Metropolitan by Como, London

metromain1Complemented by neighboring Hyde Park’s verdant 350-acre expanse, Metropolitan by Como, London was launched in 1997 by Como Hotels and Resorts. The Met, as locals have come to call it, has seen several interior renovations over the past decade by locally based Forme UK, such as a redesign of the Met Bar and multiple event spaces throughout the property. The firm was most recently called upon to refurbish guestrooms and public spaces with “a serene aesthetic that is both contemporary and timeless,” says Linzi Coppick, a design director at Forme UK. 

 Selecting naturally inspired materials with longevity was paramount for the extensive project, which also included the creation of nine new suites and a reconfigured 10th floor that’s home to the Penthouse and Como suites. 

 “Our palette was influenced by the natural beauty found within the flora of Hyde Park,” explains Coppick of the lobby, where she juxtaposed upholstery in green and berry hues with rich walnut timber and tamarind green carpet inset in Italian stone flooring. The space’s contemporary look is evident near a slot-like window where chairs and

Chapel House PZ

chapelhouse6article_rdax_640x389In 2012 Susan Stuart fell in love in Penzance, a seaside village in Cornwall, England. The object of her desire was a Georgian-style home not far from the town’s harbor—a sagging grande dame from the late 1700s suffering from years of neglect. Stuart bought the property and spent the following two years transforming it into a small boutique hotel with help from New York-based Loci Architecture. Stuart, a London investment banker for 30 years before becoming a hotelier, handled much of the interior design, though she worked closely with Loci on the kitchen, boot room, and beds, all of which were hand-built, she says. “My only [design] experience is doing a similar exercise when I renovated my house in London,” she adds.

The nearby coastline was Stuart’s color guide when she developed Chapel House’s soft interiors. Throughout the home she used mostly white paint in addition to gray, green, and blue accent tones, and left many original architectural details unchanged. “I wanted it to be a building filled with natural light and sea colors, and feel comfortable but uncluttered,” she says. In the small

The Knickerbocker Hotel

kichenPreceded by a history that stretches back more than 100 years, the Knickerbocker Hotel was constructed in 1906 by Marvin Davis Architects. Located between New York’s theater district and Times Square, it debuted as a hotel before functioning as an office building from 1920 to 2013. For its most recent renovation, completed this year, owners Highgate Holdings and Felcore Lodging & Trust turned to locally based Gabellini Sheppard Associates for a contemporary refresh that nods to the property’s location. 

 “There was an aspirational character and vision embedded into the original hotel’s inception that we were very drawn to,” says Michael Gabellini, a partner at Gabellini Sheppard Associates with Kimberly Sheppard and Daniel Garbowit. “We reconceived the Knickerbocker to recapture that Old World glamour and luxury.”

 Fronted by a Beaux Arts-style façade with limestone and terracotta masonry, the 15-story landmark’s public spaces have been reimagined with a flexible layout and flourishes that hark back to its original design. “The surrounding materials create an alluring, anticipatory feeling for what lies beyond,” says Gabellini, who wanted to create “a luxe, casually elegant

8 New Destination Hotels for 2016

Hotel openings might seem like everyday events, but a handful come with more excitement and anticipation than the rest. They may be in a particularly notable building, bring a fresh concept to an already-popular destination or have the potential to attract travelers to a location they may not have thought of visiting. With these factors in mind, we turned to travel professionals who check out new properties for a living and picked eight names worth checking into in 2016 (excluded from the list below are hotels that are reopening after a renovation, as with the Ritz Paris).

Rosewood Phnom Penh, Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Expected opening: Late 2016

Cambodia’s capital city will add luxury accommodations to its hotel roster when the 148-room Rosewood makes its debut late in the year in the Central Business District. The hotel will occupy the top 14 floors in the Vattanac Capital Tower One, Phnom Penh’s tallest building, which is shaped like a rising dragon with panoramas of the city skyline and Mekong River. Historic landmarks such as the Royal Palace are close by, and amenities include a spa, two restaurants

United States: Tipping & Etiquette

While tipping is not mandatory in most of the United States, it is customary in many circumstances for service, especially at almost all sit-down restaurants which offer table service and many food servers depend on tips as an essential part of their wage.  Generally, the average tip is 15% to 20% of the total meal cost.

Tipping practices can vary depending upon the location in the U.S., and even published guidance can vary greatly depending upon the source.  For example, some Americans don’t tip at a buffet restaurant, but it’s generally good form to tip $1-2/person for wait staff just clearing several rounds of plates, to as much as 10 percent if the wait staff is refilling drinks and providing other services.  The general rule is to tip in proportion to the service, and the quality of service being delivered.

Tip jars at carry-out restaurants are a recent innovation, and one resisted by many Americans.  While one guide below advises to tip 10 percent at carry-out restaurants, many Americans do not tip for carry-out, even when a tip jar is present, and tipping at most chain restaurants, such as McDonald’s, is not common.  Some who do contribute

Honor Society

Located across from Denver’s newly redeveloped Union Station—in an area punctuated by industrial warehouses and historic storefronts—Honor Society is a new fast-casual restaurant from owners Rob Alvarado, Jonas Tempel, Ian Smith, and Justin Brunson that complements its menu’s rustic roots with a contemporary narrative crafted by locally based Rowland+Broughton Architecture (R+B). Like the building that houses it, the 3,500-square-foot, first-floor eatery was conceived to achieve LEED Platinum certification with sustainable materials, which R+B used to create rough-hewn yet modern interiors with clean lines and locally inspired details.

 “To fit with our ‘barn meets loft’ concept, we exclusively selected finishes and materials that would have been used while building a farm structure,” says R+B senior interior designer Jayna Kline, who noted the team’s diminishing emphasis on loft-style design as the project progressed, which prevented the restaurant from becoming overly modern. “Although we got very creative with those definitions, we stayed true to this story throughout the entire process.”

 The restaurant features a neutral palette with pops of green and natural materials juxtaposed with polished concrete flooring. To the left of the entrance, a wall bears the phrase “Honor Thy Belly” in large print across horizontal planks, which mimic the

Nikki Beach Resort & Spa Porto Heli

A contemporary Grecian village along the Argolic Gulf, Porto Cheli is punctuated by coastal architecture and the bucolic Mediterranean landscapes that inspired Nikki Beach Resort & Spa Porto Heli—Nikki Beach Worldwide’s first hotel in the Europe, Middle East, and Africa region. In partnership with Greek firm Arch Group, Beirut-based Gatserelia Nawar & Associates converted the property from a former 1970s hotel that’s now imbued with regionally inspired materials to create a balance between maritime glam and the brand’s signature modern-luxe identity.

 “The existing building was treated as a landmark by locals,” explains Gregory Gatserelia, co-founder of Gatserelia Nawar & Associates, who aimed to maintain the structure’s cultural integrity, while adding locally inspired island finishes. “Being in Greece, it was only natural to use white for the entire volume, which is what typically makes a Nikki-branded property—a combination of white finishes with light and untreated wood.”

 The walls of the 66-key hotel are primarily painted a bright white complemented with a blend of powdercoated aluminum, wood, veneer elements, and reflective surfaces, including mirrored-glass elevator interiors. Various shades of blue and gray reflect the beach and water, visible from the open lobby.

 “The arrival experience immediately takes the visitor into

Capri by Fraser Frankfurt

Meticulous, detail-oriented, and professionally driven—keywords typically associated with a well-written résumé—embody the essence that is Capri by Fraser Frankfurt, a serviced apartment and hotel in the city’s Europaviertel district from Frasers Hospitality. Selected from a competition to craft the brand’s first German offering, Hamburg-based JOI-Design looked to a 9-to-5 professional’s attire for inspiration. 

 “We visited the flagship Singapore location, along with Fraser Suites in London, to help us shape our concept, which was inspired by youthful business chic,” says JOI-Design’s co-managing director Peter Joehnk. “The serious color range typically associated with smart business suits was then translated into a contemporary design with soothing gray tones enlivened by bold citrus splashes.”

 A merger of couture styling and art, the hotel’s lobby “feels like a modern living room, with stylish, yet playful touches that imbue a sense of warmth,” explains co-managing director Corinna Kretschmar-Joehnk. Black anthracite stone was paired with bright white accents for a formality that alludes to Frankfurt’s corporate culture, while contrasting yellow accents engender a friendly vibe geared toward younger guests. 

 The open space was compartmentalized with bookshelves, which subtly divide it into more intimate nooks. Meanwhile, a long communal table provides functional workstations for

Lalu Qingdao

First impressions are everything—a familiar sentiment for Singapore-based Kerry Hill Architects (KHA), which the Taiwan Shining Group commissioned to design Taiwan’s Lalu Sun Moon Lake hotel in 1998. More than ten years later, the company’s chairman Cheng-Yi Lai invited KHA back to conceive Lalu Hotels & Resorts’ second offering—and first abroad—in China. The Lalu Qingdao sits across the water from its namesake city on a peninsula along the Yellow Sea—a coastal setting that sparked the property’s Zen-inspired aesthetic.

 “For this unusually rugged and exposed coastal site, we came up with a novel concept inspired by the port of Qingdao’s maritime location,” KHA founder Kerry Hill says of the hotel, whose buildings together span approximately 1,560,700 square feet. 

 “The hotel’s main body now resembles a group of stacked shipping containers, which rest on a robust granite base with a series of layered stone terraces,” adds Hill. With a weathered appearance, the dark red façade incorporates a blend of stone and oxidized copper mesh panels, which will gradually age to a green patina, that merge the site with its rocky outcrop. At the end of the peninsula is a stone chapel and events pavilion that Hill describes as “reminiscent

Margot House

It’s hard to beat Margot House’s location right across from Gaudí’s glittering Casa Batlló along Barcelona’s poshest shopping street, Passeig de Gràcia. Occupying the entire first floor of a circa-1800s building, Margot House is a discreet hideaway with just nine rooms designed by Sandra Durany, co-owner of the property with her father Sergio Durany. The first-time hoteliers, who also own the Natura and Be retail stores in Spain, were not planning to open a boutique hotel when they came across the space that would be Margot. Looking for a space to open a third Be location in the city, Sandra came across an ad for a large space zoned for a hotel. “I don’t know why, but I called them up. Two hours later I was there,” she explains. “I decided that opening a hotel could be an interesting venture. Sergio saw the same potential.” Construction on the project ended up taking a year, Sandra says. “The venue was a mess; there were no walls, or light.” Sandra named the hotel after Margot Tenenbaum, Gwyneth Paltrow’s character from the movie The Royal Tenenbaums, and drew inspiration for Margot House’s interiors from her own travels around the world. Light

Hotel Sant Francesc Singular

Hotel Sant Francesc Singular is a true family affair, launched this past March by Majestic Hotel Group in Majorca, Spain. Owned by the Soldevila family—a group with a long history, having opened Barcelona’s Hotel Majestic in 1918—the luxury boutique hotel was repurposed from a 19th-century manor home that had gone unchanged since it was built by a wealthy merchant in 1880. Maria Jose Cabré of Barcelona-based MJC Arquitectura was called upon to imbue the property with a timeless aesthetic that honored its key historic qualities. She collaborated with Nuria Ferrer Klein, a Soldevila family member who also curated a majority of the hotel’s distinct artwork. “The idea was to preserve the feeling of living in a true Majorcan manor house that looks modern, feels warm and comfortable, yet doesn’t fall into all of the current trends,” explains Cabré. “We wanted to create something that would never go out of fashion.” Cabré’s team started by scouting the area to ensure Hotel Sant Francesc Singular fit within the cultural context, deciding to use the same salmon color as one of the existing buildings in Sant Francesc Square for the façade. “It was not about standing out, but blending in a

Alaya Resort Kuta

Alaya Resort Kuta is unusual in that “some details carry from one space to another, but there is no real continuity,” says Martin Grounds of Perth, Australia-based Grounds Kent Architects (GKA), who had previously designed Alaya Ubud with locally based landscape designer Made Wijaya. Pleased with the result, Alaya Hotels & Resorts commissioned the duo to realize its second Balinese property just outside of Kuta.

 Jimmy Gunawan, director of Alaya International Management (AIM) Hospitality, developed the familiar value-design concept with a twist rooted in a diverse group of designers that also included Moroccan-born interior designer Zohra Boukhari, Balinese visual artist Pintor Sirait, and Indonesian fashion designer Peggy Hartanto, who conceived the hotel’s earthy employee uniforms. The collaborative project took 12 months to complete and saw the designers collaborate to create one hotel with a series of distinct yet unified spaces. “From the outset, we wanted to keep it consistent with the original Alaya in Ubud, however we also wanted the new hotel to have its own character,” explains Grounds. “The building turned out to be a ‘mongrel’ with its own unique look.” Reflective marble flooring and ceilings painted to mimic the sky kept it light in the lobby,

Embassy Row Hotel

The recently unveiled Embassy Row Hotel, in Washington, DC, is a markedly different incarnation from the controversial Modernist building Dr. Cyrus Katzen first opened in 1970. The icon, now part of the Destination Hotels portfolio, flaunts a fashionable, contemporary vibe thanks to a $15 million overhaul by Rockville, Maryland-based Jonathan Nehmer + Associates (JN+A). Shirli Sensenbrenner, Destination Hotels’ vice president of design and construction, says a fusion of the location’s two distinct personalities—the vibrancy of Dupont Circle and the dignified air of Massachusetts Avenue’s embassies—was paramount to the 231-room property’s revamp. The goal was to illuminate “the symbols and patterns of Federalist Washington, but with lively, playful irreverence.” Keeping the Millennial market top of mind, Sensenbrenner and her team devised a conceptual plan that called for raising the lobby one level to make way for new features like the animated bar anchoring Station Kitchen & Cocktails, and a convenient grab-and-go food station. “We also wanted to open up the front and create a ‘porch’ so it was more connected with and visible to the neighborhood,” she points out. JN+A was able to delineate this vision through a wanderlust theme. “Traveling from place to place, one typically ends up

Hotel Covell

To understand Hotel Covell, one must first know the story of George Covell, the fictional character who inspired the property’s concept. Los Angeles-based designer Sally Breer of Co-Mingle created Covell and his history, which are loosely based on her own father and family, as a guide for the hotel’s motif. The small property’s five suites are called chapters rather than rooms, and each tells the story of approximately a decade of Covell’s life. Chapter One reveals his family home in Oklahoma in the 1930s. Breer used reclaimed wood, natural canvas and linens, copper, and raw steel to bring in a rustic feel. An oil painting of young George, book in hand, hangs over the bed. When Breer and her team pulled up the carpet during construction, they found mostly well-preserved hardwood floors from the 1920s—a perfect fit for the space and tale. In search of a final rural touch, Breer inserted a weathered wooden beam that spans the length of the room. In the suite’s bathroom, a vintage factory lamp hangs above a mirror from the ’20s. Faucets and fittings are in matte brass, the floor covered in blue-gray concrete tiles. “I like that it feels muddy, earthy,

LEVEL Furnished Living

“We were looking to appeal to a large range of clientele,” says Julia Devlin, senior interior designer with Onni Group’s hospitality division, of LEVEL Furnished Living—an extended-stay concept in Los Angeles’ South Park district. “Guests are staying in their suites for longer periods of time, and we wanted them to feel like this is their home.” The California outpost launched in June (following in the footsteps of LEVEL’s flagship Vancouver, British Columbia location) setting itself apart as the first in the area to offer fully furnished luxury suites with the lifestyle amenities of a 5-Star hotel.

 The $200 million property, designed by the real estate development company’s in-house team, was conceived with a West Coast modern aesthetic, evident throughout its 33-story tower and linked four-story fringe structure. In the main building, two lobbies serve separate purposes. While one connects with the property’s valet entry and reception area, the other is a street accessible alternative featuring more than 150 glassblown LED pendant lights suspended from an oak-slatted ceiling. The valet entrance, meanwhile, is a light-filled space where dark stones juxtapose with a white resin-etched wall featuring artfully modern signage. The 300-suite tower features one-, two-, and three-bedroom configurations, all

Palladian Hotel

Nicole Hollis had the Pacific Northwest’s natural colors in mind when creating Palladian, a property recently opened by Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants (and selected as a finalist in two categories at this year’s HD Awards). “I was definitely inspired by the moodiness of Seattle’s skies, and the materials palette includes nods to Seattle’s history: raw wood in a nod to the timber industry and glimmers of metallic accents in reference to the gold rush,” says Hollis, founder of San Francisco-based NICOLEHOLLIS Interior Design. “The dark blues and greens of Puget Sound were also an influence.” Set in a building from 1910, Palladian’s 97 rooms look out over the gray-green water and Seattle’s Belltown neighborhood. “The hotel is a landmark property that had fallen on hard times,” Hollis explains. “This project is not only revitalizing a historic building, but also has a dramatic impact on this formerly industrial seafront neighborhood. It was also really important to the client to create a lively place where locals as well as travelers would return.” Hollis played with opposites, juxtaposing light and dark spaces throughout the hotel. A sunny foyer, containing the building’s original terrazzo flooring and a mural based on the marble

Los Angeles Athletic Club’s Blue Room

Los Angeles is always on to something new, yet the fashion-forward city’s storied past is equally as impressive as its present. Rather than shirking its 1880 roots, the Los Angeles Athletic Club (LAAC) is celebrating this history with a multiphase renovation that includes a grand reveal of the hotel and athletic club’s redesigned Blue Room. The iconic space was completed in 1912 as an exclusive lounge for the Uplifters Club, a group of influential male celebrities and leaders, before it was repurposed as a conference room. Following a refresh by British designer Timothy Oulton and his global style directors Danielle Monti-Morren and Raoul Morren, the room has been reborn to once again play host to the who’s who of LA.

 “It’s a club inside a club, like nothing else inside the LAAC, which makes it all the more desirable to get invited to,” says Oulton. “We wanted to preserve its history but marry it with something daring and modern.” 

 Contrasting its fabled past, the updated Blue Room is discreet by design. During the hotel’s renovation process, a forgotten Prohibition-era stairwell, once used to store liquor, was revealed. It now connects the property’s third-floor bar to the fourth-floor Blue Room via a

La Réserve Paris

Nobody does luxury like the French, and no Parisian designer has a surer touch than Jacques Garcia. His latest interior is La Réserve, a collaboration with hotelier Michel Reybier in which visiting royalty would feel entirely at home. “We gutted a 19th-century townhouse that formerly belonged to couturier Pierre Cardin and recreated it as though it were a Rothschild residence of that period,” explains project designer Antoine Panzani. “The owner added photographs of his family to make it feel even more lived-in.” From the outside it is discreet; nothing but a scarlet curtain and door to announce its presence on the fashionable Avenue Gabriel, just off the Champs-Élysées. Steps lead up to an onyx-lined foyer and lounge, in which guests can check in as casually as they might at a friend’s house. There’s a richly furnished bar and the Gabriel restaurant, headed by Jérôme Banctel, a chef who won two Michelin stars in his last posting. The Salon Louis XV features wood block floors, silk brocade walls, and gilded boiserie around the ceiling. For guests only, there’s a linear library, with shelves of leather-bound classics and an intimate room for browsing the latest art books. Opening off is


The Volkshotel in Amsterdam is a radical rethink of the design hotel, with an industrial aesthetic and the personality of a hip club. Müller van Tol, the locally based partnership of  Christiane Müller and Bas van Tol, have drawn on their experience of designing restaurants and clubs to infuse raw space with a lively buzz. “The owner and the people who work for him are young, so the place has a youthful vibe, but we wanted to appeal to a diverse clientele,” says van Tol. The seven-story concrete-frame block was built in the 1960s for de Volskrant newspaper, and when that ceased publication the offices were used as temporary workspaces for creatives and entrepreneurs. A new owner allowed a third of them to stay in the four-story wing. Müller van Tol enhanced the top floor restaurant and club, and opened up the ground floor as a lobby-bar, with a conference room opening off to one side. This has become a lively meeting place for hotel guests, office tenants, and local residents. Floors 2-6 were reconfigured as 170  guest rooms of different sizes. “We stripped the main block to its structural frame, cleaning and sealing the concrete columns and

LUX Belle Mare

Located off Africa’s southeastern coast, the Republic of Mauritius remained uninhabited until the 17th century, and to this day retains a sense of mystery due to its unique biodiversity and location off the beaten path. Following the decline of its sugar and textiles industries, the island nation’s famed beaches and tropical climate have made it a popular luxury and resort destination. Situated in the main island’s oceanside village of Belle Mare, the LUX Belle Mare resort now stands out with a refreshing redesign. When Kelly Hoppen, founder of London-based Kelly Hoppen Interiors, was approached by LUX Island Resorts to revive the resort’s 174 suites, 12 villas, and overall interiors, her ultimate aim was to instill a feeling of sanctuary. “I wanted to create a lighter idea of luxury,” she says. “It isn’t necessary to have so much clutter and fussy objects in a room when you just want to relax. The more I designed, the lighter and simpler it became—like the stunning island it lives on.”

 Keeping it light meant using bleached wood for the suites’ furnishings, including the trestle tables and headboards. A selection of suite bathrooms feature entirely tongue and groove bleached panel walls—found in others