Chic nightclubs, cool people, diverse music festivals and happening restaurants are just a few of the factors that combine to make a city worthy of all tomorrow’s parties. From New York to Tel Aviv, London to Berlin, these hotspots offer an array of sinful reasons to turn your head in one direction: toward the pursuit of pleasure.
What makes for a great party city is subjective, and while it involves variables as concrete as the number of nightlife options available, the ineffable but all-important spirit of a city is also central.
Stateside, enthusiasm is one thing New York City has never lacked. Despite numerous mayoral overtures to quiet, clean and calm, the City that Never Sleeps remains one of the world’s most sought-out destinations for partygoers. With a 24-hour subway system, staggering array of palatial and bantam nightclubs, late-night restaurants and elegant lounges and bars, New York is teeming with countless forms of nocturnal bliss—and unapologetically lawless when it comes to its nightlife. The Pink Elephant in Chelsea is a surefire option for those seeking an electrifying club night, while the decadent Gramercy Park Hotel’s Rose Bar is a more sophisticated but equally enchanted place to unwind.
According to Marissa Anshutz, director of publications at Syndicate, which counts the Rose Bar and Los Angeles’ Villa as clients, New York has always been a party city, but smaller, more intimate venues are now as popular as the city’s notorious mega-clubs. “The chic set are desperate for something authentic, diverse, and bespoke—so places like Gramercy Park Hotel’s The Rose Bar, The Beatrice Inn, and The Box offer the perfect haven,” Anshutz says. “It also helps that New York City is the first stop for jetsetters who bring the latest and greatest in music and fashion from Europe.”
Berlin is the linchpin of European hedonism, with more than 3.4 million inhabitants, no curfew, spectacularly designed clubs, and a partying aesthetic that privileges the casual over the obviously done-up. Half the excitement of going out in Berlin is trying to locate the club you’re after, as the more thrilling venues are often hidden from plain view. Crowds seeking live music flock to the unmarked doors of Tausend, an uber-hip bar packed with Berlin’s stylish locals, particularly on Saturday nights. This is one of the few bars in Berlin where casual won’t cut it, so leave your sneakers at home. An outdoor club/lounge featuring live music and river views, Bar 25 is another Berlin gem. South of Mitte, Kreuzberg’s 103 Club entertains masses of indie rockers with live acts and parties, while Cookies reigns as the favored spot on Tuesdays and Thursday nights.
According to the new City Guide Tel Aviv, Israel’s unofficial capital is a “hedonistic, multi-cultural Mediterranean metropolis.” Nicknamed “the city that never stops,” Tel Aviv boasts a steamy nocturnal playground not for the faint of heart, including the pulsing Levotin 7, which provides excitement-hungry crowds with ample reasons to flock to the cosmopolitan city. While Tel Aviv has cracked down on noise-polluting beachfront parties in recent years, the mayhem continues indoors at venues like the underground Barzilay Club, now located on Harechev Street. Bartenders in Tel Aviv are notoriously generous with alcohol servings, and stylish spots like Benon and Griffin provide the perfect backdrop for picking up fashionable companions.
Renowned for its decadent carnivals and sinfully gorgeous locals, Rio de Janeiro is one of South America’s most festive cities. Lush rainforests and white-sand beaches give Rio its natural glow, and the city also boasts a number of five-star restaurants, swank clubs and hip bars. The late-night scene at Hotel Fasano’s Londra Bar is ideal for gawking at sun-kissed travelers, while the club Melt in Leblon swarms with celebrities and well-heeled locals. Partying in Rio is a nonstop affair, the most notorious occurring daily at Ipanema’s famous lifeguard stand, Posto 9.
Though cruelly expensive, London still stands out as a dashing city known for its posh clubs and edgy music scene. Anshutz states the combination of “city wealth, oil wealth, and daddy’s wealth” with “the odd prince or two” tossed in help to create London’s trademark party atmosphere. “Royals and glitterati queue up at West London’s Boujis nightclub to down the signature ‘Crack Baby’ shot”—a mix of vodka, champagne, and fruit juice. According to Anshutz, “In the summer, Shoreditch House’s roof deck soaks up London’s sun and East End’s edgy chic set.”
Terry Walshe, a British expat who now owns the swank 647 Dinner Club in Buenos Aires’ San Telmo district, agrees that London holds its own as a raging city, but not as it’s typically portrayed. “As opposed to what the British tabloids would have us believe, the real London party scene does not exist in the cheesy celebrity filled ‘members clubs.’ The true slaves to the most thriving London scene in recent years are more likely to be found in clubs like Durr, founded by Rory Phillips from the ashes of Erol Alkins’ legendary Trash club.”
For Walshe, musicians are the fuel behind London’s fire. “The alternative and club scene have merged together to create something that has not been seen in 20 years. Live music, dance music and fashion hipsters all under the same roof. It’s alive, electric, and exciting, but stiffs need not apply.”
With its all-night Tango milongas, Buenos Aires is cherished for its tireless, celebratory energy. Walshe calls Buenos Aires “the city of illusions,” noting that the real parties are underground and safely hidden from the smattering of tourist-trap establishments. “One of the main DJs of the moment is Damian Pinto who plays at Niceto on Fridays. There are also plenty of one-off parties held in random clubs or empty warehouses that are populated with fashionistas, Buenos-Aires style, and club kids,” he says.