Immodesty Blaize talks dirty weekends

Here at Mr & Mrs Smith we love Immodesty Blaize – not just for her looks, but also her travel savvy. While the glamorous burlesque star may not be the most inconspicuous guest, she was the ideal person for us to send incognito to review Il Salviatino in Florence. For more fantastic luxury travel advice, see p102 of the August issue of Country & Town House as Ms Blaize features in my monthly travel column for the glossy magazine. Meanwhile, here’s the uncut version of Immodesty’s globe-trotting fantasies…

Whisper to us your top tips for a sexy escape…
A dirty weekend is no time for budgeting – you’re going to be spending a lot of time in the hotel, not sightseeing, so splash out on the hotel. Go for romance and choose a room with an amazing bathroom or Jacuzzi, or a fabulous view. Even if it’s just a hut in the countryside, make it memorable. Imagine you’re in your own movie and play the part you’ve always dreamed of from start to finish. And, if you can, give yourself plenty of time to plan your weekend bag as travelling light is a strategic art, and you’ll want to feel your best.

Smith reviews: Brazilian eco escape Hotel Fazenda da Lagoa in Bahia

Fazenda da Lagoa hotel Bahia, Brazil – On the beachThe most recent hotel to have been reviewed for our online collection, Hotel Fazenda da Lagoa is a beachy dream come true, set on the lush coast of Bahia in Brazil.

Every time we publish a new hotel write-up from one of our panel of independent reviewers at Mr & Mrs Smith, we’ll let you know here on the Smith Travel Blog, so you can keep pace with our team of travel spies and style insiders on their global roams. We visit every property in our hand-picked hotel collection in person, and we get every one anonymously reviewed to make sure they meet our sky-high expectations.

Our only brief to these intrepid boutique-hotel voyagers is to go with their real-life partner (or partner in crime), check in anonymously, have a rip-roaring, chandelier-swinging, fireside-lounging, beach-strolling, bed-testing, bathroom-assessing time and then report back to us with the candour you’d expect from your oldest friend.

Anouska Hempel: the interview

To follow up our recent feature on the Top 10: Boutique Hotel Designers, we thought it would be great to talk to the top triumvirate of designers about their inspirations and aesthetics. Kicking off our interview series is design doyenne Anouska Hempel, who came in at Number 1 for the longevity of her legendary London boutique hotel, Blakes. Despite having dozens of projects on the go, she kindly took time out of her hectic hotel-design schedule to talk to us about the ultra-modern Brazilian retreat Warapuru, exploding pianos, and the Moomins…

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Anouska Hempel, designerWhen did you first realise you wanted to be an interior designer?

I’m not really an interior designer: Anouska Hempel Design is an architectural practice. I never wanted to be just an interior designer – I wanted to be a designer full stop, from the age of five, I think.

You’ve styled some of our favourite city luxury hotels (Blakes, for example, where Mr & Mrs Smith’s founders James and Tamara got married, as well as the iconic Hempel). How vital is the decor of a hotel to you?

If you’re choosing a hotel for romance, or to have fun in, its interior decoration is very important, because it sets the mood for your stay. And it indicates what sort of person you are: I think the people who are pulled towards our hotels are more theatrical than most, and not of the corporate ilk.

Do you have any hotel hates?

I don’t like checking in. I hate being hassled: I hate having to fill in that damn form, and I hate having to get the passport out, all that paraphernalia – that doesn’t work for me.

It’s certainly not conducive to relaxation!

[Laughs] No! It has to be done, but there are better ways of doing it. For example, at another project I’m working on – La Suite London, in Nottingham Place, which is a really fantastic young business hotel in the West End – check in will be very different, even though it’s a corporate hotel. You’ll get checked in at the airport, or at a café round the corner, or in a bar. Not at reception, all lined up with all your stuff, as though you were going in for a jail sentence.

Another of your ongoing projects is Warapuru, a highly anticipated state-of-the-art hotel and villa complex in Bahia, due for completion in 2010 – I take it arriving there will pretty special?

Brazilian boutique beach chic

Bahia, BrazilJust yesterday, we launched our October collection, and (as promised last month) beefed up our Brazilian boutique-hotel selection in the process. Not content with just three luxury city hotels in Rio, which we had previously, we dispatched the intrepid Laura and Katy to the beach-lined state of Bahia to uncover the finest in coastal comfort, shore-side chic and palm-shaded luxury. Returning with capirinha-giddy tales of jungle adventure, high-drama capoeira performances, scuba delights and private plane rides, our hotel hounds didn’t disappoint (but then, it’d be pretty hard to fail when your mission is essentially ‘go and sample the luxuries of a tropical beach paradise’). Thanks to a combination of their sophisticated tastes, their impeccable Smith sense, and some darn fine note-taking abilities, we now have five heart-stoppingly beautiful boutique resorts in our collection.

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