Whether it’s a barebones three-seater in the lobby of a local chain or a luxury marble expanse in a five-star resort, there’s something romantic about a hotel bar. There’s the allure of anonymity, the satisfaction of a stiff cocktail after a long day of traveling, and the soothing knowledge that a bed is not far away. Over the years, some hotel bars have gone above and beyond, and become even more notable and famous than the hotels in which they dwell.
Here, the most iconic hotel bars around the world.
New York, NY
When the original Waldorf Astoria opened in 1893, the hotel’s bar became a pre-Prohibition hotspot for Wall Street power brokers. The hotel moved to its current location on Park Avenue in 1931 and, after the Noble Experiment ended, it resumed its status as an institution of classic cocktails, serving up drinks like its namesake Astoria cocktail (Old Tom gin, dry vermouth and orange bitters) and one named for one the hotel’s celebrity guests, the Cole Porter (rye, oloroso sherry and housemade sour mix). Today, the hotel houses four bars, but the Peacock Alley Bar receives the most attention.
A favorite watering hole of Frank Sinatra
, the American Bar fostered a transatlantic cocktail conversation, introducing European drinkers to many new American drinks in the late 19th century. The bar’s most famous bartender, Harry Craddock, penned the influential Savoy Cocktail Book there in 1930, forever securing the hotel in the annals of drinking history.
New Orleans, LA
Few historic bars are as whimsical as the Carousel Bar, which features a revolving, circular bar. Despite its lighthearted nature, the bar also boasts some serious history, having hosted legendary Southern drinkers like William Faulkner, Tennessee Williams and Truman Capote. The bart also lays claim to a classic New Orleans drink, the Vieux Carré
New York, NY
The King Cole Bar at the St. Regis Hotel is famous for both its massive Maxfield Parrish mural, which adorns the back bar, and for introducing the U.S. to the Bloody Mary
. The savory brunch cocktail was originally sold there under the name Red Snapper.
The Hassler Roma is a century-old hotel conveniently situated at the peak of the Spanish Steps in Rome. Yet, as centrally located as the hotel is, the al fresco Palm Court Bar nestled inside its walls has earned a reputation of being a respite from the city—a quiet haven complete with ivy, wrought-iron furnishings and refreshing drinks.
The bar at the Ritz in Paris can count many famous drinkers among its patrons—Cole Porter, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Marcel Proust and the Duke of Windsor to name a few—but it was Ernest Hemingway who frequented the bar so much that the hotel eventually named it after him. Along with Harry’s Bar, Bar Hemingway is a quintessential Parisian cocktail stalwart.
Bar Marmont at the Chateau Marmont
Los Angeles, CA
Ever since it was converted into a hotel in 1931, the Chateau Marmont has been a hangout for Hollywood celebrities and famous musicians. Hidden away from the prying eyes of the Sunset Strip paparazzi by lush vegetation, the rich and famous are free to eat, drink and be merry—like the time Led Zeppelin band members rode motorcycles in the lobby or Jim Morrison jumped off the terrace. Bar Marmont is the
place for observing celeb antics—if you can get in.
New Orleans, LA
Stepping into the Sazerac Bar is like stepping back in time. White jacketed servers deliver classic Big Easy libations like the bar’s namesake Sazerac
and the Ramos Gin Fizz
. The venue inspires extreme devotion in customers like Louisiana Governor Huey Long, who loved the hotel so much he constructed the Airline Highway to shorten his drive there from Baton Rouge.
San Francisco, CA
The Tonga Room combines two great bar types—hotel and tiki—into a glorious indoor island adventure. In 1945, the bar installed a mini lagoon complete with a bandstand on a floating boat, and instituted occasional fake thunderstorms to enhance the tropical ambiance.
The Biltmore Hotel is a national landmark and a celebrated example of Art Deco decor. While the bar’s luxe lounge seating is undeniably decadent and chic with its chandeliers and marble floors, the outdoor seating area is especially perfect for sipping a Mojito
and smoking a cigar, just like notorious Biltmore guest Al Capone once might have.
The birthplace of the Singapore Sling
, the Raffles Hotel is a monument to 19th century colonial luxury and a crossroads of global styles. The Long Bar often hosted Malay rubber and oil palm plantation owners, and the bar’s decor is modeled off Southeast Asian plantation lifestyle, with oriental carpets, rattan furnishings and a timber spiral staircase. Today, guests sip their Slings with a side of peanuts, the shells of which are traditionally thrown on the floor.
After opening in 1905, the Seelbach became a favorite haunt of gangsters during Prohibition, including Lucky Luciano, Dutch Schultz, George Remus and Al Capone, who installed a large mirror in The Oakroom restaurant so he could watch his own back while playing cards. The Old Seelbach Bar is known for its extensive collection of local Kentucky bourbons and is also home to the Seelbach Cocktail (bourbon, Cointreau, Angostura bitters and Peychaud’s bitters).