When we say “new hotel”, visions of concrete and steel flood the mind. But what if you need to improvise due to your environment? When the need arises, the process of design can inspire new methods to bring ideas to life. Bring those ideas and unique materials together, and exciting things can happen. Here are some examples where environment collides with design .


Maya’s Boutique Hotel

Houses made of straw generally have a less-than-stellar reputation (need I remind you of that wolf?). But a hotel made of straw? Well, that’s OK. Maya’s Boutique Hotel sits prettily in the Swiss Alps, and is made almost entirely from straw bales. Reinforced by clay and wood, this quintessentially rural object not only provides great insulation but has minimal impact on the environment. Of course, it takes a lot of straw, 55-tons of it. But the innovative use of materials and design has garnered them a couple prestigious awards, including the  2016 Innovation Award on the Worldwide Hospitality Awards, Paris.


Ecork Hotel

Situated in a region known for its cork forest, it’s easy to guess what material the Ecork Hotel is innovating with. Cork, after all, is is one of Portugal’s biggest exports, and the hotel is covered by it. Literally. The cork covering not only acts as a thermal insulator – but an acoustic one as well – keeping each of the rooms cozy and quiet. Designed by Portuguese architect Jose Carlos Cruz, the minimalist habitats are an eco-enthusiasts dream come true. Plus, cork is 100% recyclable.


Palacio de Sal

Sometime, it’s not what nature gives us, but what we can carve out of it. This is the Palacio de Sal’s (Palace of Salt) special niche- a hotel completely made of salt. Located on the banks of Salar de Uyuni in Bolivia, one of the world’s biggest salt flats, it is a place totally in balance with its environment. Local artisans create everything with NaCl; sculptures, furniture, walls, flooring – we mean everything. There is nothing like it.


And that’s our small tour of hotels using unusual building materials. Do you know of other hotels experimenting with new materials? Let us know.

Photo credits to the hotel (Photo courtesy of…)

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