You may have heard that New York City nightlife is dead, but don’t be fooled—the party goes on. In fact, according to the first-ever economic impact study of local nightlife released earlier this year by the New York Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment, nightlife in the city is growing faster than the rest of the overall economy, with jobs and wages up by annual rates of 5 and 8 percent, respectively.
Sure, much of this has to do with the expanding definition of nightlife: it’s not just DJ-driven clubs, but also late-night restaurants, cocktail bars, and after-hours sports and recreation. But there’s also something to be said for how diverse, both in genre and geography, the NYC nightlife experience has become. Whether you’re looking to stunt with sparklers and bottle service or dance the night away in an underground warehouse, you’ll surely find what you’re after once the sun goes down.
While social media and dating apps have perhaps reduced the perceived need for in-person socializing and meeting new people, platforms like Instagram have also allowed us to discover new venues and parties in real time. That, in turn, has pushed proprietors and party masters to create new attention-worthy experiences and moments that’ll inspire people to get off their couches. And it’s in part thanks to the technology of ride services like Lyft and Uber that there’s now plenty of cool to be found above and beyond 14th Street in Manhattan.
Before the naysayers come for me, I’m not saying there is or will ever be another Arena or Studio 54 (although hitmaker Ian Schrager is very much back in the game), but that doesn’t mean a night out on the town can’t be memorable and surprising—especially when you’re with the right people. And at least within the United States, New York City remains the ultimate travel destination for nightlife fans.
From intimate velvet-roped lounges to outdoor dance clubs and rooftop hideaways, here are the 13 absolute best nightclubs and lounges to party at in New York City.
Opened by DJ and nightlife impresario Paul Sevigny (yes, brother to actress Chloe Sevigny) as a follow-up to his shuttered Beatrice Inn, this hibiscus wallpaper-clad cocktail lounge and club remains one of the most exclusive doors in Manhattan. Referred to by regulars as Paul’s Baby Grand, the space hosts a see-and-be-seen crowd that ranges from the occasional A-lister to cool kids and industry creatives.
Arrive on the earlier side if you want a better chance of getting in—and be aware that getting the up-and-down from longtime doorman Ludwig is all part of the experience. Once inside, expect a mixed batch of music that jumps from throwbacks to global hits. Dressed-up bottle service and tables are available, tended to by a buttoned-up bar staff, but the best fun can be found on the admittedly small-ish dance floor. For the full experience, stay at least until the disco ball goes up later in the night.
Paul’s Cocktail Lounge, The Roxy Hotel, 2 Sixth Avenue, New York, 10023
2. Le Bain
Yes, this is the place with the hot tub. Perched atop the Standard Hotel’s Meatpacking District flagship, the penthouse discothèque and rooftop bar might be one of the best places to watch the sunset over the Hudson River. By night, the venue keeps things interesting with an eclectic, often queer-friendly lineup of regular parties—like Occupy the Disco’s Sunday evening party “Paradisco” and the legendary Susanne Bartsch’s “On Top”. We don’t necessarily advise getting in the water here, but some might say it’s a New York City night-out right of passage.
Le Bain, The Standard, High Line, 848 Washington St, New York, NY 10014
As Manhattan rents have risen dramatically, so have larger, more ambitious music-focused concepts headed east to Brooklyn. This expansive complex is divided into three distinct areas: the outdoor Brooklyn Mirage, which is only open during the summer, as well as the year-round indoor Great Hall and more intimate Kings Hall.
Rigged with a state-of-the-art KV2 sound system as well as tons of indoor greenery and light projections, the venue hosts a variety of events that have recently included Ladyfag’s gay party Holy Mountain and Black NYC, the multi-dimensional underground electronic music-and-art experience thrown by the creative agency Matte.
Avant Gardner, 140 Stewart Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11237
4. The Box
Maybe don’t take your parents here. Since 2007, this debaucherous club has been known for more for its anything-goes, Moulin Rouge-esque variety shows than for its drinks or dancefloor. We won’t give away too much here, but performances have run the gamut from a surprise Pussy Riot performance to experimental martial arts and choreographed nude dancing.
If you’ve got the cash to blow, book a table downstairs or in the VIP area upstairs for the best view of the action. Or, hang by the bar and check for acrobatic performers hanging from the ceiling above you. Note: Doors open at 11pm and shows start around 1am.
The Box, 189 Chrystie St, New York, NY 10002
There are plenty of reasons everyone’s been “ending up at 1Oak” for the last decade. Opened in 2007, before the financial crisis, 1Oak pioneered the first wave of lounges that swapped flashing lights and big-ticket dance DJ’s for sit-down table service and more intimate revelry. Now still hosting events and parties for the biggest artists of the day, including album release parties for the likes of Kanye West and Cardi B as well as Rihanna’s Met Gala 2017 after-party, the club has solidified its place as a mainstream destination for music lovers and partygoers. Oh, and you can end up a 1Oak all around the world—there are now locations in Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Tokyo, and Dubai.
1Oak, 453 W 17th St, New York, NY 10011
6. Fleur Room
As the name implies, flowers and botanicals are the central motif of this brand new rooftop club-lounge at the Chelsea outpost of Marriott’s design-focused, millennial-centric Moxy brand. For Instagram-savvy clubgoers, the most obvious draw is the panoramic skyline view—one of the best in town—as well as a massive vintage disco ball that once hung in the famous Los Angeles club Vertigo. On the programming front, the venue hosts regular DJs like party king Ty Sunderland, and offers a menu of fancy bar snacks (steak au poivre, truffle grilled cheese), and cocktails that’ll help transition from evening to night.
Fleur Room, Moxy Chelsea, 105 W 28th St, New York, NY 10001
Studio 54 club king-turned-hotelier Ian Schrager made headlines when he announced that he’d be opening his next hotel in Times Square. Unveiled with a star-studded series of parties—we spotted Kendall Jenner, Hailey Bieber, and Joan Smalls in attendance as Diana Ross took the stage—the property boasts several distinct concepts, including a restaurant helmed by Michelin-star chef John Fraser, a 5,800-square foot beer garden, and this cabaret and performance venue with acts curated by iconic Brooklyn club House of Yes. In the evening, join for dinner and a show and stick around until the space transforms into a thumping dancefloor.
Paradise Club, The Times Square Edition, 701 7th Ave, New York, NY 10036
Serious house music fans will get their fix of trance, post-disco, and more at this smoky, minimally-decorated Bushwick favorite that leans heavily into its local flavor. Billing itself as a “tropical fantasy dance club,” the 7-year-old mainstay has brought in performances from the likes of Adam X, Jamie xx, and Mike Simonetti to Brooklyn. Bonus: The cocktails, which skew light and relatively pocket-friendly compared to their Manhattan counterparts.
Bossa Nova Civic Club, 1271 Myrtle Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11221
9. The Blond
This chic, gold-accented lounge at the 11 Howard Hotel makes for a great first stop in the night. Having just celebrated its three-year anniversary (with a primal, animal-themed bash), the dimly-lit, Aby Rosen-owned club remains a mainstay for the downtown set looking to soak up cocktails and DJ-spun beats well into the night. The crowd caters toward in-the-know locals, so dress to impress.
The Blond, 11 Howard St, New York, NY 10013
10. Public Arts
Furnished with oriental rugs and leather sofas, the bi-level, basement nightclub of Ian Schrager’s modern Public Hotel offers a more polished setting for Lower East Side fun. Music bounces from house to hip-hop, and the crowd is just as mixed. Beyond regular nighttime programming, the space has hosted performances by the likes of Patti Smith and A$AP Rocky, as well as original shows like the Cuban-inspired, dance-heavy cabaret Carmen, To Havana & Back. Tip: if you’re looking for more a relaxed setting for cocktails, the hotel also as a rooftop bar, Public Roof.
Public Arts, Public Hotel, 215 Chrystie St, New York, NY 10002
For those who typically stick to cramped Manhattan clubs, it’s worth the train ride to Elsewhere just for the space alone. Housed in a converted Bushwick warehouse, this massive, 24,000-square-foot multi-concept concert venue and restaurant hosts an equally massive variety of events, from DJ sets and Susanne Bartsch parties to band performances and barbecues. Last year, Elsewhere opened a rooftop serving cocktails and light snacks. Remember to consult the lineup before you head over.
Elsewhere, 599 Johnson Ave #1, Brooklyn, NY 11237
12. Electric Room
Heading to Electric Room feels a bit like going down a rabbit hole, partly because you’re getting there at 3am and partly because you’re descending a run-down ramp towards a neon sign at the end of a tunnel. Once you’ve made it past the sometimes tricky door, however, you’re transported to a subterranean, London punk-inspired fantasy land complete with velvet and leather chairs draped in Union Jack flags, Gothic-inspired chandeliers, and a retro rock-friendly soundtrack. Be advised that they’re pretty strict on dress code (and ratios) here.
Electric Room, The Dream Downtown, 335 W 16th St, New York, NY 10011
13. Rose Bar
Tucked behind a seemingly non-descript hotel bar, this club is easily recognized by its dozen or so David LaChapelle works featuring stars from Tupac to Britney Spears. Given the venue’s location inside of the Gramercy Park Hotel, the crowd is surprisingly well-curated, thanks in part to its status as an after party destination for events like New York Fashion Week shows. To get past the velvet curtain, know someone who has a list—or prepare to pay up.
Rose Bar, Gramercy Park Hotel, 2 Lexington Ave, New York, NY 10010