Lower East Side, United States

Manhattan hasn’t cleaned up its act entirely: the Lower East Side (LES for short) is no longer riddled with full-to-bursting slums – its tenements are now filled with extremely desirable and rather expensive apartments – but it maintains a curiously charming pre-gentrification grittiness. Roughly sandwiched between the Bowery and East River (its actual borders are hotly debated), the LES has a history of anarchic art and punk rock. It was the stomping ground of Lou Reed and Richard Hell, and today the neighbourhood’s modern-art galleries and venues such as the Bowery Ballroom and Cake Shop NYC still keep the city’s cool kids out till first light. Its Jewish-immigrant roots are well preserved too: the Tenement Museum offers a glimpse of the past, eateries Katz’s Deli and Russ & Daughters still serve mountainous portions and historic synagogues sit by graffiti-clad buildings.

Do Go/Don’t go

Summer in the city is sublime, but there's nothing cosier than crowding into a Lower East Side bar and toasting the neighbourhood's rock and roll luminaries come winter.

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Getting there

  • Planes

    JFK International Airport services most international and west coast arrivals and departures, and is around 12 miles away. Several domestic airlines fly into LaGuardia Airport, just 10 miles away.
  • Trains

    Major Northeast and Mid-Atlantic Amtrak train routes (www.amtrak.com) run out of Penn Station,
  • Automobiles

    There's little need to drive in New York. Hail an iconic taxi cab or ride the subway instead, or hit the streets to find some hidden treasures. If you plan to explore outside the city, you can pick up a set of wheels at JFK or La Guardia.

Boutique hotels in Lower East Side