Good-bye, plain and boring! Hello, vibrant and colorful! If you’re a regular traveler you might have learned to ignore the surroundings of your hotel room. When was the last time you stopped for a second before going to bed and started admiring the white walls, white ceiling and white sheets? The same old sterile look of the lobbies, the almost depressing sight of the bars… One of the things that makes us humans different from other animals is our aesthetic awareness.
We took a look at some of the most interesting boutique hotels in the world. From very exclusive and romantic to plain artistic and almost bizarre, here is our top 5 designer hotels in the world.
5.- The Radisson Blu Royal – Copenhagen
How about we begin with the hotel that started it all? Among all the hotels in Stockholm the former SAS Royal was not only the first designer hotel in the world but also broke an invisible ceiling that hung above Copenhagen by being the first Skyscraper of the city when it was first built in 1960. Designed in its entirety by acclaimed Danish architect Arne Jacobsen, this piece of architectural history has become a landmark in the European metropolis. The legendary “Egg” and “Swan” chairs were especially designed for the lobby and reception of the hotel but can now be found in guest rooms thanks to the acquisition of 450 new copies by Radisson.
Besides offering unparalleled panoramic views of Copenhagen, the hotel’s restaurant “Alberto-K”, located on the 20th floor, is a sight all by itself. The restaurant obtained the 6th place of things to do in Copenhagen by the readers of lonelyplanet.com and is considered among one of Denmark’s best; it offers the best of both Danish and Italian cuisine and has its own wine cellar. The Radisson SAS Royal’s proximity to the famed Tivoli gardens and the Strøget shopping district complete the list of reasons why you should stay at this hotel during your next visit to this exciting Scandinavian city.
Tip: The legendary room 606, highly treasured by design enthusiasts all over the world, is the only room in the hotel which maintains its original design after undergoing a painstaking restoration process.
4.- Posada de Mike Rapu – Easter Island – Chile
Following the pioneering steps of the SAS Royal, the hotel Posada de Mike Rapu was the first ever designer hotel in South America. Located in one of the most magical places on earth, Posada de Mike Rapu captures all the mystery and magnetism of Easter Island. Home to the mystifying Moai sculptures, the enchanting Rapa Nui, as is locally known, is located in the southeastern pacific, 3000 Km from mainland South America, providing the perfect setting for one of the most spectacular boutique hotels in the world. The hotel sits atop a hill overlooking the vastness and majesty of the pacific ocean with wild horses occasionally running free by the pool and extensive prairies getting lost in the horizon.
Trying to capture the spirit of the island, award-winning architect José Cruz tried to make the hotel adapt to its surroundings, avoiding any major environmental impact and maintaining the virgin flora around the site intact. The complex was built on stone bases following ancient Rapa Nui traditions and local volcanic clay was employed on the rooftops. Not surprisingly, the “Posada Mike de Rapu” was also the first South American hotel to earn the LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) qualification. The hotel has 30 rooms set on 4 miles of land, thus guaranteeing a true sense of belonging. Several walking tours are offered, which invite you to discover the mysticism of the island. You can, however, spend a whole day communing with nature at one of the outdoor hot tubs.
Tip: Discover Easter Island by taking the daily exploration tours offered at the hotel. They’re mostly included in the rate.
3.- The Opposite House – Beijing
The Opposite House is a temple that worships light, style and space. Inspired by the union of modern and traditional styles, Japanese designer Kengo Kuma went on to build his own little work of art in the buzzing Sanlitun village development in the heart of Beijing. Its green glass façade blends with the tree-lined streets of the trendy district and its natural and spacious interiors are both hip and welcoming, making the guests always feel at home. Never have plain white walls looked so radiantly welcoming. The design of the hotel proves the adage: It is not what you do but how you do it. The hotel manages to capture both the simplicity of minimalist design and the grandeur of avant-garde modernism. Its restaurants offer an immediate contrast with their darker and more intimate atmospheres and will surely make you feel spoiled for choice, as you can head down to “El Sureño” and enjoy world-class Mediterranean cuisine or soak up the culture in the Asian “Restaurant Bei”. The hotel’s lobby also serves as a contemporary art gallery with changing exhibitions by modern Chinese artists.
Tip: Every Sunday from April to September, the hotel organizes tours to five of the best Hutongs in Beijing.
2.- The Standard – New York
Start spreading the news! In New York, hip and cool no longer equals ridiculously expensive. A new wave of budget designer hotels has been springing up in the Big Apple in the last few years and has revitalized the once unappealing Meatpacking district, making it one of the hottest spots in town. Surrounded by low-lying warehouses and located next to the Hudson River, virtually every room at the Standard Hotel lets you marvel at that Hollywood-esque New York skyline. With (apparently controversial) glass-to-ceiling windows, many rooms give you the chance to enjoy the sunset while looking at cargo ships or adventurous kayakers come and go down the Hudson, with the statue of liberty in the background, while taking a bath. The Standard has four bars and restaurants but it is the Standard Grill which impressed us the most. It offers authentic American cuisine at unbelievable prices –don’t let the name of the “million dollar chicken” scare you away- and you might even have the chance to sit next to your favorite celebrity, as the restaurant is known to be frequented by Hollywood stars.
Tip: Go downstairs one morning and look at the hotel from High Line Park. You’ll be able to see why it might be a good idea to close your curtains sometimes or, better yet, to keep them wide open!
1.- Proppeller Island’s City Lodge – Berlin
Ever wanted to be inside a work of art? This is your chance. The Propeller Island’s City Lodge might not be the most comfortable place in Berlin but it is its uniqueness that makes this hotel our top choice. And when we say uniqueness, we mean uniqueness. Not one single room in this hotel has the same design; each represents a pseudo-surrealist escape from everyday life, an almost dream-like experience. Artist and musician Lars Strochers, aka Propeller Island, is the responsible for this half-museum, half-art gallery hotel. Luckily for all of us, he decided to share his work with the rest of the world as it seems to have been intended as a personal work of art. “I did it for myself, because I wanted to see the rooms, I wanted to stay in the rooms”, he says. Catering to those with a taste for the unusual and the irreverent, the City Lodge makes the already artsy Berlin that much more interesting. You can stay in the mirror room, where you’ll feel like at a –quote- very sexy! –unquote- funhouse. You can climb up to sleep at the “four beams”, where your bed is suspended from ropes or at the “upside down room”, where you might even find it hard to find your bed. The “cell room” and the “two lions” rooms should need no description. If you, unlike me, are into more normal stuff, you can always stay at the “chicken curry” or some of the more comfortable rooms.
TIP: Maybe based upon personal taste but you should try the upside down room if you feel like seeing things from a different perspective.