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Spectacular Hotel Lobbies

© Courtesy of Aria Hotel

From a sprawling room with panoramic ocean views to an open-air entryway modeled after a Thai temple, these stunning hotel lobbies really roll out the red carpet.

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We’ve all been there: your plane? Delayed. The taxi driver? Borderline deadly. Your language skills? Severely lacking. Your trip is just beginning, and you’re ready to hoof it back home.

Then you arrive at your hotel: You reach for your suitcase to find that it’s making its way through gilded doors in the hands of a dapper bellman. You follow inside and immediately inhabit a more peaceful world. In the case of the Four Seasons in Florence, a series of 15th-century bas-reliefs by Flemish artist Jan van der Straet encircles you. It might look like a polished museum, but you’re in the hotel’s lobby, a place where celebrations are held, aperitifs served and new guests welcomed with cocktails and room keys.

While often unsung, a hotel lobby has a very important role. It’s the property’s gateway, responsible for a first impression that can last a lifetime. Which is not to say that any two great lobbies are alike. They can be as distinct as a hotel’s location.

In fact, many of the best hotel lobbies reflect that sense of place. Take the Amanpuri, Aman’s signature property on Phuket Island, where the makha-wood lobby with pitched roofs was modeled after an Ayutthaya period temple. Across the world at the new $250 million Mukul Resort & Spa in Nicaragua, the check-in desk is crowned with an oval palapa and chandelier made of 152 baskets woven by locals.

Stellar views can also anchor an inspiring space. The Southern Ocean Lodge on Kangaroo Island in South Australia welcomes you with an oversize kangaroo sculpture (crafted from recycled metal) and panoramic Southern Ocean scenery. At the brand-new Oberoi, Dubai, a towering 252-room hotel, the iconic Burj Khalifa, currently the world’s tallest building, is framed by two-story windows.

No matter the view or design, though, the best entryways appeal to our five senses and withstand the test of time. “Hotel lobbies have seen many new trends over the last few years, from a private living room concept to a front desk free space,” says Rome-based tour operator Uri Harash, founder of Perfetto Traveler. “Still, the hotels that nail that first impression have a host of similar qualities—they’re sharp, beautiful, welcoming and unique.”

Read on for more of our favorites.

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