I'm visiting New York for the first time in April.
I was thinking of staying at a hotel near Times Square, is that a good idea? I hear Time Square is very crowded but not sure what would be a good area to stay at? Any advice on good hotels for a first time visitor?
New York City has a lot of variety in the types and quality of hotels. Where you stay primarily has to do with your budget, your interests as a visitor, and the quality of hotel you are seeking.
Staying near the Times Square/Midtown Manhattan area definitely has the advantage of having easy access to most of the most well known attractions by foot or short subway ride. Times Square, Empire State Bldg, and Rockefeller Plaza are all in this area. Of course, it is also super expensive and super crowded with both tourists and locals. It's not my personal choice of where to stay.
If money was no object and I wanted to stay in Manhattan, I would probably get a hotel in the Upper East Side. It's really easy to get to all the Midtown and Lower Manhattan attractions from here by subway, and is really close to Central Park. It is also a decent distance away from the main tourist hubbub.
If you don't mind a bit of a commute by train to get to the attractions of Manhattan, staying in a neighborhood in Brooklyn or Queens can be a great choice. You will get a more local perspective and have a more unique visit to New York, and the subway connects everything. I choose a different neighborhood every time I visit New York. So far I have really like staying in Astoria, Williamsburg, and Park Slope.
These days I always use Airbnb to find apartments to stay in. Sometimes you can find awesome deals on an entire apartment and I find it more homey than staying in a hotel.
As you can see it just depends on the experience you are after.
Crystal, Traveler's Toast
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I stayed many times at the New York New York Marriott Marquis a few blocks from Times Square. It is very lively, the food is good and it has a fantastic revolving view bar. Every neighborhood has a different ambiance. Times Square is bustling and lively.
When I am traveling I like my hotel to have a great bar scene and housekeeping. AirBnB is cheaper but you lose so much of the travel experience and what makes travel different than being at home. I plan to continue to support the hotel industry with my travel budget.
We would need to know the type of hotel you're looking for to answer that question (3 star, 4 star, 5 star?). As a rule, I avoid Times Square like the plague.
I Would look for an amazing apartment at Airbnb.com. The hotels in New York are not really good, only the most expensive ones are good.
For me, it all depends on price, then location. I've had great stays at mostly upper east side hotels, and appreciated being out of the hubbub, but also closer to the 6, and LGA. Know your price point and desired location. Most recently last summer I stayed at @MarthaWashington and @TrypNewYork, both deals on travel zoo, but also stayed @WNewYork thru hotwire, and @Doubletree Metropolitan and @MarriottCourtyard in midtown. Have fun.