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Cool design hotels, from San Diego to Bali

Image: New Majestic Hotel in Singapore
Each of the 30 rooms at the New Majestic Hotel in Singapore’s bustling Chinatown is individually designed by emerging local artists whose site-specific works generate four room types: mirror rooms, hanging bed rooms, aquarium rooms, and loft
/ Source: Sherman's Travel

Book by: ASAP
Travel by: Various through 2008

Sometimes the hotel alone is worth the trip. And when it comes to our favorite design hotels of the moment, which span the globe from San Diego to Singapore, we're sure you'll agree that where you stay can sometimes be more important than where you're going. From properties by award-winning architects, to hotels where every guestroom is designed by emerging artists, each of our recommended luxury lodgings boasts a distinctive style that's as memorable as their destinations. Plan to visit one on your next vacation.

New Majestic Hotel, Singapore
Each of the 30 rooms at this boutique hotel in Singapore’s bustling Chinatown is individually designed by emerging local artists whose site-specific works generate four room types: mirror rooms, hanging bed rooms, aquarium rooms, and loft rooms. Condé Nast Traveler writes, “In the lobby, a rainbow of hanging glass orbs draws the eye to an exposed-concrete ceiling from the original 1928 structure. On the second floor, windows built into the bottom of the pool let swimmers see what's for dinner at the trendy Majestic restaurant below.” When you're not hanging out in your room, the hotel restaurant serves award-winning Cantonese cuisine. Nightly rates start at $150.

The Keating, San Diego
For sleek Italian design with a sprinkling of Southern California style, book a stay at the Keating in San Diego. Located in a historic building in downtown’s Gaslamp Quarter, this hotel is conceived by Pininfarina, the Italian car-design company behind Ferrari and Maserati. According to the Los Angeles Times, “If a hotel can be a sports car, then the Keating is one.” The interiors of this two-story hotel showcase clean ergonomic design and a warm atmosphere achieved through colors and lighting. The 35 sexy stanzas (rooms) have no interior walls, for an open ambience, and sport cutting-edge amenities like Bang & Olufsen electronics. Nightly rates start at $320.

Hotel Marqués de Riscal, Spain
For design hawks, a sojourn at Hotel Marqués de Riscal in Spain’s Rioja wine region is an absolute must, especially in harvest season. With its eight terraces offering views of the vineyards, this two-wing structure is the brainchild of world-renowned architect Frank O. Gehry, who also helmed Bilbao’s Guggenheim. The New York Times writes, “the 43-suite hotel is festooned in titanium ribbons, echoing the unbroken rows of Rioja grapes that frame this landscape.” Stellar Basque-Riojan cuisine is served at two onsite restaurants, while the hotel's Caudalíe Vinothérapie Spa features an indoor swimming pool and 14 treatment rooms that offer "wine therapy" massages and treatments. Nightly rates start at $560.

Bulgari Resort, Bali
A blend of traditional Balinese style and modern Italian design, this resort lies on a clifftop site on Bali’s southern coast. Travel + Leisure writes, “the 59 villas are built of ylang-ylang thatch, volcanic stone, and dark tropical woods. The Milanese style of designer Antonio Citterio is apparent in the sleek Bangkiray wood and chocolate tones of the clifftop bar, the geometry of the bamboo-beamed ceilings, and the clean lines of the black terrazzo bathrooms.” The pristine beach straddling the Indian Ocean is reached via an inclined elevator. All furnishings and decorations are custom-made by island artisans; Balinese antiques and art works adorn the property. Nightly rates start at $1,250.

More noteworthy design hotels
Headed to Shanghai, Frankfurt, New York, Paris, or Florence next year? Book a stay at these trendy properties.

The dollars
Rates quoted above are the minimum you’ll pay to stay at one of these properties. All of the properties do run occasional specials, when the rates drop considerably. Check the Web sites for details.

The catch
Cool design comes at a hefty cost.

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