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Hotel in a Box

8 Ultra-Modern Cube Hotels
  • Aire de Bardenas

    Aire de Bardenas, Spain

  • Hotel Endémico

    Hotel Endémico, Ensenada

  • Longitude 131

    Longitude 131, Ayers Rock

  • Casa de La Flora

    Casa de La Flora, Phuket

  • Areias do Seixo Charm Hotel & Residences

    Areias do Seixo Charm Hotel & Residences, Portugal

  • Jumeirah Himalayas Hotel

    Jumeirah Himalayas Hotel, Shanghai

  • Consolacion

    Consolación, Spain

  • Hotel Viura

    Hotel Viura, Spain

March, 2013

Blame Donald Judd. Lately we’ve noticed a profusion of cubes in the world of hotel design — modern, self-contained pods set in some of planet’s most otherworldly landscapes. Here are a few of our favorites.

1.

Aire de Bardenas
Navarre, Spain — Set at the edge of the desert in Spain’s northern Navarre province, Aire de Bardenas’s prefab pods are designed around the windows, with their views of the wheat fields and wind-scoured rocks outside. The setting, plus nooks with mini-mattresses and lounge pillows, make this possibly the world’s best hotel for getting a bit of reading done.
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2.

Hotel Endémico
Ensenada, Mexico — From the outside, Hotel Endémico’s hyper-modern “EcoLofts” look like simple wooden boxes, propped above an arid boulder-strewn landscape. But inside they’re impeccably styled in black, white and concrete-grey, with views of the valley below framed by floor-to-ceiling windows.
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3.

Longitude 131
Yulara, Australia — Built on steel stilts above the fragile bush of Australia’s Red Centre, the fifteen cabins at Longitude 131 combine the traits of a cutting-edge cube hotel (an environmentally friendly design, a lunar-landscape setting, walls of glass and an open plan) with canopied safari tent–style roofs and décor à la British Africa. It’s a combination that works surprisingly well, helped along by views of Ayers Rock in the distance.
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4.

Casa de la Flora
Phuket, Thailand — Technically these beachside villas are closer to cuboids, but even the geometry buff is probably more interested in the way the slate-grey structures taper off toward glass walls overlooking the Andaman Sea. The layout takes advantage of the natural slope of the beach, each villa graced with an uninterrupted view of the sand and surf.
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5.

Areias do Seixo Charm
Póvoa de Penafirme, Portugal — Areias do Seixo Charm looks a bit like a Tetris game come to life, only the pile of blocks here is made of glass and polished concrete. And somehow it also manages to seem like an outgrowth of Portugal’s rugged Atlantic coast, with gnarled, salt-bleached tree limbs for support beams and towering glass walls that bring the outdoors in.
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6.

Jumeirah Himalayas
Shanghai, China — Call it an exercise in misdirection — a Shanghai hotel with the word “Himalayas” in the name, and it’s from the Dubai-based Jumeirah group. If that’s insufficiently mind-bending, it also happens to take the form of an enormous cube cased in tubular neon lights, a very long way from those little eco-bunkers in the desert.
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7.

Consolación
Aragon, Spain — Here’s yet another designophile’s hideaway in an unexplored corner of Spain. Perched at the edge of a bluff in under-appreciated Matarraña province, each wood-clad cube at Consolación contains a guest room with sunken slate baths and all manner of high-tech electronics.
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8.

Hotel Viura
La Rioja, Spain — In case it wasn’t already clear that rural Spain is the champion of the high-design box hotel, here’s an entire stack of precarious-looking cubes in the form of Rioja’s Hotel Viura. With an 18th-century church as its neighbor, the hotel isn’t the first thing you’d expect in a traditional Spanish wine village, but its unusual layout ensures lots of corner-office views of the town and nearby mountains.
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