The World’s Sexiest Hotel Bars
As Valentine’s Day approaches, one thing becomes clear: there’s nothing sexier than being away from home and every day worries by traveling to a romantic spot. Maybe it’s in a dramatic space atop a big city luxury hotel, with sweeping views and twinkling lights all laid out in front of you, and a see-and-be-seen crowd to set the mood.
Or maybe you’re looking to unwind on a beachfront patio lit by a tiki torch (world's best islands for romance, this way), with the sound of crashing waves as a backdrop and barely another couple in sight. Either way, you get the picture: we travel not to escape our lives but to be better versions of ourselves, and become immersed in a new, life-changing environment. And by checking into a top hotel for a romantic long-weekend getaway, you and your beloved can connect in a way that is hard to do at your kitchen table.
Related: The Best Romantic Getaways
There’s only one thing that can improve your Valentine’s Day bar experience: A serious cocktail and wine list. We’re talking about well-edited, thoughtful menus, with small-batch liquors, creative ingredients, exclusive bottlings, and a bartender or sommelier to guide you along the way to the best choice. After all, you are what you drink, so make sure your fuel for this romantic holiday weekend (which comes with a President’s Day bonus) is high-quality stuff.
Here, from Dallas to Paris to Cabo San Lucas to Seoul, are some of the world’s sexiest hotel bars: places that you will want to Instagram as soon as you walk in the door, linger for several hours, and return to again and again. Another stellar factor that sets any hotel bar apart from the pack: the location. Who wants to worry about getting home at night? Because nothing is better than going out for a cocktail and being able to roll right back to your room.
Ted Loos is the Travel + Leisure’s Wine and Spirits Contributor. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram at @looslips.
The Midnight Rambler in The Joule Dallas
When it opened in 2008, the Joule Dallas completely re-energized the scene in the Big D. With its ambitious art collection and neo-Gothic landmark building, it has style to spare. And that goes for its subterranean bar, the Midnight Rambler, an old-time watering hole with cozy corners to get to know someone better. The graphic design of the menus is top-notch, and the lightning bolt logo of the hotel seems right for V-Day energy. The focus of the excellent cocktail list is not on overly sweet concoctions (Sex and the City is over, guys) but on tart, fizzy, aromatic creations like the Machete Supreme ($14) combining sherry, tequila and grapefruit zest.
Library Bar at St James Paris
“Bring a book” no longer needs to mean your Valentine’s Day date is boring. You will want to tuck yourself into the quiet, gracious, and sophisticated environs of the Library Bar at the St. James Paris, formerly the library of the Thiers Foundation (the St. James took over the whole building). Amid 12,000 volumes, bartender Judicaël Noël serves his herb-infused cocktails—but don’t miss this wine list, which specializes in French bottlings, appropriately enough. The glorious Rhône Valley is a strong suit, like the great line up of Condrieu wines, whites made from the luscious Viognier grape (try Domaine du Monteillet Condrieu Grillette 2009, $150).
Charles H in Four Seasons Seoul
Seoul is a city on the rise thanks to its ambitious culinary and art scenes. But there is low-key romance to be found at the Charles H bar, which styles itself as a speakeasy—Prohibition New York as channeled by today’s Asia. Once you’re through the hidden entrance and sitting on button-tufted furniture in the barrel-vaulted space, try one of their signature vintage punches like the Pan American Punch, made from gin, jasmine, vermouth and Champagne—among other ingredients. It costs $300, but it serves up to 10, in case you are shopping for a mate and not bringing one to the party.
Rooftop Bar in The Cape, Cabo San Lucas
This barely 8-month-old outpost of Thompson Hotels has it all: it’s perched on the crashing waves of the Sea of Cortez at the very southern tip of Mexico’s Baja Peninsula. If staring at the blue waters doesn’t get you thinking about romance, the food at Manta will, since it’s courtesy of acclaimed chef Enrique Olvera (of New York City’s outstanding Cosme). And the rooftop bar, with its heady sea breezes, serves signature drinks like the Cape ($15), anchored by herb-infused mezcal, one of Mexico’s head-turning liquors.
Travelle Kitchen + Bar in Langham Chicago
The Langham changed the Chicago hotel game just by renovating a drop dead gorgeous masterpiece of modern architecture by Mies van der Rohe. And although he supposedly said, “Less is more,” there are way more great drinks options than at your average spot in this beautifully appointed space, offering some of Chicago’s best city views. Beverage director Priscilla Young has come up with some very sexy cocktails: the Smoke, Metal and Wood ($14) somehow involves Southern Comfort, rhubarb and actual smoke. And where there’s smoke...you get the idea.
New York Bar at Park Hyatt Tokyo
Sometimes you have to go to Japan to get to a New York Bar. Movie fans will recognize this hip space—which is perched 770 feet above Tokyo in the Park Hyatt hotel—from Lost in Translation. Black ebony chairs and ebonized walnut flooring make you want to sit and sip with a current (or future) beloved, as do views to spare of the twinkling expanse below. Live American jazz every night helps set the scene. The savory, sake-based L.I.T. cocktail ($16) is named after the movie, and it’s just as alluring as that story. Whether your evening’s ending is happy or not is up to you.
The Sunset Bar in Malliouhana, An Auberge Resort, Anguilla
For any of us in the Northern Hemisphere, thoughts turn to sun, sand, and the Caribbean this time of year. And you probably don’t need too much description of the Sunset Bar on Anguilla to get the picture. The atmosphere is decidedly candle-lit and romantic once the sun is actually down. Your options are numerous when it comes to beverages, too: there are over 200 wines on the list (unusual for the Caribbean), and the special rum tasting ($55) organized by in-house “rummlier” Albert Lake is the right way to give in to the spirit of Anguilla.
Farm at The Carneros Inn, Napa
For American wine lovers, all roads lead to Napa. The Carneros Inn is just to the south of the most traveled part of that famous valley, which is a cooler climate area for grape growing. The vibe at the Inn is relaxed and very modern-farmhouse, with bar and restaurant spaces that open to the frequently perfect weather. While you’re sitting by the sleek firepit on the patio, peruse the huge wine list, which goes deep into the local bounty. Why not try a bottle of local Chardonnay you wouldn’t be able to find at home? Kopriva Cassidy Ranch Carneros-Sonoma 2013 ($52) is just such a rare find. Hopefully your date is just as smooth.
NoMad Bar at NoMad Hotel, New York City
Done up like an old New York library from days of yore, the two-level room has spiral staircases leading up to an iron catwalk. All is hushed and cozy, and you’re surrounded by specially curated books on food, drink, local culture, and the arts. As opposed to the setting of most bars, you can actually hear your date talk. And as you’d expect from a venue attached to the Michelin-starred NoMad Restaurant, the wine and spirits available by the glass are stellar. Why not keep to the local theme and order a glass of Empire Estate Riesling 2014 ($11) from the Finger Lakes? Or one of the half-bottles on offer—a too-seldom ordered option for those who want to be in the mood, but not over the line, by dinner.
The Living Room at Faena Hotel Miami Beach
Purrrrrrrr. That’s the message from the purr-fect tigers and leopards featured (in ceramic statue form) in this premier space within Miami Beach’s newest and perhaps best-designed luxury hotel, which recently made Travel + Leisure’s It List. Part of the new Faena District—which is getting a Rem Koolhaas–designed arts center, the Faena Forum, later this year—the hotel was decorated personally by impresario/developer Alan Faena and his partner Ximena Caminos, the Faena Forum’s director. Red and gold is the rich color theme in the Living Room, with super comfortable animal-print sofas letting you know that romance is at home here. Order a Smoke & Sparks ($22), a tequila based cocktail that has V-Day romance written all over it.
Stue Bar at Das Stue Hotel, Berlin
Opened in 2012, this luxury hotel is design-minded in the extreme, from the sweeping lobby to the funky mid-century-meets-contemporary lines of the Stue Bar. It feels out of the way and intimate, with heavy draperies and low lighting. The drinks list is huge, and there’s almost nothing it ignores, from mocktails to rare whiskeys and fine teas, with an emphasis on German and Spanish wines (the Germans are known to adore Spanish reds). Order a Mama’s Delight ($16), made with Grey Goose vodka and seedless grapes.
Skyview Bar in Burj Al Arab Jumeirah, Dubai
Wild blue and green patterns in the decor may suggest an undersea reflection, but there’s no doubt you’re in the air here: the Skyview Bar sits over 650 feet above the ground on the 27th floor of this sail-shaped hotel, as seen through floor-to-ceiling windows. There’s a minimum spend of around $95 per person. So you and yours may be ordering a few cocktails, including signature creations like the Heart and Soul, made with Blooms Gin and sake. But if you’re over-indulging…don’t look down.