I have something to confess.
I am a copycat. True story.
I absorb all of my design ideas from places that I've seen. That is something architects are taught in architecture school. At the beginning of every project an architect should begin with a study of other relevant pieces of architecture. We call this precedent research.
Writing this blog has been a great way to catalogue these studies. If you see me sharing a collection of photos on a certain building type, then there is a good chance I am working on a design of that type.
At this moment I am working on a boutique hotel in Louisville, Kentucky. It is refreshing to work on something outside of the lowcountry, however....I am still looking to Charleston for inspiration. After all, we have a very robust collection of award winning boutique hotels in the Holy City.
I am also studying architecture of Louisville and hope to share those studies at a later date.
Today's post will focus on Hotel Lobby Design. I find these spaces to be very important to the hotel experience. First impressions are everything, right?
Here are some things I look for in a hotel lobby design:
Comfort: I just travelled from afar and I am ready to relax and kick-back. I want to feel comfortable in a hotel lobby.
Amazement: I want to walk in and be impressed.
Authenticity: Speaks for itself.
Opulence: Staying at a fancy hotel gives you the feeling of living large...even if only for a few days.
Activity: I like to see activity in a hotel lobby: people chatting, people relaxing, people having a laugh over a cocktail. I think this is a key ingredient to the boutique hotel experience.
So those are some of the attributes I am looking to infuse into this Louisville Hotel and I am looking at these case studies for the secrets.
How did I select the top 15 hotels?
I didn't. You did. I am using the Top 15 Hotels in Charleston, SC as voted by TripAdvisor.
So here we go:
The Belmond Charleston Place is a big fancy hotel therefore it is only appropriate to have a big fancy lobby. The 2 curving grand stairs are the main event in the Charleston Place lobby. I often walk through this space as a short cut to get from Meeting to King Street. I enjoy this space because it always has a ton of activity. There are restaurants, stores and a bar that open up onto this space. It is like it's own little city.
Eclectic? Bohemian? How about mix-matchism? Not sure what we should call the style at The Grand Bohemian, but it is a ton of fun and breath of fresh air. You definitely feel like you are in a special place when you arrive. Lots of interesting art, funky furniture and how about that back-lit stone?
The King Charles Inn has a pretty small lobby at the front door but up 1 level behind the desk is a very cozy living room. I like this space because it feels very comfortable. You could sit down with your laptop, read a book and even warm up at the fire....for Charleston's 3 week winter.
I was pleasantly surprised to find this little hidden oasis at the Indigo Inn. There is a very modest lobby at the front door and then this very attractive courtyard. I can see myself spending a few hours in this space with a book or having some cocktails with some friends. Very nice.
I have been getting my groceries at the Harris Teeter on East Bay Street for 8 years now. I never ventured into the Ansonborough Inn until now. Wow. There is the coolest atrium in this hotel. And I love the exposed timber framing. Exposed framing is the quickest way to an architect's heart.
Our team at LS3P gave The Vendue a facelift a few years ago. And what a difference. The Vendue is a boutique hotel that is a collection of historic buildings that have been stitched together over time. The result is that you get a series of very intimate spaces.
The star of the show at The Vendue is the art. Similar to the Grand Bohemian. There is an impressive collection of contemporary art that is regularly changed which give the spaces a fresh and vibrant feel. I really like the connection to the street that The Vendue has. Some hotel lobbies are buried in the center of the hotel so the spaces can become dark. Not at The Vendue.
When you step into the Planters Inn you feel like you have stepped back in time. And that's a good thing. The hotel is a restored historic structure that conveys a sense of authenticity and opulence that feels just right. I can definitely see myself kicking back in the living room off of the foyer. Well done Planters Inn!
Very similar to the Planters Inn, the John Rutledge House Inn is a restored historic building. John Rutledge was one of the signers of the Constitution and apparently he was also a baller! This is a big beautiful house. You enter into a grand foyer and then are directed up the stairs to the parlor shown above. I felt very comfortable in this space and was intrigued by the historic artifacts and period pieces adorning the room. Very cool.
The Harbourview Inn is located at a prime location. At the corner of Concord and Vendue Range. The lobby is located 1 floor up and is very cozy. Lots of comfortable seating and great natural light. And a great view to the Charleston Harbor. The shutters and decor have a nice lowcountry feel.
The Market Pavilion Hotel is a beautiful building both inside and out. It seems to be inspired by the architecture of France. It is grand, it is opulent, it is stunning. You feel like you have arrived when you enter the Market Pavilion Hotel. My only complaint with the lobby at the Market Pavilion is that I did not get that sense of comfort. When you enter the hotel you are practically in the bar and restaurant. There is not a good place to sit down and kick back. But this arrangement does make it exciting. It has a real big city feel to it.
I love this place. Zero George is a collection of 5 historic houses that come together to make 16 hotel rooms and a beautiful collection of courtyards and gardens. I had a very hard time selecting which pictures to use because I had about 15 that were worthy of sharing.
I am showing a photo of the courtyard because I feel like the courtyards and gardens are the living room of Zero George. There is a small lobby that is also beautiful and appropriately scaled, but it is the exterior space that is the heart of Zero George.
If someone were to ask me where they should stay for their next Charleston visit, Zero George is at the top of my list. Although I've never stayed there myself I am just super impressed with the beauty and authenticity of this place.
Bravo Zero George!
The Restoration on King
The Restoration on King is a great blend of old and new. In fact, half of the hotel is intertwined in a collection of historic buildings and the other half is the brand new wing that opened in late 2015.
The main lobby is small with a clean and contemporary feel. My favorite space is the library adjacent to the lobby. This is what a boutique hotel should look like. A collection of old and new. Fancy and comfy at the same time. You feel like you have been there before, but you know you haven't.
The Spectator Hotel
The Buildings Are Cool Nation probably knows more than they'd like about The Spectator Hotel. It was my baby and has been the subject of many blog posts on this website. I counted 6 articles:
So with that in mind....I will not critique this one. I'll let the photos do the talking.
The Wentworth Mansion is grand. It is hard to imagine that this was once someone's house. You enter the mansion into a very grand foyer. Check out the detail of the inlaid wood floor. Whoa! There is a series of sitting rooms off of the foyer. Even though the spaces were grand and formal, I felt very comfortable there. I can see how staying at the Wentworth Mansion would be very memorable. There is a reason that this is the only 5 star hotel in Charleston.
The star of the show at the French Quarter Inn is the 4 story atrium that is capped by a beautiful glass rotunda. A very photogenic rotunda I might add. The lobby at the French Quarter Inn is located on the 2nd floor. It is a very comfortable series of spaces grouped around the atrium.
Are you inspired?
I sure am. These top 15 hotels offered a wide range of ideas. Each one offered something very unique. You can't put a price on authenticity. Well I guess you can. It comes at a price of about $400 per night.
Like the photos?
If you are interested in seeing more of my photography, you can follow me on Facebook and Instagram. I post new photos daily of Charleston and other beautiful places. Click on the links below: