By Frances Kiradjian

Hotel lobbies have evolved from portals where travelers are introduced to their lodging accommodations to places people gather to immerse themselves in culture and merriment. The evolution of the hotel lobby has been gradual, but the proliferation of lifestyle and boutique properties have shifted the design away from clinical hotel lobbies.

Much like the sitting room in your childhood home where sitting was forbidden, lobbies formerly existed to curate good first impressions, and not much else. Nowadays, the opposite is true. Highly designed lobbies are more prevalent than ever before, but design has evolved to facilitate lifestyles and culture immersion. Evolved from conveyor belts for weary travelers, the modern hotel entrance invites crowds, spurs socialization and sparks imagination.

A far cry from a Starbucks and a puffy-eyed concierge, hotel lobbies now play host to art galleries, award winning food and beverage venues, boutique retailers, coffee artisans, breweries, and more. The list is limited only by vision (and maybe a few fire codes).

These are a few of BLLA and Stay Boutique's favorite experiential lobbies:

Giving your patrons the chance to buy work from local artists not only stimulates economies, it engages communities and elevates a hotel from a building with rooms to a hub where life happens and memories are created. Bespoke cocktails from an experienced barista gives me a story to take back home. An inviting atmosphere, high design, and functionality are of utmost importance for any thriving hotel. Investing in facets of design, management and operations that facilitate experiences will benefit hoteliers greatly as there has never been as much value on differentiation in your lobbies than right now.

How are you pushing the boundaries?