Whether you’re checking in or stopping by for a meeting and a drink, these astounding hotel lobbies will win you over with their architectural feats and style. Step into dizzyingly high atriums, lush gardens, and posh lounges as these hotels put their best foot forward to greet you. The fanfare begins upon your arrival—all you have to do is make an entrance.
By Zachary Laks
Hyatt Regency San Francisco
WHERE: San Francisco
Located on the bay in the Embarcadero, a mesmerizing 20-floor atrium greets visitors of the Hyatt Regency San Francisco. Having become a local attraction itself, it holds a title in the Guinness Book of World Records as the largest hotel lobby in the world, at a vast 42,000 square feet. Walk through the open space and admire the metallic sculpture centerpiece, Charles Perry's grand Eclipse, a hollow, multi-dimensional sphere that alters perspectives and casts captivating shadows. All 804 hotel rooms line the perimeter of the dramatic atrium, where dozens of light ropes extend from the ceiling, illuminating the lobby.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s San Francisco Travel Guide
The Roosevelt Hotel New Orleans
WHERE: New Orleans
Steeped in rich American history, The Roosevelt Hotel New Orleans has hosted presidents, royalty, and celebrities since its opening in 1893. Named after President Theodore Roosevelt for his efforts in revitalizing New Orlean’s commerce with the construction of the Panama Canal, the hotel stands out as a gem of the Big Easy’s glamour and high culture. The Roosevelt’s lobby is a welcoming, block-long art deco hall illuminated by crystal chandeliers and large potted plants. A 2009 renovation uncovered the original tile floors and impeccably detailed moldings. Don't miss the monumental “Paris Exhibition Clock” statue, a historic timepiece from 1867.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s New Orleans Travel Guide
Waldorf Astoria New York
WHERE: New York City
One of the Big Apple's most respected luxury hotels, the Waldorf Astoria New York has timeless style that is evident through the fine gold sculptures on its façade. A flight of stairs brings you into the grand lobby where a large crystal chandelier hangs over the vast space. Comfortable art deco chairs provide the chance to relax while you take in the one-of-a-kind mosaic floor, the expansive rectangular columns, and floor-to-ceiling windows looking out on Park Avenue. Take close note of the ornate bronze clock that was originally created for the 1893 Chicago World's Fair. This world-renowned timepiece stands nine feet tall, weighs two tons, and sounds the Westminster Chimes on every quarter-hour.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor's New York City Travel Guide
Hyatt Regency Cleveland
Just off Lake Erie in the heart of downtown, the Hyatt Regency Cleveland occupies the distinct five-story Arcade, one of the nation’s first indoor shopping malls. Built in 1890 and modeled after the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II in Milan, this Cleveland landmark is a marvel of architectural engineering. The Victorian styled iron-and-glass-vaulted ceiling spans the entire 300 feet of the space, allowing sunlight to pour in throughout the day. Open to the public with shopping and relaxation areas, the Hyatt Regency has been a prime destination since its $60 million renovation in 2001.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s Cleveland Travel Guide
The Breakers Palm Beach
WHERE: Palm Beach, FL
Adorned in Italian Renaissance flair, The Breakers Palm Beach was first opened for business by oil tycoon Henry Flagler in 1896. Having been rebuilt twice after two devastating fires, The Breakers rose to its current glory in 1926. Old-world glamour radiates in every square foot of the lobby, which features vaulted ceilings decorated by esteemed New York muralist Alexander Bonanno. No detail has been left untouched as lush bouquets of rare flowers dot the main pathway of colonial arches. Relax on antique furniture as you take in views of the ocean and marvel at the rare antique pottery collection and fine tapestries.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s Palm Beach Travel Guide
The Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel
WHERE: Los Angeles
Old Hollywood was reborn with the 2005 revitalization of the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel. Built in 1927 at the start of Hollywood’s Golden Age, this hotel has played host to riotous Prohibition parties, served as home to Marilyn Monroe for two years, and hosted the first Academy Awards in 1929. The chic lobby greets partygoers and guests with a classic Spanish fountain in the center of an expansive room that emanates Hollywood sophistication. Soak up the atmosphere with a drink from the Library Bar, one of Los Angeles' hidden secrets, that operates omakase-style, meaning bartenders concoct drinks tailored to individual patrons.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s Los Angeles Travel Guide
The Liberty Hotel
The Charles Street Jail once housed famous inmates such as Malcolm X and James Michael Curley, but has since been transformed into the luxurious Liberty Hotel. Converted in 2007 with its original brick structure intact, this modern hotel has masterfully repurposed what was formerly the main jailhouse into a sleek lobby. Three-story windows mark the corners of the space, while balconies line the perimeter of the lobby on each floor. The atrium boasts cast-iron chandeliers outfitted with Edison bulbs, while atmospheric prints of trees stretch from the floor to the high ceiling. Playing off of its correctional origins, the cleverly named Clink restaurant uses the prison bars as a design motif.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s Boston Travel Guide
Renaissance Blackstone Hotel
Located right off of Grant Park and steps away from Lake Michigan, the Renaissance Blackstone Hotel is a landmark in the Chicago skyline. Built in 1910, the hotel was a favorite among presidents like Teddy Roosevelt and Jimmy Carter. Following failed attempts at turning the building into condominiums, the hotel was revamped in 2006 with new owners, bringing a fresh, contemporary touch. Descend the staircase to the grand foyer, where colorful carpeting lays the groundwork. Admire the ornate French Beaux-Arts ceilings, adorned with a fusion of contemporary “Bean”-inspired lighting and mint-condition antique chandeliers. Rest on the banquette sofas and look for familiar sights, since movies such as My Best Friend’s Wedding, The Untouchables, and The Color of Money were filmed on-site.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s Chicago Travel Guide
Downtown, near the Mississippi River, you’ll find the treasured Peabody Hotel, with its signature red neon sign presiding over the grand structure. Luxury with Southern charm welcomes guests into a lobby adorned with marble columns, molded ceilings, and an incredible bouquet of plants and flowers atop a marble fountain. Ample seating provides guests the opportunity to enjoy a cocktail, mingle, and relax. In its long-standing tradition, the Peabody rolls out red carpet at 11 am and 5 pm for ducks who waddle their way to the main fountain for a swim. The daily ceremonies attract large crowds, as the attraction and the hotel lobby fit the bill for any essential stay in Memphis.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s Memphis Travel Guide
Old Faithful Inn
WHERE: Yellowstone National Park
A National Historic Landmark, Old Faithful Inn was completed in the spring of 1904 and remains the largest log hotel in the world. Located in the heart of Yellowstone National Park in the northwest corner of Wyoming, the inn provides the best viewing spot for the “Old Faithful” geyser, which erupts every 91 minutes on average. Built as a majestic wooden atrium complete with a towering stone fireplace with four hearths, the main lobby is truly a modern marvel. Lights on each of the supporting wooden columns adds a warm glow as scents of cedar and pine permeate the air.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s Yellowstone National Park Travel Guide