Height matters. It helps a footballer get on top of a phalanx of defenders to head the ball over a keeper’s flailing, outstretched arms. It helps an attacker spike a volleyball with effective velocity. And it can determine whether a basketball is crammed into the hoop or desperately chucked from 20 feet out.
We’ll refrain from pursuing more sports analogies to underscore the fundamental argument that height is a decided advantage. A rare frill even, especially where hotels are concerned.
The high-rise fever that has swarmed the likes of China, Southeast Asia and the Arabian Peninsula is a veritable race to the top. And while on paper it may look like a ginormous egofest to capture the next record-breaking skyscraper title there is a lot of demand, apparently, behind the (altitudinous) construction boom. A demand for a different brand of luxury, not just in that cushy corner office but in that cushy executive suite.
Yes, indeed, inside every Burj Khalifa and International Finance Centre lurks a new kind of hotel. One with observation decks, skybars, rooftop pools and floor-to-ceiling windows that provide breathtaking views. To understand where we are now in terms of the tallest hotels in the world, however, we need to take a look at the country where it all began. Here then, are some of the most interesting tallest hotels in the United States of America.
Loews Philadelphia Hotel
150 m, 36 floors
The City of Brotherly Love’s first skyscraper may have been built in 1932 during the Great Depression but evokes the design ambitions of the Jazz Age. The Market Street landmark is one of the city’s most beloved and is close to heavyweights like the Philadelphia Museum of Art and UNESCO World Heritage Independence Hall.
Hilton San Francisco Union Square
150 m, 36 floors
A bellwether of Brutalist architecture, the Hilton San Francisco Union Square is a short walk from the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, Hubert Keller’s Fleur de Lys and, of course, Union Square shops.
Bellagio Resort & Casino, Las Vegas
155 m, 36 floors
Maybe Sin City’s most famous hotel, the Bellagio has made cameos in Hollywood blockbusters and hosts Cirque de Soleil’s spectacularly successful O.
The Pierre, New York City
160 m, 41 floors
New York City is a mecca of hotel towers, of course, with the distinctive Pierre, on the fringe of Central Park, a standout. Locale is key here, with tourist magnets like the MoMA, Whitney Museum, Frick Collection and Harry Cipriani all close by.
W Times Square, New York City
178 m, 53 floors
The most conspicuous Times Square hotel features an “Extreme Wow Suite” on the property’s top two floors.
The Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, New York City
191 m, 37 floors
Perhaps the most influential and iconic hotel of all time, the Waldorf-Astoria is part hotel, part landmark and part museum. The first hotel to offer room service is Art Deco incarnate and just minutes from Grand Central Terminal.
Encore Las Vegas
192 m, 48 floors
Stephen Weinberg (a.k.a Steve Wynn) helped a derelict Las Vegas Strip hit the reset button in the 1990s with casino resorts like the Bellagio and the Mirage. His Wynn and Encore properties, built in 2005 and 2008 respectively, however, have been game changers.
Four Seasons Hotel New York
208 m, 52 floors
Four Seasons, the household-name luxury hotel brand, erected a new flagship property in Manhattan in 1993 with interiors and a penthouse suite designed by Pritzker starchitect I. M. Pei. The result is one of the best high-rise hotels in the world, mere minutes from Rockefeller Plaza and the Museum of Modern Art.
Westin Peachtree Plaza Hotel, Atlanta
220 m, 73 floors
Former Olympic Games city Atlanta’s skyscraper hotel tops out at a whopping 73 floors, which makes it the second-tallest hotel high-rise in the Western Hemisphere. Landmarks nearby include the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site, World of Coca-Cola and the Georgia Aquarium.
Detroit Marriott at the Renaissance Center
222 m, 73 floors
Detroit’s tough times have been well-chronicled but it’s hard to believe that the city that once built architectural marvels like One Detroit Center, Chrysler House, the Fisher Building, the Guardian Building and, indeed, the Renaissance Center that houses the lofty Detroit Marriott won’t land on its feet.