The Drifter, a beautifully renovated mid-century offering, is the latest US hotel to cater to the boom in repurposing rundown motel buildings. Set around an open-air swimming pool, the 20-room space was spruced up by Nicole Cota Studio with the aim of staying true to the heritage while rehabilitating the architectural relic. “You can’t fight with what you’re given so you give it a little room to breathe and then add new layers,” says Cota.
Key to the reboot is the tropical vegetation installed around the outdoor space, plus modern comforts such as La Colombe coffee in the café and Aesop products in the bathrooms. Bedrooms are simple but smart with wooden custom furniture, industrial trowelled-concrete walls and a flourish by way of the Oaxacan floor tiles. Also check out the weird and wonderful artwork by Alabama’s Butch Anthony.
Q&A - Annika Järvelin
CEO of Duara Travels, Finland
Why did you decide to launch Duara Travels?
We were tired of being in resorts built only for tourism and wanted to know where the money we spend goes. Conventional tourism fails those in need in the developing world as chain hotels and even Airbnb often transfer profits to foreigners or the wealthy.
How does it work?
Duara Travels offers a network of villages in rural Africa, Asia and Latin America where independent travellers stay with a local family in their home, share three home-cooked meals a day with the family, and join in daily activities such as farming or fishing. A local English-speaking on-the-ground contact is always reachable. The payment is divided between the host family, the contact person and the community savings group, which benefits the village with micro-loans for women or aid for families in need.
What makes it unique?
You are part of the community, not just a guest. In the Duara villages everyone wants you to feel welcome. And you don’t have to be an extreme traveller or have local knowledge to stay in a Duara village – an open mind is all you need.
Room Mate Emir
The newest addition to the Spanish-owned Room Mate Hotels group, Emir is for those travellers who are on the lookout for a decent Istanbul drop-in. Hidden in a quiet corner of the Beyoglu neighbourhood, the 47-room residence, which has been classily appointed by interior designer Lázaro Rosa Violán, is a short walk from Taksim Square.
The historic bay-windowed building is dressed up in a modest-looking exterior but step inside and it’s not quite so understated. A backdrop of pink brick walls in the reception is complemented by tasteful furniture, while the mirrored roof in the entrance hall is showy but does much to enhance the space. The overall feel is friendly with plenty of natural light and wood finishes to lighten the mood in a city that’s been understandably glum of late.
Power and glory
The Steam Hotel
A defunct 100-year-old power plant in the city of Västerås has been transformed into Steam, a 227-bedroom waterfront spot. An antidote to Scandi minimalism, its 18 floors are homely but smart, mixing industrial metalwork and exposed red brick with soft velvets and chandeliers. Created by the ess Group, the team behind Sweden’s resort hotels Ystad Saltsjöbad and Falkenberg Strandbad, it has a seventh-floor spa heated by a steam turbine salvaged during the building’s overhaul. Dine in the ground-floor steakhouse or on the top level with sweeping views across Lake Mälaren.
The soaring new Kimpton Everly is proof that Hollywood is taking a sophisticated turn. It has peerless views, especially from the Hills-facing rooms, where windows frame the Hollywood sign. The 216 minimal rooms, all soft tones and geometric furnishings.
Where the Everly really shines is in the communal spaces: the light-filled entrance lounge has bright white brick walls and custom mid-century furniture, while the fifth-floor pool and deck’s sun loungers overlook LA’s palm-fringed boulevards towards the glistening Pacific.
Made in Manhattan
Sometimes Big Apple hotels can want for personality; not so Made, the latest addition to the Nomad district’s flourishing hospitality scene. The 108-room hotel has a warm tactility due to the use of wood – from bedroom panelling to the communal table in the Paper coffee shop and bar – backed up by colourful Nanimarquina rugs and bronze-detailed shelving in the Studio mai-designed bedrooms. Rooftop bar Good Behaviour offers views of the Empire State, while the open-to-the-public restaurant, Ferris, from chef Greg Proechel (formerly of Le Turtle), has a focus on seasonal vegetables.
Among the sharp new design-focused hotels to open in Copenhagen this year, the dashing Danmark from family-owned Brøchner Hotels features high on the list. Redesigned by Morten Hedegaard, it comprises two buildings, one from 1969 (with a new racing-green-tiled façade) and the other from 1792. The terracotta hallways, bright blue ceilings and graphic carpets (from Danish manufacturer EGE) take inspiration from the nearby Thorvaldsen museum. The rooms have forest-green and creamy walls, grey leather headboards and mint-coloured print cushions from Danish brand Aiayu. Close by, Hotel Sanders has a similarly satisfying style but is more magnificent. In a historic building behind the Royal Danish Theatre, it has 54 refined rooms with rattan and wood cabinets, low-slung leather chairs, delicate glass vases and brass drinks trays. The rooftop conservatory provides a panoramic view of the city. — mho
Taking its name from the Nikolaifleet Canal in Hamburg, Sir Nikolai is the fourth opening from the Amsterdam-based Sir Hotels brand. The iconic red-brick depots of the old town and the upcoming HafenCity district are a short amble away from this former grain warehouse. Today the hotel’s 94 rooms and suites orbit a glass-roofed courtyard. The Study makes for a fine place to check in, being an intimate living room lined with velvet sofas and plenty of books, plus coffee, tea and sparkling wine on offer while you wait. The Dutch agency FG Stijl created Sir Nikolai for the patron who appreciates design-minded digs but also an eclectic selection of art, such as the in-house offerings from painter Aaron Rose and photographer Karin Székessy.