Platinum List 2019: Best Hotel Designs

Viceroy Los Cabos, The Fontenay, Lutetia, Royal Mansour

September/ October 2019

From Germany to Morocco, these properties offer magical environments like nowhere else. 

Viceroy Los Cabos

San José del Cabo, Mexico

With its minimalist architecture and magical lagoon-like setting, the Viceroy Los Cabos is in many ways a fantasy—almost as if you had walked into your own imagination. The hotel sits at the southernmost point of Mexico’s Baja California Peninsula, where the arid desert landscape meets the Pacific Ocean.

The 192-room beachfront hotel is a study in contrasts, those juxtapositions enhanced by Arquitectura de Interiores (AI), the Guadalajara-based designers who recently refreshed the four-year-old hotel. From a distance, it has a sculptural and almost monolithic presence, elegant in its simplicity, but step through its doors, and it opens fully
to the sea—in this case, the Pacific Ocean’s Bay of Cortez.

Inside, the public spaces and guest rooms feature white walls and a neutral color palette. Yet within that calm, quiet framework, the designers sought to express the creative exuberance of Mexico by highlighting the country’s culture, starting with an artisan-made wrought-iron gate and hand-carved wooden door. The designers sourced most of the furniture from Mexican craftsmen and manufacturers. For AI, the primary goal was
to contrast “materiality and solidity against reflections, whiteness, air and light.”

Thus the color scheme invokes the black of the local clay, white from the linen and cotton of Mexican beach garments, and taupe and khaki from the Cabo sand, letting intricate geometry and natural patterns “add movement”
to the interiors. The idea, says designer Guillermo Ortiz, was to incorporate “layers
of bold materials, regional textures, tone and color schemes and rich patterns.” The design is at once “minimal and cozy, a canvas for discovery.”

The Viceroy Los Cabos—originally known as Mar Adentro—was designed by the much admired Mexico-City-based architect Miguel Angel Aragonés. Aragonés created a landscape that is an interplay between solid and void, architecture that is simultaneously dense and airy.

The hotel’s most dramatic space is the outdoor Nido bar and restaurant, with an overarching latticework wooden canopy that encloses the dining area and frames the view of the sea beyond. It’s an artistic intervention, a work of the architect’s imagination, and built by local craftsmen from palo de arco, a wood from trees that grow only in the Baja peninsula. That design perhaps best expresses the overall philosophy at work at the Viceroy: It is sculptural and very contemporary, but at the same time artisanal and very Mexican. It tells a compelling story of a particular place, one where the desert yields to the sea, and yet from that dramatic tableau, creates a tranquil spot to enjoy it all.
—Beth Dunlop

The Fontenay

Hamburg, Germany

Conceived by local architect Jan Störmer, the curvilinear Fontenay was built in three ingeniously interlinking circles so that all rooms face outward and light streams in.


Paris, France

Opened in 1910, the Lutetia underwent a renovation by the Jean-MichelWilmotte firm in order to preserve its art deco and art nouveau elements. 

Royal Mansour

Marrakech, Morocco

This walled palace features a central atrium surrounded by 53 three-story riad residences, each with a rooftop terrace. Interiors are showcases of Moroccan artisanry. 


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