Today’s theme is pattern and design when it works. All too often luxury hotels may be conceived by designers but then someone, be it owner or owner’s wife, or a change in designer, someone puts in their own design elements and the result is like a Vivienne Westwood outfit, all right for the London catwalk but not to create an ambience of tranquility or happiness. The result at Jumeirah at Etihad Towers, Abu Dhabi, does work (think a Versace on the Milan catwalk, says the gal). The designers, and architects too, are DBI Design, led by Warren Coyle.
Look at the carpet patterns. Those in the corridor are pretty outrageous. Those in room 5809 similarly make a statement, big and bold and contrasting with marble surrounds. Everything in this hotel is so spacious and large scale it works. This is the hotel where I first really understood the effect of Lasvit modern chandeliers, from Prague: here, in the three-floor high lobby, there are six giant crystal balls, each with 33,368 hand-blown crystal trimmings, and the overall colour beaming out changes in a sequence that can be controlled from back home (Czech Republic). You find the same in the ballroom, which has 40 chandeliers, each with 13,500 trims. I think every Czech, wherever, must be blowing glass day in, day out.
Concentrating on patterns, here in Abu Dhabi, makes my mind wander. As I arrived, we came past a six-foot high illuminated Cartier sign (has the hotel changed its name?), a pattern of light against grey stone. Up in room 5809, the shape of a two-foot floppy animal, a velvet turtle in honour of the protected sea-turtles in the Gulf outside my window, is a pattern of colour on white, in this case the silk-smooth Italian bedlinens I covet, for back home. At breakfast, in Rosewater, giant-size test-tubes of different juices make a pattern of colour. I had not been to Rosewater before, and its airy inside-or-out feel is elevating, after a short night. I watch a local young lady, in total, long, black but with her whole face showing, carry a plate of six caramel-coloured croissants, I hope not all for herself
Doris Greif, the vivacious ball-of-fire businesswoman who runs this 382-room hotel, is also in black, relieved by blonde hair and her uniform, coloured shoes, today fuchsia Roger Vivier flats. She stands against her favourite breakfast section, a caramel-coloured display of breads – and if they are all as good as the ‘brown toast’ that is brought me, on request, the baker deserves a medal. I often wonder why an otherwise-superlative breakfast, in too many leading hotels around the world, can be ruined by commercial, tasteless, brown toast. Joseph, who apparently is often cited on social media reviews for his superb service, brings another cup of good, flavourful coffee.
Back to pattern and design. How outrageous can you get when you suggest turning an elevator cabin into a jewel box and it works? Here, go up and down, say right up to floor 60 or down to zero, and you are surrounded by cross cuts of superb blue and grey agate. Just as those Czech aspirants are busy blowing glass, so thousands of Brazilians who are not otherwise employed in desperately trying to finish stadia for the World Cup which starts in a couple of weeks’ time, must be finding and slicing through rocks to decorate elevators. High fashion, again, Versace or perhaps Cavelli.
But some of the patterns in this superb, friendly and stylish, luxury hotel are transient. There are no typical flowers-in-vases here, but an explosion of flowers, creating a memorable effect. Leave Jumeirah at Etihad Towers and you feel as if you have had a lesson from a Master of Style, and you cannot wait for the next session.