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Six Design Hotels to Know

Eliya Brennan, Staff Writer

Design Hotels - Hotel Pacai

There’s something about a hotel that hits all the right design notes. It just puts you in a vibe. Some hotels are so well-designed that they’re as compelling as the destinations themselves. Maybe it’s the custom furniture that gives you new design goals. It could be the rooms and baths, where no detail or expense is spared. Alternatively, it could be the building itself, that creatively combines historical elements with modern design. Or in this case, it can be a natural rock formation that’s somewhere in the neighborhood of 200 million years old. If you’re into cool hotels, these are the top six design hotels to know.

Stamba Hotel

Location – Tbilisi, Georgia

One of the coolest up-and-coming cities in the world right now is Tbilisi. It is at that perfect point where it’s not yet mainstream but has a gentrification of neighborhoods and a burgeoning restaurant scene. Think of it as Brooklyn five years ago. So, a cool city accordingly has a top design hotel. The Stamba Hotel is an old printing factory in a rough part of town, that was converted to a cultural center and hotel. It features a library, an amphitheater, a photography museum, and a sustainable vertical farming facility. What was once an area you wouldn’t walk around at night in Tbilisi, is now the heart of the nightlife.

Design Overview

The architects at Adjara Arch Group wanted to keep the spirit and facade of the old building.  However, they added a “brutalist chic” touch. Shrouded in sprite greenery and sunlight, the interior and exterior create an energetic flow throughout.  Emphatic attention to the balance between nature and modern design makes this hotel like no other. Every single room is uniquely decorated with tributes to its history as a printing factory, with books and vinyl record players. The Stamba is like a next-level, more luxurious  Soho House. The common areas have that same vibe and crowd that Soho House had when they first opened over a decade ago.


The design of the rooms at the Stamba has the right combination of luxury, comfort, quirkiness, and elegance.  A highlight is the bathrooms, which are one of the many reasons this is a top design hotel. Some rooms have terrace bathtubs, and some have all-direction showers, that somehow don’t flood your entire bathroom. Few hotels can make a shower an experience like the Stamba.  Moreover, the rooms contain shelves that house hundreds of books, making The Stamba feel more like home. One thing is certain- you’re meant to spend time inside your room, as well as in the social spaces of The Stamba.


Location – Canyon Point, Utah, USA

One of the best hotels in the United States, hands down, is also a hotel with a top design. Amangiri represents everything good about the Aman hotels; chic, minimalist design, top service, and respect for the environment, and integration with the local community. Blink and you can miss Amangiri, as it was specifically designed to blend into the natural surroundings of rock formations, that are over 100 million years old. With proximity to Bryce Canyon and Zion National Park, at Amangiri, you’ll be immersed in the West’s natural beauty.

Design Overview

The design of Amangiri melds architecture with nature.  The red-rocked canyons and mesas are a breathtaking backdrop and are also integrated into the architecture of Amangiri. The architects at Wendell Burnette first and foremost took the natural surroundings of Amangiri into account in their design of the hotel. Serene is the word to describe the top design of this hotel. Your eyes are brought into a natural color palate that’s only broken up by the floor-to-ceiling picture windows that let in the blue skies.

The pool is built around an over 150 million-year-old rock formation and is the heart of the main hotel. The flow of this hotel also makes you feel like you are the only person around, even though every room may be full. The rooms are like an oasis themselves and have private pools, outdoor lounges, and those stunning views.


Amangiri’s restaurant design maximizes your access to views of Utah’s unique desert landscape. They also have the best pancake in the world, with a secret ingredient only we have at Galavante. Further, locally sourced ingredients make up a menu inspired by the cuisine of local Native American tribes.  As far as the spa, Aman’s is a cavernous oasis that spans 25,000 square feet. Treatments are rooted in Navajo healing practices that draw on the elements of earth, wind, fire, and water.

Hotel Pacai

Location – Vilnius, Lithuania

This is a top design hotel, that you wouldn’t expect in Lithuania, which is known most for its charming old medieval towns. In fact, its capital city of Vilnius is one of the oldest towns remaining from the medieval period in Northern Europe. When you explore Vilnius, you follow the cobblestone streets to stunning churches and castle remains. So in your wander, you’ll inevitably come to Hotel Pacai, which is located in the heart of Vilnius. It looks classic from the outside and has one of the best modern Lithuanian restaurants. Unexpectedly, it’s also a top design hotel. So, there is much to explore both within and outside of the hotel’s walls.

Design Overview

Inspired by 17th-century baroque architecture, this top-design hotel is like a step into the past.  Not all the way down, however.  Architect Saulius Mikštas and design studio YES melded the style with a contemporary sensibility to manifest the best of the present and the past.  The mansion itself dates back centuries.  Of course, this consideration remained central to the hotel’s design configurations. They kept many of the original walls and staircases of the palace, but gut renovated every bath, bedroom, and inch of the building. Classic modern elegance resounds throughout the hotel’s interior and makes it a unique place in the world to spend the night.


Chef Matas Paulinas currently heads the restaurant at Pacai. After years of cooking in restaurants across the world, including Noma, you can expect a top-quality meal. Moreover, the exquisite spa offers bespoke face and body treatments, which you’ll receive surrounded by the baroque architecture.

Ion Adventure Hotel

Location – Nesjavellir, Iceland

When you plan a trip to Iceland, most people head straight to the Blue Lagoon and the Golden Circle circuit in the south of the country. While the remote town of Nesjavellir is on few circuits, it’s also why this top design hotel is one of the most unique and special in Iceland.  From stunning views of the northern lights,  nearby glacier formations, and mountainous lava fields, this hotel in Iceland leaves an unforgettable mark.

Design Overview

As you would expect from a self-proclaimed adventure hotel, the design of Ion is innovative and unconventional.  A jutting fixture at the edge of a volcano, Ion catches your eye before you even step inside. Architects Erla Dögg Ingjaldsdóttir and Tryggvi Thorsteinsson prioritized sustainability.  Because of this, much of the hotel’s energy generates from its natural surroundings, especially the nearby hot springs.  Floor-to-ceiling windows ensure unfiltered natural light, which bounces playfully off of the warm-toned accommodations.


The restaurant at Ion retains the sentiment behind the hotel’s design. Silfra plays its hand at innovating local ingredients.  Plus, they’re served with a large assortment of beers from Iceland’s host of breweries. Moreover, the outdoor pool is heated by natural springs. Its dramatic backdrop is the optimal place to warm your bones after embarking on an adventure.

El Fenn

Location – Marrakech, Morroco

When it comes to Morroco, design is central to its culture. Color and vibrancy fill every corner of life in Marrakech – right down to the streets. The rich textiles, rugs, and pottery are like art themselves. Bustling vendors fill the alleyways with handmade wares you won’t find anywhere else. There is just something about Marrakech and a trip to Morroco that is best described as magical. So it’s no surprise that there are top design hotels that reflect the exotic and unique design that is unmistakably Moroccan.

Design Overview

Thanks to the tradition of maximalist decor, gem-toned paints, and the local production of textiles and home goods, it is no surprise that Marrakech is home to one of the top design hotels you can find. El Fenn’s 41 rooms are suites that are all individually decorated with the vibrant sensibilities that are characteristic of the city’s design.  Moreover, hotel co-owner Vanessa Branson has dedicated stunning and renowned art pieces from her own collection to be displayed at El Fenn.


Besides its luxury accommodations, El Fenn boasts a rooftop bar with panoramic views of the Marrakech rooftops. And during the day, you can kick back and soak up some rays on their day beds, or take a dip in the pool.  Additionally, El Fenn has a cafe exclusively for guests, where you can get breakfast and lunch while taking in vine-draped marble.  In addition to the three pools, El Fenn’s spa offers an array of beauty treatments and a hammam.


Palace Elisabeth

Location – Hvar Island, Croatia

Palace Elisabeth is located in the historical port of Hvar Island’s city center. It’s the optimal starting point to explore the brightly colored and historical sites that make Hvar a destination.  You can also take a ferry to the nearby islands, or charter a yacht to soak up the sun and the crystal blue waters.

Design Overview

The palace which houses Palace Elisabeth dates back to the 13th century.  As Croatia was once under Italian rule, the design of the hotel seeps in remnants of Venetian architecture. Moreover, classical Austrian design is an essential part of the palace’s design. As the hotel is considered a historical landmark, it stays true to its roots.  However, it has been updated with elegance and style to maintain the highest standard of luxury. There’s one thing to have attention to detail. There’s another to put real labor behind that. The interior designer, Oto Blaha, painted the interior of each room by hand, giving each a unique aesthetic.


Rooms at Palace Elisabeth feature arches over the beds, that give them a royal feeling. This feeling doesn’t end with accommodations, however. It carries into the restaurant experience as well. San Marco is poised on a loggia overlooking the entirety of the city.  You feel it in the spa too, which features VIP areas and an indoor pool with views of the Adriatic Sea.

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