World’s Most Unique Hotel Lobbies
By: JP Lewis
The feeling you get when entering a luxury hotel for the very first time is so important. That’s why hotel planners have gone all out to impress. At the world’s finest hotels nothing is left to chance as – guests are spoiled the very minute and they walk through the door.
journeyPod has selected 10 of the finest hotel lobbies in the world, each offering the seasoned traveler a very unique experience. From lavish decor and friendly un-assuming service, to grand open spaces and color schemes that please even the most weary long distance traveler. Spend time with us now as we enter some of the world’s finest hotels…
Four Seasons Hotel, New York, NY
New York City wouldn’t be New York City without ornate hotel lobbies that sparkle with unequaled opulence. Inspired by the city’s towering skyscrapers and modernist themes, the Four Seasons’ interior design reflects a strong vertical thrust, a prevalence of light-colored woods, and an overall minimalist approach to design. An appreciation of height, space and simplicity is apparent throughout the hotel, from the soaring 33-foot-high ceilings in the lobby to the beautifully understated decor of the guest rooms. When entering the hotel on 57th Street, the Grand Lobby sets the tone. Its limestone walls soar 33 feet on massive columns to a back-lighted onyx ceiling suspended over a marble floor. Bronze lanterns accent the corner columns. The center of the Grand Lobby features a rotunda elevated above the street level and circled by eight pillars. For additional information visit nycgo.com!
The Oberoi Udaivilas, Udaipur
The design of this magnificent hotel must adhere to standards that represent the continuity of the grand Mewar tradition, which is the oldest living dynasty in the world. The lobby, an arterial space with views of the lake and the surrounding mountains, has a central dome resplendent in gold leaf, complemented by a chandelier and a white Thassos marble fountain. The flooring is in a combination of beige Karoli sandstone, Udaipur green marble and white Thassos marble. Thekri work, an art form unique to the region, adorns the space. In Thekri, molten glass is blown into circular balls using pipettes. When cool, molten mercury and lead are poured into the balls, coating the concave sides, and left to cool again. The balls are then broken into pieces, shaped and stuck onto surfaces in different patterns, using a mixture of lime and marble powder as adhesive. The result is one of the most splendid lobbies anywhere.
The Waldorf=Astoria, New York, NY
You may remember seeing this luxury hotel in movie “Serendipity” with Kate Beckinsale and John Cusack. The Waldorf Astoria has two grand lobbies: the bright Park Avenue Lobby, and as you pass through a narrower transitional space, the mood of the hotel changes as you enter darker Main Lobby with the reception desk and clock tower, the centerpiece of the main lobby. Made by London for the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893, it was the focal point of the original Waldorf’s lobby. The hotel was built before WWII and in those days, it was still not considered entirely proper for ladies to be exposed to business transactions, so the more feminine Park Avenue lobby was where the ladies would wait while the men handled the business of checking-in and checking-out in the more masculine main lobby. Other glorious Art Deco touches found in the Park Avenue Lobby include allegorical wall murals, which represent music, dancing, and the pleasures of the table. The ceilings of the Main Lobby, which are the original, are 22 feet high; grand columns, in a black and gold marble with a nickel-silver edge fluted corner trim; the walls, paneled in ebony and Oregon maple. Check out our list for best New York Boutique Hotels!
Athenaeum InterContinental, Athens
Art lovers take heed. Ideally positioned near Athens’s bustling business and financial districts, and just a short distance from the city’s historic monuments – including the Acropolis – the Athenaeum InterContinental Athens features a legendary, expansive art collection of its own, with several of the works on display right inside the grandiose hotel lobby. The hotel has an incredible collection of more than 350 original works of modern Green art – one of the largest modern galleries in Athens. Notable pieces include the Blue Man sculpture which greets guests as soon as they walk in. There is also Beautiful X, a wall installation by Dmitris Foutris, located in the entrance foyer.
The Beverly Hills Hotel, Hollywood, CA
Star gazing? Tourists are well advised to stop by this Hollywood landmark in order to catch a glimpse of a famous face or two. Home to countless historic Oscar parties and guests like Elizabeth Taylor and Marilyn Monroe. These days, you’ll likely find folks like Jennifer Lopez, Reese Witherspoon, Jake Gyllenhaal, Nicole Ritchie and Joel Madden The lobby area, which has been described as a “symphony of curves,” makes a dramatic design statement. A Venetian glass chandelier throws soft light upon the gold-leaf ceiling and carpets below. Banana palms encircle the lobby. The carpet echoes the look with banana-leaf motifs entwined in a pink ribbon. A grand staircase, with a custom-designed rail made of dark Verde metal with goldleaf accents, spirals downward toward the Crystal Ballroom. Specially commissioned artwork throughout the hotel follows a garden theme of bringing the outdoors in. The lobby showcases four large-scale photographic studies of roses, calla lilies, tulips and anthuriums. Check out some of our picks for best LA Boutique Hotels!
Afraid of heights? Then perhaps the Burj Al Arab isn’t for you. Standing at 321 meters, it is the world’s tallest hotel. Also, the world’s tallest atrium is over 180 meters in height, abundant in warm, natural light and flanked by golden columns, with a beautiful central fountain where arches of water dance and suddenly burst over 42 meters into the air. Situated between the escalators leading to Sahn Eddar, the Cascade Waterfall combines finely atomized water with fiber optics to produce a unique kaleidoscope effect. As water and fog flow downward through its glass, stone-filled steps, water arches elegantly in graceful movement. A robust and vibrant color palette was derived from the elements; earth, air, fire, water, and 24-carat gold leaf was used to embellish the interior. The layout utilizes ancient and revered traditions of hospitality. Celebs spotted here include Claudia Shiffer, Andre Agassi and Naomi Campbell. For more information, check out our roundup on some of the best Dubai Boutique Hotels!
Charleston Place, Charleston, SC
This lavish lobby is a true southern gem, and features a hand-blown Venetian chandelier set between a traditional Georgian open arm staircase. Popular with the likes of Mel Gibson, Ted Turner, Bruce Willis, Jessica Lange, Barbara Streisand, Melanie Griffith, Richard Gere, Jeff Bridges & Julia Roberts, Charleston Place is the ultimate Southern luxury hotel. At 12 feet in diameter and in height, the chandelier is comprised of more than 3,000 individual pieces of glass, hand blown in Murano, Italy. It weighs approximately two and one-half tons. Southerners believe that the design of the Georgian open-arm staircase not only welcomed visitors into their homes, but it set the tone for conduct, given that single men were not expected to follow ladies up the stairs for fear they would catch a glimpse of a bare ankle; therefore, men ascended on one side and women the other. The acoustics created by the staircase’s placement and the domed ceiling from which is hangs, enables guests to carry on a conversation in a whisper while on opposite landings.
As a member of the National Register of Historic Places and Hotels, the Hermitage Hotel has a proud reputation to uphold. The hotel’s long standing commitment to style is evident as soon as visitors enter the dramatic two-story lobby, laced with marble columns, warm apricot colored walls, table lamps, wall sconces, alabaster hanging chandeliers, and a stained glass ceiling. Italian sienna marble punctuates the entrance along with wall panels of Russian walnut, a cut, stained glass ceiling in the vaulted lobby, Persian rugs, and massive, overstuffed furniture. There are comfortable seating areas throughout, and fresh baked cookies, coffee, tea and cider adorn tables each evening. Built in 1910, the Hermitage utilizes ornamental Beaux-Arts style., and extravagant detailing influenced by the French Renaissance style. The building has notable continuity of design from exterior to interior, even to the smallest details. Grecian and Tennessean marble accentuate the lobby. Check out our podcast at the Hermitage Hotel!
Bloomsburry Street Hotel, London
Visitors to the hotel will enjoy being in the heart of London’s vibrant literary and cultural quarter. Setting the mood upon entrance into the hotel is the impressive art installation by Ian and Richard Able creating a huge backdrop to the reception area. The artists have set the pages of various literary works within polished resin, which gives the impression of a wall of glass. While at first glance it might appear green, in fact there are lots of subtle natural colors in the wall from amber and cobalt blue to precious jade. More of the artists’ work can be seen in the monolithic sculptural blocks, that in addition to being aesthetically stunning, have a functional purpose as they support the reception desk. Made in deep patined bronze and riddled with cracks and fissures, their inspiration for these pieces came from sun-baked desert earth. For more information, check out our roundup on some of the best London Boutique Hotels!
(photo credit forbestraveler.com)
Cayo Espanto, Belize
No one ever said a lobby had to be indoors. This private island resort off the coast of Belize offers the ultimate in seclusion and over-the-top service, along with a very inviting lobby. The celebrity guest list includes: Tiger Woods, Robert de Niro, Harrison Ford, Chelsea Clinton and Leonardo diCaprio. With just five villas and one over-water bungalow, the island doesn’t have any public areas – meals are served in each villa or on guests’ private dock and freshly made cocktails are delivered by personal “housemen.” However, upon each guest arrival, the main dock is transformed into a welcoming, open-air lobby. The entire staff lines up, even the island’s resident Lab “Salty,” to welcome each guest and make sure they begin their vacation with their favorite cocktail in hand.