thanks to everyone for their thoughtful replies. at the risk of being pedantic, I want to respond on the female travel item separately from my topic, which picks back up at the bottom of this post -
I’m a native New Yorker and not a nervous traveler in general. I think men may misunderstand my question and part of that is probably how I titled this post...it's not to say that I don't value travelers' judgment on the safety of a neighborhood - of course that is extremely important and helpful and valid. but I feel much safer traveling with someone, or when I’m on my own, with lots of people around, because there are certain things that can happen that can still be incredibly unpleasant even if they are not necessarily dangerous. I don't want to speak for all women, but I personally am hyper vigilant about my surroundings until I know one way or another whether I need to be. nonstop hypervigilance is kind of exhausting, so where I’m unfamiliar with a place, other people being around helps me lower the level of it, so that's what I cater to to be comfortable.
aggressive male attention is more aggressive when there are fewer people around, and more likely to be directed toward a solo female traveler than toward 2 women traveling together, as maybe james' wife and daughter do. I have been to turkey on trips with (separately) my husband and female best friend; once, my husband went home from Istanbul 3 days before I did, and I experienced more harassment in those 3 days than in the 3 weeks I was with my friend, but I was staying in Taksim which is busy at all hours and which I’m familiar with, and felt relatively safe.
once, a "friendly" man who didn't accept the cues to bugger off, walked alongside me for 8 blocks to my hotel in Brussels, at which point I needed to decide whether or not I wanted him to know where I was staying or continue walking somewhere to try and shake him off. it left me feeling unsettled but could have been much scarier in an empty neighborhood.
so with new places, I just prefer to have people around. I've been taking public transportation by myself since I was 11, so I’m not necessarily nervous on the subway at 10pm. I had no problem taking the train and walking around Naples by myself at night - on my second visit there when I was more familiar with the city. if I was in Budapest for the first time and it was totally dead, yeah, I probably would hypervigilant/nervous and prefer to take a long walk in busy streets.
@fred, I’m not sure why "Having a women's forum for solo women travelers presupposes that there is a difference in traveling between Americans and Europeans" ?
anyway, knowing what neighborhoods are dead at night requires first-hand feedback from people who have experienced them, so it makes sense to me to post this in the place-specific subforum.
so back to that topic!
@christa, thanks for sharing your experience with the area. unfortunately the residence baron is out of my price range but I made (cancel-able) reservations at the la prima fashion hotel and the danubius astoria, which are both about a 10 min walk away (according to google maps). what do you think? a 10 min walk can make a huge difference in NYC...
@james, the other marriott is 3x as many points as the courtyard or lanchid, so I couldn't swing it even if I wanted to stay in tourist hell :-) most of the hotels you listed are out of my price range so, as I said, i've booked free-cancellation stays at la prima fashion and the danubius astoria til I decide...unfortunately I’m only seeing apartments for rent in my price range in the neighborhoods you suggested. can you elaborate on the area around the astoria?
any feedback on these 3 would be very appreciated - the more data points the better!