Usually when your job requires you spend the night in…
I’d just like to wade in and add my tuppence-worth to Anthony’s great post on the Top 10 best hotel bathrooms. It’s probably a topic that merits a bigger hit-list, and one that’s fairly subjective as it depends very much whether you’re a soak-in-the-tub or a power-shower type of person (I’m both, according to whim and weather). It’s also dependent on whether your tastes run to hi-tech new-fangled technology (LCD screens above the bath; glass screens that go opaque at the touch of a button; 18 shower-head options; multi-jet Jacuzzi with underwater colour-therapy lights) or full-blown romance (muslin curtains draped over a roll-top bath; tubs with a view; beamed ceilings, antique wash stands, that sort of thing).
So here are a few of my favourite boutique-hotel bathrooms (it’s a fairly whimsical, entirely personal, non-logical type of list, so feel free to wander off and do something more interesting if soap suds and over-the-sink chat bore you. Incidentally the amazing pic above is of the Standard Miami – but more of that below…).
The Palm Suite bathrooms are extraordinarily well designed: unusually, they are top-lit by a skylight, which means there’s lots of natural daylight (in many larger hotels, bathrooms tend to occupy the back end of a room ‘unit’ and therefore flank a windowless corridor rather than an external wall). There are twin sinks, loads of storage space for grooming products and discarded nightwear, and a massive glass and marble walk-in shower. You can switch from one of those wand-style hand-held eye-level attachments to a frighteningly powerful overhead rainshower if you like. If you’re a numpty like me, a choice of attachments like that means getting a faceful of water before you work out how to switch them. (Practicality: not my forte.) The free-standing modern bathtubs are pretty sexy, too.
Yes, ok, I do bang on about this place. But that’s because it’s fantastic! The Elephant Suite has a really unusual beaten silver-alloy bath for two (pictured), and the Camel Suite has a round tadelakt tub under a domed ceiling supported by columns. The Panther Suite also has a large tadelakt bath, as well as an alfresco Jacuzzi on its private roof terrace.
Parisian owner Pierre loves to bathe, and it shows: he drove his French plumbers mad finding exactly the right diameter of copper pipe and burying it deep within 16th-century stone walls to make ensure his preposterously large bath tubs filled in under two minutes. They’re so big you almost need a weight belt to keep you anchored at ‘your’ end. The La Suite bathroom is massive enough to swing a lion in, with a beautiful sandstone-clad two-person bath, a trough-design sink with two sets of taps, antique gold-framed mirrors, fairy lights and a quirky magnetic poetry wall in the toilet.
MORE QUIRKY BATHROOM FEATURES…
Here are a few more bathroom-space oddities/little bathing pleasures and where to find them in the Mr & Mrs Smith hotel collection:
- Frosted glass bathroom walls that switch from opaque to transparent at the flick of a switch – The Brew House Hotel, Tunbridge Wells, Kent.
- The honeymoon-ish Green Room at Ichibi Lakeside Lodge in South Africa has a double bathroom with twin Philippe Starck showers, palatial proportions and a super view.
- Witt Istanbul Suites has hi-tech Marmara marble bathrooms created by design wizard Ross Lovegrove (each boasting an indulgent five shower heads).
- Alfresco showers or outdoor soaking tubs – at Calistoga Ranch in Napa Valley, the One-Bedroom Lodges have Jacuzzis on the outside terrace, where you can bubble away under the starlit oak canopy, sipping cocktails from your wet bar. Other rooms have alfresco showers, as do rooms at The Carneros Inn and Clos du Léthé, to name just a few. At Caribbean boutique retreat Parrot Cay in the Turks & Caicos, roll-top baths inside are supplemented by sheltered alfresco showers outside. At the wonderful Verana in Jalisco, Mexico, the Mayan House has an outdoor bathroom; and at spa stay The Standard Miami in Florida, ‘Wet’ rooms have a private terrace with a roll-top bath, so you can enjoy sunny FLA views while you soak (see AMAZING picture at top of this post).
- Bathrooms hidden behind Old Masters – at boutique-hotel-style private apartment Residenza Napoleone III in Rome, you have to hunt behind the oil paintings to find your grand marble washroom…
- TVs in bathrooms are actually quite common (hark at me), but Smith hotels with in-tub entertainment include: The Haymarket Hotel in London; THEHotel in Las Vegas; Tigerlily in Edinburgh; St Regis Hotel in San Francisco; Chewton Glen in the New Forest, Hampshire; Viceroy Santa Monica in Los Angeles; and some bathrooms at Barnsley House hotel in the Cotswolds – which also have side-by-side tubs (check out the image gallery here).
- French free-standing roll-top bath with ceiling-hung linen drapes – The Blue Room at Les Sardines aux Yeux Bleus (my first Smith love) near Uzès. (When I first discovered Sardines, I stayed in one of the little self-catering apartments; the bathroom has a big polished-concrete shower cubicle lined with local river stones that owner Anna Karin and her daughter Clémentine hand-sorted to make sure they were all equally round and smooth underfoot. Twin copper sinks are lit by little vintage chandeliers. It’s charming.)
- Light-therapy multi-setting therapeutic Jacuzzi bath – in the Eau de Rose bedroom at laid-back B&B Maison Félisa in Languedoc-Roussillon (ask Isa to mix you up a scented oil blend for an aromatherapeutic soak).
- At the Balé hotel in Bali, some rooms have bathrooms that give directly onto a private infinity pool – perfect for water babies or those who like a pre-breakfast-in-bed swim. To take us full circle, Desert Palm‘s Pool Villas in Dubai also have bathrooms with direct access to your private plunge pool.
Let us know which your favourite hotel bathrooms or bathroom features are… Would you pick a power shower over a big tub any day of the week or is side-by-side soaking your idea of naughty-weekend nirvana?