Best Piano Bar in New York City: Bemelmans Bar at the Carlyle Hotel a Must for Locals and Luxury Travelers alike

Coming for a drink at Bemelmans Bar at the Carlyle Hotel New York is like taking a trip back in time to old New York, when I like to believe things were simpler and classier–

“And the name of this fallacy is called golden-age thinking…” — Midnight in Paris

But I digress… I am so utterly charmed by everything that is Bemelmans Bar. And here’s why I think it’s one of New York City’s most classic and wonderful bars worthy of a visit.

Bemelmans Best Cocktail Bar Live Music New York-1

This piano bar bears the name of the artist who painted its famous colorful murals–Ludwig Bemelman. You may know him as author and illustrator for the classic children books about Madeline. You remember the ones…”Lived twelve little girls in two straight lines … The smallest one was Madeline.”

Classic New York Bar Bemelmans Carlyle Hotel-1

In exchange for the murals, in place of payment, Bemelmans instead asked that he and his family take residence at the hotel for the duration of his work. Smart Man, huh? His drawings, which feature whimsical animals and other cheerful characters provide a welcome contrast to an otherwise overwhelming amount of luxury.

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Image courtesy of The Carlyle

Cocktails are taken very seriously and that’s just one more reason Bemelmans Bar is one of my favorite bars!

Bemelmans Bar New York City

Image by

Cocktails will cost ya but when you settle into a leather banquette and listen to live music in the cozy atmosphere you’ll feel like New York City is magical once again.

Order a martini at Bemelmans (prices start at $21) but they come with a sidecar that almost is another entire full drink so I promise it’s money well spent–one might say it’s almost like 2-for-1. A nightly cover charge applies (Sun & Mon at 9:00 PM; Tues-Saturday at 9:30 PM). It is $25 per person at the table and $15 per person if you’re at the bar. You’re paying for the live music–$25 for an entire night of music by a jazz trio seems like a bargain to me. If I’m being honest though, I love coming for a drink after work when the music and vibe is even more casual and tunes by Sinatra and the like top the playlist. While drinks are still pricey, you won’t have a cover charge and it’s not quite as crowded. The scene at this piano bar definitely brings in an older crowd, hotel guests and also men trying to impress their dates but the vibe is still class all the way. And very New York, dahhhhling.

Did any of y’all watch A Very Murray Christmas? It takes place at the Carlyle Hotel and much of the Netflix original was shot in Bemelmans Bar–and Bill Murray isn’t the only celebrity clientele you may find tucked away in a booth here.

Very Murray Christmas Bemelmans Bar

Image via A Very Murray Christmas

Carrie Bradshaw (Sarah Jessica Parker) took Louise (Jennifer Hudson) here for drinks in Sex and the City the movie! “Enjoy yourself – that’s what your 20s are for. Your 30s are to learn the lessons. And your 40s are to pay for the drinks!”

Sex and the City Movie Bemelmans BarImage via Sex and the City Movie

As always, all opinions herein are my own. I was recently treated to a round of drinks at the bar and had my cover charge waived. However, I spent the entire evening here and spent plenty of my own hard-earned cash (gladly) on martinis and mini burgers.

For more information, visit Bemelmans Bar at the Carlyle Hotel online.

Address: 35 E 76th St, New York, NY 10075
  1. Jenny Chan
  2. Catie Akopov

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