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Hot NYC club’s in the bowels of hotel basement

NEW YORK – Shhhh. Don’t tell anyone.

The most exclusive nightclub and bar in New York – at this moment, anyway – is in the basement of a new hotel, just off its loading dock and garbage area.

If you look for the the Electric Room from outside the Dream Downtown hotel near the trendy Meatpacking District, don’t look for a big, flashy sign that advertises the place – because you won’t find one.

The only way you’ll know you’re getting close to it is if you see a series of small, blue-neon lightning streak signs and gritty walls covered with funky art.

And if you arrive before the clock strikes midnight, you won’t find anything.

Why? The Electric Room only opens at 1 a.m.

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First, let’s talk a bit more about the club’s unusual entrance.

The club’s operator does make an effort to dress up the garbage with dramatic, 20-foot-tall black velvet curtains – which, by the way, don’t hide the area’s rat traps.

Drapery also can’t disguise the stench that will likely be worse on hot summer days. Still, it’s all part of the club’s mystique, right?

If you succeed in finding the club, then you have to deal with the task of actually getting passed the red-velvet ropes.

One night when I was actually a guest at Dream and was actually awake at a late hour, I asked the front desk if I could get into the Dream’s other exclusive night spot – Ph-D – on the hotel’s rooftop. I was told it was a separate business and that nothing special could be done for a guest, so I said forgeddaboutit. Guests are on their own when it comes to the Electric Room, too.

But if you do get in, you’ll find a wood-paneled windowless space with enough room only for about 100 chic and/or well-heeled people.

High-voltage name, low-voltage design

Despite its high-voltage name, the Electric Room doesn’t look like an over-the-top designed nightclub.

Besides a bar and an elevated DJ booth, the room is decorated in a simple yet edgy, British punk kind of way.

Reclaimed wood covers the club’s walls and floors. You’ll see an array of inviting Chesterfield couches – some in caramel leather, including one with a giant Union Jack flag painted on it, and one done in a peacock-blue velvet. In terms of art, you’ll see painted mirrors, including one featuring a Sid Vicious portrait.

$22 cocktails

Prices definitely do not match the modest decor.

A single, basic cocktail will set you back $18, before the automatically-added 20% gratuity (another $3.60).

The crowd

When New York Observer visited the Electric Room in September, the reporter watched Adrien Grenier chatting up Courtney Love.

But the Electric Room isn’t “all that” every night.

When Hotel Check-In visited the Electric Room with a group of people in the wee hours of Monday, Nov. 14, the place had just opened and there were just a few people sitting quietly on the cozy couches.

Mick Jagger, who has partied there, wasn’t one of them.

It’s not clear whether the lack of celeb action reflected the night of the week, my personal dark cloud when it comes to these types of things, the “early” hour or all of the above. Another factor: Maybe people were still busy partying at Ph-D.

More hotels see success in exclusive spots

While the Electric Room may be an extreme example of a super-exclusive room, expect to see more high-end hotels open venues that cater to an elite few.

And it’s not just sexy hotels that see success in keeping most people out of their VIP venues.

This past summer, the more traditional Montage Beverly Hills luxury hotel opened the Ten Pound scotch bar located above Scott Conant’s popular Scarpetta restaurant.

To get into Ten Pound, you need to know a special phone number to call for reservations.

Along the same lines – but with a twist – is SBE, the exclusive clubs, restaurant and exclusive club operator that’s now focused on opening hotels such as the SLS in Los Angeles, (soon) Miami and (eventually) Las Vegas. The company’s red-velvet-rope venues – including one behind a hot dog joint – attract both celebrities and corporate executives with deep pockets.

Readers: What do you think of exclusive clubs? Do you ever try getting into them with colleagues? If so, what happened?

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