The most comfortable seat in the place

A good hotel lobby or sitting room can go a long way making up for shortcomings elsewhere.  A small room doesn’t matter if you have a cushy place to relax and order a pot of tea or coffee.  At the end of a day of touring gardens, we meet in the lobby, pint or glass of wine in hand, and recall the day’s events.  For the most part, you don’t get this kind of lobby in U.S. hotels, except for the older ones.  The Davenport Hotel in Spokane is absolutely fabulous — fireplace at one end, great service, tables to work at if you need to.  Order a glass of wine or coffee (except there’s a Starbucks in the lobby, so I guess you could get your own).  I could live in the Davenport lobby.

             I love the little front room at our favorite small (and reasonable) hotel in London, the Harlingford.  We enjoy staying in bed-and-breakfasts, but really, give me a good lobby and I’m set.  Here are some of my favorites.

            At the Green Hotel in Kinross, just north of Edinburgh, you feel like you’re in someone’s library.  The sitting room is just off the lobby, and great for a read or a chat.  In all the flurry of “what to see” travel tips, it’s easy to forget that sometimes you need to relax, and when you can do that in a good lobby, it can become part of the experience.

            When Leighton and I drove around the Ring of Kerry a few years ago, we stopped at the Parknasilla Hotel (now called the Parknasilla Resort — yikes).  If you can’t afford to stay at a place, at least you can stop for coffee.  I decided I needed one of those little silverplate coffee pots, just like they serve with there.  It’s a touch of class.

            The water views from the sitting room, dining room and bar at the Fieldhead Hotel in Looe, Cornwall are breathtaking. and at the Sawrey House Hotel near Hawkshead in the Lake District you look onto garden and nature.  Take me back now.

            But even hotels where you wouldn’t ever want to stay again can have good lobbies and sitting rooms.  Pratt’s Hotel in Bath, England — a place where the phrase “badly in need of refurbishment” doesn’t even come close — has great rooms facing the street.  Good tea service and lovely people working there.  If only someone would fix up the rooms.

            Yes, there are good U.S. hotel lobbies.  The Francis Marion in Charleston oozes old style charm, and it’s huge.  That’s where we hope to stay on next spring’s garden tour, so the first thing I’ll do is plop down in an armchair and order a drink.  

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One Response to “The most comfortable seat in the place”

  1. debra Says:

    Hi Marty, yes I have fond memories of the Harlingford in London. The small but sunny breakfast room is so incredibly charming and warm. I loved everything about staying there when I visited in 2005. I didn’t even mind the small room (dare I call it a room? It was more like a walk-in closet with a twin bed!). Cozy and familiar….love your other suggestions, too. I want to visit them all! deb

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