by Terence Baker | December 01, 2003

In the competitive hospitality industry, hotels know a favorable first impression is vital to attracting business and a well-appointed lobby is the natural arena to make that impression. But lobbies also serve as a nexus of human interactions, arrivals and departures, all facilitated by a smart layout and a look that says here is a place of purpose and, when required, repose. The hotel lobbies on the following pages all are special spaces indeed, plush way stations of welcome that transform the psyche with the gentle spin of a revolving door.

Hotel Danieli, Venice, Italy. In a 14th century palace, this Gothic lobby’s elegant arches, gold leaf, pink marble and stained glass introduce the opulence found throughout the 233-room property.  (011) 39-41-522-6480;

Fairmont Acapulco Princess, Mexico. Several open spaces allow Pacific Ocean breezes to cool this spectacular lobby with its tiled Aztec god adorning the floor. Guests also enjoy the 1,017-room resort’s five pools, two golf courses and 17 meeting rooms, one of which hosts up to 2,000 people. (011) 52-744-469-1000;

Hilton Palmer House, Chicago. With one of the grandest lobbies in the Midwest, this Hilton is in the Loop area, a few short blocks from the Art Institute of Chicago. The 1,634-room hotel offers 60 function rooms and a Grand Ballroom holding 1,150 people. (312) 726-7500;

Regent Schlosshotel Berlin. In the suburb of Grunewald, the Regent is a serene retreat with landscaped gardens, an ornate indoor pool and just 54 guest rooms. Draped in rich reds, the lobby hints at the warmth to follow in other public spaces and six function rooms. (011) 49-30-895-840;

Metropolitan Bangkok, Thailand. Owned by London-based Como Hotels, this Metropolitan mirrors its chic English sister property with a decor of whites, blacks and browns. The 174-room hotel, which opened in October, also aims for the hip media/models crowd. On-site meeting space holds 90. (011) 662-625-3333;

Mandarin Oriental, Miami. On the 44-acre island of Brickell Key, this 329-room hotel welcomes visitors with a boldly modern lobby, its two-story windows overlooking Biscayne Bay. Along with a spa and four restaurants, the hotel has 15,000 square feet of meeting space, including an 8,000-square-foot ballroom. (305) 913-8288;

The Guanahani, Grand Cul-de-Sac, St. Barts. If the glare of the sun on this West Indies island’s pure-white beaches becomes too much, the Guanahani’s tidy lobby is the ideal retreat, its festive colors replicating those of the resort’s 75 cottages, 14 of which have private pools. Incentive groups will champion the namesake restaurant, tropical foliage and
recreational facilities. (011) 590-27-66-60;