Classic novels have been written in them, relationships have been kindled in them, and many a drink has been consumed in them. The hotel bar is a staple of the American travel industry, and in many places, an oft-forgotten must-see on any itinerary. But we’re not talking about your average corner bar. We’re talking about luxurious lounges with leather club chairs, mahogany accents, multiple stories, and award-winning mixologists. We are talking about the 30 most amazing hotel bars in America.
While the United States certainly boasts more than 30 amazing hotel bars, we considered the following while narrowing down our list: historical significance, awards won and recognition received, renowned mixologists, atmosphere, and — of course — the menu. Each of the amazing hotel bars on our list is unique in its own way, but each has at least one thing in common: at the end of a long day, there will be no where you’d rather be to enjoy a delicious libation or tasty small plate.
Alibi Bar & Lounge
Liberty Hotel — Boston, Massachusetts
Step into the Alibi Bar & Lounge at the aptly named Liberty Hotel and see if you can tell what this space once was: a jail! Indeed, the building was once a penitentiary that held some of Boston’s most infamous criminals. Fortunately for us, this jail-turned-hotel is now home to one of the most amazing hotel bars in America. Grab a seat and peruse the drinks menu which, besides the traditional, includes such treats as the Vice Squad and the Jailbait.
B&O American Brasserie
Hotel Monaco — Baltimore, Maryland
The B&O American Brasserie located in Baltimore’s luxurious Hotel Monaco has come a long way since being the headquarters of the former Baltimore & Ohio Railroad. Today, the bar boasts marble-topped tables, Tiffany stained glass accents, and crystal chandeliers — some of which came from the original B&O train cars and all of which add to the historic sophistication that one feels upon entering the bar.
Chateau Marmont — Los Angeles, California
L.A.’s most delightfully notorious hotel is also home to one of the country’s most amazing hotel bars. Head to the Bar Marmont on any night of the week and you’ll likely find a diverse group of locals, visitors in their most glamorous attire, and a celebrity or five. The bar is decidedly Old Hollywood, and a great place to sip on a sidecar while enjoying the sights.
The Carlyle Hotel — New York, New York
Escape from the hustle and bustle of the city and into the whimsical Bemelmans Bar. The bar, located at the Carlyle Hotel, is named after Ludwig Bemelmans, of “Madeline” fame, and his illustrations adorn the walls. Still, there’s nothing childish about this place, which serves an extensive selection of specialty drinks and small plates in an atmosphere that is both warm and elegant.
The Berkshire Room
Acme Hotel — Chicago, Illinois
The Berkshire Room at Chicago’s Acme Hotel is a bright and airy space in which one could easily spend an evening or more. Find a spot and study the drinks menu — a work of art that includes barrel-aged cocktails, wine, beer, and seven tasty house concoctions. Uniquely, the Berkshire Room also offers its guests a “Dealer’s Choice” option in which one can choose a spirit, flavor profile, and even the glassware.
The Big 4
The Scarlet Huntington — San Francisco, California
Go back to 1920s glam with a visit to The Big 4 bar at The Scarlet Huntington in San Francisco’s Nob Hill neighborhood. The decor is pure Golden Era, while live piano music serenades guests nightly. As you sip on one of the many house specialties, take a moment and try to imagine this place at the time when its namesakes — the “Big 4” Pacific railroad tycoons Charles Crocker, Collis Huntington, Leland Stanford, and Mark Hopkins — all had mansions nearby.
The Biltmore Miami-Coral Gables — Coral Gables, Florida
With its marble-topped bar, deep leather club chairs, and cathedral-style vaulted ceilings, the Biltmore Bar blends the feeling of Old Hollywood and a Medieval flavor. Speaking of Hollywood, the bar and its hotel have long attracted icons like Ginger Rogers and Judy Garland (not to mention, Al Capone), and even today it’s worth keeping your eyes peeled for the rich and famous. As for drinks, the Biltmore Bar does traditional the way it’s meant to be, and mojitos and martinis are definitely the way to go.
The Iron Horse Hotel — Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Branded, located in the upscale Iron Horse Hotel, is a reasonably priced favorite amongst both locals and tourists. Admire the many motorcycle-themed paraphernalia used as decor, grab a table that was probably found at a flea market somewhere in the Midwest, and enjoy what you really came here for — one of the best drinks you’re likely to find anywhere in Wisconsin. Branded is generous on the alcohol, and we especially recommend the Wisconsin Style 1907 Old Fashioned.
The Broken Shaker
Freehand Miami — Miami Beach, Florida
In a city known for its luxurious drinking establishments, The Broken Shaker at Freehand Miami stands out from the rest. This amazing hotel bar — which feels more like a backyard oasis — has racked up prestigious awards in recent years, perhaps in part because it employs a number of James Beard-nominated mixologists. The whole place is surprisingly affordable, but be aware that the lines can extend around the corner on weekends.
The Carousel Bar
Hotel Monteleone — New Orleans, Louisiana
In terms of cool atmosphere alone, The Carousel Bar of Hotel Monteleone makes for an easy addition to our list of the 30 most amazing hotel bars in America. Grab one of the 25 seats on the revolving carousel bar and enjoy one of the bar’s many craft cocktails (plus a blue crab and crawfish beignet — you’re welcome). If you don’t want to spin as you drink, that’s okay; the bar has plenty of seats overlooking Royal Street that are perfect for people watching.
Cosmopolitan — Las Vegas, Nevada
The Chandelier Bar is exactly what it sounds like — a chandelier! Or rather, a three-storied crystal spectacle. Drinks prepared by master mixologists are available on all three tiers, but you won’t want to limit yourself to just one part of the bar. On the first tier, you’ll find a dance booth with live DJ; on the second, a cocktail room serving the artisanal pours; and on the third, a lounge with a decidedly more intimate air than what you’ll find on tier one.
The Driskill Bar
The Driskill Hotel — Austin, Texas
The oldest hotel in Austin is home to one of the country’s most amazing hotel bars. The Driskill Bar at the Driskill Hotel is all cowboy in all the best ways — leather sofas, plush carpeting, and a roaring fireplace topped with the head of a Texas Longhorn. A quiet evening at the Driskill Bar often means enjoying live music while sipping on one of the menu’s signature drinks, nearly all of which include the best of local Texas ingredients.
Frolik Kitchen + Cocktails
Motif Seattle — Seattle, Washington
Who doesn’t love a rooftop bar? And Frolik Kitchen + Cocktails, the rooftop bar at Motif Seattle, is especially amazing. The food and drinks menus are both extensive and tasty, while the atmosphere can’t be beat. Once you’ve grabbed your favorite libation, join a shuffleboard game, challenge someone at the ping pong tables, jam along to a summer concert, or just grab a chair and enjoy the views.
The J. Parker
Hotel Lincoln — Chicago, Illinois
The hotel may be named after Abraham Lincoln, but its amazing hotel bar, The J. Parker, is named after the president’s hard-drinking bodyguard. The bar’s mixologist changes up the themed cocktail menu every three months, and somehow manages to keep the drink list feeling fresh and innovative with every visit. Just as impressive as the bar’s drinks is the bar’s view. Located on the rooftop of Hotel Lincoln, The J. Parker offers guests sweeping views of Lake Michigan.
The James Hotel — New York, New York
Classic pub meets the ‘70s at JIMMY, the fun yet laid back rooftop bar located at Manhattan’s The James Hotel. Grab a table or take a dip in the pool, but don’t leave without trying one of JIMMY’s specialty cocktails — each of which comes with an herb straight from the chef’s garden. As an added bonus, each drink and small plate comes with a glorious 360-degree view of Manhattan.
The NoMad Hotel — New York, New York
One of two NoMad Hotel bars to make our list of the most amazing hotel bars, Library is a stunning establishment that is consistently referred to as one of the best bars in the world. Only guests of the NoMad Hotel are allowed in Library after 4 p.m., giving the elegant lounge a rather exclusive feel. Make a visit to the maple wood bar to order your charcuterie plate and original creation of a drink, then settle into one of the quiet tables. Before you leave, climb the French spiral staircase to ooh and ahh over the two stories of book-lined walls.
The Brown Hotel — Louisville, Kentucky
The Lobby Bar at the historic Brown Hotel is southern charm brought to life! As if the stunning atmosphere weren’t enough to draw you in, the bar also serves more than 70 rare bourbons and whiskeys to be enjoyed in a cocktail or on a flight. We recommend the Mint Julep, Kentucky’s signature drink. And while we wouldn’t usually tout the food in an article about amazing hotel bars, we can’t pass up the opportunity here to promote the Hot Brown, the famous dish that The Brown Hotel invented nearly a century ago.
Mai Tai Bar
The Royal Hawaiian — Oahu, Hawaii
The Mai Tai Bar at the luxurious Royal Hawaiian hotel is located just steps from Waikiki Beach, the perfect location to enjoy a drink while on a Hawaiian vacation. Just choose your favorite umbrella drink (or go with the house specialty: the Royal Scratch Mai Tai), find a semi-secluded spot on the deck, and admire views of Diamond Head and the Pacific Ocean. Fun fact: the Mai Tai Bar invented the now iconic drink the Shirley Temple after the young actress stayed at the hotel in the 1930s — though whether or not you choose to enjoy the child’s or adult’s version is up to you.
The NoMad Bar
The NoMad Hotel — New York, New York
Stepping into the bar of The NoMad Hotel is like stepping back in time to the New York of yesteryear. Full of gold and mahogany accents, every single part of this two-level bar evokes glamor. The drinks menu includes all of the traditional favorites, as well as an impressive collection of innovative in-house creations like the big-batch whiskey sour, which is served in a spigot jar and serves twelve people.
The Old Seelbach Bar
The Seelbach Hotel — Louisville, Kentucky
Our list of the most amazing hotel bars in America is full of bars and lounges with cool histories, but when it comes to historical significance, we think The Old Seelbach Bar at the luxurious Seelbach Hotel is hard to beat. The bar was once a favorite drinking spot of author F. Scott Fitzgerald, who, while sipping on good Kentucky bourbon met the Cincinnati bootlegger who would become the inspiration for Fitzgerald’s Jay Gatsby. If you’ve read The Great Gatsby, you may also remember that Daisy was a Louisville native and was married at the Seelbach. But even if literature isn’t your thing, the Old Seelbach has plenty to offer in terms of a drinks menu, including several single-barrel bourbons.
McCarren Hotel & Pool — Brooklyn, New York
The posh McCarren Hotel in Brooklyn is the perfect place to spend a hot summer day. Oleanders employs some seriously superior mixologists, while the Beverage Manager is Francis Verrall of Seamstress and The Gilroy fame. Once you’ve grabbed your favorite cocktail, likely made with something that’s distilled locally, head up to the McCarren Rooftop, where warmer evenings brings live music, a diverse group of guests, lots of comfy places to lounge, and of course, incredible views of the Manhattan skyline.
Proof on Main
21c Museum Hotel — Louisville, Kentucky
There may be no better introduction to bourbon country than a visit to Proof on Main, the amazing hotel restaurant bar at 21c Museum Hotel in Louisville, Kentucky. Popular among locals and visitors alike, Proof manages to maintain an atmosphere that’s both stunning and laid-back all at once. Try a flight of local bourbons (Jim Beam, Maker’s Mark, Four Roses, Wild Turkey, and Woodford Reserve are just a few of the famed distilleries within an hour’s drive of the city), or order one of the bar’s many signature cocktails.
The Jefferson — Washington, D.C.
Channel your inner Thomas Jefferson at Quill, the amazing hotel bar at the aptly named The Jefferson in Washington, D.C. The bar serves an extensive menu of cocktails, both traditional and specialty, but the feature is definitely the wine. With drink in hand, find a quiet table and peruse the maps on the walls which trace Jefferson’s travels through Europe’s most famous wine regions. Even the bar’s hardwood floors are inspired by the 2nd president, and are arranged in the same unique pattern as as they are at Jefferson’s beloved Monticello.
Willard InterContinental Hotel — Washington, D.C.
The current building is newer, but the Round Robin has been a hotel bar on this site since 1850, and since then, has seen its fair share of American history. Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King, Jr., Mark Twain, and Woodrow Wilson are just a few of the famous figures who have visited — as evidenced by the sketched portraits lining the walls. The bar feels more like a lounge with its wooden architecture and heavy leather chairs, the perfect environment in which to nurse something classy like a mint julep or lime rickey.
The Sazerac Bar
The Roosevelt New Orleans — New Orleans, Louisiana
The iconic and historic Sazerac Bar was an easy addition to our list of the most amazing hotel bars. Located at the fancy Roosevelt New Orleans and named after what is often considered the world’s first mixed drink, the bar employs some of the best mixologists in the business making some of the most well-known (and perhaps soon-to-be-well-known) drinks. As you’re enjoying the atmosphere, keep your eyes peeled for the bullet hole in the wall. In the bar’s earlier years, a rowdy man with his group of friends accidentally dropped his gun and it discharged.
Hotel Emma — San Antonio, Texas
The Wild West meets ultimate luxury at Sternewirth, the amazing hotel bar and club room at San Antonio’s Hotel Emma. Sternewirth offers an extensive selection of cocktails, wines from around the world, and craft beers, plus an appetizing selection of small plates. After ordering from the bar under the incredible 25-foot vaulted ceiling, find a spot among the chairs and banquettes watch people and relax.
Many Glacier Hotel — Glacier National Park, Montana
Sipping a drink in this cozy hotel bar is exactly how a day spent exploring Glacier National Park should end. Grab a booth with the best views over Swiftcurrent Lake, then enjoy a drink from an extensive list that includes everything from a Huckleberry Smash (made with Montana-distilled bourbon and local huckleberries) to Tumbleweed, a locally brewed IPA. Even if you’re not staying at the hotel, be sure to take a moment to enjoy the Many Glacier Hotel’s stunning lobby. On a cooler day, the Adirondack chairs and brass fireplace are especially cozy.
The Thoroughbred Club
Charleston Place Hotel — Charleston, South Carolina
Celebrate all things sophisticated and southern by spending some time at The Thoroughbred Club, the Belmond Charleston Place Hotel’s amazing hotel bar. Visit this posh bar in the afternoon for the famed afternoon tea service, or make it an after dinner destination for any one of the bar’s signature cocktails — most of which include bourbon. This is, after all, the South.
Top of the Mark
InterContinental Mark Hopkins — San Francisco, California
Head to the Top of the Mark at the InterContinental Mark Hopkins for the best views in all of San Francisco. And for great drinks, of course! During World War II, servicemen on their way to war would stop at the Mark to toast the Golden Gate Bridge, while their wives and lovers would gather in what is now known as Weepers’ Corner. Today, the Top of the Mark retains the elegant atmosphere for which it has long been known. Come in for a drink or a meal, and enjoy the 360-degree views of one of the most beautiful cities on Earth.
White Buffalo Bar
The Gage Hotel — Marathon, Texas
If you have any questions about how this amazing hotel bar got its name, simply look up to where a giant albino buffalo’s head is perched on the wall. The White Buffalo Bar has to be sought out, but it’s worth it. The bar and its hotel, the famous Gage, are located in the small town of Marathon, near Big Bend National Park but nearer to nothing except pristine natural beauty. The bar dates back to 1917, has a laid-back but luxurious air about it, and is just as popular among local ranchers as it is the tourists who find themselves here.