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7 Reasons Why Banks Make Great Hotels

February 17, 2014 at 12:53 PM | by | ()

UPDATE: We've added one more bank since the article was first published. So now there's 7 bank hotels to enjoy!

There can be no denying that banks build great big homes for themselves. They get the best locations – they hire the starchitects of the day – and they spare no expense in creating rich interior spaces. And it’s a win-win when these “pillars of strength” are plucked by savvy developers and converted into hotels.

Banks have so many great features that designers can’t wait to get their hands on: dramatic multi-story lobbies with heavy yet ornate columns; monumental staircases that you would love to slide down; and over the top interior finishes. Vaults become spas and ballrooms, mezzanines become restaurants, and executive boardrooms become… executive boardrooms.

We’ve reported on a few hotel conversion projects currently under way including the former Colorado National Bank in Denver, the Jarmulowsky Bank in New York City,and the upcoming Virgin Hotel in Chicago but we will continue to keep you posted as they progress. For now, check out these uniquely adapted from banks around the world:

1. Threadneedles Hotel, London

Threadneedles Hotel, now a part of Marriott's Autograph Collection, resides at the former address of the London City and Midland Bank. It is located slingshot distance from the Bank of England, the world’s second oldest functioning bank. You can bet many a financial deal is struck in this totally transformed historic lobby that sits beneath a rare stained-glass dome. Yeah, we like the carpet too.

2. Banke Hotel, Paris

In the city that seemingly owns the rights to the color red, there is certainly NO shortage of glamour, passion, and theater in the sexy lobby of Paris' Banke Hotel. Named for its former occupant, the Credit Commercial de France, it was built in the late 19th century during the highly decorative period known as Belle Epoche (“beautiful era”). C’est ci bon, n’est pas?

3. International House, New Orleans

This refreshingly cool lobby belongs to International House Hotel, who claim to be the boutique hotel in New Orleans (we’ll get back to you on that…) This 1906 Beaux Arts beauty was built as the home of the Canal Louisiana Bank & Trust Company. In 1943 it became International House, regarded as the first world trade center (now that is cool), before becoming a hotel in 2012.

4. The Ritz-Carlton Philadelphia

It kind of makes you feel small standing in the lobby of the Ritz-Carlton Philadelphia, but once you enter it you won’t want to leave. This historic space is the “rotunda,” designed in 1908 by the seriously talented architectural firm of McKim, Mead and White. The building was modeled after the Roman Pantheon and was the home of the Girard Trust Company.

5. Hotel de Rome, Berlin

The Palm Court Ballroom at Hotel de Rome in Berlin is a standout elegant space that was originally the cashier’s hall of the Dresdner Bank. This space is dressed up and good to go for any occasion, with its custom terrazzo flooring, crystal chandeliers and barrel vaulted skylight.

6. Hotel ICON, Houston

Hotel ICON was built in 1911 for the Union National Bank and, at only 12 stories, was considered one of America’s first “skyscrapers.” It is owned in part by basketball legend turned real estate entrepreneur Magic Johnson and is now part of Marriott’s Autograph Collection. The interiors are clearly Texas style – a gigantic lobby dominated by 30-foot Grecian style columns, ceilings adorned in gold-leaf, and rich leather furnishings. What’s not to love?

7. One King West Hotel, Toronto

This gracious lobby was the original banking hall of the Dominion Bank in Toronto. Dominion opened its doors in 1914 with a Beaux Arts “skyscraper” that rivaled any in the US. This landmark is now home to Toronto’s One King West Hotel. The 2-story grand banking hall is the show-stopping space in the hotel, with its finely detailed columns, arched colonnade, and gilded coffered (waffle like) ceiling. The hotel boasts the longest bar in Canada -- at 100 feet -- and this was added to replicate the bank’s teller counter. Now that's a bar!

[Photos courtesy of the hotels mentioned]

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