It’s what’s inside that matters.
Wrong. The outside is pretty damn important, too, at least when hotel architecture is involved. Hotels with unique architecture are bold ventures. It’s not as simple as looking cool to attract guests.
Any new building is, by definition, part of the place its foundations are laid in. But a boundary-pushing structure can change the fabric of a city’s DNA.
A skyline shift tells you what direction a city is facing. Is it stepping into the future, holding onto the past, or combining both? The hotels featured in this list are marvels in their own right, but dig deeper, and you can tell a lot more about the destination.
Studio City Macau
Location: Macau, China
Vibe: Lunacy and luxury
The rundown: The autonomous region of Macau isn’t known for its half measures. Its heavy focus on opulence, gambling, and high-end resorts has resulted in a number of boundary-pushing structures bordering on lunacy. Studio City Macau is no exception.
You see the big circle in the middle of the building? Those little balls are pods carrying guests on its now iconic figure-eight Ferris wheel. In the designer’s own words, he wanted the building to look like an Art eo structure that an asteroid hit. Mission accomplished.
Inntel Hotels Amsterdam Zaandam
Location: Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Vibe: Traditional with a twist
The rundown: Sometimes the old ways are better, right? Dutch architect Wilfried van Winden thought so, too. But in the new forward-facing architectural landscape of The Netherlands, he wanted to take it in a different direction. The result was Inntel Hotels Zaandam, a brain-boggling mish-mash of over 60 traditional Dutch homes into one superstructure.
The 12-story building is hard to process in a single glance. Multiple viewings are required to understand the complexity of the design. There’s something wonderfully playful about the hotel, like a kid mixing and matching his favorite Lego sets into something extra special. Best of all, it’s only around $95 a night and just a short train ride from central Amsterdam.
Four Seasons Hotel Guangzhou
Location: Guangzhou, China
Vibe: Futuristic and fabulous
The rundown: We could pack this entire list with Chinese hotels. The scale of the projects is different there. But for the sake of variety, we’ll cap our Chinese offerings with the Four Seasons Hotel in Guangzhou.
Pulled from the pages of a sci-fi novel, the immense building’s hollowed-out atrium soars skyward towards a glass ceiling, while the ingenious use of light and natural curvature gifts the hotel with an organic aura. Supporting trusses pass through many of the guestrooms, functioning as both an angular design feature to work around and a cohesion tactic—everything in the hotel is connected.
Pan Pacific Orchard
Vibe: Inner-city Garden of Eden
The rundown: Few cities have nailed the urban greenery thing like Singapore. Its hyper-modern skyscrapers are designed with the planet in mind, resulting in delightful additions like the Pan Pacific Orchard. Impeccably designed with a unique open-wall illusion and framed with as much greenery as can be artfully installed, it’s one of the truest examples of green architecture.
Each of the four stacked cubes is themed around nature—beach, forest, garden, and cloud—with rooms designed to embody the characteristics of those environments. Its location is excellent, too, with almost direct access to Singapore Botanical Gardens via the new green road, Orchard Avenue.
Location: Edefors Vag, Sweden
Vibe: Out of sight, very much in the mind
The rundown: Does it count as incredible architecture if the design renders you unable to see the hotel? We’ll let you decide. Either way, Tree Hotel in Sweden is exceptional. The unique property features a number of forest huts, hidden high amongst the trees.
Each boasts its own style, from a sharply imagined minimalist wooden box to a mirrored cube that dissolves into its surroundings. Whatever your choice, it’s sure to be a special night. Heading there at the right time of the year gives you a front seat to the world’s greatest show:the Northern Lights.
Hotel Marques de Riscal
Location: Bilbao, Spain
Vibe: Scrap metal scrubs up well
The rundown: If you’re searching for a beautiful, traditionally designed hotel to top off your already exquisite wine city, don’t ask Frank O. Gehry. The renowned architect has designed some of the most iconic buildings on the planet, but none of them are traditional. The Hotel Marques de Riscal is no exception to that rule.
Ebbing and flowing within itself, the hotel’s scrap metal origami is a wonder to behold. It sits in stark contrast with the picturesque landscape but has put the little town of Rioja on the tourist map. The wonder doesn’t stop outside. Within its walls, you’ll find a Michelin-starred restaurant, a wine-therapy spa, and further incomparable interior design effects from Gehry himself.