New York, New York – it’s a hell of a town! Manhattan may be an island, but they don’t call it the ‘Big’ Apple for nothing – New York is a city packed with things to see and do, and countless neighbourhoods, each with their own unique flavour. Whether you’re backpacking in the USA or want a fast-paced city break, New York City is a must-see.
Nowhere feels more diverse than New York - it’s got hipsters hanging in Greenwich Village, Park Avenue Princesses shopping on Madison, and vibrant communities with bags of history in China and Koreatown and Harlem. We’ve helped you find where to stay in London, but what about this hectic city, where cheap rooms are notoriously small and difficult to find? Here’s our pick of the best New York hostels in Manhattan’s coolest neighbourhoods…
Like Camden in London, the East Village has long been associated with rock and roll – and used to be the edgiest neighbourhood in its punk rock heydey. The area has been smartened up a bit since the college students and media types moved in, but there’s still a thriving arts scene, plenty of cheap shopping and places to eat and a Polish and Ukranian community keeping things diverse. Browse quirky boutiques and record stores, find a bargain on Orchard street on the Lower East Side and hang out with NYU college students at the local bars. For cheap eats, head over to Chinatown or Little Italy, or tuck into a Vietnamese speciality – a Banh Mih sandwich or steaming Pho soup at Baoguette (Mark’s Place). Nearby Nolita is the place to pose with fashion types if you crave something a little more hip.
Best for: Students, young backpackers
Where to Stay: Jazz on the Town, East Village
Uptown’s museums, beautiful Central Park and Riverside Park, and tons of kid-friendly attractions make this one of the best places for families to stay in the city. Slightly less manic than other areas, but still close to plenty of sights, artsy types will fall in love with the Museum of Modern Art and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and there’s a whole tree-lined block of amazing museums. For a cliched but classic New York moment, take a horse-drawn carriage through Central Park, or catch a play or free concert during the summer months. Check out historic Harlem, and it will be hard to resist a Sunday brunch of soul food, soundtracked by a gospel choir!
Best for: Families on a budget, culture enthusiasts and couples
Where to Stay: New York Hostel 99
Lower Manhattan is a real mix – some of the city’s most historic buildings jostle with the modern skyscrapers of Wall Street, and at the tip of the island you’ll find the beautiful Battery Park, and a waterfront lined with important sculptures. See the remains of the World Trade Center and the iconic New York Stock Exchange, head to South Street Seaport for a lively hub of cafes, shops and museums, and depart from Battery Park by boat to Staten Island and the Statue of Liberty.
Best for: Anyone!
Where to Stay: Girls will love the Pink Hostel, New York’s only all-female hostel. The Financial District Apartments is a guy-friendly alternative.
Chelsea has become on of the city’s hippest addresses in recent years – a hub for the vibrant gay community, the neighbourhood’s 19th century brownstones have been transformed into avant garde art galleries. The once abandoned Chelsea Pier is now a vast sports and entertainment complex, with ice skating, playing fields, golf driving ranges and the pleasant Pier Park. But one of the main draws for staying in Chelsea is its proximity to bargain shopping – 6th Avenue is rammed with discount stores and bargain fashion outlets, and Herald Square is home to the legendary department store, Macy’s. For more scenic shopping, wander through the Flower District, where every shop is ‘in bloom’, selling plants, flowers and trees.
Best for: Gay and lesbian travelers, artsy types, shopaholics
Where to Stay: Chelsea Star Hotel
Midtown is the bustling heart and soul of NYC – it’s where you’ll find Times Square, the Empire State Building, the Flatiron building, Union Square, the Theatre district and the Rockefeller Center. Stay here and the city is on your doortsep – catch a show on Broadway, go up the Empire State, and escape to Central Park or MOMA when things get too hectic.
Best for: People who like to be in the heart of the action
Where to Stay: Times Square House
Upper East Side
Even if you’re not familiar with the hit TV teen drama ‘Gossip Girl’, you’ll know that the Upper East Side is the place New York’s privileged elite and private school kids call home. The wide avenues and leafy boulevards are an elegant place to stay, and top galleries such as the Guggenheim and the Frick Collection are within easy reach. If the exclusive boutiques of Madison Avenue are out of your price range, you’re still pretty close to Midtown’s bargain shopping.
Best for: Families, couples, wannabe Gossip Girls…
Where to Stay: East 73rd and York Ave Apartments
Images – Thanks to 416 style on Flickr
LS – Do you have a recommended cheap stay in New York or a favorite hostel to share? Let our reader’s know too!