It all started on Australia’s Gold Coast, an impossibly beautiful swathe of shimmering sand along the country’s southern shores. This sun-bathed paradise makes a perfect setting for an extravagant hotel, informed by the bright colors and gilded accents of one of Italy’s most celebrated designers, Gianni Versace.
The designer had always been a lover of architecture, illustrated through the distinctive baroque style that informed his designs. So, the Queensland luxury hotel seemed like an extravagant new way of expressing the ethos of the brand. Fashion was now not only something to wear, but also a destination.
Fashion-branded hotels allow designers to express their vision in a new way and create an immersive experience few fashionistas could resist. The Palazzo Versace Gold Coast stood on its own for almost a decade, until Giorgio Armani decided to open his own branded hotel in the new Downtown Dubai development. Now, an entire crop of designer hotels dots the globe, as the idea has caught fire. Designer-crazed Dubai boasts no less than three hotels of this caliber—the Armani Dubai, Palazzo Versace Dubai, and now the Bulgari Resort Dubai.
Outfitted in grey, muted tones, the Armani hotel in Dubai reflects the sleek, modern aesthetic of both the skyscrapers that surround it and the designer brand itself. The furnishings and amenities are all designed by the Armani design house, which serves as an extension of the understated Armani/Casa home collection. The hotel occupies 11 floors of the tallest building in the world, the 163-floor Burj Khalifa, while other parts of the building offer Armani-designed residences.
PALAZZO VERSACE 2.0
Palazzo Versace opened its second-ever hotel in Dubai in 2014 along the waterways of the Dubai Creek. Visitors to the Palazzo would be forgiven for thinking they had somehow wandered into a 16th-century Italian palace. Eight restaurants, three outdoor pools, and a forest of palm trees make for quite the luxurious experience. In the hotel, the Versace brand is never far away. Guests can dine on Versace dinnerware, sit on Donatella Versace-designed furniture, and marvel at the brand’s gilded medusa head, which adorns various furnishings and fittings.
BULGARI RESORT DUBAI
In December 2017, Bulgari opened a hotel occupying its own manmade island. Designed entirely by renowned Italian architecture firm, Antonio Citterio Patricia Viel, the 170,000-square-foot property is located on a seahorse-shaped island and is built to evoke a Mediterranean village feel. This isn’t just a resort, but an entire development, with apartments, private mansions, and a marina and yacht club.
The hotel’s general manager, Pep Lozano, says that both the nature of the resort and the city it’s located in defines its appeal: “It is something very unique for guests to come to an island within the heart of a city,” he says.
The Dubai Bulgari hotel was built in partnership with Meraas, one of the city’s most progressive developers. Its design invokes the beauty of Bulgari jewelry, with tan muted tones complemented by occasional jeweled accents.
While not every fashion house is ready to commit to an entire hotel, some designers have gotten in the game by outfitting luxury suites in the world’s most iconic hotels. Here are a few of the most glamorous.
Grand Piano Suite, Claridge’s, London
Diane von Furstenburg’s London suite is done up in striking colors and patterns that reflect the designer’s taste, and features intimate elements such as photos taken by the designer in her travels through Europe.
Dior Suite, The St. Regis New York
This long-standing suite has been a part of The St. Regis for decades. Impeccably done up in the brand’s trademark whispering grey, the Dior suite offers Parisian glamour with views over Fifth Avenue.
Coco Chanel Suite, The Ritz Carlton Paris
Coco Chanel didn’t just contribute her trademark elegant style to this suite, she lived in it for almost 34 years. Everything is tastefully paired in black and white with gilded accents, and the room is also adorned with photos of the designer in the hotel.