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New York lounges that aren’t lame (we promise)

Lounges often get a bad rap—they can be overpriced and crowded and play crummy music—but give these cool New York lounges a second look.

Photograph: Eric Groom
Le Baron
Velvet ropes, surly security and overpriced drinks—New York lounges can be an intimidating (and expensive) option for those looking for some after-dark action. But there are actually quite a few cool bars on the nightlife scene. Here are a few of our favorites.

RECOMMENDED: New York nightlife guide 2013

Cool New York lounges

For the elitist: The Electric Room (at the Dream Downtown)

Don your coolest threads for this hot spot from nightlife impresario Nur Khan (Kenmare, Don Hill’s). The petite Electric Room, hidden down a set of stairs in a bunkerlike space, only holds about a hundred people, so you can expect an accordingly stringent door policy—thoughit’s more of a leather-jacket than stiletto-wearing crowd. Once you’re in the Britannia-themed space, accessible through the hotel lobby or a grimy, underground loading dock, dance to tunes from Blur and LCD Soundsystem. Should you party till you drop, crash in a swanky room in the Dream Downtown hotel, conveniently located right above ground.

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For the escapist: Lounge at Pod 39 Hotel

Take in views of the East River and the Chrysler Building from the 17th floor of this Midtown East micro-hotel. The bi-level terrace is adorned with twinkling string lights, terra-cotta arches and Mayan-print curtains—exuding a sultry, tropical vibe ideal for enjoying the just-launched taqueria, Salvation Taco. Snack on inventive combos like tortilla-wrapped pig ears and lamb breast on naan, courtesy of Spotted Pig owner and pork expert April Bloomfield. Hotel Delmano alum Sam Anderson fixes the drinks; sip on his fresh-fruit–and-tequila concoctions as you mingle with an international party crowd.

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Murray Hill

For the loca-boozer: The Ides


Expect to line up for access to this drinkery atop the Wythe Hotel, the newest venture from Williamsburg entrepreneur Andrew Tarlow (Diner, Marlow & Sons). You’ll understand why once you reach the sixth-floor patio; the stellar vistas of the Manhattan skyline have shot the Ides to the top of every outdoor-boozing list. In the winter, savor the waterfront view through floor-to-ceiling windows and imbibe seasonal cocktails made with locally distilled liquors, or peruse a phenomenal small-production wine list. Check the bar’s Facebook page to get the scoop on sporadic sets from locals, including experimental filmmaker-cum-DJ Art Boonparn.

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For the très chic partyer: Le Baron

Paris lands in Chinatown courtesy of owner André Saraiva, whose exclusive boîte opened its NYC outpost after a hotly anticipated two-year wait. The three-story space, comprised of several intimate dance floors, evokes a ’70s-era bordello in Saigon that feels at once seedy and sexy. Once you breach the tight door, you’ll likely spot celebs of the fashion variety (Marc Jacobs, Prabal Gurung), a fog machine, a Eurocentric clientele and old-fashioned bottle service ($350 for a bottle of Jameson). Follow @EncoreSessions on Twitter to keep track of its Monday-night concert series, which hosts buzzy bands like MNDR and Wild Belle.

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For the nostalgist: The Vault at Pfaff’s

Step into the 19th century at this Noho cocktail den, converted from a circa-1855 beer cellar that Walt Whitman once frequented. The owners, who also run the Corner Shop Cafe upstairs, are all about period-appropriate detail. You’ll peruse a menu of luxe pub fare printed on old countercultural newspapers, and your order will be taken by a uniformed server corseted in designs by Project Runway’s Christian Siriano. As you hold court on a brocaded settee with your fellow literati—er, friends—and a spirits-heavy quaff in hand, you’ll be wishing venues like these weren’t just a throwback.

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Greenwich Village