Magazine article Sunset

Design Vacation: Bring Home the Best Ideas from Chic Hotels

Magazine article Sunset

Design Vacation: Bring Home the Best Ideas from Chic Hotels

Article excerpt

Boutique hotels give us a chance to experience another lifestyle. Next time you check into one of these intimate accommodations--whether it's a Zen retreat or an urban getaway--pay close attention to the interiors: You might well check out with a suitcase full of decorating ideas for your own home.

If you're drawn to a serene, natural environment, visit the lobby of San Francisco's newest boutique property, Hotel Vitale. The nook pictured here displays an intriguing blend of organic textures and materials. "The space is all about patterns and light," says interior designer Colum McCartan. "We used wood, stone, and fabrics in muted colors inspired by nature. It's a look that won't date."

Urban wilderness


With its sweeping views across the Embarcadero, the new Hotel Vitale is a big-city sensation. The best spot to soak up the sights is in one of the two idyllic tubs on the eighth-floor spa terrace, surrounded by a forest of bamboo trees in containers. DESIGN: Clark Manus, Heller-Manus Architects, San Francisco ( or 415/247-1100); Colum McCartan, McCartan, San Francisco ( or 415/956-9091) LANDSCAPE DESIGN: Marta Fry Landscape Associates ( or 415/543-8202 ext. 202) INFO: Hotel Vitale (199 rooms from $269; or 888/890-8688)

Take the look home

Bring the bath outside

Architect Clark Manus found that by adding redwood decking as a surround, he could use a deep tub--originally designed for residential use--outdoors. Water over-flows the edge and is recycled, making the standardsize bath feel like an infinity pool. "Not only is bathing outdoors very serene, it's the ultimate in luxury," says Manus.


Grow plant screens for privacy

Narrow metal-finished fiber-glass boxes planted with bamboo trace the perimeter of the deck. The tall plants provide privacy as well as an element of nature. The rustle of the wind blowing through the bamboo makes a lovely sound that helps mask traffic noise from the streets below. "It's a nature experience in an urban setting," says Manus.

Keep small spaces simple for a luxe mood

There are just a few elements--a tub, a redwood deck, and a bamboo screen. By keeping the area spare, it becomes tranquil and luxurious, creating a Westernized version of the Japanese bathing ritual. Here, every-thing is functional--not merely decorative--right down to the bamboo, giving a small space maximum impact.


Bathtub: Sok from Kohler ($7,119; or 800/456-4537)

Faucet: Pinnacle Collection from Watermark Designs ($1,073 with hand shower; or 800/842-7277)

Robe: Monogrammed Hotel Vitale robe ($90; or 415/278-3700)

Cool pad


Not so long ago, the Ace Hotel was a Christian mission; these days, it plays host to sleekly dressed urbanites with spartan design sensibilities. A pared-down, utilitarian look is the order of the day. "When we put the rooms together, we spent a lot of time thinking about what you really need," says hotel partner Doug Herrick. The results are stark and functional, with innovative built-in furniture and occasional bold splashes of color. DESIGN: Eric Hentz, Mallet, Seattle (206/767-1875) INFO: Ace Hotel (28 rooms from $65; www.acehotel. …

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