This is an extraordinary place comprising part of the ground and the whole of the 6th floors of a perfectly glum concrete building right by Mendrisio station. Guests take a lift from the lobby that goes exclusively to the 6th floor, as other things (apartments? offices?) intervene.
The whole place is mostly as it was when built sometime in the 70s, with some nice 80s updating... the same decor, furnishings, light switches etc, though nothing looks worn (bizarre!)
The experience is surreal, especially as you exit the lift onto a panoramic lounge area on the 6th floor, always deserted, but for puffy leatherette sofas, low glass tables and plastic flowers (also in breakfast room - natch!), that hit you like a re-run of The Bold And The Beautiful.
The rooms are spacious and spotless, with soft-ish but comfy beds and pillows with institutionally clean and pressed white linen. The decor here is beige/yellow with a bit of orange on the chenille bedspread for fun, complete with massive 80s telly hanging way above eye-level, chunky white bakelite light switches (I would kill for some of those at home) and cassette-player-type buttons for music immediately above the pillow on the headboard... oh, and some sockets. Round table covered with full-length (beige) tablecloth and then topped with round glass, whereupon a glass ashtray has pride of place (all rooms are smoking - rock 'n 'roll!), completes the set. Tons of storage in fitted cupboards, by far the most generous and functional I have seen in hotels for decades. Bathroom also great, on the smaller side compared to the room, but, again, spotless and in perfect working order, with bathtub and power-shower, plentiful hot water 24/7, and more tons of storage in large 'medicine cabinet' type mirror above the sink - oh, and excellent lighting, so you can pluck eyebrows away, should you fancy.
The breakfast room merges the style of the rooms and the 6th floor lounge, with exquisite late-60s false-ceiling-plus-lights structure hanging above one's head, plastic flowers lining the length of the room at eye level, and immaculate buffet also from somewhere between 70-80s, complete with boiled eggs bowl, processed cheese and swirling stand of assorted Hero jam tins. Great coffee, though.
This is probably the best place to stay in town, because it is where the town's single claim to fame, the world-renowned USI School of Architecture, accommodates all its visitors. It is genuinely comfortable and madly enjoyable, if you're into that sort of thing (as, clearly, I am). Having said that, it is a real mystery why there isn't a design hotel there already, or two, to compete with this genuine retro experience, as I imagine it could get a bit too much after a while... (call Zaha, anyone?)
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