Barfly recently trekked down to Atlantic City to gather intel regarding mini-getaways that New Yorker’s can take in these tough economic times. We scored big with our transit choice, the new ACES direct train link from Penn Station. Would the city offer such sleek options, or would we find ourselves pitifully huddled over the $5 blackjack table at Merv Griffin’s Resorts? We dropped into AC’s newest hotel: The Chelsea. It’s the first non-casino lodging to open on the boardwalk since the early 1960’s. Ladies and Gentlemen, this is the new Atlantic City. The posh hotel is all the things you desire when headed for a quick weekend out of town: cheap, laden with alcohol, impeccably designed, and filled with pretty people.
What’s that? You’re asking why you would want to go to Dirty Jersey’s mecca of gambling and stay in a hotel without a casino? It’s a recession, do you really want to blow your rent money in a thirty minute game of roulette? That’s right, we didn’t think so. That rent should be spent on fancy drinks and savory cuisine. The Chelsea offers plenty of options for both. Stephen Starr’s Chelsea Prime is a stylish upscale choice; begin the night by rat-packing it up in one of its snazzy banquettes. Their 5th Floor is a nightlife paradise, offering everything from a quiet lounge to a game room to a dance floor to get your groove on (all of which are impeccably well lit – a Barfly must).
With two levels of accommodation, the hotel lets all levels of partier drop in. The hip Chelsea Lite options let you enjoy the party on the cheap without sacrificing the cool-kid vibe. If you do end up doing very well on the neighboring Tropicana’s black jacktables, upgrade to the posher Chelsea Luxe. These larger rooms (many of which offer an ocean view) are more expensive, but you get what you pay for: class all the way.
It was winter when we stopped by, but we will be back during the warm months. The hotel has yet to be open for a full summer. Even with the windows closed and the umbrellas tied down, we could tell that this is the place to stay during beach weather. The hotel plays host to private cabanas on its beachfront, with a seaside dining menu brought out by genuine cabana boys (sure to be the best job in town). There are two pools in the hotel, both of which come equipped with drink-possibilities galore. Chelsea Prime has an outdoor deck for dining, and the Chelsea-Lite side offers adjoining rooms with balconies that overlook the pool.
When all the windows are thrown open and the summer sun glares down, this place has everything to transform it into Atlantic City’s best scene. Find a girl named Gidget, and this will be a beach party to remember. Don’t know anyone named Gidget? Just start calling strangers by the name, it’ll be just as fun (especially if you introduce yourself as Starcat).
Review: The Chelsea Hotel, Atlantic City
Brunch at Teplitzky’s, the Hotel’s Retro Diner – 4 olives – Their grilled cheese and tomato soup might as well be called Teplitzky’s Secret Hangover Cure. If you’re feeling really bad from the previous night, try their version of a hair of the dog: a classic chocolate milkshake.
Blackjack Tables at Resorts – 2 olives – Although they served us well on other trips, we’ll steer clear of them from now on. We think our landlord is more likely to take “we spent it on drinks” than “we gambled it away” as an excuse for late rent payments.
Nightlife Options – 5 olives – A proper hotel gives rise to one of our favorite activities: bar hopping without leaving the property. The Chelsea does not disappoint. You can spend an entire weekend drinking it up without setting foot on the boardwalk.
The New Atlantic City – 5 olives – Stay at The Chelsea, gamble at The Borgata, dine at The Pier at Caesars. With all of these options, the city has become the prime destination for NYC’s swingin’ young set. Don’t worry, you can still get a taste of the old town’s charm. Grab a pedicab, and have them push you to the miniature golf course.