It used to be that the better the gay nightlife was, the harder it was
to find. If the party of the moment wasn't on an obscure side street in
Chinatown, then it was in a Brooklyn neighborhood only locals could
successfully navigate without the help of a GPS.
But things change, and recently style-conscious hotels have been
trying to get in on the act, hooking up with promoters to make sure
their bars and clubs gets lots of attention -- it's one more way for
hotels to stay relevant and keep their names in magazines and websites.
One hotel that's held firmly to this concept from the get-go is
the awkwardly named Out NYC, a 125-room hotel set to open in Hell's
Kitchen in 2011. If all goes according to plan, this gay but
"hetero-friendly" hotel will come with a big, throbbing appendage -- a
9,000-square-foot club that's likely to be the second coming of the
much-lamented XL, a Chelsea landmark that closed its doors in 2003. As
we all wait to see what the Out is like, here are some party-friendly
hotels you can stay in right now.
Located near the sweet spot where Chelsea merges with the Meatpacking
District, the Maritime Hotel (363 W 16th St, 212-242-4300) has been a stylish place to lay one's head since it
opened in 2003. Designed as a center for members of the National
Maritime Union of America, its rooms come by their five-foot porthole
windows and other seamanly touches honestly.
Although such a fashionable place attracts gays every day of the
week, things get especially pink on Sunday nights, when the
Hiro Ballroom hosts the Cuckoo Club.
The night's a creation of Erich Conrad, the legendary promoter who's
also the force behind Beige, the long-running and seemingly
never-ending party at the East Village's B Bar.
Names can be deceiving. Although management might wish you to assume
otherwise, George Gershwin never slept at or probably even visited the
large Greek revival building that now houses the
Gershwin Hotel (7 E
27th St, 212-545-8000). Instead, this stripped-down
but funky place gets its tuneful name from its proximity to Tin Pan
Alley, where Gershwin and others plunked out a great deal of what
became the Great American Songbook. As for the hotel itself, its mix of
hostel accommodations and plain-and-simple rooms doesn't make for much
luxury, but everything is upbeat and well-priced. The art-crowded
walls, including a signed Warhol soup can, add to the style quotient.
In keeping with its arty aesthetic, the Gershwin has its own
performance space on the ground floor, dubbed the Living Room. It keeps
a busy schedule of art showings, parties and performance art, much of
it with a gay twist. One recent screening was a sneak preview of
Beautiful Darling, a 2010 documentary about transexual Warholian
superstar Candy Darling. If anything here fails to (tin) pan out, keep
in mind that more saucy fare can be found just down the block, at the
Museum of Sex.
Nine out of 10 tastemakers agree: the Hudson Hotel (356 West 58th St, 212-554-6000), an Ian Schrager hotel designed by
Philippe Starck, is not the grooviest hotel in NYC anymore. Its
minimalist representation of luxury just hasn't aged that well. What is
hot here is the Wednesday-night party, The Happening. Hosted by Ryan
McKnight, it attracts a crowd of younger downtown gays and professional
party people. All in all, it goes a long way toward making mid-week
midtown a place worth heading to rather than running from.
The Happening takes a bit of its energy from the glam nightlife
of the late '80s and early '90s, with the House of Aviance voguers
doing their thing and One-Half Nelson, Jackie Birdy and other weirdly
dressed conversation pieces recalling the great clubkids of yore.
When it opened last year, the Roommate Grace Hotel (125 W 45th St,
212-354-2323) got lots of attention quickly. It
was a slick, boutiquey change from the more typical Times Square-area
hotels, which tend to the mammoth and staid. In addition to stylish and
efficiently designed rooms that make the most of their small
dimensions, the Grace stands out for its shapely pool, located behind
the ground-floor lobby. It gets lots of use, since it serves both as a
backdrop for a bar (one floor above) and as the centerpiece of many
Take Drenched, a gay pool party with a difference. This one
doesn't overflow with schools of twinks soused on contrived cocktails.
Instead, it's for the bears and those that chase their... um... tails.
The party is organized by Joe Fiore, who's also behind Dance 208, the
longest-running dance party in the city. Drenched is primarily for the
hirsute -- it is co-hosted by Metrobears, after all -- but almost
everyone's welcome. At the night's premiere, there were reports that
some British women were glad to mix it up with the swimsuit-clad guys
and their beer bellies. Although only two Drenched nights have been
held so far, Fiore and the Grace plan for more in 2010. In the
meantime, the weekly Drip party attracts a see-and-be-seen crowd.
With its legendary inhabitants and its winning formula of fleabag chic,
Chelsea Hotel (222 West 23rd St, 212-243-3700)
needs no introduction. But just because it's known as the place where
Jasper Johns, Robert Mapplethorpe and Rufus Wainwright once laid their
heads (and probably other things), that doesn't mean it's stuck in the
past. The Star Lounge, in the basement, may not
always be appreciated by the hotels' often crotchety longterm
residents, but for the rest of us, its Sunday house night, Sexy
Relapse, fits in just fine. The party's beats attract a primarily
See more area coverage in our
New York article of March 2010, with related links.