Working on booking a hotel for your next vacation? The first thing to consider is the kind of accommodations your trip, and your tastes, require. If all you need out of a hotel is a bed to sleep on and a sink to wash your face, you’ll have no shortage of options. On the other hand, some people travel as much for the hotel as they do for the destination—and sometimes, the hotel is the destination. If you fall into that category, you need to get to know Design Hotels.
You’ve likely heard the phrase “design hotel” when it comes to travel. This typically refers to a four- or five-star property with a specific aesthetic and curated point of view. A design hotel doesn’t have a look that’s standardized across hundreds of properties, for example, and work from local artisans is often incorporated into the hotel’s decor.
But Design Hotels is itself a specific category of hotels. It’s a prestigious collection of curated properties that launched in 1993. The portfolio is an excellent place to get inspired for your next vacation: Design Hotels offers a global roster of more than 300 top-tier boutique hotels in cities, atop mountains, on beaches, and everywhere in between. Although Design Hotels is now fully owned by Marriott, the properties themselves are independently owned—DH just curates the collection and upholds the portfolio standards. No matter where you book, you can count on the Design Hotels collection to offer a unique experience.
The 10 properties below are our favorites of the Design Hotels portfolio. Booking one of these great hotels is the easiest way to guarantee a successful getaway—one you’ll recommend to friends and remember for years to come.
The Best Design Hotels to Book for Your Next Trip
1. Downtown L.A. Proper Hotel, Los Angeles
The newly opened Downtown L.A. Proper Hotel is one of the latest additions to the Design Hotels collection. Famed designer Kelly Wearstler paired Mexican and Moroccan details inside a nightclub-turned-YWCA that has found a third life as a see-and-be-seen hotel. Yes, you’ll sleep where a basketball court or pool once existed, and yes, you’ll probably want to watch Wearstler’s Masterclass after staying here in hopes that you can recreate her aesthetic at home.
2. Gramercy Park Hotel, New York
Gramercy Park Hotel has had many retouches in its century of attracting artists, writers, and other free spirits. It’s a Renaissance Revival hotel with a modern makeover and visual direction by Julian Schnabel throughout. It’s practically an art museum, too, with works by Basquiat, Warhol, and Mapplethorpe on display. Guests even have access to Manhattan’s only private park: Gramercy Park (it’s located just down the street).
3. Baja Club, La Paz, Mexico
La Paz, in Mexico’s Baja California Sur, is pulling more and more travelers away from Cabo (or sharing them—it’s not a contest). Dubbed “the world’s aquarium,” La Paz has incredible hospitality to match its many natural attractions, and Baja Club is at top of the list. Design-wise, Luis Barragán’s eye for cheeky architecture splashes against a colonial-era hacienda, and the decor features soft earth-tone colors and natural materials including wood beams, woven furniture, antique brickwork, and a sand-lined pool.
4. Ion Adventure Hotel, Selfoss, Iceland
Mother Nature herself designed one key draw of this property: the expansive, moss-covered lava fields with mountain-studded views of Iceland’s Lake Thingvallavatn. And the views continue after sunset: a casual glass-dome bar offers front-row seats to the Northern Lights. In proper Icelandic style, everything here is eco-friendly, from water-saving showers to recycled driftwood incorporated into the design, and the hotel serves up a chic, minimalist palette with concrete, wood, and stone.
5. Stallmästaregården, Stockholm, Sweden
The second-oldest property on this list is the 17th-century Stallmästaregården (it has the hardest-to-pronounce name, too). Swedish Royals once partied here, and now you can too: Wander through the hotel’s centuries-old rooms for glimpses of historic murals, chandeliers, and gardens, and then grab a bite at its copper-toned restaurant (which is listed as Sweden’s first-ever inn).
6. Hotel Pacai, Vilnius, Lithuania
Never been to Lithuania? Here’s your excuse. The palatial Hotel Pacai mirrors the Baroque style of Vilnius, Lithuania’s capital, and the mansion itself dates back to the 17th century. Many of its historical details, like vaulted ceilings and bare marble walls, remain on display, and builders recreated its original roof. Nowadays the interiors are defined by wood, leather, tin, stone, and clay. Staying here is as much an incredible tactile experience as it is a visual one.
7. Les Bains, Paris
Les Bains is a hotel with many past lives: It was a bathhouse (which once hosted Marcel Proust), a Belle Époque meeting place, and a famous nightclub. Today’s visitors can still do a little disco in the hotel’s basement club, take a dip in the glowing mosaic-tiled baths, or enjoy a cocktail in the renovated Art Deco bar. Paris’ history is rich, and at Les Bains, you feel like you’re part of the city’s living, thriving, ever-evolving story.
8. Provocateur, Berlin
Provocateur lives up to its name with its Cabernet red interiors and cabaret spirit. You wouldn’t expect this glamour from the street, where the once-residential Art Nouveau structure blends in with the neighbors. That’s so Berlin, though—putting on a show behind closed doors. Provocateur shows off its stucco, marble, fishbone parquet, brass, and other fascinating architectural elements by day, and at night, guests can kick back in the sumptuous Tempting bar.
9. Patina Maldives, Fari Islands
A beautifully designed home at the edge of the world, Patina gives its guests satisfying seclusion. Studio MK27 took an eco-forward approach to the island’s construction and transplanted 16,800 trees and 320,000 shrubs from nearby islands that were being industrialized. Jaw-dropping design details, from the wooden-slatted ceilings to the spa sanctuary, wait around every corner, and guests also have private access to artist James Turrell’s breathtaking “Skyspace” installation located on-site. Your oceanfront pool looks out over an endless horizon—the perfect spot to let life’s stresses float away on the breeze.
10. Okcs Retreat Setouchi Aonagi, Matsuyama, Japan
With its minimalist, Zen-anchored approach to architecture, Okcs Retreat Setouchi Aonagi helps inspire visitors with creativity, compassion, and calm. Architect Tadao Ando installed his famously smooth concrete walls in this towering seven-room property, and he intentionally left most of their surfaces blank (though you’ll spot art by Frank Stella and Rieko Kawabe throughout the property). Okcs Retreat Setouchi Aonagi rejects frivolousness and reminds visitors that simplicity in design is an art all its own.
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