Destinations All-Access Pass to Music-Inspired Hotels

by Kate Donnelly | September 18, 2019

Photo courtesy of the Magic Rat

A Broadway legend mounts the stage. A rock ‘n’ roll icon lays tracks in a basement studio. An emerging band strums in a casual living room-inspired space — in a hotel.

That's right, this isn't happening in expected big name venues or legendary recording houses — but rather, it's all going down in music-focused hotels. These days, music-lovers don’t have to travel far to follow their passion for music thanks to a crop of stays offering a one-stop shop for tunes, cocktails and buzzy acts.

From New York City to Los Angeles — and with an eclectic roster of indie rock, cabaret and classic jazz — it’s never been easier to experience the pulse of new, state-of-the-art venues and intimate industry haunts. The best part? Hotel guests can claim first dibs on coveted reservations for shows, and later, retreat upstairs for slumber.

Yes, you can live the rock 'n' roll lifestyle — well, during your stay anyway at these seven music-inspired hotels.

If you like cabaret

The Carlyle Hotel

New York, NY

Since 1955, Café Carlyle, the intimate, amber-toned cafe situated on New York’s Upper East Side, has been dishing out a duo of supper (oysters, steak and champagne) and classic cabaret. Thanks to a rotating A-list roster: Broadway crooners, Hollywood superstars and fashion designers, you’ll also find performances by comedians and rock ‘n’ roll icons. The venue’s whimsical, music-themed murals serve as the perfect bridge of music past and present. And, in keeping with the throwback style of a more refined era, the hotel's 188 elegant rooms — some with sweeping Central Park views — are a posh place to retire after a sophisticated night in. 

Consider going: From late January through March, when nearby Lincoln Center hosts their annual American Songbook, an eclectic concert series featuring opera and Broadway singers, avant-pop trios and folk artists.

The venue’s whimsical, music-themed murals serve as the perfect bridge of music past and present.
End Quote

For jazz aficionados

Ace Hotel New Orleans 

New Orleans, LA

It's no secret that jazz holds front-and-center stage in the Big Easy, but there's also a buzzy indie music scene. And, for an all-access peek inside it all Three Keys is the place. The handsome, bi-level venue inside the hip Ace Hotel showcases rotating performances from both up-and-comers and established acts. Dressed with wood-paneled walls and black-and-white patterned floors, hotel guests can slip inside (pssst: free of charge) and sip classic Bayou cocktails such as the House Frozen made with a rose-hued aperitif, rum with coconut water, an anise-flavored liqueur, lemon and cherry. Continue the listening upstairs, where 234 Deco-styled rooms dovetail with record turntables and acoustic guitars, perfect for post-show strumming.

Consider going: A particularly jumping time to visit is in the spring, when the annual three-day French Quarter Festival celebrates the jazz, culture and the heritage of New Orleans.

Roxy Hotel

New York, NY

Located in the cellar of New York’s venerable Roxy Hotel in Tribeca, the small, clubby Django is an ideal locale for bespoke cocktails, small plates and nightly jazz. Inspired by ’20s Paris boîtes (translation: nightclubs), you’ll also find soft yellow-orange lighting, curved leather banquettes, brick walls, vaulted ceilings and a jewel-box stage. Of course, sound snobs will appreciate the pitch-perfect sound system. Make sure to call ahead; the space often hosts album release after-parties. Opt for one of the upstairs suites, whose contents pop with Art Deco trimmings and a turntable with well-curated vinyl.

Consider going: Every January, music aficionados gather for two nights for the WinterJazzfest, where multiple Greenwich Village bars and clubs host old-school and up-and-coming performers.

exterior of the Roxy Hotel

Photo courtesy of the Roxy Hotel

Country and western fans

Hutton Hotel Nashville

Nashville, TN

Nestled in Nashville’s West End neighborhood, Analog inside the Hutton Hotel feels like cross between your friend’s living room and a state-of-the-art sound recording studio. “It’s about art, entertainment, creativity and community,” says Jill Schmidt, the club's director of programming. Kitted out with area rugs, leather couches and loungers, there’s also a geometric mural and modular stage where both award winners and emerging artists have been known to croon. You’ll also find poetry nights, dance performances and even magicians. Later, retreat to your room styled with classic Southern touches and a rock-and-roll edge.

Consider going: Although Music City never skips a beat, consider dropping your bags in mid-September, where the six-day AMERICANAFEST marries rising stars and veterans in country, folks, blues and soul-based music.

Analog bar at the Hutton Hotel in Nashville

Photo courtesy of the Hutton Hotel

Eclectic music tastes

Elizabeth Hotel 

Fort Collins, CO

In downtown Fort Collins, drop by the stylish, emerald-colored Magic Rat for a menu of eclectic music, acoustic sets and late-night jam sessions. Just off the lobby of the Elizabeth Hotel, and decked in vibrant primary colors and green subway tiles, you’ll also find buttery caramel sofas and orange swivel chairs. Nab a seat at the bar for a canned rosé or huddle around the fireplace with a local craft beer and a bag of popcorn. Meanwhile, the 164 contemporary-flared rooms are wired with personal record players, while the lobby has a musical instrument collection that you can borrow. As they say, practice makes perfect.

Consider going: In mid-August, fans gather for the town's free outdoor summer concert series, Bohemian Nights, offering three evenings of rock, R&B, Americana and reggae artists.

Nab a seat at the bar for a canned rosé or huddle around the fireplace with a local craft beer and a bag of popcorn.
End Quote

Hip to indie hits

The Jupiter Hotel

Portland, OR

For 15 years, and befitting of its rugged Pacific Northwest locale, in-the-know hotel guests swing by Doug Fir Lounge, a warm, log cabin-inspired-meets-futuristic venue. With a lineup of eclectic and indie bands, you'll also find local craft beers and molecular cocktails. “Whether it's a band on the rise or your favorite indie act returning from a 20-year hiatus, we welcome them in for an intimate experience in one of the best sounding rooms in Portland,” says the lounge’s manager and talent buyer, Eric Zamarripa. The former motor lodge peppers its 81 minimalist-meets-retro rooms with large-scale painted murals of pop-cultural figures.

Consider going: Rose City hosts a bevy of independent acts, but April ushers in Soul'd Out Music Festival headlining a mix of jazz, fusion, funk electronic and hip-hop artists at a sprinkling of local venues.

Fireplace and seating at the Doug Fir Lounge

Photo courtesy of Thomas Teal

Rock ‘n’ roll history buffs

Sunset Marquis

West Hollywood, CA 

Just steps from the Sunset Strip, this fabled hotel once hosted a group of hard partying rock stars. While times have changed, guests can retrace history starting with libations at Bar 1200 where glossy autographed snaps line the walls; or nosh at Cavatina where famous musicians are often spotted. And, just below, the subterranean NightBird Recording Studios serves as de facto stop for some of the biggest names in the biz. Afterwards, guests sunbathe around the pool, where A-list ’70s musicians were once known to gather around an old turf-clad pool deck.

Consider going: Look out for the return of the late-summer Made in LA festival, which launched this year and brought together music and arts lovers to celebrate LA-based creators.

the pool at the Sunset Marquis

Photo courtesy of the Sunset Marquis

As hotels enhance their in-house musical offerings, guests won't have to wander far for the best in show, while nearby live festivals add a bonus prize. The best part? Come evening, return to the communal confines of the lobby or your room, where savvy sound systems, music memorabilia, turntables, vintage LPs and even loaner instruments let you feel like you're part of the act.

Kate Donnelly

is a travel, food and lifestyle writer living in New York City. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal Magazine, Travel & Leisure, Departures and Architectural Digest.