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New York Home > Leisure > Agua Libre

08/03/10

Agua Libre
Your Guide to Sneaking into Hotel Pools

Today, allow us to suggest that you relieve yourself from an afternoon at the office and clandestinely avail yourself of the swimming facilities at some of the more private aquatic oases in town. And while you know you don’t have to break in, sometimes it’s good to do something not because it’s easy, but because it’s hard. Also, it’s hot out.

The Mandarin Oriental Hotel

Strategy: The key to any breaking and swimming attempt is to act like you know where you’re going. Nod at the bellboy, head left at the fork in the lobby, elevator to 36 and studiously ignore the “Hotel Members Only” signage.
Risk: Low—the door to the pool area has a keycard slot, but is left unlocked during the day.
Reward: Low—the pool is only four feet deep, indoors and surrounded by only three lounge chairs. Hardly enough seating for the audience your butterfly stroke demands.
411:
80 Columbus Circle (at 60th St), 212-805-8800

The Empire Hotel

Strategy: You’ll find the Pool Deck conveniently labeled in the elevator to the 11th floor. Signs will warn you to be prepared to show your key to the attendant. Signs lie.
Risk: Low—with the staff suitably impressed by your graceful entrance, you’ll have uninterrupted hours of poolside frolicking to enjoy.
Reward: High—should you eventually grow bored of the scene at the main pool, a second awaits on the next floor up...
411:
44 W 63rd St, 212-265-7400

Hotel Gansevoort

Strategy: Since the elevator won’t cooperate, you’ll need to head to the 12th floor and book illicit passage through the stairwell up to the roof. A door with a gold “Employees Only” sign will deposit you directly into the pool area.
Risk: High—there’s really no way to avoid being seen entering the pool area, and the staff is on high alert for sporting types such as yourself.
Reward: High—if you happen by on a Friday afternoon, get involved in an impassioned conversation about the modeling industry.
411:
18 Ninth Ave (at 13th St), 212-206-6700

Thompson LES

Strategy: Sure, you could flash your Above Allen card, but that’s not very sportsmanlike. Instead, befriend a guest or two, ask for a lift to the third floor, then turn left...
Risk: Medium—there are layers of security between the hotel entrance on Allen Street and the pool three floors above.
Reward: Medium—if you’d like to be surrounded by the leisure class of the LES, this is your pool of choice. But be forewarned, the whole deck is bathed in shadow later in the afternoon.
411:
190 Allen St (between Houston and Stanton), 212-460-5300

The Standard Hotel

Strategy: You’re going to have to get creative. And no, climbing 18 stories’ worth of stairs is not getting creative.
Risk: High—your success here depends on how easily you can camouflage yourself among your surroundings. Good thing you’ve practiced holding late-night court around the hotel.
Reward: Medium—better to wait until nightfall, when revelers seem physically incapable of keeping their clothes on while swimming.
411:
848 Washington St, 212-645-4646
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