Photos and Review by Oyster.com Investigators
Uber-hip and luxurious but also showing its age
Since it opened in October 2004, the 110-room Hotel on Rivington has played host to a wealthy clientele who consider the Lower East Side their after-hours playground. Guests include a mix of celebrities, hedge-fund types, European thrill-seekers, and elite members of the creative class who expect their hotels to be as cool as their careers. The hotel's public areas certainly live up to those expectations with unusual design elements like the a full-size pool table in the lobby, and the igloo-like entryway.
There always seems to be scene in progress at the Hotel on Rivington. A bellman was kind enough to show off the three-level penthouse, which is mostly used for parties like the birthday party for rapper Fabolous that Jay-Z had attended just a week earlier. And even if they don't get invited to such events, ordinary guests are granted access the celebrity-flecked penthouse summertime parties on the rooftop, where they can sit in the hot tub and gaze out upon Gotham while sipping drinks with its beautiful people.
The guest rooms are appropriately swank and luxurious. Highlights include fantastic beds with form-contouring Tempur-Pedic mattresses, 500-thread-count Frette linens; huge steam showers; and superb views of New York City through the floor-to-ceiling glass walls in rooms on the 7th floor and up.
The place isn't perfect. It's starting to show some serious wear and tear -- perhaps not surprising given all the partying that's gone on here since the hotel opened in 2004. And the fitness and business centers are none too impressive.
Befitting the LES, the employees are much more casual and friendly than one would find in tonier sections of New York.
The staff is always congenial, even warm, casual, and never too-cool-for-school. Although there is no separate on-site concierge, the 24-hour front desk clerks have a good handle on the area. They've made it a priority to build relationships with popular LES restaurants, so that's the way to go for reservations.
On the Lower East Side, which is full of great bars and eateries -- but far from most major tourist attractions
For most of the past century, the Lower East Side was the neighborhood where newly arrived immigrants packed into tenements while trying to grab a toehold here in America. Now the tenements have been transformed into pricey apartments inhabited by junior investment bankers who like to dress up as punk rockers at night. The streets are still a little grungy, but there's no shortage of party traffic. No matter the changes, the LES is too offbeat and entrenched to become 100 percent gentrified. A lot of the longtime stores, restaurants and galleries are open and thriving, as are no-frills performance havens like ABC No Rio and the Nuyorican Poets Cafe.
Safety isn't a big issue, but the LES isn't Park Avenue either. A nonstop nightlife scene means heavy foot traffic and noise into the wee hours.
Gorgeous, comfortable rooms with even better views. As always, higher up is better (and more expensive), but because the 21-story hotel towers over the surrounding tenements, great city views don't require being at the top; even my 4th-floor room looked out on the bustling street, which was great for people-watching.
Except for the amazing penthouse, amenities are minimal.
The best features are the common areas like the spacious lobby with the bar and pool table, and the three-level penthouse with the rooftop Jacuzzi that's open to guests on weekends in the summer. Beyond that, the fitness center is cramped, but does have quality Technogym equipment: two treadmills, an elliptical, a recumbent bike, and a multi-trainer machine.
The Hotel on Rivington isn't aimed at families.
The hotel's well-regarded taqueria Victor and Spoils serves up seasonal Mexican fare and classic tequila drinks. CO-OP is the hotel's other on-site restaurant, which offers everything from fresh sushi to Pork Belly Sliders. Right next to CO-OP is The Lounge, a trendy hotspot for Lower East Siders and hip hotel guests. The bar has a chic, modern feel, and features seasonal cocktails.
Fortunately, the neighborhood has enough restaurants to feed whatever huddled masses end up on the Lower East Side. Spitzer's and innovative "gourmet wrap" joint Wolfnights are worth the venture nextdoor.
Cleanliness is not an issue, but there is a significant amount of wear and tear.
The Regular King Room was extremely clean, not an easy feat since half of it is bathed in white. There were a few markings on the bed skirt, but overall, it felt like housekeeping did a thorough job. Impressively, there was no visible grime in between any of the bathroom tiles. That said, the hotel opened in October 2004 and is showing its age. There were a lot of scratches on the desk and table, the wood in the closet was nicked, and there were spots in the carpet as well.
Depending on traffic and which airport guests choose, a taxi ride can take from 30 to 90 minutes. Expect to spend at least $40.
New York has three nearby airports: JFK, LaGuardia, and Newark (in New Jersey). Flying into JFK or LaGuardia is typically easiest and the least time-consuming. From JFK, it's a one-hour, $45 flat-rate taxi ride to anywhere in Manhattan. From LaGuardia, it's about a 30-minute, $40 to $45 metered cab ride to downtown Manhattan. Rides from Newark cost at least $40 (plus tolls), and can take more than 90 minutes. Don't forget to tip your driver 15 percent to 25 percent.
To save some cash, guests can try the group shuttles that are available at all three airports for about $14 per person. For more information on the shuttles, go to Super Shuttle or New York Airport Service. People can also take public transit from any of the airports for as little as $7 per person, but travel can take up to two hours and involve a lot of lugging bags up and down stairs. For mass-transit directions right to the hotel, check out HopStop.com.
Pets are allowed, but the smaller the better.
Under 20 pounds, pets are free. Above that, it's $60 for the stay.
The Hotel on Rivington is a secretive hot spot for well-heeled travelers who like their neighborhoods cool and their thread counts high. Sleek and stylish, the monied vibe doesn't exactly mesh with the Lower East Side's immigrant history, and the place is showing some serious wear and tear, but the luxurious rooms and amazing views just might merit the attitude.