Listen up New Yorkers, how many pools do you dip into while living in the city? Yeah, something that was just in your backyard as a kid now becomes a hot commodity and impossible to find when you move here. Everyone knows about the pools at Dream Downtown, Gansevoort and Jimmy at The James but you can only sneak into them so many times until you can handle the fear of getting kicked out or not making it in one time. Plus they are smaller and don’t always have sun. However, the McCarren Hotel & Pool owned by Chelsea Hotels has a beautiful pool without a clubby DJ/techno scene that has pool passes available for anyone and not just hotel guests. The staff is moving like crazy to take care of you, place your orders for frozen spiked lemonades, ice cream sandwiches and sliders. The pool passes are $55 per day and you can spend a little extra cash to get a comfy day bed which is something that might be worth it because it’s so comfortable but also something that isn’t necessary because everyone is cool with you laying a towel down on the floor to lay out. You also have access to the stadium seating next to this awesome painted mural that almost looks like tiles. Lets not kid ourselves though, you’ll be spending most of your time in the salt water pool.
I love the ivy decor splattered all over the walls and background as it makes you think you are really on vacation somewhere tropical and that New York does have shrubbery and plants for you to enjoy. The pool food and beverage selection goes along way from the traditional quesadillas or club sandwiches as it’s from the hotel’s restaurant The Elm and Chef Paul Liebrandt. I never would have thought to order a Kale Salad at a pool but I guess this is 2014 and the trendiest leaf around these days. Right? It’s one of the most memorable I’ve had due to the Candied Lemon. Throw on some chicken, too. It’s juicy and tender. It also comes with goat cheese but this cheese was a lot less potent that traditional goat cheese and I liked it even better. Get this bowl of kale, y’all. Watermelon and Summer Corn with Elotes, Chipotle and Lime are also winners. Corn in a cup by the pool makes you feel like you are at your friend’s backyard picnic instantaneously.
Well we basically were because our “friends” who were having a birthday party next to us and in from out of town were generous enough to share their food with us. Well you could call it sharing or forced as they pretty much peer pressured us to celebrate and eat with their party (not that I’m complaining). The Dry Aged Beef Sliders might have been a little too well-done but the buttery bun, white cheddar and spicy pickles distracted that part. Plates of crispy chipotle french fries dance around the pool constantly as well. The Fried Fish Tacos come carefully wrapped in a corn tortilla with spicy slaw adding to the refreshing smorgasbord of a menu.
You get a great view of the sun here, great audience and new friends to chat and dance with the great music, too. We did witness a few chicken fights towards the end of the day. I guess these never get old. McCarren Hotel & Pool would be a great day adventure for those in the city one weekend but feel like they want/need an escape or a place to celebrate a birthday. Their new rooftop bar called Sheltering Sky also opens at 4 p.m. The thing I like most about this pool is that it’s not too sceney and people aren’t just staring or trying to impress. Everyone is just at a pool acting like normal human beings and chomping on some good eats, boozy slushies and rose cocktails. What more could you ask for?