Rooftop penthouse space, complete with outdoor hot tub, available to rent
Relatively far from most major tourist attractions
Valet parking is pricey
Street noise at all hours
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, but the luxurious rooms and amazing views just might merit the attitude.
Uber-hip and luxurious, primarily popular with couples and business travelers
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. The hotel's three-level rooftop Penthouse is a popular event space and wedding venue, complete with a hot tub and panoramic views of New York City.
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 Hotel on Rivington definitely holds its own with the group of expensively hip downtown hotels that includes the Bowery, Crosby Street, and SIXTY LES.
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.
The rooms are terrific and the views are even better.
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.
362-square-foot Regular King Room includes a soft velvet couch, a desk, coffee table, and an amusing furry ottoman that gives the impression that an English sheepdog is sleeping at the foot of the bed.
What a bed! The Tempur-Pedic mattress is like a formfitting, weight-distributing, sponge designed just for you. Topped with 500-thread-count Frette linens
The curtain and sheer window covering were operated by buttons on the wall
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. The fitness and business centers are currently undergoing renovations.
The hotel's well-regarded taqueria Viktor & Spoils serves up seasonal Mexican fare and classic tequila drinks, but is closed Sundays and Mondays. Juice Press, located on the ground floor of the hotel, serves vegan cuisine and cold-press juice, and is available for room service. The hotel's restaurant and lounge are undergoing renovations, with plans to re-open in spring of 2016.
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 next door.
There are also plenty of cheaper down-to-earth eateries like Katz's Deli, Shopsin's, Festival Mexicano, and Economy Candy.
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, flat-rate taxi ride to anywhere in Manhattan. From LaGuardia, it's about a 30-minute 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 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, but travel can take up to two hours and involve a lot of lugging bags up and down stairs.