Visionary spaces: 5 design hotels that must be seen to be believed

By James Lohan | 10 Jul 2018 | Culture, Travel, Art

Executive chairman of boutique hotel guide Mr and Mrs Smith shares his must-visit design hotels
* Visionary Spaces
1 of 6
* Jackalope, Mornington Peninsula, Australia
2 of 6
* Artist Residence 
3 of 6
* The Warehouse Hotel
4 of 6
* Katamama
5 of 6
* Villa La Coste Provence, France
6 of 6

Thoughtfully curated design, a great location and intuitive service are all things that are very much expected of a design hotel – those that have created visionary and iconic spaces all have that buzz about them. If you’re looking for a stylish stay in one of the world’s best design hotels, then there’s really only one person to ask – and that’s the founder and Executive Chairman of renowned boutique hotel guide Mr and Mrs Smith, James Lohan. "I think standout design hotels truly bring something, whether that’s opening up new locations with hype and events or shining a spotlight on an untapped destination. Design hotels need to go above and beyond people’s expectations in terms of what they offer to really transport guests," said Lohan. Read on to discover his expert 2018 unmissable design hot list. >>

Related: Don't miss these 5 gastronomic hotel pop ups

Jackalope, Mornington Peninsula, Australia

With its clean lines and jet-black, zinc-clad exterior, this property stands in sharp contrast to its surroundings of rural farms and rolling vineyards. The property features some whimsical elements and details alongside its sleek design, a 22ft jackalope sculpture (part-jack rabbit, part-antelope, I believe) that sits boldy at the entrance. The communal spaces throughout the hotel are flanked with the most incredible collection of art, while the rooms take a more subdued tonal palette of whites, greys and blacks. The spaces and rooms are perfectly lit; it’s moody, dark and sultry. You couldn’t be in a better location for sampling some of Australia’s best wines.

Artist Residence 

This small but perfectly formed London townhouse is hidden away in Pimlico, a 10-bedroom boutique property choc-full of expertly curated antique furniture and an unrivalled art collection. The owners redesigned a former pub designed by Thomas Cubitt and have kitted it out with freestanding cast iron bathtubs, tea crate drawers and antler chandeliers. I love all of the Artist Residence properties, they follow the same ethos and style, but each space feels incredibly unique and each has a real sense of place.

The Warehouse Hotel

A converted riverside warehouse on the banks of one of the most vibrant districts in Singapore, The Warehouse is a unique space which has been converted but still stays true to its industrial heritage. The design features subtle nods to the building’s past with installations that include pieces that would have been used by the original warehouse workers. Lights are inspired by the machinery and hang from big black-iron beams in the super impressive vaulted lobby. The rooms have earthy textures of concrete and copper with accents of pale grey. I love the almost glass-box rooftop pool at this property – a great place to relax with one of the incredible cocktails from their bar. 


Katamama, Bali

The focus and dedication to local craftsmanship at Katamama in Seminyak is something to be admired. The striking rust-coloured hue of the exterior is made up of bricks that were hand-pressed in a local village and each piece of furniture has been custom-made, and many of the furnishings are hand woven. The rooms are thoughtfully curated and found via the indoor-outdoor corridors that snake round the building.

Villa La Coste Provence, France

I fell for this place at first sight. A decade in the making, this visionary estate took Provence’s passion for high art and turned it on its head. In 600 acres of vine-draped grounds, adjoining the Château La Coste winery, you’ll find a trail of museum-worthy sculptures and installations by the likes of Tracey Emin, Louise Bourgeois, Alexander Calder, Frank Gehry and Ai Weiwei. Inside, works by Damien Hirst dot the walls, a duo of celebrated chefs man the restaurants and a Japanese-style spa offers onsen-like seclusion.