Q. I'm sending my daughter and her friend to New York City as a 21st-birthday present. Could you advise me as to which areas I should look for a hotel that would be central and safe? Name withheld
A. What an excellent birthday present. New York City is dream territory for a girls-only break, with endless opportunities for sightseeing, shopping, eating and drinking (however, they'll only be able to purchase alcohol if they've both turned 21 and must remember to carry ID at all times if they wish to do so).
If this is a first-time visit, your daughter and her friend will probably want to be based in Manhattan, so that they can access the city's highlights with ease. Each of the island's neighbourhoods has its idiosyncracies: the arty villages around Greenwich, the hip Lower East Side, stylish SoHo, the wealthy Upper East and West Sides abutting Central Park, the buttoned-up Financial District and tourist-mobbed Midtown.
TriBeCa, the "Triangle Below Canal Street" in Lower Manhattan, enjoys a low crime rate and is characterised by converted warehouses near the Hudson River. However, the accommodation in this compact district tends to be correspondingly expensive. Just north of TriBeCa is the bohemian West Village, where they'll find an intimate but buzzy atmosphere, with enough restaurants, shops and nightlife to keep them satisfied.
An affordable hotel option here, a short walk from the delightful High Line park – which has transformed a disused elevated train track – is The Jane Hotel (001 212 924 6700; thejanenyc.com) which offers ship's cabin-styled rooms from $114 (£71).
Another inexpensive stay can be found on the up-and-coming Bowery, sandwiched between characterful Nolita and the Lower East Side at The Bowery House (001 212 837 2373; theboweryhouse.com). Expedia.co.uk offers four-night flight and hotel packages here from about £630pp.
When out exploring the city, busy hubs such as Penn Station and the Port Authority Bus Terminal should be approached with caution. Similarly, taking a taxi at night can be preferable to using the Subway; while it's not especially dangerous, it can be intimidating after dark.