A Suite Sense of Place

The Nelson Mandela Platinum suite at the Saxon Hotel in South Africa, with local artwork. Photo Credit: The Saxon Hotel

In a conscious effort to make the guest experience even more special, many hotels, resorts, lodges, and inns are creating all-suite experiences or increasing the sheer number of suite categories available to travelers. These stylized digs are far from cookie cutter: they embody the local aesthetics and create a true sense of escapism. The designers of the new wave of suites are creating “journeys within a journey”: essentially, worlds that can only be experienced in that place.

Here are some suites that are worlds above the ordinary, each with an exceptional design sensibility:

The Saxon Hotel, Villas & Spa, Johannesburg, South Africa

With a palette of earth-toned textures and traditional African design, this all-suite hotel with 53 rooms recently debuted the icing on the cake: the 4,300-square-foot Nelson Mandela Platinum suite. It is a fitting tribute for the statesman who was closely connected to the owners of the hotel, the Steyn family. Johannesburg artist Dean Simon, whose pencil sketches adorn the walls of the Saxon, was asked to design the redesign of the suite, which takes cues from Madiba’s Xhosa’s (Mandela’s clan name) heritage. The room’s custom pieces of furniture and art take guests on a visual journey into Mandela’s sensibilities and style, with dark wood accents, animal skin rugs, copper lamps, and geometric patterns.

The Kingfisher suite at the Marlborough Lodge in New Zealand, which was a former convent. Photo Credit: The Marlborough Lounge

The Marlborough Lodge, Blenheim, New Zealand

This upscale lodge in the heart of New Zealand’s wine country (famous for its Sauvignon Blanc) was a Sisters of Mercy convent that was brought to the area in pieces. Designed by the Auckland-based Peter Lloyd, the lodge is intimate with only 10 suites. Each has its own sense of style and is named after native New Zealand birds and trees. Clad in a soft palette with lovely views of the onsite vineyards and chapel that was recently converted into a spa, the lodge is full of design surprises with a polished original staircase made of kauri wood, high pitched ceilings, extra generous marble bathrooms, and gorgeous amenities and candles by local artisans Ashley & Co. The largest Kingfisher suite was a nun’s chapel, and boasts stained glass windows that admit a beautiful flood of light. Original artwork and 16 acres of surrounding gardens studded with over 154 native trees completes the experience.

A suite at the Mayton Inn in Cary, North Carolina. Photo Credit: The Mayton Inn

The Mayton Inn, Cary, North Carolina

Located in the charming town of Cary, the 33-room Mayton Inn offers 13 suites, and no two are alike. The 2,500 square-foot Trinity Suite can accommodate 10 guests (basically, the cast of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel) and boasts its own parlor area. Accents like patterned wallpaper that contrast with the plush carpets and beautiful antiques with unexpected pops of color make the suites truly Instagram-worthy. Owners Deanna and Colin worked with Madge Megliola of Megliola Beal Interior Design Inc. to create an experience full of Southern charm with a modern edge.

The bedroom at the Hemingway Suite at the Lexington Hotel in New York City, designed by Fringe. Photo Credit: The Lexington Hotel

The Lexington Hotel, New York, New York

This hotel, built during the Jazz Age, was where the actress Marilyn Monroe once lived with Joe di Maggio. It recently debuted a makeover of five specialty suites with a real sense of place, done by the interior design firm, Fringe. The suites pay homage to the actress Marilyn Monroe; novelist Ernest Hemingway, jazz legend Ella Fitzgerald, and radio host Arthur Godfrey. Other themed suites called The Hawaiian Room and the Conservatory too, send guests to far-flung places, and the details are what make these sanctuaries special. The Conservatory, with its glass-enclosed living room, makes you feel a bit like Alice in Wonderland peering at the gray concrete and skyscrapers outside. It creates the atmosphere of a secret garden with a lotus hand-carved hardwood bed, chandelier festooned with candles and moss, and a lacquered cabinet. The Hemingway Suite screams “safari” with its banana-motif Versace wallpaper, vintage suitcases, typewriter, and even a minibar with cigars. The largest 900-square-foot Lady Ella suite has elegant art deco touches with shiny feather-motif pillows and photos and album covers of Ella Fitzgerald on several walls.

A villa entrance at the Capella Shanghai, an all-suite property . Photo Credit: The Capella Shanghai

Capella Shanghai Jian Ye Li, Shanghai, China

This all-villa, all-suite property opened in October 2017 in the Xuhui District’s last remaining cluster of shikumen townhouses (traditional Shanghai-style buildings that combine both Western and Chinese elements, which appeared in the 1860s). The elegant design of the suites by the late Jaya Ibrahim is a nod to the city’s heritage and the golden era during the 1930s. Stylized villas incorporate French and Chinese elements with historical Shanghainese courtyards and a Parisian design flair.

A villa entrance at the Capella Shanghai, an all-suite property . Photo Credit: The Capella Shanghai

Baglioni Hotel Carlton, Milan, Italy

With a recent redesign done by the Italian company, Jumbo Group, the hotel unveiled a regal 2,000-square-foot Montenapoleone Terrace suite clad in marble, onyx, and crystal. With the kind of grandeur and sensibility reserved for royalty, the suite is a gilded experience with a subtle chromatic palette of earth tones and accents of leather, velvet, and fur. It includes elements from the refined Gianfranco Ferré Home collection.

The Ritz Carlton Bal Harbour one-bedroom suite . Photo Credit: The Ritz Carlton Bal Harbour

The Ritz Carlton Bal Harbour, Miami, Florida

Located at the northeastern end of Bal Harbour village, this hotel recently had a redesign helmed by EofA that brought seaside touches including gilded nautical wall accents and marine motif pillows into its various suites. Each suite is a generous 1,147 square-feet at least, with clean lines and strong contemporary architecture and décor that mimics a day at the beach. Floor-to-ceiling windows admit a flood of sunlight, with panoramic views of the Atlantic and Baker’s Haulover inlet.

The Opium Suite at the Six Senses Singapore, Duxto. Photo Credit: Six Senses Duxton

Six Senses Duxton, Singapore

Situated in central district of Tanjong Pagar, this boutique hotel is the first part of the brand’s first foray into Singapore. It unites a row of heritage houses and was designed by the British-based Anouska Hempel. A melting pot of Chinese, Malay, and European accents that are an honest representation of the local experience, the hotel has several stylized suites that are either darkly lacquered, lightly inlaid with pearl, and reminisce age-old traditions. The Opium suite is a modern interpretation of opium dens that were once found in the local shophouses. These have canopy beds and a sitting area. The Pearl suite features a backdrop of white and black pearls with stunning cabinets. The second outpost of the brand in Singapore, Six Senses Maxwell House, debuted recently with interiors done by French designer Jacques Garcia.


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