Plants are having a moment. It’s a trend playing out in our homes, on social media — and now, in forward-thinking hotels across the globe. This hospitality design movement immerses travelers in the healing world of nature, with living walls, rooftop gardens and streaming water features. But it’s about more than just Instagram snaps. All that greenery has been shown to work wonders, from improving air quality to boosting our well-being. Here are the world’s top 5 biophilic design hotels that let you bask in nature’s restorative glory.
While we might expect to find these garden-esque getaways nestled in wild settings, 1 Hotels proves that biophilic design is equally at home in urban environments. The hotelier’s 285-room West Hollywood outpost feels transportive, taking you from concrete to jungle as soon as you enter the lobby. Many of the spaces are ensconced in eye-catching greenery that stands out against a neutral palette of earthen stone walls, natural textiles and furnishings hewn from Aleppo pines. A strange phenomenon happens while staying here: As your eyes become accustomed to the plant-filled interiors, the cityscape’s abundant palm fronds and grassy lawns, when viewed from your guest suite, also begin to pop. This flora frenzy speaks to 1 Hotel’s deeply rooted (pun intended) sustainability ethos.
Barely visible from sea or sky, Kasiiya Papagayo takes full advantage of its jungled landscape, blending into the coastal rainforests of Costa Rica’s far-flung Papagayo Peninsula. The eco-resort’s seven tented guest suites achieve cocoon-like luxury amid the rugged terrain, with plant life and tropical birdsong aplenty. In keeping with “leave no trace” design principles, the structures rest on platforms raised a few feet above the ground. The result? A property that lives in harmony with nature, letting flora and fauna roam the forest floor. You can opt to enjoy the expansive vistas of the Costa Rica coastline from your private terrace or let a naturalist take you on an immersive ocean or jungle adventure.
One beautiful aspect of biophilic design? How it blends modern technology with indigenous building techniques. This is on full display at Kisawa, a first-of-its-kind resort that incorporates 3D-printed elements made from a locally derived, sand-based mortar. The resulting textured finish lets the property blend into its surrounding dunes, beaches and forest. “Kisawa” means unbreakable and signals the team’s commitment to building bonds between people and place, wilderness and well-being. Guests flow easily throughout the 12-bungalow resort thanks to an indoor/outdoor design that encourages constant connection with nature. It’s a connection worth exploring, as the area is home to some of the richest subtropical ecosystems in the Indian Ocean.
Perched on Sweden’s Lule River is a giant nest-like structure made from crisscrossing beams of local timber. Were it not for the size, Arctic Bath might be mistaken for the work of a bird or beaver. The intentionally randomly placed logs along its façade — indeed inspired by a bird’s nest — make this wellness destination a prime example of nature-centric design. Whether floating or frozen in place (depending on the season), Arctic Bath’s position along the reflective waterway enhances the region’s ethereal light displays, from winter’s aurora borealis to summer’s midnight sun. The property’s 12 land and water cabins are also constructed from local materials, with a more classic Scandinavian aesthetic. Wellness activities connect you with the natural world, be it an icy plunge in the Lule or a full-body massage infused with wild juniper.
Dubbed a “hotel in a garden,” Parkroyal Collection Pickering epitomizes Singapore’s reputation for forward-thinking design. Architects created an elevated area of green space approximately twice the size of adjacent Hong Lim Park. Large platforms bridge the hotel towers and feature a flowering understory, a waterfall, tall palm trees, hanging vines and more. The cascading clusters of eclectic foliage are visible from the property’s 367 guest rooms and communal spaces, resulting in pure sensorial pleasure at every turn. It’s truly a fantasy world made real. Ambling along the moss-like carpets amid such prolific plant life, you start to forget you’re in a city at all. The term “urban oasis” comes to mind, yet it begs the question: If all structures were designed this way, would we need an oasis at all?