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Get to Know the Greats in These Starchitect-Designed Hotels

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The validity of the term "starchitect" may be debatable, but it's a useful catch-all for the movers and shakers of the built world, without whom the hospitality industry would be rather drab. Nearly all of the biggest players in architecture have hotels to their names, and if not, they surely have at least one in the offing. A backpacking trip through Europe could take one through a Rem Koolhaas-designed hotel in the largest building on the continent, a characteristically sci-fi-svelte Zaha Hadid lodging, and a bookable Wild West town by the ever-praiseworthy Robert A.M. Stern, to name just a few. Fire up Expedia and say auf wiedersehen to Airbnb; it's time for a globe-trotting introduction to the most prominent starchitect-designed lodgings around.

Photos via nhow Rotterdam

↑ A successor to the nhow hotels in Berlin and Milan, the nhow Rotterdam opened in January in the first 23 floors of Rem Koolhaas' recently completed De Rotterdam, a so-called "vertical city" spread across a three-tower complex that, when taken as a whole, is considered the largest building in Europe. Fashioned as an "urban lifestyle hotel" in the part of Rotterdam occasionally referred to as "Manhattan along the Maas," the only hotel by the Kanye-inspiring Dutch master boasts "278 luxury rooms and creativity in every corner," due to various rotating installations created by local artists. According to the general manager, the often DJ'ed skyline bar is angling to become an essential local "meeting point to soak up the nightlife."

Photos via Hotel Puerta América

↑ Silken Hotels, the creators of Madrid's Hotel Puerta América, had the rather innovative idea of gathering 13 of the world's heaviest hitting designers and architects to create one floor each, and naturally, queen of the curve Zaha Hadid was given free reign over the first floor. There's little going on here that Hadid fans haven't seen time and time again—sinuous, spaceship-like, pick your adjective—but still, the rooms themselves are probably the most sinuous, spaceship-like accommodations in this galaxy. Norman Foster and Jean Nouvel also left their mark on sections of the five-star hotel, which prides itself as both a "box of surprises" and a "an idea of freedom come true, a meeting space that brings together different cultures and ways of understanding architecture and design."

Photos via Hello! Magazine

↑ Built from part of an old Fiat plant in Turin, Italy, the NH Lingotto Tech hotel was designed by Italian Pritzker Prize-winner and senator for life Renzo Piano. Architectural Digest once described the property as "bracingly modern"—in a good way, as opposed to how that phrase might have been leveled at London's much-jabbed-at Piano-designed Shard tower—and the huge concrete-and-glass atrium is undoubtedly the place where that rings truest. Part of a huge converted public space that also includes a gallery and a concert hall, the hotel's coolest feature might be the rooftop track where Fiat used to test its automobiles, which currently serves as a running track for guests.

Photos via Design Hotels

↑ Converted from a small, circa-1907 corner property by French architect Jean Nouvel—the man behind NYC's "Vision Machine," Barcelona's upcoming palm frond hotel, and what aims to be the world's tallest vertical garden—Switzerland's Hotel Luzern is filled with Nouvel's trademark combination of wood and stainless steel. Each of the 25 gues rooms has an individualized color palette, and a large still of an iconic scene from directors like Buñuel, Almodóvar, and Greenaway.

Photos via Hotel Marqués de Riscal

↑ Following what the New York Times once called his "dazzling successful" Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain, it's only natural that divisive but still sought-after architect Frank Gehry would return to the region. And in 2006, he did, with the Hotel Marqués de Riscal, a 43-room hotel in Elciego run by the Stamford, Conn.-based Starwood Hotels and set at a 150-year-old winery that sees Gehry's love for disarticulated metal—in this case, titanium, partially tinted rose, silver, and gold to symbolize the value of a grapevine just before harvest—approach a level of flamboyant unraveling nearing that of his recently completed museum in Panama City. "New delights await," promises the official site, either at the "Vinothérapie" spa or at one of two restaurants run by Michelin-starred chef Francis Paniego.

Photos via arcspace

↑ Designed in the 1990s by Princeton-based architect Michael Graves, the Miramar Resort Hotel is one of several Egyptian getaways that the
outspoken postmodernist and New York Five member's firm created. Apparently, the vernacular forms and methods used in this project worked so well that they were repeated by Michael Graves & Associates with several other projects in the region. The 400-room resort is described by MGA as "adroitly designed to maximize water views and enhance the visitor experience," and to that end, it probably doesn't hurt to be "dramatically sited" right on the Red Sea.

Photos via Four Seasons New York

↑ Chinese American modern master I. M. Pei turned 96 last year, and aside from the JFK Library, the National Gallery's East Wing, and many other high-profile projects, his century-spanning career gave rise to the Four Seasons New York, which was the city's tallest hotel until it was recently unseated by Marriott's 1717 Broadway. Designed in collaboration with Frank Williams and frequent client William Zeckendorf, the hotel was praised for its well-executed interiors when it opened in 1994. A decade later, Pei came out of retirement to redesign its epic Ty Warner suite, which now goes for around $35K a night.

Photo via Robert A.M. Stern Architects

↑ Despite his professed love for right angles and austere forms, celebrated traditionalist Robert A.M. Stern has been known to deviate from his preoccupations from time to time, and no Stern work is more of a strange one-off than the Wild West town he designed for Disneyland Paris. Boasting a completely mind-boggling 1,000 rooms, most of them outfitted with bunk beds, the dusty little faux-outpost extends around a central crossroads with an old-timey restaurant and a check-in building. Stern clearly had a bit of fun with filtering the Hotel Cheyenne through Hollywood versions of the Old West; his firm's site describes "vistas angled to screen out 'backstage' areas from the cameramen and the actors who, in this case, are one and the same—the hotel guests."

Photos via Arch Daily

↑ Known for large institutions and award-winning residences alike, as well as one pretty mind-blowing Beijing development, starchitect Steven Holl once brough his bag of tricks to Austrian wine country, where his design for the Loisium Hotel took shape. Built in tandem with an associated wine center, the lodging was laid out with "the strict geometry of the surrounding vineyard rows" in mind, according to a project description, and includes a wine-themed restaurant and a cigar lounge. One Arch Daily commenter who claims to have visited makes the high-flying prediction that it will "remain as one of Steven Holl's best works ever."

Photos via Vdara Hotel & Spa

↑Ultra-hip modernist Rafael Viñoly's Vdara Hotel & Spa in Las Vegas has taken a bit of heat in recent years—or rather, given some off—earning the nickname "the fryscraper" for scorching sunbathers with its curved metal facade. Naturally, this predicament didn't help when it turned out that a building of his in London was capable of melting cars, the kind of thing you want to curb, especially given that Viñoly is also behind NYC's soon-to-be tallest residential tower. Aside from concentrating sunlight into a "death ray," the Vdara is known for its handsome slender profile, and a cafe stocked with offerings selected by chef Martin Heierling.

Photos via Splendia

↑ With the backlash against Santiago Calatrava's expensive and fraught ambitions climbing to new heights—between getting sued over the state of his Valencia opera house, called out for inflicting the "world's most expensive hallway" on the World Trade Center redevelopment site, and delivering a questionable product on top of that, dude's had quite a full plate—it helps to keep in mind what earned the Spanish architect such a high profile in the first place. Spain's Ayre Hotel Oviedo is a perfect example of the commitment to epic and surreal form that makes Calatrava the heir apparent to Antoni Gaudí.

Photos via Hotel Hesperia Tower

↑ Best known for designing the Pompidou Center and more than his fair share of fabulous modernist homes, octogenarian architect Richard Rogers also created Barcelona's Hotel Hesperia Tower. Completed in 2006, the 280-bedroom tower claims to be one of the "tallest and most symbolic towers" among the city's landmarks.

Photos via Cabinn Metro Hotel

↑ Haters will invariably hate on CABINN Metro Hotel, which Daniel Libeskind, consummate inspirer of very strong distaste, designed for the Orestad sector of Copenhagen. But who's to say that a hotel can't be covered in a pointless criss-cross of curving lines? Apparently, they're based on "Libeskind's Chamberworks, a graphic work in which 'the ideas of architecture and music intersect in the chamber of the mind.'"

Photos via Design Boom

↑ British architect Norman Foster's ME London opened its doors last March, with an interior that resembles something out of the Tron reboot, which makes sense, considering it was designed by the man behind Apple's upcoming HQ. The 157-bed hotel, which looks a bit more traditional from the outside than it does on the inside, nonetheless follows what one Foster + Partners partner describes as a "bold black and white interior palette" that "establishes a strong identity," and has a champagne bar to boot. It's situated on a triangular lot, and that shape becomes something of a repeated motif throughout the building, most notably in a large pyramidal void that juts through all nine floors of the hotel, creating an expansive courtyard with a triangular skylight overhead. · All Hotels Week 2014 coverage [Curbed National]