Platinum List 2018: Best Hotel Designs

Amangiri, East, Four Seasons Hotel George V, Tambo del Inka

September / October 2018
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From Miami to Paris, these properties capture the glamour of travel through unique architecture, decor and furnishings.

Amangiri

Canyon Point, Utah, United States

Necessitating an Act of Congress before its construction, this resort on 600 acres of the Colorado Plateau blends seamlessly into the Entrada Sandstone rock formation. Entered through rock archways, suites are minimally designed with concrete walls and natural timbers; desert lounges—complete with outdoor firepit—offer spectacular views of dunes and mesas.

East

Miami, Florida, United States

To get to the East hotel, you must drive through the crush and crescendo of Miami traffic—horns blaring, tempers flaring. But step through its portal and you are in another world—one that is peaceful, cool and calm, and yet at the same time full of energy. “You can’t make a first impression twice,” says the hotel’s interior designer, the Irish-born, New York-based Clodagh. 

At the East, Clodagh sought to create a hotel that offered a tranquil and even meditative getaway for the harried business traveler while also imparting that special sense of gusto that Miami is known for. You might call it Zen and zest. The principles of feng shui—along with BioGeometry, chromotherapy, aromatherapy and acupuncture—guided
her in this project, as they always do. At groundbreaking, she buried some crystals in the foundation. A Buddhist master anointed the hotel before it opened. Eastern symbols representing power, love, tranquility and more are embedded in the floors of the elevators. All that is part of Clodagh’s philosophy and mission to make design a healing art. 

The East is the first American offering from Swire Hotels, a hospitality brand owned by the Hong Kong developer Swire Properties. The hotel is 40 stories tall with 352 rooms, 89 of which are apartments designed for longer stays. A vast deck contains four separate pools—a lap pool, spa pool, hot tub and cold plunge—which Clodagh’s design director, Nancie Min, calls “a complete water circuit.” There are two primary food and drink venues: the Uruguayan-imported Quinto La Huella, with its open wood-fire cooking and a parrilla, and the Asian-inspired rooftop bar and garden, Sugar (both designed separately by the Santa Monica-based Studio Collective).

The hotel is part of the billion-dollar Brickell City Centre, all of which (including the hotel) was designed by Arquitectonica. The 4.9 million-square-foot complex includes office space, condominiums, a shopping mall, restaurants and two food halls. Arquitectonica co-founder Bernardo Fort-Brescia describes the hotel as a slender “prismatic glass tower” that seems to be suspended over—both part of and worlds away from—Brickell City Centre.

At the East, Clodagh’s healing touch begins in the lobby. Underfoot is a blue limestone floor inlaid with a patterned “welcome rug,” also in stone. Overhead are chandeliers made by Haitian women artisans from Donna Karan’s Urban Zen initiative. A sculpture of copper pipes (think very large wind chime) is actually a gently flowing fountain with water trickling into a pool below, a small sea of tranquility that separates the bar Domain from the rest of the lobby. “I want people to feel grounded,” says Clodagh.

The guest rooms are retreats, large and well considered. Plus, says Clodagh, “We left plenty of space for thinking and dreaming.” The photographs on the wall aim at easing a tired traveler; they are Clodagh’s work, as is much of the furniture throughout the hotel. Even the lighting is purposeful, including a good bedside lamp. “I’m a fanatic about reading in bed,” she says.  

If that’s the Zen, there’s also zest. Domain, a coffee shop by day, transforms at night (with ingenious sliding wall panels designed by Min) into a lively lobby bar. The East’s high-speed elevators are among the most photographed contemporary architectural elements in the world. The walls are infinity mirrors designed by Miami lighting artist Michael O’Brien to seem like you’ve just launched into the starry night. 

The ballroom was created for events, of course, but also for what Clodagh terms “the lost art of flirting.” A stairway leading up to the 39th floor was fashioned after a fire escape, because, she says, in many cities, besotted young lovers hang out on the landings. “We really are not so much talking about design but about experiences,” says Clodagh. —Beth Dunlop

Four Seasons George V

Paris, France

Television travel host and PL expert Ashlan Cousteau calls the chic design of this Paris institution “classic perfection.” Interior designer Pierre Yves-Rochon incorporated 17th-century Flemish tapestries and 18th-century Florentine chandeliers into the grand spaces that anchor this 1928 art deco structure off the Champs-Élysées.

Tambo del Inka

Urubamba, Peru

Local stones and eucalyptus wood were used to create this modernist resort in Peru’s Sacred Valley, which combines traditional motifs with contemporary style. Designer Roberto Caparra brings a variety of indigenous elements into the property, from an Incan-style stone fireplace to khipus—textiles known as “talking knots,” traditionally used for Incan accounting—in the Hawa restaurant.

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