Nothing succeeds like excess
I AMcheered to find that hotel interior design has taken a backwards step, retreating from the cold realms of minimalism to an altogether more comfortable domain that we might just call maximalism. As a traveller who’s more hip replacement than merely hip, it’s thrilling to discover that I can again find flouncy curtains, hillocks of cushions, sink-into chairs made for upholstered derrieres, patterns of full-blown roses and even those gloriously outdated floor coverings known as carpets.
When nothing-there minimalism was having its horrid heyday, I would routinely have small industrial accidents. I would cut a knee on a stainless steel coffee table, scald myself in a shower with unfathomable taps, be unable to work out the lighting system or the tomfoolery that passed as a remote controller for television or even, in one horror scenario, the door. In mirrored walls I would catch a glimpse of a small, terrified traveller, whose mad hair clearly revealed she had failed to uncover the concealed cupboard in which the hairdryer was at rest. If a chic designer were to see such a failure of a guest, ruining such a carefully crafted space, surely they would bung a white slipcover over me.
Hotels such as the Meurice in Paris have led the (long and expensive) way to this return to sensible nesting. In 2004, its refurbishment cost $US400,000 a room, some of it spent on under-bath heating to keep tub water warm and silk curtains billowing like debutante gowns. It was ahead of its time, sadly, because lurking just around the corner and ready to pounce wielding their cookie cutters were those devilish designers intent on sharp, edgy furniture, toadstool-like seats and whiteon-white decor — not that white is really white, but ecru, parchment, snowdrift and, who knows, dandruff.
The language of hotels has changed, too. Now we hear words like sanctuary and retreat. It’s implicit that we want to burrow into our guestrooms, not glide around overlit spaces as brightly cold as an ice rink. One London designer who favours clutter has been quoted as saying ‘‘minimalism has been shagged to death’’. Let’s get shagpiled, fellow comfort-seekers.
Lurking just around the corner and ready to pounce wielding their cookie cutters were those devilish designers intent on sharp, edgy furniture