From a mirrored treehouse hidden in a Swedish forest, to an idyllic seaside resort in a former Greek fortress, and a Canadian island retreat balanced on stilts, these are some of the most creative design hotels in the world.
Whether they’re brand new, innovative structures, or modern updates on historic buildings, these design hotels are as diverse as their international locations, often showing off unusual experiences (sleep in a wooden fort inside your hotel suite! take a guided tour of the Patagonian desert!) as well as incredible architecture.
Hotel Awasi Patagonia
This lodge in Chile is surrounded by lush forests and a view of the Torres del Paine, a gorgeous national park. Guests can make use of private guides and vehicles provided by the hotel to explore the surrounding natural area at their leisure. Felipe Assadi Architects focused on creating buildings that fit harmoniously into the remote natural area. Typical local architecture inspired the twelve small lodges, which are constructed of beech wood and metal. At the right time of the year, the buildings fade perfectly into the landscape, with the light wood walls matching the pale grass and abundant trees.
The design of the cabin interiors is simple but elegant, with natural colors and textures dominating. Each has its own bathroom and lounge area, with paths linking the private cabins to communal ones where guests can dine and socialize.
Located in Harads, Sweden, this uniquely innovative hotel consists of a series of contemporary treehouses. Each one is suspended four to six meters off the ground, offering an incredible view of the surrounding forest and the nearby Lule River. Treehotel combines an eco-friendly ethos (green energy and plumbing is a priority) with stunning contemporary design. Rooms are minimal without being too stark, with exposed wood and vast windows creating a serene, natural vibe.
When designing this mirrored cabin for Treehotel, Tham & Videgard Arkitekter wanted to comment on how people often use high-tech materials to explore remote natural areas. Built of plywood, with a glass-paned exterior, this forest refuge both contrasts its surroundings and camouflages into them at the same time. A special UV lamination on the glass walls prevents birds from flying into them.
This Berlin, Germany hotspot balances super luxe, outsized rooms with more budget-friendly accommodations to provide something suited to every traveller, along with a vibrant menu of live concerts and cultural events. All of the Michelberger’s suites are unique, themed along categories like Cosy, Loft, and Hideout.
Pictured here is a room in the Hideout category, created by Danish architect Sigurd Larsen. Larsen’s wooden house divides the room into different areas of function. Its simple white exterior keeps things minimal, while the wooden interior is surprisingly cosy, letting guests feel as if they’re sleeping in a country cottage (sauna included!) in the heart of Berlin.
The Durham Hotel
Built in 1965 in North Carolina, USA, the building that houses the Durham was formerly an office building. It still looks the part, as LA designers Commune retained much of the original exterior, redoing the building’s interior to create a funky, retro-inspired hotel.
Eclectic, bold patterns, and lots of yellow and brown tones reinforce the mid-century modern vibe in the Durham’s communal spaces, like its classic-looking restaurant and breezy rooftop bar. Guest rooms are comfortable but continue the vintage feel with red and blue accents and plush wall-to-wall carpeting.
Fogo Island Inn
Perched on a small island off the eastern coast of Canada, this Atlantic hotel updates old-fashioned Maritime design with a contemporary touch. Inside, the Inn is simply designed, with lots of wood and pops of color against stark white walls. An independent art gallery and cinema ensure that guests will be entertained despite the remote location.
Designer Saunders Architecture wanted the Inn to fit in with the existing architecture on the island. The stilts the Inn balances on may look fiercely modern, but they’re actually an homage to the fishing buildings that are traditional on Newfoundland’s coasts, and in fact support many of the buildings on Fogo Island due to its uneven, rocky ground.
Tainaron Blue Retreat
Located in Mani, Greece, Tainaron Blue Retreat is a small guest house converted from a historic fortified tower. Architects Kostas Zouvelos and Kassiani Theodorakakou worked carefully to turn the 19th-century tower into a comfortable hotel with three rooms for guests and shared space for dining.
Because the building was protected by conservation laws, the architects planned around the existing structure for a final result that retains the structure’s integrity. Additions like the stone patio for sunbathing were constructed out of the same material as the original tower, and the infinity pool blends seamlessly into the landscape around it. Inside the hotel, starkly minimal furniture, with a focus on industrial textures, helps retain the modern feel of the space.
This Zhengzhou, China project by Shanghai studio Neri&Hu is an incredible example of minimalism. The architects were inspired by the history of the hotel’s province, with a pattern on the facade referencing flowers native to the area, and atrium walls echoing the limestone caves of a nearby historic site.
Earth tones and natural surfaces reoccur throughout this calm, carefully-designed hotel. Imaginative dining areas with wooden partitions creating private dining space reinforce the sense of quiet and privacy.
Created by Portuguese studio PAr, this hotel in Algarve, Portugal lives up to its name. Perfectly minimal and simple, Casa Modesta’s biggest selling point is its rooftop vantage point. Four matching staircases lead up to the roof, offering guests a stunning view of their surroundings and also lending the building an unusual silhouette.
The architects remodelled an existing 1940s-era house, choosing local materials for much of the work, and keeping many of house’s existing structures, even turning an old water tank into a pool.
Located in Canberra, Australia, Hotel Hotel enlisted over 50 designers to create a hip interior that’ll please creative guests. Spacious, eclectically outfitted rooms (no two are exactly alike) feature reclaimed vintage furniture, lush textures, and lots of artwork.
The entranceway houses a gorgeous reclaimed-wood staircase (pictured) by Melbourne’s March Studio, connecting the lobby to a comfortable bar. Thousands of planks of wood, throwing interesting shadows over the stairs and floor, lend a natural, hand-made feeling to what’s otherwise a polished and modern space.
Sobreiras Alentejo Country Hotel
About an hour’s drive from Lisbon, in the Portuguese countryside, sits this tranquil hotel. Designed by Future Architecture Thinking to complement its surroundings, the Alentejo Country Hotel features log-lined facades which echo the cork trees native to the region.
The geometric lines and stark white walls of the structure contrast with the hotel’s natural wood accents and rural setting. Blending into the landscape with its seamless edges, an infinity pool provides a welcome chance to cool off.