Hotel chic: Finding interiors inspiration on holiday
PUBLISHED: 13:38 19 November 2018 | UPDATED: 09:41 21 November 2018
A hotel stay can be a great source of interiors inspiration, offering up ideas you may wish to work into your own home's decor.
There was a time when a good hotel may well have been described as being a bit home-from-home. Having a comforting familiarity, and where the dining experience would have been “as good as mother used to make”.
These days, it’s more about the experience. The top hotels trade on being able to give something unique, an escapist twist that’s anything but familiar and homely.
And that’s why some of the design innovation that has driven the rise in uber-chic boutique hotels over the past few decades has inspired many of us to want to harness it and recreate it in our own homes.
You know the sort. Those that prompt your partner to say “that would work really well in the guest bedroom” or “if we ever build that extension, I’d love to add one of those”.
I’m not talking about the marble fireplaces and silk headboards at the Ritz in Paris or the 30ft beamed ceilings at the Paradise Beach in Nevis, but the clever, thoughtful touches the likes of Olga Polizzi or India Mahdavi use to create stand-out environments that wow even the most discerning of guests
Such as the way lighting is encouraged to double as art, art is themed and celebrated, bedrooms morph into sitting rooms, beds float or rise up on plynths, dressing tables become integral, and virtually anything old and wooden can be upcycled to play a part.
Whatever the feature we’re driven to share on Instagram, we want to feature it in our own homes, something the interiors world is only too aware of.
“These days, hotels are far more aspirational than they used to be,” says Mandy Chody of M&Y Interiors of Bricket Wood. “There’s often an edginess to them that’s moved way beyond the traditional and that gives people confidence when it comes to doing things in their own homes.
“The days of four papered walls, curtains and a bed are long gone. The approach has changed beyond all recognition. It’s not unusual for a client to say ‘I want the hotel look’. Visiting them and seeing them gives them confidence to say ‘we can do that and it will work’.”
Mandy, who admits to seeking out the unique and quirky when she chooses somewhere to stay, adds: “People will say I have been to the Charlotte Street Hotel and this is what I like. Or I like the look of Soho Farmhouse or Lime Wood with wellies by the door and you totally get what they mean. If they are trying to achieve a luxury or decadent look the word hotel will invariably come up.”
She showed me images of contemporary interiors that mirror many of the styles I’ve seen in leading hotels at home and abroad; baths in the middle of the room, or sitting side by side, large feature walls, the importance of the use of textures.
In one, a TV had been incorporated into a false wall built with the dual purpose of providing storage and dividing what was a rather large room to make it cosier, the way many hotel lobbies are presented.
“You find that you pick up these ideas and adapt them for private clients who totally understand and appreciate the concept. It’s all about giving the wow factor,” she said.
I’ve spent years reviewing hotels all over the world and never fail to be wowed when I slip the card into the lock and open the door to see the results of a refurb or an upgrade they want to show off.
That was pretty much the case recently when I took the family room at five-star The Pig at Combe in Devon, and saw the way they’d divided the bedroom and bathroom with vertical timbers big enough and thick enough to re-float the Mary Rose. Or the clever layout of the treehouse suites at Chewton Glen that meant I could watch Andy Murray win Wimbledon from the sitting room or the spa bath on the balcony.
Then there was the clean-lined minimalism of the Hempel in West London which convinced me that I needed to go home for a serious declutter or the private Chinese dining room at the Ickworth in Suffolk which was so cosy I wanted to book it out for a week, even though the film director Michael Winner had first dibs.
Then there are the touches; the way designers seem to effortlessly mix and match upcycled old wardrobes and integrate them with modern backdrops. The Pig won my personal upcycling vote for the way it presented a coffee table from glass on old apple crates. Then there was the fabulous way The Artist’s Residence used old Mills and Boon covers to decorate walls.
Two years ago, the travel writer Sarah Bliss wrote a book called Hotel Chic at Home on the back of hotels opening up new worlds of inspiration.
She builds on this in her blog which includes an A-Z of hotels, most of them US and London-based and advises on ways of achieving the look, commenting for example on how Osborne & Little used orange fabric to line the walls of Charlotte Street as an antidote to winter days. Or the way the Dorset and the Connaught have used colour blocking to “rev up” and bring new life to traditional furniture.
Bliss says she believes this boom has prompted hoteliers to “be braver and bolder in their design decisions.” She adds: “Hotel design is the most exciting kind of design happening right now.”
And the Homepolish interior designer Haley Weidenbaum tells how she was inspired to recreate the sense of welcome she’s experienced at some of the best hotels when designing her own 1920s bungalow in Beverly Grove, California.
“I wanted to feel like we just stepped into a boutique hotel in Paris. That experience when you first walk into a space, that immediately envelops you and makes you feel comfortable, is something I really appreciate about the hospitality world,” she told Elle Decoration.
One of the easiest, and most affordable, ways to get the “high-end, collected-over-time look of a boutique hotel” is to choose the right accessories, particularly those that bring in at least three textures in the room: one plush, one sleek and one natural, according to Jay Jeffers, the Ritz-Carlton designer and author of Collected Cool.
If nothing else, we could always take away the bed. Apart from the likes of Four Seasons and Fairmont and Raffles, most offer them for sale these days so you can sleep in the sort of bespoke designer comfort you’ll find in a Sealy Posturepedic Plush at Ritz-Carlton or the Suite Dreams mattresses you’ll find at a Hilton.
Best bed I’ve ever slept in? The one at the Casa Fuster in Barcelona. Arrived late, had a meeting planned for breakfast, woke in time for brunch.