Maybe it’s something that comes with age, or my interest to find the most amount of style when traveling, or maybe just my own desire to seek out pretty graphic design when traveling, but a big interest of mine recently has been hotels. And not those boring hotels with dimly lit rooms and cookie-cutter lobbies.
I’m talking about design hotels, boutique hotels, trendy bed-and-breakfasts and unusual, out-of-this-world, you’d-never-believe-it hotels (and, hey, let’s admit it—hostels, too). The hotel business is BIG business so it’s no surprise that you’ve got so many different types of hotels looking for ways to stand out. In my unexpert design opinion though, it’s the hotels that embrace local trends that stand out the most.
In my many travels I’ve stayed in just about every type of accommodation available. From beach huts without electricity to 5-star luxury hotels, what you get for your price can vary widely. Travel and Leisure published a slideshow last year of over-hyped hotel trends (see it here) and it seems that too many touches of luxury can, in fact, be a bad thing. At least for cranky hotel reviewers.
Personally I love hotels that have a sense of style. Something a bit more original or sleek. Vacations are my way to escape so if I can stay in a place that’s different from my normal surroundings, I’m usually a happy camper. That’s why I enjoy hostels when backpacking—because when else am I going to sleep in a room full of 8-10 other half-naked people? It’s why I even sometimes go camping because even if I like a comfy bed and a warm shower, sometimes it’s nice to rough it in a tent.
I’m an open-minded traveler so the more unusual experiences abroad that I can have, the better! That’s why I’ll put up with camping every now and then, or a 16-bed dormitory. And when I want to escape my reality, a hotel with a big bath and waterfall shower will do the trick.
Design books about hotels
In college I used to work for a large bookstore chain in America. One of my favorite things to do (besides hiding behind the counter reading books) was to restock the design section. I’d slowly fill the shelves with oversized books on everything from typography to, you guessed it, hotels. The hotel books were always the most intriguing because they were showcasing and promoting the hotel so much more than the destination. Oftentimes, the hotel is in fact the destination!
I used to be baffled by this but always found the books hard to resist. Something about beautiful photos of infinity pools, hotel nightclubs and jungle treehouses always captured me. Every page was something new, and in my days before my round-the-world adventures, it was its very own escape.
Recently in Berlin I had the chance to browse through Design Hotels‘ new book of member hotels. The brand has been around for a while and basically serves as a curator for some of the world’s most stylish hotels. Their 800-page book usually sits in hotel lobbies but is also available for purchase by the more hard-core hotel aficionados looking for wanderlust. I spent a while flipping through the pages, wishing I was somewhere much much warmer. The Design Hotels™ Book had as many beautiful photos of stereotypical boutique hotels (cabanas in the sea, infinity pools) as it did photos of hotels featuring more unusual and quirky designs.
In the same week I also met the people behind the website, Unusual Hotels of the World. They also publish a book of stylish hotels (available for purchase online) but rather than focused on luxury, they’re more focused on the story of the hotel—whether its design, location or history.
So what about you… do you like to stay in stylish, trendy or unique hotels? Or do you prefer the budget-friendly, “I-only-use-my-hotel-for-sleeping” way of travel?