We present the finest hotels for your perusal this month, from a former Iranian embassy in Belgrade to a cinema-themed opening in Tbilisi. Plus: new shops that make responsible retail a pleasure.
Belgrade’s Hotel Pavilion is more than just a stylish addition to the increasingly impressive hospitality options in Serbia’s capital. It also represents a stand against the less admirable aspects of the city’s recent – and rapid – development. Not only have cookie-cutter concrete blocks colonised the banks of the Sava and Danube rivers but the demolition of elegant downtown villas is threatening to change the character of some of Belgrade’s oldest neighbourhoods. Ivan Jugovic is determined that this should not happen in Dorcol, the district at the heart of the Old Town. Veteran nightclub operator Jugovic spotted an opportunity to create a place of rest and play. The building on Dobracina Street, just down the hill from the National Theatre, originally served as a the residence of architects Branislav and Danica Kojic, before becoming the Iranian embassy. Now it has 14 guest rooms as well as a bar, restaurant and courtyard garden. The “cherry on top”, as Jugovic puts it, is the ever-changing selection of contemporary art. The owner is keen to position Pavilion as a social club for locals, as well as accommodation. “In the morning you could read a book here. At lunch, take your business to another level,” he tells Monocle. “After that, you don’t know how it will end.”
The short journey from a busy Tbilisi street, through the restaurant named Lolita and then into the calm of this hotel’s airy lobby feels like a fast-paced, three-act play in itself. This is precisely the thrill that photographer, film-maker and now hotelier Sandro Takaishvili was hoping for when opening his 16-key, cinema-inspired hotel. “Even the name comes from a Wong Kar-wai movie,” Sandro, also a sometime DJ and architect, tells Monocle. Deep blue carpets and spotlights hark back to cinemas of old, while low wooden beds, walnut dividers and Noguchi light sculptures hint at the founder’s love of Japanese film. Together with founding partner Gogla Tsaagareli, Sandro added large cinema screens, vinyls and books to every room. “It’s not just about making something different for Georgia but a hotel that feels unlike anything else that guests have seen before.”
On a leafy plaza that shares its name, Hotel das Amoreiras is a cosy property in the heart of Lisbon, just steps from the Aqueduto das Águas Livres. The hotel is a fusion of two upmarket townhouses that were renovated to carve out 19 guest rooms and a bar, with a courtyard that doubles as a space for an alfresco breakfast. One of its co-owners, Pedro Oliveira, left behind a job in private banking to pursue a degree in hospitality and designed the project from the ground up. Its interiors are full of muted hues in beige, sand and forest green, with splashes of Portuguese marble in the bathrooms.
Kyoto’s remaining traditional wooden machiya (townhouses), which survived earthquakes, fire and the rise of glass and concrete in postwar Japan, are now facing an existential threat: foreign investors. “Machiya are being torn down every day, even though they’re listed,” says Hana Tsukamoto, creative director of Maana Homes. With Irene Chang, Tsukamoto began to buy and convert them into guesthouses. Their latest is Maana Kiyomizu, a boutique hotel with three suites that fuse Japanese craftsmanship with Danish design. A kissa (café) serves seasonal cuisine and the craft shop doubles as a workshop to learn kintsugi, the art of repairing tableware. “Kyoto is more than just pretty gardens and temples,” says Chang. “It’s a humbling way of living that we are trying to convey.” maanahomes.com
In the past year, Brazil’s Grupo Fasano opened its first New York hotel and restaurant but it also launched a €2.66m project on home turf in partnership with property company JHSF. Fasano’s latest is a food-and-wine shop in São Paulo that’s piled high with essentials, from cheese to fruit and vegetables. “I’m proud of finally making this dream come true,” owner Gero Fasano tells Monocle as we tour the three-storey building, designed by Estúdio Obra Prima’s Carolina Proto. The space contains a bakery, 6,000 wine bottles from 720 vineyards and a café with a balcony. Ana Joma Fasano, Gero’s wife, is in charge of the homeware, which ranges from furniture to pyjamas. Gero’s favourite product from the aisles? “I love that we are making mozzarella in-house,” he says.
As part of her mission to encourage shoppers to buy fewer but better items, fashion-industry veteran Caroline Morrison transformed a near-dilapidated pharmacy building in Paris’s vibrant 11th arrondissement into Landline, a general supply shop stocking homeware, paper goods, stationery, French linen, cashmere blankets and wooden toys. “I grew up with hippy parents in San Francisco and everything that we consumed was natural and sustainable: food, the products we used and the cleaning supplies,” says Morrison. “That was our normal way of life. After working in fashion and seeing the industry’s darker sides of overproduction and waste, I realised that this wasn’t the case for most people.”