With the exception of a few classics, hotel bars were often a city's after-thoughts - a necessity but one that didn't warrant any outside traffic. Today, it seems a hotel is not a hotel without a top-notch bar. More and more, these bars don't just cater to out-of-town guests, but in-the-know locals as well.
Jimmy at The James is the perfect example of a hotel bar that's all grown-up. Unlike the hotel bars of yore, visitors would be sorely mistaken if they think they can gain access without a sky high pair of pumps.
In the same vein, those looking for a dance party needn't head to the nearest club. Instead, guests can jump the line at The Jane or take in the views at Le Bain at the Standard while moving to the beat of the DJ.
And if you're looking for old New York, those classics of a time gone by do remain - like in the case of Bemelmans Bar at the Carlyle Hotel. Adorned with whimsical art from the artist of the same name, this Madeline-themed wonderland is everything that made past decades so grand. Guests can easily get lost for the evening clinking the ice in their old fashioned while listening to one of the pianists known to grace the stage.
No matter your poison or your preference, there's a New York City hotel bar for you in our list.
The Ides at the Wythe
Cross the river into Brooklyn and take in the skyline views from the rooftop of the Wythe Hotel. The Ides is an Art-Deco spot that's a bit more understated than some of the other flashier bars on this list, but that doesn't make it any less special. The one thing to keep in mind is that it's fairly small and gets crowded quickly, so if you're hoping for a seat, go early. You'll find cocktails here in the $10-$12 range, along with an array of Williamsburg hipster-types. If that's not your scene, you may be better off finding somewhere else to imbibe. (718-460-8006)
The Press Lounge at Ink48 Hotel is perched atop the city, rewarding patrons with unobstructed views of Manhattan and the Hudson River. It's won accolades the city over, including from The NY Times' Frank Bruni who wrote it was "without question, one of the city's most attractive bars." Stunning views aside, the bar's impressive cocktails make it a favorite among in-the-know New Yorkers looking to impress clients or dates. It's equally suited for both occasions, but if you're looking for the former, regulars say The Press Lounge could be your lucky ticket. Keep in mind that luxury like this comes at a price - you'll find drinks are poured for a premium, but they're worthy of the up-charge. (212-757-0088)
Named after a famous author of children's literature, this piano bar in the Carlyle Hotel offers a luxurious reprieve on the Upper East Side. The spot bills itself as a piece of "Old New York," but the author's murals from stories like the classic, Madeline, balance out the dark, heavy wood and atmosphere. Piano jazz is played here nightly from 5:30PM, and patrons include everyone from mature neighbors to politicians and movie stars. Art lovers will also appreciate that the large-scale murals in the hotel bar are the only surviving Bemelmans' work that's still open to the public. Indeed, this place ranks among the city's classic piano bar joints where you can enjoy a good drink, terrific company, and great music in relative peace. (212-744-1600)
The Rose Bar and Jade Bar
Owned by artist Julian Schnabel and hotelier-to-the-stars Ian Schrager, Manhattan's swank Gramercy Park Hotel has an unparalleled location next to tony Gramercy Park, celebrity chef Danny Meyer's Italian restaurant Maialino, and not one but two bars beloved by the city's boldfaced names. The dimly lit spaces have red and white tiled flooring, an impeccably stocked oak bar, plush velvet chairs and no shortage of upper-echelon international travelers, New York Times Style section editors, wannabe models slash actors, and music executives with multiple smartphones. The incredible art collection includes a 15-foot original by Andy Warhol, and, of course, several pieces by Schnabel himself. (212-475-4320)
Le Bain at the Standard
With arguably the chicest bathrooms and sexiest views in NYC, Le Bain is notoriously one of the hardest doors in the city. Perhaps that's because this lively club is connected to The Boom Boom Room, one of Manhattan's exclusive celebrity watering holes, or maybe it's the hot tubs built directly into the dance floor. Either way, dress to impress and try not to take it to heart if you're turned away once (or more) before gaining entry. If you happen to arrive early, you'll have better luck, but beware that the club stays fairly empty until the clock strikes midnight. (212-645-4646)
The swank Standard Hotel, Andre Balazs's hedonistic playground in Manhattan's Meatpacking District, has five bars and restaurants. But it's the humble Biergarten that is a must-try. The open-air space lies right below the southernmost entrance to the High Line, and the noisy, convivial crowd spans hotel guests, chattering NYU co-eds and group office outings. Hit the bar for a stein of German lager, wheat beer or stout, then put in an order for a grilled wurst or an almost comically large soft pretzel, served with spicy German dipping mustard. The menu was created by none other than Austrian chef extraordinaire Kurt Gutenbrunner. (212-645-4100)
The Library Bar
The NoMad Hotel's Library Bar is anything but bookish. Jacques Garcia, of Paris' L'Hotel fame, designed the interiors of this smart cocktail den and the adjoining NoMad restaurant. Walk through the dining room (it's a little awkward, yes, but the staff will guide you along) to reach the bar in the back. Though the leather-bound cocktail list and glamorous dark wood tables present a strong argument towards the formal, the atmosphere at The Library Bar is surprisingly relaxed and welcoming. Skilled bartenders are happy to make recommendations, and pour a variety of classics and house creations by Jessica Gonzalez, most recently of the East Village's seminal Death & Co. cocktail bar. (212-796-1500)
The Lobby Bar
A 21st Century hotel haunt, the hipster chic Ace Hotel's Lobby Bar is an immensely popular gathering place for hotel guests, most of whom work in creative industries and have titles like "Director of Media Strategy and Ideation," as well as the local skinny jeans set. Expect to fight for laptop space amongst countless twentysomethings with internet startups, all seeking creative inspiration and free wifi on the cavernous space's low-slung sofas and long wooden tables. In addition to cocktails, many Lobby Bar-goers sip to-go cups from the Ace Hotel's feverishly popular coffee shop, the New York debut of Portland, OR's Stumptown brand. (212-679-2222)
The Jane Hotel
There's dance parties in Manhattan. And then there's the Sunday night dance party in The Ballroom of the Jane Hotel. Now home to one of the hottest parties in town, this spot used to be a haven for sailors looking for a place to rest their weary bones. While there's very little rest actually taking place here on the weekends, it's still the perfect place to unwind with a cocktail and take in the crowds. From high-fashion models dancing on tables to tech superstars throwing back vodka martinis, The Jane Hotel caters to a youthful crowd looking for a good time. (212-924-6700)
The James Hotel, a sleek SoHo luxury hotel with a sister property on Chicago's Magnificent Mile, has one of the hottest rooftop bars in the city. The adorably named Jimmy (get it?) holds approximately 80 people, but it certainly feels larger than life. Revelers dress to the nines to take in its unparalleled views of lower Manhattan, the Hudson River and even the twinkling lights of Jersey City across the way. Drinks here are pricey – the average cocktail is around $17 – so choose your poison with care. A summertime favorite is a Grilled Pineapple Mojito, made with bracing clear rum. The Blair Witch Cocktail, made with moonshine and birch beer, is a scary good way to start your night. (212-201-9118)
About Andrea Wien
Andrea Wien was bitten by the travel bug from an early age, and has lived in New York, Seattle, Cleveland and Sydney, Australia since 2007.
When she's not traveling or planning a trip, you'll likely find her eating tacos while throwing darts and watching the Cleveland Browns.
Read more about Andrea Wien here.
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