Hotel Of The Week: Le Meridien Art+Tech

A hotel with a road on top? At Fiat's former headquarters in Turin the rooftop test track still exists. But today it's pounded by joggers staying at the Le Meridien Art+Tech. But first check in and check out the design...

The vast five-storey building, designed by Giacomo Matte Trucco, can claim to be one of the first and finest examples of reinforced concrete architecture in Europe. It moved the architect and designer Le Corbusier to proclaim it "one of the most impressive sights in industry".

And impressive it still is. The factory, the size of 35 football pitches, was designed so that production began on the ground floor and went on up to the roof, where cars were tested on a 1km track, which had a brief moment of fame in the 1969 classic The Italian Job.

But the complex isn't just for petrolheads. The decline of the once powerful Fiat was mirrored by that of the plant, which closed in 1982. After several years and much debate, the Genoese architect Renzo Piano was briefed to breathe new life into its steel, glass and concrete by adapting it to house a conference centre, auditorium, shopping arcades, restaurants, cinemas, an exhibition space and two hotels. It was reborn in 1994.

Piano was invited back to oversee the design of Le Meridien Art+Tech. The hotel opened two years ago as a five-star designer sibling to the Le Meridien Lingotto. The result is an airy space of glass, cherrywood and steel. But the only smell of burning rubber these days is from the soles of guests' trainers - the test track is now a running track.

The comfort factor

The 142 rooms offer white walls, furnishings in primary colours, floor-to-ceiling windows and Piano's Le Perroquet ceiling lights. Some rooms have views of Alpine peaks (smog permitting). The "Tech" theme of the name is manifest in touches such as plasma television screens and high-speed net access.

The bathroom

Caffe-latte marble floors, swanky Hermès d'Orange Vert toiletries and the requisite dinner-plate sized showerhead.

The food and drink

Art+Café, the main restaurant, is set in a cathedral-size space on the second floor. Watch the elevators swoosh up and down while sampling Italian-European cuisine. Dinner costs around €28 (£20) per person, without wine.

The people

Apart from the usual business and conference people, you'll find adventurous design-snob tourists and car fanatics.

The area

There's the Baroque splendour of Turin. Or, closer by, you will find the Pinacoteca di Giovanni e Marella Agnelli (00 39 011 006 2713;, or the "treasure box". Designed by Piano, this is a showcase of 25 works from the Agnelli family collection, including pieces by Canaletto, Picasso and Dali.

The access

Children are accepted, as are small pets, and there are two rooms equipped for people with disabilities.

The damage

A double room starts at €150 (£107) per night at weekends and rises to €250 (£178) during the week, including breakfast.

The address

Via Nizza, 230, 10126 Turin. (00 39 011 664 2000;