Coolest Creative Hub
Edgy events spaces, clubby co-working areas, expertly hung art galleries – hotels can be more than just a place to rest your head; they can fire your imagination, too. Be it the sculpture-lined lobby, the pop-up dining destination or the buzzy see-and-be-seen bar, there is plenty to inspire in these most creative of hotels; the places that draw the coolest of crowds with the promise of sensory stimulation, during a week-long stay or an hour-long breakfast meeting.
Winner: L'Otel at Dôce 18 Concept House, San Miguel de Allende
Our judges say ‘If you’re coming to San Miguel de Allende with the hope of rubbing shoulders with the city’s creative community, this is the epicentre. Concept House’s shops, restaurants and ateliers showcase the talent of some of the city’s brightest minds. And the buzzy library, pool area and terrace are the perfect places to soak it all up’.
Rancho Pillow, Round Top
Rancho Pillow provdes cultural stimulation in spades with kaftan-sporting owner Sheila Youngblood passing on her grandmother's encouragements to paint, take photographs and make music to guests (groups, predominantly). Welcoming them into maximalist Tex-Mex rooms – including the free-spirited ‘Love Shack’– Sheila instills a grown-up summer-camp atmosphere with guest-chef communal dinners, campfire singalongs, spiritual retreats, live concerts, even mini flea markets.
Stamba Hotel, Tbilisi
This is essentially a fully formed cultural expo in hotel form. For a start, Stamba has its own amphitheatre: the stage for art happenings, fashion shows, live music, even diplomatic soirees. Then there’s the on-site museum: the city’s extensive photography archive. The lobby hosts a vinyl-stocked library where you can pluck LPs to play on your in-room stereo. If you prefer something a little louder, white-hot club Bassiani is nearby – guess where its guest DJs choose to rest their heads?
Given Wilco’s bass player is a co-owner, music is a totem of Tourists. The band themselves host their own Solid Sound Festival down the road in June and intimate performances frequently strike up at the hotel. This is artistic terrain, too: MASS MoCA, the Clark and Williams College Museum of Art are all within paint-flicking distance; the Williamstown Theatre Festival pitches up a couple of miles away. Whatever your cultural agenda, this is a hard-to-beat basecamp; the perfect host for meetings of minds.
Wanås Restaurant Hotel, Skåne
You won’t find TVs in your room at Wanås Restaurant Hotel; all the entertainment you need is outside your window. Among the 100 acres of woodland is the renowned Wanås Konst sculpture park: the natural gallery for striking works by Yoko Ono, Jenny Holzer, Ann Hamilton and up-and-coming locals. But the artistry doesn’t stop there; the fertile forests are foraged for ingredients then transformed into four-course edible tours of the region that requires well-in-advance bookings. It’s an invigorating blend of mind food and, well, actual food.
View previous winners
What's cooler than being cool? Here are this category's past champions.
Coolest creative hub award criteria
An inventive take on interiors – one that maximises space, encourages collaboration and overflows with art pieces, design details and furniture flourishes – is key to inspiring creativity.
These are more than mere hotels, they're hipster hangouts, next-gen office spaces and, well, if you'll pardon the phrase, inspiration stations. The vibe should be suitably buzzy – as far removed from conference-room stuffiness as is humanly possible.
If a hotel's own back-story is more interesting than usual – created as a passion project, borne out of entrepreneurial daring – you can bet its spirit will be. This is the hotel with its finger on the pulse, a trend or two ahead of the curve and entirely unafraid to try something new to engage more than just its guests.
Look around – are you surrounded by like-minded people? Does it have the feel of a member's club (but maybe without the price-tag)? Do the locals enthusiastically bookmark pages in the the eye-catching events diary? Then this hotel is definitely doing something right…