5 Top Design Hotels To Check In… and Out

11 Mirrors - Kiev, Ukraine (c) Design Hotels

11 Mirrors – Kiev, Ukraine (c) Design Hotels

There’s more than one thing that we love about hotel stays when we travel (spa, spa, spa, room service, room service, room service), but at the top of that list of “Pros” is the opportunity for us to discover, examine, and fully experience the many facets of art and design that go into creating a property. The idea that we can be transported to another world, inside a new world, thrills us. Design Hotels™ has been a part of our own travel story for years. Created by a global community for passionate travelers who love design, architecture, and culture, today, through it’s collaborators and community, these innovators, designers, and dreamers are behind some of the most original hospitality experiences around the globe.

So, take a journey through five inspirational properties, handpicked by Design Hotels™’s very own travel experts.

Incheon, Korea - nest hotel

Incheon, Korea – nest hotel

nest hotel, Incheon, South Korea recommended by Carsten Lima, Area Director, APAC, Design Hotels™

Located on the island of Yeongjongdo, the setting of nest hotel is absolutely spectacular with views overlooking the Yellow Sea and neighboring islands. Perfection is sitting on one’s balcony and being surrounded by pine trees and reed fields, a nesting ground for the local bird population and the inspiration for the hotel’s name. The reeds sway with the sea breeze and when the sun catches the landscape, it produces the most exquisite kaleidoscope of colors. The sense of tranquility is continued through the simple and sleek interiors of the 360 rooms, all of which feature diagonally placed windows designed to optimize the amount of sunlight streaming through.

Hotel Hotel - Canberra, Australia

Hotel Hotel – Canberra, Australia

Hotel Hotel, Canberra, Australia recommended by Brandon Chan, Director of Sales & Marketing, APAC, Design Hotels™

Housed in a Japanese-inspired building, at first glance Hotel Hotel would seem to be entirely removed from its location. However, the functional and minimalist interiors of the 68 guestrooms have been created using humble, locally-sourced materials such as natural clay, recycled oak and aged cork. Hotel Hotel’s program of thoughtful sustainability is evident at almost every level: from the off-form concrete structure, to the repurposed furnishings and central staircase fashioned from salvaged timber. Taken as a whole, this breathing cornerstone of the Australian capital is a “vertical village” that contains the Palace Electric cinema, cafés and bars. The hotel’s public lounge is a series of nested spaces formed by rough-formed concrete, home to two large fireplaces and a library thoughtfully stocked with independent magazines and vintage books.

Sir Albert Hotel - Amsterdam, Holland

Sir Albert Hotel – Amsterdam, Holland

Sir Albert Hotel, Amsterdam, The Netherlands recommended by Henning Schaub, Sales Manager, Central & Eastern Europe, Design Hotels™

The building was once a diamond factory but there’s no doubt that Sir Albert Hotel is shining at its brightest right now. Amsterdam’s cool and creative crowd is flocking to the hotel’s IZAKAYA Asian Kitchen & Bar, created by Yossi Eliyahoo, and the restaurant’s adjoining private terrace with sweeping city views is the perfect spot for sundowners. For those staying in one of the 90 stylish guestrooms once the party winds down, Sir Albert’s unique brand of ‘bedside burger’ room service comes courtesy of De Pijp foodie hotspot The Butcher. Wait… BEDSIDE BURGER ROOM SERVICE? I think I’m in love.

Vertigo Hotel Spa - Dijon, France

Vertigo Hotel Spa – Dijon, France

Vertigo Hotel, Dijon, France recommended by Samantha Schellhase, Head of Portfolio Development, EMEA, Design Hotels™

Set in the historic heart of Dijon, the capital of Burgundy and one of the four official French cities of gastronomy, Vertigo Hotel is intrinsically linked with world-class food and wine. This may be reason alone to visit for us and the hotel has fully embraced this culinary heritage, starting with the chic retro bar which serves a wide selection of vintage burgundy wines, alongside classic French cocktails. Quite possibly my favorite. For the best and most unique sampling of the region, the mini bars in each of the 42 rooms are sourced strictly with products from Burgundy. Bedside wine tastings come in the form of single-serving ‘test tubes’, a personal favorite and a great way to sample the region.

The Gate Hotel - Tokyo, Japan

The Gate Hotel – Tokyo, Japan

The Gate Hotel Kaminarimon, Tokyo, Japan recommended by Aik Wee Ong, Director of Account and Revenue Management, APAC, Design Hotels™

The Gate Hotel Kaminarimon and its 136 rooms is nestled in the culturally-rich neighborhood of Asakusa, steps from the main temple gate of Kaminarimon and surrounded by independent shops and restaurants oozing with the charm of old Japan. Far from being stuck in the past, the district is constantly evolving by embracing innovative art and design, and The Gate Hotel with its clean, contemporary vibe is playing a considerable role in this evolution. The sweeping panoramic views from the hotel’s lobby and restaurant offer guests a birdseye view of the shifting and contrasting landscape of one of Tokyo’s most exciting destinations.

Doing Business. Croatian Style.

Hotel Lone's Sexy Pool

Check it out, ballers! Hotel Lone, Design Hotels™ first member in Croatia, is now open. Okay, yes, we’re obsessed with Design Hotels, but we’re also obsessed with Croatia. Not only did we rub elbows with the ex-PM’s daughter in Grad School (talk about a stunner!), but we also think Croatian men are hunks. So, what better reason to hit the road, Jack, then to head to the 248-room property located in the picturesque Mediterranean town of Rovinj, in the exclusive Monte Mulini neighborhood. Built to resemble a sleek white ocean liner floating on the hillside, the hotel also offers a range of places to wine and dine including three restaurants, three bars and… you guessed it… a night club. It also features a Mediterranean-inspired wellness center, a 600-seat auditorium and nine other meeting and conference spaces with state-of-the-art technology (since those of us who’ve had to put on events know just how critical good A/V equipment can be). So we say, Hotel Lone’s design focus, together with first-rate event and leisure facilities, create the perfect symbiosis of work and play.

Hot Tubbin' It at the Hotel Lone

As Design Hotels explain, “The ancient woodlands and wave-lapped coves of Croatia’s Adriatic coast have long been attracting sun-hungry tourists, leaving business travelers with no choice but to seek refuge elsewhere. Now though, after years of meticulous planning, there’s a proper design-focused place for them to stay in. The Croatian architectural firm 3LHD teamed up with Studio Numen and freelance conceptual artists to create an exterior and interior that ooze tailor-made design.

Wrapped by the emerald trees of the Zlatni Rt forest, and marked out by seductive minimalist curves, Hotel Lone is a conference hotel with a difference. Owned by Croatian hotel company Maistra Inc. and just a 10-minute walk from one of the most picturesque towns on the Mediterranean, Rovinj, it bends away from the coastline in a distinctive Y-shape, which means all 248 rooms and suites have views of the island-speckled coastline. Some of the hotel’s six meeting rooms benefit from this unusual profile, too, with high ceilings and wide spaces giving guests the freedom to think.” And, when you’re off galavanting around Europe for work and play, that’s exactly what you need.

The Swanky Spa

Locally grown rosemary, lavender and olive oil only add to the temptation of the Mediterranean-inspired wellness spa, while the open-plan lobby – decked in mirrors and cool white stones – allows the outstanding natural beauty of the surrounding area to flood inside. The project, led by Croatian architect Silvije Novak of 3LHD and inspired by the typology of 1970s Croatian hotels, brings the idea of terraced hotels with large lobbies to the scene and all rooms have spectacular sea or park views, with a dramatic hotel lobby opening up towards the sky with an atrium spanning six levels.

Hotel Lone's Infrared Spa

From Gastronomy to Wellness
With seven restaurants and bars, each with a different concept and cuisine, the hotel is a must-visit for food and wine enthusiasts. A la carte restaurant “L” offers traditional Croatian cuisine and over 200 old and new world wines. “ON” focuses on Mediterranean and central European cuisine through buffet and live cooking stations. Restaurant “E” features traditional Eastern cuisine infused with Mediterranean flavors; a highlight is the seafood tapas.

The Wellness Center boasts eight treatment rooms, some with large glass walls with stunning views. The offerings are varied including facial and body treatments, massages, invigorating baths and sauna with scented steam, Finnish, Turkish, salt and infrared sauna options. Infrared, what? That’s right… infrared sauna. We don’t skimp on our suggestions now, do we?

Inside the Wellness Center is also a gym, an aerobics room, a relaxation room, water beds, experiential showers and a swimming pool with hydro-massage therapy. There is also a specially designed space dubbed “sunken room” where guests float on hydro massage beds and chairs. LOVE sunken rooms. You too?

A View from the Hotel Lone

Bespoke Art and Furniture
Hotel Lone also features a collection of furnishings from renowned designers like Patricia Urquiola, Richard Schultz and David Rowland. Specially commissioned visual art installations can be found throughout the hotel’s public spaces. “We wanted guests to feel comfortable in vast spaces without being intimidated,” explains Croatian artist Silvio Vujicic. On the walls as well as along the lobby, spatial mixed media installations draw guests into the story and concept behind Hotel Lone. The rooms and suites are also decorated with graphics by Vujicic. As a screen-printing, textile and mixed media impresario, Vujicic drew his inspiration from Istrian cultural heritage and 15th century frescoes.

Location and Rates
With a private location near the sea of the Golden Cape Nature Park, Hotel Lone is surrounded by the historical Mediterranean Park Forest Zlatni Rt and is a 15 minutes walk from Rovinj’s historic town center and marina.

Rates range from EUR 186 – 1813.

The hotel is currently offering a 3 for 2 Summer Special. Available for a short time only, from now until September 1, 2011, guests booking three nights will only pay for two. 

www.designhotels.com/lone

ELLE Spa – Eden Roc

Eden Roc Renaissance Miami

When I was invited to cover the grand opening of Elle Magazine’s first foray into the spa business, you can probably guess no one had to twist my rubber arm. The ELLE Spa, launched in Miami’s famed Eden Roc hotel, promised to be both luxurious and relaxing. Although I’d never set foot in the Eden Roc, I did know the name. Who doesn’t? For more than 50 years, the Eden Roc Renaissance Miami Beach has graced Miami Beach’s Golden Mile at 45th Street and Collins Avenue.  Its 1950s and 60s heyday established it not only as a legendary landmark, but as South Florida’s premier resort property sought by many of the nation’s top entertainers and celebrities.

Eden Roc Pool

Today, the Eden Roc Renaissance Miami Beach continues its reign as the Grande Dame of Miami Beach, successfully luring the happening crowd away from South Beach, according to New York Magazine.  As with most great monuments, it is surrounded by a tremendous amount of history, and in some cases, controversy.

Eden Roc Renaissance Miami Beach was originally designed by famed architect Morris Lapidus, who also designed the Fontainebleau next door as well as the Americana Hotel, now the Sheraton Bal Harbour.  Lapidus was a virtual newcomer to hotel design, specializing in the design of retail storefronts.  His curvy, innovative hotel designs were widely criticized and, though considered daring at the time, later earned the 96 year-old Lapidus national acclaim in which he always insisted his best revenge on his critics was outliving them.  That’s when Harry Mufson came along and bought the Warner Estate (which belonged to one of the Warner Brothers) with a promise to build an even grander property:  Eden Roc. Lapidus was commissioned by Mufson to design the Eden Roc and said,  “I don’t want any of that French stuff you used at the Fontainebleau.  That’s for kids.” Gotta love a man who can crack a funny joke about the French…

As research for this project, Lapidus traveled to the Eden Roc in France; a favorite vacation spot for The Kennedy’s.  While touring Europe, he purchased statues, marble, and Venetian glassware for use in designing the hotel that would later be deemed a vision of the Italian Renaissance. Completed in 1956, Eden Roc was Lapidus’ most lavish design, attracting a stream of celebrities, including Elizabeth Taylor, Lucille Ball, Desi Arnaz, Sammy Davis, Jr., and Ann Margret.  It became the favorite on Miami Beach, successfully claiming the limelight from the Fontainebleau next door.

Eden Roc Lobby Bar

Located just off the pool deck was Harry’s American Bar.  Named after the property’s owner at the time, Harry Mufson, this became the hottest nightclub in town where elites such as Katharine Hepburn, Joe DiMaggio, Lauren Bacall, Humphrey Bogart, and Ernest Hemingway frequently danced the night away.  Painter Al Hirshfeld captured the essence of these entertainers at the popular nightclub in a famous celebrity caricature mural on the walls of the establishment.

Eden Roc Guest Room

Today, with the completion of its lavish restoration, Eden Roc Renaissance Miami Beach is shining brilliantly once again with it’s spacious 631 guest rooms, three 2,500 sq. ft. penthouse suites, 18 oceanfront one-bedroom suites, and 15 bi-level bungalow suites with floating staircases. All rooms feature flat-screen HDTV’s, iPod stations & Wi-Fi high speed internet. Their lobby bar is also one straight from the movies with sparkling glass, marble, and Brazilian rosewood columns. Beware of their delicious cocktails (which I happily slurped down with a side of shishito peppers) alongside Marysol from the Real Housewives of Miami, writers from Spa Magazine, and other fun, very Miami-based celebs. And the food at  1500 Degrees, their signature high-end dining establishment…delicious.

Under the direction of Exec Chef Paula DaSilva, 1st runner-up in Season 5 of Gordon Ramsay’s Hell’s Kitchen, hand-crafted artesian dishes demonstrate ‘fresh flavor combinations that accentuate the unparalleled flavor of fresh farm ingredients’. Sorry, couldn’t have said it better myself. The menu changes daily according to season and features local food products from farmers she actually knows. Small plate offerings ($6-$9) range from roasted beets with seared goat cheese and jumbo lump crab cakes with cilantro slaw and Old Bay aioli, to charred baby Brussels sprouts with mustard sauce and teriyaki beef skewers. Main plates ($25-$42) include: Florida red snapper with mushroom risotto, wilted arugula and aged saba vinegar; locally-raised half-chicken, cooked on the rotisserie, served with Carolina rice, black bean puree and mustard greens; hickory rubbed Palmetto Creek Farms pork loin chop with creamy polenta and roasted lobster with celery root puree, hearts of palm and Florida fruit salsa.

1500 Degrees

The ELLE Spa, which I was first and foremost there to enjoy, was designed by the owners Paola Chapur, Paloma Ardid, and Tim Williams, the spa director. This joint venture — the first for ELLE and an unprecedented partnership between a media property and a luxury resort — offered a once‐in‐a‐lifetime experience combining the unparalleled history and service of the Eden Roc Renaissance with the style of ELLE and the swankiness of Miami Beach. With floor‐to‐ceiling windows overlooking the hotel’s lushgardens and ocean, four infinity pools and sweeping seascape, the space boasts design and décor inspired by the Mediterranean coastline. High‐coved ceilings, whitewashed walls, natural stone, water and wooden elements create a calm, chic environment for the ultimate spa escape. My favorite part? Free yogurt covered pretzels, copies of Elle Magazine, and a faux fireplace to keep things warm and toasty.

Exit Through The ELLE Spa Gift Shop!

The ELLE Spa offers a range of treatments that come to life through elite, editorially‐inspired treatments such as ‘Doctors’ Orders’ and ‘Forever 25’ –replete with inspiring oceanfront views, rooftop dining, chocolates, champagne, a shared whirlpool tub, rain shower, and cozy beds. Depending on their schedule, guests can spend less than an hour or a whole day experiencing wet spa areas with hot whirlpools, cold plunges, steam sauna and hydro‐experience showers before being escorted to the decadent relaxation lounge.

Jaime King Gets a Pedi

ELLE Spa visitors can also take advantage of an expansive rooftop deck with VIP cabanas, light dining and beverage service. A retail boutique offers the ultimate selection of luxury products, handpicked by ELLE editors. This spa shop is one of the best I’ve seen. So much so, I bought a bracelet and a necklace. The prices, for the quality of the goods, are also completely reasonable.

A range of exclusive products and treatments, curated by skin and beauty experts including Tammy Fender, Yael Alkalay of Red Flower, and Essie feature exclusives from Red Flower, including massage and body treatments and a customizable scrub bar, all which incorporate the signature ELLE Spa scent. In addition, Essie has developed eye-catching custom nail colors—the neon-pink “Eden” and can’t-miss-it-coral “Roc” —to be sold only at the ELLE Spa.

All in all, the trip was amazing. Live music at the beachfront cabana restaurant, rooms with ocean views, high quality in-room flatscreen TVs and the ELLE Spa, made for the perfect balance between relaxing after an evening of Miami’s nightlife and revitalizing myself from a day at the beach under the sexy Miami sun.

Portugal’s Sexy Design Hotel

Farol Design Hotel - Portugal

Yes, we’re a little obsessed with artistically inspired, unique design hotels which is why we’re looking to the unspoken Spanish rival… Portugal. Known for it’s beautiful women, great food, and raw coast, Farol is one hotel we’re dyin to check out.

Perched on a rocky shoreline overlooking small fishing boats in a local marina, this hotel not only benefits from ocean views but a striking visual interior. A daring project from CM Dias Arquitectos, the hotel is housed in a remodeled 19th-century mansion once owned by the Count of Cabral and seems to float above the sea below. Inside, the communal spaces have been redefined in black and white, while 10 of the guestrooms show off designs from Portugal’s fashion elite, including Ana Salazar, Fátima Lopez, Miguel Vieira, who were invited to each decorate a room. Aquatic elements pervade the property, from hydro-massage bathtubs in each of the rooms to the terrace garden, complete with salt-water pool.  I see China, I see France, I see Portugal… in my travel pants!

www.designhotels.com/farol_design_hotel

NYC: Dishing Fashion & The Flat Iron

For the Love of Fashion…

Sarah Ivens, Jaunt Magazine Contributor

Sarah Ivens, Founding Editor-in-Chief of the US version of OK! Magazine and Jaunt Magazine Contributor Extraordinaire, heads back to her (not so) old stomping grounds of NYC to fill our readers in on the latest treats.

New York’s Fifth Avenue has just been voted the No 1 shopping destination in the world and it’s gar-mental fervour explodes across the whole city twice a year when it celebrates fashion week; when the good, the bad, the ugly and the just plain crazy descend on the angry, concrete streets of Manhattan to fight the throngs, predict the future and hunt for bargains.

The Fashion Hotel, NYC

If you are a fashionista who’d rather spend your hard-earned dollars on handbags than hotel rooms during this busy time in the city (but you still desire life to be beautiful) head to the recently opened The Fashion Hotel in Chelsea. Not only is the lobby constantly filled with free, delicious Crumbs cupcakes (Katie Holmes favourites!) but the garment theme plays a major role. The furniture and art displays are assembled from over-sized cotton wheels and needles and the staff are dressed sharply to match the service. The Fashion Hotel is perfectly situated for the world’s largest (and scariest) department store, Macy’s, which is a mere five minute strut up 7th Avenue.

Fashion Hotel, NYC

If you fancy something a bit more local and low-key and are all clothed-out, make your way past the Flat Iron to 19th and Broadway (a five minute strut in the opposite direction) for a visit to Fishs Eddy.  A treasure trove of quirkly ceramics and cutlery, this hidden away oasis of kitchen cool is the perfect place to style-up your own house or buy a fabulous gift for a forward-thinking friend. Their latest design features beautiful illustrations of same-sex wedding couples celebrating their big day. The cups are selling out so fast I had to pick up a few right there and then – and you will too if you have a gay wedding to attend in the next year!

Once rested back at the hotel and looking for fuel for the fashion ahead, cross the street to new burger joint BGR at 27th and 7th – opposite the Fashion Institute. The hip crowd gathers here for small talk (guessing the waist size of the models they’ve just met) and large patties and portions of crispy fries. If you want more beef, stay inside the hotel for a trip to RARE. Although only just opened, its quickly becoming one of New York’s coolest steakhouses, with a ‘Who cares if I miss the first show in the morning?’ kind of wine list. If you must stick to salads, at least make it amazing by going to Dishes – the media crowd’s lunchtime secret – near the bustling tents of Bryant Park at 44th and 5th. This should keep you going till you return, laden down with bags, to the cupcake display at the hotel.

Prices at the four-star Fashion Hotel start from $233 per night.

Tasmania’s Latest Little Gem

Tasmania's Hazard Mountains

When we saw the latest images from Australia’s newest luxury hotel, Saffire, located on the breathtaking East Coast of Tasmania near Freycinet, we dropped our jaws (and our laptops).

The news came from one of the top hospitality PR firms in New York City just to let our luxury loving readers know… Saffire is open for business (and they mean business!)

Considered an iconic development for the Australian tourism industry, Saffire is – in both concept and design – like no other hotel in the country.  Capturing the essence of the unique region to connect with the exotic environment, it’s the “culmination of years of market research and careful planning,” says Greg Farrell, Pure Tasmania Managing Director.  And, judging by the looks of it, they’ve done a stellar job. Ultra-modern design, expansive windows, beautiful woods, and plenty of natural light, Saffire is delivering a new world-class Tasmanian experience to showcase the best of their sexy island state.

Saffire Suite - Tasmania's Latest Luxury Digs

Set apart by its approach to individually tailored experiences and service; not constrained by traditional five-star ratings and standards, but instead, creating a new direction for holidays and accommodations in Australia, the luxe property features 20 suites, each offering sweeping views of Great Oyster Bay and the Hazards Mountains (hint, hint: with complete privacy from the neighboring suites). Tasmania’s freshest produce and finest wines and beers will be available in their Palate restaurant and The Lounge bar, while lucky guests can pamper themselves in their premium spa or work up a sweat in the gym.

We hear that their Exclusive Signature Experiences have been “developed accessing little-known areas of the Freycinet Peninsula with a range of other activities tailored to suit guests’ desires.”

Did someone say… desires?

Well, we say, “Tres chic.”

www.saffire-freycinet.com.au

Design Hotels – Christmas Travel Deal

We think there’s nothing quite like a hotel that can make you feel like you’ve stepped into a cleaner, better, sexier world; a world with great lighting where your wrinkles disappear and attractive majordomos cater to your otherworldly whims.

Whether that means an extraterrestrial haven created by Renzo Piano or Delphine Buhro and Michael Dreher’s Frankfurt den, the 25Hours Hotel (seen here). With that in mind, we’re always keen on sniffing out what the Design Hotels™ group is doing.

Design Hotels™, a group of chic design-oriented hotels from across Europe, Asia, and the Americas, offer just about everything for the design aficionado, the swanky lover of all things cutting-edge, hip, and sleek when it comes to modern hospitality design. So, for those longing for some style and festivity this holiday season, they’ve decided to fill our special Jaunt Magazine readers in on a little christmas travel deal not to be missed.

Check this out, but you better act fast!

This year, Design Hotels™ will be releasing its first annual gift guide to give away fantastic prizes worth up to €2,000/$2,991 each!

From December 1 to the 24th, visitors to Design Hotel’s website (www.designhotels.com) will not only receive a special holiday recommendation – from a themed weekend break to a Thai island-hopping adventure – but they can register to win free nights, designer bags, complimentary meals, and more.

A sneak preview of some of the prizes include:

A three-night stay in a pool villa at X2 KuiBuri, a seaside resort in Thailand, including a round-trip transfer to and from Bangkok airport

A two-night stay including breakfast in a suite at The Hotel – Lucerne, designed by French star architect Jean Nouvel

A €100/$200 voucher to spend on food and beverage at Sanctum Soho, London’s coolest Rock’n’ Roll hotel

Limited edition Raf Simons for Eastpak bags.

To join in the festive fun, participants only need to register their name and email address on http://www.designhotels.com/happyholidays and each morning from December 1-24th, 2009, a new calendar window will be opened to reveal an insider tip and prize.

Guests can then register within 24 hours to be eligible to win the gift shown. The winner will be chosen at random the following day and notified by email.

For the prize draw on December 1st, users can register from November 23rd onwards.

In addition, the Rock’n’Roll-inspired London-based Sanctum Soho is running it another brilliant (as those charming Brits would say) Christmas package. Fans and visitors of the Sanctum Soho include the likes of Franz Ferdinand, Joss Stone, Prince Harry, Natalie Imbruglia, and yes… your favorite tit trawler, Katie Price.

The Xmas at Sanctum Soho package includes:

A 3-night stay (Dec. 24, 25 and 26) with complimentary breakfast
Christmas Eve Dinner
Christmas Day Lunch
Boxing Day Brunch (“Boxing Day” is the day after Christmas)

Rates start at $815 per person, based on double occupancy.

For reservations: www.designhotel.com/sanctumsoho