My weekend guests at Honor & Folly were in town from Chicago visiting Detroit for the first time. Of the super-creative, multi-talented group, one is a professional photographer who sent over these images of their trip. I know what my Detroit looks like, but it’s always fascinating to see what other people find interesting and beautiful. Check out his wife Karen’s travel blog for her take on the Conservatory at Belle Isle–one of my favorite places in the city. Their friend told me later it has a Great Expectations-like quality–”kind of creepy and desolate but in a really enchanting way.” I tend to agree. If you stay at Honor & Folly in the spring, summer or fall, I will very likely send you there with a picnic basket. You will thank me.
Inspired by my good friend Lauren, who is bananas about Hawaii and always stays in some out-of-the way gem (last time it was a treehouse in the north shore of Oahu) instead of a resort, and Designtripper’s latest sponsor, The Hawaiian Islands, I’m excited to feature what just might be the granddaddy of all Hawaiian vacation rentals. I usually think of quaint, white-washed cottages filled with tropical bamboo furniture, but that’s exactly why this modernist beauty blows my mind — it bucks every expectation. Designed by Craig Steely Architecture, The Robert Trickey house (named after the owner, an interior designer/upholsterer from San Francisco) sits high on a lava flow overlooking the ocean. It’s crazy, right? A lava flow! Look at those hearty, sculptural plantings! There’s also an open-air lanai, glass-enclosed living room, cantilevered stairs made of mango wood, and the most spectacular pool setting I have ever seen. And it gets even better–if you’re the sort who appreciates a good backstory. But here in the land of molten lava, the landscape isn’t seen as a con; in fact, almost every aspect of the house was designed to appreciate it. Robert keeps his furniture spare and simple, so as not to compete with the otherwordly surroundings, and from the lanai at night, the red glow from the Kilauea crater is visible reflected on the clouds.
You can’t rent the entire main house, but you can rent a guest room or the full, self-contained guest house, which sleeps up to four. Prices start at $470 or $645, respectively. Says the owner, about the area/landscape: “You’ll be amazed to find such a truly heavenly and unspoiled part of Old Hawaii… lush and green, yet drier and better for outdoor activities than other parts of Puna.” Rent it at vrbo.com.
[Photos via Craig Steely Architecture; This post is sponsored by The Hawaiian Islands, where you could be Living in the Moment on Hawaii Island.]
One of the things that makes Honor & Folly so special–at least to me–is the collection of stories behind almost every piece of furniture, art and object. Displayed in my favorite corner, the Hair, Pastry, Tobacco tableture tells a great full-circle yarn that starts with a chance discovery 821 miles away and weaves its way back to Detroit. This summer, while we were on vacation in Maine, I took an afternoon trip to Portland while my kiddos were napping to check out a few places, namely Rogues Gallery, where I heard I could score a pair of Quoddy-made leather loafers for my husband under the Rogues Gallery label (for non-Quoddy prices). And even though it’s a men’s store, I wanted to see the space, which has a very non-gimmicky nautical, rough-hewn New England appeal with a focus on well-crafted, if not hand-crafted, goods. When owner Alex Carleton discovered I’m from Detroit, he told me all about Megan O’Connell, whose beautiful work was hanging in his dark and moody gem of a shop. In fact, the evening before, they had a going-away party for her. Turns out, she was moving to Detroit to be the founding Director of Signal Return–the new, extraordinary letterpress print shop that recently opened in Eastern Market.
When Megan and I met to discuss cards for Honor & Folly, she offered to let me hang her work in the space. I picked this triptych, which was inspired by Virginia Wolf’s Orlando, a fitting starting point for Megan’s tableture and texts crafted from hand-cast, -dyed and -carved paper suspended in Italian beeswax. She’s the founder of two other independent presses, including The Dead Skin Press, which generates cross-disciplinary work across installations, events, printed matter and discrete objects. I’m really excited to see what she does with Signal Return, and beyond honored to showcase her talent in my humble little space.
I recently started poking around for a new place to go in Mexico this winter, even though I feel a strong pull back to the town we went last year, Sayulita. But so many friends and readers have asked about or gushed about Tulum, I decided to do some exploratory digging. I found a string of no-fuss beachside bungalows that all speak the same understated, bohemian thatched-roof vernacular. And the Coqui Coqui guest house and spa is pretty much right in line with that rustic aesthetic, but it comes with a rare thoughtfulness and exquisite taste. Owned by model Nicolas Malleville and his girlfriend Francesca, the thatched-roof stone buildings seem more residence than resort, every room thoughtfully and simply decorated with local artisan-crafted furniture and objects. These beautiful images by Todd Selby reveal spaces that feel both primitive (no internet or air conditioning or electricity aside from solar panels) and highly curated–a balance difficult to strike. In the budding Coqui Coqui empire of small-scale, authentic enterprise, there are also two other equally magical hotels, plus a cafe, shop and perfumery in nearby Yucatan towns (up to an hour and a half away).
For New Year’s Eve this year, my husband Ryan and I made a last-minute trip into Chicago to stay at Longman & Eagle. I’ve written about the proper six-room inn above the Logan Square restaurant of the same name–both here and for the magazine I used to work for, CS Interiors–so I’ve had a tour of all the rooms, interviewed the owners/designers, the works, but I’ve never actually stayed there. Being in the space overnight as a guest gave me a chance to really appreciate all the thoughtful little details that make staying there there such a special experience (beyond the fact that the rooms and furniture were all designed and built by one of the owners): handmade wooden drink coins, mixed tapes, custom wooden speakers, chambray sheets made by the local company Unison, hanging terrariums over the bathroom sink, wallpaper in the restaurant bathrooms made from black and white pages of an old magazine, a minibar filled with snacks like Gunslinger beef jerky. Aside from a quick stop at the MCA to see the Andrew Bird and instrument maker Ian Schneller collaborative exhibit, Sound Garden (on its last day), and our favorite haunt in our old neighborhood (The Rainbo), we didn’t leave Longman & Eagle. We didn’t need to. We ate dinner there (a special New Year’s Eve tasting menu) sat at the long wooden bar for an after-dinner drink, and hung out in the room (I read the entire Logan Square Literary Review) before heading back downstairs in the morning for the kind of meaty brunch that makes men out of boys. I opted for the PRB breakfast sans PBR, which felt kind of wimpy considering some of the other, more daring options (spicy brioche with bacon pudding!). But I was craving something simple, and it was damn good.
One of the many things I love about the Lloyd Hotel in Amsterdam is that it’s always changing. I was just poking around on the site and noticed they have a new exhibit featuring ceramic keys by artist Anama Ponce Vazquez, who has been intrigued by keys since she walked into a room full of them in an Andalusian house as a child. “For me, keys don’t have to do with locking up, but with opening doors,” she says. This collection of keys was made specifically for the Lloyd–with a color scheme to match–and in order to get the color saturation deep enough, she had to bake some of them up to three times. As evidenced by the logo for Honor & Folly, I also have a thing for keys–really beautiful old skeleton types. Mine were hand-drawn by the talented Detroit-based illustrator Michael Burdick, and I love them.
A few weeks ago, I posted some knockout-beautiful photos of Andrew and Gemma Ingalls’ trip to Uruguay. Here, a much-deserved closer look at one of their favorite stops, El Garzon–a pretty magical restaurant and guesthouse opened by famed chef Francis Mallmann. They stayed a few days, feasted on impeccable-looking South American cuisine (prepared with an old Andean technique involving griddles between two wood fires) and fell in love with the staff. The aesthetic–a thoughtful hybrid of “frontier colonial style and peasant Italian vibe”–is as much a draw (well, at least to me) as the food. “We loved the color palette of the painted wood benches which dominated the gardens. Each evening we headed out to the sleepy town square, or a few blocks beyond, to watch the sun set over the grasslands,” says Gemma.
[All images by Gemma and Andrew Ingalls]
Tereasa from Wandawega emailed me a few months back after reading the post about the Red Welly in Wales, saying that she was “so getting a teepee.” And true to her wildly ambitious, girl-who-never-sleeps form (see her treehouse for proof), she had the thing ordered, erected and decorated in a month’s time. It’s officially the coolest designtripper-inspired spawn of the year.
Tucked away in the woods, just past the Boy Scout tents, the Craigslist-snagged teepee is kitted out with seagrass flooring, a futon, and vintage cooler, antique hurricane lantern and Navajo rug from her regular hit-list circuit of flea, yard and barn sales. The whole production is pretty much a knockout, and I can’t wait to stay next summer. I’d like to think I’m tough enough to brave a winter weekend, because, technically, it’s an all-weather teepee with a fire pit, but I think I’ll be really honest with myself and save the experience for the snow-free months. Happy New Year! See you next week.
I’ve been so crazed working on Honor & Folly, I’ve let designtripper fall to the wayside a bit. And now that the b&b is open (hooray!), this is exactly the kind of trip I’d like to take. Tatjana Quax, the stylist half of Studio Aandacht, sent over these photos from her late fall trip to the Ionian island of Zakynthos–documented by Homer and later home to a litany of famous poets, artists and composers. Mythical legend contends that Artemis used to wander the island’s woods, while her brother Apollo played his lira under the trees in order to enchant the island and make it even more beautiful.
Travelers are still wooed by the natural beauty, of course (you can’t read anything without mention of the majestic caves, cliffs or capes), but it gets more and more difficult to separate that from the thriving and pretty scene-y hotel-restaurant-gallery-shop circuit of the islands. Tatjana’s photos are a good reminder of how you can turn something that many might perceive as a drawback into a trip’s most striking asset. During the tail-end of Greece’s Indian summer, most everything is closed, but Tatjana took advantage of having the island entirely to herself. I appreciate seeing a place like this without throngs of tourists/vacationers, stripped back to its essentials, making you appreciate the great natural beauty that made it so popular in the first place.
My big announcement for the year: Honor & Folly is open and ready for guests! As a freelance writer (and blogger), I log a lot of solo hours behind the computer. And as much as I love to travel, the reality is: I spend the hefty majority of my time at home–with my family, in the city of Detroit. Honor & Folly is a product of wanting to interact more with other people–you know, in the face-to-face kind of way–engage in my own community, and introduce visitors to the kind of travel I love: intimate, small-scale b&bs, apartments, houses, and family-owned hotels that tell a story about their location. That create a sense of place.
My favorite part of opening Honor & Folly so far has been working with all the talented local designers, artists and artisans who have contributed handmade design and decorative objects to the space (much of it is even for sale). I love looking around and thinking about how they all spent time creating something–with their own hands–so it could be part of the Honor & Folly story. Everyone has worked so hard, and I can’t wait for guests to stay here–and to use the handmade cutting boards, sit on the wooden stools, and eat from the beautiful ceramic dinnerware by my friend Abigail Murray. I hope when travelers are thinking about coming to Detroit, they choose to stay in this small neighborhood joint, where they can go downstairs and hang out at the bar or coffee shop–and learn something about the city from people who live here. It reminds me of the way folks used to travel–a few bedrooms above the village pub or restaurant with a hearty breakfast. That’s really all you really need. Well, that and a friendly innkeeper.
Here’s the brand-new website. I hope to see you in Detroit soon!
[PHOTOS: All images by the talented Marvin Shaouni]
My latest piece in Travel + Leisure, Peak Glamour, is a round-up of ultra-chic ski lodges in Europe. There are some pretty spectacular places on the list, including the 12-generation (!), new-and-old-world-blending Taxhof, set on a pristine mountaintop smack in the middle of the Austrian Alps.
Another place in Austria, Das Regina ended up not making the final version–because of space constraints, not worthiness. It doesn’t date back centuries like the Taxhof, but there’s a really compelling story. Nightlife entrepreneur Olaf Krohne bought the run-down, 32-room hotel two years ago and gut-renovated it to create a stylish, hipster-approved respite with Belle Epoque architecture, modern touches and some of the original furniture, like the ornate, gold Venetian beds. “It’s a little bit chic and has glamour, but you can absolutely wear a t-shirt to dinner,” says Krohne, who fell in love with the laid-back town of Bad Gastein–”the anti-St. Moritz”–as a child, “Bad Gastein used to be a place where kings and emperors came at the turn of the 19th century. The combination of urban ambiance in the middle of nature has always fascinated me. And none of the houses really fit in here… the architecture is more North Italian or they could just as well be in Vienna or Paris. These buildings are still standing and only some of them have been renovated. There are so many empty, nostalgic houses, which is why it attracts so many creatives. This place releases fantasies.”
Guests hang out in the rambling mansion, which Olaf has divided into relaxed public spaces –a homey café, restaurant, spa, living room (with visits from Berlin DJs going late into the night), and a 16-person cinema. “In the 70s Das Regina was bought by a couple who already owned several hotels in Venice. She was Austrian, he Venetian. At first they ran it by themselves but later they leased it to an Italian family. That is one of the reasons why the house has such a strange mix of Austrian, Italian and Venetian elements – like the golden beds,” explains Olaf. On the south side of the house, there’s a mountain beach created from sand from the glaciers and a big wooden terrace, where apres-ski is in full swing with open fires and an igloo. The other genius complement: the Regina Skybar–a bar Olaf built on top of the mountain. You have to take the railway up the mountain, and it looks like a giant silver UFO with a big terrace.
Prices start at $106 a night. Book it at welcomebeyond.com.
After Honor & Folly opens, maybe I’ll start thinking about another project — a converted truck b&b? This place is genius. The industrious owner/designer of The Beer Moth cobbled together some walls and the interior of this 1956 Conmer Q4 using oak parquet floor rescued from a Tudor mansion, a salvaged snooker table slate as the hearth, and a freestanding farmhouse door. Add a pretty cool-looking Victorian bed, a worn leather armchair and some cooking utensils and done. You don’t need much more to appreciate the mountainous view at the sprawling Inshriach estate, which used to be a shooting lodge in the early 1900s.
I have no plans to go to Andalusia anytime soon, but for the record, if I did, I’d like to stay here. Owner Alan Hazel and his partner Marc Wils bought this dreamy, rustic Andalucian farmhouse almost three years ago and spent about eight months renovating the property (George Michael was their first guest!). The same family owned and farmed these hillsides for many generations, and still maintain many of the surrounding vineyards. These days, Alan and Marc live in the Olive Grove when it isn’t rented. “It is very much our home and the renovations and upkeep a personal labor of love. We get regular visits from family and friends and we love to entertain… Christmas dinner is already planned for here with the family.”
Here, Alan gives a personal explanation about what makes the Olive Grove so special, beyond the obvious aesthetic beauty.
I fell in love with the location and the feeling of grandeur and majesty from the surrounding nature before I ever set foot in the house. I told my partner Marc that I wanted to live here when we made our first visit to see the property as soon as I stepped out of the car. The edge of the pool nearest the sea is one of my favorite places. You get a ‘top of the world’ feeling as the landscape drops away into the valley below and spreads out to the Mediterranean, while La Maroma, the imposing peak looming above and to the east at over 2000m, dominates the landscape and gives you a sense of permanence and power to balance the sea. With the enormous eucalyptus tree giving shade in the afternoon and a summer kitchen with barbecue giving shade at all times, there is always a comfortable place to take in the serenity. My favorite thing about the design of The Olive grove itself is all of the comfortable and serene indoor and outdoor spaces, each with a different feel, but all of them inviting; garden terraces surround the house (all on one level), while five reception rooms/lounges and two covered terraces ensure a luxuriously comfortable space at any time of day or night.
The courtyard is also very exciting for us. We added this ourselves and designed the planting scheme along with the pergola structures and hand selected, roughly cobblestoned flooring. Marc is the principal designer and he has carefully maintained the authentic Andalusian rustic nature of this old farmhouse, while updating and modernizing to add chic but simple luxury. I love the terra cotta floors, wood beam ceilings, the little ‘huecos’ (cubby holes built into the 20-inch-thick walls) and giant fireplaces, plus the wooden doors and windows with inside shutters. The hammam-style master bath is a standout design, also Marc’s idea, custom built and walled in with an archway to step through into the bath. The gallery walkway connecting one end of the house to the other through the courtyard is a clever design, and the indoor/outdoor combination of the drawing room and its covered terrace space makes for another of my favorite spaces. The outdoor space mirrors the indoor space and both have a fireplace, but with a plant bed growing colorful climbers up and over the natural cane roofing and many potted plants, the outdoor terrace blends beautifully from its connection with the house, to its connection with the wild landscape beyond. We have also added notable landscaping on the approach to the property so that the entrance and first impressions are a fitting welcome and inspire the importance of the place along with cohesion of design. In the same way, we have created grassy spaces near the pool and extended the gardens to complete the well-maintained, though natural feel that ties the property to the stunning surroundings and maximizes the views. All in all, what is most impressive about the design to me is this feeling of balance and cohesion that allows it to feel like a traditional and historical farm house, but at the same time a luxurious home with all modern comforts–all the while tying into the magical, imposing beauty of the surrounding landscape.
La Maroma is the name for the tallest peak in the wide region at over 2000m and looms above The Olive Grove, dominating the landscape to the east. The peak is snowy every winter while views of the African mountains across the Mediterranean are visible from the property more often. The nature reserve that contains this peak begins about 1km from the property with its pine forests and imposing rocky faces rising up majestically. The park is home to native eagles, falcons and other rare birds, mountain goats and Iberian lynx.
Sleeps eight, with possibility of two extra. Four bedrooms. Rent it at uniquehomestays.com.
I’ve written about a handful of small hotels and b&bs in the last year (including the most recent stunner Mohave Sands) that have been painstakingly built by hand by the owners–from elaborate renovations and custom woodwork to every single piece of furniture in the place. Before Honor & Folly became Honor & Folly (which is opening NEXT WEEK, fingers crossed), my brother-in-law, Phil, lived there. When our family bought the row of decrepit buildings eight years ago, you could stand in the basement and see the sky through broken floorboards and a deteriorating roof. They were that bad. Since then, Phil has done an enormous amount of hard, gritty work to various all-but-abandoned buildings in Detroit, but his personal space–the first place he transformed–is pretty special. He worked on it as an ongoing creative, self-taught experiment, slowly and patiently and on a shoestring budget, adding interesting details along the way (like the woven-wood staircase railing, mirrored stairs and mismatched panes of salvaged colored glass in the arched windows). All this to say that I have a proper solid gold appreciation for hand-built spaces and the stories behind their transformation. Here, some of my favorites.
From the top: 1. Phil’s amazing staircase railing at the almost-complete Honor & Folly. Print by Don Kilpatrick/Signal Return; beautiful woven bench by the Brush Factory. 2. Chicago’s Longman & Eagle, built out by two of the four owners–furniture included. 3. Mohave Sands: Owner Blake Simpson’s nine-year-in-the-making desert project. 4. Casa Talia: An owner-renovated series of rooms built into the landscape of a Sicilian town that’s part of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Yeah, they made most of the furniture, too. 5. Berge is German furniture designer Nils Holger Moorman’s 13-room mountain hotel that he renovated and kitted out himself, after not being able to turn it into the warehouse he originally intended it to be.