Frequent Flyers

For Design Anthology's inaugural travel issue, we spoke to some of the world's top hotel designers about their travel habits, tips for avoiding jetlag, favourite rituals and which destination are at the top of their bucket lists.

Design Anthology spoke to some of the world’s top hotel designers about their travel habits, tips for avoiding jetlag, favourite rituals and which destinations are at the top of their bucket lists.

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BILL BENSLEY OF BENSLEY STUDIO, BANGKOK

What are your essential travel accessories?
Two MacBook Pros, three external hard drives as I am visually oriented and travel best with all of my photo references, and one paperback … usually adventure fiction … travel stories.
What are your favourite travel resources for planning a trip?
Andrew Harper, A+K or Jason Friedman.

Are you a light packer or do you have to check your luggage?
On business I try to not check in anything unless I’m delivering our artworks to a project hotel site and then it can be as many as twenty check-in packages. On vacation, I always check in two big bags — one empty, for shopping!

On a flight do you read, watch movies, listen to music or work?
I am ALWAYS designing, which some people call work but I don’t.
What’s the first thing you do when you check into a new hotel room?
Rearrange the furniture, open the windows, turn off the TV, turn on my own mix of global music, and design.

Best jetlag remedy?
Force myself to go for a run outside, especially if it’s freezing.

Favourite hotel that is not one of your own projects?
Many! Huka Lodge NZ, Hoshinoya Kyoto, La Mamounia Marrakech, Mombo Camp Botswana, the Casa de la Sierra Nevada in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico.

Where is your next holiday destination?
We are currently sailing the sailboat Silalona from the Banda Islands to Raja Ampat, Indonesia for the fabulous soft corals followed by fly fishing all over New Zealand.

What is at the top of your travel bucket list?
Zimbabwe and Madagascar is planned for April 2016, then fly fishing in Mongolia the summer of 2016.

Name a place you recently visited that inspired you.
Last spring we did Botswana, Namibia and South Africa where the contemporary art scene in breathtaking. We’ve commissioned several SA artists to do projects in Ritz Reserve Phu Quoc, Vietnam. It’s invigorating to employ an artist on the other side of the world to interpret an Asian subject. Magic happens!

What did you bring back with you?
A container of delightful arts and crafts, paintings, antiques, hides and furniture.

Best bit about coming home?
Hanging the artwork, redecorating our studio and home, and redesigning artwork programs for the twenty-plus five-star projects we have in hand.

 

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DUANGRIT BUNNAG OF DBALP, BANGKOK

What are your essential travel accessories?
A certain luggage that I usually use for travel — an aluminium one, a small size — the cabin size but the old design with two wheels not four wheels. My scarf — I always use a scarf on the plane to make me feel comfortable when I’m sleeping.

What are your favourite travel resources for planning a trip?
I’m the worst kind of traveller. I usually am travelling for business and rarely for pleasure, so most of the time I never plan a trip at all — my assistant plans it for me.

Are you a light packer or do you have to check your luggage?
I’m a light packer to places nearby. But if I have to go somewhere for a week, then normally I check in my luggage.

On a flight do you read, watch movies, listen to music or work?
I read a lot. Watch movies a lot. Listen to music a lot. And normally I’m working too. So it depends on the trip — some of the trips I need to work on the way in and I rest on the way out. If it’s a trip for pleasure, normally I’m writing on the way back, because I get ideas from my trip and I’m relaxed — whether it’s an article or an essay or something.

What do you like to read?
Fiction and sometimes a theoretical book, the kinds of books I don’t have the time or concentration to read normally. I used to have my books on the Kindle, but now I’ve gone back to actual books — I’ve gone backwards.

What’s the first thing you do when you check into a new hotel room?
Take a shower. Especially when it’s been a long-haul trip. And I normally take pictures of the room before I sabotage it.

Best jetlag remedy?
I don’t get jetlag. I normally change my clock once I get on the plane to the destination time. Then I adjust myself accordingly.

Favourite hotel that is not one of your own projects?
Ace Hotel in Shoreditch in London

Where is your next holiday destination?
I don’t have one planned yet. Relaxing in my house while my office is under construction. My dream destination is my house because I travel so much I don’t get time to stay home and relax much. Next week I’m going on a motorcycle trip from Bangkok to Khao Yai.

What is at the top of your travel bucket list?
Bora Bora

Name a place you recently visited that inspired you.
Burning man — I loved it and I want to go again. It was so inspiring, I loved every moment of it. It taught me a lot of things — how people contribute to each other, how we live in a sustainable way without money. It wasn’t just art and people dressing in crazy stuff, but also about the attitude, and the future of the human race.

What did you bring back with you?
I brought back the absence of my identity. I think that when you live in the ‘real world’ you forget a bit about what you contribute to everybody. What I loved most about Burning Man was that on the last day we had to turn down the entire camp and I had to put away my identity as an architect and business owner and work with kids, you know — the teenagers who actually built up the camp. I was working side- by-side with them, washing the dishes and doing the things — and it’s good to lay down yourself for awhile and when you actually put down your identity for a moment, you become free. When you’re a business entrepreneur, you’re a designer, you’re an architect, sometimes you want to break free — you want to taste the freedom again and you actually are eager for that.

And during my week at Burning Man, I got a taste of freedom, of totality of freedom in my life, you know —it’s amazing! And I was so happy with that.

Best bit about coming home?
My children. I love when I come back home and it’s my son and daughter waiting for me and talking over each other trying to tell me about what they’ve done while I was away —this is what I love about my life. I’m very blessed by that.

 

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ANDRE FU OF AFSO, HONG KONG

What are your essential travel accessories?
A pile of A4 paper and a small bundle of pencils.

What are your favourite travel resources for planning a trip?
A few of my travel editor friends keep me updated on the latest recommendations.

Are you a light packer or do you have to check your luggage?
I tend to do one- or two-night trips, especially when I travel for work. As such, I tend to pack light and keep my luggage to the mere essentials.

On a flight do you read, watch movies, listen to music or work?
Music

What’s the first thing you do when you check into a new hotel room?
Remove all the printed notes and cards on the desk.

Best jetlag remedy?
On arrival, stay awake until an early local bedtime.

Favourite hotel that is not one of your own projects?
Parco dei Principi in Sorrento.

Where is your next holiday destination?
Chiang Mai

What is at the top of your travel bucket list?
Brazil for Oscar Niemeyer’s architecture. Amangiri in Utah.

Name a place you recently visited that inspired you.
Prague for its intriguing collective of brutalist architecture.

What did you bring back with you?
A few pieces of solid blond wood crockery that I discovered whilst wondering around town.

Best bit about coming home?
Its sense of calm and to be welcomed by my collection of artwork.

 

William Lim

WILLIAM LIM OF CL3, HONG KONG

What are your essential travel accessories?
iPad, iPhone, power adaptor.

What are your favourite travel resources for planning a trip?
Google, TripAdvisor

Are you a light packer or do you have to check your luggage?
I always try not to check my luggage.

On a flight do you read, watch movies, listen to music or work?
I draw, read or watch movies. I hate to do work on a flight.

What’s the first thing you do when you check into a new hotel room?
Check out the view.

Best jetlag remedy?
Check my Instagram.

Favourite hotel that is not one of your own projects?
The Umaid Bhawan Palace, Jodhpur, India.

Where is your next holiday destination?
Morocco

What is at the top of your travel bucket list?
Machu Picchu

Name a place you recently visited that inspired you?
The Chapel of Notre Dame du Haut in Ronchamp

What did you bring back with you?
Ideas of sculpting space.

Best bit about coming home?
Getting back to my swim routine.

 

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LYNDON NERI AND ROSSANA HU OF NERI & HU, SHANGHAI

What are your essential travel accessories?
Rossana Hu: Silver Rimowa carry-on, Aesop hand cream, Advil, large cashmere scarf, a cap (instead of an umbrella), a good book.
Lyndon Neri: Silver Rimowa carry-on, Panasonic mini-shaver, iPhone charger, leather pencil case, sketchbook.

What are your favourite travel resources for planning a trip?
RH: Everything we can get our hands on.
LN: Travel blogs and friends’ suggestions

Are you light packer or do you have to check your luggage?
RH: Very light
LN: I try not to check in so try to be as light as possible.

On a flight do you read, watch movies, listen to music or work?
RH: Read and listen to classical music
LN: Read

What’s the first thing you do when you check into a new hotel room?
RH: Wash my hands
LN: Shower

Best jetlag remedy?
RH: Hot bath and music
LN: Try not to sleep and look at the sun directly.

Favourite hotel that is not one of your own projects?
RH: Lunuganga in Sri Lanka — it’s really a private guest villa that was Geoffrey Bawa’s country house.
LN: Tawaraya in Kyoto.

Where is your next holiday destination?
Both: Maybe Prague

What is at the top of your travel bucket list?
RH: Malawi
LN: Argentina

Name a place you recently visited that inspired you.
Both: Porto, the beachside pools designed by Portuguese architect Álvaro Siza Vieira.

What did you bring back with you?
Both: Large pieces of driftwood on the shore.

Best bit about coming home?
RH: Hot bath and oil massage.
LN: See my wife and children.

 

Ed Ng

ED NG OF AB CONCEPT, HONG KONG

What are your essential travel accessories?
When traveling, my iPhone and an external battery case are essential to ensure I stay connected throughout the day and while I’m on the road. Most of the time, it’s impossible to get your phone recharged. Especially in an unfamiliar city, when I have my Google map constantly running, it really drains the battery quickly.

I always carry noise-cancelling headphones and a lightweight jacket that I can fold into a tiny bag. This is often useful to combat the freezing air conditioning in some airport lounges.

What are your favourite travel resources for planning a trip?
On leisure trips, I try not to plan and just go with the flow. It’s a break from all the usual hectic work trips.

Are you a light packer or do you have to check your luggage?
When it comes to packing, I always use Muji nylon pouches to separate my shirts, suits and smaller items like pocket squares and ties separately. This is really helpful when I travel to multiple destinations, as things are very easy to grab and find. One packing tip is that I will always go a size larger with my suitcase than I actually need, so that it saves time not having to squeeze things in every inch and also leaves a little room for shopping and souvenirs.

On a flight do you read, watch movies, listen to music or work?
I’m extremely selective about what to watch on flights because it’s a commitment for me. Once I start a movie, that’s a two- to three-hour engagement for me.

I find that the time spent on a plane is the best time for me to do sketches. A lot of great and fun ideas are actually from the plane. It’s the time when I have 100% focus with no distractions and no WiFi.

What’s the first thing you do when you check into a new hotel room?
If I arrive at night, I usually just take a shower and relax. However, most of the time I just go straight to meetings and by the time I get to the room it’s already nighttime.

Best jetlag remedy?
Spa

Favourite hotel that’s not one of your own projects?
This is a very hard question, but the Schloss Elmau, a luxury hotel in Southern Germany between the towns of Garmisch and Mittenwald, is certainly one of the best. The resort has the perfect blend of wellness, warmth, gourmet food, nature and music.

Where is your next holiday destination?
It will be Bodrum, Turkey or Central London. I’m very blessed to have projects in these unique destinations, and I usually try to bundle my work and holiday trips together.

What is at the top of your travel bucket list?
South America, Africa and Scandinavia.

Name a place you recently visited that inspired you.
In September, I went to Jeddah in Saudi Arabia for a project and found this place very inspiring, as it is very hard to get a visa to Jeddah. From getting off the plane to going through customs, everything was a whole new experience for me, including the massive non-alcoholic beer collection. Seeing the vibrant change of this hospitable culture and city from desert to a contemporary beautiful piece of land is very inspiring for me. It’s a conservative country yet has a lot of modernity.

What did you bring back with you?
Oud perfume and local dates

Best bit about coming home?
My three Shiba dogs and my cashmere pyjamas!

 

Seyhan

SEYHAN ÖZDEMIR OF AUTOBAHN, ISTANBUL

What are your essential travel accessories?
My iPad, headphones, a pen and notepaper for sketching and a cashmere shawl, a clean shirt, t-shirt and other basics.

What are your favourite travel resources for planning a trip?
Friends who have visited the destination before.

Are you a light packer or do you have to check your luggage?
I wish I were a light packer. But as I travel more often, I’m making progress towards becoming one.

On a flight do you read, watch movies, listen to music or work?
Flights are almost the only time that I’m able to watch movies and keep up with the film industry. I also make sure I have a good book with me. These days, it’s mostly a Haruki Murakami.

What’s the first thing you do when you check into a new hotel room?
Start unpacking.

Best jetlag remedy?
Drinking lots of water and ignoring the fact that you’re jetlagged.

Favourite hotel that is not one of your own projects?
Le Meurice in Paris, the Bowery in New York, Royal Casa in London, Villa Cimbrone in Ravello — a very special hotel as I got married there.

Where is your next holiday destination?
Hopefully, a revisit to Tokyo.

What is at the top of your travel bucket list?
Being in the middle of the sea for days… Preferably, on the Aegean Sea.

Name a place you recently visited that inspired you?
Tokyo

What did you bring back with you?
Lots of inspiration, hope for humanity and bottles of sake.

Best bit about coming home?
Coming back to my daughter, who’s just about to turn three.

 

Eric Paras

ERIC PARAS OF ERIC PARAS, MANILA

What are your essential travel accessories?
Aside from my tablet and mobile phone, small bags to contain toiletries, medicines and gadget chargers, a travel wallet for plane tickets and documents, small packets of wet towelettes, a light merino wool jumper, extra foldable Cordura nylon shopper’s bag from Muji and a lightweight tote bag for hand-carry.

What are your favourite travel resources for planning a trip?
Wallpaper* city guides, Monocle magazine and travel bloggers. I also check on Booking.com and Airbnb now. Tips from friends are good resources too.

Are you a light packer or do you have to check your luggage?
I am not a light packer, I always have a checked luggage, where I make sure there’s space and weight allowance for any cool finds that I can bring home and possibly sell at a-11, my shop in Manila.

On a flight do you read, watch movies, listen to music or work?
Most of the time I watch movies, because it’s the only time when I can do a marathon of all the nicely selected movies and documentaries.

What’s the first thing you do when you check into a new hotel room?
Take in the wow factor when I enter… The visual impact.

Best jetlag remedy?
I try to catch up to normal sleeping time. Having hot showers, comfort food and lots of water to drink also helps. I refrain from drinking coffee, and a good massage will help too.

I also plan with my housekeeper what comfort food to prepare when I get home. And always a favourite is the Filipino sour broth dish with pork called sinigang na baboy.

Favourite hotel that is not one of your own projects?
The Jervois in Hong Kong. It’s more of a serviced apartment. Christian Liaigre, who is one of my design idols, designed it, and I was just curious about how he’d work on compact spaces and I wanted get to a feel and experience of how to live in one his creations. And check and scrutinise the details… I love the location of the hotel, which is one of the most interesting ones in Hong Kong.

Where is your next holiday destination?
This April, Milan for Salone and Design Week and then London. And in May, New York for some design-related work.

What is at the top of your travel bucket list?
Tokyo and Kyoto — they say it’s like visiting another planet.
Name a place you recently visited that inspired you.

Spazio Rossana Orlandi, in Milan — it was an old factory transformed into a gallery, cafe and store. It has a similar concept to a-11, my retail shop in Pasay City, Manila.

What did you bring back with you?
Some design books from Gestalten and 10 Corso Como.

Best bit about coming home?
I miss my bed and my comfort food.

 

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SIMON RAWLINGS OF DAVID COLLINS STUDIO, LONDON

What are your essential travel accessories?
I travel long-haul so much, so have set bags for my hand luggage already packed ready to go. These are split into categories:

Tech — I carry adaptors, cables, spare batteries, laser pointer, stylus and memory stick. I like to be covered for all eventualities, and I am very organised with my gadgetry.
Wellness — Aesop B Triple C gel, which is like a shot of vitamins to the skin when flying, my own tooth brush, pyjamas as I always sleep no matter what time of day the flight, and fresh underwear.
Pens — Marking up drawings on the go and scanning them to the office is so much easier with an array of fine coloured pens.

What are your favourite travel resources for planning a trip?
Evernote — I have folders which I always fill with articles, web clippings and scans all filed by city, so I’m always prepared if I have to travel at short notice. I also use newspapers such as the New York Times to search destinations, as they generally have great advice for short trips.

Are you a light packer or do you have to check your luggage?
My trips generally involve — leaving a cold country, arriving in a wet city, moving to a humid resort then departing from a hot country. I pack generally one colour (black) and layers. I always check luggage, even if it’s half full — generally after passing immigration bags are ready and waiting!

On a flight do you read, watch movies, listen to music or work?
Generally my fixed routine doesn’t change and it works for me. Board, plenty of water to drink, a light meal with a glass of red whilst watching a ‘funny’ movie. Change into my pyjamas, sleep, wake and dress, prep for my first meeting and that’s about it. I tend to try and maximise on sleep.

What’s the first thing you do when you check into a new hotel room?
I explore the room, I look around, make sure I’m happy, look out the window. If I feel any doubt, I’ll ask to change rooms. Once I have a room which feels right, I always unpack even if it’s a short stay, as it helps me normalise and settle. I generally then turn on the local twenty-fur-hour news channel, my secret addiction! And drink fizzy water.

Best jetlag remedy?
Always sleep as long as I can on the plane, never sleep until local bedtime after landing, and I stay really hydrated. I’m lucky that jetlag doesn’t really cause me a problem.

Favourite hotel that is not one of your own projects?
For business — The Sukhothai Bangkok, we work a lot in Thailand, and for me it’s the perfect city hotel. Secluded, very Thai feeling and the service is not overly attentive, just right.

For relaxing — COMO Shambala, Ubud, Bali. The setting, everything about it, just transports you to another place, which I’ve never experienced anywhere else.

Where is your next holiday destination?
We are going to Portugal, to stay at Comporta, at Les Terrasses De Comporta. I cannot wait, as I hear amazing things about Portugal, and especially Comporta!

What is at the top of your travel bucket list?
I am desperate to go to India — it’s one place I’ve never been to and I know I’ll love it. I specifically want to head to the South and spend some time there.

Name a place you recently visited that inspired you.
Japan is a constant source of inspiration. I love it so much — it inspires everything I do, and always leaves a long-standing memory after I return.

What did you bring back with you?
Apart from too many photos and sketches which inspire designs, the last trip I actually brought back a toaster, a rucksack and a coffee filter.

Best bit about coming home?
I travel alone a lot, so coming home to familiarity, eating less, relaxing in Orford where we live, whiling away my mornings at Pump Street Bakery, the cafe my wife owns, and of course and most importantly being reunited with my wife and son.