Cool and unusual hotel lobby features

 Photo courtesy of Fairmont Hotels & Resorts
Hotel lobbies have long been social gathering spots, but lately they have also emerged as showcases for unexpected features, from a lobby vending machine that dispenses gold bars to a floating catwalk in Barcelona. Gold-plated pianos, ceiling sculptures, and priceless Renaissance frescos may get visitors in the door, but are they worth checking in for? We'll let you decide.

$225,000 Fazioli Piano
The Fairmont Pacific Rim in Vancouver, BC

You can’t possibly miss the gleaming white Italian-made Fazioli grand piano in the lobby of The Fairmont Pacific Rim in Vancouver (image above). Someone is either playing it, especially during cocktail hour, or snapping photos of it—perhaps because it is one of just 2,500 Fazioli pianos in the world, took 1,000 hours to make, has 18-karat-gold hinges, and cost almost a quarter of a million dollars. Relax in the lobby to hear the sweet, dulcet tones of this instrumental masterpiece.

Photo courtesy of Emirates Palace Abu Dhabi/Kempinski Hotels
Gold Vending Machine

Where: Emirates Palace Hotel in Abu Dhabi, UAE

If you happen to have a few thousands dollars burning a hole in your pocket, you can turn it into gold in the lobby of the lavish, 394-room Emirates Palace in Abu Dhabi. Since 2010 a "Gold to Go" ATM vending machine dispenses everything from coins, to pendants, to gold bars weighing from 1 gram to 250 grams. Photo courtesy of Emirates Palace Abu Dhabi/Kempinski Hotels

Photo by Jeff Coleman/
Dale Chihuly Ceiling Sculpture

Where: Bellagio Las Vegas

While the first thing you hear upon entering the lobby of Bellagio Las Vegas is the clamor of the adjacent casino, the first thing you see is the glow of Fiori di Como, the Dale Chihuly glass sculpture that dominates the ceiling. At 2,100 square feet and 40,000 pounds, it is comprised of 2,000 pieces of multi-hued glass that was hand-blown into an abstraction of flowers.

Photo courtesy of Hospes Hotels
Subterranean Roman Ruins
Hospes Palacio del Bailio in Cordoba, Spain

The lobby of Hospes Palacio del Bailio, which is located in an elegant 16th-century palace in Cordoba, Spain, leads to an atmospheric central patio that serves as the hotel’s dining room. There, guests are greeted by an unexpected visual treat: a glass-paneled floor that provides views of ancient mosaics and columns of a subterranean Roman-era villa.

Photo courtesy of Fontainebleau Miami Beach
Staircase to nowhere
Fontainebleau Miami Beach in Miami

Guests of the famed mid-century Fontainebleau Miami Beach who are curious about where the dramatic two-story staircase in the hotel’s 17,000-square-foot marble lobby leads, will quickly discover the answer is nowhere. But that wasn’t always the case. When architect Morris Lapidus designed the lobby in 1954, he put a coat check at the very top, and arriving ladies would ascend to it via a discreet elevator and then make a dramatic entrance down the photogenic staircase.

Photo by Michael Weschler Photography/The Liberty Hotel
A Jail Turned Bar
WhereThe Liberty Hotel in Boston

Right off from the lobby of the The Liberty Hotel is the hotel's bar, Alibi, which was formerly the drunk tank at the circa-1851 Charles Street Jail. Staying true to its sordid past, Alibi’s brick walls are lined with mug shots of infamously misbehaved celebrities, including Frank Sinatra, Mick Jagger, and Lindsay Lohan.

Photo by Martine Oger/
Frosty Ephemeral Beauty
Where: The Ice Hotel in Quebec City

Most hotel lobbies are built to last, but the one at the Ice Hotel in Quebec City, as spectacular as it may be, is built to melt. That’s because every winter this ephemeral gathering spot is constructed anew from frozen blocks of ice and sculpted by master carvers into a glimmering cathedral of white and blue. Open from early January to late March, it also features a wedding chapel and an ice bar, where even the glasses are made from frozen water.