La Quinta des Bambous
A single story of smooth whitewashed stucco erected around a courtyard paved with loose stones, La Quinta hews freely (very freely) to a traditional Chinese plan, with each wing serving a precise, dedicated function such as eating, receiving, and sleeping. A roof of glazed and unglazed canal tiles lifts ever so discreetly at the corners, a nod to pagodas but also, just to confuse things, to the quintas around Lisbon, where owners Anne and Philippe Berthier lived after she folded her wings as an Air France stewardess and while he was a senior executive at IBM. Covered terraces projecting from either end of the building look like teahouses, if you squint. They flank an exquisitely plain 41-by-11-foot pool that owes its twinkle to flecks of mica in the anthracite finish. The pool terminates in a flat teak bridge and, just beyond it, a contiguous pond of koi, lotuses, and water lilies Anne brought back from Vietnam. Secreted in that sentence is everything you need to know about why La Quinta looks the way it does: Anne is French-Vietnamese. (Philippe is 100 percent French.) The maison d’hôtes is a lab for exploring the visual aspects of her cultural heritage.