Three unique NYC lobby bars (and the designers who created them)

Room Mate Grace

Thousands of our readers have checked in on our recent story on lobby bar design. Here are three New York City hotels with lobby bars that would make any design fan take note. 

Lorenzo Castillo recently wrapped up the renovation of the Room Mate Grace hotel in New York City’s Times Square. The hotel, originally an Andre Balazs property, is famous for having a swimming pool in its lobby, complete with a swim-up bar. The pool survived the rebranding to a Room Mate hotel, as well as the recent refurbishment. “The idea of a pool can be a little cold, so I had to give an extra warmth to the bar area, using dark colors, rich fabrics and animal print wallpaper,” Castillo said. “Unfortunately, the swimming pool in the middle of the lobby steals a lot of space within the bar and reception area. I overcame the lack of an open space in the lobby and bar using a lot of mirrors that really make the space bigger and wider.”

The location also limited the natural light in the lobby, so Castillo added brass wall sconces to control illumination. For seating, he mixed large benches with low ottomans in different levels, “which gave an air of a French boîte of the 70’s, which fits with the overnight use of the bar,” he said.

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Hidden Bar

When Crème Design renovated the Eventi Hotel in Manhattan’s Flower District, principal Jun Aizaki said it did not feel that the “whole flow” of the available space was working to its potential. “The challenge was to create, within the chain, a space that can become this center,” he said. The finished bar/restaurant off the lobby uses multiple levels for different functions, with stairs and doorways offering exclusivity or inclusivity as needed. Designer Christophe Richard’s favorite element is the lighting above the bar that, he said, was inspired by factory fixtures. “We created an automotive-inspired lighting fixture,” he said. “It gives the bar a feeling of place.” Aizaki agreed. “It anchors the space,” he said. 

When he created the W Times Square’s Living Room, Josh Held incorporated several different types of lighting (“from candles to incandescent bulbs to neon”) to adjust moods as needed and a neon art installation behind the bar. His favorite element, however, is a half-sphere at the end of the room that, on one side, uses LED lights and crystals to evoke the ball that drops over Times Square every New Year’s Eve. When the sphere rotates, it reveals a DJ booth. “When you’re having coffee in the morning, you don’t want to look at a DJ booth,” Held explained. “The program dictates the features.” 


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