Five stunning designer hotels

30 Jan 2013

A growing appetite for luxury goods in the East, combined with a digital revolution in the retail sector globally, has led to what Angela Ahrendts, chief executive of Burberry, calls the “democratisation of luxury” – broadening a brand’s appeal while maintaining exclusivity. Therefore, not only are fashion houses updating their collections faster than ever before and entering new markets, but they are also extending beyond the typical clothing and accessories business model with ventures in diverse industries, such as hospitality. Here are five recent hotels that have either joined forces with fashion brands or belong completely to the brand:


Armani Hotels

The first Armani-branded hotel opened in 2010 in Dubai (pictured). Housed within the glittering Burj Khalifa, the 160-room property immediately established itself as the height of sophistication and opulence in a gilded city where the bar for service expectations is set high to begin with. In 2011, a second 95-room Armani Hotel was launched in the heart of the world’s fashion capital – Milan – on the renowned Via Manzoni.

Under Giorgio Armani’s watchful eye, every element of both hotels reflects his sharp and elegant design philosophy, from the colour palate to the bathroom amenities.

A statement from the brand expresses plans to open hotels in New York, Shanghai, London and Marrakech soon, although no concrete timelines are available.

Facilities: The Dubai property, which boasts spectacular views of the city, consists of eight food and beverage outlets, a spa, gym and outdoor swimming pool. The hotel in Milan consists of three food and beverage outlets, spa, gym and pool.

Rooms at both properties have impressive details, such as discreet one-way glass panels for the showers, walk-in wardrobes and automatic doors.

Stand-out feature: Each guest at these properties is assigned lifestyle managers, who are dedicated to meeting all their needs. They liaise with guests before arrival, check them into their rooms and assist them throughout their stay.

Claridges Hotel, London

The luxurious Claridges Hotel in Mayfair joined forces with the iconic Diane von Fürstenberg back in 2010 to spruce up its interiors.

Von Fürstenberg, who has been staying at Claridges since the 1970s, was responsible for designing new furniture, fabrics and rugs for 20 rooms, including the Grand Piano Suite (pictured).

Her touch is seen in the large Chinese floral motifs, animal patterns and vibrant colours printed on upholstery, carpets and curtains. Furthermore, the rooms redesigned by her feature a DVF custom-made cashmere blanket and photographs taken by von Fürstenberg herself during her travels around the world. 

Facilities: The hotel consists of a gym, spa and four food and beverage outlets including a restaurant by Gordon Ramsay. Complimentary wifi access is also available.

Stand-out feature: As the name suggests, the Grand Piano Suite features a grand piano as well as a fireplace and a cocktail bar designed to look like a jewellery box. Guests staying here are entitled to complimentary airport transfers in a Mercedes S-Class and personal butler services.


Hotel Icon, Hong Kong

Opened just two years ago, this independent hotel places a great emphasis on design, art and service. The 262-room hotel is actually a training facility of the School and Hotel of Tourism Management at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University, although that does not equate to sub-par services or facilities. In fact, the property has partnered up with several big names, such as Hong Kong-based architect Rocco Yim, and the staff is extremely well-trained (for a Tried and Tested of the hotel, click here).

One of the many iconic names that this hotel has collaborated with includes fashion designer Vivienne Tam, who conceptualised an entire namesake suite that was unveiled last year (see story here).

Perched on the 27th floor with a sweeping view of Hong Kong island, everything here – from the high ceilings and lofty feel to the furniture and pieces of art – is put together by Tam herself, to reflect her signature “Chinese chic” style.

Facilities: Complimentary mini bar and internet access (wired and wifi), iPod docking station, Bose sound dock, Blu-ray player, a printer and access to the club restaurant, lounge and private rooms. Other features at the hotel include four food and beverage outlets, including a pool side bar, a gym, spa, rooftop swimming pool and a complimentary shuttle bus between the hotel and Tsim Sha Tsui, a vibrant commercial district in Kowloon. 

Stand-out feature: The Opera Girl portrait made of Swarovski crystals.


Sofitel So Bangkok

Last year, the first Sofitel So-branded property in Asia opened in Bangkok (see story here) boasting cutting edge technology and a collaboration with five local designers, architect Smith Obayawat and none other than Christian Lacroix. The 238-room property is themed around the five elements – water, earth, wood, metal and fire – with rooms designs varying to reflect a different element. (For a Tried and Tested of the hotel, click here.)

The renowned designer's input covers two main areas: the property’s branding and ambience. Drawing on his years of experience in style and fashion, Lacroix designed the hotel’s Tree Of Life emblem as well as the staff’s uniforms blending traditional Thai elements with contemporary French touches. When it comes to ambience, Lacroix helped design the hotel’s executive lounge on the 25th floor, including the large mural on display, the wallpaper and the colour palate. In addition, Lacroix’s artwork is on display, suspended from the ceiling in the Street Lobby.

Facilities: The hotel consists of six food and beverage outlets, including the Red Oven restaurant, which has live cooking stations. There is also a gym, spa and an outdoor infinity pool. (To read a Tried and Tested of the spa, click here.)

Stand-out feature: Lacroix’s art work in the Street Lobby, and the fact that all rooms are equipped with iPads and Apple Mac Mini’s.


St Regis New York

The Dior Suite has been at the St Regis New York since the early 1990s, but was re-launched in September 2011 in a collaboration with Christian Dior. The suite, located located on the 12th floor, is 158 sqm and derives inspiration from the fashion house's ateliers in Paris with its muted colours and whimsical accents. An ornate chandelier hangs from the high ceiling and plush materials such as lace, leather and silk inform the furnishings.

The Dior Suite consists of a foyer, one bedroom, two bathrooms, a dining room and a living room complete with a fireplace and large windows overlooking Fifth Avenue up towards Central Park.

Facilities: The landmark property has a spa, cognac room, business centre, bar and Astor Court restaurant, as well as 171 guestrooms and 66 suites.

Stand-out feature: The suite's Pièce de résistance is a Bil Donovan watercolor painting in the living room. The artist and fashion illustrator was Dior Beauty’s first Artist-in-Residence in 2009. The four silhouettes in the piece each wear a different Dior dress that represent the brand's signature style throughout the years.

Alisha Haridasani

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