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February 11, 2010

The best part of traveling is rarely the hotel. Sure, you'll suffer a tatty travelers flop if it means an extra day wandering the streets of Seoul, but in the main, hotel stays, and hotel decor, are often treated like a body search at the airport: an indignity for sure, but one you put up with because, well, you have to. "But I've stayed in a handful of really nice, really well-designed hotels," you cry. "And they really did make all the difference." Fair play. But don't those experiences feel woefully hit-or-miss? Pick up Design Hotels's 2010 guide and start to really travel in style.

Whether travel guide or coffee table reverie, any amble through this book will certainly inspire the quick banking of extra vacation days.
Whether travel guide or coffee table reverie, any amble through this book will certainly inspire the quick banking of extra vacation days.
1 / 12
Grims Grenka in Oslo is a very swish design hotel that I visited when in Norway two years ago. Had a quick drink in the lobby, ran into a rabid Red Sox fan, worried over the state of their bullpen, wandered off into the very cold evening air with my very
Grims Grenka in Oslo is a very swish design hotel that I visited when in Norway two years ago. Had a quick drink in the lobby, ran into a rabid Red Sox fan, worried over the state of their bullpen, wandered off into the very cold evening air with my very tall, Canadian pal, wished I were staying there.
2 / 12
The Boundary is the rather relaxed Sir Terence Conran's London entry into the Design Hotels canon.
The Boundary is the rather relaxed Sir Terence Conran's London entry into the Design Hotels canon.
3 / 12
The Boundary is a colorful affair with accents from the mid-century masters, and its restaurant is meant to inspire as much gastronomical as design lust.
The Boundary is a colorful affair with accents from the mid-century masters, and its restaurant is meant to inspire as much gastronomical as design lust.
4 / 12
The Boundary is in London's Shoreditch neighborhood.
The Boundary is in London's Shoreditch neighborhood.
5 / 12
The Alila Villas Uluwatu in Bali has achieved Green Globe certification, making Indonesia a slightly greener place indeed.
The Alila Villas Uluwatu in Bali has achieved Green Globe certification, making Indonesia a slightly greener place indeed.
6 / 12
Another hotelier profiled here is Daniele Kihlgren, whose medieval manse in the Italian town of Santo Stefano di Sessanio in Abruzzo is meant for, as he puts it, "'modern-age romantics,' in the literary sense of the word."
Another hotelier profiled here is Daniele Kihlgren, whose medieval manse in the Italian town of Santo Stefano di Sessanio in Abruzzo is meant for, as he puts it, "'modern-age romantics,' in the literary sense of the word."
7 / 12
"IT was a dreamline vision: it seemed as though everything had frozen in time. Neither the medieval hamlet nor the rural scenery surrounding it revealed any evidence of the 20th century's passing," says Kihlgren of his hotel's environs.
"IT was a dreamline vision: it seemed as though everything had frozen in time. Neither the medieval hamlet nor the rural scenery surrounding it revealed any evidence of the 20th century's passing," says Kihlgren of his hotel's environs.
8 / 12
Kihlgren at his hotel.
Kihlgren at his hotel.
9 / 12
A match made in brand-synergy heaven, Levi's paired up with 25Hours Hotel to create 25Hours Hotel Frankfurt Tailored by Levi's.
A match made in brand-synergy heaven, Levi's paired up with 25Hours Hotel to create 25Hours Hotel Frankfurt Tailored by Levi's.
10 / 12
Kit Kemp, whose hospitality company Firmdale has a number of hotels under Design Hotels' aegis, is the designer responsible for the likes of the Covent Garden Hotel and Soho Hotel in London and the Crosby Street Hotel in New York.
Kit Kemp, whose hospitality company Firmdale has a number of hotels under Design Hotels' aegis, is the designer responsible for the likes of the Covent Garden Hotel and Soho Hotel in London and the Crosby Street Hotel in New York.
11 / 12
Kemp's design inspiration, clearly, comes from all over the map.
Kemp's design inspiration, clearly, comes from all over the map.
12 / 12
Whether travel guide or coffee table reverie, any amble through this book will certainly inspire the quick banking of extra vacation days.
Whether travel guide or coffee table reverie, any amble through this book will certainly inspire the quick banking of extra vacation days.

Design Hotels is an affiliation of nearly 200 luxury and boutique hotels worldwide that take design very seriously. I've had the good fortune of staying in a few of their member hotels--Hotel Greulich in Zurich (top-notch), the St. Paul in Montreal, and a drink in the lobby of Grims Grenka in Oslo--and they put anything else I've seen to shame. And though I'm sure I'll never stay at all of them, it's certainly fun to look. 

The Design Hotels Book Edition 2010 is a catalogue of their members, and one that inspires a real yen to travel, if only to immerse yourself in one more element of global design. Boasting ten interviews with their hoteliers, hospitality designers and design luminaries--Sir Terence Conran figures prominently--the book's real joy is leafing through the 170 hotels inside. Each gets a fine spread and just enough pictures to have you counting and recounting those bonus miles.

Call it escapist fantasy on a February afternoon, but my first several wanders through the pages of the Design Hotels Book for 2010 have been pure pleasure, cut, dolefully, by the fact that I'll be lucky to get to two of them all year long.

Have a look at this slideshow for a glimpse of what's inside the book.

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