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Hotels and the art of upcycling by Maggie O'Sullivan

Posted in HOTELS + VILLAS By Maggie O' Sullivan

We take recycling very seriously here at Travelwrap Towers, but have to admit we’re not quite so adept at upcycling, the fashionable term given to turning unwanted items into something of value. Traditionally, hotels aren’t particularly good at either kind of cycling (encouraging guests to reuse their towels is hardly going to save the world), but there are a few notable exceptions. News reaches us of several Design Hotels around the globe that have recently upcycled heritage buildings into accommodation of great charm and style. Here are five we’re adding to our travel wish list.

ION Luxury Adventure Hotel, Iceland

Set against the wild Icelandic landscape of Selfoss, an hour from Reykjavik, the ION Luxury Adventure Hotel (above) was once a humble inn for workers at the nearby Nesjavellir Geothermal Power Plant. Santa Monica-based design studio Minarc was responsible for the transformation, which added a new wing using a prefabricated panelised system. Inside, 45 rooms and public spaces make a feature of the original austere concrete, accented by locally salvaged driftwood. Tying ION’S past to its present and future, the hotel offers hiking tours of the region led by local farmers who know all about the region’s folklore and stories. From around £167 per night.The Qvest, Germany

It took Michael Kaune,  the visionary editor of Qvest magazine, two years to turn this 19th-century city archive building in Cologne into a 34-room urban retreat, and what a transformation it is. A mix of Gothic – vaulted ceilings, stone staircases, high window arches and solid columns – and 20th-century design classics from the likes of Gropius, Eames and van der Rohe, it couldn’t be less like the dreary post-war architecture that typifies Cologne. No two rooms at QVEST are the same, and throughout the building Kaune’s curated collection of mid-century and Bauhaus furniture is displayed alongside handpicked pieces of contemporary art. From around £133 per night.Macalister Mansion, Penang

Macalister Mansion is a 100-year-old landmark colonial mansion, now an eight-room hotel with a unique brand of quirky sophistication. Dato Sean and Datin Karen – proud Penangites themselves – worked with Colin Seah of Singapore's Ministry of Design to re-imagine the heritage elements of the private house while adding modern-day amenities and contemporary design touches. From around £153 per night. Kruisherenhotel Maastricht, The Netherlands

The 60-room Kruisherenhotel Maastricht is a renovated 15th-century monastery, once inhabited by the Brethren of the Cross, also known as the Crutched Friars. Early last century, an attempt was made to restore the cluster of buildings which had fallen into disrepair; there followed a spell as the National Agricultural Research Station until it was left to run down again in the late 1970s. Then in 2000, Camille Oostwegel of Dutch group Chateauhotels & Restaurants undertook the large-scale renovations necessary to transform the Gothic building into a luxurious, contemporary design hotel with a sleek, modernist interior. From around £148 per night.Vertigo Hotel, Dijon

This one is cheating slightly as it was always a hotel. Built in the late 1800s in the popular Parisian style, the Hausmann-esque building was originally named Hôtel de la Cloche. It was sold in 1902 and the next owner later brought the hotel to a new level of fame, attracting a number of internationally celebrated artists such as Joan Baez, Joe Cocker, and Jean Reno. However, neither incarnations were anything like the sleek hotel it has been upcycled into today. Works from French designers grace the 42 rooms and guest areas, including Nuage lighting by Hervé Langlais, and Circles coffee tables by Maria Jeglinska. The retro bar pays homage to Burgundy’s most famous export, with a carefully curated wine list showcasing the region’s very best vintages. From around £90 per night.

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