Hollywood's home away from home, New York once again plays host to Robert De Niro, Jane Rosenthal and Craig Hatkoff's 10th annual Tribeca Film Festival. From April 20 to May 1, the otherwise sleepy downtown hood is overrun with film premieres, afterparties and even the Family Festival Street Fair. Here's a sampling of the hot-ticket spots in nearby Soho, Greenwich Village and pretty much anywhere below 14th Street.
WHERE TO SLEEP
For a city that never sleeps, New York sure does know how to fake it. Nearly 30 new hotels have opened in the city during the past year, and one of the most highly-regarded is the month-old Mondrian Soho (rooms from $419, 9 Crosby St., mondriansoho.com), the newest creation from the Morgans Hotel Group. The hotel, inspired by Jean Cocteau's surreal 1946 film Beauty and the Beast, boasts 270 rooms swathed in cobalt blues and filled with designer Benjamin Noriega's usual edgy frippery. During the festival, its eclectic cocktail lounge and eatery Mister H will host a slew of unofficial afterparties. Already an industry favorite, the 1930s-style watering hole boasts a seductive atmosphere with quirky furnishings -- including Year of the Rabbit-inspired artwork -- that pay homage to nearby Chinatown. "I always have a really good time there," Harvey Weinstein says.
A mile to the south, the Smyth Tribeca (rooms from $339, 85 W.est Broadway, thompsonhotels.com) is a relative newcomer to the Lower Manhattan skyline. For the past two years, the intimate 100-room hotel has lodged Tribeca's judges panel, including 2010 jurors Alexander Skarsgard and Jessica Alba, inside its walnut-paneled guest rooms.
But at the epicenter of the 12-day event is De Niro's own Greenwich Hotel (from $495, 377 Greenwich St., thegreenwichhotel.com). The terra-cotta-floored structure possesses a warm Craftsman feel and a refined level of comfort. "The indoor pool is very Zen and spa-like," Principal Entertainment's Larry Taube says. "It feels like you're miles away from the NYC craziness." Boasting only two public spaces (the lobby and the Locanda Verde restaurant; the drawing room and courtyard are guest-only), the 88-room hotel promises utmost discretion, making it a favorite destination for paparazzi-shy stars Renee Zellweger and Mary-Kate Olsen.
WHERE TO EAT
Tucked away in a landmark brownstone, The Lion (62 W. 9th St., the lionnyc.com) is led by John DeLucie, the former chef at the Waverly Inn. Still in its freshman year, the restaurant lures everyone from finance-world heavyweights to Kate Hudson and Jim Carrey, though some New York foodies have little patience for the noise and the uneven Italian menu. Director Joel Schumacher is an almost nightly fixture, and Sarah Jessica Parker recently spent a day there filming her upcoming comedy I Don't Know How She Does It. "The dining room is a veritable who's who of New York," Cinema Society founder Andrew Saffir says. "It's endless people-watching." Festgoers can even pop in for a Big Apple Old-Fashioned at the speakeasy-inspired bar.
For lighter fare, festivalgoers can head to Soho's newest sushi joint, Niko (170 Mercer St., helloniko.com). Cobi Levy, who was behind the ultra-exclusive but now-defunct West Village eatery Charles, opened his new spot three months ago with veteran sushi chef Hiro Sawatari and former Bouley chef de cuisine Raj Dixit. The restaurant serves up sustainable omakase at its eight-seat, onyx-clad sushi bar.
The Darby (244 W. 14th St., thedarbynyc.com) is situated a bit north of Tribeca in the city's Meatpacking District, a neighborhood undergoing a bit of a renaissance after years as a dreaded tourist destination. Reminiscent of 20th century supper clubs with cranberry mohair booths and decadent oak chairs, the restaurant treats guests to throwback cuisine (oysters Rockefeller, lobster Newburg) from Food Network regular and former Daniel sous-chef Alexandra Guarneschelli. The 5-month-old hotspot -- where Baz Luhrmann, Leonardo DiCaprio and Blake Lively were recently spotted dining together -- features live music from the Darby House Band (Prince recently gave a surprise performance as well).
New York Rangers bad boy Sean Avery, along with former Beatrice Inn co-owner Matt Abramcyk and the entire Warren 77 crew, have just opened Tiny's and the Bar Upstairs (135 West Broadway). Set in a two-story, blush-colored Tribeca townhome, the restaurant and bar will offer only lunch during its first two weeks of business and cocktails in the evening, with plans to expand its New American menu.
WHERE TO PLAY
After a much-needed face-lift, 5-year-old Meatpacking District mainstay Tenjune (26 Little W. 12th St., tenjunenyc.com) reopened this year and will host the official afterparty for Sean Penn's documentary Love Hate Love on April 26. Entering through a splintered-wood tunnel that leads to the venue below, partygoers are funneled to the club's horseshoe-shaped dance floor, surrounded by sleek, modern VIP tables.
The Bunker Club (24 9th Ave., bunkerclubnyc.com) bowed in the fall, boasting a black-and-white checkered dance floor and a cozy, sunken living room with tattered rugs. It has even managed to coax hospitality godfather Andre Balazs away from his own nightlife venue, the Boom Boom Room, for a night or two. Set below ground in an old wartime vault, the nightspot will welcome festival participant Chris Paine's Revenge of the Electric Car on April 22 for the documentary's official afterparty.
New Yorkers can finally enjoy a stiff drink at a truly respectable downtown bar, without all the pretension of VIP lists and table service, at 675 Bar (675 Hudson St., 675bar.com). The subterranean lounge, featuring a variety of beers on tape and a wide range of retro games, including a vintage Ms. Pac-Man, will welcome guests April 22 to the official afterparty for Gaby Dellal's Angels Crest, starring Jeremy Piven, Mira Sorvino and Kate Walsh.
Resting on the fifth floor of the recently opened W Hotel Downtown, the Living Room Bar & Terrace (123 Washington St., starwoodhotels.com) is the Finan-cial District's newest after-work destination. Guests can relax under a rippling-wave ceiling installation while nibbling on tapas from in-house restaurant BLT Bar & Grill. On April 22, the hotel hosts a party for the premiere of Lance Daly's The Good Doctor, starring Orlando Bloom and Riley Keough.
THE MAINSTAYS: Downtown Staples Remain Festival Favorites
In New York, even the hottest hotspot can quickly cool. But certain establishments stand the test of time. Graydon Carter opened The Waverly Inn (16 Bank St.) in 2006, and while the cuisine often meets lackluster reviews (don't tell Parker Posey, who says she "loves the food"), the eatery remains one of the city's most celeb-packed dining rooms. … Andre Balazs' The Standard (848 Washington St., standardhotels.com) continues to draw the likes of Ryan Kavanaugh and David O. Russell to its practically impenetrable nightclub, the Boom Boom Room, and for chef Dan Silverman's innovative American cooking at the Standard Grill. … For 17 years, chef Nobu Matsuhisa and partner Robert De Niro have cornered the Tribeca culinary market with their Japanese restaurant, Nobu (105 Hudson St., noburestaurants.com). Expect it to be one of the hardest reservations during the fest. … The oldest Tribeca mainstay? Bubby's Pie Co. (120 Hudson St., bubbys.com), which has been serving its famous macaroni and cheese for more than 20 years. "If you can wait an hour to get your breakfast, you're good to go there," actress Michelle Monaghan says.