"If I had my wish (and all the money in the world), I'd dress head-to-toe in Amanda Wakeley"
A disastrous night in a Lake District spa retreat that was more hotel from hell than country escape led Tamara and James Lohan to found Mr & Mrs Smith in 2002. Initially a 41-strong guide to the best boutique boltholes in Britain, the now members’ club presents a curated collection of more than 1,000 hotels worldwide, each of which has been tried and tested by the team’s tastemakers to ensure it meets the brand’s specific criteria: unique, couples-orientated, relaxed, friendly and good value for money. Stella McCartney, Tom Aikens and Raymond Blanc are among the reviewers who frequent the hotels anonymously.
In a nod to its unique vetting process, and to celebrate 15 years in business, the brand recently published The World’s Sexiest Bedrooms – an ode to 35 hotel suites that the Mr & Mrs Smith critics have praised most highly.
What is true luxury? For me, luxury is having the time and space to do something I wouldn’t do every day. It has to be indulgent, special and memorable, but it could be as simple as curling up by the fire after a day out walking. Checking into a special hotel should embody those feelings: whether it’s a celebratory weekend away, an impromptu ‘why not?’ trip, or a holiday of a lifetime.
What are your little luxuries in life? I love toiletries that are designed for travel: De Mamiel Altitude oil goes everywhere with me, as it’s specifically designed for people who are on and off planes a lot. I like my home to smell amazing too, so Clement & Claude candles are a go-to, especially White Wood, one of its signature fragrances.
If you could be anywhere in the world right now, where would it be? Uxua Casa in Brazil – an amazing hotel and spa in tropical Trancoso, on the Bahian coast. The town itself is unique: a car-free main square, known as the Quadrado, surrounded by wildlife-rich jungle and a broad strip of beach. The 11 villa-like rooms are spread out in centuries- old colonial casas, with an atmospheric restaurant overlooking the square and a beach bar in an old fisherman’s boat. Add to that a spa which uses native ingredients and you’ve got laid-back luxury at its finest – which is why it features on the cover of our new book, The World’s Sexiest Bedrooms.
What's your style? If I had my wish (and all the money in the world), I'd dress head-to-toe in Amanda Wakeley.
Best place for skiing? Verbier, Switzerland, thanks to exciting new hotel the Experimental Chalet. It’s from the Experimental Cocktail Club – a trio of French friends who started a speakeasy-style cocktail bar in Paris and also London’s Henrietta Hotel. It brings a dash of playful Gallic design to the slopes of a traditional Swiss ski resort, with creative cocktails as the centrepiece and access to the Farm Club – a 40-year-old Verbier institution – for guests seeking exclusive après-ski.
How would you show someone a good time in London? We’d have lunch at Maltby Street market, followed by Alfies Antique Market for shopping. Next, evening cocktails at L’Oscar – whose decadent interiors are by designer Jacques Garcia – then we’d check-in to the Groucho Club, where Britpop bands and the YBAs used to hang out. Damien Hirst put his entire Turner Prize winnings behind the bar here. It’s normally a private members’ club, but Smith guests get full run of the place, including the new informal restaurant, Bernie’s, named after the club’s long-serving maître d’, who died last year.
The Londoner you find most inspiring: Jo Malone, creator of Jo Malone and Jo Loves. Her story is incredible and it’s rare to meet someone with both inner strength and outer warmth.
What are you reading at the moment? Becoming by Michelle Obama. Who isn’t?
The best piece of advice you’ve been given: My father-in-law always says: ‘If it was easy, everyone would be doing it’. It reminds me to keep going when things get tough.
The World’s Sexiest Bedrooms, £29.95, mrandmrssmith.com