The boutique hotel game is all about cozy charm and exclusivity–and the latest overnight stay to open in Antwerp, Belgium, fits the bill on both counts to near comic effect. The precious new one-room hotel, designed by Belgian architecture firm dmvA, is a stunning, three-story, 17th-century gabled home with a historic facade that measures less than eight feet wide, and accommodates just one guest bedroom.
“I was captured by the the scale of the house and the marvelous location at the corner in the historical centre of Antwerp,” says the firm’s founder, Tom Verschueren, by email. The owners of the property, a couple who purchased the house as a holiday home that they could rent out for the majority of the year, sought to revamp the 400-year-old structure with a modern, luxe interior that would attract guests, rather than deter them, with its diminutive size.
“Initially, I had concerns about how to convert a small historical house into a luxury one-room hotel without touching the historical elements,” says the architect, but inside, the petite, jewel box-like space connected to an adjacent back corner house, which had been renovated to form a single space. “I really was surprised during my first visit that the house had a L-shaped floorpan instead a rectangular one. So in fact, the house was more spacious than you would expect from the outside.”
To clarify and enlarge the space, the firm created a minimal, all-white interior and added a network of open-tread staircases that wind through the property like “an architectural promenade.” They also replaced sections of the wooden flooring with transparent glass tiles, Verschueren adds, to create diagonal views and enlarge visitors’ sense of the open, “one-room” space. The result is a unique and modern home that stands in stark contrast to the perfectly preserved exterior.
But what’s in a name? Why call it a “hotel” instead of, say, a rental or bed and breakfast?
In the age of social media, user experience is still everything.
“Adventure is becoming a keyword in the global tourism industry,” says Verschueren. “The concept of the One Room Hotel is based on this tendency. We believe that the market for these kind of initiatives will grow [in] the coming years.”
A space likely to hit the bucket list–and Instagram feeds–of millennial travelers, the one-room, once-in-a-lifetime stay, officially listed on booking.com as “The Grand,” will run about $185 an evening. If this handsome property is the new face of the tiny house movement, sign me up.