Posts in Travel
MOGANA: A True Sense of Japan

Minimalist and peaceful, this new hotel in Kyoto offers an experience based on beauty and balance, where references to the past meet new technology 

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Located on a deep and narrow site in the neighbourhood area of Nijo Castle — a UNESCO World Heritage Site — MOGANA opened its doors in December 2018. Created around the concept of yosooi, the process of beautifying and decorating, MOGANA means ‘What if’ in ancient Japanese. Every element of the design and architecture is intended to give guests a deeper understanding of Kyoto culture, and an insight into Japan’s past and future.

The hotel’s designers Takashi Yamaguchi & Associates looked to the notion of a void, which is particularly significant in Eastern philosophy. In the long entrance, instead of the traditional design of latticework that characterises a machiya facade (typical of the wooden townhouses in Kyoto), a mix of lights and sounds creates a unique atmosphere, and one where technology is a key component. In contrast, the check-in lobby features a camellia and arrow bamboo-filled Japanese garden that has been paved with black slate from the city of Kumano. Throughout the hotel the designers’ reinterpretation of traditional small inner courtyards — called tsuboniwa —brighten the long and narrow spaces, and control temperature. 

Some of the 23 rooms — there are six different types, ranging from 32 to 50 square metres each — have a direct view out to a vertical garden, adding an expanse of greenery to the monochrome backdrop where black and white are paramount. On the second floor, the elegant architectural lines and restrained palette continue in the bar, which is adorned with dark tones, a 24-carat gold panel on the ceiling and an 8-metre-long bar counter.  

Much more than a place to stay, MOGANA explores and celebrates local traditions and Japanese philosophy through every aspect, including the breakfast based on fukiyose, a word that refers to the changing colours and scenes of the season all gathered in one, with ingredients grown in the Awajishima area and tableware by Japanese brands Awabi ware and Rakutogama. 

At MOGANA guests are invited to discover the history and culture (both old and contemporary) of Japan through memorable experiences, where beauty is at the heart of everything. 

Text / Karine Monié
Images / Courtesy of Mogana and Takashi Yamaguchi & Associates

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Tradition and Modernity Meet at the St. Regis

Hong Kong’s newest luxury hotel draws on its rich history and goes beyond

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The St. Regis hotel brand has a storied history. Launched in 1904 by New York magnate John Jacob Astor IV, son of the Mrs Astor, the hotel was originally a sister property to Astor’s part-owned Waldorf Astoria, and he famously brought his own house staff to work there to ensure guests received the best service possible.

For 95 years, the original property remained the only one until, following the wave of acquisitions that has swept the hotel industry in recent decades, it was passed on to new owners who recognised the value of the luxury brand – the Hong Kong property, close to the Wan Chai harbour front, is number 46.

The original property was known for its rituals, as were the Astors themselves, and those are both respected and updated here. The 1904 version likely did not include in-room check-in and butlers available via WeChat, but the 24-7 availability has endured. Some traditions have survived much as they were: every day at 5:30 a champagne bottle is sabred to signal ‘violet hour’ in The Drawing Room, replete with gin-and-tonic trolley. Others, though, have been localised: afternoon tea is served from trolleys like dim sum, so guests can satisfy their sweet or savoury palettes without the limitations of a tray selection.

Of course, as quaint and enjoyable as these touches may be, they need an appropriate space. That’s provided here by Hong Kong’s André Fu, who was inspired by the Hong Kong of yesteryear — his on memories and Wong Kar-wai’s classic In the Mood for Love key inspirations — as well as the original St. Regis New York.

Throughout, grand and cosy areas complement each other and elevate the experience. They start out grand: the vast porte cochère leads to a generous ground-floor anteroom. Upstairs, the choreography continues with an intimate lift lobby whose lacquer ceiling, geometric bronze framing and monolithic vase prefigure some key elements. The intimacy is left behind on entering lobby The Great Room, its 10-metre ceilings and full-height windows maximising the surprising amount of natural light and lending a sense of New York Deco-style verticality that pervades the hotel. On this level, The Drawing Room provides a relaxing open space for casual fare and the afternoon tea and violet hour; the adjoining, intimate St. Regis bar offers Hong Kong- and New York-inspired cocktails and, true to the brand DNA, a mural that the bartender can explain the story behind as you sip your drink. Muted, plush seating, tones of grey and green, and soft lighting from bronze and crackle pendants provide a suitable atmosphere for some quiet engagement.

This level also houses Rùn, the hotel’s Cantonese restaurant inspired by a tea pavilion. Up one floor via the signature grand staircase is L’Envol, fine French dining in a palette of beige, white and gold accented with pastel marble and brushed bronze.

Upstairs, the guest rooms continue the theme. Framing, often in bronze, and layering provide visual interest from all angles. The muted palette is warmed with touches of orange, and glossy lacquer that echoes pawn shop shutters is complemented with softness in furnishings. Wood and stone feature strongly, and the whole is capped by Fu’s decorative touches – no detail is small enough to escape his eye for shape, proportion, colour, materiality and sheer interest. There’s not only attention to detail, but a palpable sense of attention to detail that plays a major role in transforming space into experience.

Text / Philip Annetta
Images / Courtesy of St. Regis Hotels & Resorts


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This Hotel Doubles as an Art Gallery

Art is at the heart of the Silks Club in Kaohsiung, where guests can see the work of over 200 artists before even leaving the hotel

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Originally a fishing village, the southern Taiwanese port city of Kaohsiung developed into a bustling, industrial shipping hub and is now moulding itself as a base for culture and creativity. case in point is the recently opened Silks Club hotel, where the work of over 200 artists is showcased in more unusual settings. ‘You can’t see this type of art anywhere else here, so when we opened it was a challenge locally. We decided to show all of the pieces without protective barriers so our visitors can enjoy the art and also learn to respect it,’ Shao Yaman, CEO of ALIEN Art Centre and curator of the Silks Club art collection explains.

The serene hotel showcases an intriguing melange of both emerging local artists and renowned international names, and most are inspired by the area’s local heritage. One of the most striking pieces is ART+COM Studios’ Dancing Particles, which takes pride of place in the lobby. The motion art sculpture features 168 metal spheres that float and dance above a pool of water, evoking the vital role water has played in the city’s identity.

Artworks appear throughout the hotel, from the spa and swimming pool to the lift lobby on each floor. On the 28th floor, for example, is Lunar Watch by Olafur Eliasson, which comprises twelve glass spheres that reflect a lunar cycle. In each guest room, a piece of purchasable art is also displayed. ‘We want to promote local artists and let our guests buy into a dream. We’re also building trust with our customers, since we have to trust them not to damage the artworks,’ Yaman explains. The sprawling top-floor presidential suite is full of oil paintings created by Yaman herself, as well as exquisite calligraphy written by the hotel’s founder.

Even the room size was inspired by their shared passion for art. ‘We made sure that each room is spacious so our guests have more room to interact with our art,’ Shao shares. The large rooms include Falomo mattresses, Kohler bathtubs and responsive design with natural materials such as pink marble and wood throughout.

The decor evokes a Japanese aesthetic that is echoed in the exquisite dining options, which includes the first bar outside of Japan from the famed Japanese sake brand Dassai as well as two UKAI TEI restaurants. Both the Grill Ukai Kaohsiung and Ukai-tei Teppanyaki restaurants were designed by interior designer Hashimoto Yukio, and are connected by a stunning spiral staircase. Given the hotel’s proximity to the harbour, the design team could ship the staircase in one piece and place into the hotel before building the restaurant around it.

Text / Babette Radclyffe-Thomas
Images / Courtesy of Silks Club


Look out for our Kaohsiung art and culture guide in the upcoming issue of Design Anthology

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Japan’s first MUJI HOTEL opens in Ginza

A heaven for lovers of the brand’s minimalist contemporary design, this expansive development also includes two design galleries, a multi-storey global flagship store, bar and restaurant

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‘Natural’, ‘calm’ and ‘comfortable’ are all words Japanese designer Keiichi Ito tries out before landing on one that perfectly sums up the essence of his latest venture: ‘Kinobi ­­– which means functional beauty.’

Ito is describing Japan’s first MUJI HOTEL, which opened its doors last week in Tokyo’s upmarket shopping district Ginza.

MUJI HOTEL GINZA – the third globally after Shenzhen and Beijing opened last year – is a major new venture by the Japanese company famed for its no-brand philosophy, clean-lined minimalism and unfussy contemporary design.

All three MUJI hotels share the concepts ‘anti-gorgeous’ and ‘anti-cheap’ – which perhaps sound a little better in Japanese than English, but are best embodied in the low-key simplicity of the hotel interiors. The Tokyo hotel – designed and managed by UDS (also behind CLASKA hotel, among others) – spans the top five floors of a new 10-storey building, and features 79 guestrooms, WA restaurant serving regional cuisine and the world’s largest MUJI flagship store just underneath it.

‘We’ve used plenty of natural materials and textures – wood, soil, fabric, stones,’ explains Ito from UDS, who along with being the hotel’s designer is also its general manager (he also designed Beijing’s MUJI HOTEL). ‘We wanted to create the atmosphere of a cosy and relaxed home. Ginza is such a busy place and we imagine guests will be tired when they return to the hotel, so we wanted to make them feel comfortable and relaxed. Other Ginza hotels have too much design – this is very different.’

A glance around the seventh-floor guestroom where we had our interview confirms this: around us are warm oak walls, light linen curtains, soft modern lighting and a textured sheep’s wool carpet that I can’t resist touching. ‘I try to use materials that people want to touch,’ smiles Ito.

Other design touches include the black stone wall behind the front desk, made from stones salvaged from old Tokyo train lines, natural plasterwork on the sixth floor by artisan Naoki Kusumi, who uses a rammed earth technique called hanchiku, and a patchwork expanse of steel panels in the restaurant, which came from an abandoned ship that Ito found in Hiroshima.

The hotel is, of course, heaven for shoppers – the guestrooms are packed with MUJI products, many of which can be bought just downstairs: from the fluffy white towels, sheets, pyjamas, beds and sofas to the armada of discretely-designed tech such as aroma diffusers, kettles and wall-mounted Bluetooth speakers.

The multi-level store itself not only sells an encyclopaedic range of MUJI products (from clothing and furniture to bicycles), it also has a MUJI Diner restaurant plus a juice stand, bakery, fresh vegetable market and tea blending service.

Meanwhile, on the sixth floor – the same level as the hotel lobby – is ATELIER MUJI, home to two design galleries that will host exhibitions, workshops and talks (textile designer Reiko Sudo is among the first speakers). There is also a long, camphor wood Salon bar, serving up coffees and cocktails, plus a ‘chair menu’ with a selection of 21 seats, ranging from Eames to Mart Stam, for guests to choose from.

Text / Danielle Demetriou
Images / Courtesy of MUJI HOTEL GINZA

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Small Town Charm

This hotel in the coastal city of Xiamen is designed as a ‘floating city’ and invites exploration at every turn

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The latest offering under the Hilton brand, the independent Curio hotels are characterised by their unique locations and designs, each conveying a strong sense of local flavour and heritage. To China’s Fujian province comes the region’s fourth Curio hotel, Joyze. Multiple award-winning firm Cheng Chung Design (CCD) was called upon for the hotel’s design, and the team looked to Minnan culture and Xiamen’s history as a fishing town to design the hotel as a ‘floating city on the sea’.

The design team was inspired by the historic fishing village topography and designed the hotel to narrate the story of its location, paying homage to the traditional with innovative and contemporary flair. The floorplan invites guests to explore their way around the hotel through a series of small lanes, twists and turns. Cubes and boxes, reminiscent of traditional local homes, are a constant motif. In the reception area, a wall of cubes was inspired by the fishing nets that were hung outside each home at the end of the day, while the boxes and squares that feature on the building's facade and exterior walls and partitions were created to resemble the windows of small village homes.  

Guest rooms are outfitted in a neutral, classic palette that highlights details specific to Zeng Cuo An and the nearby Gulangyu island, like woven textiles and carved ceramic tiles, while in some, floor-to-ceiling windows offer expansive views of the surrounding town and landscape. As a side note, Gulangyu itself is a designated UNESCO world heritage site, and is just a short ferry trip from the mainland. You can easily spend the day exploring the charming island’s winding alleys, historical architecture, shops, cafes and cultural centres.

With Gulangyu as but one example, Joyze’s prime location between Dongping Mountain and the coastline make it perfectly positioned for guests to discover the local cultural sights and surroundings, with most only a short walk or ride away. Exploration and discovery are at the heart of Joyze, and while your days could be spent at the rooftop pool or in the lush spa, the real experience lies beyond the confines of the hotel.

Highly knowledgeable staff are always on hand to help tailor your itinerary and share insider tips and recommendations, but it’s the innovative digital personality test that makes the experience feel truly unique. Curio undertook a research exercise to determine the role that curiosity plays in travel, and the result is the custom-designed Curiosity Quiz, which determines which of five categories (Epicurean, Spiritualist, Pathfinder, Challenger or Culturalist) you fit into, and then creates a custom itinerary to suit your style of exploration — allowing you to experience the local culture in a meaningful and memorable way.

Text / Simone Schultz
Images / Courtesy of CCD & Jia Zijian


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A New Page

Artisanal coffee and community are at the heart of this new Hong Kong hotel

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In the vibrant district of Tsim Sha Tsui in Kowloon, a modern hotel with architecture designed by P&T Architects and interior designed by KplusK associates, has recently opened. Page148 offers comfortable, cosy rooms across 20 floors in a location ripe for urban explorers. ‘Page148 is a page number and each hotel is a new chapter in your travel journal,’ explains Elaine Fok, creative director and partner at Spectra Partnership, who took the design lead.

Page148 – also named after its location at 148 Austin Road – marks the Butterfly Hospitality Group’s inaugural Page hotel, with a London location slated to open later this year. ‘At the core of the design we have three inspirations; people, sustainability and inspirational travel,’ says Philip Chan, business development manager at Butterfly Hospitality Group.

Communicating these design inspirations from the outset, the check-in lobby has been transformed into Page Common, an artisanal coffee house. Here, check-in takes places via a mobile process, and a large wooden table encourages conversation and community within a welcoming and creative space. Coffee culture is so important to the brand that the cafe was opened months before the hotel rooms. ‘I enjoy working in coffee shops myself and Hong Kong is experiencing an artisanal coffee boom. Coffee inspires us to travel, and we wanted this to contribute to the energy of the hotel,’ Chan explains.  

The hotel replaced an old residential building, but retains and celebrates the site’s original distinct curve. The large windows in each room offer plenty of natural light and fantastic views, and the colour palette is comforting with neutral, beige shades, champagne silver and copper accents, while rustic copper finishes and black marble add textural detail. Artwork by local paper artist POSTalk features throughout the hotel, while in the rooms custom-made furniture is paired with Marshall speakers.  

Text / Babette Radclyffe-Thomas
Images / Philip Chan and Elaine Fok


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Kyoto Calling

A collection of bijou hotels bolster the city’s status as a design destination

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The ancient city has long been synonymous with temples, teahouses and craftsmanship, but Kyoto is also a hotbed of innovation and contemporary design. Testimony to this? The flurry of small, impeccably designed boutique hotels that have recently opened their doors across the Japanese city.

Their arrival has most likely been fuelled by Kyoto’s soaring visitor numbers and the nationwide hotel boom in the countdown to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. They also reflect a growing appetite among discerning travellers for an intimate experience of the city that goes beyond the confines of more conventional luxury hotel setups.

These mini-hotels – some with just a single guestroom – may vary in style and form, but all offer a unique insight into Kyoto’s flair for combining traditional craftmanship with contemporary design. Here, we round up some favourites.

 
 
Malda Kyoto. © Takeshi Asano. Image courtesy of Malda Kyoto

Malda Kyoto. © Takeshi Asano. Image courtesy of Malda Kyoto

Malda Kyoto

Created and owned by Tokyo architect Nobuyuki Fujimoto, Malda Kyoto opened last November on quiet but central Aneyakoji Street, where it sits in a 48-year-old building behind a clean-lined facade of latticed sugi cedar wood. The seed for its creation may come as some surprise: it’s directly inspired by the works and philosophies of Jurgen Lehl, the late Japan-based German designer famed for his use of organic textiles and sustainable materials.

‘This project aims to be a catalyst for our guests to discover a new way of living – through the space, food, lifestyle products and service, ‘ explains Fujimoto.

A modern, minimalist ambiance threads through the building, which Fujimoto designed alongside architect Shiro Miura, with classic touches ranging from the white shikkui-style plasterwork by Kyoto craftsmen to the noren curtain at the entrance. 

The three guestrooms (each spanning an entire floor) are themed on a single colour, from textiles to wall paints: aka (a rich red), ao (a warm deep blue) and sumi (charcoal grey). In addition to the spacious guestrooms is the ground floor cafe, with its single green wall, abstract teak furniture and hanging glass pendant lights, where delicious vegetarian curries and homemade muffins are served. Even the air has been considered: the hotel uses the fragrance Hakudo, a fusion of Japanese botanical essences created by bespoke olfactory design studio Aoiro Design.

What might be the best feature of all is that guests can recreate the Malda look back at home: countless custom-designed Babaghuri products – from the guestroom textiles to the forest green ceramics – can be bought at the Babaghuri Kyoto store just opposite the hotel.

Malda Kyoto. © Takeshi Asano. Image courtesy of Malda Kyoto

Malda Kyoto. © Takeshi Asano. Image courtesy of Malda Kyoto

Malda Kyoto. © Takeshi Asano Image courtesy of Malda Kyoto

Malda Kyoto. © Takeshi Asano
Image courtesy of Malda Kyoto

Malda Kyoto. © Takeshi Asano Image courtesy of Malda Kyoto

Malda Kyoto. © Takeshi Asano
Image courtesy of Malda Kyoto

 
 
Maana Kyoto. Image courtesy of Maana Kyoto

Maana Kyoto. Image courtesy of Maana Kyoto

Maana Kyoto

A circular clay bathtub made by ceramic craftsmen, a kitchen counter fashioned from traditional lacquerware, simple, curved rattan seating and an angular bonsai tree – plus, of course, Google Home, Wifi and the latest Amadana kitchen appliances. Welcome to Maana Kyoto, a 100-year-old traditional wooden machiya townhouse where traditional craftsmanship and contemporary Japanese design combine with 21st century comforts.

Opened last year, the luxury rental property was masterminded by two friends and former designers Irene Chang, based in Hong Kong and LA, and Hana Tsukamoto, who lives between New York and Kyoto. Inspired by ‘simple but meaningful’ Kyoto life, the pair set out to create a home for visitors that was both ‘comfortable and cosy’ (it is currently the highest-ranking five-star Kyoto hotel on booking.com).

One particularly sharp move was calling on acclaimed Kyoto architect Shigenori Uoya to renovate and design the interiors, which carefully preserve the atmosphere of the original two-storey two-bedroom wooden house in a clean, contemporary way.

Centre stage is the living room, with its tatami mat floor, low rattan seating by Yamakawa Rattan and a minimal table by Kyoto’s Suya pepped up by the abstract, graphic brushstrokes of an artwork by local fabric-dye artist Takeshi Nakajima.

Other highlights include Jasper Morrison-designed Maruni kitchen counter stools; round glass lights by the artisans of Kyoto’s century-old Miura Shomei; the sakura and maple trees in the small garden; and the abstract ikebana in the genkan entrance.

Maana Kyoto. Image courtesy of Maana Kyoto

Maana Kyoto. Image courtesy of Maana Kyoto

Maana Kyoto. Image courtesy of Maana Kyoto

Maana Kyoto. Image courtesy of Maana Kyoto

Maana Kyoto. Image courtesy of Maana Kyoto

Maana Kyoto. Image courtesy of Maana Kyoto

 
 
Kyo no Ondokoro KAMANZA-NIJO. Image courtesy of Kyo no Ondokoro KAMANZA-NIJO

Kyo no Ondokoro KAMANZA-NIJO. Image courtesy of Kyo no Ondokoro KAMANZA-NIJO

Kyo no Ondokoro KAMANZA-NIJO

For fans of the Tokyo-based fashion and textile brand minä perhonen – a blend of quality craftmanship and a Scandinavia-meets-Japan aesthetic – there are few better places to stay in Kyoto than Kyo no Ondokoro KAMANZA-NIJO, opened just last summer.

The wooden machiya townhouse, which dates back 150 years, was designed by minä perhonen founder Akira Minagawa alongside the architect Yoshifumi Nakamura.

The machiya – one of a series of renovated townhouses in Kyoto recently opened by major lingerie company Wacoal – is an airy, contemporary take on a traditional home, sleeping up to four people.

Behind a dark wood lattice facade and tiered grey rooftiles, guests find its comfortable, modern kitchen, simple pendant lighting, aromatic oval-shaped hinoki cypress wood bath and sunny splashes of textiles.

A curved open-plan staircase leads guests to the sleeping areas: the main bedroom with Western-style beds (complete with white fluffy Kyoto Nishikawa bedding), plus a cosy tatami mat room where futons can be unrolled nightly.

In true Kyoto style, the house also overlooks a private garden, which poetically conveys the passing of seasons with its centre-stage 100-year-old plum tree. And to help soak up the Kyoto-with-a-modern-twist atmosphere, there is also a carefully-curated garden library.

Kyo no Ondokoro KAMANZA-NIJO. Image courtesy of Kyo no Ondokoro KAMANZA-NIJO

Kyo no Ondokoro KAMANZA-NIJO. Image courtesy of Kyo no Ondokoro KAMANZA-NIJO

Kyo no Ondokoro KAMANZA-NIJO. Image courtesy of Kyo no Ondokoro KAMANZA-NIJO

Kyo no Ondokoro KAMANZA-NIJO. Image courtesy of Kyo no Ondokoro KAMANZA-NIJO

Kyo no Ondokoro KAMANZA-NIJO. Image courtesy of Kyo no Ondokoro KAMANZA-NIJO

Kyo no Ondokoro KAMANZA-NIJO. Image courtesy of Kyo no Ondokoro KAMANZA-NIJO

 
 
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HOSOO Residence

Hidden down a small alleyway, just south of the Imperial Palace, an off-white noren curtain and lattice door mark the entrance to HOSOO Residence.

The low-key location belies its finely-crafted interior: the renovated machiya is the brainchild of Kyoto-based HOSOO, a pioneering textile company established in 1688, whose products today fuse traditional Nishijin weaving techniques with a raft of contemporary design and luxury fashion collaborations. HOSOO Residence, which opened in the summer of 2017, is an intimate showcase of contemporary Kyoto craftmanship, finely balanced with the original architecture.

Design features include the centre wall, with its striped plasterwork in gently gradated tones of grey, beige and peach; the upholstery in abstract metallic Nishijin textiles; the bespoke curved lounge chair and coffee table by Copenhagen’s OEO Studio; the long, black stone bath overlooking a white gravel garden; the cloud-like white bedding in the upstairs bedroom among the building’s eaves; the small, serene tatami mat room and the tin tea caddies, handcrafted by the artisans of another local cult brand, Kaikado.

HOSOO Residence. Image courtesy of HOSOO Residence

HOSOO Residence. Image courtesy of HOSOO Residence

HOSOO Residence. Image courtesy of HOSOO Residence

HOSOO Residence. Image courtesy of HOSOO Residence

HOSOO Residence. Image courtesy of HOSOO Residence

HOSOO Residence. Image courtesy of HOSOO Residence

 

Text / Danielle Demetriou

Sustaining Tradition

Raya Heritage is a boutique hotel in Chiang Mai that tells a charming story of local artisanship and architecture without resorting to pastiche or reproduction

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In northern Thailand, culture-laden Chiang Mai has just received another jewel in the form of Raya Heritage. The boutique hotel, designed by Thai architect Boonlert Hemvijitraphan of Boon Design, stands out from the crowd of resorts for the refreshing manner in which it adopts vernacular Lanna architecture. The hotel is operated by the hotel group of Premier Group of Companies, which is dedicated to not only preserving but also promoting Thai traditional culture — be it through exhibitions, excursions, employing local craftsmen or giving back to the community by donating a portion of annual profits to charitable causes.

At Raya Heritage, Hemvijitraphan has worked his magic by creating spaces that are in harmony with their natural surroundings. Lush greenery wraps gently around the entrance, a low-key portico of white walls and layered terracotta roofs. The intimate scale here belies the dramatic, lofty foyer beyond, where statuesque timber columns frame the Ping River. The dining spaces and spa tiered around this voluminous space partake in the mise en scène of spatial drama and oneness with nature.

The plan is straightforward: an L-shape with the longer guestroom wing aligned parallel to the river; this clever gesture means all guestrooms have clear views onto the water. The spirit of traditional Lanna architecture informs the design, but its application is thoughtful. Founded over 700 years ago, the Lanna Kingdom dominated most of what is now northern Thailand, stretching from China’s Xishuangbanna Province to some parts of Myanmar. Its buildings were characterised by simplicity, serenity and humility — a reflection of its people who are bound closely to the land through their livelihoods.

In order to fit 33 rooms into the modest plot, a three-storey building was necessary. This is counter to the low-rise language of the vernacular settlement, so Hemvijitraphan’s response was to stretch the roof edges as low as possible — just enough to adjust the sense of scale without obstructing the views from the interior. Here, terracotta roof tiles add a rustic touch.

The generously sized guestrooms offer relaxed living, with large, naturally ventilated verandas that are well shaded by the deep eaves. Whitewashed walls and natural materials, in the form of woven bamboo mats, teak-framed mirrors, ceramic tiles in the bathrooms, and handmade lacquerware, grace the spaces, which are subtly themed by  indigo, black and white colour palettes.

The natural fabrics used, such as cotton, hemp, linen, are sourced from weaving cooperatives in villages that are among the last in Thailand to employ age-old methods of spinning and weaving. Throughout the hotel are fabrics dyed in a rich, deep blue colour that comes from the leaves of local indigofera tinctoria.

This fastidious attention to detail means that throughout the property there is much to see and feel. For example, brick pavers lend tactility underfoot and ‘clouds’ of lighting fixtures in the all-day-dining restaurant Khu Khao reference the threshing baskets used by Northern Thai farmers in the past.   

As the name suggests, heritage is at the heart of this retreat, but it is not merely a showpiece reconstructed wholesale. Hemvijitraphan’s deftness at weaving together equal measures of history and modernity makes the hotel a work of art that delights and charms. 

Text / Jingmei Luo
Images / Wison Tungthunya

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A conversation with André Fu

Hong Kong-based designer André Fu sits down with Design Anthology’s editor-in-chief to talk about his latest hotel opening, the Waldorf Astoria in Bangkok

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André Fu: So, how was your stay?

Suzy Annetta (D/A): It was good, I really enjoyed it. And it's in a really great location, it’s hard to beat. The hotel team told me that you had stayed at the original Waldorf Astoria in New York and that you drew inspiration from that. How old were you when you went over there?

André Fu: I was a teenager. I think it was my first visit to New York; I was studying in the UK at the time and hadn’t ever been to the States.

Did you go on your own or was it with family?

I had a cousin who was studying in New York at the time, so I went to stay with her. She was staying in Union Square at the time, so I wandered all the way up to 78th Street and walked back down, and I happened to just wander into the hotel. I later found out it was the Waldorf Astoria and so I had vague memories of that first visit.

So it left a bit of an impression on you then? 

Yes, it was very majestic and had that Art Deco feeling — it was very New York. For visitors it’s kind of a landmark, like seeing Tiffany’s.

Was that then something you had in mind when you started on this project? Was it something that the client wanted you to incorporate, or was it more you drawing on your memories?

André Fu: It was me drawing on my memories of the brand, and how the brand talks to me now.

So not the actual physical space?

No, not the physical space. It's just that feeling. I have worked with various brands that are very different in terms of aesthetics and even target audience. I actually enjoy working with a brand that has different aesthetics to what I’m known for, and I enjoy the challenge of marrying the two styles or getting them to talk to each other.

You told me about the building before I visited, and I know what you mean now, that obviously that it's not exactly what you would think of as a Waldorf Astoria. That’s interesting though; I've never been to the one in New York, but I have a mental image of what the Waldorf Astoria looks like.

Yeah, you think it's going to be like a Robert Stern building.

Right. Very American...sort of solid...

Very rectilinear, a facade of granite.

Yes, there's a certain image that comes to mind when you start to conjure the brand. But do you think they felt a freedom to do something quite different in Asia? Because clearly the brand is now starting to expand.

I don't know, I haven't really questioned it. I think back to when I started the project — there was just the one in Shanghai. I think that was probably one of the first Waldorf’s in Asia Pacific, including China. And for me, that's a very Waldorf building, with the colonial mansion in the front. I don't know exactly what the original building was made for, but it's very colonial, like an old bank building. And then they built a new tower right behind it. So, the notion is a bit like The Peninsula Hong Kong. It's that kind of connotation. 

Right. So there’s that history, right?

Yes. And it’s —  I don't know how to phrase it — but it's a very luxurious five-star hotel with a traditional part and then the new part. It wasn’t meant to be a dialogue between the new building and the old one. It's just a continuation of a very harmonious type of hotel environment. But it just feels right. It just makes sense. 

But the proposition in Bangkok was obviously quite different.

Yes, but I mean I wasn't thinking as much about how and what it should or could be. At the time I remember thinking that this is the beginning of a new generation (for the brand). I think Park Hyatt kind of started it, that evolution of Bangkok as a city, and then this (the Waldorf Astoria) kind of took it into a very different direction. And I'm sure there are many more that will open in the next year or so.

It seems like it, yes. 

There's quite a lot going on.

So, what I found interesting, having not been to the original Waldorf Astoria, was that there are elements that to me do seem quite ‘New York’ and Art Deco, but it also felt quite Thai at the same time. There is a sort of femininity to it but it doesn’t seem overly feminine. I think most men would still feel quite comfortable in that space and it wasn't just about ladies having high tea. I’m thinking particularly about the guest rooms. Was this a conscious decision, to try to incorporate Thai culture with an image of the original Waldorf Astoria? Or did that just kind of happen through the process?

The building was called Magnolia, and so right from the start we knew that it was inspired by the fluidity of the petals and all that. So, I was thinking about the curvature and the silhouettes and how to make the space flow. That was more of a design decision. 

We worked very closely with the local branding team called Be our friend (BOF) —  a very young talented graphic designer —  and when we thought about this fluidity we immediately thought of the Thai dancer because of how they move. Somehow, we came across an image of these dancers moving, and their hands were moving with the long nails, doing their thing. And that was how the concept began.

It's about this kind of dancing through the hotel and the petals of a magnolia flower that are translated into stone petals. So, in the space there's a lot of curved sculpted Carrara marble. We wanted it to be this kind of curated world where if you take all the screens and furniture out of the space, it’s very pure. It just kind of folds and unfolds, and it's like the marble and the curved facade are kind of talking. And then there are these moments when you turn a specific angle and you look at the three check-in desks and it’s perfectly symmetrical. But only when you're physically there do you realise that it's actually off-centre; it’s skew. There are quite a few moments like that in the hotel.

I'm remembering that now as you say it. So, the way you approached the architectural treatment of the walls and the internal space was your way of talking to the exterior?

Yes. And then when you are engaged visually with a specific moment, that's where the bronze screens come into play, which for us is characteristic of Waldorf Astoria, but we also gave them a  curve. So again, it's kind of like the Thai dancer’s hand in an embrace or a welcoming gesture. I actually learned quite a bit about what each posture represents because they have different meanings; it's quite interesting. So that’s the language that trickles down in the details. For example, the room numbering, with very intricate lettering and numbering in custom cast bronze, and then the lace pattern of the lift cars, and in the rooms the bedside screens also reflect that.

And what about the colour palette? Where did come from? It’s quite soft but I don't think it's overly feminine.

There are actually two main palettes. The standard rooms are more of a blonde wood and a peachy orange. The suite rooms are more of a mineral blue with mustard gold, dark wood and heavily textured floors.

Was there any inspiration or reason for these colour choices?

I guess the palette is still quite muted in general. There are moments when it kind of ramps up a bit, like in the lobby area. That turquoise-teal blue is something I've never used before, but for me that's a Thai colour. And then in The Front Room, the Nordic-Thai restaurant, we started off with Thai herbs as the inspiration. We were looking at the colours of the ingredients; you’ll notice lime and kefir green and galangal.

So you were trying to blend the two cultures together into that space but the colour palette came from the ingredients? 

For The Front Room, yes.

It must have been quite nice to have this separate space aside from the rest of the hotel.

Yes. I think The Brasserie and Peacock Alley (the lounge) are still very much an integral part of the overall story, whereas The Front Room is slightly more modern.

I guess there's an opportunity for it to have its own identity, especially for diners who aren’t necessarily hotel guests. But otherwise everything else felt consistently like a Waldorf Astoria. It felt very continuous and fluid. 

My favourite part is actually the spa corridor with all the fins. 

Yes, that's quite lovely. The pool is also amazing. Was the architectural feature above the pool already part of the building?

Yes, it was, it’s actually the helicopter pad. And that funnel-shaped structure is the staircase.

And you said your favourite part is the spa corridor...

Yes, I think there we have perhaps created a slightly new language. I mean, I started to ask myself whether there’s another hotel quite like this. I couldn't quite figure out if there is.

Not that I can think of. I did really like the corridor, it felt very organic, but it also felt a bit more architectural. I mean, the exterior is also sort of organic and architectural in a different language.

Yeah, and it's kind of like you can't tell whether it's very architectural or very.... well, there are certain parts that are quite decorative. But between the decorative elements there is quite a lot of space and room to breathe. There are a lot of what I call ‘empty spaces’: spaces where it's not so heavily designed, which gives it that sense of modernity as well.

I think you're right when you said that if you took all the furnishings out it would look very different. But I thought it was interesting that even though there’s a lot of marble, it doesn’t feel cold.  Is that something you thought about when you designed the space?

Well, there was also a conscious decision to use many pendant lights, so there are a lot of glowing pendants around the public area. Because there’s this glass facade, in a way we're limited in terms of what we can do. The few solid walls that we have are all around the core. They're not really around the surroundings, so it's kind of reversing a typical design scenography. But you know, obviously the view is the highlight. From a design perspective, however, if you have all that glass around you, then you're just left with furniture. So, what we did was install all these hanging pendants around to sort of guide you. I don’t think you really notice it because there's quite a lot to see otherwise, but when I mention it you notice. For example, when I point out the columns, you see all of the glowing hanging pendants. I think that softness actually ties everything together subconsciously.

So it’s the warmth of the light that makes the marble not feel so cold?

Yes, and it’s also because of the sculptural quality of the stone. It's all curved and flowing, so even within that very linear footprint, you feel like you're kind of gliding through different parts of the hotel.

Yes, you do. I did notice the pendants and I thought they were quite beautiful. And I also thought it was interesting to see how their design changed between each of the spaces; I felt like there was a language or a family of languages between some of the public spaces, aside from the restaurants with their own identity. Between the public spaces and the guest rooms, obviously the scale changes, but it seemed like there is a language that flows through. It seems like a lot of different lighting designs; how many are there?

There are many, and they were all customised. Some were made in Thailand, others made in Vietnam, and some are from China. There was a lot of customisation. I can’t imagine many others doing this kind of fit-out; it’s just quite different.

As told to / Suzy Annetta
Images / Courtesy of Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts

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Lloyd’s Inn, Bali

Nature is at the centre of Lloyd’s Inn Bali, a sleek and rustic resort designed by FARM

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A close relationship with nature is the mantra of the Lloyd’s Inn brand. First established in 1990, the boutique hotel was given a facelift in 2014 by Farm Architects, offering tranquillity in a raw, minimal shell nestled amid greenery just off the cusp of the popular Orchard Road shopping street.

‘The new branding took advantage of the domestic-like setting of the existing garden to focus on the relationship between the guest and nature, which is understood as light, openness, greenery and material beauty. Adopting a “minimal existence” approach, every aspect of the hotel is designed to be fuss-free for guests,” says FARM co-founder Tiah Nan Chyuan, who worked on the project.  

This approach continues in the brand’s second property, Lloyd’s Inn Bali. Absent are the thatched roof and ornamental carvings typical of resorts on the popular Indonesian holiday island; here, the brand’s signature aesthetic of raw cement flooring, white walls, timber accents and minimal gestures is a breath of fresh air, placing the focus on the greenery. 

While the similarities are obvious, there are also some distinctive differences that give Lloyd’s Inn Bali its own character, such as strong contextual influences and organic lines that weave through the site. ‘We’re conscious that the context is entirely different from Singapore. Firstly, the relationship with nature in Bali is more immersive compared to Singapore, which tends to be more visual. So for almost all the hotel rooms, we created opportunities for meaningful outdoor or semi-outdoor spaces like sky gardens, outdoor showers and indoor gardens,’ says Tiah. 

There was also the challenge of translating the identity and intimacy of the 34-room boutique hotel in Singapore into a 100-room hotel in Bali. Tiah’s strategy was creating layered encounters by decentralising the various programmes across different levels and locations within the site, connected by multiple circulation loops. ‘We believe this will create a more journey-based experience with possibilities for discoveries,’ he explains.   

From the beginning, this experience of ‘discovering’ plays out. Guests enter through an alleyway from the main road and through a voluminous, textured stone wall. Beyond, a cascading tier of guest rooms flanks a central courtyard, the curves in the plan allowing more daylight into the rooms. An upper-level bridge snakes across this bucolic sanctuary, which is also home to the all-day-dining restaurant and which offers new vantage points. 

Another way guests can engage with the site is though the local materials used. Balinese lava stone forms the walls, capped by a pitched clay tile roof. Sukabumi tiles line the pool, marble clads the guest-room interiors and pebble wash provides texture underfoot. ‘In Bali, we had the opportunity to push the boundary between the interior and exterior even more,’ concludes Tiah.

Text / Luo Jingmei
Images / Studio Periphery

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Photo by Goderic Tia Photography

Photo by Goderic Tia Photography

Mekong Meanderings: Phnom Penh

It seems now that few places are untouched by tourism. Those along the Mekong River have certainly seen their share, for better or worse; fortunately, there are a few new luxury destinations that offer travel with a bit of sensitivity to the local culture. The final part of our Mekong series gets cosmopolitan

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Moving down river to where the Tonle Sap meets the Mekong as it runs seaward, the final and somewhat more cosmopolitan experience awaits; in fact, those who haven’t visited Phnom Penh in several years may find it difficult to recognise the gleaming skyline – and the various pieces of infrastructure built by a gaggle of competing regional donors.

A glass edifice just off Russian Federation Boulevard — for the Cold War hasn’t entirely loosed its grip here — houses another recently opened Rosewood property on its top 14 levels. The building, Vattanac Capital Tower, is the tallest in Cambodia and was designed by architects Farrells to echo an east-facing dragon.

Despite the nearby hubbub, the property manages to effect calm from the moment a visitor reaches its grand entrance, flanked by a soothing water feature and shielded by a living wall that is part of a series of rammed earth barriers. Wood panelling in the porte cochère and cloth wall coverings lend an immediate warm contrast to the concrete and glass, and evoke a French mansion. Regional and local touches are provided through decorative doors and commissioned sculptures of traditional rattan and modern wound wire. The Cambodian motifs are subtle — door handles, window designs — and contribute to an overall direction cogent with Rosewood’s philosophy: there is a sense of place here, one that looks forward without forgetting its legacy. 

Most of the public spaces are the work of Melbourne’s BAR Studio, as are the guest rooms, and all are characterised by subtlety and exquisite material sensibility. The 35th-floor lobby serves as the mansion’s living room; classic tropical elements such as screens and rattan are given a bespoke touch through the custom furniture and soft furnishings, with an overarching warm palette. As in much of the hotel, the French colonial legacy is evident in space and proportion, in elegant brass and smooth leather, the Cambodian in woven touches, objets and screens. For a further local flavour, a gallery exhibits a rotating roster of local artists. 

Guests in the sophisticated brasserie are treated to a panoramic view through floor-to-ceiling windows from a variety of spaces. Open kitchens, tasting counters and semi-private nooks combine to form a versatile, welcoming space accented by brass and earth tones. Aromas waft through the space from the kitchen-like patisserie at certain times of day. As so much light is let in by the windows, most of the artificial light is decor-driven rather than architectural.

The guest rooms continue the aesthetic. Natural light paints a muted but cosy palette of browns and subdued gold with brighter touches in the soft furnishings. Materials are oriented towards wood, rattan, leather and brass, while lattices and shutters form recurring motifs. All the rooms are generously proportioned, while the suites are frontal to the Mekong. 

Tokyo-based Bond Design Studio contributed with the designs of izakaya Iza and bar Sora, both on the 37th floor. Elegantly masculine Iza welcomes guests with sake drums and a large steel beer tank; lattice screens sculpt light and define spaces, while their patterns are echoed in soft furnishings that bridge Japanese and Cambodian design motifs. A mix of low and high seating at multiple different bars contributes to the casual feel with its playful riff on wingback bar stools while maintaining an elegant, modern feel.

A passage bounded by a living wall leads to Sora, whose design was inspired by the graceful movements of an Apsara dancer, translated into a leitmotif of elegant curves. The central bar’s outside edge melds into a line of sculpted lotus bulbs with tapered stems, complemented by the elegantly tapered stools. Classic chunky lounge chairs in earth tones sit under a large light fixture that echoes silver water droplets forming on the bottom of a bowl. The bar maximises the panorama with window seating (wingbacks, of course) and a series of semi-private nooks enclosed on three sides by shimmering silver-leafed walls and cosy banquettes, while a cultivated lived-in look pervades the adjoining cigar and whisky library. There is also a cantilevered outdoor terrace, where modern steel and rattan furniture are centred around the highest bar in the city; those seeking as much height as possible can sit on a raised platform overlooking the overlookers.

All three properties are testament to design that creates a sense of immediate comfort and separation from the outside world. The Mekong region continues to draw the crowds, but they don’t need to be the madding type.

Text / Philip Annetta

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Mekong Meanderings: Siem Reap

It seems now that few places are untouched by tourism. Those along the Mekong River have certainly seen their share, for better or worse; fortunately, there are a few new luxury destinations that offer travel with a bit of sensitivity to the local culture. Here’s the second in our series, to keep you dreaming over your holidays.

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Diverging from the Mekong to its Tonle Sap tributary and the rapidly growing Siem Reap, you find a different kind of bustle but the same Bensley ethos at the new Shinta Mani Angkor — Bensley Collection. These private 150-square-metre villas are a recent addition to the existing Shinta Mani properties, and offer surprisingly secluded nests within walking distance of the crowds.

This is no accident. Bensley, a part owner of Shinta Mani Hotels, was given creative freedom to design the villas based on his version of escapism — read lush gardens and cultivated stillness. The experience begins at the airport, where you’re greeted, ushered to your car and are checked in on the way to the property. And of course, deeper serenity is to be found in the beautifully designed spaces that await.

It’s a mark of Bensley’s immense talent that he can create tropical luxury by combining vernacular Khmer architectural elements with Art Deco. The property’s structure echoes a Khmer temple, with its series of walls around the inner sanctuary of your villa. Perhaps Bensley has also riffed on the ornate temple entry building for the reception. There are even bas-relief elements, such as the monumental ‘hands of meditation’ piece on the external wall and the robe of King Jayavarman VII that dominates an internal and external wall in each villa, bisected by a window.

From there, though, the touch is decidedly modern and strongly Deco, first exemplified in the beautiful finishes and geometric proportions in the reception space, and in the concentric square architraves that appear throughout. You might not expect to feel tropical relaxation in a room with black walls patterned in brass, but you will. As well as these striking contrast colours, cooling stone and patterned black and white tile are used liberally, particularly in each villa’s semi-outdoor bathroom and around the nine-metre plunge pool. Splashes of colour in the soft furnishings provide further contrast, but nature is the real star of the show here. Full-height windows flood the villas with natural light, though blackout curtains can be employed if you’re so inclined, while the lush gardens right outside the glass exude calm. The Bensley Collection also sees the debut of the Bensley Butlers, with one dedicated and on call throughout your stay to take care of those necessary details.

For those in search of a more literal escape, the brand-new sister property Shinta Mani Wild offers a similarly luxurious experience in Cambodia’s south in a national park setting. Conscious travellers might appreciate the opportunity to support the park’s conservation, and the fact that part of the hotel group’s proceeds from all properties go to the Shinta Mani Foundation, which supports locals through a vast range of initiatives that impact most areas of their lives and see them gradually less reliant on aid rather than more.

Text / Philip Annetta

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Mekong Meanderings: Luang Prabang

It seems now that few places are untouched by tourism. Those along the Mekong River have certainly seen their share, for better or worse; fortunately, there are a few new luxury destinations that offer travel with a bit of sensitivity to the local culture. Here we present three, in a series to keep you dreaming over your holidays

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The first sight on descent into Luang Prabang is the range of hills in which it nestles. If you go in the wet season you’ll see the higher ones, lush with the summer rains, peeking through a fine mist. Welcome to the most forested country in Asia. The second sight is the mighty Mekong, the swollen expanse that feeds the city and defines its outline. The city itself, comparatively compact and blessedly quaint, flows by quickly on the way from the airport to the newest Rosewood property.

The colonial era has left an indelible imprint on the city, a UNESCO Heritage Site, and it was this that inspired lauded hospitality designer Bill Bensley’s work here. Cradled in the glen of the Nahm Dong River like a microcosm of this city on the Mekong, the series of buildings has been designed after the French-colonial style that dominates the town. And because of the site’s geography — suited to narrow pathways, not broad equipment-bearing roads — building was carried out not by heavy machinery, but manually over three years by 400 local craftspeople.

The result is Bensley at his chic-meets-quirky best. Period details faux and real abound, the latter including a land deed from 1560 written on pigskin. While the rooms and suites, situated in a building by the brook, are charming (this is The Rosewood, after all), it’s the Riverside and Waterfall Pool Villas and the Hilltop Tents that truly fulfill the potential of the location. Of these there are only a handful (and only 23 rooms in total), and each is unique. Every villa is named and styled after Bensley’s fancy of a historical Mekong expedition-era explorer, official or companion; you might find yourself in a soothing, blue-hued chamber or an almost-steampunk gentleman’s space; even architectural details such as doorways are unique to each, though gold-leaf stencil work on the walls, common in local temples, features throughout and is another way in which local artisans have made their mark. The soothing nearby waterfall, private plunge pools and poolside bars top off the experience.

As fun as the villas are — who doesn’t want to imagine themselves as a ground-breaking historical figure? — Bensley brings a more local flavour to the hotel’s premium offering, the stilted hilltop tents. The term ‘tent’ applies only to the roof structures; the remainder of the wrapper is solid, with generous roll-up windows and terraces that give the lofty perches spectacular views over the surrounding landscape with a minimal physical footprint thanks to the stilts. The decor of each is inspired by one of the 80 distinct local hill tribes, but retains the luxury and attention to detail of the remainder of the property. The hotel’s acclaimed Sense spa shares the same type of structure, and employs herbal poultices made from the same garden that supplies the restaurant.

The public spaces continue the period style. There’s the Great House, a pavilion that houses the hotel’s lounge and its restaurant, whose convivial culinary director Sebastien Rubis was awarded Asia Geographical Indication Ambassador for his work in preserving royal Laotian cuisine after its near-loss following the 1970s revolution. The Elephant Bridge Bar straddles the creek, and pays tribute to the country that was once ‘the land of a million elephants’; its tropical wood tones and outlook to the creek and pool make it an easy spot for a sundowner.

But here the design is a gateway to the experience that extends beyond the property. The able staff are on hand to arrange visits around the area to sites that retain their authenticity, from no-ride elephant sanctuaries to less-known villages for an experience with craft or other elements of the diverse Laotian culture.

Text / Philip Annetta

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The Designer’s Guide to Paris

Heading to Paris this September for Maison&Objet? Here are a few of our favorite places to stay, shop, eat, drink and see.

Bon voyage!

Hôtel National Des Arts et Métiers

Hôtel National Des Arts et Métiers

Hotels

Where to stay

There has been a flurry of new designer hotels opening in Paris in recent years, but we think these are the best picks of where to put your head down when the lights go out in the city of light.

Set in twin low-rise buildings on a quiet street, the Hôtel Adèle & Jules is a discreet gem. Designed by Stephane Poux the spaces feel warm and modern with a classic twist. Make this your base and you’ll be surrounded by some of the best of what Paris has to offer.

Hôtel Bachaumont

Hôtel Bachaumont

Hotel Des Grands Boulevards

Hotel Des Grands Boulevards

Hôtel Bachaumont is proof that designer Dorothee Melichzon is not afraid of colour. Here she has infused each of the spaces with a distinctive palette. The lobby bar is run by the lauded Experimental Group (of Experimental  Cocktail Club fame), but aside from moreish cocktails it’s also a place to see and be seen.

First time hotelier Michele Delloye wanted to create a space that felt more like a comfortable guest house, and a platform to showcase French creativity, the result is COQ Hôtel. The acronym stands for Community of Quality. Designed by Pauline d’Hoop and Delphine Sauvaget of Agence Favorite, this petite place has only fifty rooms.

The long anticipated re-opening of the Hôtel de Crillon, a Rosewood Hotel, was worth the wait. The team of high profile designers includes Tristan Auer, Chahan Minassian and fashion icon Karl Lagerfeld. Grand and stately but not at all pompous the hotel has incorporated an impressive art collection to grace its walls. Four dining destinations mean you have plenty of options —  including L’Ecrin, awarded one Michelin star earlier this year. The subterranean pool and comprehensive spa facilities (including a men’s grooming station) makes this one hotel from where you’ll literally never want to check out.

By the Experimental group, and designed by the current doyenne of Parisian design Dorothee Melichzon is Hotel Des Grands Boulevards. With only fifty rooms this hotel has a decidedly more boutique vibe to it. The building is quite historic but Ms Melichzon has infused the rooms with just enough tech and modernity. Our tip: book one of the attic-style junior suites and sleep like royalty.

The Hoxton, Paris

The Hoxton, Paris

The newest and maybe the hippest on the list is the latest edition to The Hoxton stables. The Parisian outpost has been designed by the team at SOHO House (the public spaces) and rooms by Humbert & Poyet. Located in the heart of the 2e — location wise it doesn’t get much better. You’ve got four basic room types, all furnished in a simple industrial-hipster chic decor. The Moroccan-themed ‘Jacques Bar’ and the all-day-dining ‘Rivié’ complete the dining options although you’ll be spoilt for choice in the near vicinity.

The Hôtel de Joséphine Bonaparte

The Hôtel de Joséphine Bonaparte

The Hôtel de Joséphine Bonaparte, or JoBo for short, was named after one of the country’s most famous pair of lovers. The interiors, by decorator Bambi Sloan, are as quintessentially French as they come and were heavily inspired by the iconic Madeleine Castaing. Walls are bedecked with toile, animal prints or napoleonic emblems and motifs. It’s a rich, historically imbued pastiche of design elements, but mixed with all the mod cons. Situated in the heart of the le Marais you’re just a quick walk from all that the right bank and the Rue de Rivoli has to offer.

Hôtel National Des Arts et Métiers

Hôtel National Des Arts et Métiers

Hôtel National Des Arts et Métiers

Hôtel National Des Arts et Métiers

A quiet newcomer to the scene is the Hôtel National Des Arts et Métiers. The name refers to the traditions of craft and materials that the French are so highly regarded for. Designer Raphael Navot was charged with the design, a fitting partner as he’s known for “made-to-measure interiors, combining traditional methods with contemporary savoir-faire”. There are only seventy rooms in this boutique accommodation but each of them display the best that contemporary French design has to offer.

Nolinski

Nolinski

Hotel Panache

Hotel Panache

Modern French elegance reigns supreme at the Nolinski. Designed by Jean-Louis Deniot each of the rooms has been decorated with his signature mix of custom, antique and vintage and feels more like a very chic residence than a hotel.  Even if you’re not checking-in the ground floor Brasserie Rejane is well worth a visit for a stylish dining experience.

Another recent project by designer Dorothee Melichzon is Hotel Panache. Each of the forty rooms are different, all a little bit quirky and fun, and all very chic. Its location makes this new bolthole a short walk from numerous neighbourhood establishments, if you decide to venture out you won’t need to go far. Worth checking out are the groups other properties Hotel Paradis, also designed by Dorothee Melichzon and  Hotel Bienvenue designed by Chloé Nègre.

Hôtel Saint-Marc

Hôtel Saint-Marc

In the heart of the right bank is the new Hôtel Saint-Marc.  Designed by Dimore Studio the interiors are as hip, fresh and inimitable as you would expect from the Milan-based duo. No doubt the swathes of pattern and generous lashings of pink have made this an instant instagram favorite. Not just a pretty face though, despite its central location the hotel has also managed to squeeze in a pool and comprehensive spa facilities.

Only thirty seven rooms makes the Le Roch Hotel & Spa one of the smallest of the new boutique offerings. Unmistakenly Parisian, the interiors the lobby, restaurant and bar are dark and decidedly moody, and slightly more casual. While the rooms are lighter and crisper.  Designed by Sarah Lavoine, who also resides in the neighbourhood, she’s imbued the spirit of the locale in each of the spaces. True to its name, and despite its central 1e location, you’ll find fully fledged swimming pool and spa facilities to indulge yourself in.


Retail

Where to shop

One of the world’s fashion capitals, it goes without saying that Paris is undoubtedly a shopping mecca. You shouldn’t limit yourself to just clothes and accessories, there is a plethora of ultra hip boutiques proffering a highly curated selection of books, home accessories, furnishings, and more.

Christian Liaigre

Christian Liaigre

Karl Lagerfeld is quoted as having once said ‘I have a fatal attraction for books. A disease I don't want to be cured of’. His library at his own Paris apartment is famous, but the bookshop he owns and curates — 7L Bookshop — is lesser known to overseas visitors. This left bank store is well worth a visit for any booklover, particularly those looking to discover a tome or two on art, fashion, design and architecture. Often rare, out of print, independant titles are to be found.

‘For us, books are a matter of intellect and emotion, of heritage and innovation’ say the founders of luxury book publisher Assouline. The maison’s pint-sized Paris outpost is a must see if you’ve got space in your suitcase, because you’ll be sure to want to lug back a couple of these divine books.

Astier de Vilatte’s signature ceramics are hand-made in an historical workshop in Bastille — once home to Napoleon’s own silversmith. Made with black terracotta and then fired with a milky white glaze, each piece is unique. There is charm in imperfection — and you’ll be sure to agree once you lay eyes on their collection of everything a chic home needs from plates to pitchers.

Paris has a few fantastic department stores, but we always find it hard to go past Bon Marche. And even harder to leave the basement food court. In this subterranean space you’ll find all manner of French gourmet delights, from cheeses and cured meats to preserves — the list goes on. Between the lower level foodie paradise, to the top level book and stationery department (heaven for print geeks), you’ll find one of the city’s best selections of clothing, footwear and accessories for men, women and the home.  

Buly 1803

Buly 1803

Founded in 1803 Officine Buly 1803 on rue Saint-Honoré by perfumier Jean-Vincent Bully the brand has since opened flagship stores around the world, but the boutique on rue Bonaparte feels like a relic from another time. While the collection has grown and formulas modified, the packaging remains the same charming style making each item a decorative accessory as much as functional products.

French designer Christian Liaigre is the master of a bold, highly-crafted minimalism. No longer the creative director of his namesake company, but his legacy lives on in the new flagship store on rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré. Textiles, accessories, home fragrance and the highly covetable furniture collection are available so you can recreate as much or as little of the look at home.

If you really need to pick up some new threads while you’re in town, we’ll forgive you for that. Ex-Hermès creative director Christophe Lemaire and Sarah-Linh Tran are behind the collection, Lemaire, showcased in a beautiful boutique on the right bank. Here you’ll find womenswear and menswear displaying a paired-back simplicity that is modern yet adventurous.

Merci

Merci

A retail icon since it was founded in 2009, Merci has a carefully curated selection of home and living accoutrement, a fine selection of books, and an insightful edit of mens and womens wear. Set back from the street by a small courtyard, you can’t miss it for the iconic, and now oft instagrammed red fiat parked and often artfully styled. With three cafes on site, you can while away many an hour here.

In a delightful neighbourhood in the 3rd arrondissement, the OFR Librarie & Galerie has a stellar selection of independent contemporary books, magazines, fanzines, posters and other printed matter related to art, fashion and design. They regularly hold exhibitions too

Husband and wife team Ria and Youri Augousti have been working together for decade to produce their own furniture and accessories under the R&Y Augousti label. Their boutique on rue du Bac showcases their range perfectly. Highly inspired by the opulence of the art deco era as well as the decadent materials — these still feature in their work. Expect to see unusual combinations including bronze work with shagreen, exotic animal skins, metal leaf, precious stones and shell — often mixed together.


bars & Restaurants

Where to eat and drink

Burned a few calories on your retail therapy session? Here’s where we think you should revive, imbibe and indulge.

In the heart of one of the most walkable neighbourhoods in Paris, saint Germain des Près, is L’ Alcazar. The space is deceptively large but feels like an indoor garden with lush green foliage and simple elegant furnishings courtesy of local designer Laura Gonzalez. The menu consists of modern cuisine that is fresh and light, with meals served from brunch to dinner.

Balagan  Image by Studio l'Etiquette

Balagan
Image by Studio l'Etiquette

The place everyone is talking about in Paris right now is Balagan. The name translates from Hebrew to ‘beautiful mess’ — which is an indication of what to expect from the menu. Simple but chic interiors by Dorothee Melichzon are the delightful backdrop to one more establishment from the Experimental Group. Headed by two top Israeli chefs — Assaf Granit and Uri Navon, and new talent Dan Yosha, the menu consists of a fusion of Moroccan, French and Israeli recipes and everything is designed to share.

Beaupassage

Beaupassage

The French are known to like their food, so it’s really no surprise that something like Beaupassage would be developed in Paris. The only surprise is that it took so long. Officially opening at the end of August is a section of a pedestrian street dedicated entirely to food, wellness and a bit of art thrown in for good measure. Destinations will include a restaurant and wine cellar by Yannick Alléno, a cheese shop by Nicole Barthélémy, a street seafood restaurant by two star chef Olivier Bellin, a boulangerie by starred chef Thierry Marx, a new concept from chocolatier and pastry chef Pierre Hermé, an epicurean outlet by three star chef Anne-Sophie Pic, a Boucherie by breeder and butcher Alexandre Polmard plus a coffee shop by barista Junichi Yamaguchi. Bon appetite!

A quintessentially parisian dining spot, Chez Julien never disappoints. On the edge of the right bank of the Seine (in fact we highly recommend a stroll after dinner to top of the night) this is a place that you can eat alone or in a group and it will be equally special. The decor is old school and cosy and the shabby-chicness only looks more chic when candelit.  Another tip — start the night with an apertif at Au Petit Fer à Cheval, another charming local haunt that’s a short walk from the restaurant.

Le Flandrin was a stalwart on the Paris dining scene but looking tired until famed designer Joseph Dirand gave it a makeover recently. Now it’s a picture of opulent decadence, with walls covered in gleaming gold and a heady art-deco influenced mix of furnishings and finishes. Go for a drink, stay for dinner. The menu consists of classic French dishes that don’t disappoint.

The most famous French bakery and patisserie is the 150 year-old Ladurée. Their pistachio green shop facades, dotted around several locations in the city (and now internationally) are instantly recognisable. While the macarons are what they’re known for, we recommend you try the Religieuse (raspberry to be precise). It is as close to a religious experience you can have with a pastry.

Behind the rather non-descript front door at Le Mary Celeste you’ll find inventive cocktails, wine, oysters (they even do an oyster happy hour!) and some of the best bar food in the city. Come for the oysters, stay because of the chilled vibe and because you won’t need dinner after eating here.

LouLou

LouLou

Located inside one of our favorite cultural destinations — the musée des Arts décoratifs — is this stylish new cafe designed by Joseph Dirand. The menu at LouLou is overseen by young chef Benoit Dargère and is inspired by the French and Italian Riviera. The space is suitably hip, as you’d expect from anything designed by Dirand, but on a nice day it’s the exterior that we think makes this place a winner.

Monsier Bleu

Monsier Bleu

Another breathtaking cultural food combination designed by Joseph Dirand is Monsier Bleu, this one is attached to the Palais de Tokyo. The American-inspired brasserie style menu has a few classics and a few surprises. You can’t lose dining here — either sit inside and take in the stunning surroundings, or sit outside and enjoy the view of the Eiffel tower. Either way it’s going to be a meal you’ll remember.

If you like your gin (at let’s face it, who doesn’t these days) and feel like a tipple in Paris, then head over to one of our favourites — Tiger bar. It's located on a toursity street, but don’t let that fool you, the crowd here is very local. Inside you can expect an expertly concocted spanish-style gin tonic (with fresh seasonal botanicals, served in a balloon glass), from one of 130 gins mixed with their homemade tonic. No wonder it’s frequently listed as one of the best gin bars around.


Sights

What to see and do

Where do we start? Paris is one of the most visited cities in the world, and there’s little wonder why. Apart from its perennial beauty and charm, there is a list an arm and a leg long of fantastic cultural institutions to visit and other interesting places to see. These are a few of our faves.

Galerie-Musée Baccarat

Galerie-Musée Baccarat

The Galerie-Musée Baccarat is worth a visit to see the selection of over 350 pieces from the company’s collection that’s been amassed since it was founded in 1765. An added, oft unknown, bonus is that parchment walls that line one of rooms were designed by Jean-Michel Frank with bronze doors created by architect and decorator Eileen Gray in the 1920s when the building was the home of wealthy patrons Marie-Laure and Charles de Noailles.

Centre Georges Pompidou

Centre Georges Pompidou

The controversial design for the Centre Georges Pompidou (a collaboration between several architects including Renzo Piano and Richard Rogers) is often called ugly and brutalist but undoubtedly helped earn Rogers his Pritzker. What’s on the inside is more important, and that’s one of the most progress and avant garde displays of contemporary art, an impressive book shop and that’s not to mention the Atelier Brancusi that’s connected. On a nice day one of our favorite things to do is buy a crème glacée (ice cream à la française) and sit in the square to the rear of the museum and soak it all up.

Fondation Louis Vuitton

Fondation Louis Vuitton

The Frank Gehry-designed Fondation Louis Vuitton is worth visiting for the arresting architecture alone. On the skirts of one of Paris’ largest parks there are a multitude of opportunities for an incredible view of the city and surrounds. But don’t let that distract you from this seriously impressive art collection. The exhibitions are changing regularly enough for a visit each time you’re in town.

Designed by architect Pierre Chareau, Maison de Verre, was built in the early twentieth century for its original owner, Dr Jean Dalsace. The doctor and his family resided on the upper levels, while the ground floor housed his practise. The house has since changed hands and now belongs to former Wall Street magnate Robert Rubin. Mr Rubin has had the building restored and preserved and its now open to infrequent and limited tours. To be eligible to visit  you must be a student or professional working in architecture or related fields. To apply you need to email mdv31@orange.fr 3-4 months in advance of your desired time with a email outlining your interest in the building and your qualifications. Good luck. It’s worth the effort — we promise!

Paris has an impressive litany of grand, tourist-filled museums. We highly recommend you try a few of the more petite and lesser known ones instead. For example, the Musée national Gustave Moreau is in what was the private home of artist and namesake Gustave Moreau. The house itself is quaint and charming and filled to the brim with the artists furniture, books and personal belongings. The two upper levels were once the artist’s studio and now display an impressive selection of Moreau’s more important works.

Another former home turned museum was that which belonged to Moïse de Camondo, a wealthy Ottoman banker and art collector. Now the Musée Nissim de Camondo (named after his son) is open to the public. The mansion contains an impressive collection of French decorative art and fine art from an era considered to be the belle epoque.

While one of the most iconic artists of the twentieth century was in fact Spanish, not French, the Musée Picasso in Paris was donated and bequeathed a collection that includes 5,000 important works of art and tens of thousands of archival documents. This includes Picasso’s own private collection and works donated by his heirs and children. An extensive renovation was completed in 2014 replete with furnishings and light fixtures by Giacometti. For anyone even vaguely interested in art, this is a must see.

For architecture buffs — Villa La Roche was built by Le Corbusier and his cousin and frequent collaborator Pierre Jeanneret in 1925 and later renovated by Charlotte Perriand. Since named a UNESCO World Heritage site, and now open to the public, its managed by the Fondation Le Corbusier. Next door sits Villa Jeanneret, a private home commissioned by the architect’s brother, which houses the Le Corbusier archives. The Jeanneret home is not open to the public but the library is accessible by appointment. After several years of renovation the Studio Apartment of Le Corbusier has now reopened to the public. And if you want to do the full Le Corbusier pilgrimage, then a visit to Villa Savoye is a must. Though technically not in Paris, but in an outlying village called Poissy, lies what many an architect would say is a masterpiece. Designed by Le Corbusier and built in 1927 according to his modernist principles the house was originally built as a weekender and displays a number of unique features that won’t go unnoticed to the trained eye.

Heart & Seoul

Design Anthology’s top five for where to stay in the Korean capital

RYSE  Image by Yongkwan Kim

RYSE
Image by Yongkwan Kim

 
RYSE  Image by Yongkwan Kim

RYSE
Image by Yongkwan Kim

1
RYSE

Situated in the heart of one of Seoul’s most youthful and vibrant neighbourhoods is RYSE — a member of the Autograph collection. The SCAAA-designed tower has Instagram-friendly interiors by London-based Michaelis Boyd who were inspired by the natural contrasts of the Korean landscape. Embracing their locale — the heart of Seoul’s publishing community and the home to one of the city’s art schools — the hotel has incorporated a decidedly old school print and artsy bent to their facilities and events program. An in-house team used a vintage risograph machine to create much of the in-room art collection, there’s a vinyl stamping machine for musicians to lay down tracks, the lobby ‘print culture lounge’ has a collection of hard to find indie titles, respected local gallery Arario has an outpost in the basement and room types include the ‘editors’ room, to the ‘producers’ suite. A great home away from home in the Korean capital for the young at heart, and those that value all things art.

130 Yanghwa-ro, Seogyo-dong, Mapo-gu, Seoul; tel: +82 2 330 7700

 

2
Four Seasons, Seoul

For a luxurious indulgence in South Korea's capital city, look no further than the Four Seasons, Seoul. Mindful of Korean architecture's ever-conscious relationship with its environment, LTW Designworks — who handled the interior design — strove for material harmony.  Thus, translucent back-lit panels cast soft light across the space and co-conspire with a palette of muted earth tones to create a sense of lightness and openness throughout — helped also by the fact that rooms here are the largest in the city. The hotel’s anchor restaurants — Kioku serving Japanese and Yu Yuan serving Chinese — were designed by André Fu and are destinations in their own right.

97 Saemunan-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul; tel: +82 2 6388 5123

Four Seasons, Seoul

Four Seasons, Seoul

 
The Shilla Seoul

The Shilla Seoul

3
The Shilla Seoul

The Shilla Seoul is a veritable institution. Constructed in 1973 and occupying a prominent hilltop position in the centre of the city, it stood as a pinnacle of progress as the country rebuilt. Under the direction of Peter Remedios, interiors have recently seen a full update, now dominated by soothing beige and taupe tones. The property’s traditional hanok is a popular venue for weddings, and Korean restaurant La Yeon — one of eight dining outlets — was awarded three stars in last year’s inaugural Michelin Guide for Seoul.

249, Dongho-ro, Jung-gu, Seoul; tel: +82 2 2233 3131

 

4
GLAD Hotel

The only DESIGN HOTELS member property in Seoul, GLAD Hotel guarantees a classy stay in a design-fringed atmosphere.  The brand has two branches, one in hip Gangnam and another in Yeouido — Seoul’s financial district — with the latter offering luxuriously spacious rooms in a city facing ever-smaller hotel rooms. Ultra-comfortable beds, Italian designed Artemide lighting and a subdued, grayscale colour scheme with dark walnut flooring combine for a restful environment, ideal for a recharge.  A business lounge, gym and ground-floor restaurant and cafe round out the offerings.

16 Uisadang-daero, Yeongdeungpo-gu, Seoul; tel: +82 2 6222 5000

GLAD Hotel

GLAD Hotel

 
Hotel Cappuccino

Hotel Cappuccino

5
Hotel Cappuccino

Conceived as a reflection of the growing importance attached by young millennials to sharing and communal values — and as an attempt to embody these in the realm of travel — Hotel Cappuccino offers a young and casual ambience. It also offers the unique amenity of suites where owners can host their furry friends, replete with a personalised chew toy at check-in and pet-friendly conveniences in the room. The 141-room hotel is spread across 18 floors with a hip cafe on the ground-floor and a rooftop terrace on the other extreme, which boasts sweeping panoramic views out over the Gangnam district.

155, Bongeunsa-ro, Gangnam-gu, Seoul; tel:+82 2 2038 9500

Get Surreal

That the most exclusive accommodation in Bolivia is a caravan says as much about the country’s paucity of luxury lodgings as it does the thrilling off-road adventures in store for travellers to this surreal, landlocked nation high in the Andes.

It’s an other-worldly setting for a retro-deluxe Airstream camper built for earthly comforts, while channelling a space capsule transported in from another galaxy. Getting to it involves hurtling in a 4x4 across the dazzling expanse of the Salar de Uyuni, the world’s largest salt flats. Spread across some 11,000 square kilometres and at 3,600 metres above sea level, Bolivia’s greatest attraction is a blinding-white saline sea devoid of life — except for a few hapless llamas, lizards and rabbit-like viscacha stranded on Incahuasi, a bizarre island where cacti forests tower overhead.

Spectacular at any time of year, the salt flats transform into a gigantic, mind-boggling mirror during the rainy season when their shallow, glassy waters reflect the mountains, sky and clouds. It’s catnip for world wanderers, who traipse across the globe in search of photo opportunities like this.

The other-worldly landscape of Bolivia’s Altiplano is ringed in vast, desolate plains stained ochre and rust-brown, and speckled with turquoise lagoons that turn a brilliant emerald green when the wind blows

The other-worldly landscape of Bolivia’s Altiplano is ringed in vast, desolate plains stained ochre and rust-brown, and speckled with turquoise lagoons that turn a brilliant emerald green when the wind blows

The caravan comes with a private chef who doubles as waiter and barman, as adept at mixing an Andean-gin and tonic as whipping up chocolate souffle in the middle of nowhere. At night, I venture outside in sub-zero temperatures to revel in the solitude and silence under a magnificent constellation of stars.

No less alien are the lagoons and deserts of the Altiplano within the Eduardo Avaroa Andean Fauna National Reserve — a stunning landscape formed millions of years ago when the planet was a heaving, seething mass. Volcanoes — some still smoking — ring the vast, desolate plain, much of it stained ochre

and rust-brown from mineral deposits. It’s a land so strange that Salvador Dali, who never visited the Altiplano, is said to have been inspired by it. Look at his works and the likeness is clear.

The patchwork of lagoons, at altitudes up to 4,500 metres, will almost certainly take your breath away. Laguna Verde, arguably the most dramatic, turns a brilliant emerald green when the wind blows, while the crimson waters of Laguna Colorada may as well be blood seeping up from the bowels of the earth, though its colour is caused by algae and minerals. Incredibly, the lagoons teem with pink flamingos, hardy birds that can withstand the extreme microclimates’ salty, sulphurous waters, burning sun, freezing cold and lack of oxygen.

Travellers here are likely to overnight in the capital La Paz, a high-altitude conurbation that sprawls along a valley, precariously up clay cliffs and along a plateau. It’s not the place to get your design fix, though things are changing.

The Atix, the city’s first true boutique hotel, opened in late 2016. Clad in native wood and Comanche stone, the minimalist interiors are spiced up with colourful works by the country’s best-known artist Gastón Ugalde. Boosting the city’s luxe credentials further is the new, mid-century-meets-neoclassical Altu Qala hotel, which also houses the city’s coolest cafe, Hb Bronze Coffeebar.

My journey concludes at Gustu, the brainchild of Noma co-founder Claus Meyer. While the modern dining room could be in Lima or London, the ingredients and menu sing of Bolivia. Quinoa from the Andes, trout from Lake Titicaca and fish from the Amazon, paired with wines from Tarija. I leave sated, but with a hunger for more of this extraordinary land.

Text / Kee Foong
Images / Jose Cortes III

Creature Comforts

Cathay Pacific unveils a new Studioilse-designed lounge at Hong Kong International Airport full of homey touchpoints

Following the closing of The Cabin lounge at Hong Kong International Airport, Cathay Pacific has unveiled their latest lounge addition: The Deck.Perched just above Gate 16 in Terminal 1, The Deck offers travellers a home-like space to rest up and recharge before travel and between long-haul flights.

Studioilse — the London-based studio led by Ilse Crawford — was responsible for the design, and frequent flyers will immediately recognise the studio’s imprint, from its signature luxurious material palette to soft lighting. Large sofas in the central ‘living room’ will beckon to weary travellers, while a large, airy terrace is better suited to people-watching. There are also eight shower rooms equipped with Aesop amenities for freshening up.

For those looking to get one last taste of Hong Kong before departure, look no further than the Noodle Bar, which serves up local specialties alongside a rotating selection of regional noodle dishes.   

A curated selection of art, music and reading material — from international dailies to your favourite design magazine(!) — round out the offerings and hopefully keep you inspired for the journey ahead.  

Text / Jessica Vahrenkamp

The Fleming

A new boutique hotel in Hong Kong's Wan Chai district channels the spirit of one of the city's most beloved institutions — the Star Ferry. The Fleming's inspired interiors, designed by Hong Kong firm Substance, evoke the city's maritime heritage with a colour palette dominated by a bottle-green, sailor-blue colour palette and punchy red accents, while customised brushed-brass light fixtures cast a warm glow across the space.