Hotel lobbies are not usually at the top of our wish list when it comes to choosing a place to stay in our vacations. The quality of restaurants, spas, accommodations, personal attention and amenities are often the markers that measure the quality of a hotel. However, the lobby is our first impression of any establishment, and should reflect its style and the kind of experience we are about to have away from home. Nonetheless, there are some impressive hotel lobbies around the world. Architects and designers play a vital role in the overall appeal of such magnificent spaces.
In 2007, Frank Holtmann, general manager of Le Meurice in Paris, turned to French designer Philippe Starck to update the 19th century building. Starck sought inspiration in the work of Spanish surrealist artist Salvador Dalí, a frequent guest who even made Le Meurice his residence for one year. The results combine classic Parisian glamour (marble floors and 18th century antiques) with surrealist touches, like the painting that hangs in the restaurant or the heel-shaped legs of the tables. Magnificent vintage lamps superbly illuminate the eclectic décor.
Le Meurice, Paris, France.
Considered one of the most impressive luxury hotels in the world, Oman’s Bustan Palace, member of the Ritz – Carlton Group, was recently renovated, paying special attention to the common areas. A beautiful dome that stands high above a splendid fountain, crowns the hotel’s lobby, which features marble floors and exquisite tile work on the walls.
Bustan Palace, Oman.
Dubai’s architecture is not particularly discreet. The Emirate’s opulence is evident in the lobbies of its world-renown hotels. Among the most beautiful: the Raffles Dubai Burj al Arab Hotel, or the great lobby of Atlantis, almost 60 feet tall, and adorned with a Dale Chihuly sculpture, made with more than 3,000 pieces of mouth blown crystal that took the artist two years to complete.
Raffles, Dubai, UAE.
Raffles Singapore, a colonial style hotel dating back to 1887 has a very Victorian feel. The building has one of the most impressive collections of wool carpets in the world, some proudly displayed in the magnificent lobby. Ernest Hemingway and Alfred Hitchcock are among the distinguished guests who have stayed here.
Back in Europe, Budapest’s emblematic Gresham Palace deserves a special mention. Built in 1903, it was turned into apartments during the communist era. Declared a historic building in 1998, the Four Seasons hotel chain invested 5 years and more than $110 million in its restoration, completed in 2004 with the collaboration of designer Miklós Szenkirályi. The lobby’s grand dome and tile floors attract the admiration of those who enter through its door.
Gresham Palace, Budapest, Hungary.
We found a couple of luxurious hotel lobbies in Spain: at the Ritz in Madrid and at the Alfonso XIII Hotel in Seville, a historical monument built in1929 in Mudejar style, which was completely renovated in 2002.
In the United States, two hotels stand out for the beauty of their lobbies. One is Amangiri, in Canyon Point, Utah. The impressive surroundings make it virtually impossible to compete with the landscape. The architects solved the dilemma by introducing very simple lines to highlight the overwhelming beauty of the Grand Staircase-Escalante, the natural monument that dominates the Valley.
The Breakers, Palm Beach, USA.
Further south, Palm Beach’s The Breakers has been the hotel of choice of the American aristocracy. The Vanderbilts, Rockefellers and Astors spent many winters in The Breakers. Commissioned by Henry Morrison Flagler, the lobby’s hand-painted ceiling was inspired by the Hall of the 16th century Palazzo Carrega. Seventy-five artists were brought directly from Italy to construct the famed entrance. ■