Skip to main content

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.









Popular posts from this blog

Early Voting in Washington Heights, and A Walk

Early voting for the 2020 federal election in New York began on Saturday, October 24 and continues through Sunday, November 1. The weekend was overcast and autumnal, with the bright yellows of fall on display. In New York City, thousands of New Yorkers turned out at the 88 early voting locations and waited in long lines, many stretching around the block. 
Madison Square Garden in Manhattan and the Barclay’s Center in Brooklyn were two of the well-known sites, but most voting places were typical neighborhood places such as schools, churches, and hospitals.  In Washington Heights in Upper Manhattan, two early voting locations were within a short walk of one another, causing some confusion for voters emerging from the 168th Street subway station. The Columbia University Russ Berrie Medical Science Pavilion, at 1150 St. Nicholas Avenue, was the closest to the train stop. The Fort Washington Avenue Armory at 216 Ft. Washington Avenue is located a couple of blocks to the west.On Saturday, I …

A Daytime Walk on Broadway and the Theater in the Dark

On October 9, the Broadway League announced that the theater season has been postponed through May 2021, leaving Broadway dark for the winter and into the spring of next year. According to the press release, “Broadway performances were initially suspended due to COVID 19 on March 12, 2020. At that time, 31 productions were running, including 8 new shows in previews. Additionally, 8 productions were in rehearsals preparing to open in the spring.”It’s hard to imagine New York without the theater. Even a daytime walk along the way in the Theater District near Times Square will reveal that the theater, in terms of live performances with an audience, has gone dark. Without Broadway, that leaves visitors to Times Square with few options for general amusement. Many stores and restaurants have closed as well. The lights are still up and blazing. When the Empire State Building was left nearly empty during the Great Depression, just a few years after it opened, the building crew kept the lights…

North Towards Autumn: A Day Trip on the Metro-North Hudson Line

The peak of autumn colors in New York City tends to fall sometime in the days following Halloween, but those anxiously waiting leaf change can simply travel north. 
One way to speed the fall season is to take the Hudson line of Metro-North north of the city and watch the greens fade to oranges and yellows and the occasional burst of red. Weekends during the month of October are ideal times to make the trip. The air tends to be crisp with bright blue skies, and the Hudson River glimmers like a mirror in the light of autumn. As the Hudson line hugs the river for much of the distance north, the train ride alone provides plenty of opportunities for sightseeing. Try to grab a window seat on the river side of the train car for views of the Palisades and the bends of the Hudson Highlands later in the trip.  Still, October is a great time for a walk. Exploring the villages along the Hudson line may be accomplished on foot, and many cater to visitors with signs and maps indicating the village’s…

MoMA in Masks

Update. Beginning September 28, MoMA will require all members to reserve tickets in advance.*Walking into the gallery devoted to Claude Monet’s Water Lilies (c 1920) at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) on Saturday afternoon, I saw a woman seated on a bench. She was looking at the artist’s dreamy depiction of his garden at Giverny, and I thought for a moment she might be dreaming as well. As she was the only person occupying what is usually a packed room for fans of Impressionism, I was hesitant to invade her private garden reveries.I would enjoy my own such private moments with my favorite MoMA works that afternoon, including Marc Chagall’s I and the Village (1911). The painting depicts a colorful and geometric fairy tale of peasants and animals, memories of the artist’s childhood home outside Vitebsk. And I had a long time to feel the scorching sun of photographer Dorothea Lange’s Woman of the High Plains, Texas Panhandle (1938), a setting closer to my hometown. Later I would sit in t…

A Weekend Walk on the Old Croton Aqueduct Trail

Imagine strolling from town to town near the eastern shores of the Hudson River, walking a well-trodden path lined with trees and stately architecture and with easy access to cafes, local shops, and train stations for an easy ride home. Imagine a weekend when the sun is bright and the sun is warm, and many other people - but not too many - are out enjoying the same weather and the same stroll. Such were the pleasures on a recent Sunday, in the latter part of this unseasonal winter, along the Old Croton Aqueduct Trail not too far north from New York City.


The Old Croton Aqueduct, the system that once delivered fresh water from the Croton River to New York City, was a huge and complex marvel of engineering. The trail sits on top of the aqueduct system. This post describes a walk along just a section of the trail, the one that begins at the Keeper’s House in Dobbs Ferry and ends in Irvington.


First, catch a Metro-North Hudson line train to Dobbs Ferry, a village in southern Westchester C…

An Early Autumn Walk in Central Park: 2020 Edition

This week, the singer Diana Krall released a cover of “Autumn in New York,” the standard by Vernon Duke. An accompanying video, filmed in New York by Davis McCutcheon and directed by Mark Seliger, portrays the city in moody yet beautiful black and white tones. Beyond the lack of autumn colors, the film shows the empty streets of the pandemic city. The mood riffs on the underlying melancholy of the song’s lyrics, that the fall season “is often mingled with pain.”

When I think of autumn in New York, I automatically imagine walking in Central Park in the vivid colors of the season. The images here, from a meandering one-mile stroll this past Saturday, show only a hint of autumnal glory but reflect more conventional representations of both the season and the song. Yet, walking in Central Park at the beginning of autumn is tinged for me with a hint of sadness, or truthfully, with some anxiety about the coming months.

I hadn’t ventured into Central Park since before the pandemic. While I’ve b…

NYC Re-openings and Travel Advice

What will open, and how will you get there? This list will be updated following official announcements.
UPDATED October 10, 2020. Many favorite local destinations have now reopened. 

Openings  - General Information and Popular Destinations   
• Restaurants: Consult this NYC Department of Transportation map (updated link) for restaurants currently open in NYC. Starting September 30, NYC allowed indoor dining at 25% capacity.
• As of September 25, outdoor dining in NYC has been extended FOREVER.
• The 9/11 Memorial reopened on Saturday, July 4. Visitors must wear masks and keep social distancing practices.
• (update) Libraries: NYPL. The library will allow a grab-and-go service at 50 locations.
Governors Island reopened July 15 with advance reserved tickets. 
• The High Line reopened on July 16, with several rules and limitations in place, including timed entry passes - available July 9. Entrance only at Gansevoort Street. See High Line website for details. 
The Bronx Zoo reopened July 20 fo…

The Lonesome Metropolis: A Walk from Grand Central Terminal to Rockefeller Center

As New York City reopens, why do the attractions of the great metropolis still look mostly deserted on a summer morning? A morning walk from Grand Central Terminal to Rockefeller Center sought to address this question. As it turns out, there are several adequate explanations. But for what happens next, there are no right answers.

Many neighborhoods outside of tourist New York are still buzzing along. While some residents of wealthier neighborhoods have largely decamped to mountain cabins, beach houses, and other second homes, the less wealthy have nowhere to go and may still be working. Just visit Washington Heights or Corona or Flatbush, and you’ll see sidewalks full of shoppers and summer evening street partiers. Those who fled the city remain only a fraction of the total population.  

Other renowned parts of the city such as City Hall and Brooklyn Bridge have been frequently occupied, as in Occupied, with crowds protesting police violence. This week, NYPD officers in riot gear remove…

Museums in New York Open on Mondays

Please see this post for current announcements of reopenings.
Please consult the museum websites for changes in days and hours.
UPDATED September 23, 2020
Advance tickets required for many museum reopenings. Please check museum websites for details.
• The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) reopened to the public on August 27, with new hours for the first month, through September 27: from 10:30 a.m. until 5:30 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday to the public; and from 10:30 a.m. until 5:30 p.m. on Mondays for MoMA members only. Admission will be free to all visitors Tuesday through Sunday, through September 27, made possible by UNIQLO. See this new post on WOTBA for a sense of the experience attending the museum.
• New-York Historical Society reopened on August 14 with an outdoor exhibition, "Hope Wanted: New York City Under Quarantine,” in the rear courtyard. The exhibit by activist Kevin Powell and photographer Kay Hickman will highlight how New Yorkers weathered the quarantine.
• The Metropolitan …

The City Turned Inside Out: A Walk from Battery Park to Fulton Street

While the cast of HAMILTON sings “The World Turned Upside Down,” New Yorkers could easily hum along to “The City Turned Inside Out” this summer. (not a real song) Where once a city’s important work took place indoors - within the soaring office buildings, famous restaurants, legendary museums, and storied performance halls, the COVID-19 epidemic has literally turned the residents outdoors. 

At least it’s summer in the city, when spending time outdoors is common and pleasant enough. Still, the city remains strange this summer of 2020. 

With the absence of tourists, and with office workers connecting virtually from home, many of the city’s main attractions aren’t attracting many visitors. A walk from the Battery to Fulton Street on a pleasant Thursday afternoon bore this out. 

It’s uplifting to at least find plants that are alive and happy. Thanks to the city’s gardeners and landscapers, the city parks are looking particularly lush and splendid this summer. The grounds of Battery Park feel…