10 Dazzling Design-Forward Travel Destinations
If you’re the type of traveler who lusts after impeccable design—a perfectly appointed hotel room or a restaurant whose interior is just as appealing as its menu offerings—this list of design-centric travel destinations is sure to kick your wanderlust into full gear. From a fashionable oasis in the California desert to an art-focused island retreat off the coast of Spain, read on to see where our Scouted luxury travel advisors recommend design-enthusiasts book their next getaway.
Photography courtesy of Maison de la Luz.
New Orleans, Louisiana
“Beautifully designed hotels abound in the Crescent City and Maison de la Luz is one of my favorites. A relative newcomer, opening in 2019, this small boutique hotel features rather subdued guest rooms when compared to the common spaces, which are awash with vibrant colors. Their library bar, Bar Marilou, wows with bright red walls and bold velvet furniture—making it a beautiful spot to enjoy the scenery and a delicious cocktail. Blue and white lovers will adore their breakfast room and the trompe l’oeil painting that covers the walls. Other design-forward hotels in the city include Hotel Peter & Paul, Hotel Saint Vincent, and the Four Seasons New Orleans. When it’s time to shop, design lovers should explore Sunday Shop, Leontine Linens, Malachite Home, and SOSUSU Boutique, or make your way to Magazine Street to explore the wealth of antique shops. For art, there are countless galleries to visit but make sure to put Stella Jones Gallery and Ashley Longshore Studio Gallery at the top of your list. For dinner, I always recommend making a reservation at one of New Orleans’ classic spots—Commander’s Palace (ask to be seated in the Garden Room), Arnaud’s, Galatoire’s, or Brennan’s. For something more casual, try Parkway Bakery and Tavern for a po’boy, The Camellia Grill for a chocolate freeze, Taqueria Corona, Dat Dog, La Petite Grocery for the crab beignets, and of course Café du Monde for coffee and beignets.” —Alexandra Stockton, travel advisor and owner of Alexandra Stockton Luxury Travel, in Knoxville, Tennessee.
Photography courtesy of 1 Hotel South Beach.
“Miami is going through a rebirth of sorts. Neighborhoods are being revitalized and fabulous art, food, and fashion can be found everywhere now. The Wynwood neighborhood, known for its colorful murals, has a wonderful group of galleries to visit and exciting restaurants to try. For accommodations, you can’t beat the 1 Hotel South Beach, an oceanfront haven boasting stylish design, salvaged driftwood elements, and a breezy, neutral color palette. If you’re looking for something with a bolder, Art Deco-inspired aesthetic, Faena is a fantastic option. Prepared to be wowed by artist Damien Hirst’s golden wooly mammoth skeleton sculpture, which is a hard to miss feature of the hotel. When it comes to meal time the Michelin-starred Sexy Fish has a delicious menu but the surrealist décor alone makes it worth a visit.” —Julie Miller, president of Unlimited Trips in Akron, Ohio.
Photography courtesy of Amangiri.
Canyon Point, Utah
“With a striking minimalist design, Amangiri is the perfect space to unwind. Situated on 900 pristine acres in Canyon Point, this all-season resort is surrounded by breathtaking natural attractions such as the Grand Canyon, Monument Valley, and Bryce and Zion National Parks. Embracing the color palette of the desert, Amangiri’s interiors are equal parts modernist and luxe. Concrete walls, stone tiled floors and wood accents are used to highlight the stark geometric architecture—a completely custom-designed oasis, no detail has been overlooked here. Take in the sunrise and sunset through the floor to ceiling windows in the resort’s main restaurant, enjoy the great outdoors, or relax at the spa. Fireside storytelling and star gazing in the evenings enable a deeper immersion in Native American culture. Guests can also learn more about the region’s history from expert archaeologists and paleontologists.” –Philip James, owner and luxury travel advisor of Philip James Travel in New Orleans, Louisiana.
Photography courtesy of The Colony Palms.
Palm Springs, California
“Palm Springs is all about hiking, sunshine, bright colors, and art—what’s not to love? The downtown area features Midcentury Modern design blended perfectly with modern 21st-century vibes. Chic and modern homeware boutiques live harmoniously with great second-hand shops—one of my favorite places to browse is the Mojave Flea Trading Post, filled with goodies from local artists and vendors in the Coachella Valley. Popular hotels like the Parker Palm Springs and the Ace Hotel & Swim Club have received their fair share of exposure in glossy fashion magazines (and for good reason!), but there is an abundance of wonderful boutique hotels that are also worth a visit. The Colony Palms Hotel and Bungalows, known for their green-striped poolside umbrellas, the uber-hip Hermann Bungalows, and Villa Royale, all top my list. When you’re not sipping a fresh lime margarita by a pool, I highly suggest wandering through the 28 galleries that make up the not-to-be-missed Palm Spring Art Museum.” –Winnie Atterbury O’Keefe, president of Whimsie Luxury Travel, in Ho-Ho-Kus, New Jersey.
Photography courtesy of The Inn of the Five Graces.
Santa Fe, New Mexico
“Everything is so colorful in Santa Fe—from the landscapes to the fabrics to the interiors of the restaurants and hotels. I particularly love the Inn of the Five Graces, each room showcases the owner’s exquisite collection of art, furniture and rugs. When it’s time to dine, Cafe Pasqual’s is always a winner. A popular spot downtown, Pasqual’s is part organic restaurant and part art gallery. Dining there introduces foodies to the best of southwestern cuisine in a warm and cozy setting surrounded by unique regional art.” –Caroline Wood, owner and travel advisor at Caroline Travel, in Bozeman, Montana.
Photography courtesy of Ham Yard Hotel.
“London is having a moment—yes, another one. I love Brown’s Hotel, in the beautiful Mayfair neighborhood. Other gorgeous hotels to check out include Ham Yard Hotel and Knightsbridge Hotel, both part of the Firmdale Hotels collection, designed by Kit Kemp. Kemp’s signature style of bright colors, big designs and bold patterns, is executed flawlessly throughout both. When you’re ready to explore the city, head to the Spitalfields area of East London, which is bursting with wonderful galleries and innovative restaurants. I also always enjoy a visit to The Centre for British Photography as well as the Tate Modern. Currently the Tate is featuring an immersive installation exhibit by Yayoi Kusama, called Infinity Mirror Rooms, which explores reflections. It’s quite the treat!” –Winnie Atterbury O’Keefe, president of Whimsie Luxury Travel, in Ho-Ho-Kus, New Jersey.
Photography courtesy of Belmond La Residencia.
“About 55 miles off the coastline of Barcelona lies the Balearic island of Mallorca, Spain. Popular with Europeans, this island is a hidden design gem! About 45 minutes from Mallorca’s capital is a town that I am particularly fond of called Deià. This small coastal town is a lovely artistic community, ripe for exploration. I recommend staying at the luxurious Belmond La Residencia, a work of art in and of itself. The hotel has one of the largest private art collections of Joan Miro and offers tours of other local art studios. Known as an escape for creatives, Andrew Lloyd Webber, The Rolling Stones, and David Bowie have all found inspiration here.” –Winnie Atterbury O’Keefe, president of Whimsie Luxury Travel, in Ho-Ho-Kus, New Jersey.
Photography courtesy of Le Sirenuse Positano.
Amalfi Coast, Italy
“Some travelers think of a more modern style when they think of design-forward, but we love the cliffside luxury lining the Amalfi Coast. Whether enjoying the gorgeous hand-painted trompe-l’œil ceilings, 18th-century antiques, and vintage Fortuny fabrics at Belmond’s Villa Margherita in Ravello, or the commissioned series of site-specific installations by leading international artists in Positano at Le Sirenuse, the aesthetically pleasing Amalfi Coast will not disappoint. While in Positano, be sure to visit MAR, the Roman Archeological Museum housed beneath the town’s bell tower. Then, dine at the Michelin-starred restaurant Zass to enjoy amazing produce (grown on-site), local meat and seafood. Due to the area’s popularity, make sure you allow yourself a minimum of three days to enjoy all of the sites and, if possible, plan a day trip to Pompeii or the Isle of Capri.” –Philip James, owner and luxury travel advisor of Philip James Travel in New Orleans, Louisiana.
Photography courtesy of Royal Mansour.
“I was just in Marrakech this past fall and was so inspired by the city. There are a plethora of incredible hotels that range from large resort properties to small Riads, or traditional Moroccan houses with an indoor garden and courtyard. For an over-the-top luxury resort experience stay at Royal Mansour, a hotel commissioned by the King of Morocco. No expense was spared and every inch is handmade by Moroccan artisans. Amanjena is another top resort, featuring charming pink-hued buildings and gorgeous interiors. If you are wanting something more intimate and close to the action I would recommend L’Hotel Marrakech, which is a privately owned Riad tucked within the Medina walls. It’s a calm oasis amid the chaos and was impeccably designed by Jasper Conran (who is said to have been Princess Diana’s favorite designer). Hotel Villa des Orangers is another lovely option—a romantic spot with a pool and courtyard area—boasting French sophistication with a Moroccan flair. When it’s time to shop, I recommend hiring a guide to take you through the Souks to hunt for treasures like textiles, handmade tiles, and leather goods. If you want a nice dinner, try one of the four delicious dining options at La Mamounia—my favorite was L’Italien par Jean-Georges, or Le Marocain which is their Moroccan fine dining restaurant (order the Fish Pastilla, trust me). Other highlights include a visit to the Yves Saint Laurent Museum and the nearby Jardin Majorelle, which was once Yves Saint Laurent’s home.” –Alexandra Stockton, travel advisor and owner of Alexandra Stockton Luxury Travel in Knoxville, Tennessee.
Photography courtesy of Manon Les Suites.
“Scandinavian style is known world-wide and for good reason, so when it comes to design-forward cities, Copenhagen is a no-brainer. Here, historic buildings coexist in perfect harmony with contemporary architecture—so you will find many refurbished buildings that now are bustling breweries, theaters, and restaurants. Housed in a former hospital, The Design Museum Danmark is a wonderful way to get the full picture of Danish design past and present. In terms of lodging, Manon Les Suites, a bohemian styled hotel is known for their Junglefish Pool, rooftop sundeck and an impressive social scene. Hotel Danmark is another great option, with its head-turning exterior flanked with gorgeous green tile outside and leather, marble and wood, inside, its elevated but lived-in vibe makes you feel ultra-hip if only by association.” –Julie Miller, president of Unlimited Trips in Akron, Ohio.
Feature photo courtesy of Royal Mansour. Alexandra Stockton Luxury Travel appears in The Scout Guide Knoxville. Unlimited Trips appears in The Scout Guide Cleveland & Akron. Philip James Travel appears in The Scout Guide New Orleans. Whimsie Luxury Travel appears in The Scout Guide Bergen County. Caroline Travel appears in The Scout Guide Bozeman.