Forget Acqua di Parma hotel amenities or pillow menus, the ultimate prestige is having a Pritzker Prize laureate design your hotel because while not many among us can afford a home designed by a multi-award winning architect, spending a night in a hotel designed by one is less far fetched.


Veni verde vici

Legendary French architect Jean Nouvel's Renaissance Barcelona Fira Hotel takes vertical green gardens to the extreme by visually (and spectacularly) representing palm leaves on the twin 27-storey towers. Apart from being a unique architectural element, the facades also have a passive solar function — the southern, western and eastern elevations are bright white to reduce heat gain while the matt black northern façade absorbs as much solar radiation as possible. Although connected on the highest level, the space in between the two towers is enclosed by glazing, creating a greenhouse-style atrium where zig-zag staircases are interspersed with greenery from five different continents. This lush tableau is worthy of The Hanging Gardens of Babylon while providing natural light and ventilation.

The Light Stuff

There's very little that Lord Norman Foster has not put his signature architectural style to - airports, museums, shops, offices, malls, apartment blocks, parliaments—all achieved several times over. So when the ME Hotel opened its doors in Central London, it was a debut in many ways, being the first hotel to be designed in its entirety by Foster + Partners from the overall structure to the graphics on the bathroom towels. Featuring a triangle leitmotif in many scales and for many functions throughout the cozy 157-bed establishment, it takes the guest on a surreal journey - from the light filled and luxurious marble clad lobby (complete with pyramidal void) to black lifts, black foyers and black corridors then back to light with bedrooms clad in pale leather.

Ahead of the curve

The Guggenheim Bilbao put Frank Gehry firmly on the map in Spain but in the heart of the Rioja wine region, Gehry's hospitality project for one of the area's oldest wineries—Hotel Marques de Riscal, could be his prettiest. The tangle of titanium ribbons reflect the pink hues of Rioja, the silver foil shielding the cork, and the distinctive gold mesh adorning all Marqués de Riscal bottles, they also work as sunshades framing the spectacular views of the vineyards. Each of the 43 rooms is uniquely shaped to conform to the undulating roof and Gehry lavished equal decorative attention to the interiors, going as far as designing the hotel furniture.