The Best Hotel Bars in Manhattan

In a city that can sometimes feel like it values the next new trend over good old-fashioned hospitality, a hotel bar is a drinker’s chicken soup for the soul: pure comfort, guaranteed. After all, the hotel bar’s very mission is to welcome the weary traveler with a comfortable seat, a friendly face and a well-made drink, no passport required. But take care to remember, New York City’s hotel bars were once the bastions of cocktail culture, and—with a new era of cocktail culture dawning—have been catching up to become some of the city’s best watering holes once again. While most New York City hotel bars are well versed in the bartending basics, the best have adopted the care and creativity of the city’s top cocktail bars (as well as some of their staff) for an experience that’s the best of both worlds. — Regan Hoffman

  • 1

    Alta Linea

    The only thing that could make strolling the reclaimed wilderness of Chelsea’s High Line better would be doing so with a refreshing cocktail in hand – now, thanks to Joe Campanale, the wine-loving restaurateur behind Dell’Anima and Anfora, you basically can. Alta Linea sits in the gorgeous front courtyard of the High Line Hotel, just a stone’s throw from the park itself, and embodies the spirit of Italian happy hour known as aperitivo like nowhere else in the city. Supplement your spritz with classic Italian snacks like arancini and fried artichokes by the burbling fountain and feel transported straight to Milano.

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    KNOWN FOR

    • hotel bar
    • outdoors/patio
    • good wine
    • bar food
  • 2

    Bar at Clement

    The platonic ideal of the hotel bar, this lobby-style lounge on the second floor of the Peninsula could be anywhere in the world, save for its lush views of Fifth Avenue and Central Park below. Perfectly executed classics and an Asian-inflected selection of original cocktails are complimented by the most hospitable selection of free snacks in the city; herbed green olives, candied almonds and cubes of gruyere set out for every patron and lavishly refilled. The staff is unfailingly friendly, making this an ideal antidote to the elbowing, shopping-bag-wielding crowds outside.

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    KNOWN FOR

    • bar food
    • day drinking
    • hotel bar
  • 3

    Bar Pleiades

    In case there was any chance you might forget you were in a Daniel Boulud establishment—hardly likely, with the most elegant bar snacks selection this side of the Seine and a Chanel-chic, black-and-white jewel box of a room—the cocktail menu at Bar Pleiades is organized into categories that reflect the chef’s traditional French past and cosmopolitan, globe-hopping present. Choose freely from Le Potager (the Garden), which here means not salads but juniper berry-tinted Champagne cocktails and sumac-spiked G&Ts, or take a trip in Le Voyage, which displays a distinctly South American penchant for pisco. The Upper East ...

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    KNOWN FOR

    • hotel bar
    • craft cocktails
    • good wine
  • 4

    Bemelmans

    Guests come for the Madeline murals, but stay for the generous Martinis and live piano. The essence of Upper East Side gentility, Bemelmans Bar at the Carlyle is also the last public space to display the mural work of Ludwig Bemelmans, creator of the iconic children's book character and prolific illustrator of the 1940s and ’50s. Bemelmans completed the commission in exchange for a year's free board at the hotel, and it's easy to see why—the bar's low-slung leather banquettes, golden lighting and gilt-edged details are pure hospitality, and its well-executed classic drinks never go out of style.

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    KNOWN FOR

    • historic
    • hotel bar
    • live music
    • bar food
  • 5

    Lantern's Keep

    Inspired by the European lounges where American bartenders fled when Prohibition hit, Raines Law Room’s Meghan Dorman turned the bar at what was a rundown Midtown hotel into a velvet-lined, marble-topped parlor that’s more feminine than most dimly lit cocktail dens (the Degas ballet dancer prints don’t hurt). The cocktail list combines resuscitated classics with modern homages to the era. Ingredients are always fresh, but don’t expect an arsenal of housemade bitters and tinctures; bartenders here are skilled in the time-honored art of working with what you’ve got.

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    KNOWN FOR

    • craft cocktails
    • hotel bar
    • bar food
  • 6

    Le Bain

    There are a few pleasures New Yorkers have come to accept they'll never have: lawn sprinklers, the ability to buy liquor in a grocery store and a spring season that lasts longer than a week. We can take swim-up bar off that list, however, thanks to Le Bain, which brings an irreverent, aquatic vibe to a Meatpacking rooftop with a plunge pool, AstroTurf lawn incredible views of the city, and a Parisian crêperie (why not?). The cocktail list is eminently refreshing without sacrificing good taste for day-drinkability. Instead of the usual juice- and soda-heavy, sugar-packed drinks peddled to pool paddlers, Le Bain's ...

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    KNOWN FOR

    • dancing
    • hotel bar
    • outdoor / patio
  • 7

    Má Pêche

    In the Chambers Hotel, perched above the dining room of the stateliest of David Chang’s Momofuku restaurants, the bar at Ma Pêche is a quirky, comfortable eagles’ nest with access to the full restaurant menu. The beer and sake lists are impeccably composed, while the cocktails are idiosyncratic, mostly refreshing takes on classics. The wine list, which was recently reimagined by Momofuku beverage director Jordan Salcito, has turned it into a bona fide wine destination as well. While the list provides ample temptation on the high-end, particularly in Burgundy, the list is also value-conscious, offering a ...

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    KNOWN FOR

    • craft beer
    • craft cocktails
    • full menu
    • good wine
  • 8

    NoMad Bar

    The hotel bar so popular it outgrew its hotel, the NoMad Bar is a clubby, wood-paneled stunner that began winning awards the minute it opened in 2012. So far it’s racked up a Spirited Award and a James Beard Award for outstanding restaurant bar program. Bar manager Leo Robitschek’s epic list of original cocktails has rendered it a must-stop for global cocktail pilgrims. Drinks lean toward the spirit-forward and complex, and a reserve list employs rare, luxury spirits in classics like the Jungle Bird and Vieux Carré.

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    KNOWN FOR

    • craft cocktails
    • full menu
    • hotel bar
  • 9

    Rose Bar

    As befits its exclusive address (hotel guests are among the privileged few given keys to access the private Gramercy Park), Rose Bar is like stepping into an old-world society ballroom that just happens to be hung with unbelievable contemporary art (that’s what you get when artist Julian Schnabel decorates a hotel). Sure, the reservations-only policy can be a hassle, but weeknights and early evenings are low-key yet elegant, while the late-night DJ parties are a celebrity-spotting guarantee. It’s a taste of the New-Old New York of the decadent ‘90s that everyone should experience at least once.

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    KNOWN FOR

    • dancing
    • hotel bar
    • live music
  • 10

    The Algonquin

    There are two spaces to sit and drink at the Algonquin, both served by the same bar. If you're looking for a more involved cocktail experience, the Blue Bar is the move—the bartenders are among the city's friendliest, always up for a where-ya-from chat and well-skilled at the art of the bartender's choice. But for the full experience, the lobby lounge, with its overstuffed Edwardian furniture and unsurpassed Christmas decorations in December, is the place to be. Once home to the Round Table of 1920s literati, the Algonquin will seat Dorothy Parker pilgrims who ask nicely at the table that sits beneath a painting of ...

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    KNOWN FOR

    • historic
    • hotel bar
  • 11

    The Rum House

    In one of New York City’s unlikeliest partnerships, the owners of the down-at-the-heel Edison Hotel (a perennial favorite for penny-pinching school groups) paired up with Tribeca’s Ward III team to transform the lobby bar from a pre-Giuliani-era Times Square dive into a cocktail mecca. Nightly jazz from a rotating roster of artists and copper-and-wood paneling keep the hotel’s 80-some year history front-of-mind, while original cocktails update classic flavor profiles to bring drinkers gently into the 21st century.

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    KNOWN FOR

    • historic
    • hotel bar
    • live music
    • lots of rum
    • day drinking
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