Exploring the myriad places on our planet is a never-ending source of inspiration, especially when it comes to interior design. We take a look at the design signatures of some of our favourite hotels and hotel groups—and their influence not only in the world of hospitality, but on how leading residential designers translate these trends to suit our homes and lifestyles.
Opulence With a Dash of Theatrical Whimsy
“Romance” is a beacon in Bond-girl-turned-interior designer Anouska Hempel’s work. Although often described as fantastical and whimsical, her designs are ever in seamless harmony with their surroundings and grounded in everyday life. Luxury is likewise an enduring statement, evident in her work for Blakes Hotel in London, specifically in the inimitable Hempel Suite. Dubbed “luxury incarnate,” it features theatrical opulence and irreverent style seen in the dreamy and unhindered use of airy fabrics to the ornate vintage pieces that are as spectacular as they are functional.
Another specimen of Hempel’s romantic touch is Duxton Reserve, Autograph Collection, a reimagining of 19th-century elegance right in the heart of Singapore. Golden fans, dramatic hues of black, gold and yellow, Oriental screens, and calligraphy wallpaper from Hempel’s personal collection welcome guests to a retreat predicated on opulence and glamour.
DayAway Tip: Experience the designer’s signature whimsy with a Signature Selection DayAway at Duxton Reserve. Take in the ornate views while sipping on your choice of cocktails and feasting on the delectable dishes at Yellow Pot.
Famed French interior designer Jacques Garcia is known for grandeur. There is no limit to the decadence of his works, which are characterised by traditionally elaborate interiors that echo the Belle Époch style while incorporating Bohemian and Oriental influences. The amalgamation is robust and breathtaking—often in floor-to-ceiling breadths.
Apart from iconic projects such as Hotel Costes near Vendome in Paris and the La Mamounia in Marrakech, Garcia has also worked on projects in Singapore, such as the Maxwell Reserve, Autograph Collection and The Vagabond Club, Tribute Portfolio. Located in a 100-year-old British colonial building, Maxwell Reserve is the embodiment of decadent European grandeur. For all rooms, Garcia utilised elaborate materials and an opulent palette of emerald green and ruby reds.
DayAway Tip: Discover this decadence at the Reserve Executive Lounge, a DayAway that includes access to Maxwell Reserve and Duxton Reserve, evocative of Garcia’s romantic sensibilities.
The Vagabond Club, meanwhile, is a luxury hotel that features one of the world’s most renowned whiskey bars. Various shades of red—ruby, crimson, wine, imperial, etc.—tell an elegant and mysterious narrative. Bringing his trademark Parisian-style interior design, Garcia individually designed each room to the nines, mixing dark woods, plush fabrics, and rich colours to create character and deliver comfort.
DayAway Tip: Complete your Vagabond Club experience with a Whiskey Flight Around the World at The Whiskey Library & Jazz Club. Also by Garcia, its interior design features red velvet banquettes, a curated selection of art, and opulent, handcrafted furniture. Sample the flavours of world-renowned whiskeys while basking in Garcia’s opulent aesthetic of velvet banquettes, art, and handcrafted ornaments.
Colour, Pattern, Artisanal Textiles and Décor
Owners of Firmdale Hotels and Resorts, Tim and Kit Kemp have always sought and secured the best locations for their stunning portfolio of 10 hotels around London and New York.
Creative Director, Kit Kemp has then set out on a design journey to ensure each one reflects the spirit of the neighbourhood through their public spaces—from the colourful, buzzing restaurant and bar area of Ham Yard Hotel, London minutes from Mayfair, to the entrance of Crosby Street Hotel, New York with its Fernando Botero cat sculpture and, once inside, Justine Smith’s specially commissioned artworks of delightful neighbourhood dogs. All these pick up on the Soho art district energy.
Guest rooms and suites in all of the properties are generously proportioned and feature a luxurious signature Firmdale bed. Headboards are covered with a beautiful textile from a leading British or American fabric house. Bold use of colour, patterned fabrics, artisanal textiles and decorative elements defines the style throughout.
At luxury boutique hotel J.K. Place—whether in Rome, Capri or Paris—you inevitably become aware of architect and designer Michele Bonan’s intent to evoke the look and mood of elegant, private residences.
At J.K. Place Rome, you are just a stroll away from the Spanish Steps, the sparkling Trevi Fountain restored by the Fendi family, and the city’s famous and lively shopping street, Via Condotti. Yet you are quickly able to relax amid the discreet glamour of the hotel’s interior design. A central living area is furnished with inviting grey sofas and chairs, low tables with an abundance of books on art, culture, design and travel, and highlights striking Italian sculptures and artworks. The informal restaurant has a bold colour palette. Guest rooms and suites in neutral shades have stately four poster beds with the finest linen and pillows, all embroidered with signature JK motifs.
Meanwhile, a marine colour scheme enlivens fabulous J.K. Place Capri, from its selection of al fresco dining venues to guest rooms and suites. Once more, the designer’s timeless decor makes you feel at home. The newest addition to the group, J.K. Place Paris, is located in a restored Italian/French mansion on the Left Bank, close to some of the city’s most beautiful galleries such as Musée d’Orsay. Guest rooms and suites have marble and contemporary wood fireplaces, and furniture that’s been hand-selected, as if for a collector’s house.
Creators of groundbreaking Soneva resorts Sonu and Eva Shivdasani were the first to realise a resort in a rustic style for luxury travellers in the Maldives. They coined the idea of “barefoot chic” for Soneva Fushi, which is nestled within the Baa Atoll UNESCO Biosphere Reserve.
Originally from Scandinavia, Eva implemented her pared-back interior design aesthetic on the concept for the resort’s guest accommodations: spacious light-filled villas crafted in natural timbers and bleached woods, each with their own pools fringing the island’s emerald and turquoise lagoons. These are set on both the sunrise and sunset sides of the island. Rather than an opulent marble finished bathroom, each villa has a bathing pavilion, complete with a deep soaking tub and shower tucked amidst foliage and flowers. Some of the villas now even have water slides.
Additionally, Soneva Fushi has eight water retreats. Wellness is an important theme, and there is a two-story wellness complex encircled by a lush jungle that envelops you in the beauty of nature whilst enjoying restorative treatments. The Soneva group now includes Soneva Kiri, with jungle and beach villas on the island of Koh Wood, Thailand, Soneva Jane with spectacular over-water villas in Noonu Atoll in the Maldives, and Soneva in Aqua, a sophisticated 23-metre yacht for exploring the Indian Ocean.
Modern Beauty Enlivening Heritage
New York-based designer Alexandra Champalimaud of Champalimaud Design has worked with 200 hotels internationally and always brings notes of sophistication and refinement to every project she undertakes. She is notably a traveller. Constantly on the move—from shopping in Paris to gathering hand-crafted pieces on the Indonesian island of Nhi Sumba—she sources beautiful, often one-of-a-kind materials, furniture and decorative items for the interiors she creates.
Champalimaud Design has recently undertaken the complete refurbishment of Raffles Singapore, imbuing it with modern beauty while retaining its heritage charm. Guest rooms and suites are havens of comfort in the tropical heat with their bright white decor contrasting with dark timber, or restored mosaic floors and deep-toned furniture and exquisite patterned rugs.
Dining areas and bars have been updated, including La Dame De Pic, where a pastel colour scheme and mood of French refinement is the backdrop for savouring the superb cuisine of 3-Michelin star chef, Anne-Sophie Pic. Soak up the incredible atmosphere of Raffles by enjoying DayAway’s Sling & Swim which allows you to lounge poolside with a Singapore Sling cocktail originally created in the famous Long Bar.
Other hotels they have designed include Troutbeck, a delightful escape in the Hudson Valley of New York State, formerly a private residence and estate. It now comprises a central Manor House, two further houses and a cottage for guests. All of these have been updated as a luxurious base for relaxing and enjoying the gorgeous gardens and outdoor pursuits such as hiking, fishing, skiing and horseback riding. In the city, Champalimaud has made interior design updates for famous hotels such as The Plaza, New York, enhancing the essential mood of glamour.
Classical Style With Contemporary Luxury and Local Experiences
The hotels, trains and river cruise vessels that are part of the prestigious Belmond group— now owned by LVMH—possess significant heritage aspects. For this reason, designers for the group take a classical approach and focus on maintaining key aspects of their interior design. Simultaneously, they add fresh, contemporary notes to the décor and experiences they offer to ensure they continue to appeal to today’s luxury traveller.
At Hotel Cipriani, Venice, located on the island of Giudecca, guest rooms and suites are light-filled and fresh with touches of Venetian glamour. All suites have a private balcony or terrace allowing you to take in the magic of the lagoon and the city’s fairytale skyline. Dining venues include the gold-leafed eatery Oro, which serves a Michelin-star tasting menu, and casual Il Porticciolo beside the turquoise Olympic-sized pool.
The hotel encourages guests to step out on local experiences illustrating the Italian concept of Ia villeggiatura, which is about enjoying slow, sensuous summers. These include a leisurely bike ride along the sandbars of Lio Piccolo or on Sant’Erasmo island, known as the green heart of Venice and the home of Barena Honey bees.
Other Belmond properties in Italy such as the exquisite 14th-century Villa San Michele carved into a hilltop outside Florence, and white-washed Villa Sant’Andrea on the beach in Taormina, Sicily are likewise fashioned in the template of classic style with contemporary luxury and a focus on offering authentic local experiences.
Also read: A Pocket Guide to Singapore.