What is your own personal litmus test for whether a hotel is worthy of the 'luxury' tag?
As our modern world grows in wealth, technology and knowledge, luxury becomes increasingly accessible, and increasingly commonplace. Yet, whereas once 'luxury' was a promise of quality and the uncommon, nowadays the burden is upon us to distinguish the products with real substance from those that are only pretty packaging. One good example of this is at one of Design Hotels' newest members, Sextantio Albergo Diffuso in Italy. The hotel's rooms are scattered across multiple buildings throughout a 16th-century hilltop village, once the home for shepherds and peasants. Everything remains true to the medieval origins, from the walls blackened over the years by the stoves to the restaurant serving dishes using traditional 16th century recipes. The experience created is totally one-of-a-kind and is the epitome of what luxury is - an out-of-the-ordinary pleasure which is hard to obtain. I know people that fly over from London in their private jets just for dinner at the hotel, served in the local church!
Which designers and architects do you think are being particularly creative in the sphere of hotel design?
I really admire what Joseph Dirand at the Habita Monterrey is doing, I believe that he will be one of the most talked-about architects in the next 10 years. Architecture is totally in his blood and his timeless style is not defined by an era.
What is the new hotel opening you are most excited about this year (after May)?
I'm excited about several hotel openings this year. In London, Loh Lik Peng, owner of three other Design Hotels? members New Majestic, The Waterhouse at South Bund and Wanderlust, will be opening the aforementioned Town Hall Hotel and Apartments in London. Created in the old Bethnal Green town hall, this hotel will have wonderful period features including a sweeping marble staircase, glass-domed ceiling and large spaces, including the huge De Montfort suite which is 220m2 in size!
Christophe Pillet and Shahé Kalaidjian from Hotel SEZZ in Paris have joined forces again and created an all-star team for a new hotel in the south of France, SEZZ Saint-Tropez. Architect Jean Jacques Ory has created a contemporary version of a small Provençale village with its collection of single-storey buildings that are airy spaces furnished with pieces designed by Pillet. The restaurant Colette is headed up by Pierre Gagnaire, a Michelin-starred chef known for being at the forefront of the fusion cuisine movement. I have no doubt that it will become a favourite among both locals and hotel guests.
Another exciting opening on home ground is The Weinmeister, a cool new addition to the Berlin hotel scene from the owners of Lux 11. This hotel will have an envious location in the heart of Berlin, spacious rooms starting from 30 square metres and one-of-a-kind handmade furnishings, including lamps transformed from airbags!
What is your favourite city to visit?