I’d never really been in a hotel as a young woman. It’s not something I grew up with. We were a modest, middle-class family. My first real job was with Cunard Line, and my first experience with hotels was with The Ritz in London, which was a Cunard hotel at that time. I truly thought I had died and gone to heaven. The GM was this very distinguished gentleman who had worked for the king of Jordan. There was this kind of make-believe world that I felt like I was entering.
The Mansion on Turtle Creek had a real impact on me, maybe 30 years ago. What they were doing at that time was so out of the box. They were doing the gardens and having their own products. They were the first to use a local chef, who was doing amazing things in the kitchen. It was super-luxury, but super “of” that place.
I still love the Park Hyatt Tokyo. Every book is in the right place; the hangers are perfect. That’s what’s fun about hotels. For that one moment, everything is perfect.
In the old days there was this housekeeper at The Beverly Hills Hotel who would make maps of how guests left their rooms. They would literally have Polaroid photos of how things were laid out so that person would return time after time and have things in a predictable, comforting way. Sometimes that familiarity gives people comfort in a time that’s unpredictable, like when they’re traveling.
Hotels are becoming almost extensions of living rooms. It’s a trend that started with the more millennial-focused hotels – the Aces, the NoMads – and now some of the more traditional hotels are doing it. It gives a really nice local feeling, that people from the neighborhood are using the hotel. I was recently at The Lowell in NYC, having a drink in their beautiful new club area. It’s stunning. Partly it’s having this beautiful fireplace, but it’s also the owers, the lighting. They’ve just hit that note perfectly, and with great, comfortable chairs and the right music.
Why are hotels so cool? You are, for that second, whoever you want to be, whether that’s a character from Downton Abbey walking in in your best clothes, or you’re just sneaking up to your room and snuggling up with a book. Whether it’s getting an aspirin if you have a headache or someone offering you a tea if you come off the plane looking tired, that feeling of being taken care of is what’s ultimately appealing on a very basic level.