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The votes are in! If you’re one of the 22,000 travel-loving hotel fans who responded to our Smith Hotel Awards 2014 survey, you’ll no doubt be eager to learn which boutique boltholes and stylish weekend stays made it into the top 10 shortlists. Well, wait no longer – we can now reveal the hotels you chose to champion – kicking off with the world’s most stylish hotel interiors.

We polled the public on their favourite design hotels (check out the Best-Dressed Hotel category criteria and nominees here) to find out which boutique beauty wowed with its worldly decor: here are the 10 that received the most votes, and that are currently causing heated discussion among our panel of expert judges…

Best hotel design: Ace Hotel London Shoreditch


Design highs Universal Design Studio’s structural design savvy and street-level façade • Max Lamb bar design; Philippe Malouin lighting • Honey-coloured wood-panelled Hoi Polloi restaurant

Ace Hotel group’s instantly identifiable brand of retro flavour exported to the British capital’s coolest postcode: what’s not to love? The decor breakdown reads like a Shoreditch hipster’s homeware wish-list (Photobooth? Check. Vintage turntables? Of course), the design details are largely local collaborations, and it’s all delivered at sanity-preserving prices. Staff sport John Smedley and Hancock, a host of British designers have contributed details large (Max Lamb’s bar) and small (Ally Capellino’s coin trays), and there’s a calendar of music events in the basement venue.

Best hotel design: riad El Fenn, MarrakechEL FENN, MARRAKECH, MOROCCO

Design highs  Incredible modern art collection • Lush courtyard garden • Traditional craftsmanship: camel-leather flooring, Berber rugs, intricate tile work Considered design; every creature comfort

A patchwork labour of love incorporating the restoration of a derelict riad, a creative’s dream of an art collection and a bohemian sophisticate’s colour palette, El Fenn flies the flag for bold and beautiful interiors. Traditional tadelakt and carved cedarwood in eye-popping hues form the backdrop for the owners’ scintillating fine-art stash. With sculpture, paintings and photography by David Shrigley, Bridget Riley, Frances Upritchard, Antony Gormley, Batoui S’Himi and William Kentridge to look at, it’s a wonder any of the delightful decor gets a look-in…

Best hotel design: Saffire, Australia


Design highs  A back-to-nature design manifesto, brilliantly executed • Bespoke eco-lighting; special commissions include a collaborative installation by Hobart sculptor Judith Abell and Futago • Woven textiles featuring Freycinet-found fauna

Set in one of Tasmania’s most spectacular bays, Saffire has a lot to compete with; but the genius of its architecture and interiors is that they perfectly frame, complement and riff on their heart-stopping surroundings. Outside, Circa architects’ curvilinear structures take the form of a soft-skinned stingray chasing waves; inside, colours and lines drawn from nature – the pink-granite peaks of the Hazard Mountains, silver-white sands, emerald-blue waves – give definition to an organic, elemental design scheme. Raffia-wrapped cushions, bespoke fabrics, leather, wood and iconic mid-century pieces keep the look grounded and contemporary.

Best hotel design: Crosby Street NYCROSBY STREET HOTEL, NEW YORK, US

Design highs Orange-leather Poltrona Frau-seated screening room • Oak-floored, pewter-countered Crosby Bar Hand-picked art and objets, including Bakelite phone/lamp hybrid

Bold prints plus bright palette, used with clever restraint and British wit: Kit Kemp has transported her trademark design style to a New York setting and let rip. Crosby Street is one of Smith’s favourite Firmdale outposts, thanks to its eco credentials and NY swagger. Everywhere you look there’s something eye-catching: a signature tailor’s dummy, clad in graphic-strewn calico; a giant pooch painting, as aristocratic as a Gainsborough; a suite with a meadow-inspired garden on the terrace. It’s English whimsy, made for Manhattan.

Best hotel design: JK Roma, Italy JK PLACE ROMA, ITALY

Design highs  Chic mid-century Mad Men-riffing bar • Carrara marble bathrooms; Massimo Listri photography • Michele Bönan’s skilful translation of period features

Architetto eclecttico Michele Bönan’s exemplary take on Italian glamour – appropriately housed in what was once Rome university’s school of architecture – transforms classrooms into elegant bedrooms packed with modish furniture, antique sculptures and striking colour combinations. JK Place Roma is a visual expression of historic Rome: timeless, art-packed and beautiful to behold. But a modern mix of mid-century references, pencil-post tester beds, antique Berber rugs and fabulous fabrics plants JK Place’s brand of luxury firmly in the 21st century.

Best hotel design: The Siam, BangkokTHE SIAM, BANGKOK, THAILAND

Design highs  Singular design, with breathtaking clarity of vision, but never forced: it’s pitch perfect and shows real passion • Ming porcelain, Neolithic pottery, antiquarian Thai books and 16th-century sculptures • Vintage ephemera from train posters to royal palace menus

If Noël Coward was holidaying in Thailand, he’d book a suite at The Siam, a swellegant, dandy affair inspired by the Jazz age. As if its great looks weren’t enough, this poised pad also boasts an unbeatable location on Bangkok’s Chao Phraya River. Bill Bensley’s trad-modern interiors team smart black-and-white tiles with stone, dark wood and sensual water features, organised around a jaw-dropping central courtyard. Peppered throughout this design-award magnet are museum-worthy artworks and antiques from creative director Krissada Clapp’s personal collection. Wow-worthy extras include the city’s only pool villas, Sodashi spa, screening room, private pier, a cookery school and muay Thai boxing ring.

Best hotel design: Portrait Firenze, ItalyPORTRAIT FIRENZE, ITALY

Design highs  Hand-picked Carrara marble in bathrooms • Bespoke Tosconova furniture, made in Italy • Historic photographic collection

In a modern building on the site of an ancient palazzo on the banks of the Arno, master of detail Michele Bönan alludes to the birth of Italian haute couture with elegant, pared-back interiors in a subtle palette of grey. As at Portrait’s sister hotels, the design stars here at Fifties-style fashionista Portrait Firenze are the totemic black and white photographs, sourced by art historian Nina Screti from original 1950s and 1960s archives. They are perfectly showcased beside the impeccably cut fabrics that dress windows and adorn sofas – each one made to measure with the finesse of a fashion atelier.

Best hotel design: Alila Villas Uluwatu, BaliALILA VILLAS ULUWATU, BUKIT PENINSULA, BALI

Design highs  Eye-catching over-water bar • Serious eco-chic credentials • Serenely minimalist interiors

Staking a stylish claim on Bali’s rugged Bukit Peninsula, last year’s Best-Dressed award-winner Alila Villas Uluwatu is a cool, contemporary cliffhanger of a resort that delivers dramatic eco-friendly design in a jaw-dropping setting. It’s all beautiful, but the bar is the most remarkable element – the cliff-edge construction juts out over the Indian Ocean and is all reclaimed wood and bamboo frames (it looks a bit like a bird’s nest on steroids, and is instantly Instagrammed by almost everyone who goes there). The panoramic views are incredible, of course.

Best design hotels: Saint James ParisSAINT JAMES PARIS, FRANCE

Design highs  Traditional artisan finishes with a contemporary twist • Montgolfier-striped, balloon-style marquees in the grounds • Country château feel, in the heart of Paris

Saint James Paris has always had lofty ambitions: in previous lives, the Neoclassical building has been an intellectual boot-camp for budding French boffins; before that, it was the site of the city’s first airfield, from where Montgolfier’s iconic hot-air balloons flew. In its contemporary guise as cultured city-château hotel, it’s still flying high. Designer Bambi Sloan’s bohemian dreamscape hurls colour and pattern around with gay (Parisian) abandon: she was given carte blanche, and the overall effect is delightful and transporting. Yes, it’s grandiose – but the hotel still has an enviably relaxed and welcoming atmosphere: it’s a fantasy home-from-home, the country residence of an eccentric inventor you’d be less surprised to encounter in a Roald Dahl or Lemony Snicket tale.


Design highs  Living Divani, Kartell and Cassina furnishings • Vintage Asian and Persian rugs; original 19th-century tiles • Contemporary art installations and bespoke Totem technology

Part 19th-century landmark, part 21st-century architectural showcase, Amsterdam’s luxurious but laid-back Conservatorium hotel houses a top-tier restaurant and hip holistic spa. This former bank and music academy’s Neo-Gothic structure, Art Nouveau tiles and contemporary steel staircases synchronise perfectly to create a hip city hangout with a historic heart. Architect-designer Piero Lissoni daintily doffs his cap to the Dutch Golden Age, with references to Holland’s trading heritage. The full-height atrium space is a thrilling mix of original brickwork and soaring glass; and the contemporary design classics, mid-century pieces and antique objets aren’t so much ‘on display’ here as ‘at home’ – it is in no way try-hard, and the gob-smacking scale of the place never overwhelms. In short, it’s bloody clever.

Find out who’ll win our judges’ hearts when we reveal the Smith Hotel Awards winners on 7 November…. or browse more beautiful boutique hotels at


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