10 Design-Destination Hotels That Will Make You Reconsider Checking Out

From a former monastery in Tel Aviv to a homey retreat in South Africa’s wine country, at these properties, the accommodations are the travel experience. The experts behind them share their secrets for creating places worthy of an extended stay.
10 Design-Destination Hotels That Will Make You Reconsider Checking Out
Shinola Hotel, Detroit

“It’s important to consider the surrounding community when designing a hotel,” says Christine Gachot, cofounder of Gachot Studios. For this hotel launched by Detroit-based watch brand Shinola, Gachot says, “we wanted to make sure the space was warm, welcoming and representative of Detroit’s rhythm, history and future.

“Oak flooring with custom patterning and dark oak borders, wool area rugs, mohair and leather sofas and a fireplace, along with books we selected and artwork curated by Library Street Collective, create a residential respite for visitors,” she adds. Photos by Nicole Franzen


“There are more than 50 room types in the hotel, so this configuration is a small sampling of the fun we had designing the spaces,” says Gachot. “The ceiling height created an opportunity for dramatic curtains to complement the large arched windows. The warm woods and Shinola Blue accents are balanced with elegant lines to make the rooms feel cohesive and serene. It’s like living in a Shinola watch.”


The designer adds of this dining nook, “When room service is operated by chef Andrew Carmellini’s Noho Hospitality, it pays to have a sexy place to eat it!”

The Parker
The Parker Palm Springs

“The entry of the Parker hotel sets the scene for the entire villa — it’s graphic, it’s groovy, and the pattern reminds you that you’re in the most fantastic desert oasis,” says potter, author and designer Jonathan Adler. “The new custom-designed carpet in the hallways is one of my favorite elements.” Photos courtesy of Jonathan Adler

the parker

“We made the Gene Autry Residence everyone’s fantasy of a Palm Springs getaway,” Adler says of this room. “It has an Old Hollywood vibe, with a screening room, and it’s just what Palm Springs should feel like: eccentric glamour.”

Adler included several of his iconic pieces, including a custom bed, Goldfinger lounge chairs, Turner end tables and a Greek key rug.

The Parker

“The bar and game room includes a few different areas for glamorous socializing — there’s a perfect perch for games, for conversation, for cocktails or for Netflix and chilling,” Adler notes. “Collections of items, like the vintage hanging macramé owls, always pack a punch and make it look like you’re well traveled.” The Ingmar lounge chairs and Moroccan poufs are Adler’s own designs.

Four Seasons Hotel Hampshire, United Kingdom

“Inspired by the surrounding pastoral scenery, the drawing room of the Four Seasons Hotel Hampshire transcends an English-country-house feeling while remaining elegant with a contemporary twist,” says British interior designer Martin Brudnizki. “It offers guests a peaceful location in which to relax and unwind.” Photos by James McDonald

Four Seasons

The royal suite combines a contemporary carpet sporting an oversize flower pattern with fabric wallcoverings and a soft palette of greens and yellows. “We chose a mixture of bespoke and antique furniture to create a lived-in look,” Brudzinski says. Classic English design elements, such as tufted furniture, further grace the space.

Four Seasons

The hotel’s restaurant, Wild Carrot, has the look of a spacious private dining room, its decor a subtle play on the name, with moments of orange throughout. A bold floral wallpaper, rich upholstered seating and greenery evoke an English garden. Adds Brudzinski, “I particularly like the oversize chandeliers, which feature wrapped-rope detailing.”

Le Meriden
Le Méridien New Orleans

“The main lobby wall at Le Méridien New Orleans features a custom graphic vinyl wallcovering based on a flood-zone map of the Mississippi River charting the currents,” says designer Will Meyer, of New York design firm Meyer Davis. “Everything speaks the same silky yet crisp language: the Jean Prouvé seating, the French blue, dove gray and canary yellow color scheme and the carefully harmonized mix of unmatched materials.” Photos by Eric Laignel

“The hotel’s cool restaurant, the Hub, doubles as a French café during the day and cocktail lounge at night,” Meyer explains. “We positioned it right in the center of the lobby. The idea was that whether you were walking in the front door, entering from the elevator or exiting from the restaurant, it was in the middle of everything.”

le meriden

“We found a city map that shows all the roads and streets in the French Quarter, with a small dot for each of the parties that takes place during Mardi Gras,” Meyer says. “It was made into a graphic wallcovering that wraps the ceilings of the guest rooms. These graphics are so mysterious that the average guest doesn’t know what to make of them at first glance — all perfectly intentional.”

Playa Grande Beach Club
Playa Grande Beach Club, Rio San Juan, Dominican Republic

“The whole place was a fantasy — something that grew out of a sort of magical realism applied to the local farmhouse-building style, then garnished with decorative elements taken from the Victorian Dominican traditions,” says New York–based designer Celerie Kemble. “I call it Puerto Plata Victorian, after the nearest large city.” Photos by Patrick Cline


“It’s like you’re someone’s houseguest, but you don’t have to be polite,” Kemble says, describing the hotel’s general feel. “You get taken care of, but you don’t have to talk to the host. It’s private yet accessible. And at no point do you need to wear shoes, whether you’re at the beach or at dinner.”

Hand-wrought Victorian-inspired woodwork adorns the double-decker wrap-around balconies of the building housing Playa Grande’s library and Star Bar.


“It’s a mix of styles, but it has an air of continuity, although nothing really holds it together other than the materiality of it all,” Kemble notes. “Almost everything — all the woodwork and tiles — is either handmade by local artisans or vintage, so nothing is perfect. The humility of this imperfection and gentle dilapidation makes the spirit of the club and adjoining houses gracious and freeing.”

robertson small hotel
The Robertson Small Hotel, Western Cape, South Africa

“The small hotel is light, fun, colorful and full of humor, with little touches guests can interact with,” says the property’s designer, Sophie Ashby. “While the level of service, comfort and luxury is very high, I didn’t want the surroundings to intimidate or show off. It’s full of art, design, color and soul.” Photos by Mikey Hoyle

robertson small hotel

“From the start of this project, the rule was that everyone involved must be a local,” Ashby says. “I found very little off-the-shelf design I wanted to use, so everything just naturally became more of a collaboration.”

robertson small

“The important thing in making the hotel feel cool and fresh in the summer and cozy and intimate in the winter was the color,” Ashby explains. “I used 12 different tones throughout the hotel, and the rooms vary in the combination of hues. The colors are inspired by the local environment, so the interiors never feel in stark contrast to the external surroundings. There is a strong link between outside and in.”

hotel californian
Hotel Californian, Santa Barbara

A 1925 hotel has been reborn as a luxe 21st-century urban retreat, thanks to the aesthetic ingenuity of British-born, Los Angeles–based designer Martyn Lawrence Bullard, who infused it throughout with a version of Spanish Colonial Revival style drawing heavily on the Moorish design influences found in the southern part of the Iberian Peninsula.

According to Bullard, “the magnificent mix-and-match look of the walls of a Moroccan palace” was his main inspiration, most evident in the lobby of the hotel. Photos by Douglas Friedman

hotel californian

“There are so many great and unusually spacious rooms, many with their own balconies and breathtaking views,” says the designer. “A particular favorite of mine is the Presidential Suite, not because of its size — 1,700 square feet! — but because it’s such a fun place to stay with friends for the weekend.”

The palette is based on bold black and white contrasts, with pops of color. The rooms are also punctuated with patterns, mostly in tile work rather than fabrics. “This is a nod to the historic elements of the architectural style,” explains Bullard, “but the colors make it totally fresh and exciting.”

hotel california

“The style was derived from the Spanish Colonial architecture that defines the aesthetic of Santa Barbara, whose beautiful mission was a major point of departure for the design,” says Bullard. “I wanted to borrow from this but spice it up to capture the imagination of today’s traveler. To do so, I added in an eclectic mix of Moroccan influences.”

royal blu
Radisson Collection Royal Hotel, Copenhagen

“We felt strongly that some of the important architectural features of the original Arne Jacobsen hotel had been lost over the past decades,” says Signe Bindslev Henriksen, cofounder of Space Copenhagen, which was hired to return Jacobsen’s 1960 property to its former glory. “So we felt it was crucial to re-create and restore some of the main features and materials of both the rooms and public spaces.”

Jacobsen intended the ground-floor lobby to be a lively space that brought people together. Space Copenhagen honored this idea, repositioning the reception area to open up the room and adding a fireplace to foster conviviality. Photos by Rickard L. Eriksson, courtesy of the Radisson Blu Royal Hotel, Copenhagen

royal blu

Of the 260 guest rooms, number 606, on the sixth floor is the most revered. A paragon of Danish modernism, it has been maintained as a 1960 time capsule to showcase Jacobsen’s handiwork.

Its soothing blue color scheme was inspired by nature. Original furniture upholstered in the hue includes Jacobsen’s 3300 sofa and chairs and his famous Swan, Egg and Drop chairs — all designed specifically for the hotel.

royal blu

On the ground floor, the modernized Café Royal restaurant and bar blends revived Jacobsen designs with contemporary pieces. The designers pulled from the hotel’s storage room his streamlined dining tables and Mayor banquettes — upholstered in a green floral motif — which embody the Danish tradition of employing fine woods as well as the functional solutions for which Jacobsen was renowned.

The Jaffa, Tel Aviv, Israel

John Pawson oversaw the conversion and expansion of a 19th-century neoclassical monastery and hospital into the recently opened Jaffa hotel in Tel Aviv. The bar and lounge, in the former chapel, features Cini Boeri for Arflex Botolo chairs sitting at Laccio tables designed by Marcel Breuer for Knoll. Photos by Amit Geron


“The old building presented a number of intense challenges,” says Pawson, who designed many of the furnishings himself, including most of those in this bedroom of the Royal-Suite (except, of course, the Hans Wegner PP225 Flag Halyard chair). “In some of the rooms, we have compressed all the services into a mirrored cube, which creates a very special atmosphere and sense of space.”


The 2005 Damien Hirst spin painting Beautiful Separation Divides a Whole Completion of Dispersing Togetherness hangs in the Shesh Besh backgammon lounge off the lobby.

Freehand, New York

Robin Standefer and Stephen Alesch — founders of design studio Roman and Williams — imbued the 1928 building housing the Freehand hotel with a youthful, colorful vibe. For the interiors, the partners drew on what Standefer calls the “folk craftiness” of mid-20th-century design. “We love where the California Craftsman era meets 1960s modernism,” says Alesch. Photos by Adrian Gaut


Many of the furnishings in the public rooms came from flea markets rather than high-end dealers. Among Alesch’s favorites are the anonymous, “earnest and raw” wood chairs used for the Studio restaurant and bar.


In addition to gracious suites and king and queen rooms, the hotel offers the cozy Three’s Company, a stylish solution to accommodating parents and a child in the same space: A queen bed nestles under a sleek single bunk, eliminating the need for a rollaway.

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