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

CULTURE BLAST: New Museum Spring Gala, Ai Weiwei Berlin Exhibition, Another Stolen Painting Recovered

The New Museum Spring Gala 

Swedish singer Lykke Li performs and the socials come out to support the New Museum. See who looked the chicest.

Ai Weiwei Stages Major Exhibition In Berlin

Doing so, despite ban from leaving China…

Yet Another Stolen Painting is Recovered 

This time it was hanging on an autoworkers kitchen wall for years.

Artist Fighting Back: Coming Out in Support of Ukraine

Works posted online aim to combat Russian propaganda campaign.

Boeing Gives The National Air and Space Museum A Pretty Penny 

A sum of the likes that rings to the bell of $30Million

 

The New Museum Remembers the ’90s (And It Actually Sounds Cool)

It seems like everyone wants to get a piece of the ’90s nostalgia explosion, but nobody wants to actually use this reexamination of the era to create anything new or explore the hows and whys. It’s all a regurgitation of brief cultural signifiers, a cry into the echo chamber of "Who loves orange soda?" That is, until now, when the New Museum is remembering the ’90s in an interesting and constructive way that connects New Yorkers to their city’s history, culture and two decades of change.

For New York, 1993 was a pivotal year—a year where the city, in a bit of an identity crisis (and much bigger crises, from crime and violence to the HIV/AIDS epidemic), began to see some real changes. To give city-dwellers a bit of oral history, the museum has rigged 50 pay phones around the city, so that when you dial 1-855-FOR-1993, the phone will give you a story of what that neighborhood, that block was like in 1993 by the people who lived it. "1993 was a war zone in New York," Fernando Mateo, the creator of "Toys for Guns," tells you out of a phone in Washington Heights, at 183rd and Broadway. "Cabbies were being killed, 30 to 60 a year." In Midtown, Robin Byrd regales about the good ol’ days when Times Square wasn’t so family-friendly. Some familiar voices, including James St. James and Michael Musto, are featured at certain phones. 

The pay phone project is part of a larger exhibition, "1993: Experimental Jet Set, Trash and No Star," named for an era-defining Sonic Youth album. The Museum will feature works from 1993, from big events like the Whitney Biennial and Venice Biennale, along with much more obscure works, as to try to show a more complete picture of what the art world was like two decades ago. As the exhibitors explain on the New Museum’s website:

"Centering on 1993, the exhibition is conceived as a time capsule, an experiment in collective memory that attempts to capture a specific moment at the intersection of art, pop culture, and politics. The social and economic landscape of the early ’90s was a cultural turning point both nationally and globally. Conflict in Europe, attempts at peace in the Middle East, the AIDS crisis, national debates on health care, gun control, and gay rights, and caustic partisan politics were both the background and source material for a number of younger artists who first came to prominence in 1993. This exhibition brings together a range of iconic and lesser-known artworks that serve as both artifacts from a pivotal moment in the New York art world and as key markers in the cultural history of the city."

Watch the teaser video for the project and start your exploration. 

The New Museum Gift Guide

The holidays are here, and if you’re anything like everyone else, you could use a few last minute gift ideas better than the average gift-guide dreck. Look no further than New York’s The New Museum, which has items to both wow and infuriate. The contemporary art space brings a plethora of unique, tax deductible (!) and offbeat trinkets to the (gift wrap) table, sure to please everyone from hipper-than-thou Brooklynites to a “cool” Dad.

imageOur favorite? British artist Adam McEwen’s ‘Sorry, Joey Ramone’ silkscreen ($125 for the holidays), a clever take on “Sorry, We’re Closed” signs that alludes to the death of punk rock counterculture and comes complete with McEwen’s scrawling signature. Get it framed somewhere for a little extra punch.

imageAnother lust-inspiring gadget: The Digital Harinezumi 2 Camera ($180, $162 for members). The movie camera, designed by Tokyo’s Superheadz, is an updated version of Superheadz’ uber-trendy Digital Harinezumi. Use it’s three megapixel image sensor to shoot intensely unique Lomo-esque photos — with a digital display and a Micro SD card, a huge perk: no developing required — or Super 8 film-style footage with sound.

imageFor the budget conscious among us, the New Museum offers a series of Hell, Yes! shirts, mugs, and stationary, inspired by Ugo Rondinone’s new New York icon, the colorful, neon-hued sign adorning the front of the museum. Pick up a The Museum’s bendable Polaroid mirror ($18, $16.20 for members) is another solid option: think of your L-Train commuting friend who’s always a little too late out the door to get all the makeup done before her Metrocard’s out. She could use it.

imageGive those first stone-casters among us Nora Ligorano and Marshall Reese’s 7 Deadly Sins Snow Globe Set: cheeky, awesome art with a statement and a playful purpose. Purchase the whole ironic set for $700 ($630 for members), or treat your sweetest friend to a flurry of “Lust” for $100 ($90 for members.)

Then again, you could just give them the best kind of gift there is: a New Museum membership. Membership grants guests the opportunity to be the first to view an upcoming exhibition, skip the line to shows, and of course, receive special discounts on fabulous gifts such as those featured above. In the holiday spirit, the package comes complete with “The New Museum First-Aid Kit,” a packet “filled with items every art lover needs.” Save your artless soul with some aesthetic medication of the best stripe: the kind you can only find in New York City.