A holiday shouldn’t just be a feast for the tastebuds – it needs to indulge each of the senses. We love those places where designers have worked to combine fabrics, furnishings, colour palette and scent to create a cohesive, unique whole. Design hotels, then, where a careful emphasis has been placed on every aspect of the guest experience, are some of our favourite places to stay. Here are five of our very best.
THE VIEW Lugano would have to be our most visually striking hotel, at least from the exterior. Architect Luca Gazzaniga has created a building resembling rounded cubes stacked atop one another. Inside, interior design team, Interior Haut Design took the design inspiration of a yacht sailing across Lake Lugano and ran with it, outfitting each room with Naval teak floors and wide window frontages that flood rooms with light to reveal smart, minimalist furnishing. The experience of being in your room, looking out to the water, gives the sensation of continuous travel – perhaps one of the most enjoyable parts of any holiday.
Apart from the striking design and decor, we love this hotel for the ‘white glove’ service from the staff, ensuring that everything is in place and nothing is left to chance.
At the turn of the 20th century, during the Belle Epoque, L’Hotel (formerly the Hotel d’Alsace) was already a popular Parisian haunt. Indeed, Oscar Wilde died there, ‘living beyond his means’. Today, the hotel seems as bold and beautiful as it was back then, thanks to a sensational redesign and refit by Jacques Garcia. Each of the 20 rooms has a definite and coherent aesthetic, from Chinoise to Baroque and Empire design, with each fitting, vase and lamp carefully selected for what it contributes to a room. Even the hotel’s basement pool has a striking appearance, evoking a neapolitan grotto.
The hotel’s restaurant and bar (funnily enough, Le Restaurant & Le Bar, respectively) still remain two of the best places in Paris to spot actors, film directors and pop stars trying to avoid the limelight in intimate luxury.
This newcomer has subsumed three adjoining hotels to become one of Paris’ most promising boutique hotel properties. Owner and decorator Betrand Plasmans understands what it means to run a boutique hotel in the heart of Paris and has worked tirelessly to distil the essence of the city. This is evident in the hand-chosen fabrics, fibres and linens found in every room and piece of furniture, the polished brass and woodwork and the especially-commissioned black and white photograph evoking the classic imagery of Robert Doisneau.
The exquisite attention to detail at Hotel Le Saint a Paris extends as far to the hotel’s own signature scent, created by perfumier Barnabé Fillion – you’ll want to take it home with you!
This Grade II-listed Gloucestershire manor is where the author of ‘Alice in Wonderland’, Lewis Carroll, met the young girl who was to inspire his classic tale. It’s only fitting then that owners Jessica Sainsbury and Peter Frankopan have let some of Britain’s hottest young designers run riot throughout their new boutique hotel (sister to L’Hotel in Paris). A sense of fun reigns here – look for the paper deer heads in the bar and the chic designer furniture of Kay+Stemmer, bringing a little something special from each of the last few decades of design.
While you’re at this countryside jewel, be sure to visit the C-Side spa, where the products used in treatments are grown and made on the grounds of the hotel.
When Italian nobleman and architect, Ignazio Pelligrini, put the finishing touches on his Villa Amista, outside Verona, in the 18th century, he must have thought that nothing could beat his creation. Come the 21st century, the Facchini family of hoteliers, with the help of architect and designer Alessandro Mendini, have taken on the challenge and filled their hotel with some of the giants of modern art. In the foyer alone, you’ll find works by Takeshi Murakami, Marc Quinn and Damien Hirst. Every room is a surprise, unique and one of a kind thanks to the paintings and statues that fill them.
We are big fans of Byblos Art Hotel’s two restaurants, showcasing the best of local and international cuisine. We’re even bigger fans of the spa, that evokes both Art Nouveau and the Renaissance in its colourful outfitting.