Black lights illuminate your opponent as electronic music pulses in the background. You raise your paddle, and swing. The Ping-Pong match begins. This unusual scene unfolds nearly every day and night at Spin New York, a self-described "Ping-Pong social club."
Lauded in a range of media, this now-international franchise was created with a firm vision in mind. In an interview on Anderson Live, co-owner and actress Susan Saradon explains her love of Ping-Pong: "it cuts across age, body type, gender ? little girls can beat their fathers." In an NBC News segment, co-owner Jonathan Brickland adds that their mission was to marry the social nature of the sport with the atmosphere of a country club, except "more inclusive ... silly, and frivolous," and ideally with fewer golf-cart crashes.
Spin New York certainly takes this fun-focused mission seriously. The sprawling hall houses 17 Ping-Pong courts, including a central court where professional players compete in regular tournaments. These same professionals are on-hand for private instruction, though players are more than welcome to keep things casual. Meanwhile, an on-site restaurant and bar serves seasonally changing plates alongside cocktails made from fruit purees and blended Teaologie teas. From the seats or the courts, visitors may see one of the old building's original features: a giant window that looks out onto the passing subway train.
On most nights, a DJ provides a soundtrack to dining and play, although live bands are often a weekend fixture. Adding to its socially-focused mission, Spin also gathers people to support charitable causes; recently, Ms. Sarandon used her club to host a benefit for the victims of Hurricane Sandy.
When The Hill first opened, people speculated that Heidi and Spencer Pratt of The Hills were behind the venture. That was just a rumor. The spot actually takes its name from its neighborhood, not the Los Angeles reality show. Now that the initial mystery surrounding The Hill has lifted, the pub has become a neighborhood go-to for catching the game while sipping drinks and devouring philly sliders, baskets of crispy tater tots, and pots of fondue.
A Reflection of Murray Hill
As New York Times reporter Jeff Vandam explains, Murray Hill is a hard neighborhood to pin down. Quiet rows of brownstones and apartment buildings contrast with a lively pub scene geared toward the 20-somethings who have recently become more of a fixture in recent years. Like the neighborhood it calls home, The Hill has somewhat of a split personality. From afternoon to early evening, it is predominantly a sports bar, with more than 25 high-definition televisions broadcasting live games in the bar and upstairs lounge. As soon as the action wraps up, though, things start to get interesting. Candlelight replaces the flickering glow of television screens, and the bar transforms into a stylish lounge for Murray Hill?s sophisticated set.
An Upscale Pub Setting
The Hill welcomes postcollegiate fans to cheer on their alma maters in a setting that's far more refined than that of a typical sports bar. Chandeliers glimmer overhead, and leather cushions line long booths. Polychromatic planks of wood line the walls on both floors, giving guests something interesting to admire when the bartenders take a break from stirring lemon-drop martinis or pouring glasses of watermelon sangria.
It starts with a buzz. When patrons approach Raines Law Room, they’re not met by a surly doorman, just a silver doorbell. After gaining entry, guests might feel as though they’ve entered another era. In true speakeasy fashion, the windowless space is filled with plush Chesterfield sofas, the only light coming from the candles and wood-burning fireplace reflecting off the tin ceiling. In the lounge, tufted sofas and chairs recall an upscale living room. In the parlor, privacy curtains shroud four seating areas equipped with wall buzzers that can summon a server. The no-standing-around policy means parties must check in for a seat; if there aren’t any available, guests can leave their cell number and come back when they receive a call that a table is ready or a new brood of chairs finally hatched. Once seated, guests rifle through the drink list, which is divided into categories such as Bright & Crisp and With a Bitter Edge. Meaghan Dorman and her team of expert mixologists carefully blend drinks such as the South Side Rickey, a concoction of gin, lime juice, simple syrup, and club soda infused with mint plucked from the onsite garden. Raines ranked as a top 10 finalist for World’s Best Cocktail Menu at the 2012 Spirited Awards, so most patrons will probably be tempted to sample more than one spirit, meaning their visit will end as it began—with a buzz.
Hudson is in the heart of New York, walking distance from Time Warner Center and Columbus Circle. This 4-star hotel is close to Broadway and Times Square.
Make yourself at home in one of the 866 air-conditioned rooms featuring refrigerators and flat-screen televisions. Cable programming and iPod docking stations are provided for your entertainment, while complimentary wireless Internet access keeps you connected. Bathrooms have designer toiletries and hair dryers. Conveniences include safes and irons/ironing boards, as well as multi-line phones with voice mail.
Rec, Spa, Premium Amenities
Take advantage of recreation opportunities such as a fitness facility or take in the view from a rooftop terrace and a garden. Additional features include complimentary wireless Internet access, babysitting/childcare, and a pool table.
Take advantage of the hotel's room service (during limited hours). Relax with a refreshing drink at one of the 2 bars/lounges.
Business, Other Amenities
Featured amenities include a business center, audiovisual equipment, and currency exchange. Event facilities at this hotel consist of exhibit space and a meeting/conference room. Parking (subject to charges) is available onsite.
M1-5 boasts all the amenities of an upscale lounge, including a spacious, 5,000-foot main floor, private VIP areas, HD TVs and projection screens, a stage outfitted with a high-end sound system, and running water. But there is one thing noticeably missing: a cover charge. Despite the extravagant digs, revelers can party here without the added expense of admission (except for certain private events). This is due to the establishment's more laidback, customer-first approach to clubbing, and it is in that spirit that M1-5 also offers, but doesn't mandate, reserved seating and bottle service.
The menu is a perfect complement to the easygoing vibe. It was developed by Chef John Sierp, a New York City fireman who has cooked onscreen for Martha Stewart and Rachael Ray, served as a guest judge on Throwdown with Bobby Flay, and was featured on Food Network’s Chopped. His gourmet take on comfort food includes barbecue-chicken sliders, personal pizzas topped with pulled pork, and the staff favorite, homemade cheese-rice balls with bits of Genoa salami. And in addition to to these classic American pub eats, the menu includes Asian influenced dishes as well, such as veggie spring rolls glazed with sweet chili sauce and steamed shrimp dumplings ignited with a hot chili sauce.
Inside Mason Jar NYC, Southern charm comes in edible form. Appetizers such as cornmeal-crusted fried pickles and cheesy grits evoke a down-home vibe that’s present throughout the entire menu. Racks of house-smoked baby back ribs and tender slices of beef brisket come slathered in housemade sauce and flanked by hearty sides. The barbecue sampler is a meat-coma-inducing feast that includes pulled pork, brisket, ribs, and turkey. Desserts such as the peach upside-down cake provide a satisfying end to the meal, and perhaps a nice start of a journey to the bar; the eclectic selection of craft beers and bourbons is what keeps diners long after they’ve torn through their final napkin. The beer menu at Mason Jar NYC is vast and includes Belgian ales, stouts, and ciders from brewers both large and small. But thanks to the beer flight, which includes three 3-ounce samples, customers don’t need to settle on a single choice, and instead can trade off sips of Chimay Tripel and Stone Arrogant Bastard. Whiskey lovers will be equally drawn to—and overwhelmed by—the selection of aged bourbons and rye whiskeys. But there’s plenty of time to decide in this lively eatery, where flat-screen TVs broadcast the latest games, and friends admire one another’s barbecue-stained shirts over spirits.