New York’s classic areas

By Zach Udko

Photography by Michael Lee / Getty Images

Skip to Navigation

January 2016

From the bright lights of Times Square to the swanky boutiques of the Upper East Side, New York is home to dozens of neighbourhoods, each with a unique personality and distinctive must-sees. Zach Udko – who himself lives in NoMad (North of Madison Square Park) – has the local lowdown on where to stay, where to eat and what to do in six of the city’s classic districts.

Midtown Manhattan

Home to the city’s most iconic landmarks and department stores, Midtown emits boundless energy inspired by the constant collision of glamour and grit.


For unapologetic New York opulence, few hotels can compare to The Plaza, which recently enjoyed a $450 million restoration. Stay in one of the legendary rooms with 24-carat gold plated Sherle Wagner fixtures or book a night in the playful Eloise Suite, designed by Betsey Johnson for the Plaza’s most precocious fictional guest.

Book a stay at The Plaza >

  • Check in at The Plaza for slice of classic Manhattan luxury

    Did you know…

    Unlike most hotels, you’ll find The Plaza’s grandest suites and rooms on the lower floors. Lifts were relatively new at the time of opening, and they weren’t popular with guests – so as a result, the staff quarters were on the top floors, while distinguished customers stayed on the lower floors.

    Book a stay
  • Poke-nom: get stuck into Hawaiian poké – NYC’s latest food craze – at Midtown’s Pokéworks

    Catch of the day

    Catch of the day It’s widely believed that poké originated among fisherman, who would eat seasoned fresh cut-offs from their catch as a snack. The word poké means ‘to cut crosswise in pieces’ in Hawaiian.

    Explore New York
  • The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) is home to nearly 200,000 works of art © Timothy Hursley

    Top tip…

    Admission to the MoMA is free on Fridays between 16:00 and 20:00, but arrive early to avoid the queues.

    More free things to do


Get stuck into the city’s latest Hawaiian food craze at Pokéworks or Sons of Thunder and tuck into a bowl of poké (pronounced poh-kay) – seasoned raw seafood with rice and vegetables.


Locals will tell you that the Top of the Rock Observation Deck – 70 storeys above ground in the Rockefeller Center – is where to catch the most dramatic sunset in Manhattan. Feeling arty? With nearly 200,000 works by 18,000 artists from Monet to Warhol, the Museum of Modern Art is without a doubt one of the world’s must-see museums. Top tip: admission is free on Fridays between 16:00 and 20:00, but you’ll want to arrive early to skip the long lines.

Find our cheapest flights to New York

Times Square

The party never stops at The Crossroads of the World, home to 40 professional Broadway theatres – not to mention those giant neon-lit billboards.


The ultra-modern Paramount Hotel is close to the bright lights of Times Square, has an in-house DJ in its swanky lobby, and showcases Corso, an Italian pastry shop serving some of Manhattan’s finest artisanal drip coffee and wood-roasted espresso.

Book a stay at Paramount Hotel >

  • Bright lights, big city: Times Square epitomises New York’s 24/7 spirit © Mlenny / Getty Images


Joining forces with chef Christina Tosi (the founder and owner of award-winning bakery Milk Bar), Kellogg’s celebrates breakfast from 07:00 to 23:00 every night. Choose your favourite cereal, add fruit, nuts and seeds, then boost it with toppings such as chai tea powder or pop tart crumble. If it’s all a bit too fruit loopy to you, they also serve customized sundaes.


A Broadway show is a must – but you can catch one at a discounted price and avoid the lines of the TKTS ticket booth by downloading the TodayTix app on your phone. There, you’ll find the best deals on Off-Broadway (between 100 and 499 seats) and Broadway (over 499 seats) shows offered up to a week in advance.

Read our insider’s guide to Broadway >

Financial District

Filled with outdoor cafés, live entertainment at South Street Seaport, and a game-changing new Westfield shopping mall at World Trade Center, FiDi has transformed from an all-work-no-play zone into one of the city’s most energetic destinations.


The Conrad New York towers above other lower Manhattan luxury accommodations with its Hudson River views and well-appointed, spacious suites. From the rooftop of the Loopy Doopy Bar, you can toast to Lady Liberty with a signature Ice Pop cocktail (a homemade popsicle swimming in prosecco).

Book a stay at the Conrad >

  • The Brooklyn Bridge as seen from the Financial District – or FiDi as locals call it – one of the city’s most energetic hubs © Konstantin Onishckenko/EyeEm / Getty Images

    All wired up

    There are over 14,000 miles of wire in the Brooklyn Bridge. Each cable is made of 19 separate strands, each of which has 278 individual wires.

    NYC weekend guide
  • Tuck into a burrito bowl with inventive fillings at El Vez

    Try it for yourself…

    Open for lunch, Monday to Friday from 11:30-16:00; open for dinner Sunday to Thursday from 16:00-22:00, and Fridays and Saturdays from 16:00-23:00; and open for brunch on Saturdays and Sundays from 11:00-16:00.

    Things to do
  • The National 9/11 Memorial

    Tour Ground Zero

    The National 9/11 Memorial is a striking and extremely moving monument at the foot of the highest building in the western hemisphere – One World Trade Center. A guide with a personal connection to the 9/11 events will take you on a 90-minute tour Ground Zero and the Memorial.

    Book the tour


The lunchtime burrito bar at El Vez – one of New York’s most noteworthy Mexican restaurants –– breaks from tradition with tasty fillings such as Korean BBQ beef and tofu al pastor.


Walk across the Brooklyn Bridge for a spectacular 360-degree view of sunrise. Later, pay your respects to the fallen heroes at the National 9/11 Memorial, followed by a Walking Tour of Ground Zero, where a guide personally connected to this national tragedy will deepen your understanding of this tribute.

Union Square

One of the city’s main hubs for social activism, Union Square Park is surrounded by New York University buildings, discount retail stores like Nordstrom Rack, and a highly popular farmer’s market.


Rising over Madison Square Park, The New York EDITION  provides a breath of fresh air amid the hustle and bustle of Manhattan – quite literally. The spa offers an oxygen therapy enhancement – a headset worn during treatments that allows you to inhale pure oxygen with your choice of aromatherapy blends. It’s also home to The Clocktower, one of the city’s buzziest new restaurants by super chef Jason Atherton.

Book a stay at The New York Edition >

  • The New York Edition’s rooms are luxurious yet homey © Nikolas Koening

    Raid the mini bar

    The New York Edition arguably has the coolest mini bar around, stocked with Illesteva sunglasses, a Le Labo black tea candle and underwear from cool New York lingerie brand Valentine.

    Book flights and hotels


When it comes to accessible fine dining, ABC Kitchen – located inside the extravagant ABC Carpet & Home – is in a league of its own thanks to celebrity chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten. Along with his world-class whole-wheat pizza, you’ll find creative tasty sharing plates such as pretzel-dusted calamari and sautéed dandelion greens. Though reservations are accepted one month in advance, they book up quickly. Call on the morning to place your name on the waitlist for daily cancellations.


Catch a show at Irving Plaza, one of New York’s most dynamic and funky mid-size music venues, which has featured intimate sets by Paul McCartney, Bob Dylan, U2, Pearl Jam, and Eric Clapton since it opened in 1978.

Upper West Side

Nestled between Central Park and Riverside Park, this is the ultimate destination for culture (think opera, ballet, jazz, classical music, Michelin-starred restaurants) – and a taste of old New York.


Located just across the street from Lincoln Center, The Empire Hotel has become a haven for pre-and-post show patrons thanks to its sophisticated and romantic lobby bar. The guests-only rooftop pool is a seasonal oasis with private cabanas, DJs, and live entertainment at the weekend.

Book a stay at the Empire >

  • The Hayden Planetarium on the Upper West Side © AMNH/D.Finin

    Did you know… ?

    Constructed in 1935, the original Hayden Planetarium at the American Museum of Natural History was the fourth planetarium to be built in the USA.

    Explore New York


Jacob’s Pickles charms the citified with good old-fashioned Southern comfort food – expect homemade biscuits drizzled with clover honey, fried pickles dipped in spicy mayo, and Vermont cheddar grits smothered in sausage gravy. And don’t miss the potent Apple Pie Moonshine.


Hayden Planetarium. In their full-dome immersive space shows, you can explore 13 billion years of the cosmos in under 30 minutes and witness the birth of the planet narrated by Liam Neeson. Admission is included with select ticket packages to the American Museum of Natural History.

Upper East Side

This quiet and sophisticated part of town, running up the east side of Central Park, is swarming with renowned museums and upscale boutiques.


If you’re looking for an affordable accommodation option in this swanky part of town, consider the Gardens NYC, where the full kitchen in each suite might be preferable for extended stays. While the rooms veer towards the functional, this homey hotel goes out of its way to maximize your comfort; they even offer a pillow menu to pick your ideal firmness.

Book a stay at Gardens NYC >


The tastemakers behind The Fat Raddish have moved uptown with The East Pole, a gastropub serving modern British cuisine. Here, you’ll find the best Scotch eggs in town, and a mean chicken kiev (with charred broccoli and Timberdoodle cheese) that easily rivals the Russian Tea Room in its heyday.


At the Neue Galerie you can see works by 20th-century German and Austrian artists, including an impressive collection of Gustav Klimt. Its Café Sabarsky – which curates a cabaret series on select evenings – serves traditional Viennese fare for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

footer navigation links
British Airways logo.