I remember the days when New York City hospitality was defined by such institutions as the Plaza Hotel and the Waldorf Astoria. These hotels were regal, comfortable, and elegant. Today, there are new criteria on the table. The best hotels are about concept, creating a culture that incorporates glitz, fantasy, escapism and often social-decadence.
With this metamorphosis, led by a proliferation of hip, boutique establishments in major cities, the role of the hotel lobby is changing too. New York City is conceivably the leading example in this shifting paradigm. What was once almost exclusively a home for business travelers, visitors and tourists, is now the "it" hotspot for the trendiest of the trendy, a great place to see celebrities and socialites alike.
Hotel owners have helped catalyze this trend by inserting fancy and fun attractions into their hotels, from great bars, restaurants, cigar rooms, cabaret lounges, libraries, ping pong and pool halls, live music and more. And it's not just the new hotels. Some of New York City's most historical, landmark hotels have been quick to adopt this same mentality.
Richard Born, Founder of BD Hotels, co-owner of The Bowery Hotel, The Jane, The Maritime, and The Greenwich, explains, "Since the boutique hotel phenomenon allows the traveler to define him or her self by where they stay, the hotel lobby allows them to announce to the world who they are."
So where does one find these über-glamorous hotspots? Here's my go-to list of the hottest hotel lobbies in New York City, many of which I can be spotted at having a cocktail or two. Admittedly, I couldn't bring myself to sort by favorites. They're all fabulous and with their own selling points (plus I know some of the owners), so please accept this alpha order presentation in lieu of a hierarchical one.