Hotels can be stylish, vibrant places to share a cocktail or a coffee, whether you’re exploring the neighborhood or happen to live locally. But not everyone thinks the idea is so great — namely, paying guests of the hotel. While hotel bars and restaurants open to the public are often big revenue draws, an overly buzzing lobby scene can be a source of frustration for guests who seek exclusivity or just plain quiet. To offset this, more properties are adding guest-only spaces like libraries, bars and restaurants. Think of it as a next generation of the club lounge. Some hotels are bridging the gap by restricting public access to particular times, or by offering a limited number of paid memberships for the public to access outdoor amenities such as pools and spas.
The recently opened VISTA Palazzo Lago di Como, a Lario Hotel in Lake Como, is one property putting the focus on exclusivity and privacy. The hotel has just 18 rooms, and its bar, restaurant and library are for guests only. “It is important for us to have our guests feel as though they are in our home, in the spirit of the original lakeside palazzo that Vista now inhabits,” explains Bianca Passera, CEO of Lario Hotels. “We wanted to maintain a level of exclusivity for our guests; a space where they can feel comfortable, have a drink, something to eat or just relax and enjoy the views of the lake.”
Here’s a look at seven hotels offering guest-only spaces.
San Antonio, Texas
The Roman and Williams-designed Hotel Emma is housed in a 19th-century brewery and offers two spaces reserved only for guest use — a bi-level library and a mezzanine bar area. The library’s collection of 3,700 books was curated by San Antonio author and historian Sherry Kafka Wagner. The Sternewirth bar features 25-foot high vaulted ceilings and three fermentation tanks that were converted into lounges. A mezzanine area directly above the bar connects to the library, so guests can order a cocktail and sip on it while browsing the books.
Cape Town, South Africa
The Silo is a new boutique hotel located on the top six floors of a grain silo, above the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa. The Silo’s rooftop terrace features a cocktail bar and dramatic pool design, with glass walls and 360-degree views of Cape Town. The space was overwhelmingly popular with locals and visitors when it debuted, so the pool is now reserved for guest-use only, while the rooftop bar and lounge is open to the public by advance reservation.
Machu Picchu, Peru
Location, location, location. Belmond Sanctuary Lodge is the only hotel located adjacent to the ancient citadel of Machu Picchu, which means guests can beat the crowds and easily pop back to the hotel for a break in the middle of the day. The hotel’s Tampu Restaurant is open only to guests and features floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the ruins. Keep an eye out for hummingbirds and butterflies outside the window while sampling Peruvian fusion cuisine, such as risotto with Sacred Valley mushrooms.
Miami Beach, Florida
The Betsy South Beach has established itself as a cultural hub in Miami. The hotel hosts events ranging from poetry slams to jazz festivals. There’s even a writer-in-residence program where authors receive a quiet space to work and sleep in exchange for hosting an event. The Betsy recently expanded its property and now includes a guest-only library. Settle in with a good book and relax on a sofa or a club chair, feeling far from the hustle and bustle of Ocean Drive.
County Mayo, Ireland
The 13th-century Ashford Castle, one of the most iconic places to stay in Ireland, recently underwent a top-to-bottom renovation. The hotel’s many private areas include a 32-seat cinema and an antiques-filled Billiards Room serving Cuban and Irish tapas. Order a dram of single pot still whiskey, which is unique to Ireland, triple distilled and made with malted and unmalted (green) barley. Guests can also enjoy a whiskey, cognac or cigar at the guest-only Cigar Terrace, overlooking the River Cong.
The White Elephant is located on a prime waterfront spot along Nantucket Harbor and includes the original hotel, plus cottages and downtown lofts. The intimate library has the look and feel of a private home, with comfortable sofas and built-in bookshelves. Hotels guests can pop by in the morning for coffee and pastries or nibble on cheese and sip Nantucket Vineyard Port in the afternoon. Or they can plan a visit around a reading and book signing by a local author.
Monte Carlo, Monaco
Monte Carlo is synonymous with glamour, and the Hotel Metropole delivers a high-style experience at the Odyssey pool complex, which is available only to guests and paying members. Designed by Karl Lagerfeld, the Greek-inspired space includes a heated saltwater pool, private cabanas and terraced gardens. After a one-on-one swim lesson, guests of the hotel can order a kale, lobster and wasabi salad at the Joël Robuchon poolside restaurant Odyssey before it opens to the public at night.