In days past, the hotel bar was a sad affair. It was a respite for weary travelers, filled with sup-bar cocktails sipped by businessmen cutting loose after meetings or families feeding jet-lagged wee ones.
But no longer is the hotel bar a last-resort. Thanks to a wave of hotel openings, and with them, hip lobby cocktail spots, hotel bars are decidedly cool. Below, the best medium-sized hotel bars from coast to coast.
Consider Broken Shaker an oasis: there are palm trees, sunshine sounds slipping through the speaker, and drinks—voted some of the worlds best—with fantastical garnishes. Broken Shaker boasts locations in Miami, Chicago, Los Angeles and New York (the Miami one, in particular, has racked up industry awards, including James Beards and Tales of the Cocktail). Each reflects where they’re based (Miami’s is located in a lush garden, and New York’s, in a clandestine rooftop nook) but all serve the same high-energy cocktails and stay-for-the-party atmosphere.
The NoMad, New York
The NoMad Hotel’s bar has routinely topped the industry accolade lists, and it shouldn’t come as a surprise to visitors. The NoMad’s bar oozes with the warmth and nostalgia of a New York City tavern and serves inspired pub fare by Chef Daniel Humm paired with inventive cocktails. Visitors range from well-heeled tourists to locals looking for a stand-up cocktail.
A stalwart of the new Orleans drinking scene, and cocktail culture in general—the Vieux Carre was first created here in 1938—the Carousel Bar, located inside the Hotel Monteleone, is an essential part of a visit to the city. Be sure to sidle up to the bar: the giant carousel (hence, the name) rotates slowly, spinning patrons around the room.
Midnight Rambler, Dallas
Sneak through the lobby of Dallas’ the Joule Hotel and down a flight of stairs. Here you’ll find Midnight Rambler, the brainchild of Christy Pope and Chad Solomon (both Attaboy vets). Expect inventive cocktails, and many of them large-format, in a sultry space with DJs spinning frequently. Solomon and Pope cite the Shining as a visual reference, though aesthetics veer sleek rather than shriek-inducing.
Lewers Lounge, Honolulu
Lewers Lounge, nestled off the foyer of the famed Halekulani in Honolulu, perfectly fits the nostalgic notion of a hotel bar. There is live jazz every night of the week and an extensive menu of classic cocktails, executed with painstaking detail, as is the service. The bar itself is dark and moody, filled with luxurious leathers and mahogany walls. It may be a far cry from the Tiki tropes of other bars on the Honolulu strip, but it sure makes a convincing case to spend a Hawaiian night indoors.
Candy Bar, Detroit
This most certainly isn’t your average hotel bar. The Siren Hotel’s lobby lounge, Candy Bar, breathes Old Hollywood, with dusty pink walls, tufted velvet sofas, and a commanding disco ball in the center of the room. Bar snacks hit the usual notes, with spiced nuts, potato chips, and olives dolled out to patrons, though cocktails veer fantastical, with a focus on sparkling cocktails with housemade cordials and a tropical lean.