The Empire State has been solidified as the stomping grounds for hip hop gods and underground legends alike. Whether it’s Jay-Z cementing his Roc-A-Fella empire or a 17 year old Biggie Smalls killing the free style game on the streets of the Bronx, it is no question that New York is a hub for the hottest hip hop clubs, and that the City is the center for New York’s clubbing scene. Here is a list of the best hip hop clubs, both upscale and ratchet, in New York City.
Up & Down NY
Every floor of Up & Down is an adventure, night by night and room by room. The upstairs maintains a high energy club atmosphere, while the downstairs takes on the role of a chill lounge that has the ability to go from chill to wild in 0-60, creating a back alley club feel. Balance is key when programming the club so that both floors are both vibrant.
“The music upstairs provides the atmosphere of a modern day nightclub, a mixed format of current hits and surprise performances while the downstairs is more of a musical scavenger hunt, covering all spectrums, from classics’ to music that is just a bit ahead of the curve.”
A trendy crowd, stunning tapestries and paintings as well as bottle service makes Avenue one of the most desirable nightclub/lounges in all of New York City.
The velvet rope, the guest list, the bouncers: it should feel like you’ve earned something when you make it past these gatekeepers. And give Avenue some credit: though it may not come off as inviting, it does make the rigmarole worth it. The self-described gastro-lounge is festooned with wood paneling, aristocratic portraits, tarnished mirrors and other trappings. Guests sashay on the enormous dance floor downstairs while a DJ spins pop and Girl Talk-inspired remixes up top. There’s a surprising menu of eclectic comfort food—everything from waffle fries to Kung Pao Chicken Satay to Pretzel Dogs. It’s oddly homey for a place like this, but don’t let the menu fool you: although reservations aren’t required, signing up for bottle service makes it a lot easier to get in.
After passing through a coat-check anteroom where lines of cursive are engraved in the wall, patrons find themselves in an expansive room with a ceiling of raw oak slats and a zigzagging black-and-white floor that sets an El Morocco tone. The room is divided by a central black lacquered bar doling out $20 mixed drinks, and, in one corner, a VIP-type area with a roaring fireplace and giant artwork by Roy Nachum (designer of Southern Hospitality and Saucy) of a sexy nude flanked by buffalo. Beyond that area is a cruise-y outdoor smoking lounge partially enclosed by mirrored walls. Ostrich-leather banquettes line underlit brick walls covered by metallic gold curtains, offsetting a bizarre centerpiece—another large artwork of a young blindfolded boy with two horses. In the front of the room there’s a D.J. podium outfitted with what looks and sounds like a very pricey sound system and in the back, risers for those happy to sit without silver Dom Pérignon buckets in front of them.
The Jane Ballroom, with its grand and eclectic décor, has hosted countless events and film shoots. The Ballroom is versatile and can accommodate smaller events on the Mezzanine level or larger functions in the entire space. The stunning Hudson River views from the Roof are unparalleled, and the interior Roof Bar is ideal for a more intimate gathering.
For over a decade, Goldbar has been a top nightlife destination in New York City. Famous for it’s golden skulls, 12’ vaulted gold leaf ceilings and crystal chandeliers, Goldbar embodies sophistication. The standout team behind Goldbar is dedicated to offering an exceptional and genuine nightlife experience. The décor, fit for royalty, sets the mood for lavish indulgence. With an impressive cocktail menu, created by renowned mixologist Tim Cooper, Goldbar is devoted to innovative drinks, with only the freshest ingredients and top-notch spirits.
Red Rabbit Club is the newest New York City nightlife hot spot located in the heart of the Meatpacking District. Once inside, patrons will embark on a surreal journey through a series of stairs leading them down the rabbit hole and into the subterranean club. The venue features an elongated bar and invites patrons onto a sunken dance floor enveloped with plush red velvet couches and booths. With a state-of-the-art surround sound system, smart lighting and LED screens, Red Rabbit Club will enrapture you in an underworld realm of fantasy.
This new iteration of the Playboy Club — New York’s original branch closed in 1986 — opened in September, just west of the theater district. With its velvet banquettes, black walls and Sputnik chandeliers it resembles a midcentury bordello. It offers food and drinks 6 PM – 2 AM Monday through Saturday.
Not actually a hotel, Ravi Patel’s LES spot is named after a French World War II safe house. Hotel Chantelle is retro in design as unmarked doors transport you into Patel’s version of 1940’s Paris. The room exudes warmth as dark mahogany wood panels blend with the black leather pin tucked banquettes under the glow of flickering exposed bulbs, candles, and a gold floral pattern that bounces off dark wallpaper. Cozy up in the banquettes or sit at the bar, where friendly bartenders are happy to explain the cocktail list, which features modern twists on old-school classics. They’ll lead you towards three concoctions: The Pineapple Express (jalapeño-infused tequila, pineapple, and pomegranate), Libertine (gin, cucumber, lime juice), and the Kir Yvette (sparkling rosé, lemon juice). Mix up your night with the attached rooftop restaurant or underground dance club SGTs.
Occupying the 33rd and 34th floor of the Fairfield Inn & Suites Times Square by Marriott and the Four Points Times Square by Sheraton, the bi-level ultra lounge transports guests to a high energy oasis atop 40th Street and offers five distinct spaces: the North Terrace with its retractable roof, the South Terrace with its private cabanas, the Times Square Lounge, the Cube Balcony, and the Candlelight Lounge.
The North Terrace on the 34th floor provides a comfortable environment all year round with a fully retractable glass roof cover and panoramic glass walls, offering stunning views of the Times Square area. One standout highlight of the venue is the South Terrace on the top level, which features plush furniture and soothing ambient lighting amidst a lush landscape, set up to offer a luxurious space where guests can truly enjoy being in the heart of Manhattan, with views of the Hudson River and the Empire State Building.
The DL is one of the friendliest, least pretentious, and high-energy nightclubs not just in the Lower East Side, but across all of New York City. This bass-rattling multi-level venue is fully equipped with an outdoor rooftop wood deck patio with retractable roof where the main dance floor congregates around a DJ spinning popular open format tunes.
Down below, the second level of the DL is a darker, grimier no-frills hip-hop sweatbox that has become the calling card for LES nightspots over the years; the entrance level first floor is an inviting bar/lounge with modern tunes playing in the background. Views of the New York City skyline, strong drinks, great music, and a younger crowd full of college students – mostly from NYU, Hunter, Baruch, & the Manhattan fashion schools – early twentysomething Tri-State area professionals looking to blow off steam, and visiting tourists gone wild make the DL a must-visit option for weekend fun.