When checking into a hotel, you’re usually focused on your room, the restaurants, the bar and the other interiors. But in many cases, the building itself is a work of art with memorable, one-of-a-kind architecture.
We gathered a list of unusual modern marvels spanning from South Florida to Singapore that stand out among their skylines.
Star Tower at Studio City Macau
At this Macau hotel, a Ferris wheel swoops around a figure 8 hoisted between two towers. The whimsical Golden Reel ride is the first of its kind in the world.
According to architect Gary Goddard, the owners wanted the design to look as though a meteor crashed through the middle of the art deco buildings. “That led to the idea of the Ferris wheel, which led to two Ferris wheels, and then we have the ‘8’ which symbolizes good luck and good fortune in Chinese culture,” Goddard previously told Forbes Travel Guide. “I think it’s so iconic [that one day] it will be featured in a movie — Batman, James Bond, Mission Impossible. It just seems made for it.”
The world’s first guitar-shaped hotel added some rock ’n’ roll to Hollywood, South Florida, when it opened in 2019. Part of the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Hollywood complex, the 450-foot-tall structure looks like back-to-back guitars with strings.
Get the full experience at the nightly music and light show (which runs at 9 and 9:30), when LED lights transform the floor-to-ceiling glass panes of the hotel into a spectacle as brightly colored images dance across the façade. Six light beams at the top of the structure project a minimum of 20,000 feet into the sky to elongate the strings of the guitar neck, too.
It’s like the mythical city of Atlantis emerged from the gulf and moored along the coast of Dubai. Sitting on Palm Island, the coral-colored resort features two soaring towers connected by a bridge. The design leaves an enormous spade-like keyhole in the middle that gives a glimpse of the azure water and sky beyond.
Among Atlantis’ 1,548 rooms, the Royal Bridge Suite, which spans both towers, is the most luxurious. Though, the underwater suites provide a unique experience.
Towering over Macau, Grand Lisboa’s flashy lotus-shaped building appears like it sprang up from a golden egg. The flower symbolizes the city’s heritage — it adorns the official flag that was established after Portugal handed over the former colony to China in 1999. Hong Kong architects Dennis Lau and Ng Chun Man designed the 853-foot-tall glass structure.
The lotus building particularly blooms at night, when it’s covered in blinking lights.
The undisputed star of Singapore’s skyline, Marina Bay Sands stands alone. It could be the three towers slanted at 26 degrees, a prosperous number according to feng shui. And there’s the ArtScience Museum, whose curved 10 “fingers” each host different gallery spaces, and the angled “fingertips” allow plenty of light to pour in the structure.
But Sands SkyPark steals the show. It’s perched on the 57th floor and is so large it can fit four A380 planes side by side. The SkyPark is home to the iconic rooftop pool.
Shangri-La Hotel, At The Shard, London
Architect Renzo Piano conjured up Western Europe’s tallest building, which stretches 1,016 feet into the sky. The soaring tower dwarfs everything around it, and the cone-shaped exterior shines with 11,000 glass panels.
The hotel, the brand’s first foray in the U.K., takes up floors 34 to 52, and as you can imagine, each accommodation comes with unbeatable views from floor-to-ceiling windows. To ogle more of the London landscape, visit either GŎNG bar or the infinity pool, both on the 52nd floor.
While these sister properties reside in different areas of Macau, both have distinctive gleaming metallic facades with some nuances. Three tiers of gold, silver and bronze shimmer on MGM Macau’s 505-foot-tall exterior. The undulating layers mimic the waves of the nearby South China Sea.
Over in Taipa, MGM Cotai employs the same color scheme, but instead of waves, the building is made up of oversized jewelry boxes carefully stacked on top of each other. Go inside to see The Spectacle, a multifunctional immersive space. As the world’s largest free-span, grid-shell glass roof, it earned the first architectural and structural Guinness World Records title in Macau.
This luxurious landmark sits in the unlikeliest of places in Tokyo: a brick train station. But don’t expect drab architecture in this historic spot. A designated Important Cultural Property of Japan, the 105-year-old hotel offers accommodations with interior windows overlooking Tokyo Station’s yellow-and-white cupola domes (see the reliefs adorning them up close).
During rush hour, watch hordes commuters stream in and out of the station from above, all while in the confines of your quiet, peaceful bedroom.
You can’t miss the lofty 103-story skyscraper in the cityscape — it’s one of the world’s tallest buildings. The hotel sits in the top third of the Guangzhou International Finance Center, which was envisioned by architecture firm WilkinsonEyre.
Although you might not be able to tell at first glance, the slender structure has a triangular floorplan. When you step inside, you’ll get the dizzying full effect when you look up in the 33-story glass-coated atrium.
The out-of-this-world structure comes from the brilliance of Zaha Hadid, the first female architect to win the esteemed Pritzker Prize (her work includes Miami’s One Thousand Museum luxury condos and the Guangzhou Opera House).
Morpheus, who is the Greek god of dreams, is the world’s first free-form high-rise building with a steel exoskeleton. Loosely resembling the lucky Chinese number 8, the ultra-modern Macau hotel took inspiration from jade sculptures for its curved shapes.