Decals, murals and hand-drawn walls have been in style for a while now, but they seem to be becoming increasingly sophisticated. The latest to emerge is Martin Margiela’s collection of series Trompe l’Oeil stickers - magnificent photographs that are designed to look like real doors. (They’re even the same size as real doors.) They’re available at Merci in Paris or the Martin Margiela website, but there are only a few around, so be quick. Alternatively, you can draw your own eye-catching art work, as Town and Country store in Melbourne’s High Street Armadale has done with a cute map of Paris.
A journalist friend of mine who spends more time in hotels than he does at home says you can always tell the quality of a hotel room by the quality of its bath. I agree. Here are some I’ve stayed in, photographed or simply gaped at, with admiration and awe.
The Balé, Bali. Herbert Ypma once told me this was one of his favourite hotels, and I can see why. It’s also one of mine. The bathroom features a deep sunken bath with a ‘menu’ of 12 soaps, two showers to choose from (indoors and out), and French doors that open straight onto your own private pool. Pure bathing bliss.
The Six Senses hideaway, Ninh Van Bay, Vietnam. This hand-made tub is constructed from timber and is set in an open-air pavilion that looks straight out to the sea. Privacy is provided by muslin netting, which hides your privates while still letting the view through.
Malikha Lodge, Myanmar. An extraordinary place set in an extraordinary country, Malikha Lodge offers guests rooms in which the bath takes centre stage. Literally.
Uma Ubud, Bali. One of my all-time favourite bathrooms. The monochrome decorating scheme lifts this ensuite from a minimalist and slightly austere space to a stylish spa-inspired retreat. Love the gingham ottoman. The room is also open to the sky, to allow the cool Ubud breezes to blow through.
If you want somewhere to stay in Versailles, try the gorgeous (and cheap) Hotel d’Angleterre in the Old Town. Situated right next to the Chateau, it’s a tiny gem of a hideaway that’s recently been renovated by its young, twenty-something owners. (Who are as delightful as the interior design.) You have to love a couple who decorate a five-storey staircase entirely in striped Paul Smith wallpaper. The rooms are cute, and there is also a fabulous dining area and enchanting garden. And when you’re in Versailles, don’t miss the enormous Potager du Roi (the King’s Garden) - the original kitchen garden that supplied produce for the royal family and its court. The Piece d’Eau des Suisse lake is lovely for a picnic lunch as well. All three places offer sanctuaries of peace in a sometimes overwhelming city.
If you want a stylish and inexpensive hotel in Paris, try the Joyce. Set in a great location right between the classic Paris street scenes of Montmatre and the bustle of Boulevard Haussman (which has some of the city’s best department stores), it features whimsically designed rooms with enchanting murals and a quirky bar full of vintage car seats. Ask for a room at the top: they offer charming balconies with photogenic views of the city’s rooftops. Chic and cheap. Just what you want in Paris.
The library of the Viceroy hotel in Santa Monica, LA. The canary-yellow space is as surprising as the rest of this Kelly Wearstler-designed hideaway. The unusual element here is the colour - a surprising but delightful shade that’s rarely used in interiors, other than in Palm Springs - and the shelving. The angled lines create a distinctive and thoroughly modern backdrop - a fitting design for this distinctive and thoroughly modern hotel.
The new Martin Margiela-designed ‘couture suites’ of the La Champs Elysées hotel in Paris. The Curiosity Case Suite (all black) features a cabinet of curiosities and the White Cover Suite is like an empty chateau, but the most alluring is the Gilded Lounge Suite, which is lined with walls of books and has a bathroom decorated in magazine spines. Very Martin Margiela.
This serenely simple library designed by architect (and book lover) Hugh Newell Jacobsen for a carriage house in Nantucket. The entire house is white, right down to the minimalist staircase, which creates a gallery-like space for the books within. The minimalist, all-white backdrop means that the only colour in the building is their bright spines. (From Design in Black and White, Images Publishing.)
A DIOR-INSPIRED DINING ROOM
Secondhand chairs: Bought on sale at Melbourne store Izzi & Popo. Spray-painted gold, then covered with a $3 gingham and grosgain ribbon.
Cookbooks: Covered in a vintage-style paper found in a paperie in Beverly Hills. (A great idea for hiding ugly dustjackets.)
Gilt-and-marble side table: Discovered at a local junk shop. (This always reminds me of the Petit Trianon at Versailles; one of my favourite places.) A hessian runner was thrown down it and the display dinnerware piled on top.
It’s not widely publicised, but Christian Dior’s childhood home in Granville, ‘Villa Les Rhumbs’, is open to the public. The only ‘Musée de France’ dedicated to a couturier, a this 19th-century, Belle Epoque-style clifftop villa overlooking the sea features hundreds of Haute Couture garments over three floors, including designs by Christian Dior, Yves Saint-Laurent, Marc Bohan, Gianfranco Ferré for Christian Dior and John Galliano. There is also a gorgeous garden, designed by Dior’s mother, which is beautiful in the spring and summer.