Six Amaz­ing Ho­tel Lob­bies

Let's Travel - - DESTINATION MACAO -

The lowly ho­tel lobby! All too often, they’re the means to an end, a pas­sage­way to hurry through. Lovely? Yes… but where’s my room?

To­day, ho­tels are re-think­ing the lobby as much more than a set­ting for a front desk trans­ac­tion or an easy ren­dezvous point. It is a prop­erty’s sig­na­ture space, the stage set­ter. When done right, it es­tab­lishes a tone and a clear sense of ar­rival. Be­low are six ho­tels with lob­bies that are hard to leave:

1 - Sofitel Bangkok Sukhumvit (Thai­land)

For­give your­self if you ex­pe­ri­ence a sense of des­ti­na­tion dis­com­bob­u­la­tion upon en­ter­ing this lobby. With a num­ber of el­e­ments that evoke the City of Light rather than the City of An­gels, it might make you question for a mo­ment what time zone you’re in. In ad­di­tion to a Parisian-style cafe called Le Mac­aron, there’s a très chic bar that serves up in­ven­tive French cock­tails. But the pièce de ré­sis­tance is the dis­creet art gallery, which boasts plush booth seat­ing along the sides, a sleek neon chan­de­lier that changes col­ors -- a piece of art in it­self -- and enough space to house any type of ex­hi­bi­tion.

2 - Mantra Sa­mui (Thai­land)

A new lobby an­chors the ex­ten­sive changes that have taken place at this trop­i­cal re­treat in Koh Sa­mui. The com­pletely over­hauled ar­rival ex­pe­ri­ence ush­ers guests through a grand pine tim­ber frame build­ing, rem­i­nis­cent of tra­di­tional Thai house with a lofty, tiered ceil­ing. Just be­yond check-in is a ver­dant, five-me­tre high ver­ti­cal gar­den that ref­er­ences the is­land’s nat­u­ral beauty. In­dige­nous trees and plants also hedge the road to the ho­tel, and a wa­ter fea­ture adds a new di­men­sion of ap­peal to the lush sur­rounds.

3 - La Res­i­dence Ho­tel & Spa Hue (Viet­nam)

What to do with a ro­tunda? The an­swer, when de­sign­ers ren­o­vated the 1930-built art deco mar­vel at 5 Leo Loi Street in Hue, was a lobby. An­chored by a bar, a bank of floor-to-ceil­ing win­dows drink in lush ho­tel gar­dens, the Per­fume River and the walled city of Im­pe­rial Hue. Over­head, an orig­i­nal mu­ral, called the Arc of Life, curves with the wall, de­pict­ing scenes of daily life in Viet­nam. The French artist, Roland Re­naud, drew in­spi­ra­tion for his cre­ation from the walls of the Musée des Colonies in Paris and the main post of­fice in Lyon. If the beauty of the arc alone is not worth the price of ad­mis­sion, in­dulge a lit­tle his­tory: It was through these doors at Tet in 1968 that Viet Cong cadres in­fil­trated the ho­tel and made off with the high­est rank­ing South Viet­namese of­fi­cial ab­ducted dur­ing the war.

4 - The Palace Ho­tel Tokyo (Ja­pan)

Bridg­ing the adren­a­line-fu­elled busi­ness hub of Marunouchi with the seren­ity of Ja­pan’s nearby Im­pe­rial Palace gar­dens, Palace Ho­tel Tokyo’s lobby melds the two worlds in one grand set­ting. Com­ple­ment­ing its nat­u­ral sur­round­ings, the lofty pub­lic space fea­tures hand-tufted green car­pets and a per­fectly placed tamukeyama momiji (Ja­panese maple), viewed through floor-to­ceil­ing win­dows at one of the lobby’s many seat­ing ar­eas. The art­work of some of Ja­pan’s finest con­tem­po­rary artists adorns the walls, with sev­eral pieces of the ho­tel’s 1,000-strong col­lec­tion promi­nently dis­played. To­day, busi­ness and plea­sure trav­el­ers alike min­gle within the space, but it’s not hard to imag­ine decades past when newly ap­pointed am­bas­sadors to Ja­pan de­scended through the lobby, at the orig­i­nal Palace Ho­tel, to a horse-drawn car­riage wait­ing to es­cort them to their in­tro­duc­tion to Ja­pan’s Em­peror.

5 - The Rev­erie Saigon (Viet­nam)

More rem­i­nis­cent of an Ital­ian palace than a Viet­namese re­cep­tion, The Rev­erie Saigon’s 7th floor lobby is one of the most vis­ually ar­rest­ing en­trance ex­pe­ri­ences you’ll have in Viet­nam. Vi­brant hand-laid mo­saic tile art­work, by Si­cis of Italy, tower above check-in desks in a lofty

ro­tunda area. The lobby’s prize jewel, a cus­tom-made three-me­ter tall Baldi Firenze clock, de­mands at­ten­tion with a Rus­sian mo­saic ve­neer of pre­cious mala­chite stone, ac­cented by 24K gold and green crys­tal. Its prom­i­nent po­si­tion is an ‘ode’ to the build­ing’s Times Square name. Kent Lui, the ho­tel’s lead ar­chi­tect has hailed the whim­si­cal lobby as, “the most iconic space in the en­tire build­ing.” A bold state­ment in a ho­tel filled with un­apolo­getic splen­dor and spa­ces de­signed to dare and ex­cite trav­ellers.

6 - Sanc­tum Inle Re­sort (Myan­mar)

In a re­gion long closed off to the wider world, the Brigitte Du­mont de Chas­sart-de­signed Sanc­tum Inle Re­sort opens the doors on an ex­pe­ri­ence cel­e­brat­ing re­moval and con­tem­pla­tion start­ing right at its breezy, semi open-air lobby. Ar­chi­tec­tural flour­ishes that in­voke monas­tic tra­di­tions, such as Span­ish-style arches, add flair to the over­all min­i­mal­ist yet strik­ing lobby over­look­ing sur­round­ing green­ery, vil­las and suites. Hard­wood floors, fur­ni­ture and ac­cents add warmth to this off-the-beaten path set­ting on the banks of Myan­mar’s sto­ried Inle Lake, as do large glazed ter­ra­cotta pots sourced from the nearby Kyauk Daing pot­tery vil­lage.

La Res­i­dence Ho­tel & Spa Hue (Viet­nam)

Mantra Sa­mui (Thai­land)

The Palace Ho­tel Tokyo (Ja­pan)

The Rev­erie Saigon (Viet­nam)

Sanc­tum Inle Re­sort (Myan­mar)

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