Lobby Love


To Deck Out Home, Check Out Area Hotels

Ah, the hotel lobby. Why do we reserve weekend getaways and business trips, only to rush through them as we move back and forth from our guest rooms? In many properties, these underappreciated entryways offer the most relaxing setting of the entire building.

They’re also often the most decorated.

Which is why we’ve decided, in this month’s Luxury Living section, to give the hotel lobby a little love. In addition to offering prime spots for people watching and cocktail sipping, these design centerpieces are overflowing with fresh ideas for interior decorating that can be transported back home. So next time you get the urge to revamp a room at home, skip the furniture store and head to the hotel lobby instead.

Here are a few of our favorite public places that offer inspiration for your own personal property:

For modern sensibility, check out… W Washington D.C. www.starwoodhotels.com/whotels

The look: New York edgy, politico style — the W hotel’s contemporary urban vibe is done in a way that still meshes with Washington’s historic setting: Sleek, high-backed chairs and leather bar stools sit on the lobby’s black-and-white-checkered floor, while dazzling LED-lit chandeliers are propped against a backdrop of grand arches and crown moldings that are original to the historic building (formerly the Hotel Washington).

How to get it: A few simple pieces are all you’ll need to transform a room. Look for a tall, sleek vase to hold a simple arrangement of orchids, and add an area rug in ivory shag or zebra print.

When to go: Head over for a post-work cocktail hour in the W’s Living Room. Tucked nicely into the street-side corner, this lobby bar is an ideal spot for a panoramic view of the grand entryway. The cocktails are a bit steep, but the funky ambience is priceless.

If you prefer the traditional, spend time at… Willard InterContinental www.washington.intercontinental.com

The look: The stately majesty of this landmark hotel, which has played host to countless dignitaries from Abraham Lincoln to Martin Luther King Jr., has survived renovation after renovation, maintaining the original grandeur of its famed lobby (where the term lobbyist was coined). The soaring Corinthian columns and marble mosaic flooring of the Willard’s entrance hall are nicely balanced with cozy, cushioned seating arrangements that make an otherwise tremendously formal space quite comfortable.

How to get it: An antique shop is a must — or even check out consignment and thrift stores — for one-of-a-kind pieces with stories. Large palm trees planted in Asian-inspired vintage pots make for exotic accents. For added inspiration, check out “The Willard Hotel: An Illustrated History,” a thick book filled with historic photos and etchings.

When to go: Afternoon Tea at Peacock Alley (adjacent to the main lobby) is a long-standing tradition. The Willard’s high tea includes live music, organic teas, finger sandwiches and pastries, with themes varying throughout the year (check the Web site for upcoming dates; held 2 to 4 p.m. weekly; per person).

For a hodgepodge of everything, head over to… The Mansion on O Street www.omansion.com

The look: A surreal experience more than a hotel, the Mansion on O Street — which is actually three townhouses combined into one — is so eclectic it’s tough to say where the lobby begins and ends (or if one even exists). Museum-level artwork of assorted genres, furnishing from various ages, 30,000 books to peruse, and tchotchkes from all corners of the world fill every crevice and wall of this offbeat haven. In most places it would be kitschy, but here it’s somehow magical.

How to get it: Honestly, we have no idea. And neither do our sources. You can of course buy some Tiffany stained-glass windows — but how do you replicate something called the “amnesia room” or 32 secret doors? Your best bet is to go explore (which the staff encourages) and ask away. Plus all of the items in the Mansion are available for sale or lease.

When to go: At “O’Dinnertini” on Monday nights, guests are invited to explore the mansion’s various rooms and hidden passageways (includes a full buffet dinner and martinis; 5:30 to 8 p.m. weekly; per person). The O Street Museum Foundation also hosts various tours throughout the property, with themes such as treasure hunts and music tours of the month.

To recreate a retreat getaway, float away with… The Inn at Perry Cabin www.perrycabin.com

The look: Rustic maritime meets refined luxury in this manor resort located in quaint St. Michaels, Md., along the Eastern Shore. Gleaming white architecture, lush outdoor landscaping, and walls adorned with shell etchings and black-and-white nautical photographs complete the picturesque serenity.

How to get it: It’s all about bringing the outside in with crisp, cool colors like pale blues and bright whites. Fill clear glass vases — or even lamp bases — with sand and seashells, and line hallways with grayscale prints of your favorite waterfront spots. Outdoors, Adirondack chairs are a staple at the inn — and an easy addition to any home garden.

When to go: Anytime you can stay the night. The inn is just under two hours by car from downtown Washington, D.C., and worth the effort. Lounge in the lobby, and then check out a complimentary bicycle to explore the grounds and charming streets. You may just find a few tiny shops along the way to help you take the look home.

To indulge in B&B elegance, relax at… Swann House www.swannhouse.com

The look: Aristocratic — the sitting room of this local Dupont Circle bed and breakfast, which could easily be mistaken curbside for an embassy, is opulent, with crystal chandeliers, elaborately carved fireplaces and plaster moldings dating to the late 1880s.

How to get it: For true elegance, there’s really no way around it: Precious antiques and custom pieces are what make Swann House so irresistibly charming. Keep an eye out for items such as a granite-topped desk or a set of crystal tumblers for sipping sherry to recreate Swann’s bygone era.

When to go: As far as we know, booking a room is the only way to really enjoy this extravagant inn. There’s a special “locals-only” 10 percent discount that’s open to D.C. residents, or take advantage of last-minute deals of up to 20 percent off that the property regularly offers.

About the Author

Heather Mueller is a contributing writer for The Washington Diplomat.