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14 design hotels with the coolest architecture on the planet

Blue Lagoon IslandOyster.comThe Blue Lagoon Clinic in Grindavik, Iceland, is surrounded by a dramatic landscape that’s rich in geothermal mineral water.

Hotels all over the world hire top-notch interior designers to create stunning spaces that feel like home — if “home” was filled with famed artworks, beautiful antiques, and seamlessly integrated, top-of-the-line technological features.

But today, we’re judging a book by it’s cover, or really 14 hotels by their facades. Fortunately, these hotels are impressive both inside and out; in this slideshow, however, we’re taking you on an architectural tour of over a dozen design hotels that are truly one-of-a-kind.

ION Luxury Adventure Hotel -- Thingvellir, Iceland

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ION Luxury Adventure Hotel's concrete and glass facade rises from the Icelandic landscape like a set piece in a science fiction fantasy. Geothermal power and sustainable building materials are as pretty as they are practical at this four-pearl property, where 45 rooms are chic and include organic amenities, modern technology, and frequently gorgeous views. The restaurant serves New Nordic cuisine and the lovely bar offers seasonal glimpses of the Northern Lights -- there's also a spa with a gorgeous outdoor hot tub. The location might not suit all, but design nerds, romantic couples, and thrill seekers looking for excursions can fulfil a dream or two. Northern Light seekers might also want to consider the Frost and Fire Hotel.

Andaz Peninsula Papagayo -- Gulf of Papagayo, Guanacaste, Costa Rica

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Travellers seeking minimalist jungle luxury will find it at the Andaz Peninsula Papagayo -- an architectural stunner that appears to be built into the side of a cliff. Hyatt's hip boutique line, Andaz, is known for its high style and creative approach to hotel design, and the chain's luxurious Papagayo's outpost is no exception. Spread across 28 hilly acres, the Andaz's 153 minimalist rooms, three restaurants, 11,000-square-foot spa, and 24-hour fitness center, are housed in dozens of tree house like buildings.

Jade Mountain Resort -- St. Lucia

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Romantic? Undoubtedly. Unique? Absolutely. Expensive? For sure. The Jade Mountain Resort is an architectural marvel. In an effort to respect but not submit to environmental confines, owner-architect Nick Troubetzkoy built the entire resort like a tabletop, braced it against a mountain about 75 to 100 feet above the shore, and pointed it at St. Lucia's iconic Pitons, poking through the Caribbean Sea. Each of the 29 guest rooms shares the stunning view beyond its missing 'fourth wall'.

Yas Viceroy Abu Dhabi -- Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

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The 499-room luxury Yas Viceroy is the world's only hotel built over a Formula One racetrack. Located on popular Yas Island, the Viceroy straddles a marina and the raceway, home of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. Architecturally striking, under an enormous, futuristic LED canopy, the Viceroy is the poshest hotel on Yas Island, with two rooftop infinity pools, a spa, 11 restaurants and bars, and two nightclubs. Rooms are luxe and minimalist, with marina or track views, and stylish bathrooms.

The Joule, A Luxury Collection Hotel -- Dallas, Texas, US

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The Joule is one of the coolest -- and most luxurious -- hotels in Downtown Dallas. It's located in a historic building dating back to the 1920s, and its decor is a mix of old and new -- funky furniture and patterned rugs are juxtaposed against dark wood paneling and antique touches in the lobby (including two giant cogged wheels), and the hotel has an extensive art collection, including works by Andy Warhol. There is a popular lounge downstairs and the bathroom walls are made of frosted glass (though a curtain can be pulled across), so this hotel may not be the best pick for families, but all can enjoy the cantilevered pool which juts out over Main Street.

Anatolian Houses -- Goreme, Cappadocia, Turkey

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Anatolian Houses is an upscale, traditionally styled complex with 33 suites carved from ancient stone caves located in the center of Göreme town. The original architecture has been superbly maintained as has its wonderfully historic ambience, though with all the modern comforts you'd expect from a hotel of this calibre. The Roman spa is certainly impressive and the wine fountain is sure to appeal to many. But it's far from the cheapest option around, a few rooms are subpar, and service can be inconsistent. It's still certainly a contender for one of the finest hotels in town, though -- and rates are far from exorbitant.

The Naka Phuket -- Kathu, Phuket, Thailand

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This luxury resort, located in a quiet valley between Kamala and Patong, stands out for its stunning modern architecture and beautiful, peaceful natural setting. The five-pearl retreat has its own stretch of beach with great snorkelling and an Olympic-size infinity pool overlooking the sea. Its 94 glass-walled villas have dramatic views (though some are better than others) and their own private infinity pools. There isn't much in the immediate area, but on-site features include a Thai restaurant, two bars, a spa, and a kids' club. The sprawling layout of the property means golf carts are required to reach the rooms, and service requests can sometimes take a while. Prices are on the high side for this category (arguably with good reason), though they're typically lower than those at nearby Paresa.

Scandic Victoria Tower -- Kista, Stockholm, Sweden

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Towering over Stockholm in a 34-story building, the Scandic Victoria Tower is a modern, high-rise hotel with 299 rooms, designed by Swedish architect Gert Wingårdh to be the tallest building in the city. An entirely glass building made of multicolored mirrored panels, the tower reflects the sky down on the surrounding Kista neighbourhood -- also known as the Kista Science City, as it's a hub for innovative enterprises. The hotel mostly caters to business travellers working in the area, and has a panoramic, 34th-floor SkyBar, as well as a modern gym and sauna on the 22nd floor. Despite its popularity with business travellers, the hotel's rates are somewhat high for its mid-range calibre and its location too far from the center of Stockholm for tourists.

Kandolhu Island -- North Ari Atoll, Alifu Atoll, Maldives

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A top-notch five-pearl luxury boutique, Kandolhu Island is home to 30 villas, all featuring private sundecks and sea views. Surrounded by a fish-filled house reef and close to good dive spots, it's a good option for underwater lovers -- and it offers various packages, including an all-inclusive plan. This small, screensaver-come-to-life island has four a la carte restaurants, a relaxing beachside bar, spa, dive center, library lounge, and state-of-the-art gym. Favouring couples, this idyllic island is set up for privacy, limited social interaction, and relaxation. Upscale and contemporary styled rooms are outfitted with all the trimmings -- from fluffy towels to wine fridges -- and can feature outdoor bathrooms, private beach areas, and personal dipping pools. The property makes use of sleek lines, floor-to-ceiling windows, and open-air designs to make the most of the scenic setting.

Blue Lagoon Clinic -- Grindavik, Iceland

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The four-pearl Blue Lagoon Clinic is the lodging for the famous Blue Lagoon, surrounded by a dramatic landscape that's rich in geothermal mineral water. The Clinic has its own smaller private lagoon, and the structure of the hotel means that numerous spaces overlook the steaming waters. The serene atmosphere makes the Clinic popular with couples, as well as with those seeking treatments for a variety of skin conditions. Limited access to the public lagoon is included, but it's a walk to all the main facilities from the hotel. Travellers only seeking housing close to the Blue Lagoon can check out the Northern Light Inn, which is nearby and has much lower rates.

Burj Al Arab -- Dubai, Emirate of Dubai, United Arab Emirates

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The Standard High Line -- Chelsea, New York City, New York

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Hovering above the High Line on concrete pillars, this one-of-a-kind Meatpacking District hotel offers 338 light-flooded, ultra-mod rooms with panoramic views of the city; one restaurant, several popular bars; and excellent service. It might just be the hippest hotel in New York City, even with the recent hotel boom.

Pegasus Suites & Spa -- Imerovigli, Santorini, Greece

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Pegasus Suites & Spa, a luxury hotel set in the caldera cliff-face in the peaceful Santorini village of Imerovigli, blends in with the Cycladic architecture of the island. While immaculate throughout, the 18 suites and villas, many designed to resemble caves (without the mustiness), are particularly outstanding -- some have private hot tubs and plunge pools, and all have exceptional views. The on-site gourmet restaurant, outdoor pool with pool bar, spa with indoor pool and hammam, and pre-ordered Champagne breakfasts delivered to private terraces contribute to an atmosphere of secluded luxury. Travellers might want to compare rates with the nearby Honeymoon Petra Villas, which has a larger pool but less-luxurious suites.

Post Ranch Inn -- Big Sur, California, United States

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The 39-room Post Ranch Inn is one of the most beautiful hotels in the United States -- if not the entire world -- and offers a romantic, intimate stay amid gorgeous natural surroundings. The hotel is built into the cliffs of Big Sur, and the organic architecture is breathtaking, seeming to grow out of the ground beside the hotel's surrounding redwoods. The spacious, eco-sensitive rooms have ocean or mountain views (that are sometimes obstructed by the pervasive fog that the area is known for) and many feature floor-to-ceiling windows to better show them off. Rooms also have wood-burning fireplaces, radiant floor heating, outdoor showers or hot tubs, private decks, and organic bath products and linens -- but no televisions or alarm clocks as the hotel strives for a peaceful environment. The award-winning spa focuses on rejuvenating services and even has a shaman on-site; the restaurant, Sierra Mar, is one of the best in Big Sur; the hotel's clifftop pools are stunning; and free amenities (such as yoga and stargazing) are abundant.

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