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Grand Designs

Marques de Riscal Hotel & Winery

With many important architectural creations operating as hotels, Chris Beanland picks out 10 seminal buildings that are open to overnight guests

1 La Tourette Monastery, Lyon

Final image of La Tourette Monastery

La Tourette Monastery. Image: FLC/ADAGP

It might sound like a hard cell, and indeed it is — you’ll be sleeping in a monk’s quarters (bare walls, single bed, no mod cons) but you get the chance to rest your head in this sleeping 1950s concrete giant by Le Corbusier — a monastery that overlooks the rolling green hills outside Lyon. The church and the public spaces will blow your mind with their piercing shafts of light and glimpsed bucolic views.


2 The Hill House, Helensburgh, Scotland

Final Final image of Hill House

The Hill House

Charles Rennie Mackintosh is much loved for his buildings and his furniture — you can enjoy both here in Helensburgh at the house built for the publisher Walter Blackie in 1904. And since the recent Glasgow School of Art fire, his remaining buildings have taken on greater importance. Visitors have the chance to rent the former schoolroom; the windows opening on to panoramic views over the Firth of Clyde and beyond.


3 The Langham, Chicago / IBM Plaz

Final image of Langham Chicago

The Langham, Chicago

The most luxurious choice in our top 10, this skyscraper by Germany’s Ludwig Mies van der Rohe is now an upscale hotel, The Langham, Chicago. Inside there are artworks by Anish Kapoor and the minimalist styling Mies pioneered after he moved to Chicago in the 1940s has been retained. Incidentally, this used to be IBM’s HQ before being turned into a hotel in 2013 and the jet-black exterior is pure Mies. This is the only one of his buildings in the world you can stay in.


4 DC Tower / Melia Vienna

Final image of Vienna DC Tower

DC Tower. Image: Michael Nagl

Austria’s highest building is the new DC (which stands for Donau City) Tower in Vienna by the architect Dominique Perrault. Donau City is a new area of Vienna by the river, which is rising towards the clouds at lightning pace. Inside this tower is the snug and sleek home of the new Melia Vienna — which also includes a restaurant and sky bar. Decor is smart and black to match the tower itself.


5 Hotel Marques de Riscal, Rioja, Spain

Final inage of Hotel Marques de Riscal

Hotel Marques de Riscal

This hotel and winery is a veritable explosion of metal and colour, which jumps out of the La Rioja countryside and begs for attention. No wonder — its architect is Frank Gehry, who played the same trick in the centre of nearby Bilbao with his Guggenheim Museum. Expect to be pampered at this Starwood Luxury Collection bolthole — with (of course) wine tasting and perfect pintxos to boot.


6 Astley Castle, Warwickshire

Final image of Astley Castle

Astley Castle

The current manor house at Astley, near Nuneaton, in Warwickshire, has been around since the 1500s, fading into gentle neglect over the years, with a fire or two thrown in for good measure. But all that changed in 2013 when it won the Stirling Prize (the highest prize in British architecture) for its restoration by architects Witherford Watson Mann. It’s now rented out by the Landmark Trust and the interiors are a breathtaking mix of ruined old castle and modern glazed space.


7 Rotunda, Birmingham

Image of The Rotunda

Rotunda. Image: Staying Cool

Maybe it looks like a soft drink can from some angles, or even a bin, but the Rotunda was the towering icon of 1960s Birmingham, designed by James Roberts. Saved from demolition in the 2000s and converted from offices into apartments, a handful on the top floors were taken by the hotel Staying Cool. There’s no restaurant — instead, they load your kitchenette with fresh fruit and croissants so you can fashion your own breakfast. The views of Brum are really exciting too.


8 Hotel le Corbusier / Unite d’Habitation, Marseille

Image of Unite d'Abitation

Unite d’Habitation. Image: Getty

Marseille’s Unite d’Habitation is a site of pilgrimage for architects who come to learn about what was really the first modern mass housing block. It’s done with such panache too — the block has an art gallery and kids’ paddling pool on the roof, restaurants and shops inside. The Hotel le Corbusier has basically appropriated a couple of the apartments and offers nights to remember complete with retro (and fairly basic) 1950s decor.


9 Seth Peterson Cottage, Wisconsin

Image of Seth Peterson Cottage

Seth Peterson Cottage

The quiet fields of rural Wisconsin have a secret, the Seth Peterson Cottage, desigbed by one of the most famous of the mid-century US modernists, Frank Lloyd Wright. Now, unlike his famous Fallingwater, which you can only visit, this one offers you the chance to stay over in simple, warm guest accommodation and wonder about what Wright was trying to do with his retro-futurist style. Afternoon country walks round the grounds are a must.


10 Vanbrugh House Hotel, Oxford

Oxford’s latest luxe boutique hotel also happens to be in a building that John Vanbrugh — the man behind Blenheim Palace and Castle Howard — might have built. Why the uncertainty? Well, 300 years ago the records weren’t always kept as well as they are today. But this handsome town house in the centre of Oxford does have some striking similarities to nearby Blenheim. Today the new hotel, named after the man (who was a playwright as well as an architect) offers a high standard of modern service and a restrained, handsome decor scheme to make the most of this historic building.




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