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As more and more new-build boutique hotels go up around the world, it can be easy to forget the joy of staying in a hotel whose building has a storied and historic past. The pleasure of staying in some of luxury hotels of the world are the perfect choice for what BRABBU calls, “weekend luxury escapes”. Their cutting-edge design and interior will make you think twice about the luxury lifestyle!
One of the best hotels in the world is in London! Occupying a building originally formed by combining several 18th-century townhouses just north of the Soho neighbourhood, the two-year-old London Edition reinvents the century-old Berners Hotel as the sophomore outing from hotelier Ian Schrager’s design-led partnership with Marriott.
George Yabu and Glenn Pushelberg of Yabu Pushelberg, famous interior designers specialized in boutique hotels and hospitality projects, chose contemporary furnishings by the likes of Ingo Maurer for the hotel’s ground-floor Edwardian public spaces, while reproductions of Old Master portraits in the otherwise minimalist bedrooms upstairs hint at the property’s long history. If you’re at London, this might be your perfect pick for “luxury escapes”.
*Hotel Marignan, Paris
The grand façade of this onetime townhouse—built-in 1858 on a quiet block off the Champs-Élysées and expanded in the 1920s—belies its of-the-moment interiors, masterminded by Pierre Yovanovitch, a current favourite of the French design cognoscenti.
Yovanovitch’s 2012 redo of Hotel Marignan—dotted with artworks collected by the hotel’s owner—sees its 50 rooms, lobby, bar, restaurant, and screening room outfitted with light oak floors and wall panelling and a mix of vintage and contemporary custom furnishings, many of his own design.
As its name suggests, this Amsterdam boutique hotel is a former music school, but it actually began life as the Rijkspostspaarbank (Dutch Savings Bank), which commissioned architect Daniel Knuttel to build the stone-and-brick neo-Gothic edifice near the city’s Museumplein (Museum quarter) at the end of the 19th century.
Italian minimalist Piero Lissoni turned the conservatory into a 129-room hotel in 2011, the first of the Set’s properties, all in equally historic buildings. A soaring glass atrium encloses the former courtyard, while shades of ivory, ecru, grey, and brown define the sleek rooms, which include furnishings from Kartell and Cassina.
*Das Stue, Berlin
The curving, neoclassical stone walls of Berlin’s former Royal Dutch Embassy—built in the 1930s by German architect Johann Emil Schaudt on the southern edge of the Tiergarten park—became Das Stue in 2012. Spanish-born, Italy-based architect Patricia Urquiola designed the public spaces, while Potsdam-based architecture firm Axthelm Architekten conceived a new wing.
The hotel’s 80 rooms and suites, as well as its bar, restaurants, and spa, share a bold and playful style, from the copper pots hanging above a long table in its Michelin-starred Mediterranean eatery to the leather animals that Urquiola placed amid furnishings of her own design, referencing the nearby zoo.
*La Bandita Townhouse, Tuscany
Sitting on the main Corso in the picturesque medieval Tuscan hilltop town of Pienza—famously featured in the films Gladiator and The English Patient—La Bandita Townhouse’s Renaissance-era building had served as a convent up until its current owners bought it just a few years ago.
Stripping the building back to its barest bones, architects Ernesto Bartolini and Arianna Pieri of Florence’s DA Studio exposed richly textured stone walls and wood beams, turning nuns’ quarters, a chapel, and even a top-floor laundry and gym into guest rooms outfitted with clean-lined custom furniture, vintage club chairs, and maps from local antiques shops.
*Virgin Hotels, Chicago
For this ten-month-old hotel—the first property of Virgin’s new hotel brand—Sir Richard Branson’s in-house designers and Rockwell Group Europe took on the 26-story neoclassical Old Dearborn Bank Building, a historic landmark in the Windy City’s Central Loop district that was built in 1928 by the architecture firm Rapp and Rapp.
Many of the public spaces—including the Commons Club (shown), designed by Rockwell Group Europe—feature newly uncovered original plaster ceilings. Meanwhile, Italian designer Paola Navone envisioned Cerise, the whimsical, brightly coloured rooftop bar.
*Downtown Mexico, Mexico city
Mexico City’s Downtown Mexico, a three-year-old outfit from hip hotelier Grupo Habita, has a rather royal pedigree, situated within the stone-walled 18th-century Palacio de Los Condes de Miravalle (Palace of the Counts of Miravalle), the former home of one of the richest local families of the Spanish Colonial period.
The hotel’s rooftop bar and pool terrace, as well as its breakfast loggia, feature bright pops of colour from low-slung seating, while the 17 rooms have a contemporary Zen feeling, their platform beds, simple desks, and room-dividing screens all done in pale wood.
*The Waterhouse at South Bund, Shanghai
Designed as the Shanghai headquarters of the Japanese army, the rounded 1930s corner building that now contains Design Hotels’ Waterhouse at South Bund has a very different purpose these days, its original three stories and new beaconlike top floor containing 19 loft-style rooms, a modern European restaurant, and lobby and rooftop bars.
Shanghai-based Neri & Hu Design and Research Office entirely transformed what had been little more than a concrete shell of a building, removing some dozen staircases to open the space up to expansive views and finishing it all off with simple wood furnishings and bright white linens.
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