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Inspiration

Top Destinations for Design Lovers, According to a Travel Expert

Top Destinations for Design Lovers, According to a Travel Expert

As the former travel editor at Town & Country and current CEO/founder of boutique travel company Indagare, Melissa Biggs Bradley knows a thing or two about crafting unforgettable adventures and experiences all around the world. So we couldn’t resist asking her which magical, far-flung destinations she’s adding to her itinerary this year. Hint: we’re heading East!

Melissa Biggs Bradley in Marrakech.Courtesy of Flytographer

Marrakech

“This city has been inspiring painters, writers and designers (think: Jaques Majorelle and Yves Saint Laurent) for decades. I first visited at 18 and fell head over heels for the people, the souks and the landscapes. The colors, craftsmanship, architecture, and gardens are all incredibly distinctive. In recent years, many designers from around the world have moved to Morocco and are collaborating with local craftsmen, blending ancient traditions with a more modern aesthetic.”

A riad at the Royal Mansour.

What to do: “In addition to the Yves Saint Laurent museum, which highlights how the city inspired the designer, there are some wonderful modern art venues that have opened in recent years, like the Museum of Contemporary African Art.”

Where to dine: ” If you have one meal in Marrakech, be it lunch or dinner, I recommend the restaurant at La Villa des Orangers. It’s only a short walk from the buzz of Jemaa el-Fna and the souk, but seems a world apart thanks to the courtyards of orange trees and lavender gardens.”

Where to snooze: “I love The Royal Mansour. It was the King of Morocco’s personal passion project and is an example of exquisite Moroccan craftsmanship—hundreds of local artisans worked on the intricate interiors. Each room is its own riad, so you can experience what it’s like to live in a traditional Moroccan townhouse!”

 

Istanbul

“Literally straddling East and West at the crossroads of two continents, this city has always been a meeting point of influences. It’s a place where craftsmen have kept ancient artistry alive and the Grand Bazaar is teeming with more than 4,000 shops selling everything from beautiful linens and bath products (this is hammam culture after all!) to antique textiles and silver, but you can also collaborate on new designs, whether it be for custom Iznik plates or carpets or jewelry.”

The summer dining terrace at Mikla.

What to do: “Definitely stop by Arter, the city’s first major contemporary art museum that just opened. And Istanbul Modern’s temporary home, a gorgeous 1890s building in Beyoglu, is worth a visit before the museum officially moves into a new Renzo Piano-designed structure on the waterfront.”

Where to dine: Mikla is a longtime favorite of mine and has earned rave reviews for its design. It offers Mediterranean cuisine and an incredible view over the Golden Horn. The terrace on the top floor is also fun for after-dinner drinks.”

Where to snooze: “Located in the Nisantasi district, the St. Regis Istanbul is a sleek, modern property with excellent service, a first-class art collection and a great location for shoppers.”

 

 

India

“Visiting this country is like stepping into a hyper-reality where colors somehow seem even more electric. It’s impossible to visit and come away unchanged by the visual exposure and how ornament appears in everyday life—from the kohl that rural women use to decorate their eyes or the way trucks are festooned with paintings or the statues adorned with flowers and women bedecked in jewelry.”

The view of The Oberoi Udaivilas from Lake Pichola.

What to do: “Needless to say, the shopping is incredible. Whether you’re looking for hand-blocked tablecloths and napkins; old doors to use as coffee tables; cotton quilts for bedrooms; or a Rajasthani tent for a palatial lawn bar, you will find things everywhere.”

Where to dine: “Indian Accent in New Delhi is a favorite. The ultra-contemporary designs coupled with innovative and gourmet modern Indian cuisine makes for a fabulous night out.”

Where to snooze: “For the ultimate, only-in-India experience, I love The Oberoi Udaivilas, Udaipur on the shores of Lake Pichola. You arrive by boat to the resort, which takes its design cues from Rajasthan’s grand palaces: domes, sprawling courtyards, marble, and hammered-gold interiors, intricate mosaics, and of course the resident peacocks.”

 

Tokyo

“The reverence for ritual and simplicity in Japan is extraordinary. Less is more becomes a way of seeing the essential beauty of each object or action or meal, and yet there is a futuristic side to Tokyo. The contrast between ancient simplicity and modern sleekness makes it so exciting!

The spa at Aman Tokyo offers views of the entire city.

What to do: “This is a place to study the harmony of spaces and objects. Whether you take a flower-arranging class or are part of a traditional tea ceremony, you learn about ritual and form.”

Where to dine: “I love Les Créations de Narisawa for the unusual flavor combinations, like Japanese yam and sea urchin roe, always served beautifully.

Where to snooze: Aman Tokyo’s minimalist design gives it a strong sense of place—plus the most spacious rooms in the city! The hotel has great views from the top floors of the Otemachi Tower. On a clear day, you can see Mount Fuji.”

 

Uzbekistan

“It’s still a relatively unknown country brimming with tons of treasures ready to be found, especially when it comes to textiles. You will never think about them in the same way after a visit to the land of ikats and suzanis.”

Piles of colorful textiles in the city of Bukhara.Rachel Robshaw, courtesy of Indagare

What to do: “As a lover of history and textiles I had always wanted to visit the Silk Road, and on my first trip 20 years ago I bought an oriental carpet in a Samarkand souk that’s still in our living room. The way the craftsmen combine colors and match materials is so inspirational.”

Where to dine: Salom Inn in the old Jewish quarter of Bukhara is built in the style of a traditional Uzbek home and decorated with a blend of antiques and handcrafts from contemporary local artisans.”

Where to snooze: Qanotchi in Tashkent is great for Uzbek-style barbecue and steaks. The owner, chef Abdurahman Poziljonov, is something of a local celebrity with a large foodie following!”