If you’re planning to go away over Christmas or you’re thinking about next year’s holidays, what are you bringing back with you, other than delicious memories?   We all know that you’re not supposed to take the towels from the hotel.  But there’s no reason not to steal their decor ideas.

I really wouldn’t like to live in a house that’s as formal (stuffy?) as many hotels, but I do like some of their ideas.  Here are some great ones that I’ve seen (and sometimes stolen) over the years.

This amazing room is from a hotel in Rome (where the ‘man’ in one of his finer moments took me for a milestone birthday).  Where better to turn ‘old’ than surrounded by things that are ancient?  Anyway – the interiors were amazing.  This bedroom had white plaster walls with handwriting on.  I just love it!

We actually stayed in this room – which gives a whole new lease of life to frescoes (you can see the 2000 year old ones round the corner from here in the Forum).  They add such character and warmth to an otherwise plain room.


The staircase up to the rooms had an amazing glass ‘mobile’ hanging down, like an endless lariat necklace.  It added drama to the stairwell and I’m dying to copy it somewhere!

This was a hotel in Madrid – where I wanted to stay because of the interiors.  She has decorated each room with paint effects.

striped room

The hand painted stripes are so stunning and unusual.  The whole design is held together by the symmetry.

Which is what I’d definitely steal from this hotel in Cordoba, Spain.

In addition, the simple, almost non-existent colour scheme is brought to life by the texture – of the carved window frames, and of the fabrics.

In Laos, the Maison Souvannaphoum in the exquisite world heritage site of  Luang Prabang has nailed the art of dressing the bed – to stunning but simple effect.

This is such a delightful hotel, and the bakery opposite does the best french croissants of anywhere in the world (well, the french did conquer this country for a while).

styling beds

I also love the restrained use of a single strong colour and the way that the room is Asian without looking like a theme park.

At the other end of the spectrum, another amazing experience was lying on a bed, being tended to by nurses, in the room below in The Dorchester Hotel in London!  When I worked in London 20 years ago, my office at Cadbury Schweppes was in Marble Arch – just round the corner.  The blood bank actually came to The Dorchester, so you could slip out of work for an hour, be hooked up to a tube and donate your pint of blood, all while lying in state in one of the most fabulous hotels in the world.  And then of course you can have tea and a biscuit!  Bet they don’t do that any more….

Anyway, they manage to make a huge space look intimate by dividing it up into smaller rooms.  This is basically what I have done with this dining and seating area here.

One of the most amazing places I’ve stayed in Thornbury Castle in the UK.  It was built in the time of Henry VIII (about 500 years ago).  Ideas you could steal include: how to pull off having a suit of armour in your home…..  more seriously – don’t you love the bathroom with the mixture of modern glass and interpretation of coat of arms, together with the historic surrounds?

It really was incredible to step back in time.  No bland ceilings here….

So wherever you’re planning to travel to in 2011 – leave the towels behind and steal the ideas instead!