Post-Oscar Travel: Variety’s Guide to Design-Centric Hotels

Kathy A. McDonald

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Good design inspires. These hotels and resorts embody a distinct design sensibility in which architectural character and chic design complement the rarefied hospitality. Whether it’s a quiet retreat done in an upscale boho style on Spain’s festive island of Ibiza or the contemporary luxury of the Ty Warner Villa at the Four Seasons Resort The Biltmore Santa Barbara or the enveloping, midcentury modern TWA Hotel at JFK, these properties are visual treats and ultimately, a feast for the senses. Here’s where to relax, rest and reboot after awards season.

CALIFORNIA

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Beachfront repose
Four Seasons Resort
The Biltmore Santa Barbara
On the lush grounds of the Santa Barbara resort, and discreetly tucked away from public view, is the newly built and sumptuously appointed beachfront Ty Warner Villa. Interiors are by owner Ty Warner (industry favorites San Ysidro Ranch and Las Ventanas are his, too) who selected all of the one-bedroom, 4,000-square-foot ultra-suite’s luxuriant furnishings including the statement antique pieces, crystal chandeliers and wide-plank, cream-colored wood floors. There’s comfortable seating throughout and each room, including the studio apartment-sized bathroom, leads to a lushly planted private patio. The villa is designed for those who want to unwind in seclusion in gracious style, with all possible amenities at hand, from the two outdoor fireplaces, private plunge pool, built in sound system to the oval soaking tub, hewn from one slab of white limestone. Finishing touches include California Plein air paintings, dozens of art books and marble-backed wet bar. Views of nearby Butterfly Beach ensure a golden sunset hour. Arrival by helicopter can be booked. fourseasons.com/santabarbara

Low-Key Haven
Hideaway Santa Barbara
Close to Santa Barbara’s harbor, the lively Funk Zone, and in a neighborhood of low-rise vintage motels, the Hideaway delivers on its name. The off-the-beaten path boutique inn has nine charming California Craftsman style rooms. The coastal colors and light-filled rooms bring the seaside in; guests may enjoy breakfast in the double-height dining room shaded by a large avocado tree. Artwork features native plants and local scenes, a reminder of the Hideaway’s most agreeable location.
hideawaysantabarbara.com

Retro Revival
Hotel Atwater, Catalina Island
Los Angeles County’s island in the sun beckons with streamlined art deco landmarks, mostly car-free streets and unspoiled natural surroundings. After a swift ride via the Catalina Express from San Pedro, Dana Point or Long Beach to Avalon, disembark for a stay at the 1920-built, recently refurbished Hotel Atwater, now cheerfully reimagined with many acknowledgements to Catalina Island’s pre-World War II heyday. The wall-sized mural behind the front desk, a reproduction of an Otis Shepard’s vintage Visit Catalina advertisement, recalls the gentler era. Breakfast, a selection of guided tours and bike rentals are included with an overnight booking. visitcatalinaisland.com

Hospitable History
Lodge at the Presidio, San Francisco
Over the past 20 years, the Presidio Trust has transformed the 1,500-acre former Presidio military post into a national park and arts and cultural mecca. The red brick, 42-room sustainably designed Lodge at the Presidio (in a restored barracks built in 1895-97 overlooking a grand expanse of lawn) opened in 2018 with stellar views of the Golden Gate. Inside historic architectural details add a distinguished finish: original cast-iron columns, wood- plank flooring and double-height windows were restored to great effect. Artworks and fabrics salute the post’s military root. Breakfast buffet and daily wine and cheese happy
hour overlooking San Francisco Bay are included. presidiolodging.com

LOUISIANA

Southern Belle Mode
Maison de la Luz, New Orleans
The Big Easy’s statuesque guesthouses are forever at the cosmopolitan crossroads of history and modernity. Atelier Ace and Los Angeles-based Studio Shamshiri utilized all of New Orleans’ rich cultural history in the collaborative design of the 67-room Maison de la Luz in the city’s Warehouse District. Original architectural features, such as intricate ironwork staircases, brickwork and the stone, 1908-built neoclassical exterior, were painstakingly buffed in the thoughtful restoration, a contrast of past and present. Bold saturated colors from sultry reds to indigo blues; Japanese, African and Egyptian folk art as accent pieces; and custom-made fringed furniture are some of the hotel’s striking components. maisondelaluz.com

NEW YORK CITY

Landing in the 1960s
The TWA Hotel at JFK Airport
The TWA Hotel at JFK was once the main passenger terminal for Trans World Airlines. The landmark, 1962-built swooping, winglike architecture is by midcentury modern master architect Eero Saarinen and now serves as the 512-room hotel’s lobby and social space. Every detail is swoonworthy for vintage design lovers from the Sunken Lounge with its signature chili-pepper red carpet and Saarinen-designed seating to the seasonal winter lounge on the pool deck. Cheese fondue and hot toddies are the current seasonal treats. Convenient for in-transit travelers: rooms can be booked for a four- to 12-hour day stay between 7 a.m. and 8 p.m. twahotel.com

Vintage Americana
The High Line Hotel
Gotham design firm Roman and Williams (design credits include the Ace Hotel NYC and Freehand L.A.) took a layered and eclectic approach in creating the interiors of the 60-room High Line Hotel within a landmarked West Chelsea building. Select vintage furniture, antique Persian rugs and rewired 1920s-era rotary phones create a timeless feel while high-tech accoutrements, including blackout shades and super-fast Wi-Fi, satisfy today’s travelers. Shinola bikes are available for guests and dogs are welcomed without the usual pet fees. thehighlinehotel.com

Urban Oasis
Equinox Hotel Hudson Yards
The Equinox Hotel Hudson Yards is the first from the Equinox Fitness Club brand; there’s a spiffy new club within the hotel’s tower. The hotel’s infrastructure and design elements from Rockwell Group have a greater purpose: to promote guests’ physical and mental health. Materials are rich, colors are neutral and the air and water are filtered. Rooms have exceptionally soundproofed walls; the overall sensation is sleek and pure. Lighting is intentionally soft. There’s space for yoga, meditation or exercise in-room and guided tutorials available on screen. The Hudson River, High Line and Manhattan’s newest neighborhood, the Hudson Yards are just outside. equinox-hotels.com

IBERIAN PENINSULA

Artful Restoration
Palacio Belmonte, Lisbon
Lisbon is on everyone’s travel bucket list for many reasons: The blend of historic eras, the winding cobblestone streets, the dreamy vistas, cultural attractions and vibrant Portuguese cuisine and wine combine for a sensory overload. Within the city’s historic core and close to the Castelo de São Jorge, the hilltop Palacio Belmonte is a meticulously revived, 16-story, contemporary art-filled palace with 11 suites. The revival was overseen by owner and sustainable developer Frederic Coustols who bought the neglected edifice and restored every nook, wall and antique art tile while adding a pool, opening up terraces and adding
modern amenities. The boutique property frequently hosts events and workshops. palaciobelmonte.com

Bohemian Retreat
Cas Gasi, Ibiza, Spain
Here’s where to recharge after indulging in Ibiza’s famed nightclub scene or to escape urban complexities. The 21-room Cas Gasi set in the countryside amid olive groves is a boho chic hideaway that for more than 20 years has welcomed the world’s creative elite seeking tranquility and seclusion. Whitewashed stucco exteriors and field rock walls are warmed in Ibiza’s bright sunlight; four new suites take in the hillside views and come with indulgent soaking tubs, outdoor showers and luxury linen-topped beds. casgasi.com

ISRAEL

Minimal modern
The Levee, Tel Aviv
Within a completely restored, 1913-built historic building, the Levee offers eight apartments in the heart of Tel Aviv with hotel-like services. The classic architecture outside belies the loft-like rooms found within. Warm wood floors offset the unfinished cement walls and minimalist aesthetic; furniture is contemporary European as are the fully equipped kitchens outfitted with major brands such as Minotti, convenient for multi-generational travel. Some rooms have access to private courtyards. leveetlv.com

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