Every Hotel Bar Is a Good Bar (If You Believe)

(Image credit: Mark Roaquin)

The school I went to in Italy was attached to a hotel. That may sound strange, but with professors coming to teach from all over the world, perhaps they thought it simply made good business sense. Of course, it was the students who took most advantage of the lobby bar. We’d pop in for a quick espresso before class or convene for a spritz post-exam.

While it was far from the most luxe hotel bar on the planet — a bit dusty and outdated — it makes me happy just thinking about it. Then again, pretty much any hotel bar makes me swoon.

I love that hotel bars have the instant ability to do that — to make you feel at home.

I couldn’t tell you about most of the hole-in-the-wall dive bars or fussy speakeasies I’ve frequented over the years, but I can tell you about each and every hotel bar I’ve visited.

There have been some fancy bars at lavish hotels: When I had just moved to New York, my friend and I treated ourselves to hot cocoa and Baileys at the Waldorf Astoria. The Nomad is also wonderful — especially the library, which you can now only get into if you’re a hotel guest. And I once went to the King Cole Bar at the St. Regis — it was fancy times 10!

But while totally over-the-top and memorable, it’s not just those that bring me bliss. My fiancé and I stayed at a little hotel in New Orleans once that had a pretty average hotel bar. Although wonderful bars are so easy to come by in that city, starting our evenings in the lobby with a $5 glass of happy hour wine or winding down there after dinner with a pot of tea was a highlight of our trip.

Just like that hotel bar in Italy, it became our gathering place, even for just a few short days. We met a few other nice guests, became friendly with the bartender, and found our two favorite seats that we’d return to each and every night.

The Magic of Hotel Bars

I love that hotel bars have the instant ability to do that — to make you feel at home. I find that even bars at hotels I’m not a guest of make me feel that exact same way.

I’ve yet to splurge on a room at the boutiquey Press Hotel in Portland, Maine, but I always find myself stopping into the lobby on the way back to my own accommodation at the end of the night. The bar is just a small one — tucked in the corner, with a single bartender — but it’s relaxed, pleasant, and puts me at ease.

Perhaps it’s simply because of the hospitality that hotels, big and small, imbue. Sure, regular stand-alone bars carry some of that too, but hotel bars always seem to carry a bigger responsibility to make you comfortable, because you’re likely tucking in upstairs that night rather than walking out the door. And even if you are walking out that door, they’re pretty darn good at convincing you otherwise, if only for a couple of blissful hours.

Do you love hotel bars, too? Share your favorite in the comments!