10 hotels with eye-popping design and architecture
These popular places are packed with pizzazz and personality.
Not all hotels occupy bland, office block-style high rises; some tourist accommodations enjoy much more design-forward digs.
Increasing numbers of bold, experimental hotels can be seen in countries all across the globe, whether occupying refashioned heritage buildings or new, purpose-built structures. These creative, design-driven properties are shaking up the hospitality scene, with many fast establishing themselves as must-see sights and landmarks in their own right.
Why consign yourself to looking at these beautiful design-focused hotels from afar, when you can book a room and stay inside these impressive accommodations? Here are 10 of the finest.
Park Inn Hotel, Mason, Iowa
Few names draw as much respect in the design world as Frank Lloyd Wright, the starchitect behind some of the 20th century’s most influential buildings, from his own winter home, Taliesin West in Arizona to New York’s sculptural icon, the Guggenheim. Though Wright was prolific, he designed but a handful of hotels, of which only one – the Park Inn Hotel in Iowa – remains standing. After a recent restoration, this hotel reopened in 2011, and continues to draw in architecture enthusiasts who want to study firsthand its Prairie School-influenced elements, such as stained-glass skylights and overhanging eaves.
The Poli House, Tel Aviv, Israel
The latest in a wave of design hotels to spring up in Tel Aviv, the Poli House occupies a newly renovated 1934 modernist building that boasts a white concrete exterior and those sleek curving lines so typical of the Bauhaus style. Uninhabited up until 2012, this building was beautifully restored by Tel Aviv-based Nitza Szmuk Architects. World-renowned industrial designer Karim Rashid, the man behind the famous Garbo garbage can and the hugely popular bobble filtered water bottle, was enlisted to put his signature stamp on the contemporary, color-infused interior of this Israeli hotel.
Fogo Island Inn, Newfoundland, Canada
Partially perched on stilts and surrounded by craggy rock, this minimalist inn makes quite the aesthetic impact. The hotel, designed by Newfoundland and Labrador native Todd Saunders, enjoys an end-of-the-world setting on Canada’s rugged eastern coast and comes equipped with modern amenities including a library stocked with local fiction and non-fiction works, as well as a contemporary art gallery and rooftop sauna.
Marina Bay Sands, Singapore
This five-star hotel sits within Singapore’s futuristic Marina Bay Sands complex, which was designed by Israeli-born architect Moshe Safdie. The hotel spreads across three eye-catching 55-story towers, which are all connected by the SkyPark roof terrace, home to fine-dining restaurants and bars, shops and what must surely be the most remarkably set infinity pool in the world.
QT Sydney, Sydney, Australia
This quirky boutique hotel prides itself on being different. It is the result of an amalgamation between two 1920s buildings, whose already eclectic architectural influences span gothic to art deco. Inside the QT, an artfully decorated interior presents a bold mix of heritage features and funky, modern elements including geometric patterns on the ceilings and floors, rich wooden accents and playful additions such as bowler hat lamps and one-off artworks.
Macalister Mansion, Penang, Malaysia
A refitted and restyled 100-year-old colonial-era mansion, this impeccably designed and wonderfully intimate boutique hotel manages to both invoke the spirit of an old English mansion, while simultaneously incorporating funky modern touches. Specially commissioned works from Southeast Asian artists can be found throughout the Macalister’s eight individually designed rooms. In one room, guests will find a Shakespeare-inspired love sonnet on the wall, while another room hosts a textile art piece offering a contemporary take on the Scottish Macalister clan colors.
Relais Masseria Capasa, Martano, Italy
Another renovated historical property, Relais Masseria Capasa sits in the heart of Puglia, a predominantly rural southern Italian region favored by tourists who want to steer clear of the crowds of Tuscany. From the outside, this 18th century structure looks much like many of the other old stone farmhouses that stud this olive and fig tree-strewn region. Rough-hewn stone walls inside and out lend the hotel a unique sense of place, and are complemented by a muted natural color palette dominated by grey and beige hues.
Radisson Blu Stockholm Waterfront, Sweden
Think of chain hotels and you probably think of bland, safe design. The Radisson Blue Stockholm Waterfront blows that assumption out of the water. This hotel, part of the White Arkitekter-designed Stockholm Waterfront congress center, shows off Scandinavian design at its finest. Not only is this main congress building aesthetically striking, most notably for the ribbon-like bars of steel that surround it – which are set back slightly from the building itself, creating a dramatic veil effect – but it is also eco-friendly and energy efficient thanks to its solar collectors and innovative cooling system, which relies on water drawn from the lake.
Saffire Freycinet, Tasmania, Australia
This luxury lodge, which opened in 2010, has been bestowed with a litany of architecture and design accolades, with critics praising the way in which it manages to be simultaneously iconic and yet somehow respectful of and even harmonious with its surrounding. The complex is dominated by a voluminous stingray-shaped building, while interiors feature colors and textures borrowed from the surrounding natural landscape. Not only does Saffire Freycinet look good, but it also has a reputation for providing first-rate facilities and amenities, and was even named the world’s best boutique hotel at the 2014 World Boutique Hotel Awards.
H2Hotel, Sonoma, California
High-end hotels in California’s wine country used to be fixated on the Old World, obsessed with evoking the spirit of Tuscany. That is, until, the pioneering H2Hotel opened, bringing a sleeker, more minimalist and modern accommodation alternative to Sonoma. White linens, bamboo floors, salvaged wood and a planted roof create a down-to-earth yet chic atmosphere.
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