Hotels: Come and sleep on my crane

There has been a growing trend in recent times, that see buildings previously destined for other uses being reconverted to use as hotels. We take a look at some of the most interesting and why this type of supply can help to emerge and expand  the global marketplace.
If you've been in a new hotel this year in London, Portugal or New York it's quite likely that you haven't stayed in a building originally designed and built to be a hotel. Most likely you have been in a former bank or a former department store, or even in a former grain silo.
The reconversion of buildings for hotel use is, in fact, one of the most interesting trends at the moment, as well as a test bench that architects and designers in the sector seem unable to escape, in the near future.

The reuse and renovation of the existing architectural heritage has, not surprisingly, been one of the main topics at the centre of socio-cultural debate for years and, consequently, of professional practice in the architectural field. The reason for this interest, at least in principle, is due to ethical reasons, protection of the environment and conservation of the most historic cities. In this sense, it is certainly easier to transform an old convent into a hotel without altering the facilities, rather than into a shopping centre.

Strong socio-economic reasons have also contributed to the spread of this practice: many hotel conversion interventions have generated or have been at the centre of important urban reconversion projects, re-appropriation of abandoned or disused places. Finally, from the point of view of the clients, it has become evident how investing for reuse often turns into a good deal, able to give shape to extremely interesting opportunities and whose complexity represents, at the same time, a particularly stimulating exercise for those who are called to design and explore the potential that unconventional spaces are able to offer.

One of the most eccentric experiences, in this sense, is that offered by The Krane.

A luxury accommodation in a room for two in a crane, in the port of Copenhagen.
Inside there is also a minimalist lounge for private business meetings, a fully glazed meeting room for 20 people and of course a spa. All the service is of course customised (at least given the difficulty of access), and very high range: private car at the airport, Bang&Olufsen sound system, sauna and double bath tub.

You can also tell someone that you have slept in a silo, and the address for you, in this case, is in Cape Town.

The hotel was built in the part once dedicated to elevators, inside the historic complex that once was a large silo for the harvesting of wheat.
The facade of the new hotel is characterised by stained-glass windows that protrude like bubbles and offer breathtaking views of the city. The hotel offers all the comforts of the luxury category with, the unexpected combination of a museum space with international importance. The hotel structure occupies the six floors above Zeitz MOCAA - Museum of Contemporary Art Africa, the largest contemporary African art collection in Africa.
The reuse of hotel office buildings has a more established tradition - at least in the 1990s, the first major project of this kind in the United States date back to the 1990s. One of the most interesting examples of innovation in the last year, however, concerns a structure belonging to this category.

Its name is The Ned.

Its spaces have been created within the former Midland Bank headquarters, a historic building in the centre of the City of London. Completed in 1939 on a project by Edwin "Ned" Luytens, it has recently been converted into a hotel and private club by the joint venture of Sydell Group (see Ace Hotel, New York) and Soho House &Co.

The hotel offers rooms, suites and apartments of various sizes; of course there is a spa and gym, but also a barber, hairdresser and nailbar. All the spaces are furnished with a splendid vintage taste that is consistent with the architectural style of the building. Even relatively modest rooms are able to provide maximum comfort. Inside them, the mere collection of bathroom products can take a good half an hour to work through and deciding what not to take from the minibar is a real dilemma. A problem quickly surpassed in complexity by the difficulty of choosing between one of the 8 restaurants in the gigantic hall, a room full of columns, the roof bar with swimming pool or the club in the vault of the bank. And this is undoubtedly the real advantage of a hotel that, located in an area as lively during the day as it is in the evening, can offer its guests the possibility of a truly London experience without it being necessary to even put your nose out of the hotel.

Something similar is offered by the Beekman Hotel.

Known for its slogan "want for nothing" – where customers can expect the service to meet all their needs. The hotel also occupies an office building built in 1883.
It is one of the first skyscrapers in the city, with a very strong architectural characterisation based on the 9-storey atrium decorated in Victorian style. The soul of the Beekman is devoted to contemporary art: both the rooms and the common spaces are decorated with works of art selected by curator Katherine Gass, in an evocative collection characterized by numerous site-specific works linked to the history of the neighbourhood and the building.

Art often returns as the main theme of new boutique hotels, as in the case of Casa Malca.

A 42 room/suite-resort on the Mexican coast of Tulum. The change of destination might not seem so extraordinary in this case, given that the building was originally a private villa, but we could find ourselves in front of an unusual experience given that the huge villa was built in the' 80s by the notorious drug trafficker Pablo Escobar. The hotel's website does not mention this, but the sector press has not missed the opportunity to mention it, perhaps overshadowing the great value of the art collection collected by owner Lio Malca that is displayed in the rooms.
Henry Hotel is not just a hotel but is described as an urban resort, or district-resort and covers 17 hectares in the centre of Buffalo (NY).
The building, which is now bound, was designed in 1880 by Richardson Olmsted. The hotel's 88 rooms and suites are housed in the rooms of the psychiatric care home, but the complex extends to other nearby buildings, including a conference room, numerous meeting rooms and spaces for social events.

Another urban scale intervention is that of São Lourenço do Barrocal, Hotel & Monte Alentejano.

It is a large farm that, in the 19th century, reached the size of a real rural village. It is composed of agricultural and residential buildings arranged along a small street, a square surrounded by collective buildings, such as the school, the chapel, and an arena for fighting with bulls. Today, after a thorough and careful restoration of the architect Eduardo Souto de Moura, the estate is reborn as a luxury hotel with a calm and somewhat abandoned style that, without forgetting the past, reinvests in agricultural production revitalizing the village that was once once flourishing.
Finally, if it is true that today’s potential customer is increasingly informed and able to decide quickly where to stay thanks to online comparison websites, it’s also tue that some of the world’s best hotel entrepreneurs are distinguishing themselves from the rest of the pack by using more characterized spaces and places.  The world of hospitality is changing and those that want to seize the real estate opportunity must be quick.  They must cater to the traveler’s interest. The modern traveler wants highly connoted spaces that have a story to tell, something that is able to represent a flag to be waved to draw the attention of customers, in the endless sea of tourist proposals on the Internet.

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