Interior Motives


Interior Motives


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What constitutes great hotel design? According to design expert Ross Urwin, founder & creative director of Infrastructure, the answer is in the details.

Which hotel design are you currently swooning over and why?   

Parco dei Principi

Parco dei Principi in Sorrento, Italy. This hotel sits on a cliff overlooking the Mediterranean and was designed in 1960 by Gio Ponti, one of my all-time favorite architects. The entire hotel is the same as when it was built and features original furniture from the designer. The entire hotel is steeped in blue and white embossed ceramics by the sculptor Fausto Melotti. The simplicity behind every detail and object in this hotel works for me.

What’s your biggest pet peeve with hotel design?

One of my major peeves is when small design details are not considered. Like AC control. Many hotels set their standard temperature and do not allow guests to adjust manually so it’s either too hot or too cold. Or noise pollution. It’s always disappointing to arrive at a fantastic hotel and then be given a room facing a major road or placed next to the elevator shaft.

Describe a recent hotel stay where a design feature enhanced your experience.

High Road House

Chiswick High Road House hotel. This is one of the smaller Soho House hotels I often stay in when I’m in London. I recently had a room with an oversized bay window that had a dozen kilim cushions of various sizes scattered to create the perfect place to chill. It’s these small details – and the use of the building’s architecture – that makes the difference. Or the new Chao Hotel Beijing which has a hidden door or chute within the wall where you can place laundry items or your room service tray and staff collect the items without having to knock.

 Name an industrial designer you’d love to see designing a hotel? Faye Toogood.   Name your all-time favourite hotel and why?

Rambagh Palace  

The Rambagh Palace in Jaipur, Rajasthan. It’s the former residence of the Maharaja of Jaipur. This incredible building was first built in 1935 and has been beautifully restored to its original grandeur. The majestic gardens, Art Deco swimming pool and various other design gems throughout the palace make it one of the most memorable hotels to date.

Which hotel bedroom would you love to have as your own?

Post Ranch Inn

Tough call. It would have to be between one of the suites at the Post Ranch Inn, Big Sur, or one of the suites at the Crosby Street Hotel in Soho, New York.

Crosby Street Hotel

What do you think about the slowly vanishing hotel reception? Keep, change or axe?

Definitely keep! But ONLY if they’re well run and functional. So many times even hotels that have half a dozen staff on duty can leave guests queuing. I believe you should be given the option of receiving face-to-face interaction and experiencing that added customer service. So many hotels these days feel the need to follow the trend and lose the reception but from my experience I have yet to find a hotel that manages this efficiently.


What design trend have you noticed influencing hotel design? I guess the design trend I’ve noticed within hotel design is the mixing of various materials e.g. stone, leather, metals, marble and wood all sitting perfectly together in one room. A great example of this is found at Chao, the new Beijing hotel and members’ club.


How does a hotel’s retail experience affect guests? Very much so. It should be an extension of what the hotel’s DNA is and representative of the brand’s aesthetic.

Catherine Feliciano-Chon

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