Five leading lights in fashion, food and design share the cities closest to their hearts—and the under-the-radar spots they always go back to.
“I fell in love with Palm Springs after my first visit in 2015. It helped me better understand the value of pushing design boundaries as the designers of the 1950s and ’60s did. Expect a city with an aesthetic encompassing modernist, functional and simplistic design elements, injected with a sense of fun through colour, shape and form.
“California is an incredibly diverse design destination where visitors can immerse themselves in mid-century modernism and the history behind Palm Springs, but also enjoy the astounding geographical location. The experience of travelling to Palm Springs is quite the must-do in itself — it’s a visual delight to trek out past the wind turbines and go up the aerial tramway to see the forest. It was well over 30 degrees when I was last there, with touches of snow in the higher parts of the land. The diversity of the landscape is just incredible.
“Immersing yourself in a destination should come in many forms. For me, it’s about the sensory experience — how a space looks, sounds and feels. Parker Palm Springs hotel embodies the city effortlessly, from architecture and interiors to the service and most granular details. The gardens are wonderful, and even the day spa and pool have an authentic midcentury feel. I enjoyed many afternoons relaxing by the fire pit after a long day’s walk and trying my hand at petanque. The Parker is a great place to celebrate spending time.
“Workshop Kitchen by Michael Beckman is a modern American restaurant with a brutalist modern interior by Michel Abboud of SOMA collective. I’m heading back to California in 2023 with experiential travel company Joel Found as part of an incredible architecture and design trip, and we are very much looking forward to dining there.
“Lastly, the Kaufmann Desert House is one of my most favourite buildings in the world. Designed by architect Richard Neutra in 1946, its low, horizontal planes bring the house closer to the landscape, making it feel as though it’s floating above the ground. It’s truly a must-see for anyone who wants to experience an iconic piece of architecture in this very special part of the world.”
RINALDO “RONNIE” DI STASIO
“Doria Pamphilj Gallery sits within the still-resided-in 16th-century Doria Pamphilj palace. It’s not on any tourist hot-list but it has an amazing treasure trove of art, history and wonder. Works by Caravaggio, Titian and Raphael can be enjoyed without the crowds.
“Not far from the Trevi Fountain, Galleria Sciarra can be found within an unassuming office building. It has an internal courtyard that’s open to the public and completely covered in Guiseppe Cellini frescoes and murals. It’s an amazing living, working museum that’s there to be enjoyed.
“The Antico Caffè Greco has a bit of everything: art, antiques, history, snacks and cocktails. It’s the oldest cafe in Rome, second oldest in Italy after Caffè Florian in Venice. It can be a lifesaver if you’ve missed (or slept through) lunch, as you can enjoy it till late in the afternoon, and dinner is at 10pm. Skip the busy part fronting Via dei Condotti and enter through Via delle Carrozze and enjoy the beautiful red velvet banquettes, waiters in tail coats and heavenly drinks. Order a bloody mary, another cocktail or champagne and enjoy the accompanying delicious canapés — not the usual dross served for aperitivo elsewhere.
“The gingham tablecloths at Matricianella suggest it’s touristy, but it’s definitely not! It serves old-school Roman food at reasonable prices, and has two amazing wine lists. I love the lamb scottadito, Baccala and fiore di zucca.
“Zia is one of the great new breeds of modern restaurants offering refined, delicious food in a contemporary setting with wonderful, owner-driven service.“
Cocktail hour at the Art Deco bar and courtyard within Hotel Locarno in Via della Penna is a hit with the local fashion and arts crowd. It’s a great place to spend a few hours.”
“Paris is one of the world’s most beautiful cities to walk in. I love walking every morning for as long as I can, exploring small shops and helping myself to pastries and baguettes.
“On certain days, local food markets pop up to service the city. The smells and seeing the produce, rotisserie chickens, food displays… it’s all so irresistible. One of the best markets is Marché des Enfants Rouges in the Haut Marais. It’s one of the oldest in Paris, but it’s a bit of a hidden gem.
“The city is a wonderland of culture, art and museums. One of the more hidden options — but just as beautiful — is the Musée Rodin, which opened in 1919, and primarily showcases the works of French sculptor Auguste Rodin. It’s set in one of the most beautiful gardens in the city, and provides a stunning summary of Rodin’s oeuvre.
“Then there are the restaurants. These days it’s difficult to find something original, but I love the classic old-school bistros that capture the essence of French cooking. Chez Georges, Allard, Bistrot Benoit, La Fontaine de Mars and À La Petite Chaise are some of my favourites.”
“I lived in London 30 years ago, and even though I no longer call it home, it’s still a city I love to visit. The vibrancy, eclecticism and history make London a melting pot of forward-thinking movers and shakers offering something unique. It’s unlike any other city in the world.
“No trip to London is complete without a visit to the V&A Museum. It provides a snapshot of our planet’s history through art, and has such a varied multitude of exhibits— everything from the Raphael Cartoons to one of the most comprehensive collections of the beginnings of photography and (my favourite) the fashion displays dating back 400 years. Last time I was there, I saw an incredible retrospective on Dior, ‘Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams’.
“One of my favourite places to go is the Red Room, a luxury wine bar hidden inside The Connaught hotel. It’s hopping and everyone is gorgeous. I love their cocktails, which are named by colour (such as Red, White, Orange and Rosé) and are delicious.
“Muse by Tom Aikens is a Michelin- starred fine diner that won a design award for best luxury restaurant in Europe, and my childhood friend Rebecca Korner designed it.
Everything is perfect — from the exquisite food based on Tom’s childhood experiences and other moments in his incredible career, to the beautifully handcrafted menus. Every detail is divine. The powder room is not to be missed! Also try the seasonal tasting menu— it’s top of my to-do list for my next visit.”
“Aside from our residential projects in Melbourne and Brisbane, we are currently working on two private residences in the Hamptons, a two-hour drive from Manhattan — an unforgettable area I first visited about 10 years ago.
“A must-see for art and design enthusiasts visiting New York is MoMA PS1, one of the largest non-profit art institutions in the US dedicated to contemporary art. Also Storm King Art Center, which is an open-air museum that houses a vast collection of contemporary sculptures. Dia Beacon is about 90 minutes by train or car from the city centre, but well worth the visit. Situated on the banks of the Hudson River in Beacon, it houses the Dia Art Foundation’s collection of art from the 1960s to the present.
“La Grande Boucherie is an expansive French restaurant in Midtown Manhattan with interiors by Julien Legeard. Its meticulous design transports its guests to early 20th century Paris, and is quite the hidden gem.
“For one of the best views of the city, it’s hard to go past dinner and drinks at Manhatta: with a stunning outlook across the city and an extensive wine list, it’s a perfect spot to end the day.
“Finally, no visit to New York is complete without a day trip to Brooklyn. Enjoy a stroll through the neighbourhood of Park Slope, with its tree-lined streets and iconic brownstone homes that sit on the fringe of Prospect Park.”