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We Heart’s 12 Days of Christmas — 11

time for our top 12 hotels of 2013, stay inspired...

We Heart’s 12 Days of Christmas — 11

We’re talking about hotels with design at their heart, but experience in their heads – luxury, art, budget… it doesn’t matter. What matters is, that their proprietors are not afraid of taking risks...

Hotels. Where design, art, ideas, lifestyle and imagination meet, to take your life from the mundane to the magical. We’re not talking about the Holiday Inn A55 Chester West, or the Premier Inn Slough, 76 Uxbridge Rd, no. We’re talking about hotels that transcend conventional thinking, that inspire, that transport one’s mind. We’re talking about hotels with design at their heart, but experience in their heads – luxury, art, budget… it doesn’t matter. What matters is, that their proprietors are not afraid of taking risks.

A tad overzealous in the importance of somewhere to park your head for the evening? We don’t think so. For all the content that we publish during the year, that which inspires and awakens, hotels are an opportunity to bring it all together – a melting pot of ideas: art and culture, interiors, design, architecture, food and drink. We’ve seen countless hotels throughout 2013 that have toyed with the norm, countless that have flexed convention, but as we move into a new year, and our 12 Days of Christmas near their close – here’s a look back at our top 12 hotels of the year. Sleep tight y’all…

#wh12days

We Heart's 12 Days of Christmas — 11

Photo, Nikolas Koenig

Checking in during the hotel’s first few weeks, we find a fledgling brand riffing through the opening chords of its visceral debut – instinctive and buoyant, but tamed by the presence of age. There’s a contemporary edge, but it is polished with precision and poise…

The London EDITION

We Heart's 12 Days of Christmas — 11

On one hand it’s a beautiful property on tranquil land, and on the other it is an academic centre for culture-minded guests. This shouldn’t alienate those who aren’t that interested in the arts however, as one of Fellah’s alluring characteristics are the relaxed and bohemian attitude…

Fellah Hotel — Marrakech

We Heart's 12 Days of Christmas — 11

Photo © We Heart

We drift off in one of the suite’s two bedrooms, but dreams are nothing compared to this reality. Your dreams simply aren’t sophisticated enough to visualise what the design team at El Palauet have already done to the building architect Pere Falqués saw built in 1906…

El Palauet — Barcelona

We Heart's 12 Days of Christmas — 11

The rooms astound; outdoor/indoor shower, deep free-standing bathtub, floor to ceiling windows looking out across your private pool, garden, terrace and day bed – there’s a TV so big it could act as a ping pong table laid down. Most people live in spaces this size, let alone bed down for a few nights in…

W Retreat — Koh Samui

We Heart's 12 Days of Christmas — 11

Areias do Seixo is actually magical. Not in the Copperfield or Blaine sense of the word – there’s no tricks of the trade here, but the genie in a bottle kind; if we were given three wishes to help us muster up the perfect hotel, we’d still be miles away from the magic that owners Marta and Gonçalo have created…

Areias do Seixo Charm Hotel

We Heart's 12 Days of Christmas — 11

Photo © Joe Condron

Having fallen in love with the view he made it his mission to restore the stone building from inevitable ruin to represent a true Lisbon palace – calling upon a committee of elders to advise, he restored the palace tile by tile to its original and regional grandeur…

Palácio Belmonte — Lisbon

We Heart's 12 Days of Christmas — 11

Photo, Alex Fradkin

The public building is an important phase of the overall project, and is strategically located between Barr’d Islands and the brilliantly-named Joe Batt’s Arm on Fogo Island’s Back Western Shore. As befits a modern building in an area of natural beauty, all efforts have been made on the ecological front…

Fogo Island Inn

We Heart's 12 Days of Christmas — 11

Courtesy, Amanresorts

Happily, both old and new get along famously – none of the periods tries to outdo the other, with the more recent additions delivered in a wisely neutral palette allowing the older décor to maintain its effect…

Aman Canal Grande Venice

We Heart's 12 Days of Christmas — 11

The château doubles as a gallery for their collection of contemporary art and design, and in fact the pair’s taste has given the hotel a much more modern feeling inside than one would suspect from the stately exterior…

Château de la Resle — Burgundy

We Heart's 12 Days of Christmas — 11

The designers took off in a Fiat van to scour the surrounding region’s markets and fairs for suitable additions to the interior. Among their finds now restored and sitting pretty inside Generator Venice are a salvaged rustic pantry table and a show-stopping apothecary shelving and drawer unit…

Generator Venice

We Heart's 12 Days of Christmas — 11

Photo, GLINTstudios
Courtesy of 21c Museum Hotels

Many hotels dabble in art, and some galleries have dabbled in the world of hotels, but the salient selling point of the 21c brand is their genuine fusion of hotel and contemporary art museum, in the case of the Bentonville branch delivered with panache by local architecture company Deborah Berke Partners…

21c Bentonville

We Heart's 12 Days of Christmas — 11

While the century-old aesthetic was something to treasure, amenities have come a long way since the Colonel’s day, and the challenge to modernise while preserve has been met admirably…

Macalister Mansion — Penang

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