You know that thing they say about first impressions: They’re important. And what’s the first thing you see upon entering a hotel? The lobby. So, while it’s also important that the bed is comfy and the bathroom sparkly, it’s the lobby that can make or break a hotel’s reputation. That’s why hotels all over the world spend millions of dollars importing things like rare plants and Italian marble to impress guests the second they walk in the door.
To some hotels, however, unique stone and flora are just the tip of the iceberg. From multi-ton chandeliers to indoor gardens, these 10 hotel lobbies really get that whole “first impression” thing.
1. Burj Al Arab, Dubai (pictured above)
Prepare to be dazzled as you enter the most luxurious hotel in the world. Between the colorful Islamic-inspired art, 24-karat gold leaf detail, tiered waterfall, 600-foot multicolored atrium—the world’s tallest—and two aquariums, the Burj Al Arab really outdid itself.
(Photo courtesy Burj Al Arab)
2. Hermitage Hotel, Nashville, Tennessee
Go back in time to the early 1900s as you enter the spacious Beaux-Arts lobby of the Hermitage Hotel in Nashville, which features Siena marble and Russian walnut paneling. As if that weren’t enough, the grandiose space is topped off with a stained-glass ceiling.
(Photo courtesy Hermitage Hotel)
3. Emirates Palace, Abu Dhabi
You may recognize this lobby as the one that housed the gaudy $11 million Christmas tree decorated in gold and gems in 2010. While they’ve cut back on their holiday decorations, they still have their piano, an ATM that dispenses gold, the caviar bar, the 245-foot-high dome and lighting that makes the entire lobby glow gold. Not bad.
(Photo courtesy Google Images)
4. Al Bustan Palace, Oman
With a dome higher than the Taj Mahal’s and a 5.5 metric ton crystal chandelier, this lobby puts the Sheikh’s palace to shame.
(Photo courtesy Al Bustan Palace)
5. ITC Grand Chola, Chennai, India
At first glance, the lobby of the ITC Grand Chola hotel seems like a spacious plain area that pales in comparison to the extravagant lobbies on this list. Look closer and you will find 1 million square feet of hand-carved marble. Any of the golden sari-clad staff members (often lined up perfectly on the grand staircase) will be happy to answer any questions you may have.
(Photo courtesy ITC Grand Chola)
6. Hotel Icon, Hong Kong
Forget rare or imported flowers. Hotel Icon in Hong Kong stepped it up a notch by enlisting French botanist and artist Patrick Blanc to design Asia’s largest indoor vertical garden, which hangs from one of the lobby’s walls and covers 2,475 square feet.
(Photo courtesy Hotel Icon)
7. The Breakers, Palm Beach, Florida
The lobby of this Palm Beach hotel will transport you to a European palace. The paintings on the ceilings were completed by 75 artisans brought from Italy. The 200-foot-long lobby was inspired by the Great Hall of the Palazzo Carega in Genoa. Between the ornate chandeliers and the rich curtains, we see the resemblance.
(Photo courtesy The Breakers)
8. Makati Shangri-La, Manila, Philippines
While some hotels hire a pianist to add a classy touch, the Makati Shangri-La goes all-out with an entire 14-piece orchestra. In between the grand staircases dangles a large chandelier—and as you walk further back into the space, you will see the property’s gardens through the lobby’s floor to (very high) ceiling windows.
(Photo courtesy Makati Shangri-La)
9. The Fairmont, San Francisco, California
Between the marble floors, high ceilings, gold-rimmed walls, and towering marble columns, the lobby of the Fairmont San Francisco is fit to host a party for Downton Abbey’s Grantham family. The Countess Dowager might turn her nose up at the palm trees, though.
(Photo courtesy The Fairmont)
10. ME by Meliá Dubai Hotel, Dubai
Although it isn’t opening until 2016, renderings demonstrate that the lobby of the ME Dubai Hotel is going to be out of this world. Designed by Zaha Hadid, the reception area’s focal point will be a silver space-age-like structure multiple stories high that has already left us speechless.
(Photo courtesy Me by Meliá Dubai Hotel)