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Industrial Design Goes Mainstream

The hospitality industry has begun taking the “industry” part quite literally. From poured concrete and exposed pipework to transformed factories and converted shipping containers, more hotels than ever are taking their design cues from industrial architecture. There’s an undeniable romance to the rich texture of the materials, and these ten hotels emphatically approve of the trend.

1 Brooklyn Bridge - boutique hotel in New York City
Brooklyn, New York
1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge

There are views, and then there are views; this one, from the waterfront of Brooklyn Heights, showcases the ceaselessly churning post-industrial energy of Lower Manhattan like none other. And though this is new construction, its material approach, featuring salvaged wood from the Coney Island boardwalk and the former Domino Sugar factory, displays plenty of reverence for its forebears — and uses wind energy and collected rainwater to power its own operation.

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Santani Wellness Resort & Spa - boutique hotel in Kandy
Kandy, Sri Lanka
Santani Wellness Resort & Spa

The name may conjure visions of beachfront yoga, but the experience itself is something altogether more solid and substantial: tropical-modernist concrete architecture is a thing, and this is one of its most successful exemplars. That sort of textured minimalism goes hand in glove with contemplative wellness programs, it turns out, and the calming effects of architectural simplicity are put to stunning use here.

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Hotel Hotel - boutique hotel in Canberra
Canberra, Australia
Hotel Hotel

Another brilliant newcomer in a mixed-use building, Hotel Hotel is bound to make a memorable impression in burgeoning New Acton. In true new-industrial form, it’s accompanied by the full suite of cultural attractions: a gallery, a bike shop, a fitness studio, a spa, even an art-house cinema. The décor makes liberal use of reclaimed wood and concrete, with a commendable understanding of the ways in which unfinished surfaces act as a blank canvas for creative thinking.

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The Robey Hall - boutique hotel in Chicago
Chicago, Illinois
The Robey Hall

Fans of Grupo Habita’s head-turning Mexican hotels already have The Robey Hall (formerly The Hollander) on their radar, but for the uninitiated: these folks have spent years specializing in hip urban magnets, each a masterpiece of design balance doing brisk trade in the nightlife department. The renovated Wicker Park digs, once a turn-of-the-century warehouse, make most of the argument themselves; these airy, thoughtfully lit spaces lend themselves just as well to a morning pick-me-up as an evening wind-down.

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X2 River Kwai Resort - boutique hotel in Kanchanaburi
Kanchanaburi, Thailand
X2 River Kwai Resort

It’s worth bearing in mind that “industrial” isn’t always a past-tense affair. Here, hyper-contemporary riverside units riff on the shipping-container trend, clean-lined works of art in and of themselves, no easy feat against such stunning Thai vistas. Make your HQ the Bridge Bar & Bistro, plotting excursions to the countryside’s riches, secure in the knowledge that you’ll come home to a resort bursting with its own architectural sizzle.

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Sir Adam Hotel - boutique hotel in Amsterdam
Amsterdam, Netherlands
Sir Adam Hotel

“Adam” as in the A’DAM Tower, an unmissable Modernist skyscraper in a city that doesn’t exactly bristle with them. That means near-universally great waterfront views from Sir Adam’s eight floors, and it also means the hotel shares its address with an unassuming little company called Gibson Guitars. It also means floor-to-ceiling windows and bracing swaths of raw concrete to visually complement the sound-forward design ethos.

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Atix Hotel - boutique hotel in La Paz
La Paz, Bolivia
Atix Hotel

Quecha for “one who thrives,” Atix makes a daring vertical statement in its low-rise environment, all the better to reflect its mountainous backdrop — and, one presumes, its proprietors’ ambitions. The time is ripe for a Bolivian boutique-hotel scene, however, and Atix’s geometric sensibilities (generously endowed with façade-spanning windows) pays tribute both to Bolivia’s robust industrial history and to boutique hospitality efforts the world over.

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The Warehouse Hotel - boutique hotel in Singapore
The Warehouse Hotel

The name’s a bit on-the-nose, but here it connotes something beyond your standard-issue warehouse: pound for pound, Singapore’s “godowns” more than hold their own in terms of heritage and waterfront appeal. In any case, the charming pitched roofs remain, affording lofted guest rooms plenty of space to stretch out, design-wise. Contemporary touches like recessed lighting abound, but the old bones of the place sing through in the best way.

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Fabrika Tbilisi - boutique hotel in Tbilisi
Tbilisi, Georgia
Fabrika Tbilisi

Industrial transformations stateside are one thing, but to see one done to a Soviet-era textile factory truly drives the point home. The point being, of course, that bubbling social spaces and high-ceilinged guest rooms in conversation with both rough and smooth surfaces are here to stay. Here, everywhere one looks — tiles, pipework, pallets — tells the story of resilient material finding a higher purpose in the second act.

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The Iron Horse Hotel - boutique hotel in Wisconsin
Milwaukee, Wisconsin
The Iron Horse Hotel

Get on your bikes and ride: this handsome hotel explicitly engages the motorcycling demographic, conveniently situated just across the street from the Harley-Davidson museum. And to clear up any latent misconceptions, that makes for a compelling style all its own, blending elements of classic middle-American sophistication with a hard-working, boot-scraping, no-nonsense attitude. All are welcome — even bike agnostics, and even Fido, who’ll enjoy a pet welcome package for an additional fee.

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  • Unique, you cannot see it from outside, with spectacular view of Positano.

    Hotel San Pietro - Positano -ItalyAugust 19th, 2017

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