It was 2012 when renowned celebrity photographer, Jeremy Cowart, had arrived in Los Angeles for a photoshoot at The Standard Hotel. Over the years, Cowart’s dazzling career had found him traveling with Britney Spears as her official tour photographer, snapping pictures of President Obama on the first day of his presidency and providing glamour shots to Hollywood’s elite. Shaking the glitter from his eyes in 2009, Cowart began to leverage his influence for more philanthropic endeavors such as Help Portrait (aimed at providing portraits to those in need) and See University (a photography school sharing Cowart’s expert tips). Having traveled to 25 countries, Cowart had been to his fair share of hotels by the time he arrived in Los Angeles but it was The Standard Hotel that inspired his biggest endeavor yet.
It all started with a room number. The doors at The Standard are designed to look like name tags with the tongue and cheek greeting of “Hello, my name is…Room 101.” What might have proved inconsequential to many was monumental to Cowart who was drawn to the idea of having a hotel room tell a story. Cowart was inspired by The Standard to create a new type of hotel where guests can effortlessly support global causes and rooms could support children in need. “I looked around the room and realized I know non-profits who are doing all the things that go into a hotel room,” said Cowart. The idea that a hotel could be entirely ethicallysourced – from the linens to the furniture – was just the beginning; Cowart took his idea one step further with the thought-provoking question of: what if we could change the world while we sleep?
Enter The Purpose Hotel; the brainchild of Jeremy Cowart and business partner, Michael Moore (no relation to the documentary filmmaker). In the past three years, the two have laid down the concept for an unprecedented hotel chain where everythingwill serve a larger purpose and inspire global change. By partnering with 30 to 40 non-profit organizations, The Purpose Hotel will effortlessly weave charitable donations into every guest’s stay.
Destinations Unlocked:Let our travel expert Stefano help you find your perfect Culture trip
Looking for an expert's perspective?Uncover my top 3 recommended places from each continent on the map.
1. GuatemalaAn express adventure for those with limited time off. Prepare yourself incredible experiences. You will hike a volcano, visit mayan temples and witness a ceremony and take in beautiful colonial Antigua.
2. BelizeA quick trip not too far away for those seeking a relaxing mini break. You will have plenty of free time to relax but also some awesome activities to experience the rainforest and the caribbean sea.
3. MexicoAn exciting mini trip exploring the lesser known colonial towns of central Mexico. This is hte perfect trip for someone with limited time off and still wants to turn on explorer mode and do something different.
1. EcuadorA remarkable 8 days adventure through the Andes and the Amazon rainforest. The best choice for adventure seekers wishing to visit the 2 most iconic areas of South America, in only 1 week and no flights.
2. PeruAn alternative itinerary to classic Peru, from Cusco to Arequipa. This itinerary is great combination of highlights Cusco and Machu Picchu with the lesser known Arequipa and Colca Canyon.
1. ItalyThe ultimate Italian experience from the vibrant streets of Naples to the breathtaking sceneries of the Amalfi Coast followed by Matera and down to Puglia with its golden beaches, intense flavours and fascinating destinations.
2. ScotlandEmbark on this great adventure starting from London all the way to Scotland with a true Scottish experience made of breathtaking sceneries, whisky tasting and ..lots of fun! Ideal for train lovers and explorers.
3. PortugalA wonderful train journey around Portugal, from the romantic city of Porto to the Douro Valley, to the beautiful Aveiro all the way to Lisbon and Sintra. The perfect trip to train, culinary and culture lovers.
1. South KoreaDiscover incredible temples, mountains and modern cities on this 10 day adventure. This trip is perfect for those seeking immersion in the cuisine, culture and natural wonders of South Korea.
2. ThailandFrom Bankgok to Angkor Wat to Ho Chi Minh City and everything in between - adventure through the heart of South-East Asia. Taste the delights, see history brought to life and unwind on a Mekong River cruise.
3. Sri LankaA fantastic adventure that showcases Sri Lanka's fantastic landscapes, wildlife and flavours. With 3 epic rail journeys, 3 UNESCO heritage sites and time to relax, this trip has loads to offer at a great price
1. MoroccoAn epic journey across Morocco: from Casablanca to Marrakech, through the blue city of Chefchaouen to the wonders of the desert and deep to the High Atlas Mountains - this trip has it all! Ideal for true explorers!
2. EgyptFrom Cairo to Aswan, this trip brings the land of the pharaohs to life. You'll visit the Pyramids, Valley of the Kings and Luxor Temple and cruise down the Nile in style. This is the perfect way to explore Egypt.
Step into the lobby and a clean water well will symbolize the flow of hope and life to everyone and everything connected to the hotel. Check into your room and your stay will sponsor a child from a developing nation. Working with Compassion International, a portion of each room cost will go towards providing a child in need with education and healthcare. Connect to the hotel’s Wi-Fi network and your choice to upgrade to faster internet will help the International Justice Mission in their fight to end human trafficking.
With The Purpose Hotel still in the early stages of fundraising, the many ways in which charity organizations will be woven into the hotel is yet to be seen. When asked about the cause that is most dear to his heart, Cowart replies, “there is an organization we’re working with called the Preemptive Love Coalition. They work in Iraq and are on the front lines of the ISIS battle. They’re risking their lives to help all the people that no one else is helping.” According to the Preemptive Love mission statement, they are a global community of peacemakers who provide lifesaving heart surgeries, food and shelter for those persecuted by extremists. The organization looks to provide education for at-risk children and small-business empowerment grants so people can put their lives back together. As Cowart puts it, “I’m most excited to be partnering with them because we will be helping all the refugees that are trying to survive.”
The Purpose Hotel is currently running a Kickstarter campaign to raise enough money to start construction on their first location in Nashville. While Cowart and Moore could have approached private investors to fund the project, they made the conscientious decision to turn to the public instead. Their hope is to involve the community and make The Purpose Hotel a global project that transcends cultural divides. “The Purpose Hotel will be built communally on the internet,” explains Cowart, “the idea of this hotel being built for the world, by the world is a far more beautiful narrative than the traditional for-profit launch.”
It’s difficult to say when The Purpose Hotel will officially break ground but Cowart and his team hope to begin construction in a year. He is ultimately inspired to take the standard blueprint of hotels and flip it into a fresh, innovative idea that will benefit the world. A hotel where – buyer’s remorse be damned – a receipt with all the ways your visit has benefited the global community is given in lieu of a standard, cringe-worthy bill.
In the end, Cowart’s vision is best measured in the story of one of his Kickstarter campaign donors. A young woman who – after being subjected to years of sex trafficking abuse – has only recently found freedom in her life. After learning about Cowart and The Purpose Hotel, the woman approached his team to donate what little money she had to his endeavor. Touched by her story and selfless donation, Cowart and the woman became fast friends as she confided that in her darkest hours – on the brink of suicide – the idea of this hotel gave her light; gave her purpose.
Volcanic Iceland Epic Trip
meet our Local Insider
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN A GUIDE?
WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT YOUR JOB?
It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.
WHAT DESTINATION IS ON YOUR TRAVEL BUCKET-LIST?
I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!
Every CULTURE TRIP Small-group adventure is led by a Local Insider just like Hanna.
KEEN TO EXPLORE THE WORLD?
Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world
Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.
Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.
We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.