World’s Best Nightlife Hotels 2015
Hotels—at least, the very best of them—are so much more than a place to bed down. Often, hotels are the epicenter of a city's nightlife, offering guests and locals everything from sleek jazz lounges to innovative mixology bars.
In our annual World's Best survey, readers were asked to rank their favorite hotels on a number of categories, including value, service, and—of course—their nightlife scene. For some, the best hotel bar is a watering hole meant for mingling with fellow travelers and unwinding after a long flight. Others seek out low-lit, bass-thumping clubs, where they can while away the evening hours before slipping quickly, and easily, back to their rooms.
In Aspen, visitors to The Little Nell are after cozy, après ski sessions that can languish long after the final run of the day. In Miami, on the other hand, the most highly ranked hotels offer a far more electric scene, with DJ lineups, boozy punch bowls, and more than a city's share of ultraviolet lights.
No matter the scene, be it pearls and cigars or bikinis and blue tiki cocktails, all of these hotels and resorts offer an entry into each destination's particular brand of nightlife. So slide into one of those cushy, pin-tucked booths and order a drink—ask for the house specialty—because these are the world's best hotels for nightlife.
No. 18 (Tie): One&Only Palmilla, Los Cabos Resort, Mexico
Post Hurricane Odile, this Los Cabos Resort is better than ever. The bar at Agua by Larbi has long been a favorite for romantic drinks enjoyed as the sun sets over the Sea of Cortez. Every lounge and bar invites guests to kick back and to sip slowly—especially to savor the property’s impressive selection of Mexican mezcals and tequilas. At the new restaurant, Suviche, things take a global turn. A sake sommelier can help guests match their sushi or ceviche with the perfect pairing.
No. 18 (Tie): Market Pavilion Hotel, Charleston, South Carolina
Voters adored the hotel’s rooftop bar and waterfall pool, giving it top marks for sophistication. Order one of four sparkling wines and champagnes (including Veuve Clicquot) available by the glass and make a toast in front of an impressive backdrop: views of the peninsula and the harbor. First-timers shouldn’t miss the Nitrotini, a cocktail cooled to -320 Fahrenheit with liquid nitrogen.
No. 18: (Tie) NoMad Hotel, New York City, New York
One of New York’s most respected bars is hidden inside this Beaux Arts building. A famed program has created a celebrated cocktail list, many of which nod to New York City (the Mott & Mulberry, for example, is a smart intersection of rye whiskey, luxardo amaro abano, apple cider, and lemon). There’s also the Elephant Bar, where well-dressed New Yorkers willingly pack in rush hour-style along the 24-foot long mahogany bar.
No. 17: W South Beach Hotel & Residences, Miami, Florida
In the lobby of this upscale, yet playful, South Beach hotel, the Living Room Bar blends luxurious materials (plush velvet, quartzite columns, bronze-and-wood inlaid floors) with modern, chic accents—most notably, the 20-foot-tall beaded curtain and pony rugs splashed with gold paint. Grab a drink and wander out to the Grove, the garden lounge lit by lanterns and framed by sea grape trees.
No. 16: Wynn Las Vegas, Nevada
Jetsetters looking to avoid some of Vegas’s more tacky inclinations should head to the Wynn, which is home to the redesigned XS nightclub (a curving, gold staircase and provocative artwork) Surrender nightclub, and Tryst, which sits alongside a private lagoon and just below a 90-foot waterfall. Next year, Wynn will add a fifth club, Intrigue, to the mix. Expectations are high.
No. 15: The Vendue, Charleston, South Carolina
Catch postcard-worthy panoramas of Charleston harbor, Waterfront Park, and the bridge from the rooftop bar, a spacious and convivial spot atop the inn. The extensive cocktail list is matched by an equally impressive beer and wine list. Order a local brew, like the Palmetto Porter or Westbrook IPA from nearby Mt. Pleasant, and ask locals to dish on the latest city happenings.
No. 14: Fontainebleau, Miami, Florida
Vegas-worthy nightlife in Miami can be found at the Fontainebleau, an iconic hotel with five bars and clubs on-site. An 18,000-square-foot nightclub, LIV, is the epicenter of night owl activity, perfect for listening to the city’s best new DJ’s or celeb spotting. Continue the party after the sun’s come up at Glow Bar, a casual retreat serving massive pitchers (Twisted Mai Tais, Phantom Mojitos with Perrir-Jouet Champagne) by the side of the Bowtie pool.
No. 13: Grand Bohemian Hotel, Orlando, Florida
Spent all day at Disney? Find your inner grown-up at the Grand Bohemian Hotel's Bösendorfer Lounge, a downright sultry establishment, with its namesake, $250,000 piano (one of only two in the world) often featured in live musical performances. At the glossy, black bar, order a Curtain Call (beefeater gin, maraschino liqueur, lemon juice, bitters) an Intermission (Lillet Blanc, gin, Conitreau Noir, absinthe, plum bitters), and end things with an Encore (Irish whiskey, Cointreau, lime, simple syrup, bitters).
No. 12: The Cosmopolitan, Las Vegas, Nevada
It’s no surprise that Vegas appeared again and again on the list of best hotels for bars and nightlife, given Sin City’s reputation for exactly that. At The Cosmopolitan, the Marquee Nightclub is the crux of all late-night happenings. Here, clubbers can order a $1,500 bottle of champagne topped with a sparkler, or play pool in the gentleman’s club-style Library. Enjoy bottle service (be prepared to drop more than $350) in the Boombox, or find a spotlight on the Main Floor.
No. 10 (Tie): The Pier House Resort & Spa, Key West, Florida
Truly, the Chart Room bar is at the heart of The Pier House: per the contract, the hotel was built around the 1960s dive. Everyone from Tennessee Williams to Truman Capote has whiled away low-key evenings at the Key West joint, which is as beloved for its amiable atmosphere as its free popcorn and peanuts. Like the Chart Room suggests, nightlife in Key West is a no-frills, friendly, and well-humored affair: if you wear stilettos here, you’ll probably get one stuck in a peanut shell.
No. 10 (Tie) : Marina Bay Sands, Singapore
Variety is undoubtedly the reason Marina Bay Sands scored well with T+L readers in the nightlife and bars category—guests and locals can choose from three rooftop bars and lounges, six waterfront hangouts, eight upscale lounges, six vintage-style bars with distinctive themes, and three outrageous nightclubs. The crown jewel—a glittering, rainbow crystal atop the complex—is Avalon. Here, Singaporeans and hotel guests can drink and dance until 4 a.m. on weekends in the split-level, 17,000-square-foot club. The only thing flashier than the full-color laser show? The skyline and bay views, of course.
No. 5 (Tie): Hotel Valencia Riverwalk, San Antonio, Texas
Take to the outdoor stone terrace to enjoy the hotel’s view of the cypress tree-lined River Walk after sampling some Spanish-inspired tapas at Vbar. Ultra trendy, urban design (a metal, chain curtain in front of the entrance, an impressive wall of bottles) is matched by contemporary cocktails. Try the Sip on This special from the chalkboard.
No. 5 (Tie): Hotel ZaZa, Dallas, Texas
Weekends in Dallas are best spent at Hotel ZaZa's Dragonfly, the top-end of Dallas’ nightlife spectrum. Balmy Texan nights can be enjoyed at the poolside bar, which is transformed into an Urban Oasis in the winter, with a deck and tent placed over the tent. Inside, guests can sip modern American cocktails beneath an industrial lighting display of exposed bulbs and copper fixtures.
No. 5 (Tie): The Little Nell, Aspen, Colorado
After a day on the slopes, guests and resident snow bunnies retire to one of four bars at The Nell. Live music and DJ’s begin playing just as the lifts close at Chair 9, a refined lounge space made extra cozy (and luxe) with cowhide seats and espresso-leather banquettes. Drop by the bar at Element 47 for a glass of wine (choose from nearly 2,000 bottles or 50 options by-the-glass) or The Living Room—a wraparound lounge centered on a two-sided fireplace. Adventurous alpinists can seek out The Oasis, the only pop-up Veuve Clicquot champagne and caviar bar, which can be found in a new spot on Aspen Mountain each spring.
No. 5 (Tie): Belmond Hotel Cipriani, Venice, Italy
Nightlife in Venice is decidedly laidback, and best enjoyed al fresco. Guests watch sunsets over St. Mark’s Square from the over-water terrace, Cip’s Club, or enjoy cocktails poolside at the Gabbiano Bar. Despite white tablecloths and handmade glasses from nearby Murano, the relaxed, casual vibe is the Belmond’s hallmark. Share plates of lemon and fennel-baked sea bass or strozzapreti with wild mushrooms and black truffle.
No. 5 (Tie): The Peninsula Hong Kong, Kowloon
Find Salon de Ning (a subterranean space meant to evoke the glamorous 1930s) hidden behind an unmarked door in the basement of the hotel in full speakeasy fashion. Prohibition era-cocktails can be enjoyed in any one of the four themed rooms, including a Swiss chalet and an African room complete with a tent and a mounted taxidermy. Guests and in-the-know locals can congregate in this intimate boudoir-esque space and toast the whimsical Chinese bar with a house cocktail, the Ning Sling, made with vodka lychee, orange, fresh mint, and a passionfruit puree.
No. 3 (Tie): Mandarin Oriental, Bangkok, Thailand
Fresh of a major renovation, The Mandarin’s Bamboo Bar has been restored to icon status, with its namesake wood integrated in the bar, chairs, and as a finish on the mirrored ceiling. Wild tiger prints can be found on armchairs and bar stools. Regular patrons will find their favorite cocktails, like the Tahijito, intact on the menu, alongside new and modern concoctions full of barrel-aged spirits, infusions, and foams. Best of all? Live musicians perform six nights a week.
No. 3 (Tie): EPIC—A Kimpton Hotel, Miami, Florida
“The club lounge is a true gem,” said one T+L voter when applauding this downtown Miami Kimpton. Cool off after a day at the beach in this ultra-sleek, sceney space with live music (everything from classic jazz to hip-hop) and art installations. The year-old lounge is best known for bubbly cocktails poured tableside from a roving champagne cart—the namesake drink features Hendrick’s, rose water, and a grapefruit peel—and sweeping views of Brickell.
No. 2: St. Regis, New York City, New York
Since 1948, the King Cole Bar & Salon has been a sophisticated host to the city’s most elite guests, as well as locals. Salvador Dali, Marilyn Monroe, John Lennon are just a few of the most notable patrons. After a multimillion dollar renovation in 2013, the bar—including the Old King Cole mural by Maxfield Paris—seem genuinely refreshed. Expect a polished crowd and a packed room. Order the Bloody Mary, which St. Regis claims was first created here in 1934 by barman extraordinaire, Fernand Petiot. Try the original “Red Snapper,” with belvedere vodka, tomato juice, lemon and spices, or the London-style Bloody Smoke with 10-year scotch and clamato juice.
No. 1: The Langham Hotel, Boston, Massachusetts
Boston may not be known for having a late-night crowd (thanks, in part, to an early-to-bed subway system) but what it does have is a number of ultra upscale, swanky bars—with The Langham’s Bond Lounge reigning supreme. A nod to the building’s history as the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, Bond boasts 25-foot vaulted ceilings (now adorned with crystal chandeliers) and oversized currencies as the wall décor. Elbow up to a the 12-foot rosewood bar, or pull a few strings for access to the VIP Dom Perignon Lounge—a balcony overlooking the space. Sip the Whitz End (house-made, apple-infused tequila, lillet blanc, lime, jalepeno) while DJ Mario spins smooth, electric beats.