Okay, I’ll admit it. I do love me a good hotel lobby bar, and yes, living here in Orlando we’ve got a plethora of great ones to choose from, so lucky us! But I wonder how many locals take advantage of this chic and oftentimes cultured opportunity? What’s that, you’re asking? Where’s the ‘opportunity’ in a local having to shed the flip-flops (please?) and drive all the way out to park themselves in the middle of the insanely populated tourist and convention flow (eeuw!) just to pony up to a bar? Let me count the ways:
- A chance to experience the ambience of international travel without leaving home, no passport (or TSA lines) needed.
- The feel of sophistication (most hotel patrons in the lobby bar are at least one jump ahead of the ‘let’s shed the normal clothes and show this town what real tacky tourists wear!’), jet setting (almost everyone has arrived from parts unknown), and just a little mystique (“where do you suppose they came from?”) as you sip on your properly made cocktail.
- A properly made cocktail. In fact, most customary or standard cocktails can trace their origin to some famous hotel lobby bartender who invented it for some famous hotel patron.
4. A smartly uniformed bartender who (for the most part) appreciates his/her well-heeled patrons and knows exactly what type of service will meet or exceed their expectations (RE encourage the guest to return for another visit each night during their stay).
5. Built in entertainment, with or without any music, via the revolving glass door of interesting patrons (although it should be noted that many a hotel lobby bar does indeed provide musical entertainment “for your listening pleasure”, meaning one can actually converse and hear a conversation while said entertainment is performing).
And this is just a starter list.
Now I know in the bubble presently circling above some of your heads there are objections swirling like hotel bars overcharge on their drinks! What if I have to pay for parking? And (a personal favorite that I’ve heard many times before), what’s the point of going to a hotel if you can’t steal the soap? Well, I really need to find about a dozen more ways to say this, but most hotel lobby bars are just way cool. So much so in fact that from time to time I author a blog post called appropriately, From the Lobby Bar, and yes, this would be one of those posts. Sometimes I let you in on my location, and other times I might leave you guessing.
Today I’ll make it easy for you and share that I’m on the North East end of Orlando (aka Altamonte Springs, although you’ll never see that city listed in the hotel brochures because in the world of hospitality, all hotels that do not have an official Orlando address are given an honorary one in their marketing campaign) in a well-established business hotel that has thrived despite changing names more than a few times since opening many years ago. This lobby bar even has an official name, Celestial Lounge, although I only knew that from seeing it posted on the website, not from anything posted in the Sheraton Orlando North’s lobby (www.sheratonorlandonorth.com) , which is fine by me because really, a hotel lobby bar is well, a bar. In my opinion, it doesn’t need anything beyond great barstools or comfy seating, an excellent bartender and servers, and, um, really good bourbon. (Again, personal preference.) This lobby bar gets my seal of approval because: comfy seating, excellent service, and my good friend, Jack Daniels (www.jackdaniels.com) is here. Also for some cool things like the dancing waterfall and expansive, well-lit atrium area. And while this place caters more to the business traveler than the attraction-weary tourists, it still has a great vibe and warm environment. Oh, and no parking charge!
So, if you like to travel and also enjoy a good adult beverage but don’t have the trip money on hand, just take a short drive to any of the fabulous hotels here in Orlando and find a barstool you can take ownership of, at least for a short journey. Keeping in mind that travel, no matter how near or far, is a strainer for sifting through other cultures and you might enjoy this journey.