Human beings have been meeting at ground level for millennia. In this day and age, however, the most memorable meetings aren't those that perpetuate tradition; rather, they're those that break from it. Instead of meeting on terra firma, therefore, many groups are choosing venues that allow them to convene either well below the Earth's surface or high above it: in wine cellars and on rooftops.
Each has its merits. Groups that descend into wine cellars, for instance, will find venues that are cool, cozy, and creative. Groups that ascend to rooftops, meanwhile, will encounter venues that are open, airy, and bright. The latter highlight where you are; the former, who you're with. Both, however, promise memorable experiences that get their attitude from their altitude.
Whether you prefer a root-level retreat or a soiree in the sky, here's a mix of 10 venues that can help you achieve your objective: a meeting that reaches new depths or one that soars to new heights.
Cellar: The Ashton Hotel
(Fort Worth, TX)
The lower level of The Ashton Hotel in Fort Worth, TX, is home to The Wine Cellar, a private dining space for up to 20 guests that the hotel claims is frequented by the likes of Bill Gates and Warren Buffett. It's easy to see why: The room has a gold-pressed tin ceiling, a slate floor, and natural stone walls that are complemented by rich wood accents and soft lighting, which collectively give the space a soft elegance that will make your meeting as refined as it is intimate.
Sky: Kimpton Mason & Rook Hotel
The District of Columbia is where ambitious politicians go to climb their way to the top. At Kimpton's Mason & Rook, rising to the top is much easier: All you have to do is board the elevator to the rooftop bar, which can host groups of up to 60 for private events. The hotel's restaurant, Radiator, can arrange a menu of seasonal fare and craft cocktails served beside the rooftop pool with views of the capital's skyline.
Cellar: The Apiary
Kentucky is known for bourbon. At special-events venue The Apiary, however, wine is front and center thanks to the property's cozy wine cellar, which features a farmhouse-style table for 10 that's surrounded by a sizable wine collection. Lest you forget you're in Lexington, the rustic space is adorned in reclaimed brick, stone pavers from a local horse farm, and exposed wooden beams from a former tobacco warehouse.
Sky: Pod Brooklyn
Pod Hotels is known for its modular accommodations. At its newest hotel, however -- Pod Brooklyn, opening this summer in Brooklyn's Williamsburg neighborhood -- the star of the show won't be its minimalist guest rooms. Rather, it will be the expansive public spaces designed as their counterpoint, including four separate rooftop spaces offering views of Lower Manhattan on the other side of the East River. The main rooftop, the hotel reports, will be home to a lively bar where guests can order cocktails and light bites from the ground-floor restaurant, Salvation Taco. Although details aren't yet available, it promises that the other three rooftops will offer private event spaces and lounge areas.
Cellar: The Battery
(San Francisco, CA)
The Battery isn't just a chic private social club in San Francisco's financial district. It's also the home of a sleek wine cellar that houses 3,000 bottles of wine representing 600 labels from around the world, handpicked by the club's French Master Sommelier. The space itself -- which can accommodate groups of up to 35 -- is adorned with oak from reclaimed wine barrels and lit by a chandelier crafted from recycled wine bottles. "Cool" is an understatement.
Sky: LondonHouse Chicago
The subject of Chicago's best views usually is Lake Michigan. One exception, however, is the view from LH, the Windy City's only tri-level rooftop overlooking the Chicago River from LondonHouse Chicago. The lowest rooftop, LH on 21, is home to an indoor bar serving re-imagined American fare and cocktails, plus an indoor meeting room and connected outdoor terrace for groups of up to 150 and 75, respectively. Above that is LH on 22, an outdoor terrace specializing in classic cocktails and small bites. Finally, on top of it all, is Cupola, a private space on the 23rd floor that can host groups of up to 30 for outdoor receptions beneath the building's historic beaux arts dome.
Cellar: XV Beacon
XV Beacon is a luxury boutique hotel in Boston's historic Beacon Hill neighborhood. The hotel and its adjacent restaurant -- the fine-dining steakhouse Mooo… -- sit atop land once occupied by the Bromfield Mansion, a historic home built by merchant Edward Bromfield in 1722. The restaurant's private-dining venue, The Wine Cellar, was built around the original mansion's foundations, giving the space a uniquely historic appeal. Highlights include a renovated Roman mosaic dating from 500 A.D. and double-vaulted ceilings that are complemented by hundreds of bottles of wine, including vintages from the 1700s when the Bromfield Mansion was built.
Sky: Hotel Erwin
Los Angeles has no shortage of chic rooftops with views of downtown and the Hollywood Hills. Finding one with beach views, however, is trickier. For that reason, Angelinos consider Hotel Erwin (pictured above) to be a gem. Featuring a Bohemian vibe that perfectly matches its Venice Beach surroundings, the hotel's highlight is High Rooftop Lounge, which can be rented in its entirety for groups of up to 95. Especially nice at sunset, the venue offers a unique F&B spread that includes nostalgic selections like grilled cheese, modern sweets like liquid-nitrogen ice cream, and SoCal standbys like tacos.
Cellar: Rutherford Hill
No wine-cellar list would be complete without an entry from Napa Valley, which has a plethora of sexy subterranean meeting spaces. One of the most notable is at Rutherford Hill winery, which stores and ages its wines in oak barrels inside a network of underground tunnels and caves that were excavated in the 1980s and improved in 2000, when the winery applied a fresh layer of shot-crete to the interior cave walls and installed an enhanced lighting system of sconces and chandeliers. Along with wine, the caves today play host to private groups, which can enjoy unique "cave dining" events by candlelight.
You can see the Rocky Mountains from almost anywhere in the Mile High City. One of the best spots from which to see them, however, is Halcyon in Denver's posh Cherry Creek neighborhood. The hotel's rooftop is occupied by Departure Elevated, an elevated sibling to Departure, its ground-floor restaurant. Along with breathtaking views of the Rockies and the Denver skyline, it's special for its daily dim sum carts featuring handmade dumplings, meats and seafood cooked on a Japanese kushiyaki grill, and combinations of consciously sourced sushi rolls.