This New Hotel Draws Inspiration From Petra, Jordan's Famous Ancient City
W Hotels' first property in Jordan, standing tall amid the low-rises of downtown Amman, is a contemporary landmark in the Middle Eastern capital.
W Amman is one of the first skyscrapers in the Al Abdali district, which borders Jabal Amman (the city's historic center) and is surrounded by the seven hills upon which the original city was built. The hotel's design also aims to bring this history and culture into the 30-story tower — literally, with its 280 rooms each offering sweeping views from floor-to-ceiling windows, and figuratively, weaving the country’s ancient roots and Bedouin heritage into every part of the space.
Amman is the gateway to Jordan’s historical wonders, and many travelers who stay there will go on to explore the villages and archeological sites of the country's interior. With this in mind, the city's newest hotel has reinterpreted emblems of Jordan — Roman ruins, traditional craftsmanship, the ancient city of Petra — and incorporated them into its architecture and decor.
Here are some ways the property draws inspiration from Jordan's past and present:
As one of the "new seven wonders of the world," Petra — built by an ancient Arab civilization called the Nabateans — is arguably Jordan’s most famous attraction. To visit the site, travelers wind their way through a mile-long red rock canyon called the Siq: a grand entrance to the ancient city’s temples, monasteries, and other ruins. W Amman draws inspiration from this fabled passageway with a grand entrance of its own. A jagged corridor spans the first five stories of the building, with geometric shards that change color to reflect the time of day — much like the rosy sandstone of the Siq, which change tones as the sun moves over the desert. The lobby is an earthy beige in daylight, and a fluorescent amber come nightfall.
But Petra is far from the only historical site in Jordan — in fact, there are many within walking distance of the hotel. The city’s historic center, Jabal Amman, is another inspiration for the design. The clustered layout of the W's two-story bar and lobby mirrors the close quarters of the old city: narrow staircases connect stacked lounges tucked into alcoves, like alleys weaving through rows of matchbox-style houses.
The sacks of spices that greet diners at W Amman’s main restaurant, Mesh, are reminiscent of those found in the souks of Jabal Amman and at spice markets around the country. Spices are used liberally in dishes throughout the Middle East, with ingredients like saffron, nutmeg, and cardamom forming a cornerstone of the cuisine. Jordanian families take pride in creating their own spice blends.
Bedouin culture is prevalent throughout Jordan, especially in relation to traditional arts like embroidery, and the property pops with color thanks to hand-embroidered silks and vibrant Bedouin textiles. The camel-adorned pillows and bed runners in every room were locally made in partnership with the Jordan River Foundation, a nonprofit that provides an economic opportunities for Jordanian artisans and promotes the preservation of Bedouin culture. In the bar and common areas, the low seating nooks — reminiscent of those found in Bedouin tents — are accented by a series of local portraits painted by Jordanian artist Bader Mahasneh.
The pool, with its terraced seating layout, reflects by the seats of the Roman Theatre, built in Amman by Roman colonists in the 1st Century CE. Another site, the Amman Citadel — an ancient complex that includes the famous Temple of Hercules — is the inspiration for the colonnaded design of the rooftop bar.
Driving south from Amman, you begin to see a vast quantity of olive trees popping up from desert sands, a common sight for visitors en route to the Dead Sea. In tribute to this agricultural tradition, which provides one of the country’s few major exports, the lobby of the hotel is lined with intricate sculptures meant to mimic the dappled shadows of the olive groves.
Afternoon tea (with a side of shisha) has long been a daily routine for Jordanians — but a coffee is also a local favorite, with thick, cardamom-scented brews served at cafes around the country. The wallpaper in some rooms nods to this coffeehouse culture, depicting traditional coffee pots in mid-pour; other suites are plastered with cat designs, a salute to the friendly strays found throughout Amman, or outlines of the city's layered skyline.
W Amman provided support for the reporting of this story.