Stunning Locations, Design Hotels
This month, in collaboration with Design Hotels we present eight pioneering, out-of-the-box visionaries who are changing the way we think about travel as a whole. From craftsmen and architects to musicians and visual artists, each of these hotels proves that behind every great hotel, there is an even greater hotelier. So, the next time you sit down to plan a summer or winter vacation, perhaps you should consider the hotel first and location second.
Nobis Hotel, Stockholm, Sweden – Italian-born Alessandro Catenacci is the driving force behind Stockholm’s Nobis Hotel, an oasis of calmly luxurious Scandinavian design on the historic Norrmalmstorg Square. The Nobis welcomes both international business travellers and gourmet seekers to enjoy a relaxed, simple, and elegant experience in the heart of Stockholm. The hotel’s interior was designed in cooperation with architect and design studio Claesson Koivisto Rune, who worked primarily with natural materials to provide both beauty and quality throughout.
Memmo Principe Real, Lisbon, Portugal – Life-long hotelier Rodrigo Machaz has brought a new sense of luxury to Lisbon’s hippest neighbourhood with the opening of his third hotel. Tucked away in a privilege location – through a narrow street and a small tunnel – Memmo Principe Real is home to a secret sightseeing spot with breathtaking views over the city and a gateway to explore one of the most charming districts of Lisbon. Almost levitating at the top of a hill, the 41-room, five-star boutique hotel embraces a mix of contemporary and classic styles in a cosmopolitan ambience of tranquility and impeccable service. Visitors are offered a Lisbon experience that feels both timeless and authentically local.
The Dwell Hotel, Chattanooga, Tennessee, USA – The city’s first boutique hotel owes its unique retro-meets-luxury aesthetics to the vision of owner Seija Ojanpera. While the 100-year-old building has changed names over the years, the brick-and-limestone structure has witnessed the Roaring 20s and the Great Depression, Civil Rights movements and Cultural Revolutions, hippies and disco. As the hotel changed hands, its face has changed too, along with the furniture, décor, curtains, and rugs. What remain though are the spirit and character, as well as the charming quirks and creaky floors. A mid-century modern reinterpretation of the space has ushered in colour and life, with a touch of old Hollywood glam, to playfully mingle and contrast with its historic allure.
Ovolo Southside Hotel, Hong Kong, China – Hong Kong’s first warehouse-turned-hotel, Ovolo Southside is something you might expect to find more in New York’s Meatpacking District than in Wong Chuk Hang. The hotel references the area’s industrial past in its design, as seen in the exposed concrete and brick facade, and the utilitarian design of its Lo Lounge. Graffiti and art installations are spread throughout the hotel’s public spaces and offer a striking mix of local and international artists’ works. As with all good design, the hotel does not take itself too seriously. Case in point, a Mao-style meeting room that offers reclining leather armchairs against an exotic Chinese fabric wall, instead of boardroom style seating. Ovolo Southside is the perfect springboard from which to explore one of the last bastions of authentic Hong Kong.
La Bandita Townhouse, Tuscany, Italy – The beauty of Tuscany – its wines, its food, its pastoral pleasures – are all well known. What’s rare, however, is the chance to experience this sensual land in a stylish country house that feels as if it belongs to a good friend who knows the best local restaurants, towns, and vineyards. At La Bandita Townhouse, a 12-room luxury boutique hotel, guests are immersed in a world that’s awash in wood beams, exposed stone walls, and comfortable vintage and contemporary furniture. Tucked inside the historic centre of the UNESCO Heritage village of Pienza, the building is a rambling palazzo where nuns lived for over 500 years. Set on a beautiful hill amid quiet cobblestone streets, the property blends in perfectly with the character of the village, its facade indistinguishable from the attached buildings. The result is an experience that captures the true essence of Tuscany.
Hotel Vernet, Paris, France – Located a few steps from Paris’s celebrated Arc de Triomphe, within the city’s golden triangle, the once traditional Hotel Vernet has been transformed by Paris-based architect Francois Champsaur into a sleek new 50-room boutique hotel. Housed in a post-Haussmann building that dates from 1917, the exterior is the embodiment of Parisian charm, which complements the fresh modernity that lies within. Among the facilities is an avant-garde restaurant that is housed under an ornate glass dome, designed by legendary civil engineer Gustave Eiffel, while the hotel’s in-house concierge service can provide guidance on the ideal Parisian experience.
Eremito Hotel, Umbria, Italy – Nestled among Umbria’s vineyards and housed in a former monastery, this is the brainchild of former fashion designer Marcello Murzilli. Located in the centre of Italy, Eremito hotel is surrounded by 3,000 hectares of protected natural reserve in Umbria. Considered the spiritual focal point of the country thanks to wonderful monasteries in the area, Umbria is a fitting choice for this Italian eco-resort. Built from a mix of the latest bio and old materials from the region, the innovative sustainable structure invokes the cells of monasteries, so much so that rooms are called “Celluzze” in the spirit of those ancient monk quarters. The austere aesthetic aims to provide guests with an old luxury that offers plenty of quiet and space to reflect and rejuvenate but without Wi-Fi, phone and television.
The Slate, Phuket, Thailand – One doesn’t often associate industrial design with an unspoiled beach. But in Thailand, at the all suites and villas The Slate resort, nestled on the lush Nai Yang beach on the northwest coast of Phuket, metal is alluringly mixed with traditional Thai decor and cutting edge art. What it spells for design conscious travellers is a new kind of tropical island retreat to swoon over. For owner Wichit Na-Ranong, the hotel is a tribute to Phuket’s tin mining history and his family’s role in that once-flourishing trade. And both island and his family have reason to be proud: Complementing its unusual style, The Slate offers up the perfect recipe for relaxation, with three restaurants and bars, a cafe, three swimming pools and an award-winning spa.