Ease makes the top of the list for a lot of travelers, as does getting the inside scoop on the local scene. Luxe Lodgings contributor Angela Fairhurst found seven hotels that combine both elements, so visitors and locals alike merge to enjoy the nightlife of the city.
The Clift is a century-old hotel in the theatre district of San Francisco and close to Union Square. Walking into the Clift, the luminous purple entryway transports you into the renovated lobby level designed by Philippe Starck and Ian Schrager, with an Instagram-worthy furniture collection from designers such as Eames, Dali, and Matta. In the back of the lobby level is the famous and historic Redwood Room bar featuring the original redwood paneling carved from a single redwood tree and an enormous etched glass bar. Starck designed the lounge furniture and there is an ever-changing digital display of art running on plasma screens throughout the room. The menu includes craft cocktails, upscale wines and spirits, and small bites. When night falls, it’s difficult to find a seat in this trendy hot spot.
Arguably the most popular hotel bar in Dallas, Fearing’s Rattlesnake Bar is often packed two deep, with crowds spilling out onto Western-inspired couches and into the Live Oak bar outside. The recommended drink is a Dean’s Margarita on the rocks along with some lobster nachos. The Rattlesnake Bar has a friendly, casual atmosphere and is part of the seven-setting Fearing’s Restaurant, located on the lobby level of The Ritz-Carlton, Dallas and is the brainchild of famed chef Dean Fearing. Aside from its innovative cocktails, it’s known for its weekday happy hour, cool bathrooms, and its large outdoor patio, complete with fireplace. Design features include a honey onyx-front bar with a rail of rattlesnakes, along with rich mahogany-paneled walls inlaid with leather and golden glass chandeliers in a clustered cow horn design.
Considered the best bar in San Luis Obispo, the Granada Bistro at The Granada Hotel & Bistro opened in October 2012 as the first modern boutique hotel in San Luis Obispo. Housed within an original 1920s exposed-brick building, the site was transformed into a 17-room and suite hotel, with the indoor-outdoor bistro sitting on Morro Street in downtown SLO. The lobby level crowd is a mix of out-of-towners in the area for wine tastings, creative locals, foodies, and couples there for romantic getaways. With an extensive wine list, friendly people imbibe and eat small bites with close friends or new people who’ve stopped in the area on their way up the Central Coast. Cal Poly SLO is only a few minutes away, but Granada’s price point keeps it more upscale. The bistro has a popular bar program led by head mixologist Dominique Gonzalez.
AC Hotels are European-inspired business hotels with a sophisticated bar scene. Each hotel reflects the cities in which they reside. Recently opened, the hotel sits in lively downtown across University Avenue from the University of Florida’s campus. The 144-room AC Hotel Gainesville elevates the hotels in the area with a modern interior and floor-to-ceiling windows, adding a new level of sophistication. Designed as an inviting space for guests to mix & mingle, the AC Lounge and encompassing AC Bar is the life of Gainesville at night. The general manager or executive team are there for guests at happy hour to share a healthy pour. There are no televisions in the bar, as people are encouraged to mingle with one another. Experienced mixologists work the bar, and are true urban experts who know the Gainesville area and can give visitors tips on the best late-nights eats and off-the-beaten path adventures. Local brews from Swamp Head and First Magnitude are available on tap along with Spanish-style tapas for good eats.
Located in the Dairy Block of the new micro-district in LoDo, Poka Lola at The Maven Hotel reinvents the every man’s cocktail bar with a nod to turn-of-the-century American soda fountain culture. The bar opened in March 2017 and is a sister concept of SRG’s Southwestern restaurant Kachina. For visitors and locals alike, it’s a gathering place for all occasions. The sophisticated cocktail lounge resides in the hotel’s lobby. With old-fashioned soda fountains, Poka Lola’s interior features an eye-catching playful design, and aims to reinvent the neighborhood bar for the modern set. Specialty sodas using locally sourced seasonal ingredients are bottled on site for use in crafted cocktails.
Just steps from Pioneer Courthouse Square in downtown Portland is the lobby bar at Kimpton Hotel Vintage Portland called Bacchus Bar. The bar is named after the Roman god of wine whose likeness is depicted on the glass mural at the back of the lobby. When the hotel underwent a $16 million renovation in 2015, it added the sleek ten-seat bar with additional seating for 50 scattered throughout the lobby on the ground level. Open daily at 4 p.m., the bar serves classic cocktails, local beers, and Oregon wines. Considering Bacchus Bar is part of a wine-inspired hotel, the cutting-edge cocktail-driven bar has an impressive wine list. There is live music from 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday through Saturday. Guests and locals alike fill the bar for its weekday happy hour and end-of-the-night caps, and there are also free pool tables available in the upstairs game lounge.
Ranked as one of the best hotel bars in the city and most beautiful library bars, the Library Bar at The Rittenhouse Hotel caters to both locals and guests who value a quality cocktail and unique atmosphere. The Library Bar opened as part of a major 2013 renovation. The cozy, intimate setting has only 25 seats and a limestone fireplace. Designed by Alexandra Champalimaud, there are Pennsylvania-related books on the bookshelves and an etched mirror map of Philadelphia behind the dark wood bar. Local jazz artists play Thursday through Saturday. With a rotating cocktail menu to highlight the seasons, the mixologists have the ability to personalize cocktails based on preferences as well as serve up the classics. A signature cocktail is the Perfect Square, which is a take on a Manhattan with Maker’s Mark bourbon whiskey combined with Licor 43, Dolin dry vermouth, Old Fashioned bitters, and is garnished with amarena cherries.
To learn about more unique hotel features around the world, check out:
- Beyond Gambling: Unique Art & Architecture in Las Vegas
- 6 New Hotel Spas With Noteworthy Treatments & Amenities
- 8 Hotel Lobbies With Distinct Style & Personality
By Angela Fairhurst for PeterGreenberg.com