A quick browse through any Online Travel Agent hotel listings quickly reveals that most hotels offer the same standard facilities – wireless Internet access, fitness centre, restaurant – and for good reason.
However, how is a hotel going to stand out from the other 99,999 hotels that are all ‘nestled in the heart of [insert city], a stone’s throw from [insert attraction], offering Internet,
1. Ryugyong Hotel Pyongyang North Korea
Standing 330m tall, North Korea’s Ryugyong Hotel was the first building outside of the United States to have over 100 floors. At roughly $750 million, the hotel initially cost 2% of North Korea’s GDP to construct, but still remains incomplete due to financial problems. After interest shown by Middle Eastern development groups, the tower is expected to be completed by next year, but the estimated cost of a full completion now stands at $2 billion (10% of North Korea’s annual GDP).
2. Tokyo Sofitel
Looking more like one of my earliest Lego constructions, Hotel Sofitel Tokyo resembled five stacked trapeziums. Following a postmodern style, the building covered 26 floors and was completed in 1994. Unfortunately, however, its operation lasted little over a decade; the hotel was demolished in 2007, making it the tallest building in Tokyo to be destroyed.
3. Hotel Dalat (Crazy House Hotel), Vietnam
Officially known as Hang Nga Guesthouse and Gallery, Crazy House Hotel in Vietnam is half-museum, half-accommodation. Featuring unconventional shapes and angles, no window is rectangular or round, and animalistic forms are incorporated into the structure. Visitors can browse a copse of tropical trees that hold works of art suspended from their branches, or climb the five storeys to enjoy views over the surrounding suburb.
4. Hotel Marques De Riscal, Spain
Hotel Marques de Riscal is located in a vineyard of the same name in Elciego, Spain. The structure is the work of Pritzker Prize-winning architect Frank Gehry, whose other works include the famous Dancing House in Prague and the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao. Gehry was commissioned by the Marques de Riscal Winery to in a bid to draw attention to the industry as a means of promoting international interest in Spanish wine.
5. Grand Lisboa, Macau
An extravagant accommodation, Macau’s Hotel Lisboa is anything but understated; the structure contains 15 restaurants, close to 1,000 rooms, and Macau’s largest casino. Casino Grand Lisboa proudly boasts the Star of Stanley Ho – the largest cushion-shaped internally flawless D-colour diamond in the world – on permanent display. The hotel itself is the tallest building in Macau, at 261m tall.
6. Inntel Hotel, Zaandam, Netherlands
Standing large and lumpy, in marine hues, Inntel Hotel in Zaandam (Close to Amsterdam) looks like it might have been conceived of by Hans Christian Andersen. The building was actually designed by WAM Architecten from Delft and features overlapping green wooden facades in a style traditional to the local area. The hotel comprises almost 70 stacked versions of typical houses, including examples of a labourer’s cottage and a notary’s house. The single blue-coloured section is inspired by Monet’s ‘The Blue House in Zaandam’, painted in 1871.
7. Hotel Axis Viana, Portugal
Drawing comparisons with a stack of box files, a collapsed escalator and a giant pile of dominoes, Hotel Axis in Viana do Castelo, Portugal, bills itself as a business and spa hotel. The structure combines glass, aluminium and stone, and has been described as ‘an ode to cantilevering’. Designed by Jorge Albuquerque, Axis Hotel does seem to defy gravity from certain angles.
8. Marina Bay Sands, Singapore
Three sloping towers supporting a 1.2 hectare skypark above the 23rd floor: Marina Bay Sands Hotel in Singapore is a unique structure boasting one of the most famous pools in the world. The first tower’s gradient touches 26 degrees at one point, and contributes to making this property one of the world’s most complex hotels in terms of structural engineering. The skypark is large enough to hold 4 jumbo jets, forms one of the world’s largest public cantilevers, and features an observation deck that is open to the general public, though access to the hotel facilities and swimming pool are exclusive to paying guests.