A Lower East Side Staycation: The Ludlow Hotel

 

Not all that long ago, New York’s Lower East Side was mostly populated by skint artists, insalubrious rockers, the narcotically challenged and an ethnic mix of people to whom it was just, well, home. There were also only two real places to eat: Katz’s Deli and El Sombrero. You prepped for a four-band bill at the Mercury Lounge with cheap tacos and tequila shots—and attempted to stave off hangovers with a 4 am knish.

Now the neighborhood flaunts Michelin stars and international luxury hotel brands—grumbling about the past won’t change anything. But wildly successful hotelier Sean MacPherson was actually a central figure in the notorious heyday of Downtown NYC nightlife. And his first LES property, The Ludlow—opened in 2014—feels as perfectly Lower East Side as The Bowery Hotel feels East Village (and The Marlton feels West Village).

Admittedly, weekend late nights on the LES can now find one navigating what feels like a casting call for The Bachelorette. But plan right, and you can also enjoy a fabulous Saturday and Sunday here, without ever going north of Houston Street.

Here’s how to do it.

 


1431 Ludlow Hotel

Loft King Room at The Ludlow

Saturday

Noon: Arrive at The Ludlow, drop your bags, request an upper floor room with a sprawling city view. Take leisurely a stroll, arriving for lunch at Dudleys, a groovy all day affair where you can order everything from rice bowls to cheese toasties to schnitzel salads.
3 PM:  Check in, spend a lazy hour flopping around on the extremely comfy bed, while raiding the minibar and taking in the glorious New York panorama.
4 PM:  Pop out to contemporary galleries like Richard Taittinger, Rachel Uffner and Marianne Boesky, to get a vibe on the burgeoning LES art scene—which has been stealing the conversation away from Chelsea. Stop in for a naughty souvenir at Babeland.

 

Taittinger Gallery

Richard Taittinger Gallery

 

1495 Dirty French/The Ludlow

Dirty French at The Ludlow
7 PM:  Settle in one of the cushy Lobby Bar sofas, order up grilled oysters and a round of particularly stiff tipples, like the Ludlow Gimlet and the bourbon based Pigalle. Groove to your fave Prince, Talking Heads and Duran Duran classics, which make up the hotel’s retro cool soundtrack.
8 PM: Do early cocktails at the sceney Leadbelly, or catch the next indie darling at the Rockwood Music Hall.
10 PM: Late dinner at Dirty French, the hotel’s supremely buzzy restaurant, which serves up surprising takes on French classics like Provencal scallops, short rib Bordelaise and duck a l’orange. It’s a particularly electric scene after 9pm.
Midnight: Watch Scorcese’s Gangs of New York back in your room. It’s set in turn of the century LES.

 


Sunday

10 AM: Order up room service coffee.
11 AM: Take a walk around the Lower East Side when it’s actually quiet. If the weather isn’t cooperating, pop in to the Tenement Museum for an enlightening  bit of LES history.
Noon:  Have the hotel book ahead for brunch at the perpetually cool Freemans. Hard to imagine, but when Taavo Somer opened it in 2004, there was nothing else like it (old-timey style, plentiful taxidermy, classic Americana cuisine). Despite the scores of imitators since, it’s still the hippest and the best. Indulge in such hearty fare as baked skillet eggs shakshuka, buttermilk pancakes and stone-ground cheddar cheese grits.

 

Freeman's Restaurant NYC

Freemans

 

New Museum Bowery NYC

New Museum

 

2 PM: Check out the current exhibitions (which at the moment include Nicole Eisenman’s Al-ugh-ories and Andra Ursuta’s Alps) at the New Museum, one of NYC’s most forward-thinking art institutions.
3 PM: Take a caffeine break at Caffe Vita, which, despite the Italian moniker, is actually an export from Seattle, serving exquisitely realized, house roasted coffee.
4 PM: Undertake a uniquely LES shopping spree, including stops at the Odd and Assembly boutiques, and a retro vinyl pilgrimage to Deadly Dragon Sound.
7 PM: Believe the hype with dinner at Ivan Ramen. Start with furikake spare ribs, before moving on to the delectable main events, like chicken dan dan and spicy red chili ramen.
9 PM: Join the local cocktail disciples warming the seats Attaboy, a sophisticated spot lorded over by Milk & Honey alums  Sam Ross and Michael McIlroy. There’s no drinks menu…so consider it an adventure and an edification.

 


Monday

9 AM:  Have a lazy breakfast of smoked salmon scramble and crispy potato pancakes at Clinton Street Baking Company, before checking out and showing up late to the office.

 

1471 Ludlow Hotel

The Ludlow

Charlotte Ronson Redux, LES Crime Call

There were more photographers than actual humans in attendance at the launch party for Charlotte Ronson’s beauty line at Hotel Chantelle. In between posing at the step-and-repeat, guests dined on rigatoni bolognese and other treats and retold their Hurricane Irene experiences. In fact, save for Irene and sister Samantha who couldn’t get there because of the storm, all Charlotte’s girl pals were there to support. Drea de Matteo, Shoshanna Gruss, Dani Stahl, Eleanor Ylvisaker, Becka Diamond, and mom Ann Dexter-Jones made the scene. The retractable roof remained open, and the cooperating weather was all the rage.

We left and caught that Paul Rudd movie, which surprisingly wasn’t bad, and returned for the afterparty in the downstairs lounge. A good time was had by all. Talk of how exhausted everyone was with all the hurricane drama and how lucky we all were that the event could actually occur. Everybody, especially Vanity Fair’s George Wayne (surrounded as usual with a bevy of beauties), were just happy to be there to support Charlotte’s new adventure.

I received the following late last night — names have been deleted to protect the presumably innocent:

On friday night, Saturday morning, around 3 AM – 2 men ate a meal at El Sombrero – the popular Dominican restaurant with Mexican style home cooking located at 108 Stanton @ the corner of Ludlow and Stanton. After eating the 2 men left without paying their bill – a game called dine and dash. One of the cooks, Adolfo Batista, and a friend chased the men and caught up to them in front of 110 Stanton, across the street from the open San Loco. The thieves got away and Mr. Batista ended up getting serious beating. He was taken to the hospital and later released.

The block between Houston and Stanton is heavily patrolled. A patrol car parked at the corner of Houston stops all traffic from entering Ludlow. The police put 2 powerful kleg lights just north of Max Fish which lights up the block like a Hollywood set. It is not unusual to see the 7th precinct Captain himself sitting in a car on the block The Captain seems fixated on closing Max Fish. No arrests were made. The thieves got away.

Stabbing-murder arrest – Police arrested Charles Meredith, 46, on Fri., May 13, and charged him with the May 11 stabbing death of Stewart Rhodes, 50, in Stanton House, the treatment center at 190 Stanton St. An argument between the suspect and the victim turned violent at about 3:20 a.m. when the suspect pulled a kitchen knife and plunged it several times into the victim’s torso, police said. Rhodes was taken to Beth Israel Hospital where he was pronounced dead. The suspect fled but police found a discarded kitchen knife at the scene. Meredith, a Brooklyn resident, was said to be a recent patient at the center and a roommate of the victim. He is being held on a charge of second-degree murder.

Held in girlfriend’s murder – Police arrested Miguel Peña, 58, on Tuesday night, June 28, and charged him with murder after the body of his girlfriend, Felicia Cruz, 49, a home health aide and mother of two sons, was found wrapped in a plastic sheet inside his Stanton St. apartment.

Police were called about 1:30 p.m. after the victim did not show up for work, and discovered her body in Peña’s apartment at 101 Stanton St. at Ludlow St. Her younger son, Eric, 14, had been looking for her because she hadn’t been seen since Monday, according to friends.

The victim had been dating Peña, a neighborhood ice cream vendor, for about five months, according to neighbors. The suspect was said to be extremely jealous and had been trying to convince her to move with him to Florida, neighbors said. Nevertheless, Cruz had been planning to leave him because of his jealousy, relatives said. Peña was being held without bail.

And so on.

I called the sender and asked him how these random ravings fit together. He explained that real crime is happening all over the neighborhood while the police seem fixated on closing Max Fish and other area hotspots. He referred to an article I wrote regarding this action. Although I agree that the real crimes mentioned should have precedence over the policing of the bars on the Lower East Side strip, I must say that the hood has been out of control for a while, and I welcome fair enforcement of common-sense noise regulations.

For too long, bars have had doors and windows wide open with music blaring and patrons literally screaming, getting sick, and breaking glassware and beer bottles with no response from city officials or recourse from residents. I have been told in the past that when someone called the precinct to complain, little or nothing had been done. One resident told me that when the Environmental Protection Agency agents did show up, on occasion, noise levels coincidentally were muted — implying a tipoff.

Police Captain David Miller, newly in charge of the area, seems so far to be dealing with this situation even-handedly, balancing the needs of those who live there with recognition of the vibrancy of the hood and the jobs and revenues generated by the night economy. Many are nervous that a sweeping police enforcement will eventually change the landscape and make the LES a bedroom community devoid of its historic and essential culture. If the policing is done because of impending new construction with the enforcement spurred by real-estate interests who are developing a nearby hotel and lots of etceteras, then scandal is indeed the word for it.