Hotels reimagined | Inquirer Business


Have you ever experienced sleeping in a former convent? Or a sports bar, brewery or even a jail house?

Unless you’ve had one too many shots in your heyday, chances are, you’ve never really slept in any of these places on purpose. If this kind of experience is on your bucket list, however, fret no more.

Nowadays, many structures of the past have been repurposed to serve modern needs such as hotels. Due to the world’s growing appreciation for adaptive reuse and sustainability, you can actually sleep in these kinds of places safely and comfortably. These not only help preserve architectural heritage, they also provide interesting and unusual experiences. So are you ready to discover and see old buildings in a new light?

A railway station restored to glory

Celebrated upon its opening in 1928, the Canfranc Station in Aragon Valley, Spain had seen great days in the past. The King of Spain and the French President were both in attendance when it first opened to the public. It had a good 40-year run, but a freight derailment in 1970 put an immediate halt to its operations. For many years after, the train station lay in a derelict state, a seemingly forgotten ghost of a once glorious past.

Canfranc Station, which was forced to close in 1970 after a derailment, has recently been reopened as a luxurious hotel.

After catching the eye of a hotel conglomerate, however, life has been breathed again to this once-abandoned relic. The Barcelo Hotel Group, a company operating more than 250 hotels across the globe, took interest in the Canfranc Station and spent years carefully restoring it. Early this year, the Canfranc Station once again opened with much fanfare, but this time as a majestic hotel offering a step back in time.

With its former concourse now functioning as the reception area, the hotel provides a rare opportunity to experience the best of the 1920s era. The facade and other original elements have been preserved to ensure that the original character of the structure remains evident.

Modern features, however, have been added to meet new needs. Three restaurants, an indoor pool and a wellness center have been incorporated in the building to provide a luxurious stay for its guests. Now dubbed as a “Royal Hideaway Hotel,” Canfranc Station is marketed as being able to provide “a journey into the past” with its 104 premium rooms and amenities.

An old plane in the heart of the jungle

Do you enjoy riding airplanes so much that you wish you could live in one?

Well in Costa Rica you can—at least temporarily. Situated in the heart of the Manuel Antonio Jungle, the Costa Verde Hotel houses a former Boeing 727 turned into a two-bedroom structure. Perched on a 50-foot pedestal on the edge of the park, the completely restored airplane provides its guests lush views of the ocean and the jungle from its former right wing.

The Costa Verde Hotel has become an iconic landmark with its repurposed Beoing jet welcoming visitors.

While its exterior aluminum skin has been well-preserved, the interiors have been retrofitted with wooden cladding and teak furniture to provide a better connection with the jungle environment. A stay in this repurposed structure will make you feel as if you’ve discovered the lair of Tarzan’s parents, albeit more luxurious and comfortable.

The Costa Verde Hotel offers other exceptional accommodations. While guests have several options for stays on-ground, one can still enjoy a breathtaking view from either their Cockpit Cottage or Cockpit Cabana. These rooms provide a one-of-a-kind stay for adventurous honeymooners or friends. Those with kids, however, are advised to stay at the hotel’s more traditional offers. There is a small possibility, after all, for the numerous monkeys on the plane’s high perch to take your baby to become a real-life Tarzan.

The Cockpit Cabana of the Costa Verde Hotel allows guests to stay in the middle of a jungle inside a retrofitted Boeing.

The Cockpit Cabana of the Costa Verde Hotel allows guests to stay in the middle of a jungle inside a retrofitted Boeing.

A heritage jailhouse offering luxurious stays

Built in 1779, the Bodmin Jail in Cornwall has 250 years’ worth of rich English history to offer. It became the ideal jailhouse during its time, offering hot water and gender-segregated cells to England’s medieval inmates. It had also functioned in the past as a Royal Navy housing, nightclub, casino and as a temporary home for the Crown Jewels during World War I.

Despite its colorful past, the Bodmin Jail is now a five-star boutique hotel. Guests can enjoy luxurious accommodations while diving deep into the former jail’s dark history. The hotel actually offers a jail attraction package, where one can choose to stay in a retrofitted jail cell and have an immersive tour of the complex’s dark innards. As a place that witnessed 55 executions, this unique stay is perfect for those looking for a macabre twist to their Cornish vacation.

The Bodmin Jail Hotel is a boutique accomodationthat offers macabre vibes in a five-star setti

The Bodmin Jail Hotel is a boutique accomodation
that offers macabre vibes in a five-star setti

If you’re looking for a more relaxed stay, however, the Bodmin Jail Hotel offers classic King rooms and family suites. While the original stone walls of the edifice have been retained, the rooms have been fitted with modern elements such as porcelain fixtures, soft carpeting and centralized airconditioning. There are even rooms for differently-abled guests and pet lovers. Coupled with the hotel’s all-day restaurant, fine dining venue and liquor bar, these rooms make for an ultimate, fascinating stay for history aficionados in Cornwall.

Beyond tourism

Showcasing architectural creativity and material sustainability, adaptive re-use saves a lot of money and creates innovative experiences. By choosing to stay in repurposed buildings, you contribute not only to tourism but also to ecology. Visit any of these places today and immerse yourself in a one-of-a-kind vacation that will surely be one for the books.

Sources:;;; Ian Kingsnorth via

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