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You don't need to check in to check out the best hotel bars in Western Pa.

| Wednesday, July 27, 2016, 1:39 p.m.
Sidney Davis | Tribune-Review
Customers at Andys in the Fairmont Hotel enjoy live music and drinks on Thursday, June 24, 2016.
Sidney Davis | Tribune-Review
A French Martini served bar side at Andys in the Fairmont Hotel enjoy live music and drinks on Thursday, June 24, 2016.
Andrew Russell | Tribune-Review
Monk’s Bar is a small bar located at the Priory Hotel in Deutschtown.
Andrew Russell | Tribune-Review
The Monkitini, made of Stolichnaya ( Stoli ) Raspberry Vodka, Chambord and Lime, is offered at the Monk’s Bar, a small bar located at the Priory Hotel in Deutschtown.
Nate Smallwood | Tribune Review
Bartenders tend to the customers at the Ace Hotel bar in East Liberty on July 1, 2016.
Nate Smallwood | Tribune Review
The 'Fritzie Zivic' at the Ace Hotel bar in East Liberty on July 1, 2016.
An elegant setting adds to the appeal of cocktails in the Omni William Penn lobby.
The lobby bar at Chateau LaFayette, Nemacolin Woodlands Resort, offers a clubby setting.

We have some amazing hotels in the Pittsburgh region and, though you may not find yourself checking into a room for a staycation, the lobby bars are open to all.

Whether you're looking for an intimate place to rendezvous with friends before a theater show or looking for a post-dinner nightcap, head to one of these hotel lobby bars and experience fine cordials and exceptional hospitality.

Andys Wine Bar

Fairmont Pittsburgh, Downtown

The lobby at the Fairmont Pittsburgh has some of the best people-watching around, with large windows, plush seating and stunning views of Downtown.

Andys Wine Bar is not only a welcoming place for travelers to the city, it's meant to be a space for locals to come be a part of the hotel.

“Every great hotel needs a great gathering place,” says Matthew Sterne, general manager of Fairmont Pittsburgh. “Ours is Andys.”

Sterne wants everyone to come and enjoy the luxurious hotel. Hang out, grab a cocktail, meet friends, and listen to live jazz music four nights a week, Wednesday through Saturday.

The “magic” that makes Andys so special is a combination of many things. The talented bartenders and waitstaff have that “Pittsburgh hospitality,” Sterne points out, which is friendly and unpretentious. Cocktails pay homage to the classics, but are given a modern twist. And live jazz music creates a feel and an ambiance that radiates outside of the glass windows, drawing people in from the street. It's no surprise to find about 150 people enjoying themselves on Friday and Saturday nights.

For almost six years, Andys has been hosting live jazz, and it has livened up the place ever since its inception. At the beginning, Sterne says, there was a need for entertainment Downtown. Now, people still come — even with all of the other options — on a constant basis.

Ace Hotel East Liberty

The lobby in the Ace Hotel is always busy. There are friends hanging out, waiting for a table at the hotel's Whitfield restaurant, people working on business deals over lattes and cappuccinos from the coffee bar, or dates grabbing a cocktail at the lobby bar. It always draws a crowd, and that's intentional, as this hip and cool space is designed to be more of a community and cultural center than your typical hotel lobby.

“We love when people hang out all day,” says Olivier Rassinoux, Ace Hotel's global food and beverage director. “We love it when people fill up the lobby.”

The crowd the Ace draws is truly unique, says Michael Goldberg, director of food and beverage. Unlike in many hotel lobby bars, “we see a lot of people come here for drinks, go out to dinner, then come back afterward.”

Goldberg says the bar's clientele really enjoy a well-made cocktail and the bartenders are willing to cater to individual desires, going off the menu to create something special.

What makes the lobby bar so popular is not only that it's the new cool spot in town, but the events that the hotel always puts on. There's Industry Night on Mondays with live rotating DJs and food and drink specials, and the popular Title Town, a funk and soul dance party held the second Friday of every month.

“We try not to be a hotel bar,” Rassinoux says, “but a bar within a hotel.”

Chateau LaFayette Nemacolin Woodlands Resort, Farmington

Inspired by the Ritz Carlton in Paris, the Chateau LaFayette at Nemacolin Woodlands Resort is nothing short of luxurious. The hotel's lobby boasts a quaint little bar with plush, formal seating that has that old-school classic vibe.

“After a long drive, the lobby bar is there to quench your thirst,” says Tony Liartis, director of food and beverage. And, he says, there's always something for everyone.

The bar serves libations in the early afternoon and evenings, including the signature cocktail, a barrel-aged Orange Negroni. With your cocktail, you can enjoy a small-plates menu from the hotel's French fine-dining restaurant, Lautrec, including an artisanal cheese plate, fois gras, bacon beignets and a variety of desserts.

“To be successful, there's always something going on,” Liartis says. “It keeps things fresh.”

When the lobby bar closes at 8 p.m., guests can head to the hotel's cigar bar for whiskey, scotch and a variety of wines and cocktails like the smoky martini. With its clubby atmosphere complete with wood paneling, stacks of books, lockers and leather chairs, this space is perfect for intimate conversations into the night.


PALM COURT Omni William Penn, Downtown

Tucked in the far back corner, through the grand lobby, you'll find the cozy Palm Court lobby bar. The best view can be found by entering the Terrace Room and sitting on a seat overlooking the lobby, says Brain Annapolen, director of food and beverage. It's his favorite spot to people-watch.

Or relax in a cushy lobby easy chair and be served in the manner a special person like you deserves.

As with most hotel lobby bars, the bar is first place guests find before heading out and exploring the city. And, it's one of the best places to get recommendations on where to eat and what to do.

“The bartenders know the ins and outs of the city,” says Sarah Shriber, area marketing manager. “They're like the Secret Service of the hotel.”

The Palm Court's cocktails include the throwback classics of Negronis, Manhattans and Old Fashioneds, but there's cocktails with twists, too, like the Blueberry Mule. Four craft beers are on constant rotation and the hotel is starting to beef up its brown liquor and local spirit selection.

On weekends, the Bloody Mary bar is set up with a variety of vodkas and over 30 accouterments, ranging from maple bacon, chorizo, kielbasa and pickled asparagus to a plethora of hot sauces, bitters, horseradish, wasabi and blue cheese-stuffed olives.

The Monks' Bar The Priory Hotel, North Side

The Priory Hotel is home to one of the smallest bars in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania — The Monks' Bar — a bar you probably have never heard of. This tiny bar with nine seats is in this former Benedictine monastery's parish priest's office. The vault that once held the parish's archives now holds bottles of alcohol.

The bar made its debut in 2011. Prior to it, the hotel had an honors-system bar in the lobby where guests could make their own cocktails and charge them to their rooms. As the hotel grew to over 40 rooms, there was a need for a full bar and person on site to engage with guests.

The Monks' Bar is not just for hotel guests. It serves as a neighborhood bar in this part of town. Tim McGlothlin, director of guest services, says this little, but mighty, bar can serve anything from a vodka and cranberry to an 18-year-old scotch. The house specialty cocktail is the “Monktini” made with Stoli Razberi, Chambord and lime. It was one of the first drinks created when the bar opened, and it's been popular ever since.

Wine is available by the glass or bottle and every bottle carried is a specialty wine not found in a liquor store. The hotel offers a wine tasting the third Thursday of every month so you can sample a variety of them.

Beer is on the menu, highlighting local flavors of Iron City and Church Brew Works.

“Monks used to brew beer in the basement, but we don't brew beer here anymore,” McGlothlin says. “But we do serve drinks.”

The Monks' Bar is open every day from 5 to 11 p.m.


Sarah Sudar is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.

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