Hotel Bars

June 17, 2010 10:13 pm

Many of my undisputed favorite drinking spots happen to be located in hotels. I think what mesmerizes me about a good hotel bar is how it feels like an integral part of its city, but also a separate retreat at the same time.

If you pick them (hotel bars) right, you end up with an entertaining mix of in-the-know locals and jetsetting visitors. And if you’re like Tara and me and won’t be posting up in any high-priced hotels any time soon (hello, recent college grad budget), it’s also the cheapest way to experience some of the more upscale, trendy and elegant digs.

Below are my current three favorites, all of which are scattered around the U.S. I’ll be traveling in Italy soon; any you recommend I check out over there?

21c Museum Hotel / Louisville, Kentucky / 700 W. Main St.

The 21c doubles as a contemporary art museum, which, if you know my penchant for contemporary art, pretty much makes it my favorite place ever. The bar area is long and narrow, decorated in whites and lit with bright pinks and purples. I was here Derby weekend, and it was definitely buzzing, but still maintained a relaxed feel. Stop by the elevator area to get in touch with your inner child and interact with one of the falling-letters works (picture below).


21c Museum Hotel Bar, by Karina for TKGO



Fun with falling letters, by Karina for TKGO


Four Seasons / Chicago / 120 E. Delaware Place

The median age at the Four Seasons probably hovers around 45, but it’s intimate, comfortable and relaxing. You never know who you’ll end up sitting next to and talking with, and that’s the best part of it. Since it’s small, pretty much everyone ends up meeting and chatting, even if that’s Emmitt Smith in town to film Oprah (true story), the friendliest bartenders in town — Paul’s the best — or some post-work colleagues.


Four Seasons Chicago bar, courtesy of official site


Bowery Hotel / New York, NY / 335 Bowery

Technically, you’re supposed to know someone to access the bar, but just slip any name at the door (if they even ask) and you’ll be fine. It attracts a young, trendy crowd, but anyone and everyone blends in and lets loose, from the hipster set to fashionistas and the occasional celebrity. The bar area is spacious, above street level and partially outdoors, which makes it a beautiful summer destination, and the indoor part includes an open area that is inevitably the site of dance parties.


Bowery Hotel, courtesy of


Karina for TKGO

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  • SO happy that I’ve been to 2 out of 3 of these bars at your side! I’ll def let you know some Italy picks ASAP. John is there now, you just missed each other!

  • My favorites in NYC:
    Ace Hotel on 29th and Broadway
    Crosby Hotel – 75 Crosby St.

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