These hotels and resorts aren’t just a pretty face. A stay in any of these sanctuaries will gift you with a fresh perspective on design and more
As creative creatures, there’s an inexplicable need to be inspired by our surroundings. While nature is always a comforting respite for one to gain inspiration, a thoughtfully designed space can also spur creativity. And according to Charles Eames, the role of the designer is to be a good, thoughtful host who anticipates the needs of his or her guests. These eight hotels and resorts around the world have been blessed with an excellent team of designers and architects, who manage to marry the functional practicalities with great design.
Where: Reykjavík, Iceland
What about: Occupying a ’30s office building that was once home to the Icelandic Social Democratic Party, 101 Hotel bears interiors imbued with Nordic coolness. But this coolness melts away in the guest rooms, as heated oak floors and matte and glossy black furnishings take centre stage. Each suite also comes complete with a freestanding bathtub waiting to be filled with geothermal waters. Meanwhile, the communal lounge serves as a space for guests and locals to gather around tree-trunk tables and classic furniture by Eero Saarinen and Philippe Starck, all bathed in the warm glow of a wood-burning fireplace.
Keep a lookout for: The hotel’s bar, which bears a masculine style substantiated with a mix of Chinese lacquered tables, wooden blocks and Edwardian chairs.
Where: Muravandhoo Island, Maldives
What about: On the bone-white beaches of Muravandhoo Island in the northern Raa Atoll sits Joali, a luxury Maldivian resort home to 73 private beach and overwater villas. Most of the interiors here are by Istanbul-based design firm Autoban, who kitted out the resort with local timber, bamboo, terrazzo flooring, custom-made furnishings and hand-carved wooden panels in neutral tones, complementing the surrounding azure waters. When art comes to play, the resort’s Art Studio & Gallery stages the works of international guest artists on a rotational basis, which are also dotted throughout the property.
Keep a lookout for: The arrival jetty, which features a sinuous wave-like canopy that shelters those arriving at the resort. The entire structure is blanketed with a thatched roof — a design trait that has been extended to other parts of the resort.
Kimpton Maa-Lai Bangkok
What about: Asia-based fans of San Francisco-born Kimpton Hotels will be glad to know that the hospitality brand has recently opened its first property in Bangkok, Kimpton Maa-Lai Bangkok. The hotel’s interiors have been described as “a blend of tropical hideout and artist’s loft”, layered with fabrics and handcrafted Thai textiles. 231 guest rooms and 131 residences showcase locally made artworks, and the lobby has also been decked out to look like a gallery.
Keep a lookout for: Organic materials and textures embodying traditional Thai artisanship, which form part of your room’s interiors.
Where: London, England
What about: This December 2020, NoMad Hotels will make its foray into Europe with NoMad London. Set in Covent Garden in a former magistrates’ court where Oscar Wilde once stood trial, the historic Bow Street landmark will be transformed into a nest of bohemia and hip elegance, with interiors drawing on the original materials, colour palette and 19th-century structure. Former jail cells, for instance, will be turned into a range of guest rooms.
Keep a lookout for: A possible in-house museum with rotating exhibitions, which will pay tribute to the rich history of the Metropolitan Police Force.
Santa Monica Proper Hotel
Where: Santa Monica, US
What about: Take a tour of the Santa Monica Proper Hotel and you’ll realise everything about this 271-key property embodies California cool. Indoor palm trees and interiors awash in an earthy, neutral palette will ease one into the laid-back West Coast lifestyle, while an eclectic mix of wallpapers and decor hailing from around the globe adds zing to the thematic interiors. The property’s suites are spread across two separate wings – one billed as contemporary, while the other a more retro addition, previously the ’20s-era Santa Monica Professional Building. Rooms in the latter are kitted out in Spanish-revival fittings and nostalgic floral wallpaper, whereas the contemporary wing has more elegant nests with exposed concrete walls and mid-century furniture.
Keep a lookout for: Santa Monica’s first rooftop pool, complete with cabanas, a bar, and an indoor-outdoor bistro called Calabra that serves up Mediterranean- and Californian-inspired cuisine. Easily the best hangout spot for alfresco sunset drinks and bites in the city, we’d say.
Where: Paris, France
What about: Sinner sits in the trendy designer district of Haut-Marais in Paris. The hotel’s interiors, conceived by architect Tristan Auer, are a playful mix of monastic and modern – staff clad in cassocks will lead you by lantern down dimly lit halls, but once you step into the bright bedrooms, you’ll be greeted with lovely parquet flooring, vintage vinyl turntables and even a yoga mat in the wardrobe. Downstairs, in the buzzing, high-ceilinged hotel bar, tuck into Latin-inspired cocktail creations and fusion finger food.
Keep a lookout for: The distinctive, surrounded-by-arches pool in the hotel’s spa, which draws inspiration from Greco-Roman baths.
The Middle House
Where: Shanghai, China
What about: There’s nothing middling about The Middle House. Almost every nook and cranny of The Middle House makes for a picture-perfect spot, from the hotel’s gorgeous subterranean pool to its iconic grand spiral staircase. Soaring above Nanjing Road West, the House Collective hotel beautifully melds Chinese and European styles, and is undeniably a breath of fresh air in the heart of Shanghai’s buzzing, cookie-cutter landscape. Keep your head up in the car ride to the hotel, and don’t miss the bamboo-lined driveway. This will lead you to a lobby lined with jade-coloured tiles, complete with a jaw-dropping, 3,760-piece Venetian chandelier.
Keep a lookout for: Gorgeous works of photography, including images by architectural photographer William Furniss. His shots of vases and other furniture are suspended just above the actual subject that are found in the rooms.
The Silo Hotel
Where: Cape Town, South Africa
What about: A former grain silo that was transformed into a hotel in 2017, The Silo Hotel has truly breathtaking panoramic views to flaunt – you can marvel over Table Mountain from your room – with interiors and exteriors conceived by Liz Biden and Thomas Heatherwick respectively. The Royal Portfolio property sits above the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa (MOCAA), and is home to 28 guest rooms and suites across six room categories. Biden’s inimitable style is palpable across all rooms and suites – think buttoned-down Chesterfields under Egyptian chandeliers, glittering Persian carpets and furniture bathed in bold hues. One will also find a range of contemporary artworks and artefacts in each room, complete with a balcony and an en-suite bathroom.
Keep a lookout for: The hotel’s pillowed glass windows, which draw design cues from grain kernels. From afar, these windows glow like lanterns above the harbour.