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The Most Amazing Hotels Never Built

Hotels are one place an architect can really stretch her imagination – because a hotel is supposed to stun its guests. Sure, there’s a certain amount of practical necessities that need seeing to, but that’s all part of the fun. The possibilities are endless!

Except that they’re not quite endless, because there are economic and practical concerns to take on board when building a structure of such enormity. And so, as it happens, some of the most wonderful hotels ever imagined never got past the drawing board. For one reason or another, investors pulled the plug.

In a way, it’s for the best. A finished hotel will never quite match the architect’s wildest dreams. But the designs remain a promise to imagine.

This stunning new project from Expedia meets the promise halfway, by providing glowing new renderings of six ambitious hotel projects that were… just too ambitious.

Full Moon Hotel (Baku, Azerbaijan)

You know you’re achieving something major in hotel architecture when critics compare your work to the ‘Death Star.’ That was the nickname given to Baku’s moon-shaped hostelry, which would have had space for 382 rooms across 35 floors so that all those guests could subsidize the cost of that planet-destroying superlaser.

But despite the architect’s evil vision, nothing has come of the building, which remains a mystery even to locals.

The Fourth Grace (Liverpool, England)

Architect Will Alsop died earlier this year, before he could see his diamond-shaped hotel built – and sadly, it seems like it never will be. Programmed to take up space next to the three ‘Graces’ of Liverpool’s docks (the Port of Liverpool Building, Cunard Building, and Royal Liver Building), the radical design was chosen through competition – and like all the best buildings, opinions were starkly divided!

But the gem-like structure was a costly affair, and financial difficulties finally drove the project into the ground in 2004. The entire ‘fourth grace’ concept was abandoned and the area remains in development.

The Hotel Commonwealth (New York, USA)

The largest hotel in the world would have squashed 2500 rooms into a 28-storied building rising 400 feet from the ground. It was a real art deco masterpiece in the making, capitalizing on a brief moment of optimism between the Great War and the Great Depression.

Flowering terraces resembling the Hanging Gardens of Babylon were just the start; once you got inside, you were promised an indoor golf course, Turkish and Russian baths, billiard rooms, and America’s biggest swimming pool. The space was to take up an entire New York block; unsurprisingly, financial and planning problems brought a premature end to this ambitious dream.

Rogers Lacy Hotel (Dallas, USA)

Frank Lloyd Wright designed this one, and he thought big, promising the skyscraper would “glisten in the night” like a “Lone Star.”

But hubris got the better of FLW, and the project was abandoned for its unrealistic ambitions. Some of Wright’s ideas would end up in the Bartlesville’s Price Tower instead.

Xanadu (Las Vegas, USA)

Apple don’t build pyramids, but if they did… it might look a bit like this one. Despite all the pomp you’d expect from a Vegas hotel (how on Earth do you create a ‘flaming water feature’?) it was the littlest room that brought an end to the project: a dispute over sewerage proved insurmountable.

Lunar Hilton (the Moon, Space)

Those Hiltons huh? Caught up in the hype of the space race, hotel mogul Barron Hilton decided he would be first on the moon – first hotelier on the moon, anyway.

Hilton’s moon hotel would be just one of several space hotels (the others being satellites). But like so many of the best visions, Hilton’s moon hotel disintegrated when he got out his calculator to figure out how much it would cost.

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