10 New Hotel Wonders
If the best architecture aims at eternity, to paraphrase famed English architect Christopher Wren, then these new hotels are bound to be immortal. The 11 hotels on our list all opened within the last four years, and each is an example of awe-inspiring design in its own right. You can stay in a wave-like skyscraper in Chicago, a stack of cantilevered cubes in Portugal, or a hotel tucked into the wild cliffs of an Australian island. And, even better, it won't cost a fortune to spend a night in these architectural wonders. Seven of the 11 are under $200 a night.
Yas Viceroy Hotel, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
This 499-room hotel was the first to be built straddling a Formula 1 racetrack (it opened in 2009 and was renovated in 2011 to become a Viceroy). The structure consists of a pair of 12-story towers joined by a sweeping, 700-foot curvilinear skin of glass and steel—actually 5,800 pivoting, diamond-shaped glass panels that reflect the sky by day and are illuminated up by an LED system at night. The architects' aim was to reflect artistry and geometries associated with ancient Islamic art and craft traditions, and from a distance the panels create the appearance of a spectacular veil. 888/622-4567, viceroyhotelsandresorts.com; from about $210 per night.
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Axis Viana Hotel, Viana do Castelo, Portugal
The 88-room Axis Viana Hotel was a striking addition to the folkloric village of Viana do Castelo when it opened in 2008. The exterior is made up of reflective aluminum, black glass, and green stone, and the cantilevered design changes the shape of the hotel depending upon your vantage point. The contrasting interior consists of white finishes and materials including wood and stone. It's all edged by a shimmering outdoor pool and surrounded by views of the Lima River and Mount St. Luzia. 011-351/258-802-000, axishoteis.com, from $100 per night.
(Photo: Axis Viana Hotel)
Southern Ocean Lodge, Kangaroo Island, Australia
Architect Max Pritchard designed this lodge to blend into the dramatic surroundings of Kangaroo Island. Tucked back behind cliffs, the hotel opened in 2008 and consists of 21 suites cascading down a windswept slope, following the natural curve of the land, each with floor-to-ceiling glass walls and sweeping views of the Southern Ocean. Suites were constructed from lightweight materials—steel screw piles, timber framing, iron cladding—that could be carried in to create minimal disturbance to nature, and which also could handle the challenge of building on precarious soil conditions (several feet of sand atop solid limestone). Inside are environmentally sound sandblasted limestone floors and recycled spotted-gum walls. The off-the-grid location led to innovations such as sculptural containers for collecting rainwater. 931/924-5253, southernoceanlodge.com.au, from $1,000 per person, per night with a two-night minimum.
(Photo: Southern Ocean Lodge)
Marina Bay Sands, Singapore
This trio of 55-story towers opened in 2010 and hold an incredible 2,561 hotel rooms, plus a museum, casino, convention center, waterfront promenade, shops, and restaurants. Architect Moshe Safdie has said that his challenge "was to create a vital public place at the district-urban scale-in other words, to address the issue of megascale and invent an urban landscape that would work at the human scale." His way of dealing with that was to design the complex around two central axes to give a sense of orientation. The towers are connected at the top by the cantilevered, two-and-a-half-acre SkyPark, home to gardens, 250 trees, a public observatory and a 492-foot swimming pool -- all perched high in the sky like a fantastical cruise ship forever suspended in midair. 011-65/6688-8868, marinabaysands.com, from $350 per night.
Bella Sky Comwell, Copenhagen, Denmark
The two structures that make up the Bella Sky each incline at a slightly different angle. Or as the architects sweetly put it, the towers are drawn to each other, "yet seem a little shy." In fact, the creative use of angles is employed both inside the property and out -- geometric angles give the exterior a filigreed look, while inside the hotel there are rooms where there are no 90-degrees at all (there are over 200 different room shapes in the 812-room hotel). The location, in the Copenhagen neighborhood of Orestad five miles from the city center, actually inspired the leaning-tower design. The buildings are so close to the airport that height restrictions dictate that they must not exceed 246 feet. 011-45/3247-3000, bellaskycomwell.dk, from $155 per night.
The distinctive Miura Hotel in Celadná, Czech Republic, is made of concrete, sheet metal, Corian, stone, and violet glass. Its impressive art collection includes a 30-foot-tall stainless-steel sculpture of a man pushing against the building, created by Czech artist David Černý.
(Courtesy Miura Hotel)
The Jumeirah at Etihad Towers Hotel in Abu Dhabi is part of a $1 billion residential and retail complex. The curved design of the Jumeirah at Etihad Towers Hotel posed a challenge to the architects, since each floor slab is a different shape.
(Courtsey Jumeirah at Etihad Towers Hotel)
The most striking features of the Radisson Blu Stockholm Waterfront Hotel is the conference center, with an exterior made up of 13 miles of semi-transparent stainless-steel rods. The rods reflect the sky and water, and architect Hans Forsmark describes them as "a reminiscence of the Nordic Light."
(Courtesy Radisson Blu Stockholm Waterfront)
New York's Hôtel Americano looks like a massive metal sculpture, perfect for its location in the gallery-filled Chelsea neighborhood. Its floors are connected by catwalks and wrapped in stainless-steel mesh.
The Hotel Consolación, in the rural mountain town of Teruel, Spain, is made up of 10 freestanding, wood-clad modernist cubes. The sleek cubes create a beautiful juxtaposition with the groves of olive and almond trees that surround them. Besides the modern cubes, the Hotel Consolación includes a 14th-century hermitage that serves as a communal area for guests.
(Jaime Font Furest)