ESCAPE ROUTE

«The great advantage of a hotel is that it’s a great refuge from homo life. «Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw once sold. And so it is. The hotel offers us an escape from our dally routine – a world of protracted rain-soaked commutation (depending on where you call home), underpaid work (which, lets it, applies to everyone, for who among us thinks they are overpaid?), and a never-ending cycle of domestic chores. Hotels feature in many of our happiest memories: namely, honeymoons and vacations. The hotel, for two weeks a year, is a portal to a better place. Unless, of course, you have the misfortune to end up staying in some half-built-holiday-hell hotel where the sound of pneumatic drills and me smell of backed-up plumbing grip your holiday experience in the embrace of bitter disappointment.

Hotel, nave also provided the backdrop for many significant cultural and historic events… and for a few fictional ones, too. John and Yoko’s «bed-in for peace» at the Amsterdam Hilton was a fin de sixties moment, bookending a decade of counterculture empowerment that, arguably, had begun with Martin Luther King Junior’s I Have a Dream speech In 1963. Lorraine Motel in Memphis will live long in infamy as the place where the Nobel Peace Prize-winning civil rights campaigner was assassinated five years later. Bates Motel continues to raise back-of-the-neck hairs. And some, like New York’s Chelsea, are woven info the fabric of popular culture; Bob Dylan wrote Sad-Eyed Lady of the Lowlands al that iconic Big Apple establishment. Janis Joplin once went there, too, looking for Kris Kristofferson, but found Leonard instead. Writers and hotels have an occasion collaborated to create canonical manuscripts as well; Graham Greene penned much of The Quiet American while staying at Hanoi’s Metro pole. Rudyard Kipling and Joseph Conrad are two of the many literary figures to have signed the guest book at Raffles Hotel In Singapore.

Of course, access to lop-tier hotels requires deep pockets, but there are still many less famous, less glamorous and more affordable establishments out there that are well worth a slay. There is a new hostel in Japan’s capital that has a clean, simple exterior, minimalist timber interiors, and offers guests, among other attractions, great views of Tokyo Bay. And there is Generator – a brand that does a nice line in adaptive reuse, turning old buildings into fresh, youthful, affordable hotels.

With city space an increasingly expensive commodity, some hotels have had to squeeze into the ‘cracks’ in the urban fabric … and this has led to some interesting designs. Hotel Moure in World Heritage city Santiago de Compostela, for instance, has had to do that while simultaneously respecting the architectural integrity of its historically significant location.

And then there is the boutique hotel — that pricey, design-driven category that prides itself on being unique and standing out from the crowd. But as the number of ‘unique’ boutiques rises, the harder standing out becomes. Finding a new angle, a niche, is therefore necessary. An Oslo incarnation has done this by lining its walls with art … and not the kind you can pick up at Ikea. Rather, it’s the kind that gets delivered in an armored truck. The kind of ‘wallcoverings’ you have to borrow from a museum.

With city space an increasingly expensive commodity, some hotels have had to squeeze into the ‘cracks’ in the urban fabric … and this has led to some interesting designs. Hotel Moure in World Heritage city Santiago de Compostela, for instance, has had to do that while simultaneously respecting the architectural integrity of its historically significant location.

And then there is the boutique hotel – that pricey, design-driven category that prides itself on being unique and standing out from the crowd. But as the number of ‘unique’ boutiques rises, the harder standing out becomes. Finding a new angle, a niche, is therefore necessary. An Oslo incarnation has done this by lining its walls with art … and not the kind you can pick up at Ikea. Rather, it’s the kind that gets delivered in an armored truck. The kind of ‘wallcoverings’ you have to borrow from a museum.

And while there are plenty of decent, well-designed hotels to be found, there are a good number of mediocre ones. too. «Room service?» asks Groucho Marx, holding a hotel telephone to his head in the film A Night at the Opera. «Send up a larger room.» Let hinge help you and your clients avoid such a scenario by pointing you in the direction of some of the more Interesting additions to the hotel design landscape.

The Thief

Oslo, Norway

Exterior: Mellbye Architects AS

Interiors: Anemone Wille Vage

The Thief sits by Oslofjorden, waiting foe the next batch of holiday-makers to arrive in the Norwegian capital. But feat not, Oslo-bound tourists, for The Thief is a suave, urbane boutique hotel. It is the brainchild of Norwegian entrepreneur Petter Stordalen – o self-made billionaire who started out selling strawberries by the roadside.

The hotel a new member of the Design Hotels club, is situated in Tjuvholmen a neighborhood that has recently undergone a process of urban renewal. The building’s multifaceted exterior is the work of Mellbye Architects AS. The glass-and-granite facade curves around The Thief’s waterfront plot, balconies jutting out to create rows of triangles. «The building is a modern rendition of an international luxury hotel, with a strong, mystic character, «says Mellbye. «We wanted to give it a bit of a surreal air. Approaching The Thief, you might blink a few times before realising that it is an actual hotel and not a mirage or a computer rendering.»

But, as is the case with most hotels, it’s what’s inside that really matters to guests. And this hotel is all about art – £3m’s worth of which adorns its interiors. The lobby is festooned with a Richard Prince lithograph titled The Horse Thief; and throughout the hotel Class-A art is on display, courtesy of the very nearby Astrup Fecrley Museum of Art. Stordalen is c patron of the Renzo Piano-designed museum, so guests of The Thief gain admission for free during their stay… though in this case ‘free’ is a relative term as the hotel’s cheapest room costs £200 per night.

Andy Warhol, Damien Hirst and Peter Blake are three of the artists whose work features in the rooms, bar, restaurant and corridors of this high-end gallery-cum-hotel. An eclectic selection of photographs, including images of Kate Moss taken by English crooner Bryan Ferry, and pictures by Norway’s Queen Sonja. also hang on the walls of the hotel. Old Roxy Music record covers are likewise on display. Warhol’s Ladies and Gentlemen. £1.7m’s worth of pop art, is the main feature of the hotel’s restaurant.

The canvasses, installations and photos in the hotel are curated by Sune Nordgren, a former director of Norway’s National Museum of Art. “Visitors to museums or galleries go there with a set purpose and set expectations. In a hotel they experience art in a totally different way. I think that is incredibly exciting and challenging, «says Nordgren. «In our efforts to redefine the term ‘hotel art’, the partnership with the Astrup Fearnley Museum was the clearest signal we could give regarding our ambitions. The Thief will be able to borrow some prominent artworks for strategic locations in the hotel. We hope to change the exhibits throughout the years, thus erecting interesting encounters for our guests with the best in contemporcry art.»

And while the art is the primary attraction, the interiors, by Norwegian designer Anemone Wille Vage, are distinctive and chic – as you would expect from a pricey boutique hotel. Most furniture items are designer pieces by luminaries such as Antonio Citterio, Tom Dixon and Patricia Urquiola. The interiors are, naturally, sumptuous, and display a sense of contrast, both in terms of colour and style: dark wood paneling juxtaposed with modern backlit wall sections; rich brown carpets against light parquet floors and sand-coloured curtains. “The use of subdued hues punctuated by strong, arresting colours such as orange and turquoise, is inspired by the classic Riva yacht. It is such a perfect example of timeless elegance,»says Vage. By using furniture by different designers, and by decorating rooms with original artworks, the result is a different look for each of the hotel’s 119 rooms.

Tjuvholmen translates into English as ‘lslet Thieves’. The area, a peninsula once thriving with shipyards and dry docks, was in the 19th century known for its preponderance of robbers end prostitutes. Urban renewal projects have long since turned the district into an upmarket cultural hub, driving out the undesirable elements. But should thieves ever return to their former stomping ground, they will no doubt find rich pickings at The Thief.

Hotel Figueira

Lisbon, Portugal Nini Andrade Silva

Portugal’s economy might not be in the best of health, but tourism continues to provide it a lifeline in these austere times. And, it seems, pretty cities can never have too many pretty hotels.

Hotel Figueira is situated in Praca da Figueiro, a historic square in the centre of Lisbon. Nini Andrade Silva was the interior architect tasked with turning an eight-level building that looks out onto the capital’s most famous piazza into a new 50-room four-star boutique hotel.

The interiors have a nature theme, which runs throughout the hotel: tree-branch-like columns seemingly hold up the ceiling in the spa; foliage graphics (fig leaves feature prominently) adorn walls and carpets in some of the bedrooms; shapes are organic, as if moulded by the elements; and everything is hued in rich, earthy colours – shades of brown mainly.

“From the bottom to the top, end from the roots to the canopy, rise the branches that wander through the remaining floors in geometric end curvy proportions, «says Silva. «The mysterious proportions of the foliage (imbue) body and colour in an ‘undisciplined’ (way), providing unique experiences that can be attested to (only as one wanders) through the hotel»/

Yet the interiors feel cool and modern, with metallic tones and sections of exposed walls bringing a touch of industrial design. In the bar, for example, original wall sections have been integrated into the scheme – the raw stone surfaces contrasting with the smooth curves of the bar counter. At other times, and in a certain light, the hotel looks a tad psychedelic, especially in the spa — as if the establishment were fitted out with- furniture pieces made of chocolate slowly melting under the Iberian sun.

While the building’s exterior dovetails with its neighbouring edifices, many of which, like much of the Portuguese capital’s old quarters, date back to the period of construction following the earthquake of 1755 that destroyed most of the city, its interiors are striking, and not easily pigeonholed. Then again, that very sense of individuality is exactly what boutique hotels aspire to.

Le Clervaux Boutique & Design Hotel

Luxembourg

JOI-Design

Clervaux is a sleepy Luxembourgish town nestled in the undulating landscape of the Ardennes. The place is perhaps best known for its castle, which has become the permanent venue for the Family of Man exhibition. The display, arguably the most viewed collection of photographs in history, was curated by Grand Duchy native Edward Steichen and first shown in 1955 at New York’s Museum of Modern Art. Château de Clervaux, in all its fairytale-castle splendour, can be seen from the town’s newest hotel. Le Clervaux Boutique & Design Hotel.

This hotel is housed in a former private villa that dates back to the 1800s. A modern glass extension was added in the 1970s. JOI-Design. the Hamburg-based architects commissioned to design the interiors, endeavoured to create a scheme that respected the two quite different volumes. Modern Baroque is what the firm came up with.

At the entrance a strip of crimson carpet over a polished ebony floor guides guests along the hallway, with silver-and-grey-patterned damask-adorned walls either side, and a finely cut metallic charcoal chandelier shimmering above, towards the reception area — a hushed high-end world of glossy black lacquered desks, wingback chairs and, in one corner, a baby grand piano that functions primarily as a tea-and-coffee counter.

The hotel has 22 suites, conceived in three distinct styles: Classique, Château and Young Spirit. Classique suites are located in the former villa part of the hotel. Here, the colours are muted, and patterns and furniture conservative, creating a ‘grand hotel’ ambience. In Château rooms, the use of rich reds and black gives the space a subtly contemporary feel. Materials such as velvet, lacquer and leather make the rooms feel sumptuous. The Young Spirit suites, as their name suggests, are aimed at a youthful clientele. Hued in raspberry black, white and charcoal, the rooms are less fussy, with almost no patterned surfaces. These suites have c touch of minimalism about them, and are less formal than the others. They also offer more storage space for young sports enthusiasts — the suites’ target guests, who tend to arrive with bags of equipment for outdoor pursuits. The hotel also has four duplexes which share schemes with the Classique rooms.

While some of the rooms offer a hint of modernity, the hotel’s restaurant, Da Lonati, feels decidedly old-world. Diners sit at deep red or black embroidered-damask wingback chairs; ornate chandeliers hang from the ceiling; and tables are covered with starched white linen.

Le Clervaux describes itself as a «Boutique and Design Hotel». It certainly tries to accommodate guests at differing tastes… Something for everyone in the family of man. perhaps.

Hotel Moure

Santiago de Compostela, Spain Abalo Alonso Arquitectos

Set within the historical centre of World Heritage-designated city Santiago de Compostela, Spain, is this ultra sensitive mini hotel, occupying a building that had already been used for decodes as an unofficial student guesthouse. But that fact didn’t help matters for Abalo Alonso Arquitectos, as the structure had to be extensively renovated and updated, including undoing of some of the damage from an earlier renovation circa 1970. The hotel is squeezed between brick party walls of neighbouring buildings, and the tight, introverted aspect of its original condition has been transformed into one of the new establishment’s strongest attributes. The four-level 630sq m shell needed complete technical upgrades, but its structural integrity had survived. The project also had to comply with its Level environmental protection status as it fell under the Special Plan for the Protection of the Historical City Centre.

The public elevation on the street side boosted a stone facade, which has been preserved, with a new ramp and step access that lead to an informal reception area that eschews a traditional desk. Beyond this area is the terrace void, which brings light and air into the different rooms and levels… and causes the guest rooms to vary in shape and size. Four timber boxes contain auxiliary services such as a small office, staff room, lift and utility room. Another holds the restrooms and a luggage storage area. These cleverly conceal the pragmatic necessities of the hotel, leaving the remaining spaces devoted more purely to the guests end the experience of the architecture. Upstairs there are now only two rooms per floor, for a total of six, and many of the details have been designed to make the constrained spaces seem less so, such as with mirrors and the use of ‘pass-through’ spaces such as washrooms. Translucent glass permits ample natural light while retaining privacy. The contingencies and quirks of the existing structure have forced irregularities between the rooms — a feature which lends the Moure some of its charm; no two floors or rooms ere identical.

The materials go a long way toward making the hotel as delightful as it is. Sandy-toned timber boards line many of the public area walls, and these lovingly complement the bleached tones of the ancient stone walls. Dark greys and blacks, in trim and the concrete floors, etcetera, complete the well-controlled picture. Furniture is of thin proportions and demure style. An elemental steel balustrade dollops a touch of industrial chic upon the ensemble. Hotel Moure is the kind of intricate, outwardly modest project that does its creators — both architects and owners — proud.

Cabanas Morerava

Hanga Roa, Easter Island. Chile AATA Arquitectos

This project Introduced a hospitality category — family cabins — to Easter Island that had previously been lacking. But the sensitive nature ot the local environment, and the scarcity of resources, demanded a very light-handed approach. In fact, it was eventually decided to prefabricate the cabins entirely off site, and then deliver them complete by boat. The four buildings cluster in a row, side by side, on a Hal, verdant site, and are set back slightly from each other. The structure is entirely of timber, with plywood panel cladding and zinc roofs. While the environmental challenges drove the project, one of the things on the architects’ side was climate: Easter Island enjoys subtropical weather. so air conditioning and heating are unnecessary. The buildings are well ventilated, and an air space between the ceiling panels and structural roof provides sufficient insulation.

The cabanas are long and narrow, and sport pitched roofs running their length. Virtually all visible materials are wood or plywood, and horizontal strip windows run along both sides of each building, low near the floor on one side, higher up on the opposite. This is to ensure cross-ventilation and visual privacy between the closely sited pavilions. The public room ct the front end of each cabin enjoys open views outward across a porch area, and it is very easy to imagine spending generous time here, enjoying the slow pace of the piece.

water is collected on roofs and is solar-heated. The cabanas are raised slightly off the ground and set upon column bases, in order to ventilate underneath them and allow the earth to breathe (and live on) as well Each cabin is 60sq m in size, with a 17sq m terraced deck. They open at both ends, and each offers two bedrooms, one bathroom and с kitchen. The shed roofs seem to angle asymmetrically. owing to the decision to also angle the profile of the supporting walls at the end, so that when approaching the cabanas they seem slightly different from each other, as well as present Interesting, quite original end facades. The effect is almost anthropomorphic: as if a small herd of friendly creatures were reposing In the clearing, ready for play. Thanks to their ruggedly dramatic site. the upscale huts also recall some of the early houses of Glenn Murcutt. In how they seem ct once delicate and hardy… and respectful of piece.

W Guangzhou Hotel and Residences

Guangzhou. China

Rocco Design Architects and

Yabu Pushelberg

Completed after six years of construction, the new W Guongzhou displays Its ambition even from afar: it is с huge complex comprising two buildings, the 317– room hotel proper plus a 160-unit serviced apartment building. Both are managed by the W imprint of Starwood. Flanking the boulevard of the new CBD in the city, the complex is immediately recognisable as a Rocco Yim conception, with distinct similarities to the Tamar government complex in Hong Kong, though with a better curtain well design here. The hotel portion is the lower section of the mess, facing the road and topped by с projecting glazed spa the taller segment faces the quieter southeast direction. Just as with Tamar. Rocco has pierced the centre of the ensemble with a giant vertical opening, meant here to link an Inner landscaped park within the block to the public realm of the street outside. It also allows for more light and air to flow through the mass.

As in much of the architect’s recent work, massing is used to signify different functional components, and to break down the scale of с very large form. The ‘pieces’ of W are Identifiable through the messing distinctions and the materials and treatment of the facades. The ‘residential’ areas of the building are clad in a very handsome dark- granite-and-glazed curtain wall sporting projecting vertical glass fins. The common areas such as restaurants, spa and pool are articulated as transparent glazed boxes that break slightly from the planes оf the rest, thus announcing themselves. The site was constrained in area, and the verticality of the complex has yielded Imaginative solutions via this massing strategy.

Rocco Is very skilled at this sort of thing, and W Guangzhou furthers his exploration with planar sculpting of large architectural messes. It helps enormously that the budget for the curtain walls allowed the kind of sleekness missed at Tamar. where public budgets obviously determined a much less elegant or interesting skin. Here, the building seems more polished, and the juxtaposition of the light and dark glazing really pushes the concept across the finish line. The building just looks expensive, in the right sort of way (at least for a high-end hotel).

The Interiors of the public spaces, largely by Yabu Pushelberg. are just what might be expected: expert confluences of excitement and elegance. There is virtually no firm better at doing large-sized, high-end but current public rooms, end once again the pair has delivered here a composition of rich materials used in с original manner, with expert lighting and colour tones, plus their signature play of proportions. The sublimely high ceilings of the main lobby areas could have been с disaster In the way large Chinese hotels usually are. But Yabu Pushelberg has turned the absurd height Into о dramatic stage for their tones, materials, patterned surfaces and discreet furnishings. These guys could make a football stadium classy.

W Guangzhou is all that W Hong Kong should have been but missed. It is grand, exciting, impressive and ‘young’ all together.

Amanzoe

Peloponnese, Greece Ed Tuttle

Designed by renowned architect Ed Tuttle, Amanzoe. Aman Resorts’ third Mediterranean retreat, pays tribute to Greek heritage and architecture. It is situated on a hilltop close to the quaint town of Porto Hell on the east coast of the Peloponnese. affording knockout views of the island Spetses. The luxury property’s setting, coupled with the wealth of archaeological sites In the area. Inspired the resort’s Acropolis-like design.

The road approaching the resort ascends to the porte-cochere, an impressive mcrble-clad edifice, which serves as the entrance and reception. This spacious complex also operates as a quiet spot for guests to unwind, with a library, a boutique, an art gallery, and a number of dining pavilions and lounges, all set in terraces, courtyards and gardens connected by shaded walkways. Beyond lie the 38 suites, arranged around an expansive reflecting pool. The establishment also incorporates several secondary areas such as the main swimming pool, spa facilities, a gym, a yoga pavilion, a private beach club, and even an outdoor amphitheatre with terraced seating for music, dance and theatre performances.

Although Amanzoe’s exclusive suites are built in an almost Greek temple-like setting, they are designed to accommodate all the latest mod cons. Situated around the lower levels of the property for privacy- the rooms are divided Into four categories depending on their location. Every one of the guest pavilions is accessed through a stone-walled garden courtyard. Inside, the bedroom, bathroom and living area all open onto a garden terrace, where one finds sun loungers, a private infinity pool and a pergola.

The most prominent materials used in the creation of the resort are. as one would expect, marble and stone – «the most basic and noble materials of Greece,» according to Turtle. A soft, light-coloured palette and custom-built wood-and-glass furnishings characterise the rooms and pubic areas. Clean lines, high ceilings and seamless transitions between indoors and outdoors further accentuate the resort’s contemporary look. The exteriors mirror much of the interior material palette. Beige columns and cornices set off the natural colour scheme. Solid timber pergolas provide shade for the pool areas, and exterior walls feature traditional dry stone cladding complemented by panels of marble. All major roof structures are planted with low shrubs so that they Integrate well with the natural landscape.

Amonzoe means ‘peaceful life’ and that is exactly what it offers. The Zen retreat leaves a lasting Impression by celebrating the country’s rich heritage, raising the bar for resorts across the region.

Generator Barcelona

Barcelona, Spain The Design Agency

Generator, the hip hostel chain that already has a presence In Berlin, Dublin and London, recently opened three new properties across Europe. The new flagship Incarnation In Barcelona is situated In the heart of the city’s lively Gracia neighborhood, a stone’s throw from Antoni Gaudl’s striking Casa Batllo apartments.

Far from the ‘basic decor and budget’ approach one would expect of a hostel, Generator Barcelona is a contemporary, quirky hub that offers 154 guestrooms alongside a host of perks and amenities on par with pricier hotels. What was once a 1960s office building has been completely gutted and rebuilt in a way that reflects the creativity synonymous with the Generator brand. The interiors were designed by Toronto-based studio The Design Agency. Much like Barcelona itself, the hostel is «a tapestry of layers and styles». «We were struck by Barcelona’s rich planning, architecture, art and design, and how its historic treasures are now interwoven with its energetic contemporary culture, fashion and graffiti.» explains Mart Davis, lead designer of Generator Barcelona. «We were also inspired to become part of the trajectory of artists and designers who have, over time, responded to the city’s vibrancy and beauty.»

Entry through its main doors leads guests to the bright and energetic lobby featuring an internal pavilion inspired by Barcelona’s nautical history. Large, 23ft-high wood boards are splayed at the entrance, resembling the ribs of a ship’s hull. This space has also been dubbed ‘the birdcage’, owing to the three hanging loungers with neon-coloured accent pillows. A spiraling staircase winds its way up from the lobby to the mezzanine level. Here, guests con enjoy a leisurely read in the library, where the main attraction is a vintage photo booth. Alternatively, anyone seeking some downtime can entertain themselves In the games room with pool, table soccer, loungers ond Internet stations.

Elsewhere In the hostel is an all-day dining venue and bar. A vibrant mix of textures and patterns, including ornate Hungarian concrete floor tiles, raw metals and reclaimed wood panels, defines the eatery’s decor. Particularly eye-catching are the bar tables, which are mode of recycled elevator parts salvaged from the demolition of the building the hostel replaced. Floating directly above is a stunning display of over 300 orange lanterns, designed by local artist Julie Plottier and echoing Barcelona’s bohemian vibe during the annual Major de Gracia festival.

The 70.000sq ft property can accommodate 726 guests in a variety of room options such as Private Twin, Private Triple and Quads. Hot Hotel Rooms (deluxe, in conventional parlance). Luxurious Ladies (these come with hairdryers, make-up tables and more), arid Dorm. Rooms on the upper floors offer private terraces with views of the skyline toward the Mediterranean Ocean. At night, the building glows, and large glass windows provide passersby with glimpses Into the hotel.

According to Patron Capital, the developers of Generator Barcelona, the hotel has numerous sustainability merits. «We have upgraded the building’s mechanical and electrical systems, including installing a renewable power source in the form of photovoltaic cells on the roof and fitting out 95% of the property with LED lights. We have an Ecolab certificate and Energy Performance Certificate rating of grade A, and have installed a Smartwatt Energy Metering System that allows us to monitor and adjust energy consumption across the building,» says Jason Gunn, development manager at Patron Capital.

Generator Barcelona’s funky design is often described as a ‘walk-in work of art’. The cacophony of textures and materials plays up the urban flavour and embodies the spirit of Generators boutique-inspired approach.

Generator Copenhagen

Copenhagen, Denmark The Design Agency

Best known for its cool and understated ambience. Generator Copenhagen, formerly a Philippe Starck-designed apartment building, has style in its DNA. Exuding the building’s original charm and flair, the public areas retain many of Starck’s sofas and chairs, which sit alongside colourful illustrations of the city by local artist Tim Bjom.

A pop-up shop takes up most of the ground floor. To the side, a staircase leads guests to the reception area, where Generator’s signature ‘G’ sculpture sports colour-changing LED lights. This entire space is a mix of textures, materials and furnishings reclaimed from the building’s old apartments. A long passageway leads from the reception to the canteen and travel information area, and from thereon to a small cafe that transforms into a disco on weekends. Beyond, a cosy bar and lounge with locally produced wood tables and large overstuffed sofas and chairs serve as the ideal setting for casual gatherings. This space con be screened off as required, with custom-designed moveable dividers.

The six-storey hostel offers the same room options as its Spanish counterpart. The guestrooms are simple, modem yet functional, and feature a few playful touches — vital characteristics of Scandinavian design. Says Anwar Mekhayech, co-founder of The Design Agency and the design guru behind Generator’s new look, “With each design we’re repurposing an older building and injecting new life Into it. We are recycling Interesting elements from the demolition, creating new elements that recall the building’s history, and in all cases creating fun features that draw on the unique spirit and culture of the city.»

Mainport Hotel

Rotterdam, The Netherlonos

Exterior: MAS Architectuur;

Interiors: Feron Thomassen

A new landmark has appeared on Rotterdam’s skyline: Mainport, Design Hotels’ first member hotel in Europe’s largest port city. Wide glass windows wrap cround the futuristic facade of the blаск-glass-and-aluminium edifice shaped by MAS Architectuur, allowing guests to view the famous Erasmus Bridge as well as to feel connected to the harbour.

Owner Korln Geurts enlisted the help of designer Feran Thomassen to create five-star interiors that make subtle nods to far-flung places, without forgetting that Rotterdam is the hotel’s ‘main port’. Thomassen drew inspiration from all of the world’s continents. Integrating Influences from East to West In a unique design scheme. Luxurious marble bathrooms, large fireplaces and panoramic windows exude grandeur, while light grey curtains, ethnic-patterned wallpaper, anthracite desks and dark timber flooring accessories the elegant environment. In keeping with Mainport’s international influences, the hotel’s restaurant. Down Under, focuses on fusion cuisine. Wellness is a recurring theme at Mainport. and many of the rooms have facilities usually reserved for hotel spas; facilities like oversized hot tubs, private Jacuzzis and Finnish saunas. The hotel’s 215 rooms ore split into five categories; City XL Corner. Waterfront Sauna, Waterfront Spa and the Spa Suite. And if that isn’ t enough Spa Heaven, situated on the eighth floor, invites guests to experience the Turkish steam room, rejuvenating hamam complex, and the Life Fitness Gym next to it.

Notes Geurts. «Architecturally speaking, Mainport’s step-like facade and huge sweeping windows blend harmoniously with the hotel’s modem surroundings. MAS’s employment of floor-to-ceillng glass on both sides of the building creates a feeling not only of Industrial grandeur and a connection to the harbour but also a sense of transparency. The light, open-plan design warrants neighbourhood integration through Its inviting atmosphere.»

The waterfront hotel also prides itself on the Gold sustainability certification it received from Green Key.

Parkroyal on Pickering

Singapore

WOHA

With cascading waterfalls, lush greenery and views to die for, Parkroyal on Pickering will have guests thinking they hove checked Into a resort Instead of a city hotel. The SS137 million property sits on the junction between Singapore’s Chinatown and the busting Central Business District. It Is also right opposite the city-state’s very first public garden. Hong Lim Park. WOHA played off the park’s proximity to create a veritable ‘hotel-in-a-garden’.

Upon arrival, one immediately picks up on the hotel’s warm yet energetic vibe, and this alluring sensation is palpable throughout the hotel. Guests first encounter a concrete podium, which draws inspiration from a combination of landscaped bonsai arrangements, mountain rock formations, and contoured paddy fields. At the top of the sculptural podium is a lush. landscaped terrace housing the development’s recreational facilities, with an infinity pool. Jacuzzi, fitness centre, outdoor terrace and a 300m garden walk. Colourful birdcage-shaped cabanas are positioned around the pool area providing comfortable chill-out spaces.

Parkroyal on Pickering boasts over 160.OOOsq ft of four-storey-high sky gardens, while reflecting pools, planter terraces and vertical greenery amount to twice its land area. The 367-room hotel consists of three towers.

Parkroyal also promises to give guests a «local connection» to the immediate environment. Says Donovan Soon, architect at WOHA, «It’s a unique site in that it is a hotel in the city and yet it is close to nature. Singapore is well-known (or being a city in a garden so we wanted to play on that, too.» The hotel also breaks new ground by introducing the nation’s first solar-powered sky gardens. Among its other energy conservation features are the use of automatic light-, rain- and motion-sensors, rain-harvesting and NEWater (recycled water).

To its credit. WOHA’s design team didn’t stop with the gardens per se.The «botanical wonder world» exudes luxury every step of the way, from the chiselled facade to the distinctive furnishings. Nature-Inspired materials and textures such as light and dark wood, pebbles, water and glass are used throughout the hotel. Even the lobby and corridors ore designed as garden spaces, with stepping stones and tall overhangs creating a tranqul resort ambience. A soothing colour palette of greens and natural wood, accented with abundant natural light, makes for a decidedly relaxed atmosphere.

Parkroyal’s sustalnability efforts have already earned it the BCA Green Mork Platinum, Singapore’s highest green rating, as well as the Solar Pioneer Award for its innovative solar energy system. These awards follow on from the hotel’s recent finalist status in the Luxury/Upscale Hotel category in the Hospitality Design Awards 2013.

Hostel in Kyonan

Chibo. Jopon

Yosutaka Yoshimuro Architects

Japan’s newest capsule accommodation is located on the southwest coast of Kyonan, a port town in the Chlba Prefecture. Five wood cabins make up the entire complex, affording temporary residence for members of a private sports club situated near the hostel. The cottages have grey-painted exteriors and exposed timber Interiors, and were designed by Japanese studio Yasutaka Yoshimura Architects.

Three of the cabins contain guest facilities, including bathrooms, communal kitchens and dining areas, plus large Japanese-style rooms with tatami mats across the floor. Compact bedrooms occupy the other two structures and are stacked up on two storeys to make room for 12 guests in each block. One could be forgiven for taking the cottages to be trailers. Says Yoshimura. the eponymous founder of the design firm, «The client requested guest units that had the possibility of future relocation and addition.» Hence, each unit’s dimensions ore based on the standard size of a freight truck, assuring transportability as a whole. Additionally, on existing parking area behind the buildings will provide room for three extra cabins in the near future.

While relatively short on space, the Interiors undeniably create a cosy atmosphere for an overnight stay. The ‘containers’ were constructed from timber, and unfinished wood panels form the Interior surfaces, cutting down on costs. Another special feature is the hostel’s circular layout. The buildings are oriented at slightly offset angles to give each private room a different view of Tokyo Bay. “Guests will feel as if they are in the cabin of a ship,» notes Yoshimura.

Ion Luxury Adventure Hotel

Mt Hengill, Iceland Minarc

If the names Mt Hengill or Thingvellir National Park mean nothing to you it’s obvious you need to get to Iceland. Long a favourite of intrepid travelers in search of sublime landscapes, natural hot springs and endless subjects for photography, the region now has another reason to make the trek, this ‘luxury adventure’ hotel. Ion. We love the category identity, which, after all, isn’t that new — think high end safari camps and Silk Road train travel. The context is of course the star here, with glaciers, hot springs, and naturally the Northern Lights (hard to compete with as the main attraction for most visitors), but Minarc has done its best to design something worthy.

The Ion Hotel perches atop a series of pillars, as if tiptoeing upon the delicate yet rugged land. A black exterior tone evoking lava stone seems to emerge from the hillside and spread into a cantilevered wing that evolves in colour and transparency as it stretches forth. Geothermal steam emits al around it, a lovely, local touch of reality. The building anthropomorphically hints at a creature, like a benevolent, giant worm or mammal, peering over its domain. But seen after dark, with glowing light against the dork surrounds, it is welcoming and domestic.

The interiors are decidedly cosy, In spite of surfaces of concrete and a generally, northern-minimalist tint. It ts contemporary, quietly chic, and low key, with plentiful use of natural materials such as raw timber, lava, driftwood etc. That construction was largely prefabricated offsite. pragmatic for this region and climate, is not excessively obvious inside. Ion looks anything but hasty or cheap. Furnishings are tasteful and zone appropriate: modern, northern, muted. Cowhide rugs, leathers, blond wood, good lighting.

Ion Luxury Adventure Hotel will not have to suffer the expectations (and testes) of casual travelers happening by… you have to want to get here, to gaze at these extraordinary vistas, to contemplate the slow evolution of powerful nature. But for the many who do, Ion will provide the ideal nest.

OZO Wesley Н К

Hossell Studio

The turbo-charged pace of Hong Kong life — business or pleasure — creates on insatiable demand for affordable, convenient accommodation; the sort of quick-in, short-stay base the business visitors especially, prefer most. A number of properties have sprung up in recent months to satisfy this group of clients, who don’t wish to mortgage their youngest child to pay for a bed and morning coffee.Thailand’s O20 brand, part of the Amarl hospitality empire, has jumped vigorously into this fray with the superbly located OZO Wesley hotel, sited on the Wanchoi/Admirolty divide a stone’s throw from Pacific Race. The project was a makeover: the Wesley has been there for ages, but never made anyone’s favourites list. That may change with OZO. The hotel is mildly hip, highly efficient, and offers all the basic amenities road warriors and wise tourists are after, which these days means avoiding the fuss. No chintz, no veined marble, no grand lobby pianos. Just 251 well thought-out rooms, WIFI throughout, great food, cheerful colour tones, ond the front door onto the front steps of the Hong Kong. There are four types of guest room, all of which make the most of fairly constrained dimensions determined by the previous hotel structure (and quite typical of the city anyway).There’s a fitness facility called Tone, and a meeting space called Talk. But the place that is already becoming an attraction for locals, not just guests, is Zaan, with dimsum designed to make a mark in a city known for its food.

Ozo Wesley seems to have finally got the property right, and will have no problems keeping its reservation charts full, not that many affordable, convenient and well-designed hotels do in Hong Kong. Kudos for keeping things cheery and unpretentious. We’re so over snobbery in this city.

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