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Grand Designs: The Best Hotel Architecture

From glass-walled cabins deep in remote Norwegian woodland to sandstone suites carved out of a Utah canyon, these hotels know how to make a bold architectural statement


Fogo Island Inn, Fogo Island, off the north-eastern coast of Newfoundland 

Fogo Island is in the middle of nowhere. The far-flung outcrop of Newfoundland, one of Canada’s oldest and most remote settlements, has nothing but the tempestuous North Atlantic Ocean lapping at its rocky shores for company. Rising from the dramatic, barren landscape, the Todd Saunders-designed Fogo Island Inn surveys the scene from its stilts. With breaching whales and icebergs drifting on the horizon, the backdrop is nothing short of jaw-dropping come rain, shine – or gale. The hotel has been designed to make the most of these views with floor-to-ceiling windows in the bedrooms, although some of the best seats in the house are found in the Dining Room restaurant that juts out to greet the sea, or the rooftop hot tub, where relaxation comes with a side order of seal watching or stargazing. If the weather isn’t playing ball, batten down the hatches at the cinema, library or gallery, where the work of the island’s resident artists is displayed. 

Suites from approx. £950 a night, www.fogoislandinn.ca

Marqués de Riscal, Elciego, Spain

Ever wondered what would happen if starchitect Frank Gehry hit the sauce and created a vineyard hotel in the Rioja heartland? Look no further than Marqués de Riscal. The local vino may or may not have played a part in the creative process, but the crimson grapes growing in the back garden certainly inspired the undulating, purple-hued titanium roof. The Gehry magic continues inside where sloping walls and zigzag windows create 
a discombobulating effect that is heightened after a visit to the adjoining winery, whose cellar is home to some eight million bottles. To enjoy the best of the local produce minus the hangover, head to the spa for a crushed Cabernet body scrub.

From approx. £265 a night,hotel-marquesderiscal.com

Juvet Landscape Hotel, Valldal, north-western Norway

Who needs curtains when there are waterfalls, rivers and rocky outcrops just outside the window? That was the thinking of the architects at Jensen & Skodvin when they designed Juvet Landscape Hotel. What the minimalist, detached cabins, dotted around a farmstead on a Norwegian nature reserve, lack in window coverings, they make up for in views. Whether your room looks out over the dramatic gorge or the birch, aspen and pine tree-covered valley beyond, you’ll be totally immersed in nature and free to roam your glass-walled domain sans dressing gown, if you so choose.

Rooms from approx. £150 a night, juvet.com

Amangiri, Canyon Point, Utah

A canyon might not be the most natural of habitats for a hotel, but for those who want to escape the world, civilisation is a long and bumpy 40km ride away from Amangiri. Dwarfed by soaring stone formations, the resort’s 34 suites camouflage seamlessly into the surrounding landscape and are decked out in white stone and natural timber to blend in with the dusty oasis. Rather than try to blast through the dunes, plateaus and boulders in their path, the architects have worked around nature’s obstacles; the swimming pool, for example, wraps itself around an imposing escarpment. To get up even closer to the rock formations, sign up for a guided climb, group hike or hot air balloon flight. 

Suites from approx. £1,123 a night, aman.com

Sunrise Kempinski Hotel, Beijing, China 

Is it a bird? Is it a plane? It’s hard to put a finger on exactly what Sunrise Kempinski Hotel is supposed to resemble. Sure, the obvious answer is the sun, but the orb-shaped structure also bears a likeness to a scallop – a symbol of prosperity and good fortune in China. As well as figuring out the design brief, guests staying in one of the hotel’s 306 guestrooms and suites can turn their attention to identifying the rare bird breeds that call the surrounding Yanqi Lake home.

Rooms from approx. £190 a night, kempinski.com