NYC's Best Bars and Clubs

Discover the best bars, lounges and clubs in New York City, including 230 Fifth, Darby Downstairs, Lavo and The Chelsea Room.
By: Laurie Bain Wilson

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Lots of things crawl during the night in New York City, including club crawlers who slink past velvet ropes to dance to hip-hop and sip pricey cocktails. Rooftop clubs and lounges are the new black, where you’ll spill big bucks for your cocktail but drink in a view that’s priceless. Things get really jumping around midnight, but if you come earlier in the evening, the scene is less frenetic and frequented by a demographic who thinks Jay-Z is an easy recliner. Here are the coolest places to enjoy the city’s nocturnal life.

230 Fifth
Located in the Flatiron District, it offers the city’s largest rooftop garden lounge (think palm trees) with panoramic views that are mouth-gaping. The expensive $14 martinis numb your senses, including your common sense. But you get what you pay for at 230 Fifth. Open 365 days a year, yes, even when it’s cold—no worries, huge outdoor heaters, complimentary blankets and red-hooded fleece robes will warm you, and on rainy days table umbrellas are set up. A DJ spins Top 40s and rock on the weekends. There’s also an indoor Penthouse Lounge.

The Meatpacking District's Standard Hotel
Two rooftop clubs include Top of the Standard with a retro feel and cushy couches to slink into while imbibing fun cocktails and admiring the views of Manhattan and the Hudson River (the vistas from the bathroom are incredible.) Le Bain, a second club here, is a bi-level roof bar (indoor and out) where 20-somethings dance to hip-hop and classics and ultimately end up in an enormous hot tub (a vending machine sells bathing suits!) to literally soak up the Hudson River views. Outside, waterbed loungers that look like giant pods and fake grass enhance the summer party feel. .

The Press Lounge
Located at the top of the Ink48 Hotel in Hell’s Kitchen, it’s the new kid on the roof. You’ll settle into a comfy wicker lounge chair to sip a cocktail and watch the sun meet its daily deadline. In the winter or inclement weather you can hang in the glass-enclosed lounge.

Darby Downstairs  
The club located below Darby’s Supper Club in the Meatpacking District, is all about hip-hop, funk and electro music with gold honeycombs covering the ceiling and walls, giving it a beehive feel. Settle into a brown leather banquette or at the long oak bar to get a buzz from the $18 cocktails and snack on crab cakes and other goodies.

Las Vegas meets midtown with Lavo, a Sin City-inspired nightclub that has runway models, celebs, locals and tourists dancing to the electronic music. The club is located below Lavo the Italian restaurant in midtown, so you can mangia on huge meatballs upstairs and then mingle and sip pricey Lavo Libations under the twirling disco balls downstairs.

1 OAK (One of a Kind)  
This is another happening club in the Meatpacking District where the beautiful people sip signature margaritas while seated on leather couches amidst lots of flickering candles listening to hip-hop and house music.

The Lobby Bar  
Located at the Ace Hotel in the Flatiron District, this is a library-ish lounge with leather club chairs, velvet couches and tables with reading lamps. Order a cocktail named for a song like “Rock the Casbah” (Absolut, Proseco, hibiscus and lemon juice) and groove to the hip-hop.

The Jane Ballroom  
This West Village club is no plain Jane. Antique velvet couches and a fireplace give the lounge the air of Old World elegance but attract a hip New York crowd. In a town where drinks are costly, the drinks here are relatively cheaper at $10-$12.

The Chelsea Room  
It’s a new nightclub in the basement of Bob Dylan’s old haunt in the Chelsea Hotel. Patrons line up outside for all-night house music dance parties and to sip relatively-speaking cheap drinks.

Whether you want to dance the night away or sip it slow, there’s a lounge or club for every mood in the City That Never Sleeps. And the beauty of the city’s new rooftop lounges is, if you don’t dig the crowd, the decor or the drinks, there’s always that twinkling city view.

Laurie Bains Wilson writes often about New York City and is the author of several travel guidebooks, including New York City Made Easy and New York City with Kids.

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