Why go far away, when the change of scenery, the charm and the exoticism are often just a stone’s throw away… or an hour’s hop by plane. After all, planet “Europe” itself offers an endless supply of often unsuspected tourist attractions. With a bit of imagination, some insider tips and an open mind, you’ll feel like you’re king of the world! And if the sun happens to come out, you’ll find you don’t have to go far to find your somewhere.
1/ Capsule Hotel & Bookstore Qinglongwu
China. A hotel, vast bookstore and community library, deep in the heart of Tonglu forest.
In Zhejiang Province, the architects behind the prolific Atelier TAO+C (Shanghai) have transformed a former traditional Chinese farmhouse made of wood and adobe into a small hotel with barely Twenty rooms, adjacent to a bookstore and public library. In the middle of nowhere! An architectural feat that has gone on to win the most prestigious architectural awards. The idea was to build a high-tech community bookstore – one of the largest in China somewhere well off the beaten track, outside the urban context, while integrating a small hotel so that “readers” could stay on site. Wherever you look, the view stretches out as far as the eye can see, through huge bay windows, over the mountains of Eastern China. The result is spectacular. And the place is so atypical that the “curious” flock from all over the world. The ideal place for a creative retreat.
2/ Il Sereno Lago di Como
A labour of love between Sereno Hotels and Patricia Urquoila, this sublime hotel pays unparalleled attention to detail.
The natural beauty and spectacular views over Italy’s southern Alps make Lake Como an idyllic location that draws the crowds. Renowned Milan-based architect and designer Patricia Urquiola and her team have left their hallmark on a contemporary bolt hole with an understated decor that contrasts with the classic look and feel of the surrounding hotels.
Every facet of this new address has been designed to make the most of the views of the lake and the mountain ranges that dominate it. Likewise, every room has its own bespoke character and fittings: from the architecture to the interior design, including the furniture, carpets, wall coverings, lamps, bathrooms and even the locally produced silk scarves for the hotel staff’s uniforms. The modern, custom furniture created by Urquiola complements the elegant and sophisticated design, playing with muted earth tones of grey and walnut, with touches of blue and green to blend with the colours of the landscape carved out by this iconic Italian lake.
3/ Six Senses Ibiza
In Ibiza, Six Senses Residences presents its new collection of exclusive villas, designed by Jonathan Leitersdorf. The idea: to celebrate “time to yourself” in style.
Do you want sun (almost) all year round? Do you want to enjoy the vibrant Ibiza lifestyle without the drawbacks? Do you want a magical holiday? Six Senses has 19 high-quality residences and two “mansions” with unique charm, expanding its already highly exclusive range of accommodation. A symbol of liberty, the island is known for its legendary friendliness – a combination of anti-conformism and elegance, traditions and casualness. Designed and conceived by architect Jonathan Leitersdorf, these multi-bedroom residences are a modern interpretation of the island’s iconic fincas; they invite us to experience unforgettable moments together with our friends and family. Private pools, concierge service, private chef, free access to all the facilities and activities in the resort … everything is there to make our lives that little bit better. The must: stay in one of the two “mansions” (manor houses) available. With their large terraces and unobstructed views over the Cala Xarraca bay, in the north of the island, the Pinnacle (10 bedrooms) and the Cliffhanger (5 bedrooms) are undoubtedly the best rental options Ibiza has to offer.
4/ L’Oscar London
A thatrical decoration signed Jacques Garcia. All reds end golds, dotted with butterflies and birds.
His style is unmistakable, identical and yet different every time. From New York to Marrakech, passing through La Réserve Genève, Le Danieli or L’Oscar London, each place lovingly designed by Jacques Garcia (75 years old) exudes a unique atmosphere. His hallmark style travels across the centuries, from the 18 th century to today. “I am above all a creator of ambiences”, he says. “I have a Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde side, because I was brought up bathed in the culture of antiques and a passion for the old by my father and stumbled across conceptual art during my studies. This is why the past feeds my present in my decoration style. I interpret, I mix, I have no barriers, I heckle the classics and moderns, breaking down all clichés…” An approach that allows this emeritus decorator, art consultant and collector to constantly reinvent himself!
In London (Holborn), between Covent Garden and Bloomsbury, a former Baptist church has been transformed into a boutique hotel (by the Michel Reybier Hospitality Group), with the lavish opulence and theatricality that has earned Jacques Garcia his reputation. Its name? L’Oscar, as a tribute to the neighbourhood where Oscar Wilde himself left his mark. The hotel has preserved the magnificence of the original building, a decor all bricks, mortar and generous sumptuousness. The 21 rooms and 18 suites of this intimate establishment, with their sage green, violet, golden yellow and blood red walls, are indulgently voluptuous. Ironically, Wilde would have appreciated this irreverence: a place of piety transformed into a fashionable hotel.
5/ The TOO Hotel
Definitely the new must-see in Paris. Perched atop one of Jean Nouvel’s duo towers.
First, there is the cinemascope view of all of Paris. Then, there is the height, between the 17 th and 27 th floors of one of the two Duo Towers designed by Ateliers Jean Nouvel, in the 13 th arrondissement. The TOO Hotel – under the MGallery brand (Accor) and developed by the Laurent Taïeb group (who designed the luxurious Madame Rêve hotel in the Louvre Post Office) – was conceived, designed, finished and decorated by the most famous of French designers, Philippe Starck. Born of a dream, this suspended establishment embodies the “fantasy” of a futuristic city, vertical like New York or Tokyo, and offers the sensation of being so high up that the city of light is all yours!
On the roofs, 1500 m² of photovoltaic panels should provide 1% of the building’s electricity consumption; the hotel also has a solar hot water production system. All the rooms have a view of the sky. The TOO Restaurant, the TOO Tac Tac Skybar and the TOO Chill spa, which opens onto a leafy terrace, are all (prestigious) addresses that will attract new generations of Parisians and travellers.
6/ The Ritz-Carlton Residences
This, the most glamorous residentiel project of the season, is without a doubt the new must-see in Miami Beach.
Is minimalism the ultimate luxury of the 21st century? Far beyond the “Less is more” utopia first touted by Mies Van der Rohe back in the 1920s, it encapsulates a new art of living driven by the liberation of space, an acute awareness of the essence of things and the blurring of the boundaries between interior and exterior. Although he refutes this label, architect and designer Piero Lissoni is a signed-up member of this school of purity that turns its back on any notion of unnecessary ornamentation. In Miami Beach, he has recently designed the interiors of an ambitious residential project featuring furniture carefully selected from the latest collections of the Italian furniture manufacturer Living Divani.
Boasting spectacular views over Biscayne Bay and La Gorce Island, the Ritz-Carlton Residences development is a sprawling private oceanfront property – covering seven acres of gardens, pools, entertainment spaces and a private marina – ranging from condominiums to single-family villas. Rarely in Florida have such residences combined the amenities and legendary service of the Ritz-Carlton with such stylish, modern architecture. Why choose Living Divani? Because its ultra-contemporary, sleek and elegant style of furniture brings out the extraordinary proportions and dimensions of these luxury residences … without overpowering the organic surroundings of these homes, designed, first and foremost, to exude an intimate, welcoming warmth.