Where to Stay in New York City for a Local Experience

Get under the skin of New York City by experiencing it like one of the locals
Get under the skin of New York City by experiencing it like one of the locals | © Patrick Tomasso / Unsplash
Culture Trip Travel Team

The USA‘s most storied city has perfected the art of the hotel – as well as having some of the best-preserved historic hideaways, it’s a hotbed for innovation, with trendy new brands springing up each year. Whether you want a mega-label up near Central Park and the museums, a more low-key, character-packed pad downtown, you’re spoilt for choice. This is where to stay in New York City and blend in like a local.

1. The Knickerbocker Hotel

Hotel, Pubs with Rooms

Spacious cream-toned room with two double beds, a television and couch at The Knickerbocker Hotel.
Courtesy of the Knickerbocker / Expedia
Just a step away from the neon fizz of Times Square, the Knick has calm, clean rooms behind its frilly Beaux-Arts facade, decked out in tranquilizing hues of stone, pine and biscuit. The Charlie Palmer restaurant taps into the farm territory of NY’s Hudson Valley for its seared steaks and roasted-squash soups; and its rooftop bar has one of the best views around for buzzy Manhattan moments such as New Year’s Eve or the Fourth of July.

2. The Dominick


A stylish corner double room with floor-to-ceiling windows offering impressive views of the Hudson River at The Dominick Hotel in NYC.
Courtesy of The Dominick / Expedia.com

The SoHo neighborhood, with its sharp designer stores and cult bakeries, breeds a slicker brand of boutique hotel, and the Dominick’s tree-trimmed rooftop, lofty bronze lobby and art-bedecked rooms sum up that vibe. Sip martinis by the pool in the summer months; or hunker down in its small-but-perfectly-formed spa – or in elegant fine-dining spot Vestry when the cold snaps set in.

3. Conrad New York Downtown


A modern double room in gray tones with impressive views of the city skyline at Conrad New York Downtown.
Courtesy of Conrad New York Downtown / Expedia

There’s an abstract, sci-fi feel to the Conrad’s towering, glass lobby – and the cool tones and curvaceous furniture continue everywhere from the rooms to the rooftop bar. Placed way downtown, near the World Trade Center, there’s an almost corporate smartness to this hotel that tempts business travelers and jet-setters; but the rooftop bar, with its unobstructed views of the shimmering Hudson River, could romance the socks off anyone.

4. Royalton Park Avenue

Spa Hotel

Rooftop pool surrounded by yellow and gray sun loungers and couches, with views of the Empire State Building at Royalton Park Avenue.
Courtesy of Royalton Park Avenue / Expedia

There’s a relaxed, youthful feel to this still-smart hotel in trendy NoMad – a plant-wrapped living wall hangs over the bar terrace, a pink chandelier dangles in the lobby, and exposed lightbulbs are strung festively above the outdoor pool. Pop up for a swim with a view of the Empire State Building, then settle into modern rooms with pops of hot pink and royal blue.

5. The Langham Fifth Avenue


Stylish corner room in white and charcoal hues, floor-to-ceiling windows and artwork at the Langham, New York, Fifth Avenue
Courtesy of the Langham / Hotels.com

Blessed with a super-central location and attentive, approachable staff, the Langham feels a cut above some of its established Midtown rivals. With sculptural, liquid-look areas in the lobby and moody murals behind reception, it’s a sharp, arty stay. Rooms may look basic, in crisp, cool white, and navy, but their simplicity hides some serious investment in your comfort – they’re kitted out with cloud-like Duxiana mattresses and kitten-soft Sferra bedding.

6. Empire Hotel


Modern double room in tones of beige and rust, with a television, an armchair, two-toned curtains and a desk at Empire Hotel.
Courtesy of Empire Hotel / Expedia
Situated in the underrated Upper West Side, the Empire has art deco looks and an oversized neon sign to match. Busy rooms with patterned carpet and taupe wallpaper are not to everyone’s taste, but behind that sky-level sign is a scenic rooftop lounge, with vine-strung walls and tangerine sofas – try the smoked port old fashioned or the jalapeño margarita. Skip around the neighborhood to find brutalist concert spot Lincoln Center, countless Jewish delis, and the Museum of Natural History.

7. Refinery Hotel


Spacious and stylish room with a double bed, a desk, hardwood floors and a lounge area with a couch and two armchairs at Refinery Hotel.
Courtesy of Refinery Hotel / Expedia

This bijou hotel ticks all of the boutique boxes – a great location, walkable from Midtown’s sights and theaters; a sense of place (it’s fashion-themed, in the historic Garment District); and fun creative touches, such as the retro newspaper of hotel info in your room, or live jazz and free wine in the lobby. Rooms are white, wood, and leather, with the odd designer’s sketch thrown in – and a small, sheltered rooftop bar with stretches of exposed brick completes the picture.

8. The Michelangelo New York


Spacious room with a queen-sized bed, lilac walls, lounge seating for two and a desk at The Michelangelo Hotel.
Courtesy of The Michelangelo Hotel / Expedia

Plum in NYC’s theatreland, close to foodie Hell’s Kitchen, the Michelangelo channels old-school glamour, from the marble and velvet of its lobby to the scarlet and gold upholstery of bar-restaurant the Lounge. Rooms similarly purr with sophistication – polished wood bed-frames, snuggly armchairs, and pearly curtains framing the metallic grid of the city. Rooms are on the large side for Manhattan, so there’s no chance of cabin fever here.

Looking for more unique places to stay in NYC? Discover our guide to the most romantic hotels in New York City, or if you’re visiting on a budget, check into one of these affordable stays in Manhattan.

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