Where To Stay In Two Of New York’s Best Live Music Neighborhoods

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Where To Stay In Two Of New York’s Best Live Music Neighborhoods

If you walk past the main entrance of the Moxy Lower East Side and head into a side door on Broome Street, you’ll find yourself in a rather old school, very charming piano bar called Silver Lining. Like all the best piano bars in the city, it’s either packed to the gills, or completely dead, and if you frequent piano bars, you know both options are absolutely great. A crowd makes the room lively and playful, but the quiet nights, that’s when the band begins to experiment, gets weird, lets that one aspiring cocktail waitress come up on stage and belt her best show tune. 

A piano bar, on a quiet night, is one of the all-time experiences Manhattan has to offer, and remains one of those quintessential things that can only really be found in New York. And as much as New Yorkers themselves might scoff at visitors and tourists who still flock here, searching for a great live music experience, the city will never really lose its appeal as a destination for music lovers. 

Silver Lining Lounge at The Moxy Lower East Side

Silver Lining Lounge at the Moxy Lower East Side

Naysayers have been muttering that the Lower East Side “isn’t what it once was” forever, but even locals head to venues like Piano’s, Arlene’s Grocery, Rockwood Music Hall or Pete’s Candy Store. Whether it’s to hear a nobody, a friend’s band, or a beloved indie act, the sheer concentration of venues in the LES remains an unwavering fact, even after the pandemic. It’s almost like the neighborhood keeps thriving, in sheer defiance of its haters; what could be more New York than that? 

If you’re an out-of-towner, staying at a budget-friendly place like the Moxy LES, officially opened in fall of 2022, is a smart way to be in the center of the action without blowing your entire travel budget on lodging. In town for a show at Bowery Ballroom? Splurge on the expensive tickets and stay cheaply within walking distance of the venue at the Moxy, one of the few sprinkled throughout the city that’s owned by real estate and development company Lightstone. If you’ve noticed some of these Moxy hotels are a little different—better—than your experience with the Moxy brand elsewhere, they are. Lightstone is the reason for that. 

Starting with Times Square, the real estate group counts Chelsea, East Village, LES, and their most recent New York opening, Williamsburg, all as part of their portfolio, and these locations go well above and beyond what a typical budget offering from Marriott might look like. That’s because Lightstone president Mitchell Hochberg, who has been in the real estate industry for 30+ years—and even consulted on launching the high-end Edition brand with Marriott—wanted a new challenge: What would it take to build a budget hotel that felt like a luxury one? 

The Moxy Lower East Side

Moxy Lower East Side

Small design changes like floor-to-ceiling windows, compartmentalized bathrooms, large shower stalls and tucked away toilets were part of the equation, but so was world-class food and beverage programming, lobbies optimized to double as co-working spaces, and constant, curated events that made the hotel feel like part of the neighborhood itself. In the case of the Lower East Side, that meant bringing the culture of the community directly into the hotel itself, hence Silver Linings piano bar and the knowledge that, right outside your room, aspiring musicians will be laying down faithful covers of Train’s millennial classic “Drops Of Jupiter” and the omnipresent “Dreams” by Fleetwood Mac. 

The rest of the Moxy LES is built around meeting similar needs: The Highlight Room, a rooftop bar with city views for days, is ideal for golden hour, mid-night regrouping, or a 2 a.m. nightcap. Below the hotel, a fancy basement izakaya restaurant called Sake No Hana can only be reached by descending a dramatic winding staircase—idyllic Instagram fare. Mostly offering Japanese items like sushi, sashimi, robata and temaki, this elegant underground space is half speakeasy, half fine dining joint, with none of the stuffiness that tends to bog down either. All the venues here are operated by Tao Group, meaning they run like nightlife machines, sans the amateurish hiccups that plague many a budget hotel.

The Moxy Williamsburg

Moxy Williamsburg

At the Moxy Williamsburg, though, a rooftop bar, the ground floor restaurant, Mesiba, and small, clubby “sound room” aren’t under the jurisdiction of Tao—some things just don’t translate in Brooklyn. Instead of bringing over a cookie cutter of what worked in Manhattan, this hotel is built for South Williamsburg, with more laidback decor, a common space lobby even better suited to coworking, and an all-day coffee and bar setup that lends itself to a non-9-to-5 culture of creatives and self-employed artists. LilliStar, the indoor/outdoor rooftop bar, again, offers killer views of the Manhattan skyline, and the aforementioned Jolene Sound Room, a small-scale DJ club kept cozy for a reason, offers close listeners a high-end speaker experience on the dancefloor, from 10 p.m. until 4 a.m., Thursday to Saturday. 

Nods to Dolly Parton aside, the other draw for the Moxy, in a neighborhood that has begun to post some of the most expensive rates in all of New York, is affordability. Again, for those in town to get a taste of Williamsburg’s infamous music scene—cut short by Vice’s decision to stick their (now bankrupt) offices in the same buildings that housed Glasslands, 285 Kent, and Death By Audio (RIP to all)—it’s only a few blocks walk to Music Hall of Williamsburg, and Baby’s All Right is literally around the corner. Non-profit arts venue National Sawdust is equally accessible, and while most would take a car to Warsaw in Greenpoint, you could still swing it walking from the hotel within about a half hour (if you show up hungry, there’s plenty of pierogies in the back).

All this to say, for music obsessives plotting their next trip to the city to catch a favorite band, staying at one of these central Moxy locations might be the best way to keep things affordable and still have money for copping some merch. Each property manages to be part of the action in its neighborhood, and deliver an experience that feels comfortable and thoughtful, without the pressure of luxury rates. Given the dramatic increases of travel pricing across the board right now, these two new hotels stand out as welcome outliers. But no matter where you stay, pop in for at least one drink at Silver Lining and remember why you fell in love with this city in the first place. 

Jolene Sound Room at the Moxy Williamsburg

Check out Moxy Lower East Side here and Moxy Williamsburg here.

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