In Review

Sixteen of the world’s best luxury hotels for design lovers

If exquisite artistry gives you goosebumps, these ventures may prove irresistible

The Warehouse Hotel, Singapore

Before opening as a boutique 37-room bolthole early this year, The Warehouse Hotel enjoyed a storied – albeit muddled – past as part of the Straits of Malacca trade route. Originally built as a spice 'godown' (warehouse) in 1895, the building was at the epicentre of underground activity and illegal distilleries – and was even a popular disco in the 1980s. The task of giving this heritage building a much needed new lease of life fell to acclaimed Singaporean hospitality company The Lo & Behold Group, who enlisted the expertise of local architects Zarch Collaboratives and design studio Asylum. The team pledged to keep the entire scheme local, and a focus on homegrown talent is seen throughout – right down to the in-room cups and saucers made by a local ceramic studio. The hotel has character in spades, with a unique design that offers a 'fresh perspective on the term "industrial"', according to Asylum. Large vault ceilings, exposed brickwork and earthy tones nod to its industrial past, as does the statement custom-made lighting fixture made up of wheels and pulleys in the main foyer.

Images courtesy of Design Hotels;

Noka Camp, Lapalala Wilderness Reserve, northern South Africa

Safari lodges tend to plump for one of two aesthetics - either the dark wood and brass Victoriana of a bygone expeditionary era, or the rustic timber-and-fabric look, in the earthy hues of the savannah. Both can be utterly enchanting, but neither can claim to be at the cutting edge of design. Noka Camp, by contrast, fuses modern architecture with a bold approach to interior design. The canvas roof on each cabin is a nod to tradition, but beneath them sits a glass-fronted cabin packed with clean lines, contemporary furniture and bold colours that complement the landscape rather than merely blending in with it. This is the first property from Lepogo Lodges, which says it will offset every guest’s carbon footprint and return every penny of profit to conservation projects in Lapalala Wilderness Reserve.

Kristiania, Austria

Alpine lodges also have an established look, and on the outside, at least, Kristiania looks like the archetypal log cabin, not at all out of place in the beautiful Austrian resort of Lech. Inside, however, is a series of spectacular rooms, each with their own idiosyncratic approach to design - and a huge collection of modern art. It includes museum-quality works by Roy Lichtenstein, Max Bill and Sam Francis, hung alongside pieces by up-and-coming contemporary artists. Founded by Lech native (and Olympic gold medal-winning skier) Othmar Schneider in 1968, and run by the Schneider family ever since, the lodge combines high art and homeliness.

BKKPH_P045 Living Room

Park Hyatt, Bangkok

Originally scheduled to open back in 2014, the striking new Park Hyatt Bangkok is finally open for business. The five-star hotel is Park Hyatt's first venture in Thailand, and no expense was spared to create a truly original feat of contemporary architecture. The hotel occupies the top floors of the luxury new Central Embassy shopping mall, and its facade is clad in extruded aluminum tiles to create a shimmering pattern that draws on traditional Thai architecture. Inside, the ambience is a lot more restrained, with an elegant, neutral palette of creams and silver providing a calming contrast to the bustling city outside. Because of the building's distinctive curved shape, nearly all of the 222 rooms and suites have different layouts, and all are fitted with luxurious rain showers and deep soak baths that look out across Bangkok's beautiful skyline.

Hotel Metropole Monte-Carlo, Monaco

Opened in 2004, Hotel Metropole Monte-Carlo is an elegant hotel with a pool area designed by none other than Chanel's Karl Lagerfeld.  The "haute couture" pool setting, known as Odyssey, features a fresco-style installation made up of 15 glass panels portraying Ulysses' journey. The hotel also boasts Michelin starred dining by chef Joel Robuchon, as well as beautifully curated gardens.  "Behind the monumental Belle Epoque facade, the place has both pin-sharp classical elegance – and melodious modern rhythm," says the Daily Telegraph. Designer Jacques Garcia is the person you bring in "when you want to achieve this mix of the gracefully traditional and the contemporary."

Alila Fort Bishangarh, Jaipur, Rajasthan 

The newly opened Alila Fort is a hotel that’s truly fit for royalty. The 230-year old warrior fortress, located in the picturesque village of Bishangarh, is steeped in character and history and is a prime example of Jaipur Gharana architecture. Following a seven-year restoration project, the fort has reopened as a grand resort, the latest opening from luxury hotel group Alila. The imposing fortress structure has been left intact with its towering turrets, arched windows, even a granite dungeon, now a luxury spa. It's a spectacular sight to behold and full to the brim with five-star amenities including a library, pool veranda and terrace, cigar lounge and regal banquet hall. The surrounding views of the Aravalli Mountain range only add to its majesty and mystique.

Four Seasons Miami, The Surf Club

When American businessman Harvey Firestone founded his private members’ club on a stretch of pristine Miami beach, it became one of the city's most prestigious addresses, attracting everyone from Elizabeth Taylor to Grace Kelly, Frank Sinatra and even Winston Churchill. Following its eventual demise in 2013, the iconic club was purchased by local developer, Nadim Ashi, who teamed up with hotel group Four Seasons to transform it into a luxury 77-bed bolthole. Pritzker Prize-winning architect Richard Meier was tasked with reimagining the club while maintaining its original charm, with French designer Joseph Dirand masterminding the chic, minimalist interiors. The hotel now features a beachfront spa with traditional hammam, three pools, champagne bar and – launching in early 2018 – a concept restaurant from Michelin-starred chef Thomas Keller.

The Oberoi Beach Resort, Al Zorah, Dubai

Just half an hour's drive from Dubai International Airport, the Al Zorah Nature Reserve in northern Ajman is a verdant paradise replete with lush mangroves, crystal-clear lagoons and white-sand beaches. Located just across from a new 18-hole golf course in the heart of the reserve is the latest opening from the award-winning Oberoi Hotels & Resorts group. The Oberoi Beach Resort Al Zorah is a luxury, eco-friendly wellness resort with a striking, minimalist design made up of interconnecting buildings surrounded by shallow water pools with panoramic sea views from every angle. Light-filled suites and villas – some with temperature-controlled plunge pools – exude the kind of natural, pared-back luxury that runs throughout the entire resort, which also includes two restaurants, a poolside health bar with lounge and a spa with Turkish baths.



Bisate Lodge, Rwanda 

The beautiful Bisate Lodge sets a new standard in luxury accommodation in northern Rwanda, and it's not just the hotel's design and multiple five-star amenities that are impressive. The six-bedroom rooftop resort is a nature lover's paradise, with the hotel itself nestled within a natural amphitheatre formed by a long-extinct volcanic cone. The Volcanoes National Park is just a stone's throw away, and each room looks out across the majestic Virunga Mountains, home to the iconic mountain gorilla. A guided tour to explore the area and catch a glimpse of these magnificent endangered primates in their natural habitat is a must and can be organised through the hotel. Bisate Lodge has sustainability at its heart: 22,000 indigenous trees have been planted in the area surrounding it, and there are plans to extend the reforestation. Inside, the lodge's thatched pods take inspiration from traditional Rwandan design, with domed roofs and natural materials such as wood and volcanic stone balanced by thoroughly modern touches and bright colours.

(c) Jamie McGregor Smith 2016

Artist Residence, Oxfordshire

The Artist Residence hotel group, which operates boutique boltholes in Brighton, Pimlico and Penzance, has added a fourth property to its portfolio in the Oxfordshire countryside. Artist Residence, Oxfordshire, a converted thatched farmhouse in South Leigh, reopened in May as a cosy pub and restaurant with five rooms. A further seven rooms in the adjoining cottage and stables will open later in the year. Original features, such as dark-oak panelling, exposed beams and brickwork, are teamed with William Morris wallpaper and a pop of signature contemporary colour, courtesy of trendy artist duo, the Connor Brothers.

Artist Residence Oxfordshire;

Le Nolinski, Paris

Luxury French hospitality group Evok have pulled out all the stops for their first hotel launch in the capital. Le Nolinski is a triumph of Art-Deco glamour with contemporary flourishes, located on the prestigious Avenue de l'Opera in Paris's 1st arrondissement. Housed in former office spaces in a historic Haussmannian building, Le Nolinski's renovation was masterminded by local architect and interior designer Jean-Louis Deniot, who was briefed to design the scheme as if designing the home of a wealthy fictional traveller. The result is rather special. Undeniable luxurious with a touch of Belle Epoque glamour in the magnificent Carrara marble reception and spacious suites named after the likes of Josephine Baker and Ernest Hemingway, the design also has a sense of playfulness in unexpected bursts of colour and quirky accessories such as vintage radios, cosy fabrics, statement sculptures and light fixtures. The candlelit subterranean spa by La Colline is arguably the highlight of the hotel, featuring a 16-metre pool with mirrored ceilings and stonewalls in a masterstroke of striking, minimalist design.

L'Hotel Marrakech by Jasper Conran

Speaking of interior maestros, few designers carry quite such industry prestige as the Conran clan. Jasper, who made his first creative forays in fashion, has recently branched into hospitality with the launch of a luxury hotel, an ambition he's harboured since the age of eight. L'Hotel Marrakech is a converted 19th-century palace with just five spacious suites (each with a private balcony) surrounding a large courtyard complete with tiled fountain and swimming pool. Conran's evident good taste underlies everything, (the designer had a hands-on role in all aspects of the renovation and design). Traditional local crafts sit alongside antique furniture, original artwork and paintings from Conran's personal collection, giving the riad a relaxed yet authentic aesthetic with a touch of 1930s elegance. Up on the terracotta roof terrace, the stunning views across the Atlas Mountains are the only visual stimulation necessary.

The Silo, Cape Town

The latest opening from The Royal Portfolio group is so much more than just a new hotel. The Silo is an ambitious five-star retreat set to transform Cape Town's cultural scene, with hopes it will become as synonymous with the city skyline as the Eiffel Tower is to Paris. The Grain Silo building opened back in 1924 and was, at the time, the tallest building in sub-Saharan Africa. When The Royal Portfolio owner Liz Biden secured it for her next venture, maintaining the building's history and industrial roots was integral to its renovation. Thomas Heatherwick was brought in for his architectural expertise, and his 18ft 'pillowed' windows in a unique inflated dome shape are nothing short of works of art. At night, the effect is of a lantern protruding from the V&A waterfront. Biden has decorated each of the 28 suites (including a penthouse) individually with curated artwork and pared-back luxury finishes in keeping with the original design. The lower half of the Silo building is now home to the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa (MOCAA), a new cultural institution, which is aiming to rival the likes of London's Tate Modern and NYC's MoMA.

Soho House, Barcelona

Trust the effortlessly cool Soho House group to make its mark on Spain’s coolest city. The 18th branch of the ever-expanding Soho House portfolio is housed in a grand 19th century apartment block on the edge of Barcelona’s Gothic Quarter. Spread across six floors, the new hotel (which is open to non-members) employs the tried-and-tested Soho House interior design formula of earthy colours and country-house chic mixed with local finds; think Mediterranean tiles, patterned rugs, textiles and exposed red brick. There’s also the ubiquitous rooftop pool, flanked on one side by striped daybeds overlooking the picturesque Port Vell marina, and features Soho House's only indoor pool inside the vast Cowshed Spa.

Haymarket by Scandic, Stockholm

Sweden is one of the world’s undisputed design capitals, famous for its minimalist architecture and style. Minimalism, however, is the last word that comes to mind when stepping into the new Haymarket by Scandic hotel. This imposing 405-bedroom bolthole is located within the former Paul Urbanus Bergström (PUB) department store, where Greta Garbo worked in the millinery department in the 1920s. A decadent Art Deco theme runs throughout the interior scheme, which was masterminded by local design studio Koncept. Geometric shapes, brass finishes, rich jewel tones and heavy furniture fitted with Hollywood-style spotlight bulbs creates a bold aesthetic with a hint of Miami glamour, while still managing to feel like a boutique hotel in spite of its impressive size.

The Whitby, New York

The Whitby is the second New York opening from the award-winning Firmdale Hotels group, and the 10th worldwide. Located just two blocks from Central Park, The Whitby is spread across 16 floors with floor-to-ceiling windows on every level. The task of designing the 87 guestrooms naturally fell to Kit Kemp, Firmdale co-founder and Design Director. Renowned for her use of bold colour, pattern and textiles, as well as having a keen eye for contemporary art, Kemp’s signature style permeates every room and space. Her influence can also be seen in the book-lined drawing room, private outdoor terrace, orangery and 130-seat cinema room.

San Luis, South Tyrol

This modern fairy-tale retreat in Italy’s rugged South Tyrol region is a bastion of peace and luxury, comprising beautiful treehouses and gorgeous lakeside chalets built from local wood.

All chalets come with their own hot tubs and saunas, and are full of exquisite homemade furniture that combine the historical and contemporary. The treehouses are set up high in the forest, while a remarkable communal spa features floor-to-ceiling windows, open fireplaces, an inside-outside pool and hot tubs in the middle of the lake.

As the hotel’s website says, this amazing little retreat is truly the realisation of the original South Tyrolean “summer freshness”.

Borgo Egnazia, Puglia

This unique and stunning hotel, created in the mould of a traditional Puglian village, was designed by local architect Pino Brescia under the vision of the Melpignano family.

Just a stone’s throw from the Adriatic Coast, Borgo Egnazia is a spacious yet private compilation of 63 luxurious suites, 92 mini houses and 29 villas, perfect for families.

Another world-class spa takes the edge off a tough day of sunbathing and wine tasting, complete with an Aroma Lab, private infrared sauna, a cryotherapy cabin and a meditation room.


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