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New York cocktails

New York’s Best Hotel Lobby Bars

These days some of the most happening places are hotel lounges (no cheesy singers allowed)

New York hotels aren’t just for sleeping. In fact, shut-eye will be the last thing on your mind when you get a load of these eight scene-stealing New York hotel lobby bars that go all night and all day. So whether you’re looking for a hip haunt for your morning coffee, a sophisticated stop for an afternoon martini or an after-midnight nightcap with a side of celebrity-spotting, there’s a hotel lobby bar for that. Indeed, it turns out that sometimes the best places in town for a drink are just steps away from the hotel concierge.

The Ace Hotel

Whether for coffee or cocktails, the Lobby Bar at Ace Hotel is a winner

Lobby Bar at Ace Hotel
The never-empty communal table in the middle of the sprawling Ace Hotel lobby says a lot about the space, which bustles at all hours with a chic crew combining (some) work and (quite a lot of) pleasure in a room that can have you feeling like you stumbled into someone’s super-cool New York apartment. If you’re looking for the epicenter of hip, you’ve found it. There are red plush couches for lounging, Stumptown Coffee for refueling, and, of course, an up-to-the-minute list of hand-crafted cocktails that spring from top-quality spirits, fresh-squeezed juices and house-made syrups. The Pablo Honey, for instance, is a heady mix of tequila, spiced agave and lime that goes down all too easily. Beer drinkers, meanwhile, can rejoice in the not one, but two, cask-conditioned ales on the menu. And don’t miss the nibbles, which include a few selections from April Bloomfield’s in-house restaurant the Breslin, including a perennial lobby favorite, the oven-baked three-cheese sandwich served with onion marmalade and mustard. 20 W 29th St., 212-679-2222


Bowery Hotel

There’s plenty of old-world charm at the Bowery Hotel’s lobby bar

The Lobby Bar at the Bowery Hotel
The only thing more eye-catching than the Bowery Hotel lobby’s gilded, rustic-mansion decor is the sight of fashion VIPs and the city’s entertainment elite relaxing in their natural habitat. That in-the-know hoteliers Eric Goode and Sean MacPherson (of the Jane hotel and the clubby Waverly Inn restaurant) are involved comes as no surprise, and, yes, the crowd is a perennially exclusive one that’s drawn to the pricey seasonal cocktail menu ($15 and up) and a long list of spirits from single-malt whiskey to premium mezcal. Among its creative tipples is the eponymous Bowery cocktail, made with Bulldog gin, Dubonnet rouge, Champagne and bitters and available for $18. The old-world charm extends to velvet seating and a stone fireplace, and the sleepy back patio plays well in the warmer months. While official hotel policy states that guests at the NoHo hotel have priority in the lounge (and only guests can order food from Gemma restaurant in the lounge), you wouldn’t be the first to take your chances at nabbing a table and possibly spotting a celebrity or two. Your best bet is to dress the part and walk purposefully toward a seat as if you’ve done it a million times before. 335 Bowery, 212-505-9100,


The Mercer

The lobby bar at the Mercer acts as a hub of style in SoHo

Mercer Lobby Bar at the Mercer
Models, stylists and well-dressed women who could pass as either flock to this SoHo charmer, which was built as an ode to fashion and design. Hotel impresario and lady-charmer Andre Balazs succeeded in mimicking an exclusive loft inside the Romanesque building thanks to high ceilings, shiny, white-brick walls and comfy, back-to-back couches. Elements of the style world are woven throughout the lobby—peruse the bookshelf along the wall and you’ll find titles such as Shoes: A Lexicon of Style, or glance out the huge glass window and you’ll see the Prada store across the street. Need to check your hair? Just look behind you and you’ll find a wall of mirrored glass. It’s no wonder that designer Marc Jacobs made this hotel his home base for several years. Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s Mercer Kitchen tends to nab all the attention, but the intimate hotel lobby is just as appealing if it’s drinks, conversation or people-watching that you’re after. The cocktail menu is heavy on fruit-infused concoctions like raspberry-lychee Bellinis and blood orange mimosas—two sweet ways to indulge after a shopping spree or as a way to gear up for a girls’ night out. 147 Mercer St., 212-966-6060,


The Greenwich Hotel

Find effortless chic at TriBeCa’s Greenwich Hotel lobby and bar

The Greenwich Hotel Bar
Despite its many amenities, the exclusive, Robert De Niro-funded TriBeCa hotel is best known for being effortlessly chic. You’ll find that large glass windows, plenty of reclaimed oak and decor influences from Japan, Tibet and Morocco create an inviting atmosphere that’s nominally open to the public (the key is to look and dress the part of a happening socialite). The vine-covered courtyard is more strictly reserved for Greenwich Hotel guests, but drinks from the celebrated chef Andrew Carmellini’s Locanda Verde restaurant are available in the lobby and the restaurant’s bar – the cocktail menu includes riffs on classics like the Sazerac Italiano made with Knob Creek whiskey, Meletti Amaro liqueur, a Strega rinse and Peychaud’s Bitters. When the weather is nippy, you might want to take that drink in the bookshelf-lined expanse that includes a wood-burning fireplace. 337 Greenwich St., 212-941-8900,


Four Seasons

Drink up the five-star atmosphere at the Four Seasons bar

The Bar at Four Seasons
This five-star hotel and world-class lounge in the heart of Midtown wows with soaring I.M. Pei design touches like the lobby’s back-lit onyx ceiling. At the Four Seasons bar, there are house-infused vodkas and a staff that will accommodate nearly every whim (this is a hotel whose concierge will hand-deliver letters from Santa or assist in elaborate marriage proposals, after all)—a recipe that elevates a drink from a quick to-do to a real experience. The stellar martinis shouldn’t be missed; they’re expertly made and include a few standouts, such as the sangria version, made with white wine, vodka and peach puree. In keeping with the locavore times, there’s an emphasis on regional ingredients, which means everything from New Jersey ricotta cheese to Brooklyn-distilled gin makes the grade. Of course, perfection does come at a price, so don’t be surprised when $20 doesn’t cover one cocktail. 57 East 57th St., 212-758-5700


Jane Ballroom

The disco ball sees all at the Jane Ballroom

Jane Ballroom at the Jane
In the hours before red-hot hoteliers Eric Goode and Sean MacPherson’s renovated West Village ballroom within the Jane fills up with the nightlife-loving crowd, it’s ripe for kicking back and taking in its Orient Express-meets-Titanic vibe. Take a seat on one of the long, tufted couches that line the gilded downstairs expanse or venture into the lofted upper deck, complete with multicolored velvet chairs and padded banquettes. Things to expect if you stop by the Jane late: A DJ playing the latest underground hit, unparalleled people-watching and a glittery disco ball spinning beneath the elevated ceiling. Keep your eyes peeled for celebs, fashion heavy-hitters and New York’s next big things who come out to party ‘til the early morning hours, but beware as the door becomes notoriously tight as the evening wears on. 113 Jane St., 212-924-6700


Crosby Street Hotel

Splashes of color enliven the Crosby Street Hotel’s bar

The Crosby Bar at Crosby Street Hotel
The building-wide restaurant and lounge on the ground floor of the elegant Crosby Street Hotel from London’s Firmdale group is both playful and elegant. Colorful lights hang over equally bright banquettes in an airy space where large glass windows open up to the Soho streets—it’s as appropriate for a morning latte as an afternoon aperitif, although it can get crowded with post-work revelers. You’ll want to come with some time as the bar menu reads more like a novel with pages of cocktail options that extend from a non-alcoholic Mulberry Mule to $25 premium drinks such as the Bols & Beer, which mixes Bols Genever, Lagunitas IPA, grapefruit juice and orange bitters. 79 Crosby St., 212-226-6400,


Plaza Athenee

Elegant but not stuffy, Bar Seine is an ideal Upper East Side perch

Bar Seine at Plaza Athénéé
In the Upper East Side, a neighborhood where boutiques such as Chanel, Prada, Oscar de la Renta and Hermes are the rule rather than the exception, the Plaza Athénéé feels at home in its haute Parisian ways. First-timers can get a taste of the high life at Bar Seine where the signature cocktail, the Crystal Cosmopolitan—a delightful concoction made with Absolut Citron, Cointreau, white cranberry juice and a lime—is a good primer. Have a few and the dreamy space with its velvet curtains, leather floors and an abundance of animal prints starts to feel downright cozy. The good news is that despite its trappings, it’s not stuffy, so sit back in a padded wicker seat or tufted leather armchair and soak in all that European elegance. 37 E 64th St., 212-734-9100

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