Casa de las Estrellas or ‘House of the Stars’ is a modern Mexican home created by San Francisco architects House + House, situated in the historic center of the beautiful 450 year old colonial town of San Miguel de Allende. The home lies just four blocks from the main square, the ‘Jardin’ or Garden, of this lovely village. Filled with gardens and light, this 2,000 square foot home offers three bedroom, two bath home embraces a lush courtyard. At the first floor the entry, living room, dining room, and kitchen open onto a plant-filled patio. Grids of steel windows span floor to ceiling, linking inside to outside, creating vista through layered space.
The first floor bedroom at the rear is set slightly above the patio with its own private garden. The upper floor bedrooms, each with a private balcony, share a covered terrace and a bathroom with a 14-foot-tall cylindrical shower open to the sky. Polished burgundy columns and counters are inlaid with glass beads. The floors are made from local slate, carried from the mountains on donkey back and hand-cut to fit tightly together in random patterns. Luminous skies give a magical glow to lime washed walls in mango, cobalt, and sage. Materials are traditional, as are the construction techniques, but the forms derive from organic geometries responsive to the sun, winds, and modern life.
This home is available to rent as a vacation retreat from $1,300 per week, from here.
Red and ochre river rocks twist against a charcoal background in the courtyard. The 20-foot-high blue wall of the patio is sprinkled with lights of handmade frosted-glass stars, which seem to pull heaven right down to earth.
Shafts of light spill between square columns onto a 200-year-old carpenter’s table, framed to become the 11-foot dining table.
In the covered living terrace handmade, rusted, perforated-steel light fixtures march in rhythm with skylights, railings, and open windows.
Sinuous stairs snake upward to the upper floor while frosted star light fixtures sparkle against the 20 foot tall blue patio wall. Rusted steel sconces march in rhythm with skylights and railings. Grids of steel windows span floor to ceiling, linking inside to outside in an invisible embrace.
Salt House Inn is a fresh and contemporary bed and breakfast situated in the historic Cape Cod Village of Provincetown, Massachusetts. Each of the fifteen guestrooms has been individually designed to evoke the feeling of a breezy beach cottage and capture the history and charm of this seaside destination located at the tip of Cape Cod. Located in a charming 19th century building, which once was comprised of cottages for salt mine workers and then grew into a guesthouse that most recently operated as Dexter’s Inn, the B & B has been completely overhauled by two big names in the hotel world — C.O.O. of André Balazs Properties David Bowd and Starwood Hotels interior designer Kevin O’Shea.
The pair had been vacationing in Provincetown for several years and noticed that there was a void for stylish, yet affordable accommodations. “It is with this mindset that we created Salt House Inn; a property that bridges its historic setting with modern amenities and chic decor,” said David Bowd, Co-Owner, Salt House Inn. With their own personal travel experiences used as a guide, they focused on what amenities travelers value, custom mattresses, luxurious bedding, amazing showers. Service was combined with intimate surrounding, creating a unique concept, eliminating traditional hotel rules, such as set check-in times.
The focal point of the mainly white guest rooms are the signature “wall of curiosities” that feature curated collections of vintage art and found objects reflecting the flavor and heritage of the region. All rooms offer spacious bathrooms with spa-like elements such as walk-in showers and rain showerheads, as well as natural bath products from C.O. Bigelow and the LA-based, all natural and sustainable Further brand. For those wanting the ultimate in secluded luxury, the generously-sized Loft Suite with soaring vaulted ceilings, offers a relaxed sitting area and a claw foot tub at the foot of the plush king bed. The newly landscaped grounds offer al fresco dining, an outdoor lounge, and a large second floor sun terrace.
Breakfast, included in the reasonable room rate, offers homemade granola as well as muffins and pastries baked on the premises, rates starting at $150, from here.
Photos: Courtesy of Salt House Inn
The Olive Exclusive is an intimate boutique hotel in a tranquil corner of Windhoek, Namibia, embodying the very essence of chic comfort. This ultra-luxurious sanctuary is cool, contemporary and stylish but with a warm heart and authentic African soul. Its sleek, modern lines are complemented by organic textures, natural furnishings, an eco-friendly approach and dedicated personal service. Simple elegance is key, from the organic rough-hewn wooden benches and side tables, through the sculpted chunk of granite that serves as a coffee table in the guest lounge, to walls clad in abstract Namibian landscapes by well-known South African designer and photographer Micky Hoyle.
The seven suites are individually decorated so each reflects a different region in Namibia, and each has its own lounge area with fireplace and dining room, for private dining. Wide glass doors open onto spacious decks where you can relax on a shady daybed, enjoy al fresco lunches or, if yours is a premium suite, take a dip in your own private plunge pool. The Olive Exclusive boasts a quality restaurant featuring a seasonal menu, with inventive signature dishes. The fully stocked bar also features a classic selection of fine whisky.
To stay at this incredible retreat, rates range from $200 – $311, from here.
Casa Zinc has been designed by Antique dealer Aaron Hojman, nestled on Uruguay’s coastal village of La Barra, which is at the head of stretches of golden beaches and low headlands. The six-room, two-storey hotel is a “posada bohemia” with five-meters high factory gates and a facade clad in vintage railway bricks, reclaimed windows and corrugated zinc siding. Like staying at a private home of someone with exquisite design taste, Casa Zinc has a welcoming, lived-in ambiance with its shabby-chic interiors and eclectic mix of vintage furniture.
Hojman has designed the interiors with bookshelves stacked with apothecary jars, valve radios and soda bottles, framed windows with wood lifted from a long-shuttered Montevideo railway station, and scattered distressed leather-and-wood sofas in the dining room and sitting room. The bedrooms have been named for the objects that lay within, Esudio Arquitecto, Estudio Diseno, Mirador, Back to School, Biblioteca and Patio. Hojman has a penchant for the unadorned and untreated, so prevalent that mortise joints still bear the carpenter’s penciled notations. Bathrooms offers porcelain sinks, long-levered taps and free-standing tubs that give the austerity of a glammed-up hospice.
To stay at Casa Zinc, rates range from $140 – $740, from here.
Segera Retreat is the new Wilderness Safari’s property set in a wildlife sanctuary on the Laikipia Plateau, Kenya, East Africa. The retreat consists of eight villas, five of which are raised on wooden decks comprising one bedroom with en-suite bathroom and have an outside deck. Beneath each Villa lies an outside lounge and comfortable swing-bed. As the name suggests, the property is a place to relax and unwind; there is a gym here, wellness center and a theater. There is also the largest private collection of African art in the world.
Six timber and thatch villas are raised above a carpet of botanical life in the Segera “Oasis” with its sculpture garden. Each has an elevated wooden platform, which looks out onto the surrounding savannah and swing beds below providing the perfect shaded place for some midday relaxation as well as for a night out under the stars, surrounded by the sounds of Africa. The gracious Segera House and perfectly positioned Villa Segera boast similarly spectacular views and even greater privacy and luxury. They run on solar energy and water is sustainably harvested and recycled. The villas gaze out over the Laikipia Plateau towards the spectacular Mount Kenya.
Within the privacy of the villas, a large bedroom and en-suite bathroom fill the upstairs space under timber trusses. A private sun deck in the garden offers comfortable sun loungers for soaking up the African sun, while a Jacuzzi bath, sunk into the deck outside the bedroom, offers a unique vantage point. Each villa includes in its décor original, individually selected paintings and other art from a range of Africa’s most inspiring artists.
Photos: Courtesy of Segera
Kilindi Zanzibar is a romantic hideaway surrounded by lush tropical gardens, enjoying a gorgeous secluded setting on the northern tip of Zanzibar, in East Africa. Designed by Neil Rocher in conjunction with some long-serving Tanzanian specialists, the luxurious open-plan design allows cool sea breezes to flow through the spacious summerhouse-style pavilions. Each stunning villa boasts an intimate domed bedchamber with stained glass skylight, two plunge pools linked by patio areas and a waterfall, and an excellent all-day butler service.
Each of the pavilions has been designed with careful thought, crafted to maximize the light and space, drawing the eye towards the impeccable views, rather than the knick-knacks inside. The domes have been designed to collect rainwater, the sleeping areas straddle its storage, and the pools circulate it. The retreat also uses solar power, a state-of-the-art water treatment plant that recycles waste water for re-use in the toilets and gardens. The resort also uses fresh locally grown produce and operates a profit share initiative with local community partners.
Rates from $585 per night, from here.
Relax on the quiet sandy beach or beside the infinity swimming pool and enjoy breathtaking views of Tumbatu Island and traditional wooden dhows bobbing in the turquoise waters of the Indian Ocean. Diving, snorkelling and dolphin-spotting trips can be arranged, as can excursions to the national parks and to Stonetown, around an hour’s drive away.
Resting atop an enchanting Medieval village and right next to a pristine castle lies La Maisonnette du Coteau in Beynac-et-Cazenac, France. Recently renovated, this exquisite 1,100 square foot cottage offers numerous luxuries, while maintaining a deep respect for its Medieval roots. The limestone walls and the beam ceilings on the ground level of the cottage have been preserved; the home’s exteriors and ground level blend perfectly with the other historic homes in the village. The rest of the cottage has been updated to reflect the modern needs and global travel patterns of the family who owns this home. All the armoires, tables and wood furnishings in the house were purchased in vintage shops around town.
If you are visiting France, you can stay at La Maisonnette, which is one of the most photographed homes in the village, and on several of the printed postcards found around town. Its prominent place atop the Cliffside village of Beynac-et-Cazenac affords its guests breathtaking views of the Dordogne River, the entire valley, and of the village. Enjoy a dinner or lunch outside on the terrace overlooking the canoes dotting the river, or take a bath in a claw foot tub while you gaze out across the Valley of the Five Chateau. The windows of La Maisonnette look out upon the old castle walls and the old city walls as well; the Chateau of Beynac is one of the best preserved in France. You’ll feel as if you stepped back to the 12th century!
To stay at La Maisonnette, rates ranges from $830 – $2037/week, from here.
This very same kitchen area was once used to house the village’s town oven, where village serfs would pay their lords a fee for use of the oven when baking bread.
Tolix chairs paired with what used to be an old church pew make an eclectic ensemble anchored by a live-edge table. The mix of chairs and the roominess of the bench are perfect for the family and their guests.
The master suite is located on the third floor, a converted attic. The process of “squeezing the furniture up the narrow stairs” required knocking down a small area and building the entire floor around the bed — and around the claw-foot tub.
Terry-cloth bathrobes and the day’s clothing usually hang on coat hangers by the bath. Walls are kept bare and free of hooks.
The owners travel throughout the year, living here on and off. Vacationers who rent the space on a weekly basis ensure that the home is always occupied.
A Denyse Schmidt quilt set the stage for the color scheme. A clean, white comforter looks fresh amongst the many antiques set out and about the room. One piece is from the 1600′s!
Photos: Stephanie Brubaker & Nicole Gerulat
Casa Lluvia Blanca is a modern, three-story estate nestled into the quiet middle of a block in the historic center of the beautiful colonial town of San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. Designed by House + House Architects for a couple with an innate international style (she’s from San Francisco, he’s from Denmark, and they live in London), the clients wished for a design with three main influences, Moroccan and traditional Mexican mixed with a surprising dose of modern. This 4,500 square foot courtyard home is accessed through lush gardens with trickling fountains and a luminous lap-pool. The living, dining, kitchen, library and master suite on the ground floor open onto a series of plant filled patios that flood each space with light that changes throughout the day.
Elliptical domes and hewn wooden beams sculpt the ceilings, reflecting soft colors onto curving walls. A long, narrow stairway wrapped with windows and skylights is a serene connection to the second floor ”Moroccan’ inspired suite with domed fireplace and hand-sculpted tub, and “French Country” inspired suite with a sunny balcony and oval shower. A curving bridge flies through the high living room with sparkling glass railings and overlooks onto sensuously shaped built in sofas. At the third floor windows wrap every space with balconies, light and views, linking indoors to the distant mountains, the morning sun and the bubbling jacuzzi. At the rooftop terrace domes and chimneys join the cozy seating for intimate gatherings.
Since the building is so high and narrow, three courtyards were sprinkled throughout the layout of the home to let natural light into the interior. The plot the couple picked out is an odd shape, a combination of three backyard areas.
The floors in this main living space are a beautiful travertine marble acid-washed to open the crystals. From the dome to the railings and curved built-ins, it’s clear circular shapes are a common theme in this house.
Local handmade tile covers the kitchen backsplash, countertops and floor. The cupboards, also done by hand, are made of alder.
The master suite clearly emanates the bright colors and bold textiles of Morocco, one of the clients’ favorite places to travel. A small fireplace and private outdoor area complete the exotic ambiance of the room.
Like everything else in the house, the beautiful bathtub in the master bath was made by hand. The architects constructed a steel frame for the large tub, and poured in concrete with a smooth finish.
The second floor of the house contains the two other main suites. Each suite contains a bedroom, bathroom and outdoor area.
A small kitchenette allow the clients to make a quick snack or meal upstairs.
The studio and workroom on the third floor of the house has a much more modern vibe than the rest of the home. Since the husband is from Copenhagen, having a section devoted to his love of Scandinavian-like design was important to the clients.
An outdoor area outside the third floor has a stairway to a rooftop hot tub, also made by hand.
Photos: Courtesy of House + House Architects
Restored with ultimate respect to local tradition, Sextantio Le Grotte della Civita, situated in the Sassi area of Matera, a town in Southern Italy is a 9,000-year-old Italian cave dwelling. Literally cut into the volcanic tufa of the Matera hillside, the caves of Sextantio Le Grotte Della Civita were originally a stronghold for Italian peasants. Forcibly removed in the 1950s, many of the peasants came back against the government’s wishes. Today, the area has become a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and is attracting curious travelers to its snaking rooftop streets, craggy hillside drop offs, and stone cathedrals.
At Sextantio Le Grotte Della Civita, great care was put into restoring the 18-room hotel. They were very clever in keeping the integrity of the caves intact by using the original architectural materials from the area, disguising the use of modern technology and maintaining the new design to a minimum. The decor of the rooms is very basic using plain furniture built out of recycled materials, yet keeping the rural historic tradition through colors, textures, scents and even candles identified with the area. Where elements needed to be added to bring in modern amenities, like freestanding Stark baths, were chosen based on their unobtrusive design. Their philosophy was not to betray the ‘soul’ of the building, but to preserve the caves’ rural heritage. Stunning perspectives, original hand-hewn church building blocks, and some dramatic illumination make for magical moments at this extraordinary hotel.
To stay at this sensational boutique hotel, rates start at $131 per night, from here.
This stunning rustic cottage was built in the 18th century with preserved plaster walls, wood beams, wood shutters and doors, situated in the mountains of Malaga, in southern Spain. This Mediterranean style dwelling is nestled in a peaceful and tranquil location with nature surrounding the home. The interior of the home has been decorated by its current owner, Marina Curis-Evans, who rents this property out as a vacation rental to those that are interested in a restful mountain retreat with a yoga room, swimming pool, hammock and outdoor dining spaces with lovely gardens and plenty of property for nature walks. If you are interested in staying in this heavenly retreat, you can contact the owner of this cottage at email@example.com.
Photos: Courtesy of Goyo Photography