How To Throw A Hotel-Room Party
NYLON/Matt Stejbach


On The List (With Melissa Rich): How To Throw A Hotel-Room Party

What the front desk doesn’t know can’t hurt them.

Originally Published: 

Welcome to On The List, NYLON’s column with comedian Melissa Rich, here to illuminate the state of nightlife, one party at a time.

There’s a specific art to throwing a hotel-room party. Unlike a house party, you’re working with the limited resources at hand: a tiny refrigerator, little to no counter space, a single ice bucket, and a tight space that could be as small as your bedroom. With hotel parties, the goal might not be to have the craziest party of your life, but simply to have a party that doesn’t get shut down.

I’ve hosted and attended more hotel parties than I can count. I’ve partied at fancy hotels, more, simple hotels, and everything in between. There have been legendary parties in Atlantic City suites where I drank Jack Daniels all night (no chaser like Ke$ha) and overflowed the massive bathtub after encouraging too many people to get in with me. While there’s more than a few hurdles to achieving a fun hotel-room party, anything is possible when you do it right.

Location, Location, Location

Let’s start at the top with choosing a hotel. There will never be a hotel advertising for guests to throw ragers, and some properties will have very strict party policies, including charging you a substantial fee upon check out. A smaller, boutique hotel will likely have less practices in place. They also might have more availability, and therefore, less guests to potentially ruin the night.

In New York City, in particular, there are plenty of downtown hotels with decent rates that are unfazed by noise and traffic coming through the lobby. (One in particular has huge terraces for their suites, a decent sized foyer space with bench seating off of the bedroom, plus a nonchalant staff.) Ultimately, the determining factor for a hotel party is the hotel-room. How many people can fit? Is there space for a bar set-up? Is there seating in addition to the bed?

A balcony can be a game-changer for all of these factors. In addition to providing another space to hang out, and likely a glamorous view, guests can smoke cigarettes without heading back outside through the lobby. If it’s winter, you can keep your booze chilling out there. If it’s any other time you’ve now created an ideal indoor-outdoor experience. A balcony also provides the opportunity for one of my favorite party favors: a bowl of complimentary cigarettes.

If you don’t have a balcony, at least get a room with a view. Without one, you are treading close to just partying in a tiny space. A large room or suite is obviously preferred, but don’t underestimate the potential of a standard room. The fun of a hotel party is often about being there with good company. Speaking of…

The aftermath of a hotel-party done right.Courtesy of Melissa Rich

The Short List

The invite list should be tight, especially because everyone will want to bring someone. I’m partial to a more intimate crowd, but sometimes you simply have to go for it. Do not invite the loudest person you know. Even if you don’t, noise is obviously your main concern.

During one of my hotel birthday parties, I was sitting on the edge of an unfilled bathtub at a small suite in a famed Meatpacking hotel when a guest opened the door to two security guards. It was just after 5 am and we’d lost our sense of noise discipline hours before. I also suddenly realized there were probably twenty five people there. Oops! To our despair, we were told only two people could be in the room. (I decided I would leave in protest. My friends immediately talked me out of it, so I filled the tub and stayed until morning.)

The lesson? Keep your eye on the guests. Friends will invite friends, who will invite more friends, and some of them will open the door to anyone who knocks. When you lose control of the list, you’ve lost control of the party.

Know Your Enemy

Though the front desk may seem helpful, they are sadly your enemy and will be watching you closely. Don’t waltz through the lobby with a massive group; even a steady stream of guests can draw attention. Anyone arriving should walk in confidently and quietly to avoid suspicion. Minimizing people coming and going is key — and another reason to try to score a room with a balcony.

Secure The Essentials

Always bring a portable bluetooth speaker. Even if a hotel comes equipped with a speaker, no one can ever figure out how to work it. A small yet mighty speaker is truly all you need. I’ve been at hotel parties with full DJ set ups, and unless they’re sanctioned, they end shortly after they begin.

Champagne always feels right in a hotel-room. Though keeping it cold does present a challenge with a small fridge, you don’t have to deal with mixers. That’s crucial when dealing with space, as there may not even be a surface for a bar. As the aforementioned Jack Daniels showed, it’s great to have something to do shots of. Whether it’s tequila, Fireball, or a wildcard like Jägermeister, let it be known that booze is for shots.

The importance of a bathtub cannot be overstated.Frank Carson

The Bathtub Effect

You’ve likely gathered the importance of bathtubs by this point. They simply make things more fun. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve used an unfilled bathtub as extra seating. (A normal conversation is just more memorable when at least one person is hanging out in a bathtub.)

I’ve written about how crucial a gag-worthy moment is to every party — anything that makes partygoers gasp, laugh, “whoo,” or scream (mainly in delight, rarely in fear). And the right bathtub can turn around even the lamest of parties.

Once at a Bowery Hotel party hosted by a very famous musician’s very famous son, the vibe wilted. The music was off, the guys were lame, and we found ourselves, dare I say, bored. The bathtub was right in front of a window with a gorgeous city view, so we filled the tub, grabbed a bottle of whatever was around, kicked our shoes off, and delivered a party-saving gag, proving it’s more important to have a bathtub at the party than a famous person.

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