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Design of the Times

For Peninsula Hotels, the past and present collide with high art and chic style.

Any world traveler will tell you the greatest hotels are neither old nor new, neither traditional nor contemporary; they don’t need to be trendy, but they should never be stale. Rather, they are timeless, effortless, and always welcoming no matter who you are, where you’re from, or where you’re checking in. It’s not an easy feat, of course, to stay relevant in the ever-changing landscape of travel, but Peninsula Hotels seems to walk the line with ease, honoring its long heritage (the brand turned 90 years old last year) yet continually evolving for the present and future. How does a hotel manage to feel current no matter how many decades it has under its belt? It’s all about design. Here, three Peninsula properties show us how it’s done.

The Peninsula Hong Kong

Peninsula’s very first hotel (and Hong Kong’s oldest) is still the brand’s matriarch and blueprint for success. Though its lobby may be a soaring study in classical architecture—its vaulted ceilings and gilded cornices are as dramatic today as when the hotel first opened in 1928—the property is filled with plenty of fresh design twists. While dining on old-school gastronomic delights at Felix restaurant, for instance, you’ll be surrounded by the avant-garde creations of wild-child architect Philippe Stark, who went for sleek Carrara marble tabletops and a disco-inspired circular bar when recently redesigning the space. Guest rooms and luxury suites are a careful combination of local and worldly, where minimalist furnishings and floor-to-ceiling windows create a simple backdrop for elaborate chinoiserie detailing, chandeliers dripping in crystal, and the occasional modern art canvas.

The Peninsula Paris

When the iconic grande dame on Paris’ Avenue Kléber became Peninsula’s first European hotel, it was no small thing: The renovation of the former Hotel Majestic took more than four years. Locals and devoted visitors alike waited with bated breath to find out if the old landmark would emerge a thoroughly modern revision—or a classic remaking of its 19th-century predecessor. The result was a perfect melding of both. After chiseling, gilding, buffing, and polishing the original mosaics, wood carvings, and stonework, Peninsula brought in a team of contemporary designers to bring the spaces into the 21st century. Now a sleek black-and-gold reception desk sits in front of the original plastered walls, a massive crystal installation dances beneath ornate ceilings, and a terrace with minimalist furnishings floats above the 16th arrondissement’s old Haussmanian rooftops—all dramatic juxtapositions indeed, but somehow, they all seem right for the space. 

The Peninsula New York

Peninsula’s penchant for design has turned its properties into a collective patron of the arts, hosting VIP events for the world’s most important fairs and shows (Art Basel Hong Kong and Frieze New York, among them) and enlisting top curators and famed artists to turn lobbies and public spaces into living galleries. Nowhere is this more on display—literally—than at the brand’s Manhattan hotel on Fifth Avenue, where rotating works of art create a veritable museum for guests. On view at the hotel currently is Home, an exhibition exploring the ideas of origin, identity, and community with works by artists from around the world, including London-based Do Ho Suh, who turned the hotel’s Palm Court into a life-size installation modeled after his former Berlin apartment, rendered in fabric. It’s a striking contrast to the glamorously refined style for which The Peninsula is renowned worldwide—and another reason why this age-old brand always seems to be completely of-the-moment.


Hotel Collection

With 10 Peninsula Hotels in Exclusive Resorts’ Hotel Collection—Beverly Hills, Chicago, New York City, Paris, Bangkok, Beijing, Hong Kong, Manila, Shanghai, and Tokyo—Members traveling to these urban hubs can immerse themselves in local cultures.

The Peninsula Chicago

This five-star hotel celebrates traditional Asian hospitality in the Windy City. Nearby you’ll find such landmarks as Millennium Park, Navy Pier, and the Art Institute of Chicago. Dine in style at The Lobby, Pierrot Gourmet, and Shanghai Terrace.

The Peninsula New York

An ideal starting point for a whirlwind cultural vacation filled with shopping, entertainment, and culture. If reserving a suite, take advantage of the complimentary house car, a MINI Cooper S Clubman.

The Peninsula Paris

Enroll your children in a chocolate-making class with the pastry chef, or set up a VIP meet-and-greet with a player on the Paris Saint-Germain Football Club. Located just steps from the Champs-Élysées.