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NY Cool Neighborhoods & Trendy Hotels

A Local Travel Advisor’s Guide To New York Neighborhoods, Hidden Gems And Trendy Hotels

New York City is a bustling metropolis, a city of contrasts and diversity. It is a city that is constantly changing and evolving, yet it remains rooted in its history.

From the towering skyscrapers of Manhattan to the brownstone-lined streets of Brooklyn, New York City offers something for everyone. Whether you're looking for world-class museums, Broadway shows, or Michelin-starred restaurants, you'll find it here.

And yet, New York City is also a city of neighborhoods, each with its own unique character. From the trendy boutiques of Soho to the vibrant nightlife of Greenwich Village to the laid-back atmosphere of Park Slope, there's a neighborhood in New York that's perfect for everyone.

But what really makes New York City special is its people. People from all over the world come to New York to live, work, and pursue their dreams. This diversity is reflected in the city's food, culture, and arts scene. From halal chicken carts to dim sum restaurants to jazz clubs, New York City offers a taste of the world.

Of course, no city is perfect, and New York is no exception. It can be expensive, crowded, and noisy. But for all of its flaws, New York City is a city that is unlike any other. It is a city that is full of life, excitement, and opportunity.

Museums and Galleries

In addition to world-renowned museums like the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City also offers a wide variety of lesser-known museums and galleries, each with its own unique perspective. In the Meatpacking District, the Whitney Museum of American Art showcases the best of American art from the 20th and 21st centuries. For those looking for something a little funkier, the galleries of Chelsea and Soho offer a diverse range of contemporary art.

Neighborhoods

Beyond the main tourist areas of Manhattan, downtown and New York City's outer boroughs offer a wealth of hidden gems. In Brooklyn, the trendy neighborhoods of Dumbo and Williamsburg offer a mix of unique boutiques, independent restaurants, and vibrant nightlife. Brooklyn Heights is a charming neighborhood with historic brownstones and stunning views of the Manhattan skyline. For those looking for a taste of culture, Harlem offers incredible dining and iconic landmarks like the Apollo Theater.

Spend your day by ducking in and out of these amazing institutions. There's also tons of galleries so people who want something that's a little funkier and a little bit more casual, there are great galleries around Chelsea and Soho as well. If you are staying a bit longer, get out of the main parts of the city. So get out into Brooklyn, explore the Williamsburg Brooklyn Bridge Park area. Walk around the brownstone areas of Brooklyn Heights. This is a great way  to sort of not be just in the thick of all of the tourist stuff. Go uptown Harlem – there is incredible dining to be had. The Apollo Theater is iconic. There's a lot to do up there.

Price-wise in general, uptown New York has always been more expensive than downtown, but that is not so true anymore. Downtown has become a very cool neighborhood and there are a lot of things that are very expensive down here. But there are still spots and hotels that don't cost as much, and I love to put my clients there too.  Reach out to me for perks regarding any of the hotels mentioned in this entire section - free breakfasts, hotel credits, early check-in/late checkouts, possible upgrades; its a no-brainer since its all at no additional cost to you.

brooklyn bridge
Brooklyn Bridge, NY

Hidden Gems - Day Trips & NY Botanical Garden Train Show

Day Trips

For those staying in New York City for a longer period of time, a day trip to one of the outer boroughs is a great way to experience a different side of the city. The Bronx Zoo is a world-class zoo with over 6,000 animals from around the globe. The New York Botanical Garden is a beautiful oasis in the heart of the Bronx, with over 50 acres of gardens and conservatories to explore.

Example of a Hidden Gem: NY Botanical Garden Train Show

One of New York City's best-kept secrets is the New York Botanical Garden train show. This annual holiday display features miniature trains chugging through a whimsical landscape made entirely of natural materials like twigs and leaves. It's a magical experience for visitors of all ages. I love to take my nephew and niece on New Year's Day because it's a day that it's not very crowded and not much is going on. It is indoor so even when it's really cold you're inside and I love to do that in the morning and then make a stop on Arthur Avenue in the Bronx which is the Little Italy of the Bronx – a very real Little Italy. So there are some great ways to spend a day that's a little bit beyond the city. And then obviously the neighborhoods are a place just for wandering. It's what my wife and I like to really do and a simple thing to do on a weekend – just go take a walk with a friend and a coffee. And what if you were able to do that daily during lunch as I did when I worked in the city for 20 years? I never tired of it – no two lunchtime walks were alike!

new york botanical garden
New York Botanical Garden

The Upper East Side: Classic Elegance

Lets start with this neighborhood. The Upper East Side is quintessential old-world New York. Its a great place to stay in New York City, located in the heart of Manhattan and close to all the action. It is home to some of the world's most renowned museums, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art (the largest museum in the Western Hemisphere, with a collection spanning 5,000 years of art from around the world), the Frick Collection (a museum housed in a former Gilded Age mansion, with a collection of European paintings, sculptures, and decorative arts), and the Whitney Museum of American Art (a museum dedicated to American art from the 20th and 21st centuries). It is also home to a number of prestigious universities, including Columbia University (one of the Ivy League universities) and New York University (one of the largest private universities in the United States). And some of the world's most famous shopping streets, including Fifth Avenue (home to flagship stores of many luxury brands) and Madison Avenue (known for its high-end boutiques and art galleries).

Luxury Hotel Highlight: The Carlyle

When it comes to accommodations in the Upper East Side, we have a multitude of choices, but let's focus on a couple that stand out. Of course, there are plenty more, and if you have a particular favorite, feel free to share it.

One hotel that deserves a spotlight is The Carlyle. This classic establishment is now part of Rosewood Hotels and Resorts, which is a fantastic development. Booking through us, as part of the Rosewood Elite program, provides some extra perks.

What sets The Carlyle apart is that it doesn't exude the aura of a typical chain hotel. It's an establishment that didn't necessarily require a facelift, but it received one, and the results are stunning.

The iconic Bemelmans Bar is a must-visit. Even if you're not staying at the hotel, it's worth coming here for a drink. However, when you venture upstairs, you'll find a pleasant surprise. The rooms have undergone a complete transformation. They've shed their old New York vibe, which, while charming in its own right, might not have been everyone's cup of tea.

Now, The Carlyle's rooms blend in Rosewood's modern design while still retaining a certain residential charm. Staying here feels like you're in a stylish Upper East Side apartment. It's the kind of classic luxury that combines seamlessly with a keen sense of design.

The Carlyle is a larger hotel, and this works to your advantage in the Upper East Side. The towers offer some exceptional views. While the lower level rooms feature a classic New York street view, some of the tower rooms offer stunning vistas of Central Park, truly a sight to behold.

Luxury Hotel Highlight: The Mark Hotel

Another gem to consider is The Mark. This hotel boasts a rich history, having graced the Upper East Side for quite some time before undergoing a splendid renovation that revitalized its essence. The Mark offers an atmosphere that sets it apart from The Carlyle. It exudes a sense of classic New York, not in a stuffy way, but in a manner that feels refreshingly traditional.

What makes The Mark truly stand out is its vibrant ambiance. It's the epicenter of Upper East Side social life. The bar is perpetually buzzing with activity. Recently, the Asiate restaurant has been replaced with Caviar Kaspia, a remarkably upscale and delightful culinary establishment. Dining here is an exquisite experience, though it can lean toward the more expensive side. The rooms at The Mark reflect the hotel's somewhat cozier footprint. However, this characteristic allows for some truly remarkable views.

It's noteworthy to mention that The Mark features the most expensive penthouse in the entire city. Surprisingly, it's frequently booked, a fascinating tidbit. Speaking of interesting tidbits, here's some insider gossip: when husbands find themselves "between residences" after marital disputes on the Upper East Side, The Mark is often their choice for a new abode.

The bedrooms here are exceptional, but it's the bathrooms that I find captivating. The elegant black and white tile theme that graces the lobby continues into these spaces, providing an impeccably designed and striking atmosphere. It's chic and cozy, embodying the essence of New York.

One of The Mark's unique features is a specific suite that includes a library, an excellent choice for business travelers who anticipate conducting work within the confines of their room.

The Mark, much like The Carlyle, is a destination unto itself. Even if you're not planning to stay here, it's a place you should consider for dining, for a drink at the bar, or simply to bask in the exhilarating atmosphere. It's the kind of establishment that elicits the desire to dress up for the occasion, embodying an air of fabulousness. Interestingly, The Mark was the first of New York's luxury hotels to open its doors at the onset of the pandemic.

carlyle hotel - nyc
Carlyle Hotel, Upper East Side

Nomad: Where Trendy Meets Chic North of Madison Square Garden

Nomad, an abbreviation for "North of Madison Square Garden," is rapidly becoming the hub for trendy and cool hotels. It's the perfect neighborhood for those who want a taste of the bustling New York scene without feeling overwhelmed. It's an area that has evolved and now boasts the latest chic hotels, creating an irresistible atmosphere.

Luxury Hotel Highlight: The Ritz Carlton New York, Nomad

Lets talk a bit about the Ritz Carlton in our hotels, and it's worth mentioning that even the Ritz Carlton which is certainly not a brand known for being modern and cool. Yet even the restaurant they opened inside this hotel is contemporary and cool and has a very hip bar scene. So things that are happening here feel really good right now and it's really transforming this neighborhood. If you are coming in by train, its right near the Moynihan Train Hall, which is the nicest and newest train station in the region. So you will have a real easy time getting here as well. And of course if you are coming from a show or game at Madison Square Garden, then you also have real easy access here.

Hotel Highlight: Virgin Hotel, NOMAD

New York City can be an expensive place to stay, but the Virgin Hotel New York City offers a more affordable option without sacrificing style or comfort. Located in the NoMad neighborhood, the Virgin Hotel is a vibrant and stylish hotel that is perfect for travelers of all kinds.

The hotel features a variety of room types, including entry-level rooms that are small but cozy. All rooms are well-designed and feature comfortable beds, spacious bathrooms, and modern amenities. It is a tall modern glass tower.  So, for travelers who want to splurge, there are also larger suites and rooms with stunning views of the city.

One of the things that makes the Virgin Hotel so special is its unique atmosphere. The hotel is designed to be a social hub, with plenty of spaces for guests to mingle and relax. There is a rooftop pool with stunning views of the city, a lively bar and restaurant, and a co-working space where guests can work or socialize.

The Virgin Hotel is also a great option for travelers who are looking for a convenient place to stay. The hotel is located within walking distance of many of New York City's top attractions, including Penn Station, the Empire State Building, and Madison Square Garden.

The ritz carlton, nomad, nyc
The Ritz-Carlton Nomad, NYC

Downtown Neighborhoods: Where History Meets Hip

Downtown is an exciting collection of neighborhoods that embodies the quintessential New York experience. Here, you'll find a captivating blend of historic charm and a vibrant artistic scene. Each neighborhood has its unique character. The West Village is known for its charming streets, Greenwich Village for its cultural history, and Soho for its artistic vibes.

Greenwich Village, also known as simply the Village, is a vibrant and eclectic neighborhood in Lower Manhattan. It is known for its bohemian atmosphere, its historic brownstones, and its bustling student life. Greenwich Village is home to New York University (NYU), which gives the neighborhood a youthful and energetic vibe.

West Village is a smaller and more upscale neighborhood located to the west of Greenwich Village. It is known for its quiet streets, its charming cafes, and its celebrity residents. West Village is a great place to wander around and soak up the old New York atmosphere. great places to eat and great things to do. In terms of comedy clubs, jazz clubs, all of that shopping. Everything you want is down here. But again, not a ton of hotels.

One of the most famous residents of West Village is Sarah Jessica Parker, who starred in the popular TV show "Sex and the City." Parker is often seen walking around the neighborhood with her family, and fans often stop her to say hello.

Hotel highlight The Marlton Hotel: A Hidden Gem in the West Village

There are not many hotels in the West Village, but the Marlton Hotel is a hidden gem that is worth mentioning. It is a small and cozy hotel with a charming lobby that is often used as a workspace by guests. You could walk right past the hotel and not even notice it. The rooms are also small but very cute. If you are traveling with a lot of luggage, this may not be the best hotel for you, but it is a great option for travelers who are looking for a unique and affordable place to stay in the West Village.

the marlton hotel, new york
The Marlton Hotel, New York

Tribeca: Where Industrial Meets Chic

Tribeca is the epitome of downtown living, with cobblestone streets and industrial buildings that have been transformed into chic residences. This neighborhood exudes an artistic appeal and a strong sense of community, making it an excellent choice for those who want an authentic downtown experience.

It is a quieter neighborhood like you get on the upscale areas of uptown. It's very residential. It is the kind of place if living here residents cannot go to the deli without bumping into three people they know. It feels like a very small town down here but you're close to everything. One of the reasons I like putting clients here. They can walk to Soho. They can walk to the West Village. All of the subways come together down here so you can get on a subway and go anywhere in the city very easily. You can walk the Brooklyn Bridge, you can take the ferries out to the various islands and other points of interest. You've got the water and wonderful parks – patches of greenery - here. In contrast to the iconic Central Park uptown, its not nearly as crowded.

When the Tribeca Film Festival comes to town and you'll see all sorts of celebrities all over the place. And it's really actually quite easy to get tickets to go see these films. So fun time to be here. Lots of interesting art galleries. There is a very famous place called the Mysterious Bookstore that sells only mysterious books. And don't miss out on the AIRE Ancient Baths. This is a spa that is underground and has all these different plunge pools! I bet you didn’t think such a place existed in New York City…

Hotel Highlight: The Greenwich Hotel

Let's delve into The Greenwich, a hotel that often holds the title of many people's favorite in the city. It's intriguing to note that guests frequently oscillate between staying at The Greenwich when downtown and opting for an uptown locale, such as The Carlyle. This establishment exudes a unique charm, commencing with its inviting lobby, a space meticulously designed to foster a sense of warmth and belonging.

The lobby encompasses a dual allure, housing both a communal area and a more discreet back room. Access to this inner sanctum is reserved for guests or those in the company of a guest. It serves as a sophisticated lounge, frequently frequented by individuals seeking the quintessential living room experience within the neighborhood.

The Greenwich also boasts a remarkable spa, discreetly nestled beneath the premises. What makes this spa particularly intriguing is its fascinating history. The hotel was conceived by none other than Robert De Niro, who orchestrated the ambitious project of importing an entire Japanese farmhouse, alongside the skilled craftsmen required to reconstruct it. Thus, the subterranean spa space envelops a serene pool that harmoniously integrates with the encompassing Japanese farmhouse-inspired architecture. This spa, known as Shibui Spa, is a truly unique and exquisite haven. If you're not familiar with it, I strongly recommend you explore its offerings.

Hotel Highlight: The Roxy Hotel

The Roxy Hotel is a homage to the artistic history of Tribeca. It's a unique blend of luxury and creativity, housing the Roxy Cinema, an art-deco-inspired theater, and jazz at the Roxy, a world-renowned jazz club. The rooms seamlessly combine modern comfort with a vintage touch, offering a taste of old New York's glamour. Staying at The Roxy means being at the heart of Tribeca's art scene and enjoying an authentic downtown experience.

The Greenwich Hotel, New York
The Greenwich Hotel, New York

SoHo - Boutiques, Art Galleries, Celebrities

SoHo, or South of Houston, is a vibrant neighborhood in Lower Manhattan that is known for its trendy boutiques, art galleries, and celebrity residents. It is a popular destination for shoppers of all budgets, from those looking for high-end designer labels to those looking for unique and affordable finds.

One of the things that makes SoHo so special is its eclectic mix of stores. There is something for everyone in SoHo, from high-end boutiques like Chanel and Prada to vintage stores and independent designers. You can also find a variety of art galleries in SoHo, showcasing the work of both emerging and established artists.

In addition to its great shopping, SoHo is also known for its excellent food scene. There are a variety of restaurants to choose from in SoHo, serving everything from Italian cuisine to Japanese cuisine to American fusion. Many of the restaurants in SoHo are popular with celebrities, so be sure to make a reservation if you want to eat at one of the hottest spots.

If you want a super quiet neighborhood, I would prefer more on the Upper East Side. But down here, the windows are done really well - yet you feel like you're living in SoHo and you're right in the middle of everything. You can be anywhere in this neighborhood and be surrounded by all of the shops and restaurants.

Boutique & Luxury Hotels Highlight: The Crosby Street Hotel and the Mercer Hotel

The Crosby Street Hotel is located in the SoHo neighborhood of downtown New York City, just a few blocks from The Mercer Hotel. It is a luxury boutique hotel with a stylish and sophisticated design. It has over 80 rooms and suites, all of which are decorated with a mix of classic and modern furnishings. The rooms are spacious and comfortable, and they feature amenities such as king-size beds, marble bathrooms, and flat-screen TVs.

The hotel also has a number of public spaces, including a restaurant, a bar, a lounge, and a garden. The restaurant, Crosby Bar and Terrace, serves modern American cuisine in a stylish setting. The bar, The Crosby Bar, is a popular spot for cocktails and small bites. The lounge is a cozy place to relax and socialize, and the garden is a beautiful oasis in the heart of SoHo.

The Crosby Street Hotel is a popular choice for celebrities and business travelers alike. It is known for its excellent service, its luxurious accommodations, and its convenient location.  If you are looking for a stylish and luxurious hotel in downtown New York City, the Crosby Street Hotel is a great option.

So in essence, the Mercer and the Crosby Street are two very different hotels in SoHo. The Mercer is a more understated hotel with a clientele of artists, architects, and music producers. The Crosby is a more buzzy hotel where you're likely to run into someone you know.

The Mercer's rooms are simple and understated, with wooden floors, simple furniture, and comfortable beds. The city views are great, and the rooms are surprisingly quiet for being in the middle of SoHo. The Crosby's rooms are more stylish and modern, with amenities like marble bathrooms and flat-screen TVs.

crosby street hotel
Crosby Street Hotel, Soho, New York

Lower East Side - Bohemian neighborhood, amazing food experiences

Now, lets move towards much further east, towards the The Lower East Side (LES). It has traditionally been a vibrant and bohemian neighborhood in Manhattan, known for its great bars, restaurants, and shops. However, it has not always been known for its hotels. That is all changing now. In recent years, a number of new high-end hotels have opened on the LES, including the Nine Orchard Hotel and the 50 Bowery Hotel. These hotels offer a luxurious and stylish experience, while still retaining the LES's cool and edgy vibe.

No matter what your budget or style is, you're sure to find a great place to stay on the LES. With its new hotels, vibrant nightlife, and eclectic mix of shops and restaurants, the LES is quickly becoming one of Manhattan's most desirable neighborhoods.

Foodies will delight in the LES's diverse and delicious culinary scene, which features everything from casual eateries to Michelin-starred restaurants. Shopaholics will also find something to love in the LES, with its many unique and independent boutiques. And history buffs will appreciate the LES's rich past, which is evident in its architecture, culture, and people.

Boutique & Luxury Hotels Highlight: The Nine Orchard

The 9 Orchard Hotel, a brand new gem in the heart of the Lower East Side, is a must-visit for travelers seeking a luxurious and stylish experience. Designed to feel like an apartment, with real books from a local bookstore and treats from local businesses in the minibar, the hotel offers a tranquil oasis in the midst of the neighborhood's bustling energy.

The hotel is surrounded by retail establishments. It has a rooftop terrace with stunning views of the city, and its rooms are designed to feel like apartments. Much of the furniture and décor in the rooms is sourced from local businesses, giving the hotel a truly authentic LES feel.

Located within walking distance of shops, restaurants, and bars, the 9 Orchard Hotel is the perfect place to experience the best of the Lower East Side. From the vibrant nightlife to the eclectic mix of cultures, there's something for everyone in this vibrant neighborhood.

Reminiscent of the Mercer Hotel in SoHo, the 9 Orchard Hotel exudes a more relaxed vibe, making it the ideal choice for travelers seeking a sophisticated and understated experience. Whether you're looking to immerse yourself in the Lower East Side's vibrant culture or simply unwind in a luxurious setting, the 9 Orchard Hotel offers the perfect escape.

As a member of Leading Hotels of the World, the 9 Orchard Hotel is guaranteed to meet the highest standards of quality and service. With its stylish accommodations, thoughtful amenities, and prime location, the 9 Orchard Hotel is the perfect home away from home in the heart of the Lower East Side.

Boutique & Luxury Hotels Highlight: The 50 Bowery Hotels

The 50 Bowery Hotel is another great option for travelers looking for a stylish and affordable hotel on the LES. The hotel is located in a converted warehouse, and its rooms are designed with a modern and industrial aesthetic. The hotel also has a rooftop bar and restaurant, which offer stunning views of the city.

In addition to these two new hotels, there are a number of other great places to stay on the LES. The neighborhood is also home to a number of unique and charming hotels, such as the Ludlow Hotel and the Bowery Hotel.

50 Bowery, which is a notch down in price point, making it a little bit more affordable. It is part of a high-end hotel chain, but more contemporary, with really cute design. It again puts you in a great neighborhood, very easy walking distance from everything, but at a slightly lower price point. It has a fun, good vibe, more for a younger client. I wouldn't put my grandparents here. I'd probably put more like younger couples, or you could do families, but sort of families who want to be in the middle of everything

nine orchard hotel, new york
Nine Orchard Hotel, New York

Downtown New York: A Vibrant Neighborhood with Two Great Hotels

Downtown New York is a vibrant and exciting neighborhood with something to offer everyone. From its world-class museums and restaurants to its iconic landmarks and stunning waterfront views, there is something for everyone to enjoy in downtown New York. One of my favorite spots is the historic Fraunces Tavern, where George Washington gave his farewell speech to his officers during the War of Independence.

If you are looking for a hotel in downtown New York, there are two great options to consider: the Conrad Downtown and Casa Cipriani.

Hotel Highlight: The Conrad Downtown

The Conrad Downtown is a great option for families on a budget. It used to be an Embassy Suites, so all of the rooms are suites with separate living rooms and sofa beds. The hotel is also located on top of a Shake Shack, a movie theater, and a mall, so there is always something to do.

The Conrad Downtown is often busy with Goldman Sachs and other corporate business during the week, but it is much quieter and the prices are lower on the weekends. In the winter, the hotel is a great place to stay for its indoor amenities, and in the summer, it is located right on the water with easy access to parks and other outdoor activities.

Luxury Hotel Highlight: Casa Cipriani

Casa Cipriani is a luxury hotel that is perfect for a romantic getaway. It is located right on the water and offers stunning views of the city skyline. The hotel also has a member club, so guests have exclusive access to the hotel's amenities, including a restaurant, bar, and rooftop pool.

Casa Cipriani is not the most affordable hotel in downtown New York, but depending upon your budget it is worth the splurge for its luxurious accommodations and exclusive amenities.

casa cipriani hotel, new york
Casa Cipriani Hotel, New York