Modern architecture-loving travelers will love the destinations featured by our friends over at Departures . The magazine took a look at Asia's coolest design hotels, which are some of the most impressive properties in Shanghai, Bangkok, Hong Kong and Singapore. These properties are "sleek super towers and seemingly impossible, imagination-defying structures" according to the luxury magazine that is published by American Express publishing.
Today's Asian luxury hotels are influencing Western hotels, while once it was the opposite, according to Edwin Heathcote, architectural critic for the Financial Times. The most significant new hotels each have something that is memorable, the Departures piece explains. In some, it's the restaurant that's the most memorable; in others, it's a soaring sky bar or a penthouse suite. In others it is the structures themselves that are redefining skylines.
According to Departures, Hong Kong has also opened itself up to a host of contemporary international architects who have put their stamp on the city, from Foster + Partners to Cesar Pelli to I. M. Pei. Recently, at the 117-room Upper House (from $425), local Andre Fu-known for doing the home of actress Michelle Yeoh-has created an ideal, almost spiritual, balance of uncluttered spaces. "The design is not Asian in a literal manner," Fu told Departures, "but it reflects a subtle Asian sensitivity." He has achieved this with pools of water, bamboo enclosures, natural timber, shoji glass, limestone and lacquered paper panels. Additional design highlights include the Sky Bridge on the 49th floor, which crosses a 130-foot-high atrium; the hotel's Bedonia stone façade (see photo above) by one of Britain's hottest architect-designers, Thomas Heatherwick; and freestanding bathtubs with panoramic harbor or island views.