The Standard Hotel in New York City’s Meatpacking District has a reputation. Its name is as big a deal as its quality and its quality is as big a deal as getting in.
Working your way into this almost painfully cool roof bar can be difficult. It’s quite tempting to laugh the bar off completely when the door staff try to fob you off with silly stories of the place being closed for private events.
Our advice: don’t give up. And don’t try to get in on a Saturday night in shorts and a T-shirt. Instead, head there just when the place opens – 4 pm Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and 2pm the rest of the time.
As and when you do get in, the venue delivers with an impressive initial indoor bar. This is where the place gets its name. Le Bain has a spa bath you can have a dip in if you so wish!
We chose not to do so. Even if it were open, we got the impression you’d need to be some kind of supermodel to get away with having a dunk here.
Further on and up a set of stairs we finally came to the roof bar proper. Much more laid back but still taking itself quite seriously, we felt much more comfortable here. It was as if being out in the sunshine and fresh air, the cooped-up coolness of the lower bar was set free up here.
It could also be the view: I think it trumps what even the coolest people have going on. Views south downtown and along Manhattan’s riverbank shores, west over the sparkling Hudson River and further out over New Jersey… you can even see down onto the famous High Line Park.
The bar itself is very New York. Beautiful people serving well-made cocktails in a breath-taking venue. And it’s worth every effort it takes to get here.
Le Bain is cleverly decked out to look like a sophisticated garden party. Low chairs and tables carefully scattered around the place… it even has grass. Well, fake grass, but it’s very realistic fake grass if you know what I mean.
So grab a margarita, find a seat and stare out downtown or over the river. The atmosphere when we were there – about half an hour after opening – was very chilled.
It’s also one of the most fascinating people-watching venues I’ve been to!
For a more exclusive experience, head to the Top of The Standard, left as you come to the matre d’ from the elevators. It’s another bar, but also a restaurant. We got the impression bookings would be hard to come by here and the dress code was strict.
Views from here were amazing even though it’s completely indoors.
It’s a different world up here at Le Bain and the Top of the Standard. As you head back to the bustling grubby streets below, a part of you wishes you could stay forever. And in some way, a part of you does.
Le Bain, NYC is on the top floor of the Standard Hotel in the Meatpacking District:
848 Washington at 13th Street
New York 10014
Tel: (212) 645-4646
Fax: (212) 645-5656