When does the vacation begin? It’s not the moment your head hits the pillow in your hotel room or as your feet touch the ground your first morning. It’s the moment you decide you’re ready for a vacation.
You scour the internet for the right and perfect getaway. Clicking through luxurious hotel after luxurious hotel. What’s the first thing you see? Not the room. It’s the lobby. Giving you a sense of the faraway kingdom you’ll enter. And what a glorious departure from your “normal life” it’ll be from the moment you walk through the doors.
The luxury hotel lobby. Not just an entrance to a hotel, it’s an entrance into a vacation dream come true.
Whether you’re dreaming up your next great adventure or pondering ways to punch up the lobby of your own hotel, Airbnb, or VRBO, inspiration awaits ahead. Let’s do some daydreaming (or is that trip planning?) and check out 4 hotel entrances sure to take your breath away and transport you right away — far away — from the mundane into the magic of time away.
There are a few things hotel lobbies have in common. They each need to be a place that’s functional for guests to efficiently check in and check out. They need to be an inviting place to gather — a home away from home for guests to receive visitors or to just lounge around with a morning coffee or late night beverage.
Most of all, any great hotel entrance needs to be transportive, welcoming you into a world apart from the world you’ve been in. Declaring you’ve arrived in the world you came for.
We’ll wander through 4 hotels that check all those boxes while bringing their own secret sauce with exceptional wow, welcome, whimsy, or wanderlust. Enjoy your trip.
For both sides of the arrival experience, there’s no greater affirmation that you’ve chosen the right place — or are creating the right place — than stepping into a moment of awe. It’s that moment where your suitcase stops its frenetic roll, your jaw drops, and — as you hurriedly fetch a camera from your purse or pocket — a single syllable sets the scene: “Wwwooooowwww!!!”
This is that. Meet La Samanna. Bringing the wow times 10 with an entryway that says, “Yeah, no. Trust us. You’ve never experienced anything like this before.”
Located on beautiful St. Martin, La Samanna knows just what you came for. The entrance positively lures you in. Rather than the entryway being a reductive shift into the confines of your lodging, La Samanna’s lobby walks you right on through and out to the heavenly view at the heart of your experience.
Minimally appointed with pieces like tufted benches, they make sure nothing comes between you and your “wow” moment. And we’re sure the unavoidable deep contented sigh that comes next (no additional charge) is part of what landed La Samanna on the Forbes list of the world’s greatest hotels.
After all the uncertainty of the last couple of years, sometimes you want your getaway to simply feel like a warm hug in hotel form. A place that immediately wraps you in welcoming. So what does a lobby that feels like a snuggly blanket look like?
This. Good lord, this. The Bowery Hotel Lobby.
It’s beyond explanation why Webster’s Dictionary doesn’t actually define the word Bowery as the epitome of warmth, class, and hominess. A crackling fire, soothing rich wood tones, and perfectly dim lighting all positively purr, “Oh there you are. We’ve been waiting for you. Pull up a chair and we’ll pour you some magic elixir.”
And sooo many options to burrow into. Patinaed leathers, luscious velvets, and other luxurious fabrics adorn the irresistibly inviting sofas and overstuffed armchairs.
The trick isn’t feeling at home in the lobby. The trick is tearing yourself away from the lobby to head to your room. Hence, their well-earned spot on Architectural Digest’s Top 20 Hotel Lobbies.
Another defining feature of the experience of life now as opposed to, let’s say, January 2020, is people are desperately yearning for culture, adventure, and just plain having a little whimsy in their lives.
Enter 21c Museum Hotel in Lexington, KY. Reintroduce your “right-brain” to the world. No more virtual adventuring. And no need to quickly check into your hotel so you can go back out to check out all the creative and artsy things in the area. Your hotel IS a museum.
You’re immediately greeted with art and whimsy — 7,000 square feet of it — to explore and love. We totally get how the art immersion experience that begins the moment you close the door to your Uber is a big reason Dwell, Condé Nast, and so many others have fallen in love with 21c.
It’s nearly impossible to avoid immediately playing and posting from the giant u-shaped wrap-around channel-backed velvet sofa just inside the door (have a seat, in advance, through the virtual tour). And that’s before you even get into the heart of the museum.
When you’ve had your fill for the moment, you can slide even further into playtime in a room decked out in mid-century modern awesomesauce. Leave the kids with the grandparents. Slip off into dreamland on the wings of your coolest fantasies.
And who hasn’t rediscovered their inner longing for travel and discovery over the last couple of years? Check into the quintessential embodiment of wanderlust. A place that — literally — offers visions and notions of travel anywhere and everywhere. The TWA Hotel at JFK airport.
Wait, what? An airport hotel that’s amazing? Yes, indeed, yes.
It’s replete with amenities and views galore. And the lobby doesn’t just welcome you, it positively envelopes and transports you back in time back to the golden age of travel. Recently restored to the vision of the famed architect, Eero Saarinen, and reimagined as a luxury getaway in the middle of getting away, the TWA hotel is a 1962-meets-2021 dream come true.
No matter what you call it, the hotel lobby is how hotels say hello to the world. Setting the tone for what’s ahead. Sink like a stone in the bliss of whatever adventure is calling. And take notes on the decor “language” the hotel uses to say hello. You just might take a tip or trick home with you to turn your everyday into more of your getaway.
Here’s wishing you safe travels and great adventures!