With so much focus put on hotel service, amenities, location, and rooms (and rightly so), people often don’t take the time to marvel at how incredible and unique some hotel buildings are. Whether they’re built from scratch, like the giant pyramid in the Las Vegas dessert that holds 4,000-plus rooms and the world’s largest atrium, or salvaged from days of yore, like the D.C. luxury hotel that was once a 19th-century post office, hotels can be housed in some truly interesting structures. We decided to give some love to the architects and create a list of some of our favorite buildings featured on Oyster.com.
The 4,406-room Luxor is an enormous carnival of a resort in which two-story-tall pharaoh statues look on as sweepstakes-prize Corvettes rotate at their feet. Second only to the MGM Grand in room count, this huge property boasts a 30-story, pyramid-shaped main building that shoots 315,000 watts of light out of its peak (making it visible from space), two additional towers of guest rooms, four swimming pools, a 120,000-square-foot casino, the world’s largest atrium, a giant sphinx, and a host of dining, entertainment, and nightlife options. In terms of sheer magnitude and spectacle, the Luxor stands out even among its extravagant neighbors.
A 4,004-room mega-resort, Aria stands as the shiny centerpiece of the $11 billion City Center, opened in December 2009. The Aria curves around the top of the horseshoe-shaped complex, a massive hotel that aims to outdo the famous Strip giants. The hotel’s planners took careful steps to avoid what its predecessors do so well: Aria plainly leaves behind the kitsch and themes for which Vegas hotels are known, instead opting for a clean modern design with neutral colors. You won’t find any flashing lights, artificial canals, or dancing fountains here. Yet it can still wow even jaded Vegas visitors, with soaring ceilings that allow sunlight to pour into the expansive lobby, and a casino that stretches on for ages.
Housed in a unique building in the heart of artsy Chelsea — near the clubs and designer flagships of the Meatpacking District — the 120-room, nautical-themed Maritime boutique hotel offers luxury-level comfort at a very reasonable price. To some, the outside of the building may seem a little strange or off putting, but the hotel very much commits to the nautical theme and is complemented well by it’s exciting interior. You really have to see and explore to appreciate this unique and quirky building smack in the middle of a “hip” New York neighborhood. See pictures of Maritime at Oyster.com
Occupying a former jail, the 298-room Liberty Hotel is truly unique, with a playful design that incorporates the incarceration theme in fun ways. While the outside doesn’t necessarily reflect the prison theme anymore, one can close their eyes and definitely imagine luxury turned into incarceration. All in all, the old building is put to a great new use, and guests while not required to stay anymore, might want to anyways.
No, this is not the Tower of Terror ride at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, it is in fact a hotel. Hotelier Jeff Klein, who also owns the swanky City Club in New York City, rescued the Sunset Tower in 2005, transforming the decrepit 15-story landmark back into the sparkling Art Deco hotel it once was. In the ’30s and ’40s, it was the temporary home of Howard Hughes, Billie Burke, Errol Flynn, and John Wayne. (In a later era, Iggy Pop is said to have leapt from his window into the pool, an unlikely if not impossible feat.) While Hollywood luminaries still spend the night, the scene today is decidedly more tranquil, with guests more likely to relax in poolside lounge chairs than to attempt rock star stunts. See pictures of Sunset Tower – Argyle on Oyster.com
To capitalize on the popular, elevated High Line park that opened in the summer of 2009, Standard hotelier Andre Balazs pulled off a design feat: He propped his 337-room hotel up on huge concrete stilts so that it straddles, and hovers above, the park. For this, the Standard has garnered the praise of architecture critics, who marvel at how, from inside the building, one seems to be floating in the air.
Perched on a hill overlooking Sunset Boulevard, the Chateau Marmont has been a bastion of old Hollywood — and a way of life for many a celebrity — since it opened in 1929. Loosely modeled after a chateau in France’s Loire Valley, this temple of romance and hedonism has a history as thick as the stains on its carpets. Former residents include Greta Garbo, Robert DeNiro, and Lindsay Lohan. John Belushi overdosed in a bungalow, F. Scott Fitzgerald had a heart attack here, and members of Led Zeppelin rode motorcycles through the lobby. See pictures of Chateau Marmont on Oyster.com
There are seven Kimpton-brand hotels in the District, but the Monaco is the only one in a National Historic Landmark building. The Greek Revival General Post Office, designed by Washington Monument architect Robert Mills and finished in 1839, was reborn as this 183-room hotel in 2002. The four-floor lodging takes up an entire city block on the eastern edge of the Penn Quarter neighborhood.
This Ritz has 276 guest rooms and 60 suites in a stately century-old building whose colonnaded facade resembles the U.S. Supreme Court. While the Ritz certainly is a brand synonymous with going above and beyond expectations for service, they generally aren’t known for housing their hotels in giant buildings reminiscent of museums or temples! The front entrance is one of a kind as far as hotel’s are concerned. See pictures of The Ritz-Carlton, San Francisco on Oyster.com
Boutique hotelier Ian Schrager opened the 807-room Hudson in 2000, on the heels of his successful New York ventures Morgan’s and the Royalton. At the time of purchase, the building was owned by PBS, and its upper floors were rented out as college dorm rooms. (It was initially built as a Y.M.C.A. in the 1920s.) Schrager sent ripples through the hotel industry with his plans to create a cheap but ultra-stylish hotel — unheard of in New York at the time — that would, he said, be a “modern Y.M.C.A., an urban spa in the middle of the city.” Renowned designer Philippe Starck, who also designed Schrager’s Delano hotel in Miami, covered the 40-foot-high ceiling in the dark, cavernous lobby with ivy, hanging an enormous chandelier above the front desk. (The hotel’s lobby is actually on the second floor, accessed by a single escalator that leads up from the sign-less street entrance.)
Thanks to its distinctive 17-story spindle-shaped building, the Hotel Angeleno has been familiar site to anyone passing through Bel-Air and Brentwood on the 405 freeway since 1970. Originally a Holiday Inn, it’s now an immaculate 209-room hotel owned by Joie de Vivre, the largest boutique chain in California (Hotel Erwin in Venice Beach is part of the same chain). See picture of Hotel Angeleno on Oyster.com