Every week, I receive a bundle of emails from international playgirls who are about to descend on New York City for the first time. They always ask me the same questions, too. Where should they stay? What should they do? And what would make their debut in the city really, really special?
It’s crept up on me, but I’ve been living here for six years now, and in that time, I have formed some damn strong opinions about the best things to do in the best city on the planet!
Today we’re going to talk about location, location, location, aka, where should you stay in New York City?
Don’t stay in Times Square.
I’m telling you this from a place of love. Yes, Times Square is big and sparkly, and every tourist thinks it will be a shining jewel. It’s catnip for a first-timer, but beyond the neon, there is nothing there. Times Square is no more than an outdoor mall studded with the same tired old chain stores that you see all over America.
You should definitely visit Times Square (and at nighttime), but after an hour of gawping, you’ll have had your fill. That’s the perfect time to head back to your awesome boutique hotel or chic apartment downtown!
I always tell people to stay below 14th Street. The neighbourhoods to look in are the East Village, West Village, Greenwich Village, Union Square, Soho, Noho, Little Italy and Lower East Side. These are areas with great history and tremendous atmosphere. If you ask me, downtown is the real New York.
(Brooklyn is very cool, but I would recommend staying in Manhattan the first time you come to stay.)
Pinch those pennies!
Make no mistake about it, New York is an expensive city. You’ll be incredulous at the way your money just disappears on this small island! Cabs, drinks, restaurants, and even convenience stores (we call them bodegas) are going to be more expensive than you expect. For this reason, you should absolutely pinch pennies when it comes to your accommodation.
Don’t worry, Mama Darling wouldn’t have you sleep on a roach-infested mattress! My suggestion? Airbnb, baby.
If you’ve never used it before, Airbnb is a service which pairs weary travellers with a place to sleep. You rent an apartment (or even a room) directly from the owner, and pay per night. It is completely genius. It has revolutionised how I travel.
For example, this place on Orchard Street (Lower East Side) is only $90 a night, and it is perfectly adequate! This enormous loft in Soho (pictured above) is only $205. And if you want more space, this enormous 2300 square foot loft is $499.
Staying in someone’s apartment can be a little nerve-wracking the first time you do it, but this might help you make up your mind. For contrast, the Bowery Hotel — admittedly, very nice, at four and a half stars — is around $445/night for only 250 square feet! And the Comfort Inn — which is only a two star hotel — is $240/night.
I love a good turndown service as much as the next gal, but you gotta be crazy to spend that on a hotel… Especially when you could spend it on shoes (or your vice of choice) instead!
If you’re spending all your time in your accommodation in New York, you’re doing it wrong! Face it: you don’t need much more than a clean place to wash and sleep.
If, however, you are desperate to stay in a hotel, I would recommend browsing the listings on Tablet. They only work with the best, and I have only ever had fantastic experiences with them.
Stay tuned for more in this series! Got questions about visiting NYC? Ask me and I’ll answer in a future post!
Love and fresh linens,
Photos by Aleks Ivic and via Airbnb.