Last year’s winners (see video, above) included the futuristic Yas Hotel in Abu Dhabi (Best Large Hotel); the renovation of the United Kingdom’s oldest public museum, the Ashmolean, in Oxford (Best Museum); and
Priestmangoode’s innovative staterooms, designed for Norwegian Cruise Line’s Norwegian Epicship (Best Transportation).
A few years back, when I called South Kensington home, I distinctly recall trundling through London's Underground knowing, even with map in hand, that I had been misled. Eyeballing the official Tube map insinuated that Heathrow was the same distance west of South Ken as Tower Hill was to the east. So you can imagine my surprise when we rolled past Monument station towards Tower Hill 30 minutes ahead of schedule.
True—one should never assume subway diagrams bear any resemblance to street level. But admit it: we all do. An NYU study in 2011 found that passengers put their faith in transit maps far more than they do in their own travel experience. But shouldn’t we? Shouldn’t our maps clearly illustrate that the amount of time it takes to walk from Queensway to Bayswater beats switching lines by almost six minutes?
Cute alert: I usually pass interior designer Jonathan Adler's West Village [NYC] boutique on my way home from work, and recently noticed a window display spotlighting the interior designer's a-d-o-r-a-b-l-e new line of travel-inspired needlepoint throw pillows ($98). What can I say, they just make me happy. And apparently Adler, too: "Travel inspires me. These pillows are homages to my favorite Jet-Set locales. Looking at them is like a mini-vacation!" See for yourself:
KLM is bringing a little style to the skies—and its World Business Class passengers. The Dutch airline is teaming up with celebrated artist Marcel Wanders, who's also recently collaborated with Baccarat crystal and Target, in addition to designing the interior of the Mondrian South Beach. His eco-friendly tableware debuts this March.
Starbucks' recent logo change to a more minimalistic design is just the latest outburst of an unfortunate trend that has caused the demise of too many strong, recognizable logos, including many in the travel industry. In recent years we've seen Holiday Inn lose its charmingly clunky script logo in favor a cartoonish letter H against a field of lime green. Effect? Meh. Hertz dropped its familiar shadow and added a background of yellow, lots and lots of yellow. Expedia eliminated its funky old airplane and replaced it with shimmering bands of light that make one pause and think, "Is that supposed to be an airplane?" And Hotels.com killed off bag-totting Benny the Bellhop because...because...who the heck knows? Personally, I miss Benny.
But at least one travel company has seen the error of its ways.
I am staying at the Fairmont Peace Hotel in Shanghai and it is possibly quite the most beautiful hotel I have ever seen. As you know, the Sassoons built it on the Bund in 1929 and it was the Cathay Hotel. Stuck in bed here the following year with flu, Noel Coward wrote Private Lives.
The restoration is exquisite. It is classic art deco using the finest marble, gilt, bronze. The rooms are gorgeous—both in decor and facility. The restaurants and bars and lounges are fabulous—and the Chinese government must have spent gazillions on it.
Thos. Moser, the furniture-making firm, many of whose handmade pieces have achieved American icon status, runs a Customer-in-Residence program that could make the perfect Father’s Day gift for the would-be woodworker in your family. Never mind bringing home an ashtray or lanyard from camp—graduates of this weeklong program come home with a piece of furniture that they’ve built under the tutelage of a master woodworker.
The lucky five carpenters accepted into each session (applications are considered and previous Moser customers are given preference on the waiting list) are put up at the Harraseeket Inn in Freeport, Maine, land of the outdoorsy outlet shop.
Ever leave your watch at home because it’s too nice to travel with? Afraid to get water on your Rolex while lounging poolside? Well, New York–based design firm, Nooka has teamed up with W Hotels to put out a line of three super-cool rubbery watches that can take a travel licking and keep on ticking.