Although New York comprises of 5 boroughs when most people head to the city they have one place in mind: Manhattan.
And for good reason – this is where the majority of the tourist attractions and world-class restaurants & bars are situated, and while the other boroughs most certainly possess their own individual charm, if you’re going to New York just once then Manhattan’s where it’s at.
The island’s made up of a collection of neighbourhoods, and each has its own distinct flavour and personal charm. So you might be wondering where to stay in Manhattan – here we take a look at the best neighbourhoods to give you an idea of where to spend your time while in New York, based on your preferences and what you’re looking to get out of your time in the Big Apple.
In the heart of Manhattan sits undoubtedly the most famous and iconic neighbourhood in New York: Midtown.
This is where the legendary attractions such as Times Square, the Empire State Building and many others are situated, and it’s also the place you’ve seen countless times in the movies and on TV.
As well as the famous attractions, Midtown’s also home to numerous department stores such as H&M and Saks Fifth Avenue so, despite the daunting crowds, this is a must-see for anyone in NYC to shop.
Once the epicentre for the gay community, with over 200 galleries and its quaint little boutique shops, Chelsea is now the go-to neighbourhood for the art aficionados in New York.
This neighbourhood, which sits between Greenwich and Midtown, is a bastion for art-lovers and there are also a number of flea markets and antique shops meaning bargain hunters are also in their element when they visit.
While the area is no longer seen as the LGBT capital of NYC, there are still a number of gay bars and clubs here so if that’s the scene you’re looking for you’ll most certainly feel at home in Chelsea.
If it’s nightlife you’re heading to New York for then undoubtedly the place to be is the Meatpacking District.
This is where all the best bars and clubs are located, but as well as banging beats you can also find top-quality restaurants and cafes, perfect for ramping up those energy levels before or after you hit the clubs.
There are also a number of tourist attractions including the High-Line and there are some great hotels in the area, too, making it an ideal spot to stay during your trip.
Famous for the wedge-shaped building of the same name, Flatiron is popular with young professionals who frequent the trendy bars in the evening. The area is mostly residential, although the serene Madison Square Park offers a nice escape from the urban chaos.
Gramercy is the main hotel district in Manhattan, so if this is where you’d like to stay you should have no issues finding suitable accommodation.
Home to the world-famous Wall Street, this is the beating heart of the city’s financial industry.
Throughout the working week, the Financial District is frequented by the city’s financial traders, although at the weekend the area is pretty quiet.
Despite its name, there’s more to this neighbourhood than just city boys there to work – it’s also home to the National September 11 Memorial and the One World Trade Center, which towers above the city at 1,363 feet.
Once an industrial area, SoHo is the epitome of big city gentrification and the area is now one of the most upmarket and trendiest neighbourhoods in New York.
The cobblestone streets and castiron architecture lend a wonderful ambience to the area and there are a number of excellent art galleries and high-end shops selling chic, uber-stylish products – just make sure you remember the credit card as SoHo is probably the most expensive area in town.
Within close proximity to Little Italy, Chinatown and Nolita, SoHo is also ideally located for those looking for some excellent dining options.
If you’ve never been to China, perhaps the closest you’ll come is visiting Chinatown in Manhattan.
You’ll find Chinese music and improv street performances which all serve to make Chinatown one of New York’s most popular destinations among tourists.
There are also street vendors selling everything from street food to fake designer goods, although the main draw for the hundreds of tourists who visit the area every day is the cuisine: here you can find the most authentic Asian food in the city – perhaps even the country – and the best thing is it’s all reasonably priced. Tuck in!
Although some will tell you the food in Little Italy is overrated (and overpriced) we think that’s a load of baloney – this is still undoubtedly one of the best places in New York for authentic Italian food.
Part of Little Italy’s charm is the fact that most of the area has remained relatively unchanged for decades, which gives a rare and fascinating glimpse into the New York of yesteryear.
A highlight for tourists is the world-famous Feast of San Gennaro, a 93-year-old festival that has taken place on the streets of Little Italy every September since it began. The festival is an annual celebration of food & drink, and it’s a major draw for tourists, making it a fun if not crowded affair.
For guides on accommodation, check out our pick of the best 4-star hotels in New York