So who is Philippe Starck? A man who respects aesthetics so acutely he weeps on completion of a new design? A school dropout who went on to create an inflatable house? An oyster farmer, who lives off the grid in rural France?
Well, he’s all this and more. In fact, you may own his redux of the humble juicer, which resembles an aerodynamic spider robot – the avant garde designer is an advocate for affordable, beautiful homewares. He also creates theatrical stays, which display the sensual whimsy of a Japanese love hotel, cutting-edge style of a Vogue Paris shoot, and a large serving of je ne sais quoi (quite literally). In homage to this Gallic icon, we’ve picked our favourite Starck stays and rated them on their innate Starck-ness.
Fasano Rio, Brazil
Signature Starck Pod-people-incubator-shaped bath tubs, amorphous mirrors and tree-trunk stools.
Starck raving mad In basement bar Baretto-Londra, the UK’s Union Flag has been recast in Italy’s colours and proudly hung on the wall. We’re not sure why…
This handsome, slightly retro Rio stay shows Starck at his most restrained – mid-century modern-esque wooden interiors complement mustard accents and chocolate leather in rooms. The posteriors of David Beckham and Kate Moss have graced the gold-striped loungers in the glamorous pool area – overlooking Ipanema Beach – safe in the knowledge that this members’ club admits only the sparkliest of stars.
Our verdict Slightly stark for a Starck.
Le Royal Monceau Raffles Paris, France
Starck signature A flock of chandeliers roosting in the lobby, the trompe l’oeil bar backdrop and paint splodges on the ceiling.
Starck raving mad A family of carved wooden deer on the first-floor landing and eerie disembodied poetry readings as the lift ascends.
Built in the 1930s, this high-society institution has hosted Walt Disney, Coco Chanel, Josephine Baker and other characters, including some wild cards (God knows what Ho Chi Minh made of its decadence during his stay). Starck breathed new life into the hotel after a demolition party in 2008 – his interpretation of art deco is wholly modern, with tufted leather, sleek wood finishes and walls crowded with mirrors – his powder-puff-pink Presidential Suite 241 is très charmant, but then it is €25,000 a night.
Our verdict Starck in the middle – clearly, Phil has respectfully dialled it back to stay true to the hotel’s historic renown.
Palazzina G, Venice, Italy
Signature Starck Lampshades emblazoned with harlequin masks, plus high-end tree stumps and mirrors everywhere.
Starck raving mad Dishevelled chandeliers in the Krug lounge, chairs with slightly miffed-looking faces on them, and infinite regression in the bathroom.
On the approach from the Grand Canal, this elegant hotel’s 16th-century façade looks a little plain compared to its ornately dolled-up neighbours; on the inside it’s pure glamourpuss. This is Starck’s ‘white telephone’ stay: cream and taupe furnishings, full-wall mirrors and sprawling day-beds in the more lavish suites, require guests to lounge around in marabou-feather-trimmed robes, carrying out soft-focused trysts – probably after an evening in the members-only Krug champagne lounge.
Our verdict A Starck-ling diamond of a stay. Yes, we’re running low on puns, but this sophisticate showcases the elegance in Starck’s eccentricity.
SLS South Beach Miami, US
Signature Starck Gleaming white surfaces, trompe l’oeil touches and egg-shaped tubs.
Starck raving mad Giant silver ‘rubber-duckie’ statues by the beach club pool – Starck wanted to imagine the pool as his personal bath tub, which we could actually believe.
Miami is beachy, bedazzled and bathed in neon striplights – a Lisa Frank lucid dream. Starck got the memo, then binned it while he was pinning pictures of 17th-century French monarch Louis XV’s mistress, Madame de Pompadour, to his mood board. The result? Rooms with lavish chaise lounges, sumptuous trompe l’oeil designs and delicate hints of pink. It’s a little racy too, with mirrors on the ceiling above the bed…
Our verdict Starck after dark – a rare glimpse of Starck’s saucy side. He does, however, share top billing with Lenny Kravitz, who designed the penthouses.
Faena Hotel Buenos Aires, Argentina
Signature Starck More candelabra than you can shake a sceptre at, wingbacks with eagle armrests, and silver taps shaped like swans.
Starck raving mad Oof, where do we start? The mounted unicorn heads lining the walls of the restaurant? Or perhaps the light-up crown fountain in the pool…
This hotel’s opulence would border on ridiculous if it wasn’t oh-so very stylish. Everything goes up to 11: the candy-cane, white-and-scarlet colour scheme, accentuated with gold and silver trimmings; red-velvet curtains, faux-fur throws and white columns in rooms; a tango lounge with a dream-like Lynchian ambience; and a restaurant like a set piece from Satyricon. Its Belle Epoque-aping beauty ensures it’s packed with hip young Bonaerense.
Our verdict Heart of Starckness.
J Plus Hotel by Yoo, Hong Kong, China
Signature Starck Trompe l’oeil exterior, rooms separated with white veils, mirror-finish Ghost chairs, and faces in places where they shouldn’t be.
Starck raving mad Anthropomorphic footstools, ceiling frescos, graffitied Louis XV fainting couches and a larger-than-life mural of Da Vinci’s La Belle Ferronnière. All of it, really.
Check your sanity before stepping over the threshold to this – frankly, bonkers – city stay. Starck used his full arsenal: the lobby looks like a time traveller’s keepsake box – rickshaw sofas, gilded disembodied hands, and cow-hide-upholstered wingbacks sit pretty alongside angle-poise chandeliers and random neon window panels. But wait, there’s more: rooms have paint-spill rugs, origami chairs, pillows printed with scrubbed-out portraits and peach-emblazoned side tables. It’s a wild ride down a rabbit hole, but somehow it all works. Bravo.
Our verdict Head Starck – unless you can afford a mega yacht, this is the most Starck one can experience.
Featured image via J Plus Hotel by Yoo