Travel / Travel Guides

A guide to the best hotel bars in New York City

hotel bars new york city

You know as well as I do that hotel bars have the capacity to be The Most Depressing Place On Earth. However, although this is a universal truth, it does not make it a universal experience. Some of the best watering holes are located in a hotel lobby (don't make me name drop the American Bar at The Savoy – too late), and for a city like New York, this is especially the case.

From interiors decked out in Warhols to the hallowed drinking spots of literary giants, New York City plays host to some of our most-loved hotel bars. Find 7 of the best, below.

Club Room at Soho Grand


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Whether you're seeking out a post-dinner nightcap or looking to settle in with a book and an occasional chat, pull back the velvet curtain and step into Soho Grand’s hidden gem, The Club Room. This two-room hideaway, where photographer Terry O’Neill’s oversized portraits loom, is a homage to classic New York with its warm decor and caviar service. Sink into the sofas with an old fashioned or a glass of Champagne and enjoy the live jazz alongside supper.


Bemelmans Bar at The Carlyle


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Bemelmans Bar is a special place. I say this not just because this spot at The Carlyle serves up an excellent martini or plays live jazz, but because of the golden mural that lines the bar. Featuring scenes of supper, suited rabbits, balloons and dancing elephants, the artwork was painted by Ludwig Bemelmans, the creator of Madeline, who carried out the task in exchange for a prolonged stay at the hotel. If it looks magical, that's because it is.


The Lobby Bar at The Ace Hotel


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Unlike the hotel bars in your head, Lobby Bar at the Ace Hotel is always buzzing. During the day, you'll find freelancers parked on the many chesterfield lounges tapping away at their laptops, at night time, it attracts an afterwork crowd who step inside for the DJ sets, cocktails and beer in a versatile Americana setting.


Blue Bar at the Algonquin Hotel


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Ever since Blue Bar reopened with its white-washed walls, it's shed part of the dusky feeling that could convince you to settle in for the entire hours of operation. However, the pull of Blue Bar is its history; it opened after prohibition in 1933, and although by that time the Algonquin Round Table had disbanded, it has long attracted famous figures, be it John Barrymore or a Theatre Crowd given its proximity to Broadway.


The Rose Bar at the Gramercy Park Hotel

As the pandemic tore through New York City, many local institutions closed their doors and some, like Rose Bar at Gramercy Park Hotel, are still yet to reopen. It's a shame because when Ian Schrager and Aby Rosen bought the place in the early 2000s, they enlisted the help of Julian Schnabel to revamp the interiors, and later there was a rotation of Warhols and David LaChapelle photographs on display in the bar. Now, everything in the hotel has been auctioned off and a new operator is set to roll in (Danny Meyer's Maialino will return). Bring on 2025, I guess?


King Cole Bar at the St. Regis New York

Although the first iteration of the Bloody Mary was created by bartender Fernand “Pete” Petiot at Harry’s New York Bar in Paris in 1921, the drink became popular in the US when Petiot took up station at King Cole Bar and introduced it as the Red Snapper. The rest is history. So, next time you're nursing a hangover, pop into this elegant establishment (seems counterintuitive, I know) and get your mouth around its signature drink.


Lobby Bar at The Ludlow Hotel


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A Lower East Side refuge. Even though the buzz has simmered down on this hotel's restaurant and bars (curated by Mario Carbone, Rich Torrisi, and Jeff Zalaznick), the charm and quality is still there. Pay attention to the interiors – the  limestone fireplace, Moroccan rugs, and carved chandeliers are bound to put you at ease.

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