The Hotel Bar Is the New Regular Bar

Let tourists think you're mysterious while you enjoy an overpriced drink

see and be seen

The good news: nightlife is back. No more “park dates” or “park parties” or “park confrontations with enemies from your past” — we’re going inside and this time we mean it. The bad news: nightlife is back for everyone. With COVID cases both dropping and becoming less severe, wait times at restaurants and bars have exploded. Want to get a G&T with the girlies? Good luck hearing yourselves. Want to grab a beer at the dive around the corner? Too bad: the neighbors who got a pandemic deal on the apartment above you got there first and there’s twenty of them.

With a dearth of options and a need for a place to sit down for three hours, consider: the hotel bar.

The hotel bar offers quiet. The hotel bar offers elegance. The hotel bar offers the illusion of travel close to home. “Don’t I have to be staying at a hotel to go to the hotel bar?” No. Are you stupid? Anyone can go to a hotel and make a beeline past the concierge and go sit at the bar.

The hotel bar is a little more expensive, of course, than the average neighborhood joint, requiring both a commute (probably) and an upcharge (it’s a hotel after all). Well, that’s fine: drinking should occasionally be decadent. The hotel bar is often quiet, if not deserted, allowing room for conversation and dawdling. Who else is gonna be there? A consultant from out of town?

At the hotel bar, you can affect an air of mystery. You and your friends will no longer be presumed a casual social meet-up, but a long-awaited reunion. You and your date are not merely testing the waters, but finding a clandestine night to escape the rough and tumble world out there. At the hotel bar, the bartender will not have an iPad. At the hotel bar, it will be too dark to be distracted by anything else. They won’t let you use an outlet to charge your phone. At the hotel bar, you can (briefly) matter: put a cloth napkin in your lap, order an overpriced cold appetizer, and hear what your friend has to say about their work drama. It will feel important and profound, classy and classic, until, at the very least, the next morning, when you check your bank account.