2022 will mark the 15th anniversary of the LEGO Modular Buildings Collection. The theme was introduced in 2007 with 10182 Café Corner, and has since added fifteen other sets including 2017’s 10255 Assembly Square and 2021’s 10278 Police Station. The 17th installment is a 3066 piece set that features a hotel and art gallery – and a ton of callbacks to just about every building on the block. LEGO Modular Buildings Collection 10297 Boutique Hotel will be available starting January 1st, 2022 from the LEGO Shop Online for US $199.99 | CAN $269.99 | UK £179.99. Come along as we explore this new corner of the neighborhood!
The LEGO Group provided The Brothers Brick with an early copy of this set for review. Providing TBB with products for review guarantees neither coverage nor positive reviews.
Unboxing the parts, instructions
and sticker sheet
The Boutique Hotel comes in a large tab-sealed box with standard “Adult Collector” theming. The upper left corner has a “15 years” celebratory badge, along with a five-star rating for the hotel. The bottom edge has the usual greeble-filled bar with the mandated “18+” age range, set number, and part count. The hotel itself is presented at a somewhat unusual angle. Since the building is wedge-shaped, the product shot has the set turned to show how it looks from a corner, as opposed to the more or less “head on” views seen in other modular sets.
The rest of the back is pretty standard fare. Along the right edge is an exploded view of the five building sections, the set’s dimensions (25 cm/10″ by 33 cm/13″ tall), and a small shot of how the modular buildings connect together. The bottom edge has six “action shots” of some of the set’s interior and exterior details.
The main product shot is a little odd as it shows the hotel nestled in amongst other modular sets – an interesting choice as it certainly implies you’re going to get a lot more than the box actually contains. LEGO did cover their butt in this area by including a tiny “10278 and 10270 are not included” disclaimer in the bottom left corner. Can you spot it? You’ll have to really squint.
Inside the box are 20 numbered part bags spanning 14 building steps. There is also a loose 32×32 baseplate and a final bag containing the instruction book. You’ll notice that I didn’t mention the sticker sheet. That’s because there isn’t one. Yes, LEGO opted to print all the needed elements in this set. This was a pretty unexpected perk – I can’t remember the last time a set of this size didn’t include at least a small assortment of stickers.
The instruction manual is perfect-bound and 296 pages long. The first couple of pages go into the history of the modular line, as well as calling out several of the designers that have been involved in their creation. The Boutique Hotel was designed by Anderson Ward Grubb, and he gets his own insert shot in the lower right.
The building instructions are printed on a light grey background that is easy on the eyes. There are a few points where dark brown bricks are hard to distinguish from each other in an assembly, but overall things were very clearly presented. There are also a lot of fun callouts that reveal many of the set’s Easter eggs and links to previous sets.
Some of the extra text, however, just urges you to be supportive of those in the service industry. I’m hoping that this is good-hearted humor and not a subtle, sarcastic warning that the staff of the Boutique Hotel are on edge and about to snap into pointy plastic shards.
The lack of a sticker sheet means that there are a bunch of specialty printed elements in this set. First up is this message board, with fliers that relate back to everything from 2007’s Café Corner’s coffee (or maybe at 2018’s Diner), to an apple from the 2008 Green Grocer, to 2015’s Detective Office. The 2×2 round tile has a stylized “H” monogram that will grace the hotel’s front door.
The hotel’s guest book has six signatures – they look like real signatures and are sure to be Easter eggs from a designer. The retro rotary phone dial has appeared before, but the printed mirror is another new design.
The manual typewriter and bridge photo have also made previous appearances, but the “El Cubo Fine Art” marquee is new for this set. The 6×2 black wedge is a new part for 2021, appearing in the very expensive 10294 Titanic, even more pricy 75313 AT-AT, and more easily obtainable 76239 Batmobile Tumbler: Scarecrow Showdown
This small white print will be used as a television screen. The copyright date on it seems to read 2005, but I’m pretty sure it’s a new design. Maybe it’s been lurking in the modular design pool for years, and has finally made it out into production.
There’s one more printed tile in this set, but we’ll cover it in detail a little bit later. The remaining elements are a great range of interesting parts in useful colors. Most notably, there’s a wide range of light nougat elements, many of which are appearing in that color for the first time.
The Boutique Hotel is built on a standard 32×32 baseplate. The sidewalk layout is the same styling as seen in the other modulars, with several 2×2 tiles with center studs to help pose minifigures. The 1×2 Technic bricks along the edges are positioned to allow this corner module to easily link up with the other modular buildings.
An early detail is this blue trash dumpster. It holds a white croissant – a callback to 2014’s Parisian Restaurant. White croissants did appear in that set, but as part of the building’s exterior design!
As the first floor comes together, you can see the very unusual angle that the main exterior wall will be constructed at. This is accomplished with the use of 2×2 hinge bricks and 1×1 plates to anchor the base beams.
The tile floor in the hotel features an intricate mosaic. I’m always appreciative of the way LEGO’s element designers ensure that various pieces can combine in unusual ways.
The hotel’s reception desk has a landline, sign-in book, and four golden room keys. The black flower vase to the left is a sleek design that nicely echoes the color scheme in the inlaid floor tiles. Note that the key rack is presented at a half-stud offset. The same offset is present on the other side of the wall…
The frame here holds a great cubist tribute. What image do you see here? A Picasso-esque parrot? A nude LEGO descending a staircase? Well, hold on to your hat, as the art gallery’s offerings get even crazier from here.
In an alcove in the gallery is this black statue of a figure wearing a top hat. The instructions tell us that it was designed by the same artist who carved the white bust in the lobby of 2012’s Town Hall set.
There are three more featured artworks in the gallery. In the center is an astounding Piet Mondrian tribute. To the right is a clear cube described in the instructions as “[not] Cubist- it’s just an expertly made cube.”
If you look at the old Creator Expert logo you can probably guess what they meant by that…
What you might not have guessed, though, is that the printed tile is actually a super-obscure Galidor deep cut. The stylized artwork is clearly based on this McDonald’s Happy Meal tie-in toy! I knew my love of Galidor would come in handy one day, but I never expected it to be tied to a Modular Building review.
Anyway, at this point the walls of the first floor are mostly constructed, as is the stairwell leading up to the rooms on the second and third floors.
Always a fan of mosaics, I was happy to see the hotel lobby also gets some artwork. The instructions tie it back to the Parisian Restaurant.
Seen in the round, the corner-focus of the hotel entrance works with the needed walls that will match up with the orientation of the other modular buildings.
The final steps for the first floor add a layer of tile along the top edge. Standard for modular designs, there are a couple of exposed studs that will help lock the higher levels into place. The back alleyway is pretty bare, but that’s also a pretty common design choice for this theme.
The contents of the art gallery are mostly visible through the large windows flanking the entrance. An exterior stairwell has a water fountain built into it, complete with an interesting tile backsplash. The bulletin board is mostly accessible from the stairwell, but a minifigure would have to really stretch to reach anything in the top right section.
The front door to the hotel uses some plant elements in black to suggest wrought-iron detailing. It works very well. The quarter-circle tiles above the door and windows are inked-gold, and add a touch of elegance to the scene.
The second floor’s walls are built with a wide range of light nougat bricks. It’s a little jarring to see in person, as it’s the same shade used for most Caucasian movie tie-in minifigures. It made me think of that old poser: Do LEGO people live in homes made of their own flesh?
The second floor has two hotel rooms, each with its own décor. One room features a writing desk with a typewriter with sand-green accents – a possible shout out to the LEGO Ideas 21327 Typewriter.
As the walls go up, there’s some clever building in the curved windows that will go over the hotel’s entrance. There are also several built-in wall cabinets to hold the visitor’s clothes.
The completed second floor has a balcony area for the smaller of the two rooms, and some nice white columns breaking up the big pink wall.
Seen top-down, you can see the stairwell and landing. Each room has its own door off that landing. It’s a bit cramped, but each room has a vintage hotel feel to it.
Stacking the second floor on the first, you can see that the color choices to work well together. You’ll also notice that the art gallery still has an open roof – we’ll build a cover for that next.
The stairs from the ground level lead up to a small bistro. There’s a wine bar, two free-standing tables, and a decorative palm tree. The gallery is identified as “El Cubo – Fine Art” by a sign that hangs over the entrance and uses the same blue color scheme as the gallery.
The final bit of work on the second story is adding some more metalwork to the stairs. The instructions call this out as another Easter egg – a reference to the wrought-iron gate in 2007’s Market Street.
The gate uses minifigure handcuffs and hose to create a nice archway. A black crowbar forms the OSHA-mandated handrail.
The third floor consists of the penthouse suite. The colors here change again, with sand green being the primary shade with white accents.
There are a number of smaller builds for the furniture in the suite. There’s a retro black and white television showing a piano recital, and a deep bath tub with a golden faucet.
Bedroom furniture includes a black leather armchair, a side table with a cupcake-wrapper-based shade. The king-sized bed has a full bar of chocolate instead of a couple of mints. I guess the air conditioning works really well, as an unwrapped chocolate bar sitting on a quilt seems like a recipe for a melty disaster.
In addition to the tub, the bathroom also has a brick-built toilet and golden paper rack. There’s a large built-in wardrobe with opening doors in the main bedroom.
As the walls go up, you can see that this floor has a lot more space to walk around. I suppose you’d expect that if you’re paying Penthouse Suite prices for the night. Maybe that bottle of wine on the table across from the bed is complimentary. (But I doubt it.)
The exterior details include window sill plants and a walk-out balcony. The curved slopes along the top of the wall give a nice bit of shaping to the top of the building, too.
Seen from the top, you can enjoy the roomy play area. The stairs from the second floor end in a landing and door into the room. All in all, it looks like a pretty nice place to stay.
Adding the third floor to the stack, you get three very distinct layers of color, but the repeated window alignments and with accents do help unify the building.
The roof features a domed skylight. (That penthouse suite just keeps getting swankier, doesn’t it?) The wrought-iron railings around the edge are made from snakes from the Ninjago theme. The air conditioning units are actually cleverly disguised 2×2 hinge plates that help hold the unusual geometry of the roof together.
The last bit of building is the small tower that completes the front façade. It has some interesting SNOT building, making use of clips to hold up sub-assemblies.
In place, the roof looks just fine. There’s no way to access it, but that’s a very minor nit. Another stairwell up from the third floor would have severely cut into the suite, after all.
The finished model
The completed Boutique Hotel is a great corner building for the modular collection. It is designed to be seen from two primary angles, and both of those look great.
The sidewalk along the side of the hotel doesn’t feel overly cluttered, but still has plenty of details to catch your eye. The small flags on the second floor add a festive touch, as do the hedges on the ground level and flowers on the third floor window sills.
The weakest angle is the rear wall. This would normally be disguised by connecting it to other modulars, but it does hurt the stand-alone appeal. The colors in particular look pretty bad, with the interior needs “bleeding through” to the outside.
The opposite side is a lot better, with the minimalist alleyway offset by the better view of the patio and the windows on the second and third story. Of course, those windows overlook a dumpster, but you can’t win them all.
Seen “edge on”, the wedge shape of the hotel really stands out, offering something new to the growing modular town.
In addition to the interior details discussed above, there are also two small builds to help give the minifigures something to do. The bellhop gets a luggage cart, and the barista gets a coffee cart. The colors on the cart are a direct callback to the awnings in the very first modular, Café Corner….brining things nicely full circle.
Once the building is done, the minifigures can go exploring. The art gallery owner, in particular, is eager to welcome in visitors.
Maybe the accountant can solve the mystery of the white croissant. Or he could just give up and have a drink.
The globe-trotter checks in with her giant green luggage. The bellhop is smiling – I’m still not sure if that’s a good sign or not. The coffee cart only has ceramic mugs – is that a way to cut down on waste, or a way to upcharge passersby’s in this high-rent district?
Whatever the case, at the end of the day, the Hotel Boutique is ready to welcome visitors. Three of them, to be exact. With a spare key just in case.
Mixed in with other modular buildings
My personal collection of modulars is somewhat limited, but I had enough to try and put the Hotel into context. I think it fits in very well, although I think there were definite design choices made to make sure it fit in well with the still-available Bookstore and Police Station sets. In particular, the patio area is set back far enough to show the Soap and Suds billboard on the side of the police station. (Scroll back up and take a look at the back of the box to see what I mean.)
Looking at the Hotel from the corner angle, you can see it meshes well with just about any building. Even if you just seem to acquire corner modules (like me), you can still make a 4×4 “box set” that feels like it could be a valid part of any city layout.
You can also go linear and make your own main street display. This is going to be a pain to dust.
This set comes with seven minifigures. The hotel staff have unique uniforms, but the rest of the outfits and faces have all appeared before. These particular combinations of parts, however, all appear to be new, making for seven “exclusive” minifigures.
The gallery owner has probably the rarest face of the group, being new for 2021 with only three previous appearances. The coffee cart operator’s head is a close second, with only four previous appearances.
The tourist in green might be the same character that appears in the Bookshop modular, just with her hair pulled up. The world-traveler comes with both a green roller-suitcase and a sun umbrella, and the accountant comes with a briefcase and a calculator printed on a 1×1 tile.
Conclusion and recommendation
The Boutique Hotel is a great entry into the modular line, and a fitting 15-year tribute to the theme as a whole. The build is engaging, and full of creative techniques. Some of the links to previous modulars are fairly tenuous, but I appreciate the effort that was put into the attempts. At $200 US for 3066 pieces, the price-per-part ratio comes in at a healthy 6.5 cents-per. While all seven minifigures are technically “exclusive”, the two hotel staffers are what make the assortment feel special. The art-historian in me really enjoyed the El Cubo gallery, particularly that Galidor deep-cut. (Heck, that alone would almost be worth the price of admission for me.) The building works well as a stand-alone display piece, but also meshes perfectly with all the other modular collection buildings. The only real ding I’d give this set is the off-putting light nougat paint on the second floor, but maybe that’ll be a color choice others will appreciate more. Regardless, this set works as a parts pack, a fun build, and a solid display piece. If any of those things appeal to you, consider picking this one up!
LEGO Modular Buildings Collection 10297 Boutique Hotel will be available starting January 1st, 2022 from the LEGO Shop Online for US $199.99 | CAN $269.99 | UK £179.99. It may also available via third-party sellers on Amazon and eBay.
The LEGO Group sent The Brothers Brick an early copy of this set for review. Providing TBB with products for review guarantees neither coverage nor positive reviews.
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