A prolific architect, Frank Lloyd Wright designed few hotels during his seven-decade career. Still, these properties—one in Japan and three in Wright’s native United States—bear witness to his enduring legacy.
By James Louie
Although Wright’s original Mayan Revival-inspired design for the Imperial—completed in 1923—survived both the Great Kanto Earthquake and the ravages of war, the entire complex was eventually demolished half a century later. But you can still get a sense of what the lost hotel was like at its successor, where the Art Deco–style Old Imperial Bar sports terra-cotta wall tiles and a mural section from the earlier building alongside replicas of Wright-designed fixtures and furnishings.
2. Mason City: Historic Park Inn
Wright’s only surviving purpose-built hotel reopened in this small Iowa town in 2011 after an extensive restoration guided by the architect’s original drawings. Artisans were enlisted to re-create the furnishings that once graced the property at its debut in 1910, while a missing art-glass skylight was recovered from a private house. For an even more nostalgic stay, the Park Inn’s 27 guest rooms include a Historic Suite that follows the original configuration (doubles from US$119).
3. Chicago: Emil Bach House
Built in 1915 as the family residence for an admirer of his work, this two-bedroom house near the shores of Lake Michigan is one in a series of geometric homes Wright designed in late Prairie style, sporting cantilevered flat roofs that were far ahead of their time. The Bach House has been open to paying guests since 2014, following a careful refurbishment that removed alterations made by previous owners while reinstating elements such as the built-in seat by the living room’s central fireplace (from US$495).
4. Phoenix: Arizona Biltmore Hotel
For four months in 1928, Wright was a consulting architect during the construction of this popular retreat for film stars and U.S. presidents. His connection with the property has since been bolstered with the addition of a desert-themed stained-glass window he designed, not to mention duplicates of geometric statues from Chicago’s now-demolished Midway Gardens. The decor of a 120-room wing opened in 2009 pays tribute to Wright, as does a new restaurant (doubles from US$305).
This article originally appeared in the October/November print issue of DestinAsian magazine (“The Wright Stuff”).