Top 10

Design Hotels

True design hotels display their aesthetic from lobby to restaurant to room. Read about ten hotels around the world offering style in spades.


UNDERSTAND how strikingly modern design harmonizes with a storybook Swiss-countryside setting at this famed spa getaway.
ADMIRE Sao Paulo's urban sprawl and the vibrant Jardins neighborhood from the 23rd-floor restaurant of this sleek hotel.
DISCOVER how contemporary architecture can blend seamlessly into an idyllic beach setting at this all-villas escape near the historic city of Hoi An.
EXPLORE a modernist masterpiece in the heart of Barcelona, transformed from, but still faithful to, architect Lluís Domenech i Montaner's spectacular original building.
FIND OUT how modernist architect Issay Weinfeld infused design notes from 1950s Brazil into this stone-villa escape in the rustic Uruguayan countryside.
TASTE contemporary Chinese cuisine in the sumptuous restaurant of this Sentosa Island, escape, itself a design destination overlooking the South China Sea.

Stylish Travel

Round Up: Shopping the Markets

A marketplace can be the heart of a melting-pot metropolis, offering a colorful glimpse into local life through the eclectic wares for purchase, the street eats on offer and the unique characters who work the stalls. It's also a chance to disguise shopping as a cultural tour, and fill suitcases with bargain finds and impulse-purchase souvenirs.


Bangkok, Thailand


Bangkok's already frenetic pace goes warp speed in its indoor and outdoor markets, not least in the famous Chatuchak Market. Covering 35 acres and encompassing over 8,000 stalls, this city-within-a-city is a sight unto itself. Although it's no longer a secret (you'll see as many tourists as locals), the spectacle of stalls piled high with T-shirts, bottled snakes and trays of insects, plus all the incredible food options, makes it a worthwhile visit. After a day in the market, retreat to The Sukhothai, Bangkok, a contemporary palace surrounded by six acres of manicured gardens.


Marrakech, Morocco


Marrakech's famous souk is today one of the city's greatest attractions: a maze of seemingly identical streets dotted with colorful markets. Non-shoppers should embrace a day of wandering and getting lost, making frequent stops for mint leaf tea, but for real retail therapy, it is wise to take a guide and a serious poker face. Haggling is standard practice here, and, really, all part of the fun. Stay within the walls of the old city at the Hotel et Ryads Naoura Barrière , the Royal Mansour Marrakech or Marrakech's grande dame, La Mamounia.


Istanbul, Turkey


A visit to Istanbul's Grand Bazaar is as essential a city excursion as a sunset walk along the mighty Bosphorus. One of the largest and oldest covered markets in the world, it comprises 58 streets, houses 4,000 shops and receives up to half a million visitors daily - statistics brought to life by the beautiful arched ceilings, endless choice of restaurants and lively stall owners. For quiet respite at the end of the day, head to the stunning Ciragan Palace Kempinski Istanbul - a former home of the Ottoman sultans - on the shores of the Bosphorus Strait.

Çirağan Palace Kempinski Istanbul
The numerous royals and heads of state staying at the Çırağan Palace are continuing a long tradition: in a previous life, this grandiose property on the European side of the Bosphorus was a residence for sultans. The regal feeling is most pronounced in the Palace suites, whose vaulted ceilings, elegant antiques and textiles evoke the opulence of the Ottoman Era. Guest rooms overlook either the Bosphorus or Yıldız Park, formerly a hunting forest for the sultans. On-site dining options include Tug˘ra, whose classic Turkish cuisine is considered among Istanbul’s finest (the terrace is a favorite spot for romantic meals). All restaurants and many rooms have sweeping views of the Turkish metropolis and stretch out across the Straits toward Asia.
La Mamounia
On some days during the three years it took to restore Marrakech’s undisputed grandedame hotel, more than 1,000 craftsmen were at work on the site. Parisian designer Jacques Garcia, entrusted with returning the 1923 property to its former glory, sought out the city’s most talented painters and wood carvers. The craftsmen he chose laid millions of hand-cut tiles, pieced together wood-marquetry walls, carved ornate designs into plaster columns and forged hundreds of handmade lanterns. Thanks to them, the palace is once again a vibrant celebration of the city’s past, present and future, displaying Moroccan style, complete with intricate patterns and arabesques based on Berber and Arab-Andalusian traditions.
Royal Mansour Marrakech
Royal Mansour, set within the walls of Marrakech’s old city, is an oasis of elegant riads, quiet courtyards and intimate restaurants. Centered on a main courtyard with fountains and colorful mosaics, the hotel has an art gallery and a peaceful enclave for afternoon tea. There are three restaurants under the consultancy of Michelin-starred chef Yannick Alléno: French haute cuisine, traditional Moroccan and the international La Table. Service is polished and discreet: there is an underground system of tunnels leading to the individual guest riads, accessed only by staff, ensuring absolute privacy and quiet.
The Sukhothai Bangkok
Sukhothai was the name of Thailand's first capital during the country's 13th and 14th century golden age, and its namesake property in Bangkok aims to turn back the clock to a time of traditional refinement. A tree-lined drive leads away from the capital's bustle into the beautifully landscaped grounds, with extensive flower gardens and lotus ponds. Rooms also channel serenity, with rich Thai fabrics, teakwood furnishings and impeccable detailing. The Sukhothai Bangkok is also celebrated as one of Bangkok's fine-dining meccas, with three main restaurants, including Celadon, whose delectable, authentic Thai cuisine inspired Travel + Leisure magazine to name it the Best Restaurant in Bangkok.

Pulse: Emerging Fashion Capitals of the World

New York, London, Paris and Milan are cities well trodden by high-heeled fashionistas. Less familiar-but emerging-are the boutique labels, groovy design houses and boutique-filled streets of cities in China, Russia and Argentina. A pioneering creative spirit is fast transforming Shanghai, St. Petersburg and Buenos Aires. Stay ahead of the in-crowd and discover these new fashion destinations now.


Shanghai, China


It is China's creative talent, rather than the nation's spending habits, that is garnering attention in the fashion world of late. Read up on big names including designers Uma Wang, Qiu Hao and Zhang Na, or simply wander the fashionable streets of bustling neighborhoods including Xujiahui, Taikang Lu and Xintiandi.


While You're There: Stay at the Okura Garden Shanghai Towers, a 33-story hotel close to all the shops of the Huaihai Road; or experience the city's intoxicating mix of old and new at the technology-focused The PuLi Hotel & Spa in the city's bustling JingAn district.


St. Petersburg, Russia


Russia's Aurora Fashion Week is only in its third season, but is already attracting names like David Koma and Mark Fast. Things are set to get more stylish with the opening of Dasha Zhukova's multimillion-dollar culture center in New Holland. Watch this (rapidly-changing) space.


While You're There: Contrast a tour of what's new in St. Petersburg with a stay in some of its most historic hotels: the Grand Hotel Europe, The Taleon Imperial Hotel or the Rocco Forte Hotel Astoria.


Buenos Aires, Argentina


Buenos Aires jumped to number 20 in a "world's most fashionable cities" poll this year, thanks in no small part to the vibrant shopping districts of Recoleta, San Telmo and Palermo. The latter is divided into three distinctive parts, with Palermo Soho the true fashion center - don't miss the stalls that line the streets around Plaza Serrano and Plaza Costa.


While You're There: Stay in the heart of trendy Recoleta at the Alvear Palace Hotel, one of the city's most elegant escapes; or discover the vibrant waterfront Puerto Madero district surrounding the cutting-edge Faena Hotel + Universe.

Alvear Palace Hotel
The landmark Alvear Palace opened in 1932 as a luxury hotel for European visitors and continues to exude Belle Époque splendor. Located in the exclusive Recoleta neighborhood, which comprises elegant boulevards and leafy parks, the hotel has grand French-inspired public areas, with crystal chandeliers, velvet fauteuils and gilded-wood-paneled walls. Guest rooms, in Empire, Louis XV and Louis XVI styles, have butler service, fresh flowers and Hermès bath amenities. High tea, served in L’Orangerie, draws an elegant crowd. Upping the luxury quotient is the 8,600-square-foot Alvear Spa, a serene, light-filled space offering a range of wellness and beauty treatments, including the Radiant Treatment, designed by La Prairie especially for Alvear.
Faena Hotel Buenos Aires
Spectacular, contemporary and stylish, the Faena Hotel Buenos Aires is extraordinary. The utilitarian façade of the seven-story brick building, a turn-of-the-20th-century grain warehouse, belies the imaginative interiors created by Philippe Starck. Flourishes include unicorn heads on the walls, velvet curtains, crimson-upholstered chairs and crystal chandeliers. There is no reception desk; new arrivals are greeted by an “experience manager” who serves as a personal concierge throughout their stay. The rooms, many with city and Río de la Plata views, have lapacho-wood floors and arabasceto marble bathrooms. The outdoor pool is one of BA’s prime see-and-beseen spots. A sexy vibe imbues the sultry Library Lounge and El Cabaret, which host nightly tango performances.
Rocco Forte Hotel Astoria
The famous gold-domed roof of St. Isaac’s Cathedral is visible throughout the city, but as its next door neighbor, the Hotel Astoria claims the best view of all. The Lidval-designed hotel is a monument to St. Petersburg’s great Art Nouveau movement at the start of the 20th-century, and became a byword for luxury when it opened in 1912. There is a sense of this today from the white-marble lobby, Olga Polizzi-designed suites and the dark-wood Lichfield Bar. The new restaurant Astoria Cafe serves contemporary Russian cuisine and also features caviar and specialty vodkas. The Rotonda Lounge offers a relaxing place, serving afternoon tea daily. The Hotel Astoria has a contemporary glamour in a perfect location.
The PuLi Hotel and Spa
Created as China’s first urban resort, this stylish hotel is centrally located in Shanghai’s Jing’An district, making it a perfect enclave for travelers who want to be in midst of the action but based in a serene setting. The striking interiors—all polished tile floors, sumptuous silk wall coverings and contemporary furniture—are accented by reproductions of ancient Chinese household items. The Anantara Spa, which offers a series of tea-based treatments using green, white, rose and chrysanthemum teas that were developed especially for the hotel. The ambience of Zen prevails in the guest rooms as well; many overlook leafy Jing’An Park, a green oasis in midst of Shanghai, the fascinating metropolis that beautifully balances Europe and Asia, history and cutting-edge.
The Taleon Imperial Hotel
The only hotel in St. Petersburg to be housed in a former palace, the Taleon Imperial Hotel, at the corner of Nevsky Prospect and the Moika Embankment, is within walking distance of the Hermitage, St. Isaac’s Cathedral, and the Church of Our Savior of the Spilt Blood. It has been expanded and renovated to preserve the historic heritage of the building, which has hosted noted figures including Catherine the Great and Napoleon’s notorious lover, Marguerite-Josephine Wiemer. Today, the hotel bridges past and present, blending Russian opulence with state-of-the-art amenities. The rooftop spa features a swimming pool and breathtaking views. The signature restaurant serves formal Russian cuisine, including several types of caviar and an extensive vodka menu.
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