Valentine's Day is right around the corner, which means it's time to start thinking about hearts and chocolate. Or, how about Champagne and cocktails? If you're going to be celebrating the holiday with your sweetheart in New York City, we highly recommend starting the evening with a toast to love at one of these ultra-romantic hotel bars. Cozy nooks, mood lighting, and signature libations all come together to create an atmosphere that ignites passion. And if things go really well, you may just end up booking a room and spending the night.
1. The Pool at Room Mate Grace
Room Mate Grace offers the only swim-up hotel bar in New York City. The dimly lit grotto-style space is illuminated by a rotating rainbow of underwater lights. Bartenders use fresh fruit and premium liquors to mix up bespoke cocktails, which patrons can either sip on built-in benches in the pool or at cozy tables on the dry deck. The space isn't huge, but the intimacy is part of the charm.
2. The Elephant Bar at The NoMad Hotel
The Elephant Bar in The NoMad Hotel looks and feels like an exclusive club, but it's open to the public. (The neighboring Library lounge is private for hotel guests after 4 p.m.). The dimly-lit space is mostly taken up by the 24-foot-long mahogany bar presided over by twin wooden elephant statues. The award-winning mixologist, Leo Robitschek, curates a seasonal cocktail menu, so expect to sample something special. If you work up an appetite, the adjacent European courtyard-inspired Atrium restaurant is offering a four-course prix-fixe menu for Valentine's Day.
3. Bodega Negra at Dream Downtown
If your Valentine likes drama and fire, take them to the dark and moody Bodega Negra at the Dream Downtown. Tudor hacienda-themed decor is evocative of a sexy nightmare. Guitars, guillotines, and dripping candles line the walls and ceilings. The Smoking Scorpion mixes scotch and sweet vermouth with cherries and sea salt -- the whole thing is prepared with an open flame. Bar patrons can order tacos and ceviche off the dinner menu, or go straight for dessert. We suggest one churro sundae with two spoons.
4. Rose Bar at Gramercy Park Hotel
The Rose Bar inside Gramercy Park Hotel will impress even the most high maintenance date -- if you can get them in. The hot spot is decorated with red-hued jewel tones and a priceless collection of Andy Warhol and Keith Haring paintings. It serves as a sort of social club for celebrities and scenesters, especially after New York Fashion Week and other prominent events. The gigantic wood-burning fireplace and floor-to-ceiling velvet drapes cozy up the eclectic sitting areas. Catering to a demanding crowd, mixologists can create individual cocktails with muddled fresh ingredients. Note that email reservations are required after 9 p.m., unless you're glitterati.
5. Bar Hugo Rooftop at Hugo Hotel
February isn't the best time for enjoying New York's incredible rooftop bar scene, but Hugo Hotel offers an exception to the rule. The 20th-floor bar and lounge area are enclosed in the winter to keep the chill out, but still offer breathtaking views of the Hudson River and city skyline. If you come before sunset, you can see the Statue of Liberty in the distance. The reasonable happy hour deals (from 5 to 9 p.m. on weekdays) are another reason to arrive early and claim a cozy banquette corner.
6. Bar at the WestHouse Hotel New York
WestHouse Hotel New York offers something that few New York City hotels in Midtown have: an intimate boutique ambience. The cozy lobby bar is an ideal spot to snuggle up without fighting hordes of tourists -- especially since most of the hotel's guests spend their time eating free snacks on the 23rd floor, which houses a combination dining room and living room (accessible only to guests). Back downstairs, the lobby bar space is decorated with Art Deco accents and a fireplace, and has the service you'd expect from a luxury hotel. Note that the bar is famous for its old fashioned recipe made with South American Solbeso and brandied cherries. What's not to love?
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