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At the heart of any conscious restoration is the creation of a space that whispers tales of a vibrant history while embracing the essence of today and harmonizing with the future; a space that paves new paths from storied pasts.


At the heart of any conscious restoration is the creation of a space that whispers tales of a vibrant history while embracing the essence of today and harmonizing with the future; a space that paves new paths from storied pasts.

Category: Worldwide - Industry economy - Renovation / Addition
This is a press release selected by our editorial committee and published online for free on 2024-04-22

Located around the world, from Montenegro to Mexico, these six hotels stand out for mindfully restoring existing structures, for thoughtfully integrating historic pasts into bright futures.


For over half a millennium, the Reichhalter guesthouse has stood in Lana, South Tyrol, timeless and enduring. In its long history, it has been a butcher’s shop, bakery, sawmill, barn, and table, but in 2018, it welcomed a new era as 1477 Reichhalter, an intimate hotel and restaurant.

The 500-year-old setting marries a rich, historical structure with a fresh and sophisticated new take on hospitality: carefully prescribed updates ensure that almost nothing was changed in terms of the façade, while midcentury modern design pieces, Italian antiques, and flea-market finds create an updated yet timeless feel.

Each of the eight rooms are named after former owners of the house, and two rooms even have historic tiled stoves.

“Here, we have kept as much of the history, of what makes this hotel so unique, as possible. Places like this are the future,” Original Klaus Dissertori says.


In the heart of West Berlin, Wilmina mindfully respects its building’s heritage as a former courthouse and women’s prison while also reimagining its future.

Over the course of 11 years, Originals Armand Grüntuch and Almut Grüntuch-Ernst of Grüntuch Ernst Architekten transformed the buildings, constructed in 1896, into spaces of community and warmth.

“We see Wilmina as one milestone in the transformation of the city around us in a way that honors its history while also bringing in new life,” Armand says.

“It’s about inverting the building’s configuration and spatial concepts, from an antisocial space to a very social space,” Almut continues.

Original elements like prison cells and barred windows were expanded and connected to create inviting, airy guestrooms, while soft textures and warming elements like fireplaces and lighting installations by Bocci redefine preserved structural elements, including the historic staircase, thick metal doors, and aged banisters.

Armand and Almut’s conscientious efforts were recognized in 2023 when Wilmina received the German Sustainability Award for Architecture.


Housed in one of Palma’s oldest buildings—a medieval Islamic palace dating back to the 12th century—Nobis Hotel Palma meticulously blends 1,000 years of history with contemporary luxury.

Welcoming guests in the lobby is a preserved wooden alfarje, or paneled ceiling, with a decorative element of Arabic calligraphy known as naskh—an architectural accent that has survived the building’s entire history.

In some guestrooms, centuries-old ceramic-tile flooring is paired with custom Carl Hansen bedframes, Flos pendant lights, and handmade tapestries by local artist Leela Romeo. In other rooms, original wooden ceilings harmoniously juxtapose Ogeborg carpets, Örsjö tabletop lamps, and handcrafted ceramic vessels by Mallorcan artist Miquel Segura.

Throughout the hotel, other standout features include cavernous nine-meter-high ceilings in the Mirall Bar, an ancient fountain that has been carefully repurposed into a small dipping pool, and the transformation of a former escape-route tunnel into the Nobis Hotel Spa.


On an isle at the entrance of the Bay of Kotor and part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site off the coast of Herceg Novi, Montenegro, Mamula Island unfolds across a diligently restored fortress, first constructed in 1852 by Austro-Hungarian General Lazar Mamula.

The restoration process, carried out in concert with local heritage authorities, ensured that every brick, wall, and feature was returned to its original state, while prominent courtyards and outdoor gathering spaces were developed to create an open, breathing entity.

The hotel’s holistic approach to design allows each space to resonate based on its innate, historic elements and the surrounding natural splendor, with bespoke, modern furnishings carefully crafted from local stone, solid oak, and breathable textiles to complement the structure and reflect the the sea, wind, rocks, and crashing waves beyond.


Next to the Tokyo Stock Exchange, a grand stone building has stood the test of time. First constructed in the 1920s, the former bank survived bombings during World War II and then brought its patrons into the new millennium.

Now, following a considered restoration, it is the home of K5, a hotel with a restaurant, cocktail bar, café, Brooklyn Brewery taproom, and 20 generously sized rooms.

“The concrete structure survived fire-bombing raids; its raw interior spaces have a noticeable character and inform the atmosphere,” explains Claesson Koivisto Rune, who oversaw the hotel’s renovation and interior design.

Much of this concrete has been left exposed, honoring the history of not only the building but also the city and creating an almost brutalist ambiance.

Elsewhere, the raw concrete is contrasted by walls and ceilings that have been painted using traditional Japanese techniques as well as an abundance of plants, cedar-wood paneling, tables, stools, and built-ins, and colorful Scandinavian design pieces.


In La Paz, Baja California Sur, Baja Club reimagines a traditional Mexican hacienda dating back to 1910, transforming the historic building into a colonial-meets-contemporary wonder.

The mission-style villa, augmented by a new five-story extension with a spa and rooftop bar, honors its colonial-era history with a double-door main entrance with amber glazing and ornamental ironmongery as well as tall ironwork windows with ornamental grills.

Restored original elements, such as the villa’s high ceilings, wood beams, and chandelier, are complemented by features including bathrooms tiled in the classic hacienda style and a color scheme comprising greens and reds common to Mexican earthenware, old metals and woods, and woven materials.

Yet an abundance of furniture and materials inspired by the former house and work of renowned Mexican modernist architect Luis Barragán gives the hacienda an undeniably contemporary edge.

About Design Hotels

For 30 years, Design Hotels has been at the forefront of a movement in travel by crafting a handpicked portfolio of 300+ independently owned and operated hotels in over 60 countries. From cultural hubs in fast-paced cities to tiny off-the-beaten-path escapes, each hotel reflects the vision of its pioneering owner—or “Original”—who possesses a passion for genuine hospitality, cultural authenticity, thought-provoking design, and architecture.

More than a collection of hotels, Design Hotels brings forward-thinking member hotels insightful travel industry expertise – from trend forecasting and creative consultancy, to PR, marketing, and global sales representation.

Design Hotels is headquartered in Berlin, with branches in London, Los Angeles, New York, and Singapore. In 2019, the company partnered with Marriott Bonvoy , expanding the reach of its member hotels and offering its community access to the industry's leading loyalty program.

About Marriott International, Inc.

Marriott International, Inc. (NASDAQ: MAR) is based in Bethesda, Maryland, USA, and encompasses a portfolio of nearly 8,000 properties under 30 leading brands spanning 139 countries and territories. Marriott operates and franchises hotels and licenses vacation ownership resorts all around the world. The company offers Marriott Bonvoy, its highly-awarded travel program.

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