Forget pillow menus and infinity pools. The hottest luxury hotel amenity these days is a beer garden.
Once unassuming spots for bachelor parties and Bavarian family reunions, the new breed of beer gardens at haute hotels has Rockwell-designed interiors and Michelin-worthy pub grub. From award-winning craft beers at a Shangri-La in Shanghai to Downtown Los Angeles’ sudsy scene at the Standard, here’s where to sip the best brews this summer.
Andaz Wall Street, NYC
Hyatt's Andaz Wall Street is a sleek study in hardwood and sandstone. Its 253 loft-like rooms, fitted with crisp white linens and C.O.Bigelow bath products, provide a welcome dose of cool to New York City's buttoned-up Financial District. The 70-seat outdoor Biergarten, open from May – October, is a boon to neighborhood nightlife. It serves Bavarian pretzels, bratwurst on Kaiser rolls, and five draft beers to hard-working locals. Try the Coney Island Pilsner, fresh from Brooklyn, or sample imported brews like Blue Moon and Model Especial. New for 2013 is Bark Hour, a weekly canine cocktail party with special menus for dogs and their owners, which Andaz co-hosts with New York City pet welfare organization Bideawee.
The Standard Los Angeles
Andre Balazs' Downtown LA hot spot has a star-studded ping-pong club, headline-making vibrating waterbeds, and 205 guestrooms with the sexiest exposed showers this side of Sunset. At the Standard's rooftop Biergarten, straight-outta-München draft beers accompany stellar Bavarian fare made by Michelin-starred Austrian chef Kurt Gutenbrunner. Local hipsters and actors-slash-somethings admire sweeping city views while sampling Gutenbrunner's gourmet currywurst, weisswurst, and enormous pretzels. The staff's saucy attire of filmy white tees with trompe l'oeil dirndls or lederhosen have becomeso popular that the Standard now sells takeaway versions in its lobby shop and online.
Kerry Hotel Pudong Shanghai
An offshoot of China's iconic Shangri-La, the high-rise Kerry Hotel Pudong brings sybaritic style to Shanghai's central business district. Guests and locals alike hang at The Brew, an industrial chic space surrounding the gleaming stainless steel machinery of the onsite microbrewery. Resident brewmaster Leon Michelson, a Kiwi ex-pat and award-winning brewer, pours six house-made beers and one cider, some of which change seasonally. A champion of Shanghai's burgeoning craft beer community, Michelson also hosts beer tastings and private brewery tours. For those who want their beer garden experience on the go, The Brew has a lovingly restored vintage motorcycle specially fitted to carry kegs of Kerry beer anytime, anywhere.
The Augustine Hotel Prague
Located in a former monastery in Prague's Malá Strana district, The Augustine takes home brewing to celestial heights. The101-key hotel links seven buildings surrounding the 13th Century cloisters of a group of Augustinian friars, some of whom still dwell on the grounds. The interiors combine regal shades of red and purple with Czech Cubist artwork and furniture by local craftsman. The hotel also reactivated the monastery's ancient brewery, using the monks' original recipe to brew some fairly hallowed hooch. Modern-day patrons sip the centuries-old lager in The Augustine's glass-ceilinged courtyard, which overlooks the cloisters' lush gardens. The hotel spa even uses the beer in treatments like the St. Thomas Beer Body Ritual, which, ironically, is designed to hydrate and detoxify the skin.
Tokyo Prince Hotel
Owned by premier rail company Seibu, Prince Hotels are, as they say, big in Japan. There are nine properties throughout the capital, but the Tokyo Prince Hotel in Shiba Park has two pools, a collection of luxury shops, and six on-property bars and restaurants. Every summer, the hotel unveils a 600-seat, domed beer garden with open-air seating and killer views of Tokyo Tower. Named Mori no Naka no Beer Garden, which loosely translates to "Garden Islands Beer Garden," the leafy spot is a mouthful in more ways than one. It serves local, European, and American draft beers alongside three types of Japanese barbecue: teppanyaki, seafood, and amiyaki. For those looking to chase the summer heat, Mori no Naka also serves a sudsy dessert slush made from Tokyo's own frozen Kirin beer.