Hotel (noun) “an establishment providing accommodation, meals and other services for travellers and tourists”
– Oxford Dictionary
While this is true of your typical hotel, there is a new and growing breed of properties offering visitors something much more: an experience.
1. Hotel Lola James Harper, France
French lifestyle brand Lola James Harper, which produces everything from perfumes to photo books, is opening its first property in collaboration with AccorHotels. While the exact location of the 80-room hotel is still under wraps (“central Paris” is all the LJH folks are telling us), what we do know is that “fun” will be the overriding theme. Look forward to a basketball court, a comedy-only TV room and even a music studio where guests can spin their own tracks. There’ll be plenty of cool design touches too, such as palm trees, colourful Acapulco chairs and different perfumes sprayed every 30 minutes. Opening 2019.
Rates: From S$298, including breakfast.
2. Arctic Bath, Sweden
It looks like a scene straight out of a sci-fi movie: a futuristic nest-like structure floating – or frozen in place in the winter – on the Lule River in Swedish Lapland, 50km south of the Arctic Circle. But step through the doorway and you’ll find yourself in Sweden’s coolest hotel, whose intriguing design is inspired by the river’s history of transporting timber. The centrepiece of the hotel is a giant ice bath, where the water is kept at a bracing four degrees Celsius. This is in turn ringed by saunas and spa treatment rooms, plus a lounge, shop, bar and restaurant. Come nightfall, retire to one of six bedrooms – each featuring wood-burning stoves and minimalist Scandinavian furnishings. Opening end-2018.
Rates: From S$915, including breakfast.
3. Fingal, Scotland
There’s certainly nothing ordinary about Scotland’s first floating hotel. Fingal, a former Northern Lighthouse Board vessel, will be permanently docked at Edinburgh’s historic port of Leith, following a £3.5 million development by the Royal Yacht Britannia. It will offer guests the ultimate in decadence, with Champagne on the deck at nightfall (thanks to the Moët Hennessy signature bar), and 23 plush cabins featuring an Art Deco aesthetic – think teak floors, polished wood panelling and granite and marble surfaces. The pièce de résistance? A double-height ballroom featuring a retractable skylight that’s large enough for an entire car to pass through. Opening November 2018.
Rates: From S$536, including breakfast.
4. Vipp Hotel, Denmark and Sweden
Why limit a hotel to just one postcode, when you can scatter its rooms across different locations – even entire countries? This is the philosophy behind Vipp Hotel, created by the kitchen brand of the same name. So far, the hotel only offers two rooms – choose between a Copenhagen loft (sleeps four) designed by renowned Danish architecture firm Studio David Thulstrup, or a steel-and-glass box (sleeps two) on Sweden’s Lake Immeln, which features wide sliding doors and oversized skylights. Both rooms are decked out in chic furniture and – no surprises here – stunning kitchens. More rooms, including a restored water pumping station in Copenhagen, will follow later this year. Stays commence November 2018.
Rates: From S$1,600 (for room only).
5. SWEETS hotel, Netherlands
Then there’s also SWEETS Hotel in Amsterdam, a new collection of refurbished bridge houses (historic structures that once accommodated the city’s many bridge keepers) spread all across the Dutch capital. Each one-bedroom suite boasts its own individual aesthetic, and can accommodate a maximum of two guests. 11 out of 28 bridge houses are currently available for booking, with the remaining slated to launch in the coming months.
Rates: From S$255 per night.
6. 700,000 Heures, Italy
Welcome to the world’s first wandering hotel. This one-of-a-kind property gets its name from the fact that humans spend an average of 700,000 hours on earth – and it hopes to make those you spend at the hotel among your most memorable. Its first location will be a mid-19th-century, four-bedroom palazzo in the coastal town of Gagliano del Capo in southern Italy. With lush gardens, a swimming pool and on-site massages, the focus is on la dolce vita (the good life). Activities include coastal drives in a vintage Fiat 500, sailing to hidden caves to fish for tuna for supper, wine tasting sessions and more. The hotel will open this September for two months, before moving on to Siem Reap, Cambodia.
Rates: From S$2,342, including all meals, activities and airport transfers. To make a booking, you must become a member (registration fee S$3,133, plus an annual fee of about S$800).