Some holidays you want to enjoy the sleek and chic luxury of a cutting-edge hotel. Boutique hotel collection Mr & Mrs Smith’s (www.mrandmrssmith.com) offers those seeking a stylish getaway its top 10 picks for an edgy escape.
MONA PAVILIONS, HOBART, AUSTRALIA
It’s not often that a hotel comes with its own art gallery attached, which is why Hobart retreat MONA Pavilions in Tasmania is a must for culture-vultures. This year’s opening of cavernous cliffside MONA (ambitious private venture the Museum of Old and New Art), has brought head-turning local and international art to this one-stop style shop. A short stroll away, eight ultra-contemporary bedroom pavilions hug the Derwent River, named after Australian architects and artists including Sydney Nolan and Brett Whiteley, with original paintings inside. Sleek restaurant the Source, a microbrewery and vineyard ensure guests here won’t just be feasting on ideas.
Its wittily wacky themed rooms might not appeal to everyone, but the young at heart — and fans of fantastical fun — will feel right at home at Wanderlust, a style-sussed 29-bed boutique hotel in Singapore’s vibrant Little India quarter. Dreamed up by hot hotelier Loh Lik Peng, with help from a fistful of local designers, the most extreme rooms are decked out like spaceships, treehouses and even monster typewriters, but if you’re after something more subtle ask for a Pantone-colored pad or one of the white Mono Origami chambers. Wanderlust’s wonders include French comfort food at casual bistro Cocotte, a custom-created “passport” guide to the area’s charms and a sun-deck Jacuzzi.
SHOREDITCH ROOMS, LONDON
East London is the go-to spot for style-seekers in the English capital these days, and there’s no better launch pad for making the most of the area’s hot shops, galleries and markets than sexy Shoreditch Rooms. The 26 bedrooms may be bijou, but bag a Small+ for a spacious city-facing terrace. What’s more, a stay here allows you to access all areas of adjoining private members’ club Shoreditch House, including its buzzy bars, restaurant, games room, bowling alley, Cowshed Spa and so-hip-it-hurts rooftop pool. DJs spin discs on Friday and Saturday nights, when you can mingle with skinny-jeans-sporting graphic design types to your heart’s content.
Checking into Tenface, you’ll be handed a box of tricks. Inside you’ll find a Skytrain pass, Thai SIM card, herbal toiletries and an iPod nano loaded with video podcasts by in-the-know locals sharing their favorite spots to eat, drink and shop. This street-chic 79-room retreat may be hard to find, tucked away down a leafy soi in Bangkok’s business/residential district, but once here you’ll feel like you’ve arrived in hipster central (the style-savvy mix of local and international guests helps). Chill out with a Lovelorn Tosakan cocktail in clubby Sita Bar, which sports a DJ booth. Repair to airy Wanara Eatery for casual bites, fusing Thai and global flavors. Then escape to your apartment-style suite, where vibrant hits of color and graphic wall design makes for urban elegance.
ACE HOTEL & SWIM CLUB, PALM SPRINGS, US
This hipster’s canyon commune south of downtown Palm Springs, California, proves you can have style on a budget. Combining a modernized Sixties motel with retro furniture, a classic diner and aquatic activities, there’s a boho mood at the 180-room Ace Hotel that’s totally West Coast. Vintage furniture and vinyl record players (in Patio rooms or above) ensure attitude. Outdoors a kooky caravan and fabric-draped alfresco lounging areas add to the “glamping” (glam camping) feel. The sexy Swim Club sports two pools, a hot tub, sauna, steam room and that Californian essential, the massage yurt. Bring a guitar for fireside singalongs.
SAFFIRE, FREYCINET PENINSULA, AUSTRALIA
Generating global buzz with its wow-worthy mix of directional design and natural charm, shoreside sensation Saffire is putting Australia’s southernmost island Tasmania firmly on the style map. Shaped like a sinuous stingray, Sanctuary, the main body of the hotel, is home to view-packing restaurant Palate, where seasonal local seafood and fish are a must. Spread out like a shoal around it, the 20 suites blend subtle modern design with striking sea vistas. (Snaffle one of the four Premium Suites for a private plunge pool). With spa treatments inspired by gemstones, and massages included in rates, you’ll be hard pressed to leave. Nearby Wineglass Bay on the famous Freycinet Peninsula should tempt you though, or sample Saffire’s adventurous activities, including visits to a marine oyster farm or island-hopping.
ALILA VILLAS ULUWATU, BALI, INDONESIA
It’s no wonder the beautiful people flock to Alila Villas Uluwatu, a jaw-dropping cliffhanger of a retreat on Bali’s dramatic southern Bukit Peninsula, boasting panoramic views over the Indian Ocean. Sleek modern design at this seductive sanctuary comes care of Singaporean architects WOHA, with 61 spacious pool villas embracing the outdoors. Natural stone, wood, water features and rattan rule, with personal butlers on tap. Add to the mix fine dining restaurant Cire, Indonesian eatery the Warung and the heavenly Spa Alila, and you’ll be hooked. Stand-out sensation? Perching in the lounge bar cabana with waves crashing below. Uluwatu’s legendary surf breaks await if you’re having a Kelly Slater moment.
MAISON MOSCHINO, MILAN, ITALY
Sharing your hotel with ornamental sheep might not seem an obvious style statement, but this Milan marvel puts the surreal into the sartorial. Created by Italian mega-brand Moschino, and housed in the city’s first railway station, 65-room Maison Moschino teams haute couture allure with avant-garde decor. Illuminated mannequins light the lobby and beds are backdropped by outsize frocks. (Wannabe Cinderellas should book the Sleeping in a Ballgown boudoir). Quirky touches continue in the restaurant, which serves Italian sushi, and the elegant Culti Spa, where treatments are inspired by beauty-boosting Brittany sea water. Make time to visit cutting-edge concept store 10 Corso Como nearby.
THE WATERHOUSE AT SOUTH BUND, SHANGHAI
Soak up views of Shanghai’s Huangpu River from your designer digs at The Waterhouse at South Bund, set in a restored 1930s factory in the historic Shiliupu dockyards. Its jagged industrial framework is offset by sleek adaptations by Shanghai architects Neri & Hu, with 19 rooms offering minimal styling, Scandi and Italian contemporary furniture and racy baths in see-through boxes. Michelin-starred chef Jason Atherton heads up tasty restaurant Table No. 1, a simple dining space with serious culinary cred. Weather willing, there are few finer perching spots than the Roof at Waterhouse, the lofty cocktail-pouring vantage-point atop this urban sanctuary.
BUNGALOW HOTEL, JERSEY SHORE, US
Pier-perched, art-fueled 24-room Bungalow Hotel on Jersey Shore, south of New York, isn’t your average coastal getaway. Its owners are interior designers, and it shows. On arrival you could be forgiven for thinking you’ve stumbled into a luxe London apartment (we love the giant postage stamp pictures of Queen Elizabeth) or a cool Aussie getaway (cue surf boards in rooms). The savvy styling, embracing black-and-white cowhide couches, popping-patterned cushions, graphic letters and oversized candelabra, seduces and intrigues. Driftwood photo frames, pebbles and birds’ feathers bring the beach indoors, or you’re just steps from the seafront if you’d rather sample the real thing.