Four Best Hotel Lobbies - 2001
342 Grant (at Bush), 394-0500
No hotel is more existentially fun than the Triton, home to many a visiting rock star and cutting-edge bohemian. The emblematic lobby is all done up in Disneyland shades of burgundy, bright orange, aquamarine, and violet. Red, yellow, and purple davenports are shaped like errant puzzle pieces, the carpeting resembles a large royal-blue backgammon board, and the blue and gold pillars are as undulant as a belly dancer's abdomen. A sweeping mist-blue mural of Greek temples and reclining goddesses decorates the back wall, and out front there's a comfy bench in primary colors for a bit of aesthetic repose.
335 Powell (at Geary), 397-7000
One of San Francisco's grandest hotels boasts a palatial lobby brimming with opulence, commerce, and distinguished phantoms (JFK and Elizabeth II among them). Pillars of green and black marble frame a dramatic foyer featuring comfortable davenports in burgundy and gold, a baroquely gilded ceiling, and an ornate old clock San Franciscans have been meeting under for decades. A dramatic marble staircase beyond leads up to a cozy mezzanine where you can sit in Asian-accented splendor and contemplate all the finery.
5 Embarcadero Center (at California), 788-1234
The city's first atrium lobby is still as vertiginously stunning as the day it opened. Twenty stories of expressionistically angled, foliage-dripping balconies enclose a sleek central fountain topped by a four-story Charles Perry sculpture. Sunken sofas are strategically located for ideal contemplation of the in-house birds, the twisted flora, and the Buck Rogers elevators catapulting skyward, seemingly through the ceiling. Although the overall effect is cavernous and a little spooky, there's no denying the cool elegance of the place.
750 Sutter (at Taylor), 474-6464
Strolling into this cozy lobby is like entering the sitting room of some eccentric old duke. Suits of armor, massive urns, hanging tapestries, a cheerful little hearth, and a fresco depicting the pilgrimage of Canterbury highlight a space at once comfortable, serene, and cheerfully quirky. The lobby's soothing illuminations, classical music, and overstuffed ambience make it particularly welcoming after a long and wearying tramp among the moors of Union Square.