H2OTEL consists of five so-called lash barges, which originally were possessed by the American army. These lash barges were manufactured in Mississippi in the United States of America. They are made of a very strong composite of synthetic materials and a nylon honeycomb filling. The synthetic material had to make sure that no bombs or mines could stick to the sides. Along with cargo consisting of war materials such as tanks and guns, they were pushed across the ocean to Rotterdam. These lash barges were eventually purchased by the City of Rotterdam and placed at the current location. A project was granted to one of the most famous architect offices. This project was all about creating a museum out of these lash barges.
The museum with the name 'Schepen van verre landen', which can be translated into ‘’Ships from distant lands’’, existed for five years until it eventually was closed due to a lack of subsidies from the government. After this, an office of the 'Wijkontwikkelingsmaatschappij' (District development company) moved into the former museum. This company also disappeared and the museum was being sold to 'Steingoed Ontwikkeling', who after several attempts, ranging from a cultural centre to party halls and even a brewery, eventually changed it to a hotel. The hotel exists since July 2008 and starts to become known in Rotterdam as a hotel with a tent.
The metamorphosis of the museum into hotel did cause some problems. A hotel with 49 rooms is a lot heavier than a museum with twenty small boats such as canoes and kayaks. To increase the buoyancy by about 1.2 million kilograms, hollow elements were placed at the bottom of the hotel. This can still be seen on the gangways around the hotel. This work was executed by divers, which gave a spectacular view during the execution.