Five hotels with an "upside down" lobby design

1 Aug 2012

The following hotels break convention by locating their lobbies on the top floor, rather than at the ground-level entrance. Reasons for this vary from a better view, improved privacy and even environmental concerns.

Hilton Trinidad and Conference Centre

Hotel location: Located in the upscale Port of Spain on the eastern side of the Queen’s Park Savannah, the hotel is surrounded by tropical gardens and is within walking distance of historical sites including the National Museum, botanical garden and the prime minister’s and president’s residence.

Arrangement of floors: The building resembles a u-shape and comprises three wings, including a seven-storey main wing, a four-floor south wing and a nine-level north wing. The lobby is on the highest level of the main wing, followed by a restaurant below, meeting rooms, the pool and eventually the rooms. The main wing is connected to the south and north wing by the sixth floor, therefore, guests enter the lobby at the highest level and then descend to their rooms down the mountain terraces.

Rationale: As the hotel is situated on a mountain top, surrounded by tropical landscape, it is specially constructed off the mountain terraces to preserve the environment: hence the unusual layout.

The lobby: There is a bar and coffee shop at the centre of the lobby. The area presents spectacular views of outdoor terraces and the city. Also featured are the works of a renowned local artist, including cultural murals on the ceiling beam.

Rates: Start from US$119.

Park Hyatt Seoul

Hotel location: Situated in the city’s central business district of Gangnam-gu, directly opposite the Convention and Exhibition Centre. The hotel is also just steps away from the subway station.

Arrangement of floors: The reception, lounge and restaurants, pools and fitness centre are on the top of the hotel, on the 24th floor, with the spa and sauna located underneath on the 23rd floor. Rooms are from level four to 22. Event venues, the main restaurant and the bars are at the bottom.

Rationale: The hotel aims to provide equal opportunities for all guests to experience the beautiful views, and welcome them with the stunning scenery from the moment they step into the reception and lobby lounge on the top floor. The upside down arrangement also improves privacy for guests, as there are less passers-by.

The lobby: A distinctive feature of the lobby is that it provides stunning panoramic views on all four sides with its floor-to-ceiling windows. Lighting is lowered to minimise reflection on the glass windows, instead utilising natural sunlight from outside. The lobby presents guests with a range of city landscapes, including Youngdong-daero, trade tower and Bongeunsa Temple.

Rates: Start from KRW460,000 (US$404).

Mandarin Oriental Tokyo

Hotel location: In Nihonbashi, the financial district within the historical and cultural centre of Tokyo.

Arrangement of floors: The reception lobby and lounge and three restaurants are on the 38th floor, which is the top floor of the building. Two Michelin-starred restaurants, a bar and a spa is on 37th floor. Rooms are located at levels 30 to 36. Conference facilities, the grand ballroom and a chapel are on the third floor, while the bell desk is on the ground floor.

Rationale: The design of having the lobby on top levels surprises guests with an awesome view of Tokyo’s sprawl upon arrival.

The lobby: In front of the elevators to the guest rooms, there is a piece of fabric made in a traditional Japanese style of tomesode, which is the formal kimono worn by married women. The “wall of fire” features three blazing hearths, while the stairs, in contrast, features a spiral water decoration. On the west side of the lobby, guests can enjoy views of the skyscrapers of Otemachi, the imperial palace and even Mount Fuji on a clear day. The east side, meanwhile, offers the view of a newly opened landmark, the Tokyo Skytree, which is the tallest broadcasting tower in the world.

Rates: Start from JPY70,000 (US$895).

Sheraton Seoul D Cube City Hotel

Hotel location: Positioned in the heart of the new D-Cube City in the southwest area of Seoul; department stores, restaurants and music halls are directly connected.

Arrangement of floors: Guests can find the main lobby, Feast restaurant, a lounge and a bar on the top floor – the 41st floor. Rooms and suites are from floors 29 to 40. The club lounge is on the 38th floor, while amenities like the spa, fitness centre and café are on floors 27 and 28. Meeting rooms and business centres are between levels seven and eight, while the grand ballroom is on the sixth floor. Deli by Sheraton is on the ground level.

Rationale: The special arrangement of floors enables guests to enjoy the fantastic views from the 41st floor lobby and gives them an unforgettable arrival experience. Moreover, as there is a department store and offices below the hotel, the arrangement ensures the privacy of hotel guests.

The lobby: Decorated in a concept that combines nature and culture, the lobby offers a fantastic city view of Seoul.

Rates: Start from KRW390,000 (US$342).

St. Regis Shenzhen

Hotel location: The hotel occupies the top 28 floors of the 100-storey Kingkey 100 Tower, Shenzhen’s tallest building.

Arrangement of floors: On the penthouse 100th floor, the hotel introduces a new concept with Malt and Library, the city’s first whisky and cigar bar. A sky-high urban wine bar is on the 99th floor. The lobby, a bar and a drawing room is on the 96th floor, while guest rooms and restaurants are located on the floors below. The 95th floor is home to the brand’s signature restaurants, Tian Gong and Social. A presidential suite is on the 90th floor, while guestrooms, city view rooms and suites are between floors 76 and 86. The indoor swimming pool and a spa are located on the 75th floor, while conference facilities are located much lower down, on the fifth floor.

Rationale: To provide guests with spectacular views of the surrounding cityscape, in a place away from Shezhen’s eternally buzzing downtown.

The lobby: A dedicated elevator whisks guests directly to the Sky Garden atrium lobby on the 96th floor at an altitude of 402 metres. The area features floor-to-ceiling windows, offering guests a spectacular view of the city. This primary space is bright, modern and expansive, with a centrepiece that is a massive sculpture called “Tiger’s Eye” that seems to float from the ceiling and glitters with colorful semi-precious stones. A giant LED egg-shaped installation creates a luminescent “pearl” at night. 

Rates: Start from RMB3,800 (US$596)

Michelle Fong

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