Eager to relieve the housebound monotony of the pandemic and evoke emotion, designers are embracing playfulness, vibrancy, and variety in their hospitality projects. These grand gestures, imaginative experiments, and diversity of scale, color, and shape help immerse guests in sensorial worlds.
Imbued with what designer Andrew Alford calls “rustic futurism,” Flagstaff, Arizona’s Americana Motor Hotel is a surreal time warp. Interiors are peppered with references to midcentury utopian optimism, the craggy desert, and astronomy. (The region is where Pluto was discovered at Lowell Observatory, NASA’s Apollo astronauts trained, and the city was recognized as the world’s first International Dark Sky City for its efforts to preserve its starry views.)
With a brief to “be groovy” from operator and management company Practice Hospitality, the 89 bedrooms feature amber-lit disco balls, “like an instant 1970s fondue party,” explains Alford, founder of his eponymous design studio. In the lobby, yellow, turquoise, and orange tones are drawn from the hotel’s circa-1962 postcard when it, along with Route 66, debuted. They mix with warm desert shades, from a muted rose to midnight blue, depending which direction guests walk by the slat walls. “Back then, people thought in 2023 we’d be jet-packing across the Grand Canyon with robot dogs,” Alford points out. “We decided to create our own 2023, one with all the optimism and endless leisure time previous generations thought we’d have.”
Saturated colors and eclectic décor also converge in dramatic fashion at the Madrona, San Francisco-based designer Jay Jeffers’ first hotel project. The 1881 Sonoma County residence is now a modern-day ode to the Aesthetic movement, which expressed pure beauty through intellect, art, and exoticism. “Upon my first visit, I realized this was not a white-interior hotel, but rather a rich and colorful space,” says Jeffers, who mixed animal motifs, fringe, handpainted murals, barley-twist mahogany chairs, and tables carved with fantastical symbology.
The 24-room retreat, restaurant, and lounge on eight acres in California wine country employs color to highlight historic features, plus 200 antiques and artefacts placed alongside contemporary works and lighting. “Periwinkle blue and ochre yellow hues pulled from the lush gardens create personality,” Jeffers adds, “while pops of color in every corner of its lively yet sophisticated spaces surprise and delight.”
Across the pond, the 57-room Broadwick Soho—Martin Brudnizki’s first top-to-bottom London hotel design—is a highly personalized feast for the senses. The kaleidoscope of textures, illumination, and patterns not only honors the notoriously louche district, but also owner Noel Hayden’s now-shuttered family hotel, Mon Ami, where he grew up and was a magician’s assistant. Vintage family photos contribute to art and merchandise collections, while in restaurant Dear Jackie, named after Hayden’s mother, dolce vita meets disco with Murano lighting, red silk walls, and cozy booths. Rooftop venue Flute mixes gold, crystal, mint, and salmon tones with animal prints, cork walls, mirrored ceilings, and an onyx bar counter.
“Strong women like Mary Fedden, Molly Parkin, and Muriel Belcher who frequented Soho during the 1960s and ’70s significantly shaped our design approach,” says Brudnizki. “It’s Studio 54 meets your grandmother’s townhouse.”
Back in New York, Major Food Group’s ZZ’s Club was designed by Ken Fulk to drape the private club’s members in opulence (Crown Club, also designed by Fulk, graces Brooklyn’s Barclays Center). Tropical-themed ZZ’s Bar anchors signature Japanese brasserie ZZ’s, where artist James Boyd’s aquatic mural envelops the double-height room as an upside-down golden palm tree lights hang from above.
Upstairs in Carbone Privato, the restaurant’s first private outpost, crimson damask velvets, burnished brass, and ornate chandeliers create the feel of an old-school supper club. The Clam Bar is the heart of ZZ’s. Here, Fulk conceived a handpainted bar with elaborate motifs evocative of the Duomo in Florence. “At the edge of Manhattan, members are whisked into another world,” says Fulk, “a European adventure where gilded luxury meets the tropical glamour of the Amalfi Coast to create an elevated dreamscape.”
This article originally appeared in HD’s December 2023 issue.