7 Boutique Hotel Lobbies That Make a Bold Entrance
Words: Robbie Woodward
21 Sept 2023
Boutique hotels' unique charm and intimate experiences have captured travellers' hearts worldwide. But where these typically smaller hotels might lack in maximum occupancy levels (what most guests are paying for, by the way), they're more than comfortable swinging heavyweight punches with the best of them. Making bold statements and grand gestures from the moment you arrive.
And if it's true that we live in a world where first impressions count, here's our pick 7 of the planet's most extraordinary boutique hotel lobbies, each a gateway to a world of wonder and the scene setter for a reception that lies beyond. You know, the kind of place that makes you want to loiter a while before heading to your room.
(Image credit: Santa Monica Proper)
01. Santa Monica Proper
Where: Santa Monica, California, USA
The Vibe: Eclectic, Mid-century modern with a salty twist
Santa Monica Proper's lobby captures the essence of Southern California's laid-back luxury unlike any other. American designer Kelly Wearstler, accountable for designing the broader Proper portfolio, delivers a Mid-century modern meets beachy aesthetic, creating a relaxed yet stylish atmosphere. A reflection of the sun-soaked spirit of Southern California. Per design choice, every piece of furniture radiates a sense of effortless cool. Basking in the golden glow of Santa Monica, this enigmatic lobby is a potent mix of worldly artefacts that encourages you to drop your bags, relieve any formality you once had, and loosen all the weight you ever carried. Chill out, dude - this is Santa Monica.
(Image credit: Bisma Eight)
02. Bisma Eight
Where: Ubud, Bali, Indonesia
The Vibe: Mysterious cultural sanctuary
Painstakingly framed, Bisma Eight's lobby is humbly uncomplicated. But don't be fooled by its minimalist demeanour. Attention to detail is rife, with the founders' obsession over the unique off-grey-white shade of the concrete that all who visit must pass through. The use of natural materials fuses with an evocative scent, and lush greenery creates a tranquil ambience while traditional Balinese artwork and craftsmanship adorn the walls. The welcome at Bisma Eight is thoughtfully devised, making immersion into the island's culture deliberately and beautifully unavoidable. It's an immersive experience, an invitation to discover Bali's cultural and spiritual heart.
(Image credit: Aman Tokyo)
03. Aman Tokyo
Where: Otemachi Tower, Tokyo, Japan
The Vibe: High-end zen
At the heart of Tokyo's bustling energy lies the threshold of Aman Tokyo, a serene retreat that channels Japan's profound appreciation for aesthetics. Everything at Aman Tokyo is up. Bypass the delicate lower-lobby garden reception, and between the 33rd and 38th floors of the Otemachi Tower, you'll find yourself in a world of awe-inspiring Japanese hospitality. Dramatic views of the Imperial Palace Gardens greet you as you enter the exquisite alcove 'tokonoma', where seasonal flower arrangements become living works of art, a testament to Japan's changing seasons. A Zen Canvas for Your Soul, Aman Tokyo's lobby transforms you into a poet of tranquillity, where every corner echoes with Japanese culture, allowing you to breathe in the harmony of the space.
(Image credit: Hotel Per La)
04. Hotel Per La
Where: Downtown Los Angeles, USA
The Vibe: Neoclassical wabi-sabi (If that's a thing)
Downtown LA is culture personified. Pick any mile-squared block of the district, and you're gripped by a methodical melting pot of people and places. Makes sense then that one of Downtown's latest hotel offerings would be equally arcane. That's not to suggest that Hotel Per La is anything other than deliberate; on the contrary. The reimagined lobby insinuates a conversation between two romantics, balancing their love of geometric shapes with nature-defined cues. An animated vision of Amalfi Coast meets resurgent LA. Its botanical identity is reflected by oversized mirrored arches, bordered by mathematically patterned walls, and grounded by exquisite marble floors. Like LA, it is playful, vibrant and full of life - not so much a lobby as a socially driven community hub that welcomes guests from all walks to down tools and relax in a breezy enclave away from the hustle of DTLA.
(Image credit: The Siam)
05. The Siam
Where: Chao Phraya River, Bangkok, Thailand
The Vibe: Opulent Art Deco hideaway
Notorious and chaotic Bangkok could be a zillion miles away, and if the Siam's glorious monochrome facade fails, for whatever reason, to draw you in, then trust that you're missing out on a lobby of artistic symphony that harmoniously unites Art Deco elegance with exuberant Thai aesthetics. Rather than a pared-back reception, poised to take guests' details, they've delivered an entire welcome building complete with verdant courtyard. Here, you step into a world that unveils the story of old Siam, where black and white exposes an ironically colourful chronology of intricate woodwork and antique furnishings that are a tribute to Thai culture. A journey through time and art. Every fragment whispers the grace of Thailand's heritage. A living museum of Thai history and elegance. And if you're still not sold, it's probably best you seek professional assistance.
(Image credit: The Ned)
06. The Ned
Where: City of London, England
The Vibe: Ravishingly Gatsbyesque
In the crux of the UK's capital, housed in the former Midland Bank headquarters, there's a grand old dame, The Ned, which, despite the notion that a boutique hotel, by definition, must be intimate and small, The Ned's lobby is a sumptuous portal to London's past. In fact, the whole concept here is lavish on a monumental scale. Marvel at towering marble columns and a breathtaking glass-domed ceiling. More a bustling metropolis of amalgamating experiences from a bygone era than any lobby you'll ever walk into. It's a glimpse into the glamour of 1920s and 1930s banking, where opulence and history blend seamlessly, creating a unique ambience that takes you back in time. Wearing some Gatsby-inspired get-up is your choice, but we don't imagine it'd be frowned upon too much if you did.
(Image credit: The Calile)
07. The Calile
Where: Fortitude Valley, Brisbane, Australia
The Vibe: Urban city oasis
Brisbane, the vibrant capital of Queensland, boasts a unique blend of urban sophistication and natural beauty. Amidst this lively cityscape lies The Calile Hotel, a luxurious oasis that redefines boutique accommodation. The Calile transports you to a world where urban chic meets subtropical bliss, reminiscent of the five-star boutiques that line the sidewalks of South Beach, Miami. Palm-fringed streets and vibrant hanging gardens set the scene for your arrival. But what truly sets it apart is the seamless blend of luxury and relaxation. The lobby isn't just a space; it's a haven of calm. As a guest, you're a connoisseur of relaxation, where the lines between city life and resort-style living blur into a tranquil symphony of luxury and subtropical loveliness. Any hotel that can harmonise Porphyry paving with smooth pastel marble is a magician in our books, a talent worth paying good money to hang out with. We suggest you do.
These enchanting boutique hotel lobbies offer more than just a glimpse of where you're about to stay; they provide immersive experiences that connect you to the heart of their destinations. And if first impressions really do count, then consider us impressed.
7 Boutique Hotel Lobbies That Make a Bold Entrance