Jean Claude II — 66 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

This French bistro was an absolutely blissful 66 decibels!  Yes, it was a Monday lunch.  Yes, the room was not crowded.  But there was background music–appropriate and low–and chatty fellow diners.  No doubt the space is louder at brunch and dinner–will visit then to confirm–but for lunch, very little comes close to this oasis of peacefulness.  Bonus?  The food is lovely.

HOURS

Monday through Sunday: 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.

LOCATION

1343 2nd Avenue (betw. 70th and 71st Streets), NY, NY 10021

WEBSITE

Jean Claude II

Burp Castle — 71.3 to 79.8 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

We were told that we must visit Burp Castle because the bartenders were known for shushing the crowd.  Sadly, the rumor appeared to be untrue during our first visit as there was no shushing at all.  We were disappointed, particularly since there was one–and only one–loud guy who threw off the reading.  Once he and his companions left, the place was pleasant.  It was, in fact, the perfect setting for a well-crafted beer and quiet conversation, with its subdued lighting and music played softly in the background.  We must add that the music did not start playing until after the loud table left.  If they had not been present, the place would have been idyllic.

Once Party of Loud left, and even with the music playing, the reading recovered.  In fact, we stopped the first reading, which clocked in at 77.3 decibels, after an hour or so and turned the meter on again to see what the space was like after Boomy McScreamer departed.  The answer?  71.3 blissful decibels.

So why is Burp Castle comfortable?  It has high ceilings, a wool rug, and plenty of wood, all of which help to absorb or deflect sound.  The walls are covered with murals that are appropriate and not hokey, making the space feel like it’s been around for years.  If we lived in this neighborhood, this would be our neighborhood bar.

Burp Castle offers a good selection of interesting beers that are listed on a chalk board behind the bar; the beer menu changes frequently.  There are no food options, but we bet the bartender wouldn’t object if you brought in some nibbly things to go with your beer.

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

We enjoyed our visit to Burp Castle so much that we followed it up with another a week or so later.  It was louder during our second visit because the place was absolutely packed–standing room only.  That said, the music was turned off as the placed filled up, so the noise volume was created entirely by voices.  And, as rumored, there was shushing from the bartender and at least one patron.  Lots of shushing, in fact, which worked for a few minutes but had to be repeated.  Still, the rumors about this place are true–if you are too loud, you will be shushed (or even asked to leave, or so we’ve been told).  For that reason alone, Burp Castle climbs to the top of the list of our favorite bars.

Even though the reading during our second visit was dangerously close to 80 decibels  we would still recommend Burp Castle.  You may want to give it a pass on a very busy night, but when it’s busy the staff takes measures to keep things in check.  And on a slower night, it’s positively blissful.  Go.

HOURS

Monday through Friday: 5:00 p.m. to midnight-ish*

Saturday and Sunday: 4:00 p.m. to midnight-ish*

Closing time is flexible.  It’s more likely that the bar will close after midnight later in the week, but it depends on the crowd.

LOCATION

Street (betw. 2nd and 3rd Avenues), New York, NY 10003

WEBSITE

Burp Castle

 

Kinokuniya New York — 61 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Bliss.  Kinokuniya is a Japanese-based retailer selling books, magazines, and Japanese pens and stationery.  Those of you who love to try out new pens and pencils already know that Japanese stationery products are compelling, and Kinokuniya has an excellent selection that is unmatched in the city.

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

That said, what makes the store so delightful is seeing the interesting array of products displayed in such a peaceful space.  Books and magazines are on the ground floor, stationery and novelties are in the basement. Give yourself some time to look around, because there is a lot more on display than you may first appreciate.

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

This delightful store is located directly across from hectic Bryant park, a beautiful park marred by constant, jarring street noise.  Check out the park and then escape to Kinokuniya for some peace.

HOURS

Monday through Saturday: 10:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.

Sunday: 11:00 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.

LOCATION

(betw. 40th and 41st Streets), New York, NY 10018

WEBSITE

Kinokuniya US

Ford Foundation Building — 60.6 decibels

Photo credit: quietcitymap

Photo credit: quietcitymap

The public lobby of the Ford Foundation is not to be missed.  Unlike other public lobbies, there are no public toilets, food stands, tables, or chairs.  Rather, there is an absolutely spectacular indoor garden in a soaring atrium, a fountain in the middle of the space, and a low brick bench on the east wall.  What bliss!  When the decibel meter started it read only 57 decibels.  To date, this was the quietest public spot that we found in Manhattan.  What the Ford Foundation lobby lacks in amenities it makes up for in quiet.

No food and drinks are allowed, so come here if you want to chill with a book or meditate for a little while.   There are plenty of restaurants and coffee shops within a few blocks, so there’s somewhere to go if you feel peckish or thirsty or need to use a restroom.

Caution: The building will undergo an extensive renovation beginning October 2016; it is anticipated that the renovation will be completed in the summer of 2018.   The garden will be renovated as well–it will not be removed–but it won’t be open to the public until the renovation is completed.  Go and visit the space while you can.

HOURS

Monday through Friday: 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. (no holidays)

LOCATION

WEBSITE

Ford Foundation building renovation information