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Opulent Hotel Lobbies

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Tonga Room, San Francisco.

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Legendary sommelier Aldo Sohm on rarer bubbles.

Not many people think of the lobby.

The quality of the restaurant, the comfort of the beds, the serenity of the spa, the history or the service—these are the factors one evaluates when on the hunt for an outstanding hotel experience. But few guests consider the glitz or glory of the entryway. The lobby is the first impression. It is the part of the hotel that can elicit, alternately, a sigh of wonder or a gasp of alarm, whether the style is old-world or contemporary, creative or classic.

Designers think of the lobby. When Franka Holtmann, general manager of Le Meurice in Paris, commissioned Philippe Starck to update the 19th-century building, the designer took inspiration from Salvador Dalí—one of the hotel’s famous regulars, who spent at least a full month a year in residence there. The redesign combined the most refined, classic Parisian glamour—polished marble and 18th-century antiques—with moments of Surrealist whimsy, like an enormous, Dalí-inspired canvas in the restaurant and table legs fitted with women’s high heels. The complex, playful aesthetic is at its most succinct in the grand hall entryway, which features dramatic marble flooring and crystal chandeliers alongside a Dalí-esque sculpture of twisted marble columns and an oversized frosted mirror that guests can draw designs on with their fingers.

At Amangiri, Aman’s outpost in the Grand Canyon, the resort’s stunning natural surroundings steal the show, so the entrance, a hybrid lobby and great “living room,” is done in neutral colors and clean lines. The approach maximizes the breathtaking view of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument rising from hundreds of miles of untouched desert.

Or take the lobby at the Four Seasons Hotel Gresham Palace Budapest, built as the entrance to Gresham Palace in 1903 and later divided into apartments under Hungarian Communist rule. The building has since been meticulously restored. The lobby is grand, with a dramatic, arching cupola, stained glass and a mosaic floor, and signals both the richness of the structure’s history and the splendor of its current incarnation.

From southern Utah to the far reaches of Hungary, from New York’s Bowery to the shores of the Bosphorus, the world is full of lobbies to learn from and admire. These are some of our favorites.


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