Anyone who has wound their way through a hotel lobby to find a seat at the bar knows that drinking at a hotel bar is a unique experience. It’s where travelers and locals come together, a place of elegance and the potential for discovery. That person on the barstool next to you could literally be from anywhere.
Hotels have taken notice. What was once an afterthought is now a full-on drinking experience, and a great deal of consideration is going into how guests experience the hotel bar. A perfectly crafted cocktail deserves a beautiful setting; these nine hotel bars worldwide are worthy of a stop for a sip or two.
Bar Centro (SLS Beverly Hills, California)
Bar Centro, set inside The Bazaar by José Andrés at the SLS Hotel Beverly Hills, has the ability to transport drinkers with its Philippe Starck design and molecular gastronomy cocktails. Spanish flavors abound, and the Gin & Tonics are as elaborate as the Cotton Candy Mojitos. A classic cocktail with a modern take, the LN2 Caipirinha is made with cachaça, fresh lime and sugar, all frozen by liquid nitrogen. The Salt Air Margarita is served up and topped with sea-salty air and Mexican sal de gusano (worm salt).
Charles H (Four Seasons, Seoul)
Named for American cocktail writer Charles H. Baker, who traveled the world in search of great drinks and the stories behind them, this speakeasy at the Four Seasons is one of the firsts in Seoul. An elaborate secret entrance leads into a richly patterned, ornamental room (designed by AvroKO). The bar façade is made with a custom metal panel created from the mold of stingray skins. The bar team is serious, knowledgeable about both global and Korean spirits, and the menu is extensive. Settle in and let them guide you.
L.A. Jackson (Thompson, Nashville)
With views of Nashville’s rapidly changing downtown skyline, the rooftop bar at the Thompson Hotel, L.A. Jackson, is the place to be. It has vintage photos peppering the walls, brass fixtures and room for 200 at the bar, plus full views of Music City from nearly every angle. This is the Gulch neighborhood spot for craft cocktails and DJs spinning during the week. Or, in place of a mixed drink, try one of the lesser-known craft beers, mainly from the south, on tap. Oh, and be sure to save room for Tennessee truffle cheese fries.
The Library (Warwick Melrose, Dallas)
Don’t let the name fool you: The bar at Warwick Melrose Dallas is more sexy than studious (it was deemed one of the best seduction spots by Playboy), and it’s known among locals as one of the best piano bars in the area. Charming and cozy, the mirrored and shelf-lined bar is right at home in the historic hotel, built in 1924, and the bar snacks should not be missed. The bar boasts an impressive whiskey list and a good number of wines by the glass. But you might want to try the Wedding Cake Martini, a favorite of regulars.Continue to 5 of 9 below.
Library Bar and The Spare Room (The Hollywood Roosevelt, Los Angeles)
Whether the agenda is a quiet cocktail or a beer with a side of board games, the bars at The Hollywood Roosevelt have a little of everything. Look to The Spare Room for a Prohibition-era vibe, cocktails and a vintage two-lane bowling alley, plus backgammon, Scrabble and more. You’ll want to try one of its punch bowls (to share with friends) or an Ante Up cocktail. Off the main lobby is Library Bar, where the focus is on local ingredients. Ask for a seasonal drink, omakase-style, and see what the bartender presents you.
Moon Bar (Banyan Tree, Bangkok)
With an unbeatable view of Bangkok’s glittery lights, the aptly named Vertigo sits 61 stories above the city, and the restaurant’s Moon Bar serves cocktails worthy of the 360-degree vistas. At one of the highest spots in Asia for alfresco drinking and dining, the vibe is relaxed despite the gawking tourists. The signature cocktail, the Vertigo Sunset, is made with the juice of pineapple, cranberry and lime blended with Malibu rum.
The Nest (Thompson, Seattle)
Set on the top floor of Thompson Seattle, The Nest is the highest hotel bar in the city, with 4,500 square feet of indoor-outdoor space and unobstructed views of Puget Sound and the Olympic Mountains. Look for a sleek interior, including floor-to-ceiling windows that bring the outdoors in, a well-equipped bar and inventive cocktail program. Try one of the barrel-aged drinks or, for an eye-opener, opt for the Eagle, made with coffee-infused rye, Punt e Mes, Aperol and Ancho Reyes chile liqueur.
The Spectator Bar (The Spectator Hotel, Charleston, South Carolina)
Like so many things in Charleston, The Spectator Hotel and its well-appointed bar off the book-lined lobby ooze with Southern charm. Dark panels, ’20s-style décor and affable service are pitch-perfect; it didn’t take long for the hotel to rack up awards. The Bar, as it’s simply known, is one of the buzziest spots to drink in Charleston, yet welcoming with its comfy club chairs and craft cocktail list of new takes on modern classics. Have bartender Allen Lancaster make you a Zozzle & Zonked, made with bourbon, Armagnac, sherry, chestnut-black-pepper puree and bitters.Continue to 9 of 9 below.
Vol. 39 (The Kimpton Gray, Chicago)
Mad Men vibes live on at Vol. 39, where the grandeur of the bar matches the power in the room. During renovations, vintage encyclopedias were discovered in the property, and the décor of Vol. 39 is a nod to that. With midcentury touches and dark lacquer, it’s like a chic library that happens to serve Martini flights (try the Astoria Martini, made with gin, Dolin blanc and orange bitters). The bar takes its ice program seriously, so a neat drink with a hand-carved orb might be in order. Also look for tableside cart service stocked with caviar and Champagne.