When I spent the weekend in Atlantic City last summer, I arrived with a few fairly depressing expectations. I was prepared to hold my breath on the casino floors while overweight seniors in their motorized chairs whizzed by, engulfed in a cloud of smoke. I expected cheesy dance clubs with the usual bachelorette party, Jersey meathead mobs. But, I did not expect the slick scene and cool crowd that I found at The Chelsea Hotel (a chic, beachfront boutique, the first non-gaming hotel in AC since the 60s, which opened last summer). A mix of hipsters, models, and musicians occupied the modern, glitzy spaces, and rooms were retro-glam, many with ocean views (for less expensive digs, the hotel’s motel-style Annex wing also offers simple rooms with balconies). I was so surprised by the seemingly New York crowd, that I asked the front desk if there was some kind of event being held at the hotel. As it turns out, the same minds behind New York’s trendy Beatrice and Smith & Mills formulated the tasty drink menu at the Fifth Floor venues (read on for more on that), and the same peeps that frequent those Manhattan joints are migrating south to this bona fide Jersey hotspot.
This summer kicks off with fresh nighttime opportunities on the hotel’s happening Fifth Floor, home to the Cabana Club, a Vegas-style beach club surrounding an outdoor pool with private cabanas that feature plasma screens, stocked mini bars, and a DVD and game library; C5, an indoor lounge designed by Shaun Hausman of The Standard Hotel fame, complete with a game room and hand-crafted cocktails by Stephen Starr and Smith & Mills; The Living Room, a lounge with a 2,500-sqaure-foot terrace; and Chelsea Prime, Steven Starr’s steakhouse with a 1940s supper club feel.
The Chelsea is the only full-service beach hotel in AC – guests have access to towels, lounge chairs, umbrellas, and food service from the hotel’s other signature restaurant, Teplitzky’s. Plus, the Sea Spa recently opened and features an open-air, heated saltwater pool (guests can access it from the Sea Spa’s Social Sauna).
Some related news: ACES (Atlantic City Express Service) is finally up and running. Catch the train from Penn and arrive in AC some 2.5 hours later!