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In (Lockdown) Conversation With: Robert Whitfield, GM of The Dorchester

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
In (Lockdown) Conversation With: Robert Whitfield, GM of The Dorchester

With the UK hospitality industry drastically adjusting its strategy during lockdown, Hotel Designs takes the opportunity to re-connect with one of the world’s most prestigious hotel brands, Dorchester Collection. Editor Hamish Kilburn speaks to Robert Whitfield, the brand’s Regional Director (UK) & General Manager of The Dorchester

For centuries, Mayfair’s leafy Park Lane has been the epicentre of London’s luxury hospitality scene. At present, though, the streets are bare and the extravagant entrances into opulent lobbies and extraordinary lifestyles remain (for the time being at least) sealed shut – and its not the kind of lock-in one is familiar with.

Among the five-star (currently empty) shells stretched along the east side of Hyde Park is The Dorchester, an iconic place that really does define its destination. Since its grand opening in 1931 – the same year the Empire State Building was completed in New York – the hotel, designed by architects William Curtis Green and Sir Owen Williams, has been setting new standards in premium hospitality.

89 years from when the famous doors first opened, the hotel stands majestically as ever having adapted sensitively to meet the demands of modern luxury travellers while also retaining its illustrious character. However, it, along with the rest of the hospitality industry, is facing unprecedented times, as the COVID–19 pandemic sends hospitality into paralysation.

To learn more about what the hotel is doing during lockdown, as well as celebrating its recent successes, I speak to the man at the helm, Robert Whitfield, who is the Regional Director UK of Dorchester Collection and General Manager of The Dorchester.

Hamish Kilburn: Robert, can you tell us a bit more about how The Dorchester is coping during the global health crisis, and how are you staying connected with your community?

Robert Whitfield: There is no denying that the global crisis has hit everyone hard, and sadly the hospitality industry is one of the worst to be affected. However, what it has re-affirmed for me is the true connection our team members have, keeping morale high and each other in good spirits. If you work in hospitality you have a natural instinct to want to be around people and make them feel at home, it’s in our DNA. So, we have channelled that passion into further helping our community.

Image caption: The living room inside the Harlequin at The Dorchester-

Image caption: The living room inside the Harlequin at The Dorchester

The Dorchester is very proud to have established an ongoing partnership with Manorfield Primary School in East London, working closely with pupils and staff on a number of initiatives since 2019, including helping raise funds to go towards developing their learning kitchen and donating furniture for areas of the school. As part of our continued partnership and as a response to the current global health crisis, we are providing chefs from The Dorchester’s staff restaurant to cook for the faculty and children of parents who are part of the essential workforce. We are also offering recipe classes to the pupils of the school to help keep them engaged and interested in cooking.

Every evening, The Dorchester illuminates in bright blue as a ‘thank you’ to the NHS and essential workers. Employees of The Dorchester, 45 Park Lane, and Coworth Park have pledged their support to the NHS and are assisting in the donation and distribution of food and necessary supplies to those impacted by COVID-19.

Image caption: During the COVID–19 pandemic, The Dorchester illuminates in bright blue each evening as a nod and ‘thank you’ to the NHS and essential workers

Executive chef Stefan Trepp and executive pastry chef Daniel Texter, along with chefs Jordan Champions and Sanjam Nagpal, handcrafted Easter Eggs for distribution amongst patients and staff of Great Ormond Street Hospital to help them celebrate the Easter weekend.

Dorchester Collection has also donated £25,000 on behalf of its UK hotels to Hospitality Action, a non-profit who supports hospitality workers who are in need and to help feed their families. Several colleagues have also signed up to the Golden Friends scheme via Hospitality Action and are making regular check-in calls to hospitality retirees in isolation due to the crisis.

Image caption: The living room inside The Dorchester's Terrace Penthouse

Image caption: The elegant living room that captures a unique London skyline vista inside The Dorchester’s Terrace Penthouse

HK: How do you stay connected to guests when they aren’t able to physically come to visit the hotels?

RW: Several of our team members have fostered great relationships with our guests over the years and are in regular contact with them via calls and email. We are also engaged with our most loyal guests to keep them in touch with news and updates from the hotel.

One of the best ways for us to stay connected to our guests after they have stayed with us is through our social media platforms. We are transferring our team’s talents online, showcasing our chef’s recipes and how-to’s, as-well-as expert tips from our sommelier or florist. This is a fun way for our social community to still see the smiley faces of some of our team members and hopefully learn a thing or two.

Quick-fire round:

HK: What is your favourite luxury item that you own?
My MGB sports car

HK: What was the last hotel you stayed in and what was the purpose of the trip?
The Pendry in San Diego meeting up with my kids for the Presidents Day Holiday weekend.

HK: In three words, can you describe the Dorchester Collection family?
Caring, passionate, fun-loving! 

HK: What superpower would make your job easier?

HK: Why is Britain such a hub for luxury hotels?

RW: The hospitality sector contributes hugely to the British economy, with the hotel industry in particular a significant contributing factor. The growth of the hotel market over the last few years here, and indeed looking at what’s to come over the next couple of years, clearly demonstrates how important Britain, and London in particular, is a world class destination for leisure and business travellers.

“You also cannot deny that certain charm Britain has, which lends itself perfectly to hotels at the luxury end of the market.” – Robert Whitfield, Regional Director UK & General Manager of The Dorchester.

It makes sense, then, that some of the world’s most renowned luxury hotel brands are opening their doors in Britain. You also cannot deny that certain charm Britain has, which lends itself perfectly to hotels at the luxury end of the market – travellers are drawn to the rich history and heritage of a quintessentially British experience. Combine that with the fact that Britain occupies a vibrant position on the world stage and it’s a winning destination for the luxury traveller.

It is not just London at the forefront of luxury hospitality; across the country you have the best hotels in the world. Coworth Park in Ascot celebrates its 10 year anniversary this year and from the moment it opened became one of the world’s best country house hotels and remains at the top a decade later.

HK: How does The Dorchester differentiate luxury on the London hotel scene?

RW: There are many hotels that claim to provide the best in luxury, whether it’s the biggest pool, or most expensive wine list, but for The Dorchester our definition of luxury is: service. How do you feel when you come to stay with us? How can we go above and beyond what you were expecting? That is what is most important, everything else is just a given, and for us to be world leaders in service really is a testament our talented people.

HK: How has luxury changed since you started in hospitality?

RW: The biggest change has to be the level of competition, especially in London where all the global luxury players want to have a presence. And that’s a good thing. It has kept London’s hospitality scene at the top of its game.

Luxury used to be about the physical elements of a hotel. The décor, the facilities and this has evolved away from the material to the experiential. Personalised service and recognition is more valued. The guest is also more sophisticated and knowledgeable. Search engines allow access to so much information our team members need to stay up to date and have an intimate knowledge of the very best experiences that might appeal to our guests.

We look for ways to surprise and delight our guests with small and meaningful touches. Often, it is the small things that make all the difference.

“Before I started my role at Dorchester Collection I spent ten years at the Four Seasons Resort Hualalai in Hawaii, and prior to this I worked for the company in California and Nevis in the Caribbean.” – Robert Whitfield, Regional Director UK & General Manager of The Dorchester.

HK: How has travel enriched your life and made you into the hotelier you are today?

RW: I have been lucky enough to work in some of the most beautiful places in the world. Before I started my role at Dorchester Collection I spent ten years at the Four Seasons Resort Hualalai in Hawaii, and prior to this I worked for the company in California and Nevis in the Caribbean. Having that experience, learning how other countries approach service and operate day-to-day, has really helped inform my management style here in London. I was able to travel to a wide variety of locations from Bora Bora, to Bali, to Jackson Hole in Wyoming to the snowy peaks of Whistler.

I have developed an appreciation for different cultures and for diversity and the strength that this can bring to a business. It has also told me that service is about humility and caring for others. I am so proud to have worked with some extraordinary people who have shaped my career and taught me so much. Many lessons have come from my bosses, but also from the employees I have worked with.

HK: There has been a huge buzz around the re-launch of The Grill at The Dorchester. Why did you choose to relaunch?

RW: The Grill has been an integral part of The Dorchester since the opening in 1931, in order to keep the restaurant busy you need to ensure its identity and offering is relevant to your guests. We appointed Tom Booton, who happens to be our youngest ever head chef of The Grill, to lead the next chapter of the restaurant, supported by a fantastic team of fresh talent. The idea of creating an experience that would juxtaposition away from people’s  more traditional expectations of The Grill at The Dorchester was exciting and Tom was the perfect catalyst that made this come to life.

Image caption: Head chef of The Grill, Tom Booton and a few of his  special dishes on the new menu

Our aim was to create a more relaxed dining experience for guests through the development of new menus and a series of interior updates. The most prominent interior change is our statement ‘Pudding Bar’, which adds an element of theatre to the dining experience. Guests are invited to dine here for their final course to watch the pastry chefs in action.

HK: How will the newly adapted restaurant embrace the legacy of the 89-year-old hotel while also reflect the future of luxury F&B offerings?

RW: Our rich past matched with our ability to embrace ‘the new’ is deeply rooted in The Dorchester’s culture, and our guests are charmed by that.

At its core, The Dorchester has always been a hotel to celebrate. The new chapter of The Grill is no exception, and Tom’s dishes alone are a reason to come back to visit. Original features of the restaurant have remained, but new elements such as The Grill Bar, with a cocktail menu by award winning senior bartender Lucia Montanelli, and the Pudding Bar concept offer something new.

HK: You have, for the first time, a physical florist boutique within the hotel. Can you tell us more about this project?

RW: The Dorchester has become world-famous for its floral arrangements, all to the credit of our in-house designer florist Philip Hammond and his fantastic team. It is also a place of celebration. Guests come to celebrate, birthdays, anniversaries and all kinds of milestone moments in their lives. Flowers are a wonderful sign of celebration. We wanted to create a physical space where guests and visitors to the hotel could buy flowers and we found the perfect spot at the entrance to The Promenade.

Image caption: Philip Hammond, the Florist at The Dorchester

Image caption: Philip Hammond, the Florist at The Dorchester

We coincided the boutique opening with the launch of ‘The Dorchester Rose’, which is a really beautiful new variety of rose. The rose took seven years to make and was created by Meijer Roses, a family company with a long tradition of creating the highest quality roses who selected The Dorchester to carry the name of this new variety. The rose now fills the entirety of The Promenade and the colour is perfect to complement the interior tones of The Dorchester.

Main image credit: Dorchester Collection

A legend reborn: Raffles Singapore reopens

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
A legend reborn: Raffles Singapore reopens

Raffles Singapore has announced its highly anticipated reopening. With interiors by the acclaimed Alexandra Champalimaud, the hotel’s sensitive design heralds an exciting new chapter in the iconic property’s rich history and heritage…

The infamous Raffles Singapore is now open, following the iconic hotel’s careful and sensitive three-phased restoration, which first began in February 2017. The meticulous restoration project, led by acclaimed interior designer Alexandra Champalimaud, was also supported by Aedas.

“There are few hotels in the world whose names have become virtually synonymous with the cities in which they are located – and none more so than the Raffles Hotel in Singapore. The newly restored Raffles will provide an experience like no other,” said Christian Westbeld, General Manager, Raffles Singapore. “It is our wish and desire that our guests will continue to create treasured memories at the hotel, while rediscovering what makes it so special – the distinctive architecture, heritage and legendary service.”

Discerning travellers can expect new levels of unrivalled comfort and inimitable service with enhanced suite experience, brought to life by the fabled Raffles Butlers, while enjoying the new and reimagined spaces at Raffles Singapore.

“Raffles Singapore reinvents emotional luxury.” – Jeannette Ho, Vice President, Raffles Brand and Strategic Relationships, Raffles Hotels and Resorts

Striking chandeliers hang down in modern nd contemporary restaurant

Image caption: La Dame de Pic. Credit: Raffles Singapore

“We are very pleased to be part of the reopening of the iconic Raffles Singapore officially returning to the city, refreshed, reimagined and revitalised,” commented Jeannette Ho, Vice President, Raffles Brand and Strategic Relationships, Raffles Hotels and Resorts. “This is where it all started and faithful to its roots, Raffles Singapore reinvents emotional luxury. As the hotel concludes its restoration and embarks on the next chapter, the return of this flagship property to Raffles Hotels & Resorts paves the way for the expansion of the brand as we deliver this same level of unparalleled service and sublime experiences to new destinations in cities such as Udaipur, London and Boston.”

The revitalised hotel offers luxurious all-suite accommodations, across nine distinct suite categories: State Room Suites, Courtyard Suites, Palm Court Suites, Personality Suites, Residence Suites, Promenade Suites, Studio Suites, Grand Hotel Suites and Presidential Suites. Residence, Promenade and Studio suites, are the three latest additions to the hotel’s existing line-up. The total suite count increases from 103 suites to 115 suites.

The Raffles Arcade has been newly outfitted with a charming Raffles Boutique and various bespoke retail brands. Guests and locals will also delight in exploring the worldly restaurants and bars at Raffles Singapore, including restaurant collaborations with Chef Anne-Sophie Pic, of the three-Michelin star Maison Pic in Valence, France; venerable French Master Chef Alain Ducasse; and Chef Jereme Leung, known for his innovative Chinese cooking. At the refreshed Long Bar, travellers will continue to enjoy the hotel’s most famous cocktail, the original Singapore Sling, along with the timeless tradition of tossing peanut shells on the floor.

Westbeld further added, “Raffles Singapore is one of the few remaining great 19th century hotels in the world and its restoration has been carefully designed to preserve its unique historic charm, while creating extraordinary experiences for our esteemed guests – a dedicated commitment from all of us at Raffles Singapore and also from our owner, Katara Hospitality.”

First opened in 1887, and declared a National Monument a century later by the Singapore Government in 1987, Raffles Singapore has through the years, gained both local and international recognition as an oasis for the well-travelled. It is a national treasure among Singaporeans who deeply value its historical significance and unique heritage. The last restoration was conducted from 1989 to 1991 where the hotel closed for two and a half years.

Main image credit: Accor/Raffles Singapore

Rosewood to open luxury hotel in Ningbo

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
Rosewood to open luxury hotel in Ningbo

Rosewood has unveiled drawings for a new luxury hotel in Ningbo, China, which is slated to open in 2024…

Rosewood Hotels & Resorts has announced that it will continue to strengthen its presence in China with the opening of Rosewood Ningbo in 2024. The latest project adds to Rosewood’s growing pipeline in China’s ‘megacities’ including Guangzhou, Shanghai, Chengdu and Shenzhen, further expanding the brand’s established presence in Beijing, Sanya and the recently opened Rosewood Hong Kong.

Rosewood Ningbo is an example of the brand’s selective approach to strategic growth with unique and highly differentiated projects in locations that are finely attuned to the next generation of ultra-luxury travellers. One of China’s oldest cities, Ningbo has both a storied international trading history and a contemporary culture of dynamic innovation that combined provide a perfect backdrop for Rosewood’s newest project. “Ningbo is a vibrant city attracting a growing wave of young entrepreneurs and technology companies and is at the heart of innovation in China,” says Sonia Cheng, chief executive officer of Rosewood Hotel Group. “Combined with its rich history, the destination makes an ideal choice for Rosewood’s growing presence in China. Rosewood Ningbo will join its sister properties across China to create a rich collection of distinct and unique properties for our affluential explorer guests to access the rich diversity of China’s local cultures.”

Rosewood Ningbo will be the main anchor of the integrated property complex Ningbo New World Plaza, a CNY15 billion worth project encompassing 100,000 square meters, in the city’s central business district of Sanjiangkou (Three Rivers Junction), owned by New World China Land. Developed in three phases, Ningbo New World Plaza will comprise Rosewood Ningbo, the latest K11 Art Mall, K11 Atelier offices, high-end residences and the first art park in the city.

Rosewood Ningbo will be ideally situated at the city’s junction of three major rivers and two prominent commercial axes, at the intersection of Zhongshan Road East and Jiangdong Road North. The area will be a new green landmark for the city with Ningbo New World Plaza designed as an eco-friendly environment with key sustainable concepts, including a bioretention pond, a rain-water garden, permeable pavements and ecological rooftops. Within walking distance from the hotel, guests will be able to access Ningbo’s bustling city life at the adjacent commercial districts of Heyi Avenue and the shopping area of Tianyi Square, with its multiple entertainment and dining venues. Rosewood Ningbo will be a perfect springboard from which to experience the city’s many historical attractions, such as Chenghuang Temple, Baoguo Temple, Tianfeng Pagoda and Tianyi Pavilion. Rosewood Ningbo will occupy levels 43-56 of a striking mixed-use high-rise tower. The hotel’s 185 guestrooms and 15 oversized suites will feature unobstructed views of the urban landscape.

Complementing the hotel’s guestrooms, generous and versatile spaces for meetings and events will be a hallmark of Rosewood Ningbo, including a 1,125-square-meter grand ballroom and other meeting facilities totaling an additional 1,055 square meters. Five innovative food and beverage venues promise an exciting addition to the dynamic local gastronomical landscape. The hotel will also feature Sense, A Rosewood Spa, an urban haven to unwind from the hustle and bustle of the city, on the 55th floor. An indoor pool and a fitness centre will complete this sanctuary of wellness for holidaymakers and business travellers alike.

Rosewood Ningbo will join a growing collection of distinctive Rosewood properties in Asia including Rosewood Phnom Penh, Rosewood Bangkok, Rosewood Phuket and Rosewood Luang Prabang. Upcoming locations include Taipei, Yangon, and Hermana Mayor.


SPOTLIGHT ON: Major hotel openings for Q3 & Q4 2019

1000 658 Hamish Kilburn

Hotel Designs has started the New Year fresh by focusing the spotlight on significant hotel openings for 2019 that together are expected to transform the landscape of international hotel design. Following our start last week, here are our top picks of hotels that are launching in Q3 & Q4…

Last week, we brought you what we considered to be the top hotels that are planning on opening in the first half of this year. Following suit, we have identified even more significant launches of design hotels that are planning to cut their ribbons from this Summer onwards this year. From beachside resorts, to cliff-side eco hotels, here are the editorial team’s top picks.


Amare Beach Hotel, Ibiza
Opening: July 2019

Render of hotel's pool areas

Image Credit: Amare Hotels

Located just four kilometres San Antonio de Portmany, Amare Beach Hotel Ibiza will open its beachfront hotel doors this summer. Showcasing 366 contemporary-designed rooms with stunning views of The Mediterranean, the hotel will also include an infinity pool, three restaurants and direct access to Bou Cove, making it one of the island’s most anticipated openings of this year.

Website: amarehotels.com/amare-ibiza

Ruby Lucy, London Southbank
Opening: July 2019

Contemporary interiors in the lobby area of the hotel

Image credit: Ruby Hotels

Following the Munich-based hotel brand announcing UK expansion plans at the end of last year, Ruby Hotels will launch its first hotel outside of Germany this summer, taking the brand’s ‘Lean Luxury’ to London’s Southbank.

Ruby Lucy will house 76 rooms, ranging in size from cosy ‘Nest’ rooms to expansive ‘Loft’ rooms. A laid-back , contemporary design will see quirky touches such as the inclusion of a Marshall guitar amp in each room.

Website: ruby-hotels.com/en

Nobu Hotel Los Cabos
Opening Summer 2019

Raw materials, with hues of cream and browns, are featured in a modern guestroom with views of the ocean

Image credit: Nobu Hotels/Studio PCH

The new 200-key Pacific beachfront luxury hotel will be the first Mexican property from Robert De Niro and chef Nobu Matsuhusa’s hotel group. Both WATG and Studio PCH have blended Japanese minimalism with locally sourced Californian raw materials, such as custom furniture pieces, wood-soaking tubs, teak and stone materials, shoji inspired closet doors and Japanese inspired lanterns, the hotel’s interiors will reflect Japanese-Mexican fusion at its best.

Website: nobuhotels.com/loscabos

Raffles, Singapore 
Opening: Summer 2019

The exterior of the rich colonial Raffles Singapore

Image credit: Raffles Hotels

With the interior design led by the award-winning Alexandra Champalimaud – not to mention the hotel’s storied history being known by many as inventing the famous Singapore Sling cocktail, Raffles Singapore is expected to open it colonial doors once more this Summer.

Website: raffles.com/singapore

Six Senses Shaharut
Opening: Summer 2019

The modern low-level hotel perched on a cliff surrounded by nothing by desert

Image credit: Six Senses Hotels, Resorts and Spas

Following a milestone year for the hotel brand that aggressively extended its luxury portfolio with a number of significant openings around the globe, Six Senses is preparing to open its first hotel in Israel. Perched on the edge of a cliff in the south of the Negev Desert, the 58-suite hotel will have a focus on eco-living, banning cars on the property as well as all outdoor lighting to further minimise light pollution.

Website: sixsenses.com

Iniala Malta
Opening: August 2019

Wallcoverings reflecting the city of Malta and a large bed in a modern suite

Image credit: Iniala Malta

The 25-key boutique hotel is the result of the conversion of two baroque townhouses and a bank in Malta that overlook the medieval Fort St Angelo. Complete with original glazed baroque balconies and intricately painted ceilings and wallcoverings, the hotel is expected to blend old and new, paying distinct homage to its former shells.

Website: iniala.com/malta


Paramount Dubai
Opening: September 2019

Render of the four-tower building in Dubai

Image credit: Paramount Hotels

Slated to open in September of this year, the Paramount Hotel will be sheltered in a structure that consists a four-tower master development by Damac Properties. The 800-key hotel will stand at more than 270 metres in Dubai’s Burj area and its interior design will be inspired by the quintessential California lifestyle.

Website: paramounthotelsandresorts.com

Nayara Tented Camp
Opening: Autumn 2019

Luxury tent complete with intricate wallpaper and a large bed with netted mosquito net

Image credit: Nayara Tented Camp

Pushing the boundaries of ‘luxury glamping abroad’, the air-conditioned tents at Nayara Tented Camp in Costa Rica make the most of the views over the Arenal Volcano. The camp-themed hotel will feature 18 luxury tents; 12 of them will be mirror image tents linked together to create a spectacular two bedroom unit for families.

Website: nayaratentedcamp.com

Main image credit: Iniala Malta

Five-Star hotel becomes Italian Hospitality Collection’s first ski venture

800 412 Hamish Kilburn

The hotel group’s first ski resort sits at the foot of Mont Blanc… 

As the ski holiday industry grows even further in popularity, despite factors such as the EU Referendum or Brexit, Italian Hospitality Collection has announced that the luxury resort of Le Massif has officially opened its doors in the Italian ski resort of Courmayeur.

Le Massif, a member of The Leading Hotels of the World, has a distinct chalet vibe in its design. It shelters a total of 80 rooms and suites, a world-class spa, a private, in-house ski concierge, two on-site restaurants including the gourmet Cervo Rosso Steakhouse and all-day-dining family restaurant Chetif, two bars and a ski room.

The five-star hotel is conveniently located in the centre of picturesque Courmayeur, a stone’s throw from both the resort cable car and the village’s most fashionable boutiques and vibrant nightlife.

Contemporary sofa in a minimalistic bar

Image Credit: Italian Hospitality Collection

The expansive Le Massif Spa offers the ideal antidote to a day on the slopes, with a range of innovate treatments including forest bathing and alpine stone massages designed to soothe aching muscles. Centred around Italian Hospitality Collection’s signature Equilibrium philosophy – pioneered at the collection’s award-winning Tuscan spa properties – the treatment menu has been expertly curated to tackle internal inflammation, the number one cause of life-limiting illnesses.

In an exciting period of growth for the  hotel collection, Le Massif is Italian Hospitality Collection’s first ski property, joining a portfolio which includes Chia Laguna resort in Sardinia and the renowned thermal spa hotels Grotta Giusti, Bagni di Pisa and Fonteverde in Tuscany.

In regards to hotel development within ski locations globally, recent reports suggest that an overwhelming majority of 76 per cent of ski travellers believe that chalets were a more popular accommodation choice than hotels. This suggests even further that hotels opening in these locations must, like Le Massif, work harder to ensure that its design is one that evokes a home-from-home setting on the slopes.

Condé Nast Traveller reveals its editors’ all-time favourite hotels from around the world

800 450 Hamish Kilburn

As we prepare to wrap up another year of innovation, design and style, here are what our friends over at Condé Nast Traveller believe are the hotels to visit in 2019… 

If there’s one thing we have learned in 2018, when it comes to predicting the next hotel design hotspot, it’s that location is everything. Towns, cities, villages – even islands – that evoke one-off experiences tend to become destinations that lend themselves naturally to luxury design-led hotels. We have seen this time and time again, which is why Africa for example has long been a destination that many hotel owners and chains have bookmarked for future development. The real task is designing the seamless link between the design of the hotel and its setting.

With a recent survey suggesting that 95 per cent of consumers would rather spend money on an experience over product, it’s clear that designers, architects and hoteliers need to further consider location and how the property would blend into its surroundings. In order to establish, from a consumer point of view, which hotels are at the top of their game, we have peered over the fence to understand what our friends over in London’s Vogue House believe are the best hotels in the world.

With 78 hotels ranging from game-changer Heckfield Place in Hampshire, to the romantic Castello di Vicarello in Tuscany, the nostalgic St. Regis New York and plenty to choose from in far-flung destinations, Condé Nast Traveller shines a rather bright and dynamic spotlight on the most wonderful places to stay next year with The Gold List 2019:


Claridge’s, London
Covent Garden Hotel, London
The Kensington, London
Soho Farmhouse, Oxfordshire:
Lucknam Park, near Bath
Heckfield Place, Hampshire

Image credit: Firmdale Hotels



Hôtel de Crillon, Paris
La Réserve Paris
Hotel du Cap-Eden-Roc, Antibes
Les Fermes de Marie, Megève

Image credit: Oetker Collection


Aman Venice
Belmond Hotel Caruso, Amalfi Coast
Le Sirenuse, Positano
JK Place Capri
Grand Hotel a Villa Feltrinelli, Lake Garda
Castello di Vicarello, Tuscany
Borgo Egnazia, Puglia
Hotel Il Pellicano, Tuscany


Soho House Barcelona
Sant Francesc Hotel Singular, Palma de Mallorca




Perivolas, Santorini


Anassa Hotel


Hotel Sanders, Copenhagen


Ett Hem, Stockholm


Deplar Farm


The Thief, Oslo



La Mamounia, Marrakech
L’Hôtel Marrakech


Singita Sasakwa Lodge, Grumeti


Ellerman House, Cape Town

Image credit: Ellerman House, Cape Town


&Beyond Bateleur Camp, Masai Mara


Jack’s Camp


Amilla Fushi
Soneva Fushi


One&Only Le Saint Géran


Six Senses Zil Pasyon



Six Senses Zighy Bay

Image credit: Six Senses


Bulgari Resort Dubai
Madinat Jumeirah



Umaid Bhawan Palace, Jodhpur
The Oberoi Udaivilas, Udaipur
The Leela Palace New Delhi


Aman Tokyo

Image credit: Aman Tokyo


Mandarin Oriental, Bangkok
The Siam, Bangkok


Song Saa Private Island


The Upper House, Hong Kong
The Peninsula Shanghai
The Opposite House, Beijing

Image Credit: The Upper House, Hong Kong



The Lodge at Kauri Cliffs, North Island


Halcyon House, New South Wales


The Brando



Uxua Casa Hotel & Spa, Trancoso
Hotel Unique, São Paulo

Image credit: Hotel Unique


Awasi Atacama


Palacio Duhau Park Hyatt, Buenos Aires

Image credit: Park Hyatt


Chablé, Yucatan
Hotel Esencia, Quintana Roo



The Beekman, A Thompson Hotel, New York
The St. Regis New York
The Carlyle, New York
Four Seasons Resort Hualalai, Hawaii
Amangiri, Utah
Four Seasons Hotel at the Surf Club, Miami
Hotel Bel-Air, LA
Sunset Tower Hotel, LA
The Dewberry, Charleston
The Robey Chicago
Farmhouse Inn Sonoma
Wynn Las Vegas
The Peninsula Chicago

Image credit: The Beekman, New York


Clayoquot, Vancouver Island


GoldenEye, Jamaica
Playa Grande Beach Club, Rio San Juan, Dominican Republic
The Cotton House, Mustique
COMO Parrot Cay, Turks & Caicos
Bahama House, Harbour Island

Image credit: COMO Hotels & Resort

Through Condé Nast Traveller’s award-winning editorial team under Editor-in-Chief, Melinda Stevens, The Gold List 2019 provides inspiration and expert consumer advice for discerning travellers on where to stay. Hotel Designs will be following this in January with an editorial around the top hotel openings of 2019.

Main image credit: Four Seasons Hotel at the Surf Club, Miami

The Reverie Saigon opens new luxury apartments

Hamish Kilburn

Following popular demand for residence-style accommodation, the luxury hotel in Vietnam, which originally opened in 2014, has now unveiled 89 apartments…

The Reverie Saigon, which opened in late 2014 as Vietnam’s answer to luxury with its lavish interiors, has recently unveiled new apartments that are now sheltered within the five-star hotel.

As demand surges for residential-style accommodations that come with the comforts of home but the service of a five-star hotel, The Reverie Saigon, Vietnam, is opening-up eight floors of The Reverie Residence’s luxury serviced apartments to hotel guests as alternatives for leisure and business travellers.

Like the hotel itself, the home-style suites of The Reverie Residence are a culmination of a collaboration with several renowned Italian design houses. Interiors vary from contemporary to the classic, with elegant design touches such as exquisite, handmade porcelain chandeliers by the 70-year-old, Florentine company Le Procellane as well as fine furnishings by the likes of Cassina, Medea and Grifoni.

In addition, each apartment’s sleek, modern and fully equipped kitchens are designed by the cutting-edge Italian kitchen manufacturer Snaidero, perhaps most recognised for its collaboration with Pininfarina on the design of a Ferrari-inspired kitchen.

Guests of The Reverie Residence also enjoy a separate entrance, lobby and lifts, 24-hour guest service, use of the Residence Lounge – which is furnished by Giorgetti and includes a private gym – and access to the hotel’s swimming pool as well as all of its restaurants & bars.

Birds eye view of the pool

Inside Elivi Skiathos, Greece’s new take on luxury design

800 421 Hamish Kilburn

Luxury design hotel Elivi Skiathos is the result of a father-and-daughter duo set on the beautiful Greek Island and Skiathos…

Earlier this year, we took a sneak peak into what the next luxury hotel in Greece was going to look like and how it would fit in to the laid-back luxury scene. Well, Elivi Skiathos is now open and Hotel Designs popped its head through the door to see if the design vision became a reality.

The exterior marries together stone, concrete and dark wooden balconies, which subtly blend into the surroundings that have almost a beach-like vibe

Perched on a hilltop on the Pounta Peninsula overlooking the Aegean Sea, the 104-key hotel was developed by father and daughter Elias and Vivi Nathanailidi. The property is surrounded by an area of natural beauty beside a wildlife refuge, forest and lagoon – and roaming black swans – which became a large reference in the interior design as well as the branding of the hotel.

Image credit: Presidential suite pool

Designed by Athens-based Antonis and Vangelis Stylanidis from Stylanidis Architects, the hotel has been created around the stunning island setting. The exterior marries together stone, concrete and dark wooden balconies, which subtly blend into the surroundings that have almost a beach-like vibe. The result is the most high-end five-star hotel on the island, which shelters well-appointed, modern guestrooms, suites and villas with private pools, an ultra-high-end four-bedroom villa, beach service, three restaurants, a spa, gym, tennis court and more.

The guestrooms in Elivi Skiathos have been designed to be simple, airy and sophisticated. Large floor-to-ceiling windows utilise the natural light that floods in throughout the day, while black-and-white contemporary artwork pieces of the wild black swans inject energy and a sense of place into each room.

Despite all rooms adorning a luxe atmosphere, the Swan Villa is by far the most impressive hotel villa on the island. The two-floor, seafront villa accommodates up to eight adults in four en-suite rooms and is equipped with a kitchen, dining area, living room and a spacious private pool.

Swan Villa

Image caption: The Swan Villa

Making the most of the sun-drenched location, the resort has two main outdoor pools and numerous private pools, are of which all cleaned by an electrolysis system, omitting the use of chlorine.

Nest Bar and resaurant

Image caption: Nest bar and Restaurant

The Nest Pool restaurant, also reflecting a strong island look and feel, is designed to capture a laid-back luxury vibe, with soft woods being used in the bar, the seating and even in the light shades that cover lights on the end of thick ropes.

Elsewhere, the ELIVI SPA offers three ELEMIS treatment rooms, a hairdressing salon, manicure and pedicure stations, an indoor pool, Oriental Bath (Hammam) and sauna. An indoor and outdoor gym, tennis court, basketball court and football pitch are also available.

Overall, the father-and-daughter team seem to have pulled off a miracle, which is to drastically improve laid-back luxury in the Greece isles without eliminating the natural splendour of the simple stunning landscape.

9 eye-catching hotel concepts from around the world

1000 714 Hamish Kilburn

As Hotel Designs begins to shine the spotlight on ‘hotel concepts’ this month, the editorial team have pulled together a handful of the most striking hotels from around the world…

The hotel design industry is overflowing with innovative drawings and exceptional design concepts that year after year complete to unveil buildings that further challenge conventional overnight accommodation. Whether it be in the lobby, the guestroom, the F&B areas or whole exterior shell of the property, leading designers get a thrill out of unveiling something that no guest – or architect – has ever seen, nor experienced, before. To kick-start this month’s Spotlight On feature on ‘hotel concepts’, Hotel Designs has scoured the globe to find the most eye-catching hotel designs.

1) IceHotel, Sweden

Every year, when Sweden’s Torne River turns to ice, a new ICEHOTEL is created in the small village of Jukkasjärvi. The ice of the river transforms to design and sculpt the ICEHOTEL, an art project and the world’s first, and largest hotel built of snow and ice.

ICEHOTEL 365 is the latest concept to evolve. It’s a specially designed 2,100 square-metre ice art hall that is open 365 days of the year and run on solar power from the midnight sun. Working with Swedish architect and sustainability designer Hans Eek, ICEHOTEL 365 combines state-of-the-art architecture and sustainable energy with the ice art that draws winter visitors from more than 80 countries every year. This part of the hotel is a permanent construction and accommodates nice Deluxe Suites with private sauna (yes, a sauna in an ice hut), bathroom and relax, 11 Art Suites, an ice gallery and ICEBAR Jukkasjärvi; all hand carved by select artists from around the globe.

2) Keemala, Phuket

Image credit: Keemala, Phuket

Taking an eco-friendly approach to design, Pisud Design Company utilised the natural surroundings when creating Keemala, Phuket. The result is a totally different hotel accommodation type for Phuket, Thailand and in fact the world. “The project has been designed to keep the original contour of the land as much as possible,” said designer Pisit Aongskultong, Design Director at Pisud Design Company. “We took inspiration from rocks, straw, clay and wood and didn’t feel it would be appropriate to build large buildings.”

3) Matetsi Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe

Image credit: Matetsi Victoria Falls

Victoria Falls is known in local Zimbabwean Tonga as “The Smoke that Thunders”. It is a magnificent UNESCO world heritage site that is classified as the largest waterfall in the world.

44 km east, set on the banks of the mighty Zambezi river, is Matetsi Victoria Falls – a new luxury retreat that bravely pushes design boundaries in all aspects of its creation. At the heart of the property, the hotel’s villa and suites are canopied in the shade of large riverside trees. Matetsi River Lodge and Matetsi River House together aim to redefine luxury accommodation. Here, raw textures marry to chic interior design. Throughout the property, the theme of bringing the outdoors inside is a constant reference to the uniquely beautiful landscape that surrounds.

Image credit: Le Pavillon des Lettres

Designed with bookworms in mind, this hotel has a room (and writer) for every letter of the alphabet. Located in Paris’s chic 8th arrondissement, just a short walk from the Avenue des Champs-Élysées and the River Seine, the  four-star luxury boutique hotel’s room reflect the personalities of famous writers. Le Pavillon des Lettres is privately owned and operated by the Chevalier family, who own two other Parisian hotels: Le Pavillon de la Reine in the Place des Vosges, and Hôtel du Petit Moulin on the Rue du Poitou.

Image credit: Natural Selection

Crafted around the enigmatic shipwrecks that line Namibia’s Skeleton Coast, there’s nowhere on the continent – or the world – quite like Shipwreck Lodge. The raw and rugged shells of each shack is matched in the interiors with shabby blinds and rough wooden walls. Adding comfort, the soft furnishings and fur throws make the inside feel cosy – almost a home-from-home. The impossibly remote slice of African wilderness, where towering dunes and wind-swept plains roll as far as the eye can see, is buffeted by the icy Atlantic seas.

Image credit: Conrad Maldives

THE MURAKA is the first of its kind. More than just a luxury retreat with stunning rooms, it features the only hotel guestroom where guests can look out through a single window into an unobstructed, 180-degree panoramic view of coral and marine life, in natural surroundings. Mike Murphy was the engineer behind the largely ambitious project of creating the ultra-luxurious two-level residence that comprises of an above-sea residence and an undersea level, which is completely immersed in the ocean.

7) Four Seasons Bora Bora

image credit: Four Seasons Bora Bora

Overwater bungalows and underwater adventures welcome guests at the sand-fringed idyll in the shadow of Bora Bora’s Mount Otemanu. Guests can toast sunsets from their private plunge pool, marvel at the Tahitian night sky, or simply lose themselves in the resort’s lagoon, where the waters teem with exotic reef fish and colourful corals.

8) Hotel Costa Verde, Costa Rica

Image credit: Hotel Costa Verde

The 727 Fuselage Home is said to be the most exclusive hotel suite in Costa Rica. Hotel Costa Verde has refurbished a vintage 1965 Boeing 727 airframe, which, in its prior life, shuttled globetrotters on South Africa Air and Avianca Airlines (Colombia). This fully outfitted, meticulously detailed, two bedroom, Boeing 727 fuselage suite jets out from the jungle canopy, taking suite life to new heights. Why not?

9)  Hotel Seven, Paris

Image credit: Hotel Seven, Paris

Inspired by everyone’s favoutite British secret agent with a licence to kill, the James Bond Suite in Hotel Seven Paris in France offers all the class of 007, complete with a dome-like seating area lit with dramatic spotlights and wallpaper that reflects the iconic silhouette seen in each of the film’s opening sequence.

Main image credit: Natural Selection 


Design hotel in the Dolomites will define a new model of mountain luxury hotels

800 445 Hamish Kilburn

The plan for the new Faloria Mountain Spa Resort, historical glamorous hotel based in Cortina, has finally been unveiled…

A new design hotel in the Dolomites, the Faloria Mountain Spa Resort, is said to set a new standard in mountain luxury hotels. The project, signed by the architect Flaviano Capriotti, upgrades the resort to the highest hospitality standards, achieving the fifth star and presenting a new hospitality model: at crossroads between local tradition, innovation and comfort.

Capriotti has developed an aesthetical language harmonised with the surrounding landscape

The opening is scheduled for December 2018. The project comprises not only the aesthetic and functional refurbishment of the existing building, but also a generous expansion, through the construction of a brand new central body, which recall the typical style of the Dolomites.

Capriotti has developed an aesthetical language harmonised with the surrounding landscape, revisiting it with a contemporary touch. The renovation of the existing hotel aims to the highest international luxury standards to establish itself as the standard of excellence in hospitality for the Alps overall.

The guests checking in to the new Faloria Mountain Spa Resort will be embraced in a perceptive path of the natural identity of the area, relishing a unique environment that offers the most advanced technologies for a functional comfort and unique atmosphere.

The project includes a new lounge area with Bar and a maiolica tiled stove, inspired to those of the traditional houses in the Dolomites, where the upholstered furniture – which is all custom designed – is covered with warm wool, typical of the mountains. A large “opus incertum” Dolomia stone wall separates the Lounge area from the Bistrot, which is a cozy and quiet space that accommodates up to 40 people, welcoming guests from breakfast to dinner.

Woven wicker panels screen the light and create an elegant and refined atmosphere

The chosen materials are Dolomia stone and larch, the padded furniture is made of wool and the chairs are typical, redesigned however with a contemporary accent. The Restaurant, which accommodates 70 people, is the heart of the renewed relationship between building and background, being bounded by a glazed pavilion with scenic views of the mountain Croda da Lago on one side and the iconic 1956 Olympic ski jump on the other.

The original vintage larch coffered ceiling is restored. Woven wicker panels screen the light and create an elegant and refined atmosphere. The restaurant is completed by the “Stube”, the center of the traditional house in Ampezzo, built with antique woodwork and a large table that can accommodate 10 guests.


The new rooms – split in Classic Room, Suite, Comfort Suite, King Deluxe, Suite King – have all been designed by Capriotti, that selected a chromatic palette and materials where brushed larch, wool and Dolomia stone are the common threads to achieve the highest comfort and practicality.

The spaces are rich of details specifically designed to greet and receive without standing out, maintaining a delicate domestic flavor thanks to details such as the flooring and the wall cladding made of brushed larch and the padded wool bed headboards that are designed with botanical drawings of the local alpine flora. The wardrobes are designed in two parts for a comfortable use in couple, dedicating the central area to the make-up.


The cornerstone for the new hotel concept is the redefinition of the SPA and Wellness area, around which a new sensorial and emotional experience was created, devoted to touching every level of perception: visual, tactile, olfactory and emotional. The SPA is designed with a selection of natural materials from the Ampezzo valley: the larch wood from the forest, the Dolomia stone from the mountains and the green from the water of lakes.

Covering over 1000 sqm in size, where the guest can experience the sensorial path of the sauna, ice fountain, pool, calidarium and vitality pool. The internal swimming pool is unique for its size and features across the whole Alpine area: beautifully designed and coloured, 25 meter long with three lanes, suitable for every need, even for professional swimmers. There is a large skylight on the ceiling and a large glazing wall with bronze profiles, from which one can enjoy the view of the Mount Faloria and access the outdoor garden and the outside area of the vitality pool, which being heated can also be used in winter and under the snow. The vitality pool stretches also in the inside of the building, comprising of an area appositely designed for silence and relax.

Large chandelier in front of green wall surfaces in lobby

Swire Hotels announces official opening of The Middle House in Shanghai

800 600 Hamish Kilburn

The Middle House, located in the heart of Shanghai within bustling HKRI Taikoo Hui building, has officially opened embracing a ‘modern-day Shanghai’…

The latest addition from Swire Hotels, The Middle House, provides guests with an intimate and urban sanctuary in Shanghai, one of the world’s most dynamic cities in the world.

“We are really excited about The Middle House. Each of our properties embraces the spirit of its home city, and The Middle House exemplifies modern-day Shanghai,” said Brian Williams, Deputy Chairman of Swire Hotels. “The Middle House is our fourth hotel in The House Collective, which welcomes world travellers who seek a luxurious yet unique and personalised experience during their stay.”

The Middle House adopts an Italian vision blended with a local twist and modern aesthetic to standing elegantly above the city skyline. The spirit of modern-day Shanghai is palpable through the 111 modern studios, varying from 50 sqm to 100 sqm, a gallery suite and a Penthouse – all influenced by celebrated architect Piero Lissoni‘s sumptuous and sophisticated interior design. The design draws inspiration from the city’s rich heritage of craftsmanship and culture, marrying minimalist style with classical Shanghainese elements. Throughout the property, guests will find cultural touches and artwork inspired by Shanghai.

The Middle House also features a 660sqm top-floor Penthouse overlooking fashionable Nanjing West Road. The immaculately designed two-bedroom suite offers private terraces, a lounge and an exclusive event space with a private kitchen – an ideal venue to celebrate special occasions and host dinner parties and product launches.

Wooden staircase

The hotel’s residences range from 55 to 110 sqm. An example of Lissoni’s bold lines, sleek silhouettes and modern take on the city is found in one of the apartment’s wooden staircase, which spiral down rough and rustic wall surfaces.

The Middle House also presents a mix of cuisines and dining options with three gourmet restaurants and bars: Café Gray Deluxe, Frasca and the soon-to-open Sui Tang Li.

Six Senses Kaplankaya opens

640 360 Hamish Kilburn

Hotel brand Six Senses has opened its third property this year. The opening of the 141-key Six Senses Kaplankaya, Turkey, suggests that tourism in the region is alive once more.

Located across the bay from Bodrum on a naturally beautiful stretch of ancient Aegean coast, Six Senses Kaplankaya is carved into giant rock formations with green-roofed buildings layered down towards the coastline.

The hotel opens with the aim to encourage positive economic and social growth in Turkey. New York-based design house Clodagh Design preserved the spectacular natural surroundings and heritage of the local area when imagining the hotel.

The resort is surrounded by undulating hills clad in evergreens, rugged rocks, wild olive trees and cypresses, and flanked by secluded golden beaches and the turquoise sea’s lapping waves. Kaplankaya itself is steeped in history and art, with the Six Senses a striking mosaic of architecture blending world-class contemporary design with the diverse and dramatic landscape’s raw beauty.

High design

Seamlessly merging old with new, Six Senses Kaplankaya combines contemporary architecture and high-tech comforts for its 141 guestrooms including Suites and Pool Villas. Pioneering eco-conscious spirit, Clodagah has captured the essence of stylish destination.

Upon arrival, guests walk through a lantern-lit portal through wooden doors and into a sky-lit lobby, where there is a glass railing to look down over the floors below and out to sea.

Beneath the lobby, a sculptural collage of kilim rugs and leather-clad ottomans atop layered Turkish rugs are interspersed with tables crafted from large pieces of wood from the local olive trees. An expansive, gold-leaf wooden table glows, as it offers Turkish delicacies and signature beverages to arriving visitors.

The warm, yet contemporary design, influenced by traditional Turkish touches, continues in the guestrooms where features include woven leather and local flat-weave carpets. The soft hues are grounding and conducive to sleep, along with two lamps specially designed to regulate circadian rhythms with the incorporation of indigo, ochre and flashes of deep turquoise lights. In-room amenities include high-spec coffee machines, a well-stocked minibar and a pass through to the outside corridor for the discrete delivery of room service. On the technology front, there’s an iPad for mood control of air-conditioning and lights, Marshall Bluetooth speaker and WiFi.

Expert wellbeing

Six Senses Kaplankaya is home to one of the most extensive and advanced spa and wellness offerings within the Six Senses portfolio, providing guests and residents with a truly integrated approach to optimal wellness.

Spread over 10,000m² (107,640ft²), the spa journey at Six Senses Spa Kaplankaya begins with a seven-metre (23-foot) meditation walk, illuminated by glowing ottoman patterns and a ceiling filled with glittering lights to create a magical and soothing guest experience. The spa is spread over two floors and includes 20 treatment rooms, multiple steam rooms, hydrotherapy pool, traditional Turkish Hamman, ice room, crystal steam room, Finnish sauna, private watsu pool, nail salon and hair salon, and the much-loved Six Senses Alchemy Bar – first introduced at Six Senses Douro Valley – where guests can skilfully blend organic and sustainable ingredients to create their own lotions and potions.


Elsewhere in the hotel, Mediterranean and Aegean-inspired cuisine is the overarching theme at the three dining venues: Sage & Sea Restaurant and Bar, Wild Thyme Restaurant and Bar, and Mezze by the Sea Restaurant.

With a further four hotels slated to open this year, Six Senses continues to experience substantial international growth in the market.