Gath­er­ing Places

Ho­tel lob­bies have be­come an art form in them­selves – beau­ti­ful, un­usual and hard-to-leave

Business Traveler (USA) - - INSIDE - By So­nia Ab­dul­baki

Open­ing Acts – Ho­tel lob­bies have be­come an art form in them­selves – beau­ti­ful, un­usual and hard-to-leave

The lobby ex­trav­a­ganza that’s over­taken the ho­tel in­dus­try to­day il­lus­trates how im­por­tant the adage “dress to im­press” re­ally is in the world of hos­pi­tal­ity. Soar­ing atri­ums make guests dizzy with awe while art-inspired con­tem­po­rary de­signs are trend­ing. It’s all part of shap­ing ho­tel lob­bies into aes­thetic and in­ter­ac­tive ex­pe­ri­ences. A new gen­er­a­tion of trav­el­ers, par­tic­u­larly Mil­len­ni­als, are de­mand­ing vis­ual stim­u­la­tion and unique in­spi­ra­tion. Thus, ho­tels are cre­at­ing Wow fac­tors for their guests as soon as they ar­rive with the end goal of giv­ing them that ex­tra spe­cial‘ some­thing’ to take with them when they de­part.

Ac­cord­ingly, like the pre­am­ble to a great book, the lobby has be­come the stage-set­ter, the open­ing lines that de­ter­mines whether the ho­tel’s story is worth tak­ing part in, the sig­na­ture space that an­tic­i­pates the stay that is to come.

Here­with, we present a com­pi­la­tion of the lav­ishly beau­ti­ful, the un­usual and the hard-to-leave lob­bies that make re­mark­able first im­pres­sions.

1. The Con­rad New York

Lo­cated in Lower Man­hat­tan, in the heart of Bat­tery Park City, the Con­rad NewYork ho­tel is a strate­gic venue for the ex­plo­ration of Tribeca and down­town NewYork. Its lobby evokes a grand, so­phis­ti­cated vibe with its 15-story atrium that pro­duces a soar­ing, larger-than-life feel.

The muted blue and pur­ple light­ing of a paint­ing by Sol Le­Witt called Loopy Doopy, ris­ing 13 sto­ries cre­ates a dra­matic ef­fect. This piece is Le­Witt’s largest, span­ning 100 by 80 feet and re­quired 100 gal­lons of paint and 3,000 hours to fin­ish. Imi Knoebel’s Men­nige (Poly­gon) in the east en­try of the atrium lobby is another ad­di­tion that ra­di­ates so­phis­ti­ca­tion. The glob­ally inspired ar­chi­tec­tural styles and art­work are geared to­wards a new gen­er­a­tion of the lux­ury con­sumer.

2. In­ter­Con­ti­nen­tal Hong Kong

Some ho­tels are lav­ishly de­signed to ac­com­mo­date their as­tound­ing sur­round­ings. Case in point: The In­ter­Con­ti­nen­tal Hong Kong lobby lounge. The ho­tel is lo­cated on the Kowloon wa­ter­front – near Kowloon’s busi­ness, en­ter­tain­ment and shop­ping dis­tricts – and gives amaz­ing panoramic views of the Vic­to­ria Har­bor from its high glass win­dows.

From the choices of ar­chi­tec­tural ma­te­ri­als to the color se­lec­tions, the de­sign com­pli­ments the prop­erty’s unique lo­ca­tion. It owes its shape to the move­ment of the har­bor’s hor­i­zon­tal waves and ver­ti­cal pat­terns that re­flect Hong Kong’s skyline, but it’s sub­tle enough to keep all eyes on the view.

3. The Radis­son Blu Ber­lin

The Radis­son Blu ho­tel in Ber­lin is si­t­u­ated along the banks of the River Spree next to the Ber­lin Cathe­dral. Aside from its strate­gic lo­ca­tion, it is another por­trayal of grand style, a char­ac­ter­is­tic guests com­pre­hend im­me­di­ately upon en­ter­ing the dis­tinc­tive lobby. The unique fea­ture that captivates the at­ten­tion is a mas­sive aquar­ium or“AquaDom” right in the heart of the space.

Ex­u­ber­ant and end­lessly fas­ci­nat­ing, this cylin­dri­cal aquar­ium is filled with over 250,000 gal­lons of salt wa­ter, mak­ing it the world’s largest. The Radis­son Blu truly wows its guests with the com­bi­na­tion of splen­dor and na­ture in the tall, grand, il­lu­mi­nat­ing aquar­ium.

4. The Ve­randa High Re­sort Chi­ang Mai

The Ve­randa High Re­sort Chi­ang Mai em­braces a bou­tique de­sign that’s in com­plete har­mony with the nat­u­ral land­scape that sur­rounds this stun­ning prop­erty. With its lofty site high in the moun­tains of the Lanna King­dom of Thai­land, the re­sort con­veys a vibe of re­ju­ve­nat­ing es­cape.

The sub­tlety of de­sign, pu­rity of mo­tif, and serene set­ting of its open-air lobby draw guests into an oa­sis of calm that the space cre­ates at first sight. Its earthy col­ors, del­i­cate arched con­struc­tion and open feel beckon a re­treat with na­ture.

5. The Cove At­lantis on Par­adise Is­land

The Cove At­lantis on Par­adise Is­land in the Ba­hamas ra­di­ates the very no­tion of an ideal re­sort get­away. Beau­ti­ful beaches, invit­ing pools and op­u­lent ev­ery­thing, this re­sort doesn’t fall short when it comes to giv­ing its guests an un­for­get­table ex­pe­ri­ence.

The splen­did im­pres­sion starts with the lobby – a vast, ope­nair, two-story af­fair that is al­lur­ing, el­e­gant, but still hum­ble in its ap­proach. The chan­de­liers cre­ate a dra­matic tone that high­lights the lobby’s grand de­sign while the open sky and ocean at the end of the hall cre­ate the sense of es­cape be­yond the il­lu­sion of never end­ing col­umns and walk­way wait­ing to be ex­plored.

6. The Thompson Toronto

The lobby of the Thompson Toronto has taken an un­usual ap­proach to the chal­lenge of cre­at­ing a hard-to-leave set­ting. The un­der­stated space is not ex­trav­a­gant or lux­u­ri­ous, yet it man­i­fests a de­cid­edly mod­ern dé­cor with il­lu­mi­na­tion against pitch black walls. This makes it an art-savvy lobby that ap­peals to Mil­len­ni­als who are look­ing for com­fort and in­no­va­tion rather than op­u­lence.

The lobby fea­tures a cap­ti­vat­ing hand-painted, three­d­i­men­sional mu­ral of Toronto’s skyline by Span­ish artist Javier Mariscal, mea­sur­ing 125 by 12 feet. In ad­di­tion, the dra­matic light­ing and hard­wood floors give the lobby an in­ti­mate at­mos­phere that makes its guest feel welcome. This ho­tel is a per­fect match to the sur­round­ing neigh­bor­hood in Cen­tral King West where the city’s eclec­tic art gal­leries re­side and where shop­ping, din­ing and nightlife are all within walk­ing dis­tance.

The Man­darin Ori­en­tal Barcelona is lo­cated on Pas­seig de Grà­cia, a well-known street for shop­ping, and is si­t­u­ated in a mid-20th cen­tury town­house that ex­udes a lux­u­ri­ous, con­tem­po­rary out­look. Its de­sign re­flects the lo­cal scene while in­fus­ing an eastern touch to res­onate with the Man­darin Ori­en­tal’s epony­mous style.

The en­trance is set as a cat­walk with tow­er­ing white walls, mak­ing one feel small in com­par­i­son. Award-win­ning de­signer Pa­tri­cia Urquiola sought to cre­ate a dé­cor of un­der­stated lux­ury with the com­bi­na­tion of or­ganic shapes and clear lines.

8. The Barcelo Raval

The Barcelo Raval, also lo­cated in Barcelona, is an en­tic­ing sight with its con­trast­ing col­ors and mod­ern art. The lobby has an un­ortho­dox shape with a uniquely round, open plan that be­speaks a dis­tinctly cos­mopoli­tan flair. It plays on the light and dark mo­tif with LED-based light­ing and de­sign el­e­ments.

Against what seems to be a spot­ted wall are ac­tual peep holes that are inspired by the Raval neigh­bor­hoods that sur­round the

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