The Most OTT Hotels In The World

These characterful hotels border on bad taste, don’t know the meaning of “remove one accessory before you leave the house” and are probably where you’d find Iris Apfel sipping whiskey from a china tea cup… In short, they’re outrageous and bloody brilliant.

Olivia Squire is the Editor of THE SHIFT, a blog about contemporary high-end travel trends, news and hot hotels from LE Miami, the travel trade event celebrating the world's most creative and rebellious travel brands.

These characterful hotels border on bad taste, don't know the meaning of "remove one accessory before you leave the house" and are probably where you'd find Iris Apfel sipping whiskey from a china tea cup… In short, they're outrageous and bloody brilliant.

21C Museum Hotel

Louisville, US

A night at the museum takes on a whole new meaning at 21c Museum Hotels, the brainchild of collectors that uses art to revitalise secondary city centres. At their Louisville offshoot, the spirit of the city is literally imbued in the walls by The Practices of Everyday Life, an immersive installation transforming restaurant Proof on Main into a gaudy explosion of colourful ephemera telling the personal and public histories of Southern Indiana, complete with custom wallpaper celebrating local flora. Meanwhile, Asleep in the Cyclone elevates a functioning guest room into a crazy canvas, topped with a kaleidoscopic domed ceiling.

Grand Amour Hotel

Paris, France

Created by graffiti artist/fashion designer/club mogul André Saraiva, Grand Amour is a love letter to the Parisian salons and Viennese cafés of the 20th century, where artists would mingle, drink, live and create among like-minded souls. It's also Saraiva's Parisian home, which might explain the deeply idiosyncratic approach to design, from candy-pink corridors to turquoise-tiled bathrooms. All 42 rooms are unique, inspired by Saraiva's travels and with details tilting towards a certain mode of creation - think Hermès typewriters for the poets and easels for the painters. The overall effect is a sprawling sense of many times, places and people existing in surreal (dis)harmony.

Hotel Hotel

Canberra, Australia

This quirky hotel-cum-community was brought to life by the intersection of sixty creative minds and multiple layers of national history, fused into a complex, determinedly Australian narrative that recognises the past through a contemporary lens (see the award-winning timber structure by Melbourne-based March Studio in the lobby as proof). The apotheosis of this non-linear approach comes in the Monster Salon and Dining Rooms, a retelling of Australia's proud post-war immigrants and the enthusiastically kitschy taste for the OTT they brought with them. Perspex mirrors, beaded columns and a 1970s-era chandelier jostle for attention in this thoughtful yet extroverted space.


Reykjavik, Iceland

Club Tropicana packs its suitcases and uproots for the North at this mischievous ho(s)tel. Huddled along the Reykjavík coastline, the rainbow stripes on its unassuming warehouse exterior hint at what's to come: an eclectic mix of custom pieces by Icelandic designers and big-name works from the likes of Ettore Sottsass and Mario Bellini (think gold palm trees and teal velvet chairs). Elements that caught our attention: bathrooms boasting the avocado-and-salmon combo beloved of 1970s housewives; a drum kit the colour of a tequila sunrise; and a mirrored cube in the middle of the restaurant concealing a karaoke booth (fellow diners can see, but thankfully not hear, wannabe rockstars).

Hotel Not Hotel

Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Hotel Not Hotel is that rare creature where artistic experimentation meets a total lack of pretentiousness. In fact, we'd go so far as to say it's pretty damn funny, with a surreal sense of humour that questions the parameters of hospitality. Each room has a unique story forged by members of design collective Collaboration-O, all clustered in a giant 'living room". Choose from the "Crisis-Free Zone", a confessional-style sleeping pod with wooden carvings that keep out evil; secret bookcase rooms with one-way mirrors hidden behind paintings; Spanish villa Casa No Casa; and a repurposed tram cart.

Faena Miami Beach

Miami, US

Anyone familiar with founder Alan Faena's taste for the fantastical won't be surprised by the theatrical turn taken at his Miami Beach property, particularly given the added involvement of director Baz Luhrmann. Eschewing the beachy minimalism of many neighbouring hotels, Faena is all-out glamour: a dizzying whirl of detail that includes seashell-clad columns, a Parisian-style cabaret theatre, custom murals and gold pillars in the lobby, and a colossal chandelier that responds to storms on the Argentinian pampas. The award for most 'grammed, however, goes to Damien Hirst's gilded woolly mammoth; a fitting symbol for modern Miami's clash of excess, playfulness and artistic excellence.

House For Essex

Essex, UK

This eccentric work of art by Turner Prize-winning Grayson Perry, dreamed up in collaboration with FAT Architecture and Living Architecture, is a flamboyant example of how to pay homage to an area's history in a way that goes beyond mere re-enactment. Inspired by shrines and fairy tales, Grayson imagined an Essex Everywoman, Julie, to whom the House is a tribute. A cross somewhere between a barn and a chapel, it's filled with colourful tapestries, pots and mosaic floors reflecting Julie's story, with guests also encouraged to follow a pilgrimage of her life across Essex's socioeconomic borders.

The Whitby

New York, US

The just-opened Whitby is the second New York import from British hoteliers Tim and Kit Kemp, transplanting their signature English estate feel to the streets of Manhattan. This latest addition to the collection continues their Bloomsbury Group-esque clash of prints and colours, from the floral wallpaper designed in collaboration with muralist Melissa White, to the cabinet of porcelain objects depicting iconic New York scenes by Martha Freud. Our favourite detail is the 52 baskets sourced from the British Isles that hang over the bar; a space that flirts with chaos but never submits to it.

Hotel De JoBo

Paris, France

Much like the muse that inspired it, Hotel de JoBo is no shrinking violet, but rather a true wildflower - or to be more accurate, a blooming rose. A converted convent, the hotel was reimagined in homage to Napoleon's first wife, Joséphine Bonaparte. A child of the Revolution and poster girl for the aristocratic decadence of the era, Joséphine's penchant for leopard print, pink and cascades of roses - she had 240 species planted in her Malmaison garden - is reflected by designer Bambi Sloan with a modern, rock'n'roll edge. Gilded mirrors, black lacquered furniture and patterned wallpaper form an ambience as thoughtful as it is frivolous.

Hotel Zoo

Berlin, Germany

If Gucci's 2017 campaign was a hotel, we think it might just be Berlin's Hotel Zoo. As the name suggests, there are animals - lots of them - prowling throughout, from the emerald-green carpet emblazoned with crouching leopards designed by Diane von Furstenberg, through to leather hippos and topiary giraffes. Birdcage-clad chandeliers in the dining room, wine gum-coloured Chesterfields in the guest rooms and the recurrence of a tastefully distasteful lime and purple palette proclaim a wild side disdainful of convention.

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