Whether visiting another city for work or running between client meetings in your hometown, finding the best place to work for a few hours is easier said than done.
Take coffee shops and libraries, for example. Coffee shops are often crowded and noisy. And you never quite know what you’re going to get with libraries—some are so quiet and pristine that you can’t take a call or bring in food. Others can feel like a cafeteria, with large main areas filled with people having loud, distracting conversations. Neither is ideal.
It’s well-documented that a workplace environment can affect your mood and productivity. If you’re able to find a work space that’s comfortable, aesthetically pleasing, and complete with helpful staff, you’ll likely do better work.
Now, what if I told you that such a place exists in almost every city you visit?
When you’re looking for a great place to work for a few hours, step into a hotel lobby. And not just the lobby of any hotel—pick one that’s posh.
No, it wouldn’t be cheaper and easier to go to a coffee shop. And no, you don’t have to stay at a hotel to use the lobby to work for a little while. Just dress appropriately, mind your manners, and know that you’re not freeloading if you buy a snack, coffee, or a drink.
I’ve spent hundreds of hours working in hotel lobbies around the world, and here is what I’ve discovered:
Classy surroundings can improve your mind-set for work and meetings
A friend of mine—who knows how to take care of herself—taught me the value of working in the nicest hotel lobbies. Whenever she’s on the road and needs temporary work space, she heads to a place like the lobby at the Ritz. The elegant environment boosts her frame of mind and elevates her attitude toward her job. If you want to be inspired, place yourself in an inspiring setting.
A pleasant, comfortable hotel lobby can be particularly beneficial for conducting a business meeting. My clients and I have sipped green tea served in porcelain chinaware while discussing business strategy beneath the soaring columns of Hong Kong’s opulent Hotel Peninsula, where the titans of industry stay and world-changing historical events occurred. We had plenty of privacy in the plush sitting area at the center of the grand, polished-marble lobby. Instead, I could’ve held the meeting in a cramped and windowless conference room available to us one block away, but why? An appealing, stylish setting can change the whole conversation.
One caveat: You might not want to meet someone in a fancy hotel lobby who is trying to get a better price on the work that you’re offering.
It’s no more expensive than going to a coffee shop
Many of the nicest hotel lobbies have a helpful staff who come around to ask you if you need anything. If you’re sitting there working for a couple of hours, it would be polite to order a drink, at least. And just because you’re in a fancy hotel, don’t think drinks will cost you an arm and a leg. It won’t, and the little extra you’ll pay will be worth every penny.
Let’s say, for example, that you’re at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in New York City, and you order an iced tea. That will cost $7. That’s only a few dollars more than you would pay at a Starbucks, but look what you’re getting in return: a beautiful place to sit and work comfortably, an ideal location to meet with a client, and a helpful and friendly staff.
Plus, let’s be honest. You would have spent at least as much if not more at a Starbucks. And the wash room of the Mandarin is a far cry from the wash room of your average New York City coffee shop.It’s no more expensive than going to a coffee shop.
It's a great option no matter where you are in the world.
Working in hotel lobbies isn’t just something you can do when traveling across the U.S. Having worked in hotel lobbies around the world, I can safely say that in many cases you’ll have an even better experience abroad.
One of my personal favorites is Kyoto’s Hyatt Regency designed by Super Potato, an internationally renowned interior-design firm in Japan. The lobby’s innovative aesthetic is a striking combination of contemporary Japanese and more traditional design elements. It provides an atmosphere that inspires creativity and excellence.
Not all hotel lobbies are created equal. If you’re looking online for a hotel to duck into, there are two criteria to consider as you’re browsing through Trip Advisor: star rating and hotel size. The higher the star rating, the more amenities the lobby will offer. But be careful to avoid four-star hotels with no lobby. For instance, if you’re in cities like Boston, San Francisco, or New York City, small hotels might have only a reception desk, and little, if any, seating. So search for larger hotels with high star ratings.
A confident demeanor pays off
Whether inquiring about Wi-Fi or about the best way to order lunch, never be afraid to ask lobby staff for help. In some cases, you might even be able to access a hotel conference room. As long as you’re polite and project confidence, they will be more than happy to assist you. But often, they charge for this privilege.
Also, to be productive, you’ll need fuel, such as filtered water, coffee, and snacks. These amenities might not be in plain sight, but most nice hotels offer them, and you can certainly inquire.
While hotels don’t have official dress codes, you’ll always be treated better when you dress to impress. Particularly when working in lobbies of 5-star hotels, proper business attire will work to your advantage.
So go ahead and book a deal on line for a good hotel at a modest price. But to work on the go and to hold successful meetings, go 5-star.