There are plenty of so-called designhotels, but hotels created by truly great interior designers are rather rare. That said, the past few years have seen a trend of tastemakers creating lust-after interiors with their own distinctive style. As these four properties show, this guardianship ensures expertly crafted spaces made with the guest in mind. Martin Brudnizki brings his reductionist and refined sense of glamour to Miami; Tara Bernard’s understated elegance that’s both cosy and handsome spunks up Soho, New York; Ilse Crawford’s personal touches and elegant eye transforms a homestay in Stockholm; while Philippe Starck brings his trademark humour to a former factory in Bordeaux. What’s in a name? Quite a lot it seems…
NEW YORK, NEW YORK
The lowdown Informal luxury from designer Tara Bernard inone of Manhatten’s hippest addresses
Best for Socialisers– the bar and summer rooftop lounge are reason alone to stay here
‘Stellar’ best describes the location of Sixty Soho. It’s at the heart of Lower Manhatten’s hipster enclave, just far enough away from the tourist tack. The 97-room site, recently rebranded under the Sixty group, sports completely new interiors by London legend Tara Bernard. She’s opted for sleek sophistication mixed with a markedly residential feel.
The first-floor lobby presents as a comfortable living room, with squishy sofas and book-laden shelves. The bedrooms use dark wood floors, rich velvets and soft caramel hues which combine to create spaces that look both casual and crafted, with a distinctly European flavour.
All very, very lovely but, really, it is the two watering holes that stole our hearts. With its low-slung, cocooning furniture, The Gordon bar serves inspirational cocktails and Italian-inspired bar snacks, while up on the roof, Above Sixty Soho is an exclusive members bar (open seasonally) with jaw-dropping views across the island. The place to be and the place to be seen.
The lowdown Journalist-turned-interior designer Ilse Crawfordbrings grace and style to a 100-year-old building
Best forAesthetes who love the home-from-home vibe
Ett Hem translates as ‘A Home’, and the elegant yet welcoming interior of this 12-room boutique hotel feels just that, albeit at the über-beautiful end of the spectrum. It occupies a 100-year-old Arts and Crafts townhouse in the city’s embassy district, and no detail has been overlooked by owner, Jeanette Mix.
She enlisted the expert eye of Ilse Crawford to create the interiors, settling on the journalist-turned-designer because of her Scandinavian/International style. Quintessential to Crawford’s scheme are combinations of old and new, contemporary pieces married with antiques, including real-candle chandeliers and vintage stoves.
Bespoke furniture also finds it place, with tables and cabinets created by Studioisle and other design royalty. And the personal charm does not end at furniture or accessories.Ett Hem has a ‘help yourself’ policy – pour a drink from the honesty bar, wander into the kitchen to see the chef or snuggle up in the conservatory with a wedge of fresh cake.
Crawford and Mix have collaborated to design not just a series of stylish spaces, but a seriously stylish experience.
The lowdown Anotherwonderfully priced winner from the Philippe Starck group
Best for Late night party people after fun without frills
The Mama Shelter concept is simple: one restaurant, one bar, rooms - 97 in this instance – oh, and a cracking interior designer. Philippe Starck infuses each of his properties with a healthy dose of funk that belies the affordable room rates.
The somewhat drab exterior is more than made up for by the expansive, warehouse-style internal spaces and the fantastic rooftop terrace.
The concept of a buzzing village square drove the ground floor design and the space quadruples as a restaurant, pizzeria, wine bar and club. In terms of style, fun and flamboyant sum it up. Chalked graffiti covers the ceiling, inflatable rubber rings decorate the bar, and an entire area is dedicated to le ping-pong.
The bedrooms are no less playful, with soft pink walls, lit bed heads, black-and-white checked carpets and lime green bathrooms. Darth Vader and Batman masks dangle from hooks and there are iMac entertainment systems with free films.
It’s set up as a veritable party palace, which, in a city that’s synonymous with its surrounding wine region, makes for a wonderful weekend trip.
THOMPSON MIAMI (NOW A HYATT HOTEL)
MIAMI BEACH, USA
The lowdownMartin Brudnizki infuses Miami’s Mid Beach with some old-school cool
Best forSeekers of sun and style in equal measure
In contrast to the many eye-catching Art Deco buildings on Collins Avenue, Thompson Miami’s exterior is unremarkable. Make it past the front entrance and it’s another story; the lobby sets the tone of laid-back, vintage glamour, with its oversized crystal chandelier and pastel-hued mural.
The mid-century inspired scheme, masterminded by part-New York part-London based Martin Brudnizki, has a deep reverence to its Miami heritage. The rooms embody kitsch charm; with an eclectic mix of furniture (we love the cocktail cart-style mini bars), lively patterns and zingy colour schemes.
The vibe is resort within city. You’ll find not one, but two swimming pools, as well as direct access to one of Miami’s best beaches. Although there’s not much of a party scene, there’s a much praised seafood restaurant as well as a speakeasy-style cocktail den, 1930s House. Nab a seat inside for atmosphere and wash down your Old Fashioned with snacks from the crudo bar.
The hotel has now been taken over by Hyatt Hotels