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10 Hotel Lobbies To Work From in LA, San Francisco, NYC and Chicago

April 22, 2016
8 min read
Four Seasons Chicago
10 Hotel Lobbies To Work From in LA, San Francisco, NYC and Chicago
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TPG Contributor Amber Gibson is on the road about as often as she’s at home. Here are 10 of her favorite hotel lobbies in Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York City and Chicago to meet your deadlines — no guest room number or name required. Follow along with Amber’s travel adventures on Instagram.

If you’re one of the other 53 million freelancers around the US, you've probably spent time networking, checking emails or working on your latest masterpiece from somewhere other than your own home or office. For those of you who travel as much as I do, having a decent work space can make all the difference. In the spirit of helping others be more productive on the road, I'm sharing my go-to list of lobbies in four major cities — LA, San Francisco, New York and Chicago — that offer great spaces for getting some work done, organized below by location.

1. Hotel Palomar Los Angeles Beverly Hills

Hotel Palomar Los Angeles Beverly Hills. Image courtesy of the hotel.
Hotel Palomar Los Angeles Beverly Hills. Image courtesy of the hotel.

The lobby at Hotel Palomar Los Angeles Beverly Hills is very high-energy and the red backdrop can either be warm and comforting or super-intense depending on your mood. This Kimpton property is a busy corporate hotel, so it serves as both a work and social space for guests — it’s also a great spot for road warriors to make friends when they’re traveling solo for work. Staff members do a great job of matchmaking and getting conversations rolling during wine hour and morning coffee service. Midday is pretty quiet since everyone is out and about in LA, but from about 7:00-9:00am and 4:00-7:00pm, it’s pretty packed. You have to sign up for Kimpton’s Karma Rewards program to get internet access, but it’s free and only takes about a minute.

2. Mr. C Beverly Hills

The super-swanky Mr. C Beverly Hills lobby. Image courtesy of the hotel.
The super-swanky Mr. C Beverly Hills lobby. Image courtesy of the hotel.

Don’t be surprised to see entertainment executives closing business deals in the chic lobby lounge at the Mr. C Beverly Hills — this Venetian-inspired hotel is close to Fox Studios, Sony Pictures Studios, William Morris Endeavor Entertainment and the Creative Artists Agency. The décor’s admittedly a little dated, but the plush Chesterfield couches are a comfortable spot to settle in with your laptop underneath Venetian chandeliers. Head to the outdoor terrace, where you can work while sipping an excellent espresso, Pressed Juicery juice or the hotel’s signature Cipriani Bellini from the Lobby Lounge Bar.

3. W San Francisco

W San Francisco Living Room Bar & Lounge. Image courtesy of the hotel.
W San Francisco Living Room Bar & Lounge. Image courtesy of the hotel.

The first floor Living Room Bar & Lounge at the W San Francisco has a colorful, bright ambiance — its dynamic décor attracts a creative crowd to this trendy SoMa district locale. The Living Room is open every day from 11:30 am until 1:30 am, so it's great for night owls, too, although it certainly gets louder later in the evening once happy hour starts, so bring your noise-canceling headphones along if you’re a nocturnal workaholic.

4. St. Regis San Francisco

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The lobby of the St. Regis San Francisco. Image courtesy of the hotel.
The lobby of the St. Regis San Francisco. Image courtesy of the hotel.

For an even more elegant workspace in the City by the Bay, try the St. Regis San Francisco, right next to the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. The lobby features a 16-foot open fireplace and pretty spectacular art installations. I love the rich feeling of the remarkably shiny hardwood floors and the fact that the entire hotel is Wi-Fi accessible. Service is on point and almost everyone is using their inside voice, so it’s a nice space to focus on your work.

5. The Axiom Hotel San Francisco

The lobby at the Axiom Hotel San Francisco. Image courtesy of the hotel.

The Axiom Hotel San Francisco just opened in January and welcomes corporate travelers who want to work in its bright white lobby or in the adjacent Hallidie Library. The lobby's modern furnishings and clean lines feel fresh and simple, offering a nice space without distractions — it's not usually too busy beyond check-in and check-out times, so it’s a good spot to settle in for the entire afternoon. When it’s time to take a break, you can play vintage arcade games or a game of good old-fashioned foosball at the Cloud communal space on the mezzanine level.

6. Dream Midtown New York

A peek at Dream Midtown's lobby bar, The Rickey. Image courtesy of the hotel.

From 9:00am to 3:00pm, The Rickey craft cocktail lounge in Dream Midtown's lobby doubles as a co-working space for busy travelers — the lights are raised and its plush green and gray couches and gold tables become chic communal offices. There’s free Italian coffee and Twinings Tea as well as complimentary Wi-Fi and printer access, so you can prep for meetings or get some work done between appointments. The best part: You can order breakfast and lunch from the hotel's restaurant, Serafina, and have it delivered straight to your seat.

7. Hotel Indigo Lower East Side New York

The Hotel Indigo Lower East Side New York has a spacious, well-designed 14th floor lobby with 360-degree unobstructed views of Manhattan. A funky polaroid collage mural on the ceiling by Lee Quinones pays homage to the LES neighborhood’s history — several sculptures by street artist Mr. Brainwash are also on display.

You don’t have to be an overnight guest to take advantage of the communal table or couches with charging stations. There’s complimentary Wi-Fi too — just ask the front desk for the access code (it was “171lex” on my last visit). The restaurant on the 15th floor, Mr. Purple, has munchies from Russ & Daughters, Liquiteria, Pickle Guys and Il Laboratorio del Gelato, among other local hotspots — there’s a nice coffee bar too, but I go for the gelato every time. Once the weather warms up, you can also head up one level to the 15th floor rooftop pool, settle into a lounge chair and catch some rays while sipping a cocktail and catching up on some emails.

8. Four Seasons Hotel Chicago

The Four Seasons Hotel Chicago lobby. Image courtesy of the hotel.

In Chicago, my absolute favorite place to work is the lobby of the Four Seasons Chicago. It’s located on the seventh floor and is a spacious oasis of calm away from the bustling city below. There are plenty of tables along with several couches and well-placed outlets. Despite the Four Seasons' prestige and exclusivity, I’ve never felt unwelcome even though at this point everyone knows I’m not a hotel guest.

You can order a bite or a drink from Allium, the hotel's restaurant, where the tables are large enough to fit everyone’s laptops for meetings of up to four people. There's contemporary art by Roy Lichtenstein, Frank Stella and René Magritte and the stylish seasonal décor makes it feel like you're in a rich great-aunt's mansion. Only when the hotel is hosting a big conference does the lobby get crowded — mostly full of people in suits with name tags — but they disperse soon enough when the next lecture or event starts.

9. The Chicago Athletic Association

The Chicago Athletic Association's drawing room. Image courtesy of the hotel.

The warm, original German millwork on mahogany wood paneling and natural light streaming in from Venetian Gothic windows on the second-floor lobby lounge of the Chicago Athletic Association inspire serious introspection and focus. The Drawing Room invites visitors and hotel guests to look out over Millennium Park and enjoy the historic Hogwarts-like atmosphere — including three original fireplaces — of what feels like the city's own living room of yesteryear.

10. Aloft Chicago City Center

Aloft Chicago City Center is another great work space located in Chicago's trendy River North neighborhood. Restaurant Beatrix, a tasty and affordable all-day dining spot and coffee bar, is right next door if you get hungry and has great Wi-Fi, too. Small tables by the window let in plenty of natural light and there’s a billiards table in case you need a work break. You'll find outlets along the wall by the bank of seats near the reception desk, next to the vending machines.

Bottom Line

Whether your next trip has you spending time in LA, San Francisco, New York or Chicago, these are some great go-to hotel lobbies where you can get back to business and make sure you're meeting those deadlines.

Have you worked in any of these hotel lobbies? Tell us about it, below.