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5 Most Rock ‘n’ Roll Hotels in NYC

By David Jenison

5 Most Rock ‘n’ Roll Hotels in NYC

Fancy hotels line the streets of New York City, but not every traveler wants the same luxuries. The city’s legacy for music and art is legendary, and people seeking a hotel with a rock ‘n’ roll vibe can do no better than the five hotels listed below. These establishments offer modern amenities and sleek style, and artists in every medium have drank at their bars, slept in their rooms and broke a few no smoking rules. If you want the rock star experience, these are the places to stay.

HOTEL ON RIVINGTON

Hotel on Rivington clearly had rock royalty in mind when it built this glorious tower of steel and glass, and its guests certainly deliver the rock ‘n’ roll antics. In the wee hours of the morning, a certain British rock god once approached the front desk completely naked save for a translucent trash bag pilfered from the housekeeping closet. While it is unclear why he left his room in the buff, the Hall of Famer made it clear that it actually wasn’t a long time since he rock ‘n’ rolled. Another time, a barefooted rocker nonchalantly showed up at the front desk wearing just one sock (we mentioned he was barefoot, right?) after having just pulled the fire alarm. Remember the 30 Rock episode when Liz Lemon visited Buzz Aldrin after discovering the astronaut used to shag her mom? Lemon and Aldrin met, and howled at the moon together, at the Rivington. Guests have requested everything from helicopter bungee jumping to six-hand massages, and the minibars are known to stock items like cockrings, condoms and combo flashlight-vibrator keychains. And even with all this crazy debauchery, the fine Mormon folk in the Killers still stayed here after headlining the Garden. Appropriately, Hotel on Rivington sits in a party-centric section of the Lower East Side known as Hell Square.

THE BOWERY HOTEL

Florence Welch (of + The Machine fame) once torched a room here after a night partying with Kanye West and Lykke Li. The blaze might have been an accident, but this type of rock mystique befits a hotel located mere steps from the former (but always iconic) punk club CBGB’s. Though gentrification now owns the neighborhood, “the city that never sleeps” originally referred to the Bowery, not NYC as a whole, and the neighborhood’s most notable hotel claims cool clientele like Blake Lively, Rachel Bilson, Liv Tyler, Domingo Zapata and Sting (the latter earning mad NYC cred for his Quentin Crisp connection). The eastside haunt is also big with the birthday party crowd with J. Lo throwing a 40th bash for Marc Anthony and Demi Moore a 30th for Ashton Kutcher. Of course, we never said rock ‘n’ roll was good for matrimony.

ACE HOTEL

Ace Hotel lends rock cred to the Flatiron District with DJs, bands and art events held in its stylish lobby, and most activities are free and open to the public. For example, the hotel’s Gallery Annex hosts emerging artists like Taezoo Park and Marcela Godoy, who repurpose broken electronics as wearable art and jewelry (on display until July 30). Last summer, Sotheby’s even held a cocktail reception at the hotel for its auction A Rock & Roll History: Presley to Punk. Atelier Ace, the creative agency behind Ace Hotel, is part of an arts-friendly group, and fittingly, some rooms feature Martin guitars and record players. The hotel claims the Michelin-starred Breslin restaurant, but the original Shake Shack is just a few blocks away (Madison Square Park) should the munchies call for something less sophisticated. The New York Times once described Ace as “too grungy” for fancy New Yorkers, and though the writer meant it as a negative, the grunge actually makes Ace the perfect hotel for rockers who find the Waldorf Astoria too fancy.

THE STANDARD HIGH LINE

The Standard hotel sparked a mini-scandal several years back when exhitionist-minded guests (and apparently a few staff members) made use of the floor-to-ceiling windows to give High Line parkgoers a little show. A bellhop even told the New York Post that the hotel apparently encourages the naked escapades. The peep shows might have peeped down, but the 18-story hotel still rocks out, and The Standard is particularly popular with the Fashion Week crowd. Remember that goofy MTV dude named Jesse Camp? His 15 minutes only lasted 15 seconds, but the Wanna Be winner apparently peed off the roof. While that is more gross than rock ‘n’ roll, it does show how crazy things can get at the scenic Top of the Standard bar. For a more low-key experience, the hotel boasts a Bavarian beer garden that goes topless (as in open air) during the summer.

CHELSEA HOTEL

You know, folks, it doesn’t get any more rock ‘n’ roll than this. The Chelsea is famous internationally as the place where Sex Pistols bassist Sid Vicious possibly murdered his girlfriend Nancy Spungen in 1978. However, the list of guests who checked out alive includes Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Patti Smith, Charles Bukowski, Pink Floyd, Iggy Pop, Mark Twain, the Grateful Dead and Leonard Cohen, among others. Likewise, artistic works reportedly crafted at the hotel include Bob Dylan’s “Sad Eyed Lady of the Lowlands,” Jack Kerouac’s On the Road, Arthur C. Clarke’s stonerific 2001: A Space Odyssey and photos from the Madonna book Sex. With new ownership and management, the Chelsea is in the midst of a multi-year restoration and renovation, but the 130-year-old building is set to reopen in 2017.

Photos left to right: Hotel on Rivington, Bowery Hotel, Ace Hotel, Standard High Line (Courtesy of NYC & Company/Julienne Schaer) and Chelsea Hotel

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