Question: We are going away for Shabbos and staying in a hotel. The hotel doesn’t allow us to light candles in our room though said that we can light in the dining room or lobby. What should we do?
Answer: The Shulchan Aruch (OC 263:8) questions whether more than one family can recite a beracha if they light their candles next to each other. The Rema, however, disagrees, allowing multiple families to light together. While the Kaf Hachaim (OC 263:56) writes that sefardim follow the Rema, R’ Ovadia Yosef (Yalkut Yosef, Shabbos 263:19) maintains that sefardim should follow the Shulchan Aruch and so avoid lighting together. Ashkenazim, however, follow the Rema and would each say a beracha even when lighting next to each other. Nonetheless, the Mishna Berura (263:38) writes that ideally one should light in their bedroom and recite the beracha there, rather than together with others in the dining room.
The Magen Avraham (263:21) writes that one cannot light in a public room that one isn’t eating in. One cannot, therefore, say a beracha when lighting candles in a hotel lobby.
R’ Yehoshua Neuwirth (Shemiras Shabbos Kehilchasa 45:9) writes that the minhag is for women to each light in the dining room, though they should do so near to where they will eat, or if necessary, at least to where others are eating (ibid. n44).
R’ Yaakov Kamenetsky (Emes Leyaakov OC 263:n274) advises that one switch on a light in their hotel room, such as one’s bathroom light before lighting candles in the dining room. That way, she has fulfilled her obligation either way.
While many have the minhag to light numerous candles, R’ Neuwirth (Shemiras Shabbos Kehilchasa 43:3) and R' Ephraim Greenblatt (Rivevos Ephraim 6:128) write that the minhag is to only light 2 when away from home.
In conclusion, one cannot recite the beracha when lighting in the hotel lobby. Ideally one should switch a light on in one’s hotel room before lighting candles in the dining room, ideally close to where they will be eating.