The lobby of a hotel is as important as the living room of your house. It’s where people can gather, relax, connect and enjoy community.
It’s also the first impression you get of a hotel, and it can tell you a lot about a place’s values and vibes.
Whether you’re looking for a hotel with a photo-worthy lobby, a place to make new friends while visiting or even just a great place to hang out (sometimes whether you’re a guest at the hotel or not), Boulder’s lobbies are next level. Here are five of our favorites.
1. Hotel Boulderado
From the outside, you know the Boulderado is unique. This brick, historic landmark is 110 years old, and it’s on the National Register of Historic Places.
Walk through the doors and enter another time period. The glamorous and dramatic lobby features stained glass ceiling and windows above dark wood, winding staircases. The lobby is furnished with Victorian decor and historic artifacts (blended with modern amenities). Just on the edge of the lobby, you can find curious features like an old, still-functioning Otis elevator and a drinking fountain spouting glacier water.
The stained glass canopy ceiling above the lobby is the highlight of highlights here; it has had several facelifts over the years and underwent its most recent renovation in 2004. More recently, the lobby was revamped again and the reception desk was moved. Today, it’s more of a lobby-lounge; you’re expected to hang out and stay a while (and you’ll want to).
How to experience it: This lobby is worth a visit whether you stay here or not. It’s an essential attraction in downtown Boulder. Relax in the lobby with its dining and drinking options, including lobby cocktail service and the Boxcar Coffee Bar serving local coffee and refreshments.
The lobby also has an open-air workspace for business travelers and visitors who want good wifi in a beautiful atmosphere near good food.
Take a ride on the elevator if you don’t mind a cramped space. People-watch and try that fresh glacier water.
Afterward, walk through the hallways and see antique furniture and small historic exhibits. Touring through the hotel is like a mini, unofficial museum of Boulder’s history.
Friday evenings, look for live music in the lobby, from light jazz to classical, combined with select happy hour specials. This usually runs 5:30-8:30 p.m.
2. St Julien Hotel & Spa
You can see Boulder in the rotating locally made artwork on the walls, hear it in the live music in this luxurious, modern hotel’s lobby and even see direct views of the Flatirons through the lobby’s oversized windows and doors.
The St Julien’s lobby is spacious and airy, with tons of different seating areas and community gathering spots, and it blends effortlessly with the courtyard out back. Find a corner for a private date or meet new friends at the bar. The contemporary, classy T-Zero Lounge is the in-hotel place to go for hand-crafted cocktails (many made with Colorado liquor and locally sourced ingredients), martinis and more. The T-Zero Lounge is known for its great wine program.
A few years ago, the St Julien revamped the property, including new furniture in the lobby and more, so it feels brand new.
How to experience it: In the winter time, cozy up with a cocktail next to the impressive fireplace and listen to live music. In warmer weather, catch a spot outside on the patio, an extension of the lobby. Don’t miss the St Julien’s live music offerings.
If you’re looking to host a private group event (up to 25 people), you can rent the intimate Round Room in T-Zero.
3. Embassy Suites by Hilton Boulder
This modern, new hotel feels like you’re walking through a mini museum of art, oddities and fantastic details. The hotel itself features more than 1,500 pieces of art, and the heart of that lives in the lobby.
The Embassy Suites’ art collection is inspired by nature, features Colorado-based artists and was curated by Denver’s NINE dot ARTS. Many of the artists have University of Colorado ties. The curator even worked with CU’s art department for an open call for students’ artwork and several were selected.
Lobby art pieces include Lindsay Pichaske’s “Kingdom,” which consists of three Colorado animals (a coyote, hare and mountain goat), each at two-thirds life-size with exaggerated, hybrid and humanoid features, and David Zimmer’s mixed media, video compilation highlighting songbirds and their music.
Adding to the ambiance, the lobby has two-story, floor-to-ceiling windows that frame the mountains and create a bright, indoor-outdoor feeling.
Furnishings are upscale and contemporary. Lighting creates a hip yet cozy vibe. And the Brickstones Kitchen & Bar, located inside the hotel, is a unique, open-air-style restaurant with tables scattered throughout the lobby and hall area, rather than in a separate restaurant area. This integrates them into the hotel action and provides a more relaxed and homey feeling.
How to experience it: Whether you are staying there or not, pop in to enjoy local art and collectibles. Spend some time looking at all of the pieces and reading about them. Then, grab a meal and a drink at Brickstones and request a table close to the action.
4. Bradley Boulder Inn
The charming lobby in this small, adults-only B&B feels like home. If home were a beautiful mansion in downtown Boulder. The stone fireplace is the focal point in this grand room, and the staircase that winds up out of it heads to the guest rooms upstairs. You’ll find various little nooks and seating areas in this room for a private conversation, or pick a more open seat around the fireplace to socialize.
“Our lobby, or as we call it, The Bradley’s Great Room, has been used to entertain our Bradley guests for happy hour almost every day for 20 years, since we were established in 2000,” says Heather Collaton with the Bradley. “It is where people from all over the globe have made and met friends over our wine and cheese and reconvened many times since, to revisit and rekindle friendships.”
How to experience it: Guests can start the day with delicious breakfast (the kitchen is right by the lobby) and wrap up the day with a free wine, craft beer and cheese hour in the lobby. Relax in the great room next to the fire, with a cup of tea and baked goods. Look for the chess board for a game, pull out a book or talk to other guests to make new friends. Sit at the Liberty Puzzle table and do a puzzle, color or look at the original art hanging on the walls.
The room also has big, heavy Craftsman-style oak doors that close the Great Room off from the dining room so it can be used for private events, too.
5. Adventure Lodge
The Adventure Lodge is all about nature and Boulder’s outdoors, but in between excursions, snuggle up in the newly renovated hotel lobby and surrounded gathering areas. The lobby is built inside the historic stone building in the heart of the property, a landmark originally called the Wagon Wheel Lodge. This, in and of itself, gives the space a unique vibe.
In the main floor lobby area, you’ll find a dramatic, two-story stone fireplace. After a drink and sharing some adventure tales here, head upstairs for the community room, with more casual seating (think: elevated picnic tables), as well as shelves of books, activities, art and games.
Also in the Wagon Wheel Lodge, you’ll find various, more private sitting areas, the front desk and the saloon, where you can grab a drink. Here, you can get wine, Bloody Marys, local craft beer and local spirits.
How to experience it: Drink a local beer by the crackling fireplace. Browse the shelves in the community room for a new book. Unwind before heading back into the mountains, A-Lodge’s specialty.