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The Coolest Avant-Garde Hotels in North America

Is there only one true shape for a hotel’s exterior? Not if you believe in strong design and support generous use of curves and angles at the hands of leading architects. These 5 avant-garde properties are not in design hubs within Scandinavia or Southern California. Nope, they reside in rural areas sprinkled across North America, proving design sensibility can find a home anywhere.

Slide Background Fogo Island Inn (St. John’s, Newfoundland, Canada): Hovering above the jagged coastline on stilts, and designed by Norway architect Todd Saunders, 29 rooms in the modular building frame views of the property’s namesake island. Elaine Fortin’s wood-harvested Punt Chair, a nod to the region’s boat builders, is in each room. (@michaelmakesfilms) Slide Background Solaz Los Cabos (Los Cabos, Mexico) Cube-shaped accommodations with living green roofs at this 128-room property are the genius idea of Mexico City’s Sordo Madaleno Arquitectos. Cesar López Negrete designed 400 artworks and installations. Stacked, modular two-story blocks build out the rest of the 33 acres. Slide Background Wild Rice Retreat’s RicePods (Bayfield, Wisconsin): Near the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore’s ferry, this mind-body retreat's RicePods—by Salmela Architects in Duluth, MN—riff on tiny houses. Despite the name, there’s no cramping: a kitchenette, seating area, bath and lots of windows are a posh alternative to camping. Slide Background Jade Mountain (St. Lucia): Vanishing-edge pools on the 24 sanctuaries’ open-wall patios were owner/architect Nick Troubetzkoy's vision. Indigenous materials (tropical hardwoods from Guyana and Dominican Republic tiles) avoid a stark feel while retaining intimacy meant stacking—not sprawling—the layout. Slide Background Flophouze Shipping Container Hotel (Round Top, Texas): Salvaged shipping containers—with raised, private decks—flaunt décor like a Chesterfield sofa, Picasso-esque illustrations, vintage signage you might scoop up at a flea market (a major one's nearby) and distressed ship-lap. A Hand Chair (inspired by Pedro Friedeberg’s 1962 original) joins Adirondack chairs by the fire pit.

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