This ain’t Vegas, baby, so forget about the daylong poolside ragers and relaxing afternoons in private cabanas. This is New York City, and while the pickings are slim and the prices are high, the few hotel pools we’ve got secure some of the more treasured summertime real estate. For those of us left hanging around after the mass weekend exodus for the Hamptons, here are the top – err, more like the only – hotel pools worth checking out in New York City. Grab your bikini and your wallet (full of cash) and get ready to get your feet wet at one of these top hotel pools in NYC.
Plunge at the Gansevoort
18 9th Avenue
New York, NY 10014
This small but stylish pool on the 14th-floor penthouse of the Gansevoort Hotel makes for an attractive addition to this already chic spot – but, unless you’re a guest, you won’t be “plunging” in, or anywhere near, the 45-foot pool. Rather, you’ll be sitting (or standing, since you probably won’t find a seat) in the minimally decorated indoor lounge. Regardless, the place is a prime spot for summer rooftop fiends, in-crowd addicts, or anyone who wants to dish out $15 for a vodka tonic. If you fit in any one of these categories – and also have the miraculous ability to dip, duck and dodge your way through swarms of people – we suggest checking out this pool.
190 Allen Street
New York, NY 10002
Back for its second summer of operation, the outdoor pool at the Thompson LES has to be one of our favorite pools in the city in terms of location, crowd and overall allure. Sometimes referred to as “that pool with Andy Warhol’s face on the floor” (designed by Gerard Malanga), this rectangular basin is the centerpiece of a bright Bauhaus-like space, lined with boxy, orange-hued seating and a few plants. The ultra-modern space is not at all a divergence from Above Allen and the rest of the hotel, which means you can expect the same upscale style-savvy crowd. But flooded with noise complaints and threats from party-haters (we all know those nasty nearby residents thrive on shutting down the prime parties), the pool at the Thompson LES may be a target for another season of angry neighbors.
The Pool Deck at the Empire Hotel
44 W 63rd Street
New York, NY 10023
While you don’t often see us write about the Empire Hotel, the luxurious pool and stark-white lounge space around it, cannot be neglected on a list of top hotel pools in New York City. The pool will open for the season on May 1st, and cater in a truly luxurious fashion to out-of-towners, and a more apt-to-relax older crowd. For a small fee (give or take $65 for approximately 5 hours, based on last year’s prices) you can rent out a cabana, fully equipped with flat-screen TVs, mini refrigerators, iPod speakers, ceiling fans and daybeds. Food and drink is served from brunch well into the evening, but keep in mind, you won’t see any bottle-poppers or tequila poppers at this New York City hotel pool.
Pool Bar at Grace Hotel
125 W 45th Street
New York, NY 10036
In terms of décor, this is probably the most intriguing pool-slash-bar design on the list, and in terms of price, a $10 fee for all non-guests sounds pretty reasonable. Unlike the Pool Deck at the Empire Hotel, the Pool Bar at the Grace Hotel gets down with the party crowd (yay!), linking pooling and boozing with a cut-out swim-up bar. Whether you choose to hop in or dance on dry land is up to you – or pull an in-betweener move and relax in the sauna or steam room both located in the pool lounge. The small, dimly-lit wooden space isn’t as impressive as some of the other hotel pools on this list, but with colorful low lighting and cheaper drinks, those in search of a fun pool party can deal with the sacrifice.
SoHo House Rooftop
29-35 9th Avenue
New York, NY 10014
If it’s been featured on Sex and the City, then it’s likely a sought-after place, which is just the case for the SoHo House Rooftop Pool in New York City. The rooftop space also owes part of its desirable charm to the fact that it’s a members-only spot, and you New Yorkers know how it goes: the more impossible the door, the more people want to get in. Management has definitely done their job right. The heated pool at the top of the boutique hotel is made even cozier with compliments of a bar, a kitchen and just enough dining and lounge space to please their A-list guests. No whiskey-induced cannonballs for this place and no out-of-control parties, but even if there were, we’d get pretty bored of seeing the same faces week after week. Unless it’s Brad and Angie’s, then I guess we could deal.