlem River, you will find yourself in the up and coming neighborhood of Harlem, long known for its diverse cultural vibe. It has been a centre for the development of music in America since the early twentieth century. Anchored by the iconic Apollo Theatre in the heartland of Harlem, the music scene (dominated by Jazz, R&B and soul) spread in all of New York and made a significant contribution to American taste in music as well. The landmark definitely warrants a visit or even two.
Harlem also has numerous galleries outlining the histories of Latin American and African Americans through dynamic exhibits. It was the centre of the development of artistic movement within the African American community which is now referred to as the Harlem Renaissance. While to try to take in as much of the rich history of the neighborhood, you can also pop into one of the newest hip bars that have started to show up in the uptown district mostly around Frederick Douglass Boulevard. Harlem's lively nightlife is bound to keep you interested, much like its rich history.
Harlem is serviceable through the New York Subway and is connected with the Bronx through a total of five bridges. While in Harlem try to find a hotel in one of many age-old brownstone buildings.
Manhattan's very own bohemian corner centred in the East Village is the place to be for the young and the restless. Not only does the neighborhood have trendy pubs and bars which are perfect for socialising, Alphabet City has one of New York's very own beer gardens. And despite rapid urbanisation, the neighborhood maintains some of its offbeat and edgy style intact with street murals and open air movie theatres and music concerts.
Trace back the history of this very distinctive cultural shift at the neighbourhood's very own Museum of Reclaimed Urban Space, which narrates the story of urbanisation in a whole new style. Or visit a local comedy club or a cafe with an open mic or simply take a walk in the Tompkins Square Park to get the hang of the residents' daily life. Or even better still, you can enjoy a quiet afternoon in the park with take out from one of the many bakeries or bagel houses away from the bustling New York crowds.
Hotels in and around Alphabet City are easy to find and not always the most expensive. It is serviceable through any and all of the East Village stations on the New York Subway.