Finding Manhattan Hotels
As the central borough of one of the most famous and recognizable cities in the world, Manhattan, New York needs little introduction—iconic landmarks like Broadway, Wall Street and Madison Avenue have made this thin island a celebrity in its own right across the globe. Manhattan’s towering landscape is home to the world’s best shopping, restaurants, theatre, bars, night clubs, and pretty much anything else you’d expect to find in a city, so it’s no surprise that tourists from every corner of planet earth flock here to see the sights and experience the essence of New York City.
Although the island of Manhattan isn’t exceptionally large—22.7 square miles (59 km2) to be exact—it’s a complex and often overwhelming urban jungles made up of over 700 streets that stretch to the farthest ends of the island. As such, Manhattan is divided into dozens of neighborhoods and districts, each with their own distinct history and charm, and collection of where to stay with a wide array of hotels and motels.
At the south tip of the island is the area known as downtown Manhattan, which encompasses the city’s financial district, including Wall Street and the site of the World Trade Centers (now the National September 11th Memorial and Museum.) The Wall Street Inn, located right in the heart of this business hub, is a luxury hotel in a landmark building that caters to the business traveler. Nearby Battery Park is a great place to enjoy views of—or take a ferry ride to—the Statue of Liberty. The Ritz-Carlton Battery Park literally towers over the pier and offers exceptional views and classy elegance.
But downtown isn’t all about suits and bottom lines–to the northwest of the financial district are more artistic neighborhoods of TriBeCa, SoHo and NoHo, while just above is the Lower East Side, a diverse-yet-grungy area that is a great place to find a good bargain at an eclectic boutique. Trendy Tribeca (short for “triangle below canal street”) is considered one of the safest and most community-oriented areas in Manhattan and is home to many a budding artist. The stylish Tribeca Grand Hotel is a popular option here, as is the nearby Cosmopolitan Hotel—the latter of which is slightly less opulent but much easier on the wallet.
Just to the north is SoHo (short for “south of Houston Street” and modelled after London’s SoHo district.) Formerly known for its bohemian charm, rising prices have made the SoHo of today to become an area known for its expensive boutiques and galleries. The Mercer Hotel is a unique place to stay in SoHo, set in a Roman Revival-style building and featuring sleek and stylish décor.
North of SoHo is the famous Greenwich Village, also known as the West Village, the East Village or simply The Village. The Village is the largest residential area in Manhattan and has a colorful history as a vibrant arts and literary community that attracts the artistic, quirky, offbeat and radical. This part of Manhattan is home to some of the city’s best eateries and nightlife, so it’s well worth visiting, if not staying in. The Washington Square Hotel is a popular accommodation choice because of its art deco styling and numerous convenient amenities. In the East Village, the Bowery’s Whitehouse Hotel is a trendy but affordable budget hotel and hostel with an ideal location.
Midtown Manhattan is where many of the main tourist attractions are, including Broadway, Times Square and Madison Square Gardens. Located just above the Village, Chelsea is considered to be one of the most fashionable areas in Manhattan, as well as a hotspot for night clubs and trendy restaurants. Hotel Pennsylvania is a landmark hotel in this area, having opened its grand doors in 1919. The lush columned hotel was almost demolished in the 1990s but it has since been restored and now offers surprisingly affordable rates. And with a colorful, modern façade, the Eventi Hotel is another popular choice in Chelsea, not just for its sleek and modern luxury but also because of its convenient location next to the Penn Station transportation hub.
East of Chelsea is the Gramercy Park/Flatiron District, famous for the Flatiron Building, which is both Manhattan’s oldest skyscraper and one of its most recognizable ones with its unique pointed top. This area isn’t as bustling with things to do, but it’s got plenty of affordable hotels, including the Hotel Gershwin, a lively and colorful hotel located equidistant between Union Square and Times Square.
Above Gramercy Park is Midtown East, home to the Empire State Building and Grand Central Station. A popular spot among tourists, this area is loaded with hotel options, the most famous of which is the landmark Plaza Hotel, located at the southeast corner of Central Park and steps away from some of Fifth Avenue’s best shopping. This grand French Renaissance chau-style hotel opened in 1907, at which time it offered rooms for a mere $2.50 a night (don’t expect the same bargain these days–rooms often run at over $1000 a night.) The nearby Ritz-Carlton Central Park—otherwise known as simply “The Ritz”—provides similar opulence at a comparable price. Want all the grandeur without the four-digit price tag? The historic Roosevelt Hotel is another property in the area with a slightly lower (but by no means cheap) price tag.
West of Midtown is the Theater District, where some of the world’s best theatre performances on Broadway and at Carnegie Hall draw travelers from far and wide. The Theatre District is also home to Times Square and many museums and shops. Enjoy the lifestyle of the rich and famous by staying on Central Park at the Trump International Hotel or the art deco Jumeirah Essex House, or save your pennies for the theatre by staying at a budget hotel like Hotel Carter, which offers great views of Times Square.
Uptown–comprised of the Upper East Side and the Upper West Side, which straddle either side of Central Park—is a largely residential area, with Manhattan’s elite all coveting addresses that border the edges of Central Park. The Upper East Side—home to Park Avenue and many top museums like the Guggenheim—has a handful of luxury hotels, including the castle-like Carlyle Hotel. The Upper West Side, on the other hand, is much more accessible with a wide range of both high-end and affordable hotels. The elegant-but-minimalist Royal Park Hotel is a must-visit for bargain hunters, while the Mandarin Oriental Hotel near Broadway is a lavish choice for those without a budget. The Upper West Side is home to cultural attractions like the Lincoln Center for Performing Arts, the American Museum of Natural History and the Dakota Building.
North of Uptown—beyond the reaches of central park—lies ethnically-diverse areas like Harlem, Spanish Harlem and Upper Manhattan. These areas each offer a wide range of budget accommodations but safety can sometimes be an issue so travelers are advised to do their research before booking a hotel here.