Setting the right bar

The atmosphere of a bar often dictates its appeal and this can change depending on the time of day, menu, clientele, design and environment. From lively to mellow, the atmosphere should still feel safe and the bar a destination for any person, whether  they are alone, in a couple or with a group.

There is no doubting that drinking in a hotel bar is now popular – many city centre hotels have a mix of business travellers relaxing after a day of meetings and alongside them leisure guests spending some time in the city. In the country and on the coast the same is taking place, only with fewer suits and more casual guests and visitors. Hotels bars have worked hard in recent years to become an additional revenue stream for the business rather than be seen as a hotel necessity. The bar is no longer just for the pre-evening drink but for the whole night. There is something quite appealing about being able to stay after certain hours because of resident status.

During their growth in popularity, the hotel bar has become the choice for many and a growing market is single and groups of women. By evolving the hotel bar is making sure it stays relevant, sometimes simply by making it a destination in its own right and not just the ‘hotel bar’. They are designed to draw the eye in a certain direction, with the seats positioned to work alongside the bar and to work effectively for encouraging conversation. As hotels continue to make changes to increase their bar’s appeal, similar movements are being made by those trying to encourage more to visit and stay.

Some tour operators are focusing on female-friendly hotels and only recommending those that have passed their stringent inspections. Some of the key criteria include a 24-hour manned reception, a well-lit entrance and rooms with at least two independent locks. In addition they also highlight hotels that provide quality toiletries, female-targeted magazines and proper hairdryers. While these options will appeal to some of the demographic, it is important to recognise this is not an area that is universally accepted, and some may even criticise the segregation between men and women.

Rightly or wrongly there is an appeal. Some types of bars and hotels will appeal to certain demographics. As hotels amend their offering to differentiate themselves, they must also take into consideration the type of drinker they want to attract. The rise of adding a celebrity chef to a hotel’s food offering is starting to slow down and now restaurants are creating their own unique brand appeal or outsourcing to food and beverage experts.

Others try to match the latest trends in different ways: shareable plates, using fresh and local ingredients, hiring the finest mixologists or offering a wide range of non-alcoholic options and including local craft beers. While hotels may adapt to their latest trends and ensure they offer the most welcoming of environments, there are still people out there with nasty intentions.


“Hotels bars have worked hard to become an additional revenue stream for the business rather than be seen as a hotel necessity”

Drugs are slipped into drinks and there are horror tales from this. Are hotels exempt from these events? Sadly not, but there are differences between hotel bars and standalone bars or pubs. Is it fair to argue that the clientele found in the two do differ in terms of tastes, desires, conversation and interest? It is certainly not an argument of high class versus low brow but the ambience does attract different people.

The price of drinks does obviously differ depending on ingredients and how much of the cost goes towards the overall experience as well as the drink. It is fair to say a cocktail in a five-star hotel is going to be better quality than a bar on a high street.

There has been a rise of females travelling solo and hotels have tried to cater for this but it is still recommended that accommodation is chosen wisely. Most hotels provide their own security in some shape or form and on the whole do everything they can to ensure their guests are safe, but there are still queries that must be considered for any solo traveller. Advice has ranged from only including a first initial and surname to ensure the room booked isn’t gender specific to ringing the front desk to check if a person knocks on the bedroom door, even if they claim they are from ‘housekeeping’ or similar. Many have argued solo travellers must ‘trust their instincts’ if any situation seems awry.

Whatever the appeal for a hotel bar, it does seem to come down to a subjective argument. The hope for hotels is their bar is chosen by guests because it is overall the most popular choice with numerous advantages over a local independent bar competitor. If one of these advantages is because a woman on her own or with a group of other women feels safe, then that hotel has ticked another important box in its appeal.