New York City

10 Coolest Hotels in the Lower East Side: New York City's Cauldron of Creativity

Lower East Side hotels come in all shapes and styles. Local writer Eva Leonard takes you through 10 of the coolest options in the neighborhood.

Each time I roam the sidewalks of New York City’s Lower East Side, it feels as though I’m exploring a kaleidoscope, one that can’t help but express and reinvent itself by the moment. Artful paint splatters seem to well up organically on sidewalks, while murals and graffiti brighten roll-down store gates and even bring to life the rusted metal doors that cover the steps leading from sidewalks into dusky basements.

The Lower East Side has long been a cauldron of creativity for artists and performers like Jean-Michel Basquiat, Keith Haring, Madonna, and Andy Warhol. It’s rich with vibrant street art, hot new galleries showcasing emerging artists, and exciting creative spaces like FusionArts Museum, New Museum, and International Center of Photography. Lower East Side hotels reflect the neighborhood’s dynamic creative vibe, with bold artwork, fascinating historic artifacts, eye-catching interior design, cutting-edge architecture, and cool bars and restaurants helmed by innovative celebrity chefs and mixologists.

Discover how descending CitizenM Bowery hotel’s 20-story stairwell becomes an art-immersive experience with every step. Channel Andy Warhol in Sixty LES hotel’s pool and in the Standard Hotel’s grilled cheese sandwich. Conjure Diego Rivera with a cocktail at PUBLIC Hotel and travel back in time to a Victorian aesthetic at the Bowery Hotel. Expand your cultural consciousness in the cleverly creative hotels of the Lower East Side.

An Art Lover's Mecca

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If the mirrored, neon-lit escalators leading up to the PUBLIC Hotel‘s lobby conjure visions of a disco circa 1978, it might just be because the hotel is the brainchild of Ian Schrager, the nightlife impresario behind New York City’s legendary disco, Studio 54.

The hotel is an art lover’s mecca, housing Public Arts, a multi-media performance space where singers like Patti Smith have performed, and the Roof rooftop bar, where top DJs spin. Diego bar pays homage to the artist Diego Rivera with a tapestry reproduction of a fresco by Rivera anchoring the space and Mexico-inspired cocktails. Raise a spirited toast to Rivera here with the Oaxaca old fashioned, a concoction crafted with Herradura Reposado tequila, Del Maguey San Luis Del Rio mezcal, and agave nectar.

Celebrity chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten helms the hotel’s big, buzzing Public Kitchen restaurant, which turns out creative dishes like multi-layered chocolate cake served with scoops of peanut butter ice cream and jelly sorbet, and New York-inspired selections made with smoked salmon from longtime Lower East Side purveyor Russ & Daughters. The hotel shop Trade sells cleverly crafted items, including big oval pastel-hued rings by local jewelry designer Alexis Bittar.

Public New York

New York, 1.3 miles to 911 Memorial
8.6 Excellent (1738 reviews)
Excellent Cleanliness 9.2 / 10
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Lower East Side Creative Culture

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Perhaps most emblematic of the Lower East Side’s creative culture, CitizenM Bowery hotel is decked out with a deliciously dizzying mother lode of art. It begins with a row of colorful abstract sculptures on display just outside of the hotel, facing a wall of red and black graffiti art. In the lobby, a larger-than-life shiny red statue of a dog stands near the entrance.

A sleek wooden spiral staircase overlooks and leads down to a large airy atrium with levels of amphitheater-style seating, and walls and shelves that are covered with contemporary art—paintings, drawings, and sculptures large and small. Brightly-colored Mid Century Modern furnishings complement the artwork, and a life-size sculpture of Spiderman clings to a wall outside, visible through glass, while one of an ape glowers from one of the stepped seating levels.

The hotel’s Museum of Street Art features a range of neighborhood-inspired art that covers inner staircase walls from the 20th to the ground floor and includes portraits of local graffiti and mural artist Lady Pink and performer RuPaul. Travelers can book guided tours or take self-guided tours of this vertical art museum.

CitizenM’s gift shop is stocked with artsy items, including mini notepads with cutouts of artists like Salvador Dali, and socks depicting cities that are home to CitizenM hotels, rendered in a modern style by the artist Alfredo Gonzalez.

Citizenm New York Bowery

New York, 1.2 miles to 911 Memorial
9.3 Excellent (1145 reviews)
Excellent Service 9 / 10
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"On the Cusp of Chinatown"

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On the cusp of Chinatown, Hotel 50 Bowery stands right across from the entrance to the Manhattan Bridge. Just off the lobby, between the elevator banks, a vintage New England Telephone phone booth is lined with archival images of Chinatown and topped with a miniature pagoda that glows.

The hotel’s 21st-floor rooftop bar and lounge, the Crown, offers panoramic views of downtown and Brooklyn, even extending to Queens and New Jersey. The talented mixologists whip up creative, Asian-inspired cocktails like Black Dragon Tea, a concoction of Elyx vodka, oolong tea, green tea, and spiced kalamansi. The hotel’s restaurant Rice and Gold serves Asian-American fare, its graffiti walls depicting people on the crowded streets of the neighborhood, created by local artist Mr. Ewok One.

50 Bowery

New York, 0.9 miles to 911 Memorial
9.1 Excellent (1087 reviews)
Excellent Cleanliness 9.5 / 10
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"An Inventive Dose of Global Goodness"

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A striking painting of a square-jawed cigarette-smoking tough guy by artist Robert Loughlin hangs over the fireplace in the Ludlow’s Lobby Bar, which itself seems like a work of interior design art, furnished with curvy, ’70s-style leather sofas, velvet couches, and low coffee tables. At the hotel’s bistro, Dirty French, Gallic fare gets an inventive dose of global goodness, with unexpected dishes like black bass with Berbere spice and mushroom, and spicy pork chop with calvados.

The Lobby Bar’s courtyard garden, open year-round, is a bright, airy spot to nibble one of the flavorful flatbreads with toppings like mussels au curry, paired with a high-octane specialty cocktail like the Ludlow gimlet, prepared with Navy-strength gin, cinnamon, creme de abricot, and fresh lime. Guest rooms are decorated with modern artwork, and some have furnished terraces for artful outdoor lounging.

The Ludlow

Top rated
New York, 1.5 miles to 911 Memorial
8.9 Excellent (620 reviews)
Excellent Cleanliness 9.4 / 10
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Under-The-Radar

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The Standard East Village is home to under-the-radar pieces of art, like the earth-toned stained-glass landscape behind the front desk and the puffy cloud-like artwork on the ceiling by the ground-floor elevator banks. Geometric Pop Art paintings and prints hang high on the walls of Café Standard, where the menu even features the Andy Warhol, a deliciously gooey grilled cheese sandwich served with a bowl of thick, rich tomato soup. Don’t miss the riotous weekly drag party, Miss Girl, at The Standard’s narcbar.

The Standard’s Narcissa restaurant serves dinner and brunch from an organic, seasonal menu of daring, spice-centric dishes like beets roasted in coffee grounds with ginger, labneh and cumin crumble and crispy griddled chicken with hot grapes, chimichurri, and fermented chili paste. You can also step outside in the garden and carbo-load with Chef de Cuisine Max Blachman-Gentile’s fresh sourdough bread loaves.

The Standard East Village

Top rated
New York, 1.6 miles to 911 Memorial
8.5 Excellent (2049 reviews)
Excellent Location 9.2 / 10
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Minimalist

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For those who prefer more minimalist hotel art, Leon Hotel features several color and black-and-white photographs of the neighborhood in the lobby, along with Atomic Era-style light fixtures. But the real show are the views from the big guest room windows on the hotel’s Canal Street side.

Climb up into a comfy window seat and take in the range of architectural styles, from the Byzantine St. Barbara’s Greek Orthodox Church to the east to the ornate colonnade and arch at the entrance to the Manhattan Bridge facing the hotel, and the shiny, modern One World Trade tower to the south. Leon Hotel is also within easy walking distance to the galleries of Eldridge and Delancy Streets and the thought-provoking street art found on Allen Street, heading north toward Houston Street.

The Leon Hotel

Top rated
New York, 0.9 miles to 911 Memorial
8.5 Excellent (1933 reviews)
Excellent Cleanliness 8.9 / 10
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"Peruvian Gods"

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Public areas of the Hotel on Rivington sport portraits of Bob Dylan and Jimi Hendrix, and graffiti-style art. Guest room artwork includes a portrait of singer Debbie Harry by fine art photographer EJ Camp, and pieces by Kenyan artist Ali Lamu and Richard Hambleton, who first became known for the shadow figures he painted in the alleys of the Lower East Side.

Don’t miss the blue and sienna floor-to-skylight mosaic tile mural “Peruvian Gods,” depicting people, gods, and animals in whimsical folk art style. It runs the width of the back wall in the hotel’s Medi restaurant, with another section in the entryway. It’s a cheery sight to take in while tucking into one of the flavorful Mediterranean dishes from Medi’s menu, like burrata agnolotti with Perigord truffle.

Hotel On Rivington

New York, 1.4 miles to 911 Memorial
8.3 Very good (3529 reviews)
Excellent Cleanliness 8.8 / 10
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Steam in the Spa

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Not only does Sixty Lower East Side boast a rooftop pool, it also happens to be one graced with artwork in the center that replicates photos of Andy Warhol. In the hotel’s guest rooms, complementing the sleek black-and-white décor and floor-to-ceiling windows, photography by Lee Friedlander glows from backlit headboards.

Check out Sixty’s Blue Ribbon Sushi Izakaya and Beer Garden and sip a Hitachino white ale from Japan, or order small plates from the restaurant from your own poolside cabana. Pop into The Spa for an Indo-Pacific treatment and a steam in the sauna, and then settle into a plush banquette with a Matcha cocktail at Make Believe rooftop lounge, a vision in pink and purple designed by Pao Lopez.

Sixty Lower East Side

New York, 1.4 miles to 911 Memorial
8.3 Very good (2089 reviews)
Excellent Location 8.9 / 10
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"A Cavernous Cathedral"

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Hotel Indigo Lower East Side‘s cavernous cathedral-ceilinged lobby belies its understated façade, sporting a wall covered in artwork created from old bicycle parts and reclaimed wrought iron gates. Overhead, bicycle-wheel-shaped light fixtures catch the eye, and at the rear entrance, a work of art in the form of a Campbell’s Tomato Spray can standing about eight feet high evokes the spirit of Andy Warhol.

On the 15th floor, the hotel’s Mr. Purple bar projects a rustic, funky vibe, with reclaimed- wood partitions, mod brass sculptures, a concrete floor, and a disco ball hanging from the ceiling. Outside, a rooftop bar and patio offer wraparound views of the city, including landmarks like One World Trade tower, the Brooklyn Bridge and the Empire State Building. A lap pool, and a see-through geodesic chalet, outfitted with plush seating and a chandelier comprised of antlers up the wow factor.

Take the staircase one floor down to the Sky Lobby to grab an espresso and check out the art installations. There’s the colorful heart-shaped sculpture made from vintage books with a collection of antique typewriters arranged at its base, and the life-size red, purple and yellow statue of a cow, decoupaged with paper strips of cartoons stands by the pool table.

Hotel Indigo Lower East Side New York

Top rated
New York, 1.5 miles to 911 Memorial
9.1 Excellent (2427 reviews)
Excellent Cleanliness 9.1 / 10
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Morocco in Manhattan

A delightfully eccentric retro vibe oozes from The Bowery Hotel. An ornate cast-iron Victorian umbrella holder and antique wooden newspaper racks stand in the entryway, and behind the front desk, red-tasseled room keys hang from an old-fashioned wooden key holder.

Wood-beamed ceilings, Moroccan wall tiles, potted palm trees, and a stone fireplace set the clubby mood in the softly lit lobby, furnished with leather club chairs, thick Persian carpets, plush velvet settees and antique chairs with embroidered upholstery. In the bar, a bookcase holds musty artifacts like antique bottles and taxidermy animals.

The walls of the Bowery Hotel’s Gemma trattoria are decked with a mish-mosh of artwork, from contemporary to classical pieces, including abstract paintings and black-and-white sketches. A collection of vintage copper cookware and African carved wood sculptures enhance the warm, eclectic decor. Gemma’s brunch draws a crowd for its pizzas, pastas, and Italian-style egg dishes, like poached eggs over tomato polenta with mushrooms.

Hotel The Bowery

Top rated
New York, 1.5 miles to 911 Memorial
9.0 Excellent (1018 reviews)
Excellent Cleanliness 9.3 / 10
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Feature image courtesy of Tagger Yancey IV/ NYC & Company