w melbourne

A cocktail bar, but make it dramatic at W Melbourne. (Photo: Marriott International)

Travel by Design

The Design Dazzles at These 6 Theatrical Hotel Escapes

Travel is at its most transporting when you leave familiar surroundings to walk out onto the world’s stage and take a bow at the wonders that await. And some hotels truly excel at making the world — and your visit out into it — feel like a stage that embraces the theatrical spirit of the journey.

As pent-up travel demand races toward fever pitch, wend your way to these properties in Australia, Iceland, Florida and beyond that fully embrace today’s theatrical escape trend — and run with it.

As always, check for travel guidelines and closures before planning your trip.

W Melbourne

For a stylish stay that reveals itself layer by layer, check into W Melbourne. The design was inspired by Melbourne’s laneway culture, a reference to the omnipresent Victorian-era pedestrian pathways and streets that are intrinsic to Australia’s edgiest city.

Lenticular art by a local painter and digital artist mixes with Victorian bluestone tiles and references to Australian flora and fauna over the reception desks as you move through the hotel’s interior spaces, where the line between indoors and outdoors feels beautifully blurred.

The cinematic aesthetic continues in the hotel’s rooms and suites, where floor-to-ceiling windows turn up the light — and lay the city and Yarra River cutting through it at your feet.

The Madrid EDITION

madrid edition
(Photo: Marriott International)

Make a former 1980s bank reimagined as a contemporary luxury hotel your base when you stay at The Madrid EDITION, right near the Plaza Mayor in Madrid’s lively Sol neighborhood.

The hotel’s rooms and suites feels like a soothing modernistic blank slate for whatever you dream your stay here will be, with white oak floors, white Bianco Neve marble quarried in Italy, and soft linen and leather elements throughout.

The far and away most theatrical backdrop, however, is the signature Ian Schrager grand spiral staircase that ribbons its shiny white way through a dark wood space just off the lobby, creating an incredibly beautiful and sculptural aesthetic.

The Reykjavik EDITION

reykjavik edition
(Photo: Marriott International)

Located near the Icelandic capital’s atmospheric Old Harbour, The Reykjavik EDITION taps into the country’s sublime volcanic scenery for inspiration, with a high-drama design sense that manages to be soothing at the same time.

Particularly spectacular elements include basalt stone flooring throughout the hotel’s lobby, digital artwork meant to evoke the northern lights and a central stone “totem” surrounded by thick black sheepskin where you can lounge and soak it all in.

The Ben, Autograph Collection

the ben autograph collection
(Photo: Marriott International)

With sparkling views of yachts on the Intracoastal Waterway through the windows and a location just steps from the restaurants and boutiques of Clematis Street, The Ben, Autograph Collection is downtown West Palm Beach’s most seductive stay.

The hotel pays tribute to Ben Trovato, the Palm Beach County estate of a 19th-century socialite and writer, and mixes vintage Florida and tropical elements into its whimsical art collection in the fantastical lobby.

Be sure to make for the rooftop bar, Spruzzo, for sunset craft cocktails or a dip in the heated saltwater pool. All of West Palm Beach (and Palm Beach, across the lagoon) will feel like your kingdom where it sprawls below.

The Ivens, Autograph Collection

the ivens autograph collection
(Photo: Marriott International)

The stage is set for maximalist Old World drama at The Ivens, Autograph Collection, housed within a pastel pink former luxury warehouse that dates to the 19th century and sits smack in the city’s historic Chiado neighborhood.

Enter the hotel’s explorer-themed lobby, which pays tribute to the travels of legendary Portuguese explorers Ivens and Capelo with touches that include tropical plants and a bold mix of textures, textiles and patterns.

The hotel’s Gastro Bar is rendered particularly cinematically, with a red velvet staircase leading down to it, bold black-and-white checkerboard floors and high-backed bar stools covered in vintage floral prints.

W Changsha

When visiting Changsha, the capital of Hunan province in central China, get immersed in an avant-garde and galactic wonderland during a stay at the hypermodern W Changsha.

Nicknamed the “Star City,” Changsha is known as one of China’s foodie hot spots and has fantastic nightlife. The hotel goes all-in on big theatrical drama, too, inspired by the greater galaxy — like the starry universe theme in the lobby and dazzling light installations at Shinn Yen Chinese Restaurant.

Find more inspiration with Travel by Design.