A fun mix of materials and geometric, multifaceted textures… the ESPA Spa: Istanbul EDITION Hotel. Designed by Hirsch Bedner Associates, it is “inspired largely by Turkish traditions, with design elements that echo the Hammam customs and atmospheric elements of Istanbul” to create a contemporary, luxurious space filled with embossed bronze floors, chocolate brown marble, cast bronze sinks, walls of crystals, horsehair walls, mirrored glass tiles, and more. Almost an intentional aversion to straight lines, paths and corridors lead you through kinks everywhere, creating a mysterious effect as you explore the unknown relaxation space… Take a peek at some of the design sketches before, and a peek at the newly realized Espa on the next page!
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From surreal bent wood cocoons, to augmented reality projections on the screens outside the pod windows showing you real time views of the Eiffel Tower… even though you are UNDERGROUND… to a stunning living wall… the Six Senses Spa Paris is transformative on so many levels. Oh! And it even has its own secret elevator from the Westin, Place Vendome, for tose who wish to drop down to their subterranean oasis without stepping foot outside. The interior is designed by French architect Pierre David, integrating the elements of light, wood, stone and earth. The vertical garden that greets you as you enter from street level is created by landscape artist Patrick Blanc. The combination of greenery, gorgeous eco-centric design, and technology had me visually inspired as it was… combine one of the most diving massages, and it was hard to leave the cocooned underground haven… if only there were bird’s eye view looks at the Eiffel Tower projected BELOW your head when face down looking through the massage table hole… i kept being tempted to peek to stare at the projected views outside my pod window! See pictures of this Six Senses oasis on the next page!
So that plane i hopped on instead of checking out the skull engraved in a cube of uncut currency has landed me in Paris! At the Westin Paris… to celebrate Perrier-Jouët’s 200th Anniversary… greeted in the room by a lovely bottle of their Cuvée Belle Epoque Champagne in the signature Flower Bottle, invitation to tomorrows festivities, and a schedule for the next 3 days, which will take me from Paris, back to Epernay, to learn more about where it all came from. So first, a look at the bottle that awaited me, and the gorgeous graphic design on the invitation! After all… it’s a philosophie de vie… take a peek on the next page!
While minibars are often used to numb/relax the mind ~ and some have stimulating energy boosters and/or “toys” for your pleasure now ~ i love the idea of adding some intellectual stimulation as well. In addition the The School of Life Daily Aphorism cards that Morgans Hotels leave on your pillow each night, they have also come up with the Minibar for the Mind, and what better place to test this than at the gorgeous Redwood Room at The Clift in San Francisco? Inviting a few friends to truly explore the “Conversation Starters” over martinis… before they even sat down, the Daily Aphorism cards got us talking ~ “I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by.” - Douglas Adams & my personal favorite “Between two evils, I always pick the one I haven’t tried before.” - Mae West. Words to live by, no? Inside each set, you’ll find: CONVERSATION STARTERS: A box set of 250 cards featuring questions, quotations and provocations to start tongues wagging. COLLECTED THOUGHTS: A volume of the best columns written by The School of Life’s faculty and friends. READING PRESCRIPTIONS: Two tailor-made reading prescriptions housed in corked test tubes, designed to evoke moods of relaxation or seduction. DREAMS & FEARS NOTEBOOK with WRITER’S BLOCK PENCIL SET: A notebook to write down your dreams and fears, and inspirational pencils to get you going. I think The School of Life and Morgans are on to something here… the universal nature of forcing us to think differently, reassess our surroundings, push boundaries… while not always easy, are fun and freeing and make for passionate discussions, be it with friends or strangers!
So, while i have gone through all 250 cards, and the STACK of daily aphorisms, i tried to pick out my favorite thought provokers to get you going, and even then, i ended up with FAR too many to share in one post. So, on the next page… see pics of some of my favorites, as shot in the candle lit inspiration of the Redwood Room, while sipping a Mandarin Lemongrass Martini (deliciousness!)…
Hotels are where real life happens… and sometimes it’s dressed up like an escapist fantasy from your reality, but bottom line, they are a great way to explore the usability of objects and spaces… it’s like extended shopping? Staying in hotels begins to feel more like that childhood fantasy of hiding out/living in a department store or museum (From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, anyone?) ~ i’m waiting for the moment when i can buy the furniture, wallpaper, faucet fixtures, etc as easily as the bed, robe, and alcoholic minis… Hotel stays are experiments in living. Imaging designing experiences from the furniture to the layout to the closet filled with clothes (like The Tourist when they check into Hotel Danieli and open the closet door) to a living room and desk with gadgets for the perfect party (or meeting)… A way to slip right in and try on what your life could be like. And of course everything is purchasable. It’s one thing to have artists paint a mural… but another to create, could-be-real experiences…
A perfect example is this weekend’s adventure with the Four Seasons Los Angeles and Jawbone Jamboxes! This is the only location in California where you can live with a Jambox before you buy. While Jamboxes have made quite the splash over the holiday season across the design/trend/gadget sites ~ and the packaging is beautiful (see the full poolside unboxing here!) ~ it is a fascinating partnership that Jawbone and the Four Seasons Los Angeles have. Upon checking in to a suite, you are offered one to play with for the duration of your stay. They will even show you how easily it pairs and what you can do with it when you get up to the room! (Seriously, i’m impressed how easy pairing was with my various devices!) And it boosts an impressive 85 decibels ~ perfect for everything from relaxing on the patio, to blasting tunes from your laptop, or watching youtube videos from your phone… all via bluetooth (or headphone jack)… or you can use it as a super speakerphone when bluetoothed to your phone, since it has a mic too! It’s a fun way to try it before you buy… or in my case, fall for it and buy during my stay… luckily the front desk has them in a few colors ready for guests who decide they need one too!
Now… interesting from a design side, they had custom cases made for the Jamboxes, a simple discrete little zip pouch carrying the Jambox and all its cables, as well as instruction manual… take a peek at the Jambox in Four Seasons’ context on the next page!
The idea of a staycation is bull. It has recently been brought to my attention that i spend so much time in hotels in every city except my own (LA!) that i should get to know some of the ones in my backyard better. Ugh, questioning whether this is a ‘staycation’ (i recoil similarly to “jeggings”) led to discourse on what a “vacation” really is… and you can’t knock it till you try it, so when the Four Seasons Los Angeles at Beverly Hills offered me a suite, it seemed like the perfect excuse to give it a try.
So what IS a vacation? A change in perspectives. A break from your everyday. A chance to explore, relax, indulge, be pampered, be left alone, enjoy room service,… whatever it is you need! The Online Etymology Dictionary says: vacation - late 14c., “freedom or release” (from some activity or occupation), from O.Fr. vacation, from L. vacationem (nom. vacatio) “leisure, a being free from duty,” from vacare “be empty, free, or at leisure”. Staycation implies that location matters. But to me (and from the etymology), vacations are merely a state of mind! As i wrote over at OpenForum, vacations can be minutes or hours even, it’s all about perspective!
Anyhow, that is the last you’ll hear of staycations here. Upon arriving at the Beverly Hills Four Seasons, not at all far from home, i was on VACATION! Impeccable service from their kind and friendly staff, new toys to play with (Jambox!), the surprise of a stunning suite on the 15th floor facing east… giving me views over Beverly Hills to Sunset Strip, Hollywood sign, Downtown, and snow capped mountains glistening in the horizon, dining room resulted in a little impromptu dinner party with delectable room service from Culina downstairs (the burrata…mmmm), gorgeous weather meant poolside relaxing to catch up with old friends… Vacation! A definite much needed perspective shift both physically and mentally has left me even more inspired and energized this weekend! So take a peek at the gorgeous views and into suite 1518 on the next page!
There is a beauty to twitter’s ability to connect you instantaneously with people/brands that fascinate you… it’s almost magical. It’s how i “met” Jawbone, who then introduced me to Four Seasons Los Angeles… which led to chats about the Jamboxes being available to their suite guests… which has led to me curled up in a big suite bed tonight having one of my first little vacations in Beverly Hills. (Silly as it feels to be a few minutes from home!)
Now, before i get to the Jawbone Jambox service at Four Seasons Hotel Los Angeles at Beverly Hills, you first need to see the poolside unbox! Slightly out of order, i had so much fun playing with the in-room Jambox, i decided i needed to own one to bring home, and since you can buy them from the front desk, i had one sent up to the room! And being Jawbone, of course the packaging is physically, ecologically, and graphically gorgeous ~ so naturally an unbox was called for! The Jambox made quite a splash this holiday season, and it claims to be “simply the smallest, best sounding wireless speaker and speakerphone on the planet.” And while that sounds bold, it does in fact sound impressively awesome, and it’s ability to be shared with hotel guests proves just how easy it is to pair! But more on that later, for now ~ unbox! Click on to the next page…
Sketches! I love when fun sketches come through the inbox ~ these are from the much anticipated Mondrian Soho that just opened in NY. Fun to see the direction the designers headed with it and where it evolved to. Morgans selected Benjamin Noriega-Ortiz, the visionary behind the re-imagined Mondrian Los Angeles, to create Mondrian Soho in collaboration with their in-house design team.
“Noriega-Ortiz’s design for the hotel draws inspiration from Jean Coucteau’s 1946 romantic French fantasy film “La Belle et la Bête.” A powdery French blue color palette unifies the hotel interior and a custom carpet adorned with a rose vine design provide entryway to the jewel-box guest rooms, whose interiors features large dramatic mirrors, 10-foot ceilings and floor-to ceiling windows. No decorative art is hung in the rooms as the views are intended to be adornment enough and set the tone and scene for the guest.”
Sounds like a dream ~ and now i keep help imagining Beauty and the Beast (yes, the old disney one) and some of this lovely designer furniture coming to life… can’t wait to see it in person, but for now, take a peek into their world on the next page!
After embracing that 2010 was probably one of my most travel heavy years yet, i’m getting ready for 2011… and that included accepting a Mr & Mrs Smith GoldSmith membership to test out and help cut down on some of my travel chaos. From last minute changes, to assistance finding quality hotels for impromptu vacations, and more… i gushed earlier about their help regarding my recent stay at the XV Beacon and Bowery Hotel. Well, in addition to all the perks the membership allows, the welcome pack just arrived, and it should be no surprise that the packaging is beautiful. The same playfully elegant style that their site and branding convey… filled with surprises! While they’ve always hit my sweet spot of hand written scripts mixed with cleaner fonts… and gloss black on matte black… they just upped it a notch with their custom packaging from award winning packaging designers Burgopak… filled with some of their Hotel Collection books (which i adore reading, the way they present the stories of Mr & Mrs Smith vacationing their way through them is rather amusingly dreamy), membership card, In Bed With… CD, and Bill Amberg leather passport holder and luggage tag. Ready to see it all unboxed? Take a peek on the next page!
Ever have one of those magical weekends that you just don’t want to end? And even though it was only a brief 48 hours, you’re filled with nostalgia thinking about it already? Sitting in another room at the Morgans Hotel, before finally concluding this nearly 2 week east coast winter adventure tomorrow, i’m definitely feeling that! Dear Morgans Hotel ~ thanks for a magical, otherworldly inspiring weekend literally on top of the world in your perfectly cozy, minimalist penthouse with stunning NYC views. It turned out to be the ideal backdrop to some random adventures. The various shades of grey cubist carpets, furniture, walls, and more were just interesting yet subdued enough not to take over your consciousness, and really let the view and great company take center stage!
The Morgans Hotel Penthouse: the “spacious duplex Manhattan Penthouse at Morgans is a masterwork of timeless form and contemporary function, boasting its own greenhouse, kitchen, media room, dramatic spiral staircase, and two terraces with stunning city views. Updated by Andrée Putman in 2008, the new design retains the original spirit of the quintessential jetsetter’s private New York City apartment, but incorporates a sense of playfulness with touches like a modular and adaptable sofa and a Putman-designed lamp, Compas dans l’Oeil.” And the details are just beautiful… sitting on the couch and around the dinner table this weekend, we couldn’t help discussing which aspects we’d want to incorporate into our own homes, there was something cozily appealing about the set up, and the two decks with Empire views constantly take your breath away… ready to peek at the details? See lots of pics on the next page!
p.s. you’ve already seen the inspiring quote postcards i shot from the penthouse snowiness here! It just took me a bit longer to get to sharing the penthouse itself!
Just checked into the Morgans Hotel Penthouse… 1,500 square feet of hide away overlooking midtown to bring some fun folks together from around the globe to brainstorm a bit together and relax… and the first thing to grab me are the quote postcards they leave on your pillow. Fun, inspiring, nice clean typography, and the type of quotes that are perfect for the trouble we’re about to get up to! And as you’ll see, i had a bit of fun shooting them off the penthouse patios with the stunning snowy, glistening NYC backdrop… See all the Oscar Wilde, Mae West, and Woody Allen quotes from the The School Of Life’s IDEAS TO LIVE BY… postcard series for Morgans Hotel on the next page.
Ack. It’s supposed to be the coldest night in a while here in NYC tonight! I guess it’s a good thing i just hopped the train down from Boston and got settled into the Bowery Hotel in NYC… definitely sounds like it ought to be a room service kind of night… lows of 5 degrees do not sound fun! Be it through laziness or busyness or indecisiveness, i’ve recently begun trying out the GoldSmith services of the fabulous Mr & Mrs Smith… it’s quite magical really, they’ll introduce you to your personal consultant who will take care of you when it comes to booking at any of their destinations as well as automatic room upgrades, airport lounge passes, loyalty plan and more… the part that has been the most fun so far, is it’s been far too fun emailing with my GoldSmith concierge, Jasmine. She’s made my life and inbox easier AND more amusing. While i’ll be testing things out more throughout the year, it’s already been a pleasure having them help me extend my stay in Boston last night at the XV Beacon (i’ve even ended up with a XV Beacon CD upon check out because of the Mr & Mrs Smith connection), and now they’ve worked out a press rate for me at the Bowery Hotel.
But i digress, back to the Bowery Hotel, my new home for the next few days, it’s adorable, and you simply must see the design details… i love their logo! And that they have a big calendar i can scribble on as i try to plan out the upcoming week… It’s so cold out, i totally got in and hopped into the comfy bed to work on the macbook air right now… SO cozy! And love the dark hardwood floors as well… go check it all out on the next page!
Today has been kind of amazing in socal, 70 degrees and sunny in LA, and the perfect day to cruise down to San Diego to meet up with Mercedes-Benz AMG… came down a few hours early wanting to skip rush hour and get some work done… but it’s hard not to relax when you pull into the world of Rancho Valencia Resort & Spa in Rancho Santa Fe. So between conference calls and emails, how could i not share this HOUSE of a “room” i just checked into? So very california bungalow; comfy, cozy, and far too much space to have to myself! And truly, the perfect weather for what looks like it will shape up to be a glorious weekend to drive around with the new CLS 63 AMG. Take a peek inside my bungalow on the next page…
Perhaps the most amazing room service experience yet… OWC stands for One While Changing. You know, that drink that you have while getting all primped and ready… maybe if you’re lucky, the bartender will even help zip you up after shaking up that martini? Since i couldn’t make it this weekend, I sent Anna from Sub-Studio down to the opening of Soho Beach House Miami ~ much like the rest in the collection, this part hotel, part membership club, part restaurant is the latest in the stunning Soho House group worldwide. But before i tell you more about that, back to the OWC!
You call down to room service, and up pops a lovely bartender and rolling bar! (In the case of this launch weekend, she also got a bonus gentleman rolling up with some savories…) Even though Anna is quite pregnant, she knew what Liqurious needed, and still ordered them up ~ and they were kind enough to indulge her in “anything non-alcoholic and pretty”, resulting in a citrusy, minty delight ~ perhaps a virgin mojito of sorts? Along with caviar with creme fraiche and tuna tartare on toast! Divine, isn’t it? Even if not going out, it sounds like a lovely service ~ such a nice way to bring the experience of cocktail right into the room. Take a peek on the next page of the process, the lovely carts, and the bartender in action!
It’s the details that get me… like, given the option to have breakfast “Placed in your hatch” while at Hotel Tremoille in Paris ~ how can you NOT select it? And it’s AMAZING! So from the outside of the room, there are two doors, the main one you go in, and a half width one that’s just mysterious. From the inside, there’s a door next to the main door that opens to what feels like a closet with some shelves… Well, come morning, you hear a door open (which could be next door!) and then a light knock, and that’s it. It was like waiting for santa to come. Then you run over, open the HATCH, and suddenly, there it is ~ breakfast!
Ah, the simple things in life. So amusing, had to share! Also, it looks like your shoes and laundry may be deposited like that as well… check out pics to make sense of what i’m talking about on the next page!
Just experienced the Royalton Hotel while in NY for the Federated Media Conversational Marketing Summit (my annual catch up with my FM folks and intellectually immerse myself in the marketing/ad world)… since it’s practically in times square, the Morgan’s Hotel Group helped me try out the Royalton Hotel… and from the website i was already obsessed with seeing their soaking tub in person. It is HUGE and pretty deep. You could probably fit about 5-6 of me in there… comfortably. And it’s like being in an inverted discoball… Also noteworthy, it is the perfect luxurious NY hideaway, if you need a super comfy, cozy place to hibernate in NY. It can stay surprisingly dark in the room (with lots of nearly blackout curtains, dimmers and candle like lighting) regardless of what time of day/night it is. After a few too many late nights out, it was an incredible place to just curl up and catch up on sleep and work in a timeless space. And the bed is divine (pillows and duvet you just melt into!) with fun beautifully lit bedside port hole like shelves cut into the headboard which extends wall to wall and floor to ceiling including the closet and drawers. And that impressive darkness i was telling you about? It also flows through the hallways and into the lobby (which is an enticing lounge/bar space that leads to the restaurant) ~ so it’s a bit of a shock to the system every time i had to head out ~ back into the real world (or the chaos so near times square!)
Take a peek at my experience of the Royalton Hotel’s Room 904 on the next page ~ lots of pics of favorite details!
Wow. There is a definitely love of light bulb clusters at the Gramercy Park Hotel ~ particularly in this room that opens up to the Roof Club… but also in my bathroom! While it does feel a littler overwhelming, it is also completely mesmerizing, and makes for some fun pics! See more on the next page!
I must admit i was skeptical when one of the most common words that came up regarding the Gramercy Park Hotel Roof Club… was “Magical”. Sure some of the women who uttered the word seemed like the type that may use it in daily conversation, but some of the men who did, most certainly didn’t seem like the type.
Sure enough ~ as i stumble off my redeye, and at 7am find myself at the Gramercy Park Hotel, which was kind enough to invite me to visit their world while here for NY Design Week, my room wouldn’t be ready till 10. With the limited amount of energy, my options were minimal ~ but breakfast with wifi on the roof sounded like a good place to start. Take the elevator to the top, step out, and get lead to a ridiculously adorable and comfy couch to curl up on while breakfast comes up… and as i order and process where i am… i can’t help but notice the beautiful lights, the ivy hanging and intertwined above me, how much greenery and the variety of pots i’m surrounded by… and as my eyes focus, suddenly i realize what a stunning view i’m waking up to. No joke. It’s pretty magical. Everything seemed to sparkle in that early morning glow! It felt as if you were in a large intimate garden/deck at home… and i hear its even more stunning at night, so, i’ll have to find a night to see it glisten as you overlook all of manhattan… So take a peek on the next page of how pretty the Gramercy Park Hotel Roof Club looked bright and early!
Popped by the adorable store at the Standard NY Store today and got a peek at the new limited edition artist scarves in person. They are adorable, feel so soft and perfect to brighten up your day ~ a perfect pairing to the stunningly sunny day in NY today! A follow up to their artist t-shirts collaboration last year, The Standard has commissioned three artists representing LA, NY and Miami—Thomas Campbell (for CA), José Parlá (for Miami), and RoStarr (for NY) to design art printed on a limited edition run of silk-cashmere scarves (100 pieces of each produced). While they aren’t in all the Standard Hotels’ stores yet ~ they can also be purchased online! Perhaps i shouldn’t be surprised anymore that the California ones seem to always be my favorites… take a peek at the beautiful scarf display in the NY store, how they wrap it if you purchase it there (adorable tote graphics!), and more scarf details on the next page!
I’m having one of those, sensory overload, exhausted yet giddy moments… sometimes we all need to step pretty far out of our daily lives to simultaneously reset, reflect, and find inspiration in the unexpected. For the next 5 days, i’m hiding out in the Lembeh Strait of Sulawesi, Indonesia… and they have awesome wifi, so when i’m not drop dead tired or diving exploring all the creatures around… the regularly scheduled content may be coming on vacation with me! So today was a morning flight to Manado from Singapore, followed by a 1.5 hour van ride through Bitung out to the dive spot, and now i’m curled up in my adorable cottage at Kungkungan Bay Resort. Certainly quite the contrast to the design overload i’m looking forward to in Milan in a few weeks! Although i thought about crashing after the day of travel, when i stared out at the possibly full moon with the intense clouds over the ocean… i couldn’t help taking a few pics, and i’m so in love with the view, i had to share them with you before i got some sleep! Isn’t it amazing how the palm trees and clouds look in the moonlight? See a few more pics of the night… some of the view on the flight in… and another random pic or too…
On gyms with views ~ had a chance to check out the gym at the Standard NY while i was there (it wasn’t open when i stayed last time!) ~ and wow. Filled with mirrors, super empty, lots of brand new equipment… and amazing views! Not to mention fun super red drinking fountain… and you can even see the statue of liberty out of the port hole by the bathrooms! Take a peek at more pics on the next page!
On fun additions to the world of the Standard New York ~ their new store is like a wonderland of practical and playful designer goodies. Greeted by a giant ALL FOR YOU made of ring pops ~ you discover a hotel store filled with everything from forgotten amenities like meds and toothpaste in card catalog drawers to power adapters and magazines… and then fun gifts like the beautifully bound penguin classics to giant dunnys to glossy apples and stunning jewelry… and of course there are even naughtier gifts like vibes and condoms that you can wrap in raunchy double sided wrapping paper and pair with chocolate! See lots of pics on the next page!
On unexpected surprises… did you know the Soho Grand Hotel will provide you with a roommate? An adorable little black goldfish? Strangely though, no food… i guess i will have to trust that housekeeping comes by and feeds the little guy? Their cheeky website says “If travelers cannot bring their pets, the Soho Grand offers surrogate animal companionship in the form of a goldfish in your guestroom.”
For those that asked on twitter ~ no i haven’t named it. No need to get attached, i don’t think i get to bring him with me to london… But i do wonder if there’s a mysterious room in the hotel somewhere with wall to wall goldfish bowls… do they really have enough for EVERY room? Or if you have two kids, can you request two? Or can you ask for two in the same bowl just so they dont get lonely while you’re out? Cute idea though ~ providing a bit more life to often sterile feeling hotel spaces! See more pics on the next page…
Laguna Beach ~ so many surf brands have their home base in the OC ~ and recently so many hotels with special designer suites ~ but somehow i never heard about the Casa Surf Project over at La Casa del Camino until now! The hotel is perched less than a block from the beach, has an old spanish styled look and feel… and somehow the smell and hallways remind me of college… something frat house-y about it? Or maybe that was the crowd too… fascinating thing about the Casa Surf Project is that they gave 10 brands and their designers 10 suites, and let them have their way with it - “Action sports icons like Billabong Men’s and Billabong Women’s, Rip Curl, etnies, Roxy, Quiksilver, L* Space, Lost International along with Riviera Magazine and Glaceau have teamed with Southern California’s finest designers to create the Casa Surf Suites with a portion of the proceeds from each room donated to key charities for the first year.” I love the moroccan inspired Lost room… how far they took the decor, and the furniture choices… you have to see how fun the lights looked at night! And the way they really customized the walls… so beautiful! Billabong and Quicksilver are my other favorites ~ see more pics on the next page, and see full information on each suite here!
So after a bit of hotel horrors ~ and bouncing in and out of the vitale over the last week ~ with sf gift fair and macworld happening, SF hotels seem a bit packed… just decided to check out the Clift Hotel in San Francisco which is part of the Morgans Hotel Group (with those awesome “The world needs to discuss it over drinks. The world needs more interesting.” ads i adore.)… they were nice enough to upgrade me to experience one of their suites, and i’m currently working at that “through the… orange… looking glass” feeling table above… and really, between the bizarre world within it and the stunning city views here, it’s hard to focus! It’s also incredibly calming and relaxing with it’s lavender entry way, light grey carpeting, and light wood furnishings… exactly what i needed after quite the crazy last few days! Go take a peek into their fun, spacious, suite i’m living in for the next few days on the next page!