February 12, 2016

Raising the Bar at Three NYC Hotels

Hotels have always played an important role in the history of New York City, and their restaurants and bars have often assumed starring roles. Think of the clever company at the Algonquin Hotel or the entertainers at the famous cafe at The Carlyle. Yet even those with lesser wits and talents can enjoy the glamor of New York's many great hotel bars and lounges. Classics include the King Cole Bar at the St. Regis and the Bull and Bear at the Waldorf Astoria, but in recent years, the bars at newcomer hotels such as the Ace Hotel and the NoMad Hotel have become popular. Yet, it's always good to expand the repertory. Neighborhood taverns provide the necessary comfort most of the time, but for special occasions, a visit to a hotel bar can feel like a vacation.  

For those planning a visit to NYC or for residents looking for new ideas, the following 3 bars at relatively new hotels should make a good start. The exterior views, shown here, will mark the spot, while the hotel websites should satisfy curiosity about the interiors. To get into the spirit of the place, consider ordering one of the specialty cocktails.  

The New York Edition 
Address: 5 Madison Avenue, entrance on W. 24th St.
Area: Madison Square/Flatiron District
The Bar: Gold Bar, 2nd floor.
About: During New York's Gilded Age, the hotel scene revolved around Madison Square. So, fittingly, the bar tour begins here, within the stately Met Life Building, the one with the familiar clock tower. The Clocktower Restaurant on the second floor offers dining in three rooms, as well as a billiard room and the shimmering Gold Bar.

Over five hundred photographs of New York scenes, movie stars, musicians, and celebrity artists - all set within gold frames arranged salon style - tie the rooms together with content-rich sophistication. Sipping cocktails in the Gold Room surrounded by pictures of Jackson Pollock, Andy Warhol, John Chamberlain, Alfred Leslie, Jasper Johns, and all their friends is particularly fun.  Be sure to ask the bartender for a look at the guide to the pictures. If not as raucous as the original Ab-Ex Cedar Bar, the drinks and decor provide creative inspiration.
Website: http://www.editionhotels.com/new-york
Recommended Walks in the Area: Madison Square, Gramercy Park, walk down to Union Square, walk up to Herald Square.

The Knickerbocker Hotel 
Address: 5 Times Square (42nd St. and Broadway)
Area: Times Square/Theater District
The Bar: St. Cloud, rooftop
About: An airy bar with several roomy spaces, St. Cloud opens up to the skies and skyline above Times Square. The rooftop bar of this renovated hotel offers a welcome escape from the crowded streets below, especially after running the gauntlet of aggressive Cookie Monster impersonators on 42nd Street.

Here, the overstimulation of Times Square gives way to a serene modernism of clean lines and subdued colors. Even on a winter's day, it feels like a summer vacation in St. Cloud. Never pass up the opportunity to look at New York from on high. At St. Cloud, standing on the outdoor patio behind the hotel's elegant verdigris ornamentations, you'll have the best view of the New Year's Eve Ball at Times Square. Begin your own countdown.
Hotel Website: http://theknickerbocker.com/
Suggested Walks: Times Square, Theater District, walk east to Bryant Park, walk west to Hell's Kitchen.

Baccarat Hotel & Residences
Address: 28 W. 53rd St.
Area: Midtown
The Bar: The Bar (That's the name.)
About: Fortify yourself, slip into something dressy, and bring extra Jacksons. At this new luxury hotel, the proprietors have not skimped on the crystal. You've just stepped into an opulent 18th century French reverie in Midtown.

The journey to The Bar is an adventure in its own right, especially for sans-culottes (wear your culottes). You'll pass through dark wood-paneled spaces, including the elevator, illuminated only with shimmering Baccarat chandeliers. Off the Grand Salon, The Bar awaits. Dressed in classic red, gold, and black, the bar space suggests both French luxury and the comfort of a bistro. Fortunately, hotel staff members serve as friendly guides on the walk to the long bar.      
Website: https://www.baccarathotels.com/
Suggested Walks: Walk across the street to MoMA, walk north to Central Park, nearby 5th Avenue shopping.

Images by Walking Off the Big Apple.

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