When it comes to high value property insurance some of the world’s most luxurious and exclusive hotels possibly can justify their distinctly eye-watering tariffs. From towering Chinese state of the art palaces to cutting edge new designs in some remote locations, the hotels below may be pricey but they offer star treatment and spectacular design treats for those brave enough to scale their heights or mingle with the rich and famous.
Regal Retreats and Star Treatments
Despite attempts by some cultures in the past to marginalize the place of women in society, throughout the centuries powerful women have played key roles in politics, society and culture. The Maria Cristina Hotel in San Sebastian pays tribute to this fact. Opened in 1912 and named for the popular wife of Alfonso XII Maria Cristina herself was the first person to visit the hotel, taking a well-earned rest from her duties as Spain’s regent. The hotel became famous as the preferred home from home for Hollywood stars and their entourage in the Golden Age of film. Refurbished by British design group HBA, the original ‘Belle Époque’ style has been lovingly restored and original Art Deco features have been brought back to life. The resplendent interiors seem part film set and part palace, fit for any star visiting the San Sebastian International Film Festival. The bar (named Dry, but far from it in actual fact) features a massive portrait of film legend Bette Davis who it’s rumored smoked her last trademark cigarette here shortly before her death (in a hospital across the border in France, not the bar itself). Favored since the first film festival in the fifties by the Grande Dames of the European and Hollywood film industry including Elizabeth Taylor and more recently by celebrities including Brad Pitt, the Maria Cristina oozes style, class and elegance of a bygone era. It’s homage to the late, great and powerful of womankind is a theme continued throughout each of the hotel’s floors, which are dedicated to famous, rich, powerful and infamous women across the generations.
Much has been made of the rise of the world’s next super power China, and it would be wrong to ignore the rising global powerhouse. In the Four Seasons Hotel in Guangzhou, Southern China, the aspirations of the rapidly growing wealthy sectors of China and the changing influences of (and on) its society are epitomized The Four Seasons opened in 2012 and occupies the upper third of the Guangzhou International Finance Centre. The Centre itself towers 103 floors over the Pearl River Delta, and makes a powerful architectural statement in its own right. Due to the complexities of the design and its relationship with gravity the final third of the building tapers in a triangular form and the necessary structural elements that support the building are incorporated into the designs of the public areas and private rooms of the hotel which means each room has a unique floor plan. These rooms with a view include a 30 story atrium and the internal decor while largely Italian in theme also incorporates local art and cultural references to the four seasons. The designs over a number of floors with art and decor relating to spring, rising to the pure white decor of the bar on the 99th floor – an ethereal space created as homage to the heavens in which it is clearly located. Designed (again) by London’s HBA, this is one hotel that must be experienced.
The Wild East
If there is anywhere on the planet where east meets west it has to be the wild, half-forgotten country of Georgia. An ancient Christian kingdom, neither entirely European nor entirely Asian in flavor the country is dominated by the remote and romantic Caucasian mountains. Absorbed for decades as a soviet republic the historic and cultural influences on the country are hugely diverse. The Rooms Hotel, situated in the said wild and romantic Caucasus, is the product of two young designers who have absorbed just about everything that ancient and recent Georgian history has to offer. The combination of natural materials, soviet style industrial fittings and even the architectural references the building pays to soviet style architecture, reflect the complexity of the country’s long history. Georgian designers could be expected to rightly draw on just about every cultural influence going, from western European style to Mogul magnificence and, of course, their own proud distinctly Georgian heritage. As the country redefines itself for a new era, for those looking to taste what a unique history with a truly global heritage can produce by way of design should not miss this incredible hotel, created by two young designers who show incredible promise.