The timeless constraints of New York real estate make building a grand, sprawling hotel lobby tough to do. But options abound in young boutique and venerable classic hotels for public places in which to cool your heels–and not worry about hourly rates.
1 The Bowery Hotel
2 The Carlyle
This lobby of this 82-year old Upper East Side citadel of sedate luxury is flanked by two jazzy cultural gems: the Café Carlyle, whose Marcel Vertes murals were restored in 2007, and the relatively unassuming Bemelmans Bar (pictured), with its own impressive wall decoration (by Ludwig Bemelman) and entertainment legacy.
3 Conrad New York Hotel
A jagged set of stairs lead up to the second-floor lobby of this Financial District newcomer. But it's the sixteen-story atrium (dominated by a mind-bending Sol LeWitt mural) you gaze up at once you get there that sets the tone of your stay, or visit to what will be three Danny Meyer restaurants.