Review: #10297 Boutique Hotel
Celebrate the fifteenth anniversary of the Modular Building Series with the first set in the series to use a prominent angular composition. There’s a small Art Gallery next door, but we’ll need to look closer to decide if this set is a masterpiece — or not.
Update December 29, 2021: After reading this review, be sure to check out our in-depth interview with Anderson Ward Grubb & Ashwin Visser – they designed this beautiful LEGO Set!
The set will be released worldwide on January 1, 2022 at LEGO.com and LEGO-brand retail stores.
My initial impression of the set was very positive. The box leverages the same black background and Adults Welcome (18+) packaging as last year’s Police Station, and the box is about the same size. One obvious difference is that the 18+ banding across the bottom of the box is a different color this time.
The slender border on the bottom of the Police Station box was 140Earth BlueDark Blue, but it is 151Sand Green for this set. They are clearly trying to coordinate it to match a prominent color in the set. This feels more appropriate in a playful theme like Creator Expert than a more serious theme like LEGO Architecture. (I called this out in my recent review of #21057 Singapore Skyline.)
As for the model itself, I’m really excited to start building it. The asymmetrical composition, diverse color palette, and gorgeous palm tree makes for an inviting model to explore and build. Even the color palette is quite compelling, with 151Sand Green, and even a large selection of parts in the extremely rare 283Light NougatLight Flesh color.
To be fair, I had heard rumors that this year’s modular would be a hotel and art gallery, which is a very appealing subject matter for me. As an art enthusiast that has visited dozens of art museums around the world, I’m eager to see what easter eggs for art aficionados and frequent travelers are hidden within.
The packaging is identical to last year’s Police Station. Again, it feels like a very substantial package although you should handle with some care as the cardboard is fairly thin. The following calculations are based on an assumed $199.99 price point. If this is not correct when the set is formally announced, I will update the prices accordingly.
- Box Size: 58 x 47.5 x 12 cm (22 7/8” × 18 ¾” × 4 ¾”)
- Box Weight: 3.5 kg (7.8 lbs)
- Box Density: 3.5 kg / 33.06 Liters = 106 g/L.
- LEGO Parts Weight: 2380 g (5.25 lbs)
- Weight per part: 2380 grams / 3066 pieces = 0.78 g/piece
- Price per piece: $199.99 (estimated) / 3066 pieces = $0.065 per piece
- Price per gram: $199.99 (estimated) / 2380 grams = $0.084 per gram
We will take a more in-depth look at the value based on the price-per-part, and price-per-gram later in this review.
- Stage 1: 1x medium bag (marked 140S1).
- Stage 2: 1x large bag (marked 739S1).
- Stage 3: 1x large bag (marked 240S1).
- Stage 4: 1x large bag (marked 739S1).
- Stage 5: 1x large bag (marked 240S1).
- Stage 6: 1x medium unmarked bag.
- Stage 7: 1x large bag (marked 739S1) and 1x small unmarked bag.
- Stage 8: 1x large bag (marked 140S1) and 1x small unmarked bag.
- Stage 9: 1x large bag (marked 240S1) and 1x small unmarked bag.
- Stage 10: 1x large bag (marked 639S1).
- Stage 11: 1x very large bag (marked 639S1) and 1x small unmarked bag.
- Stage 12: 1x large bag (marked 240S1).
- Stage 13: 1x large bag (marked 240S1) and 1x medium unmarked bag.
- Stage 14: 1x large bag (marked 639S1) and 1x small unmarked bag.
- 144-page instruction booklet. 21 x 16.5 cm (8 1/4 x 6 1/2”) in bag (marked 6401632)
- 1x 32×32 Baseplate (part 3811) in 194Medium Stone GreyLight Bluish Gray.
The set is assembled over 14 numbered stages. (Some of the stages include two bags with the same number marked on them.) Naturally, the build starts on the bottom and works upwards, with six of the stages dedicated to the ground floor alone.
There’s actually an error in the instruction booklet! Page four indicates that bags numbered 1-7 as used for the ground floor, but bag 7 is actually the beginning of the next floor. (I’ve reported this issue to The LEGO Group, and it will likely be fixed in future editions.)
Bags 1-6 – Ground Floor
The first bag is pretty straightforward, with a focus on the sidewalk that goes around two sides of the baseplate (since this is a corner building). We also add a 192Reddish Brown section which will be the floor of the art gallery on the left side of the model.
The second bag continues where we left off, completely finishing the tile-covered floor of the hotel’s interior, which includes a nice block built using 26Black and 1White 2×2 Triangular Tile (part 35787) which form the centerpiece of the lobby floor. We continue by building a small section of the back wall, and two of the stairs which will eventually lead to the second story.
The last thing we build is the base of the diagonal side of the wall, which is built as a small assembly made out of plates, which exploits the 3:4:5 triangle geometry to connect to the base at regular intervals along the base.
The third bag focus on the side and rear walls of the hotel lobby. This involves a huge number of parts in 312Medium NougatMedium Dark Flesh, especially 1×6 Bricks (part 3009). Compared to some other modulars, the walls are quite boring until you get near the end of this bag.
For me, the real treat was the first taste of what’s on the other side of the wall. The brick-built painting which will appear inside the gallery next door is a shockingly recognizable rendition of Picasso’s portraiture from his Cubist period – possibly inspired by Bust of a Woman (Dora Maar), 1938.
The fourth bag starts with an overstuffed leather couch for the lobby, then shifts to completing the gallery interior. After the Cubist portrait in the previous bag, we build another brick-built classic… an obvious re-creation of the primary colors and straight lines in paintings by Mondrian. Following this, we build some less recognizable sculptures that are tucked into the staircase (and hard to see).
Next, we break the illusion with a printed piece showing a more detailed re-creation of a similar cubist painting to the brick-built one we already saw. Finally, we create cubic structure using headlight bricks, which long-time fans of the (now retired) Creator Expert branding will recognize as the logo for the series. It works fine as a sculpture—the only problem is that the gallery is too crowded for minifigures to actually explore.
The fifth bag is quick and straightforward, we quickly add the windows and doors to the front façade, and lock it all into place with another layer of bricks on top. The awning on the left, and 299Warm Gold Drum LacqueredMetallic Gold accents above the doors add some nice detail. The sixth bag continues with another layer of bricks, the arches above the windows, and signage above the front door.
Build Time: 128 minutes (Bag 1: 23 minutes, Bag 2: 27 minutes, Bag 3: 23 minutes, Bag 4: 23 minutes, Bag 5: 19 minutes, Bag 6: 13 minutes.)
Bags 7-9 – Second Floor
In bag 7, we build the base for the second floor, which also requires a 3:4:5 triangular composition to match up with the room below – this time connected using hinge bricks and plates.
We continue with the first three layers of brick comprising the walls. The tremendous surprise is the color – a common color for Minifigures but rare color for basic bricks is used! 283Light NougatLight Flesh in a selection of new or rare parts: 1×1 plates, 1×1, 1×2, and 1×4 bricks, as well as a couple round parts.
The initial focus of the eighth bag is the furnishing, including one bed for each hotel room. One of the rooms includes a desk with a typewriter, and the other includes what will be a balcony and a large dresser.
The focus shifts from furnishing to interior walls and windows, which is surprisingly time consuming because the walls use a fair number of 1×1 plates stacked two high, which is time consuming to align perfectly. Lastly, we snap the glass into the window frames, including a large bay window using six of the new 2021 3×3×2 Curved Window (part 73878).
Bag 9 wraps up the second floor of the hotel by tying it all together, literally. The structure was pretty weak coming out of the previous bag, so we needed to lock everything together, although that doesn’t happen until the final tile along the top edge is in place. Before that, we create 14 identical columns to flank all of the windows.
Unfortunately, the columns don’t look quite right, since the column on each side of a bay of windows lines up structurally, but a jumper is used to offset the columns between each window. From a structural perspective, they wouldn’t support the arches correctly, and they don’t have the right visual rhythm to my eye. (A Palladian-style window treatment would likely have two columns between windows, and one on each end of a row of windows.)
The arches above each window look good though, as well as the extremely clever SNOT work that puts an arch above the front entrance as well.
Build time: 80 minutes. (Bag 7: 18 minutes, Bag 8: 32 minutes, Bag 9: 30 minutes)
Bag 10 – Patio
The patio is a small module, but it’s fairly complex due to the angled shape which uses two 1×4 hinge plates (part 2429/2430) to achieve the 3/4/5 angled connection. The back wall is simple, with one lattice window and some leaves. Finally, we add the brick-built palm tree with a realistic looking trunk that leverages the 5-point crown (part 39262) to great effect.
Build time: 21 minutes.
Bags 11-13 – Third Floor
As to be expected, Bag 11 begins with a similar base to the one we built on the previous level. We seem to continue with a few more bricks in the previously rare 283Light NougatLight Flesh color before starting to build the mansard-style roof in the always popular 151Sand Green color. It’s a realistic color choice, since it closely resembles the appearance of a hammered copper roof that had oxidized to a dull green.
I expected Bag 12 to start with the walls, but first we build an elegant bathtub. This is followed by an overstuffed Leather chair (which uses nice SNOT techniques), and a very large bed with 107Bright Bluish GreenDark Turquoise / Teal bedspread and a chocolate bar in the middle.
Then, we continue building up the walls, by further framing out the narrow windows that surround the room on three side. Columns on either side of the windows use the same Candlestick (part 37762) that we saw on the previous floor. Some foliage with red flowers bring color to the windowsills.
Bag 13 is the last bag for the 3rd floor. I really like how the mansard roof looks in the 151Sand Green color, with a gentle rounding effect at the top. The balcony assembly on the corner looks good, with additional columns matching the style of the rest of the building, and 1×1 flower elements in white giving a classical style to the top of the column. We add a few more pieces of furniture too, a tall lamp for the corner of the room and a large wardrobe.
Build time: 76 minutes (Bag 11: 32 minutes, Bag 12: 19 minutes, Bag 13: 25 minutes.)
Bag 14 – Roof
We finally learn just how glamorous the 3rd floor hotel suite is when building the Bag 14 — not only does her room have a swanky bathroom; it also has a massive skylight! Adding to the building’s street presence, a cupola is positioned at the top of the building’s corner turret. Should a minifigure end up on the roof, they are not likely to fall off since an ironwork fence (called roof cresting) surrounds the rooftop on three sides. It’s beautifully detailed using Snake with Bar (part 28588) and a brand new 2021 part Bar 2L w/ Stop Ring (part 78258). With the railing in place… as long as a taller modular is placed on the right side, everyone will be safe!
To keep your buzz going, an espresso cart and barista is the very last thing we build. It isn’t historically accurate since espresso carts are a modern invention (the TV in the hotel places the model in the early 1950s), but it’s still a charming addition to the street corner.
Build Time: 28 minutes.
As noted earlier, 3066 pieces makes this the second largest set in the Modular Building series, at least by part count. In addition to having a lot of parts, it’s also a lot of unique parts – the parts list takes up the last four pages of the instruction booklet.
I do not think any completely new parts (unique moulds) were introduced with this set, but I immediately noticed the large number of new parts in the historically rare 283Light NougatLight Flesh color — you will find a complete list of parts in that color below. (I haven’t tried to highlight all the other parts that are available for the first time in other colors.)
New Light Nougat parts:
- 38x – 1×1 Brick (part 3005) – NEW
- 31x – 1×1 Plate (part 3024)
Two previous 2021 sets: #76393 Harry Potter & Hermione Granger, and #71395 Super Mario 64 Question Mark Block.
- 1x – 1×1 Quarter Tile (part 25269) – NEW
- 57x – 1×2 Plate (part 3023) – NEW
- 43x – 1×2 Brick (part 3004) – NEW
- 2x – 2×1 Curved (part 11477) – NEW
- 2x – 1×2 w/ Clip, Side (part 11476)
One previous 2021 set: #10280 Flower Bouquet.
- 14x – 1×2 w/ Studs, 1 side (part 11211)
One previous 2021 set: #76389 Hogwarts Chamber of Secrets.
- 1x – 2×2 Brick (part 3003) – NEW
- 5x – 1×3 Brick (part 3622)
One previous 2021 set: #76393 Harry Potter & Hermione Granger.
- 14x – 1×3 Arch, inverted (part 70681) – NEW
- 35x – 1×4 Brick (part 3010) – NEW
- 9x – 1×6 Mudguard (part 62361) – NEW
- 4x – 4×4 Corner (part 48092) – NEW
The minifigures are an important part of sets in the Modular Building, as they bring the world to life. This set has a male and female hotel employee, the barista for the coffee cart, and the woman who runs the art gallery. Each of the three hotel rooms has a guest as well, with a young woman with a backpack staying in the smallest room, a businessman with abowler hat staying in the medium-sized room, and an older woman staying in the fancy suite upstairs.
I continue to dislike the decision to use 24Bright YellowYellow in place of more realistic and diverse skin tones, and am bummed to see that they haven’t used the 15th anniversary of the series to remedy this issue. People are not yellow, and more importantly, people with darker skintones do not see themselves in the classic yellow minfigure — I hope that all LEGO sets reflect the diversity of the real world soon!
For at least 10 years, LEGO enthusiasts have used $0.10 per-piece as the benchmark that sets are compared against to determine whether they are a good or bad value. The LEGO Group has caught on, and is happy to oblige by producing more and more sets which rely on a lot of tiny 1×1 elements to achieve a huge part count for a seemingly fair price.
Sets in the Creator Expert and Modular Building Series such as this one have always appeared to be a good value based on price-per-part. At $199.99 (in the United States), we’re looking at $0.065 per-piece for this set. This is a good price-per-part, but how will it compare to some other 2021 sets when we consider the price-per-gram?
Assessing value compared to a selection of popular 2021 sets:
|LEGO Set||Price||Part Count||Price-per-part||Weight||Price-per-gram|
|#31203 World Map||$249.99||11,695 pieces||$0.021 per-piece||4020 grams||$0.062 per-gram|
|#10292 Friends – The Apartments||$149.99||2048 pieces||$0.073 per-piece||1778 grams||$0.084 per-gram|
|(This Set) #10297 Boutique Hotel||$199.99||3066 pieces||$0.065 per-piece||2380 grams||$0.084 per-gram|
|#10282 Adidas Originals Superstar||$79.99||731 pieces||$0.109 per-piece||735 grams||$0.109 per-gram|
|#21057 Singapore Skyline||$59.99||827 pieces||$0.072 per-piece||411 grams||$0.146 per-gram|
Sorted by price-per-gram, we see that this set is actually about about average (based on this small selection of sets). It’s interesting to see sets laid out in this way — you can really see how much more a premium licensed set like the Adidas Originals Ultrastar can cost compared to other sets. Likewise, a set in the LEGO Architecture series can seem like a good value from a price-per-part perspective, but only because the set contains a ton of tiny parts!
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Like every other set in the series, #10297 Boutique Hotel is a fun build which can combine with other sets in the series (or custom MOC’s) to create a beautiful miniature city. All told, the 3066 piece set took around 6 hours to build, making it possible to complete in a single sitting, but more fun to build over a few days.
I love the subject matter and the idea of a more complex angular composition, but the finished model feels a bit muddled to me – the exterior architectural detailing is a bit bland and the storytelling throughout the model is pretty weak.
Besides, why is the building set at this angle unless a diagonal road used to be here? I guess that’s why we have a more contemporary looking structure housing the art gallery. (While most of the growing Modular Building City is reliably rectangular, this street must have been re-gridded recently!)
It also lacks the storytelling depth and creativity of sets like #10278 Police Station with it’s Shawshank Redemption inspired break-out attempt, the literal money laundering in the laundromat attached to #10251 Brick Bank, or the romance in #10243 Parisian Restaurant.
That said, it is a striking addition to your modular city thanks to the angled composition, the palm tree, and the 151Sand Green cupola on top. Compared with other recent sets, it’s worse than #10278 Police Station, #10260 Downtown Diner, and #10255 Assembly Square. By contrast, it is slightly better than #10270 Bookshop and significantly better than #10264 Corner Garage.
You can’t lose when a new set is sandwiched between sets which are pretty good, and sets which are excellent. That’s why #10297 Boutique Hotel earns our Recommended (4/5 Stars) Rating for the above average building techniques (employing extensive use of the classic 3:4:5 triangle), the pretty good finished appearance, and acceptable interiors and storytelling. It doesn’t hurt that the set introduces 10 new parts in the historically rare 283Light NougatLight Flesh color.