Many of the world’s most stunning buildings are hotels. It stands to reason: enormous budgets, epic proportions, sprawling grounds and a business model that depends largely on providing a highly appealing environment for cutomers. Some of the hotels in this ideabook are housed in centuries-old buildings that once served a different purpose; some are contemporary and were designed specifically for guests. The many differences in architectural style show us the huge variety of places we adaptable humans are capable of considering a home away from home.
This fantastical Spanish hotel and winery is instantly recognisable as the work of architect Frank Gehry, whose past designs include some of Spain’s best-known modern buildings, such as Bilbao’s iconic Guggenhein museum. Combining sedate sandstone blocks with futuristic aluminium sheets twisted into Gehry’s characteristically confusing spirals and curls, the structure looks like it could almost have come from another world.
This incredible building, located in a particularly upmarket spot near the river Rhine, is a luxury hotel offering, amongst other things, a whole host of indulgent spa services (and complementary sugar mice, too, but that’s beside the point). From this distance, it looks so prettily perfect it seems like a dollhouse; it’s as if one could simply open the front and see all the occupants going about their luxurious day-to-day business. Most of them would probably be in the sauna.
The sheer detail that has gone into the construction of this place is something to marvel at. The most idiosyncratic features include these two dragons, tasked with supporting the building’s central balcony.
It’s easy to imagine peacocks strutting around the courtyard of this palatial hotel. The building has so much presence, drama and history that it would make the ideal setting for a period drama following the romantic entanglements of the Italian aristocracy of old. From the grandiose double staircase to the sun-soaked peach hue of the walls, this hotel is the epitome of continental elegance.
Snow is the perfect weather in which to photograph this collection of minimalist Korean holiday homes. The icy slush and naked tree branches in the foreground only serve to enhance the austere beauty of this development. Meanwhile, behind the buildings, a forest and distant mountains act as an incongruously organic backdrop to these most overtly man-made of structures. Utilitarianism and perfect homogeny may initially seem to have been the top priorities in this design, but there is much more to it than that. Each building, it its simplicity, has a character all of its own, the central round window seeming like a single eye gazing out on the snowy landscape.
Illuminated at night time, the development takes on a whole new personality, the individual colours of each interior brightly highlighted against the black sky. The exterior lighting has been designed to show up the rectangular frame that forms a border round each house, emphasising the careful geometry of these designs.
The appeal of this tranquil hotel lies largely in its simplicity and its relative modesty. It doesn’t really resemble a hotel at all, but could rather be the family home of a well-to-do, but never ostentatious, dynasty of business owners. The uneven stones that form the main body of the house, as well as the traditional terracotta tiles of the roof, give it an understated, rustic appearance that belies the true luxury of the property. The lush greens of the garden add some much needed colour to this hotel, acting as the perfect counterpoint to the dusty desert greys of the building’s façade.