Check it out: hotel style for your home
It’s hard to explain today the sensation Blakes hotel caused when it opened in 1978. The first distinctive example of what came to be known as the boutique hotel, Blakes was the love child of Anouska Hempel, who filled its rooms with a wildly idiosyncratic iteration of her own theatrical, lush and highly decorative taste.
Hempel has astutely turned her taste into a successful subsidiary business. She has gone on to design many new hotels, the Monsieur George in Paris and the Duxton Reserve in Singapore among them, and many of the pieces can be ordered for the home. Most popular from Monsieur George are Hempel’s signature Yardstick lamps, along with marble tables she had made in Istanbul.
Buying into the aesthetic offered by the world’s chicest hotels has never been easier. The Bulgari hotel group’s favoured architect Antonio Citterio heads up a practice that gives each of its hotels a sense of place using local artisans and designers to create pieces that connect with the vernacular, mixed with his own designs – sofas, armchairs and tables – that can be snapped up from bebitalia.com and pamono.it.
Designer André Fu, having recently completed a suite at Hong Kong’s Upper House, has extended his Living collection at andrefuliving.com with pieces that include a new dining table, armchair and sofa, while his Art Deco Garden range can be found at amara.com from late August. He’s also worked with de Gournay, which now handpaints panels in his zen-garden‑inspired design.
For a completely different look, Africa’s famed design firm Cécile & Boyd has created an oasis of laidback modernity at Singita’s luxury lodges, furnished with huge, squashy sofas, functional lights and characterful artefacts evocative of their surroundings. “Though everything we sell is perfectly appropriate in Africa, it isn’t all African-inspired,” explains Kim Peter, general manager of the Singita Boutique & Gallery. She points to the recently reimagined Sabora Tented Camp in Tanzania, where the aesthetic is contemporary with leather furniture and steel lighting. Lebombo Lodge features furniture made from woven ilala palms, while the Mara River Camp boasts woven furnishings featuring a strong African design. Buying pieces from the collection, which spans from rugs, through to tables, chairs and lighting, can be done at singitastores.com, and the boutique ships overseas.
This year brought the launch of a charming ensemble of furniture and furnishings, originally created for two French hotels: the Château Les Carrasses in the Languedoc and the Château St Pierre de Serjac. Its owners, Karl O’Hanlon and Anita Forte, working with specialist suppliers, had developed a cohesive collection for both inside and outside, which have been made available through domainelife.com. It features low-maintenance, weatherproof, hand-woven rattan furniture (tables, chairs, loungers, etc) in French grey with garden parasols, and interior staples such as divans, mattresses and duvets, as well as lighting, art and antiques. A third estate, the Château Capitoul, also in Languedoc, is due to open shortly and in the coming months it hopes to expand its offering to headboards and ottomans.
Many hotels draw on local artisans to create bespoke pieces that add a point of difference to the comfort they offer, often supporting those artists and designers by commissioning pieces for their e-boutiques. The rustic 13th-century Domaine des Etangs château in the rolling Cognac countryside is a notable example. It has been meticulously restored by its owners using stonecutters, cabinetmakers and carpenters to create limited-edition pieces that showcase the local culture and artisanal skills. Many of the smaller pieces – tableware, vases and kitchen accessories – can be found at domainedesetangs.com.
A very English eclecticism sets the scene in Somerset. Claudia Waddams and Aled Rees’s 12-bedroomed retreat Number One Bruton is carved out of a Georgian townhouse, and the couple have made a point of using local design talent. “Everything we have used in the hotel has some personal significance and the idea of selling things that we had commissioned for the hotel gave us an excuse to highlight local makers,” says Waddams. On the walls are photographs by Don McCullin (a local friend); Perry Ogden (Claudia’s cousin); and William Dalrymple (a family friend), all of which can be ordered. Some of the furniture is also available to buy: Candace Bahouth, the mosaic artist, has created special benches; artist Theodora Gould’s painted cabinets (£5,000) are deliciously pretty; there are Hana Reynolds lamps and shades (from £350 each), and a rainbow-hued chair by Solange Azagury-Partridge and Bill Amberg.
Designer Lulu Lytle of Soane Britain has taken her signature style further afield to Cobblers Cove, the much-loved Caribbean retreat revamped last year by owners Sam de Teran and Hugh Godsal. Between them they came up with some intricately woven rattan furniture and some gloriously sunny fabrics inspired by the fauna and flora of their surroundings, which can now be found at soane.co.uk.
Selling the hotel lifestyle is fuelled by commercial entrepreneurship but also creates a shop window for design. The mix has proved popular. Kit Kemp, the founder and creative director of Firmdale Hotels who creates collections for fabric and wallpapers brands Christopher Farr and Andrew Martin, has envisaged pieces for Wedgwood, and her fabulously colourful furniture, made to order at firmdalehotels.com, was showcased at a pop-up shop in New York’s Bergdorf Goodman in 2019. Others are following in her footsteps. South African hotelier Liz Biden, whose Royal Portfolio group of hotels are admired for their dashing individualism, sells easily transportable designs – ceramics, linens, throws and wonderful African artworks. It’s the kind of no-effort service that makes hotel stays so attractive in the first place. The added benefit? No suitcase is required.