For business travelers, the hotel lounge becomes a refuge for when meetings are over and cozying up with in-room, on-demand TV doesn't sound appealing. And while the spouse may frown on painting the town red while they're stuck at home, a late-night escape to the lounge can fly below the jealousy radar. Luckily, a few hotels also happen to be home to some of their city's best nightlife.
London's poshest hotel bar
There's a wide array of hotel bar choices in London, from the
, popular with West End performers, to The Donovan Bar at Brown's Hotel, which lures the nearby media and fashion set to a traditional British drinking hole named after celebrated photographer Terence Donovan. Then there is the Blue Bar at the
, which beats all competition in terms of style, patrons and design.
The clean, iconic facade within mostly Victorian Knightsbridge is like a visual palate cleanser for what's inside. The Berkley is known by locals for its top assets -- a rooftop pool and the Blue Bar, lined in the hotel's original wood paneling and plaster detailing but reinvented by designer David Collins, who gave the space its signature washing in an almost Tiffany "Lutyens" blue.
The Berkley is an astute hotel choice for business travelers, who use the property as a jumping point to nearby media and banking hubs. But nights morph the Blue Bar into an upscale social scene that draw such celebrities as Madonna and Gwyneth Paltrow, seen regularly in secluded corners behind staffers rushing across the black crocodile-print leather floor to the signature white onyx bar. In addition to a champagne bar, whiskey menu and deep wine cellar, there is a tapas-style menu to satiate the midnight munchies and late-night sweet tooths.
L.A.: Where everybody knows your name
It's not on the prettiest strip of almost-Beverly Hills real estate, but the
manages to stay on top of the luxury hotel game with Culina, its new Italian eatery, and Window's Lounge. Located just off the cobblestone lobby, past life-size sculptures of people sitting on benches, the entrance to Windows Lounge is usually flanked in velvet rope, with a doorman present on busier weekend nights to move hotel guests to the front of the line.
Inside, there is a series of cozy couches and a smoking patio luring businessmen and Beverly Hills singles to hear bands play Thursdays through Saturday until 1 a.m.; there's a jazz band Sundays. Cheery workers call out regulars by name, serving up flutes of premium champagne and a menu of caviar with warm blinis or crab pico de gallo tosdaditas.
Lounging in the city of lights
The is no shortage of fabulous hotel bars in the world's chicest city, but Paris is a balance between avoiding tourists and finding a hotel where the rooms live up to the lobby. It's hard to go wrong at the Hotel Costes, where the bar is a fashion blogger's fantasy of Hollywood stars and supermodels -- but with small, dark entry-level rooms for corporate travelers as well as top-of-the line suites meeting even the finickiest of expectations.
Paris' Plaza Athenee is a regular for everyone from hedge fund execs to Sarah Jessica Parker.
Plaza Athenee is a regular for everyone from hedge fund execs to Sarah Jessica Parker. A marquee of star names preside over the hotel's facilities, from the Christian Dior Institut Spa and Alain Ducasse Eatery to the Patrick Jouin-designed Le Bar -- one of the top nightlife draws of any Paris hotel.
Managed by "master of ceremonies" Thierry Hernandez,
divides the posh, 8th Arrondissement Plaza Athenee into two scenes -- the "blue hours" and "red hours." The first, starting at 6 p.m., is the tamer of the two, a loungelike bar scene amid high-ceilings and wood-paneled walls.
The Red Hours is when the velvet rope goes up, "reserved" signs go on cocktail tables and the space morphs into a Thursday-to-Saturday post-11 p.m. dance with electrorock dance scene fueled by DJ Adrien Villanova. The club even features its own artistic director, Julien Lambert, who ensures visiting royalty, Hollywood celebs and high-end suite guests are moved to the front of the line. He even provides a paparazzi screen to ensure their late night escapades don't end-up on
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Michael Martin is the managing editor of JetSetReport.com, a luxury travel and lifestyle guide based in Los Angeles and London. His work has appeared in InStyle, Blackbook, Elle, U.K.'s Red magazine and on ITV and the BBC.