Linger for longer in these 10 design-led luxury hotel bathrooms

The pleasure of bathing has never been so passionately pursued, with hotels throwing themselves wholeheartedly into the creation of spaces that are less amenity and more amusement. No longer a side thought, the best of these new personal pleasure palaces, often clad in enough marble to make an Emperor sigh, range from onsen minimalism to technological trickery. Take a look at the hotel bathrooms that have us lingering for longer.

Guest bathroom at Santa Clara 1728 hotel, Lisbon, Portugal
(Image credit: press)

Santa Clara 1728
Lisbon, Portugal

Comprising just six rooms, Santa Clara 1728, which is located on one of Lisbon’s most romantic squares, occupies one of the few homes to survive the city’s calamitous 18th-century earthquake. Inside, designer Manuel Aires Mateus’ clean, modern additions breathe new life into ancient walls and worn, limestone stairs. Rooms are kitted out in coarse linens, pale woods and furnishings by designer Antonio Citterio, a neutral palette that is boosted by splashes of duck egg blue. For their part, bathrooms are practically monastic. Walls covered in hand-cut white tiles, the pinewood flooring and shelving act in soft counterpoint to a vast freestanding tub, large enough to sail across the Mediterranean, and deep, cylindrical wash basins, both carved out of pinky-beige Portuguese Lioz limestone, sourced from quarries near Sintra. For those who prefer to their bathing experience vertical, each comes with an adjacent wet-room, complete with industrial-sized shower, which overlook the hotel’s gardens.

Campo de Santa Clara 128, T 35.1 934 418 316,

Bathroom at Four Seasons hotel, Kuwait City, designed by Yabu Pushelberg

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Four Seasons
Kuwait City

Having shed its mid-century reputation as a Sin City (of sorts), Kuwait now pursues a more genteel and sophisticated pace, which are qualities that also inform its Four Seasons hotel. Inside, design firm Yabu Pushelberg has humanised the soaring spaces with a mix of theatre and tradition; think vast decorative panels, low-slung furniture and geometric mashrabiya patterns, which appear all over, including strategic sections of room windows, such as bathrooms, where they offer guests an additional layer of privacy. All grey and white striped marble, slabs carefully aligned like elongated barcodes, bathrooms are screened off from bedrooms by sliding doors. Furnishings are courtesy of Australian luxury bath makers, Apaiser, which produced standalone tubs, walk-in showers and, of course, twin sinks. Bronze fixtures, in-mirror televisions and concealed lighting add splashes of drama and in places, the marble expanse is subtly interrupted by mosaic tiling or contemporary mashrabiya screens.

Al-Soor Street, Al Mirqab, Kuwait, T 965. 2200 6000,

Bathroom at Elements of Byron hotel, Byron Bay, Australia

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Elements of Byron
Byron Bay, Australia

Celebrated for its cinematic ocean frontage and powdery beaches, Byron Bay’s laid-back charms have been raised a few notches by its most stylish resort, Elements of Byron, which is set amongst 50 acres of wilderness. Cabins – which have bush, beach, rainforest or creekside views – also have walled decks for bathing outdoors in privacy. With a Japanese simplicity-meets-Australian-informal feel, the onsen vibe is enhanced by wooden bath stools and ladder towel racks, while the potted cheesecloth plants (and elsewhere, rattan armchairs and shell chandeliers), are coy nods to the Bay’s bohemian reputation.

144 Bayshore Drive, T 61.2 6639 1500,

Guest bathroom designed by Jaime Beriestain Studio at Almanac hotel, Barcelona, Spain

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Barcelona, Spain

The Almanac group’s debut just off Barcelona’s Passeig de Gracia is the work of local studio, OAB, who have combined two existing buildings into a 91-room cocoon. Inside, Jaime Beriestain Studio has conjured a cinematic, contemporary art deco vibe, with copper accents, low-hanging white drum lamps, and panels of oak and walnut in the bright bedrooms. The immaculate bathrooms meanwhile, feature double sink vanities with individual mirrors, walk-in showers and full-length tubs, and are once again an orgy of marble and glass. The chill is softened through the addition of muted metal fixtures, which hover somewhere on the colour spectrum between copper and gold, and by bespoke bathroom products from Scottish-Catalan perfumer, Jimmy Boyd, a graduate of Grasse, which scent post-shower air with subtle notes of bergamot and pear-apple.

Gran Via de les Corts Catalanes, T 34.9 3018 7000,

Guest bathroom designed by Akaradej Pantisoontorn at Hotel Bocage, Hua Hin, Thailand

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Hotel Bocage
Hua Hin, Thailand

An homage to concrete, the stark, pared-down Hotel Bocage is the work of Thai architect, Akaradej Pantisoontorn. Inside, Duangrit Bunnag has created complementary interiors that border on the austere. This includes the bathrooms which, definitely not for the retiring, are separated from the rest of the room by floor-to-ceiling glass walls. Those not convinced, can add a modicum of privacy by drawing the curtains, but doing so will deprive bathers of dramatic in-tub views over the Gulf of Thailand – and roommates of a show. Sculptural sanitary ware is by Antonio Lupi and toiletries, as stripped-back as the décor, are from the bamboo charcoal-based Charcoalogy range produced by local skincare specialists, Gla Nature.

Seenspace Building, 4th Floor, Hua Hin, T 66.91 712 8822,

Bathroom at Le Mount Stephen, Montréal, Canada

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Le Mount Stephen
Montréal, Canada

The former home of Canadian railway pioneer, George Stephen, and later a private members’ club, this landmark property has now been reincarnated as a hotel to include a new, honeycomb-covered annexe. A bit of a hybrid, the new addition contrasts starkly with the ornate, neoclassical splendour of the mansion and, occasional nod to the past aside, rooms are resolutely contemporary. Bathrooms, which are marble and minimal throw a technological punch with multifunctional Japanese Toto toilets with heated seats that do everything but go to the toilet for you, walk-in rain showers equipped with Cura chromatherapy showerheads, toiletries by Italy’s Comfort Zone and, blessed be, window-defoggers and heated floors – for come winter, the temperature difference between indoors and out can be 40°C, sometimes more.

1440 Drummond St, T 1.514 313 1000,

Guest bathroom by Dreamtime Australia Design and the A+ Design Group at Sofitel Darling Harbour hotel, Sydney, Australia

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Sofitel Darling Harbour
Sydney, Australia

Occupying all 35 floors of Sydney’s Darling Harbour’s tallest building, the interior design of the 590-room property is the work of Dreamtime Australia Design and the A+ Design Group. Rooms are sleek and contemporary, while the sandstone bathrooms come with quite a lot packed into them – in some, the twin basins are complemented by twin walk-in rain showers – but thanks to the jaw-dropping panoramic vistas of the bay and the sparkling skyline beyond, the view from the freestanding tubs stretches to infinity, if not beyond. Toiletries, naturellement, are by Lanvin.

12 Darling Drive, 2000, T 61.2 8388 8888,

Bathroom by Teresa Nunes da Ponte at Verride Palacia Santa Catarina hotel, Lisbon, Portugal

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Verride Palácio Santa Catarina
Lisbon, Portugal

Built in 1750, this handsome four-storey former townhouse has been transformed into a boutique hotel by architect Teresa Nunes da Ponte who walked a fine line between keeping the ancient bones, whilst injecting a dose of sophisticated modernity. This meant meticulously restoring intricate mouldings, wrought iron staircases, ornamental ceilings and, in some of the suites, the original blue and white Azulejo decorative tiles, before updating the 19 spacious rooms in a muted palate of light browns, low-slung sofas, slender AJ floor lamps and de Gournay silk wall panels. Bathrooms are as eclectic as the rooms. Some, like this beauty in the Queen’s Suite, feature parquet floors, standalone tubs and refurbished 18th-century Azulejo panels. Others, simpler and more onsen-esque, are open-plan beige marble spaces that feature wet room style overhead showers, snug bathtubs and long, trough-like marble sinks that often overlook a view. One constant is that they seamlessly integrate contemporary design and minimalist fittings with historic, sometimes ornate interiors. Toiletries are courtesy of Aesop.

Rua de Santa Catarina No. 1, T 351. 21 1573058,

Bathroom at Amanbagh hotel, Ajabgarh, India

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Ajabgarh, India

Among the rolling Aravalli Hills, Amanbagh sits in the grounds of an old campsite for royal tiger hunts that has been reimagined by Paris-based American architect Ed Tuttle. As an offering from the group that first blurred the line between spa and hotel, it’s no surprise that the spacious, light-filled bathrooms are sumptuous. All Indian minimal, warmth comes from massive wooden door panels, delicately carved Mughal arches and the cappuccino-coloured stone flooring, while colour comes chiefly in the form of the large, sunken green Udaipur marble bath in the middle of the room – perfect for wallowing in after a tough day lounging by your private pool or indulging at the ayurvedic spa.

District Alwar, Ajabgarh, Rajasthan, T 91.1465 223 333,

Guest bathroom by P49 Deesign at 137 Pillars hotel, Bangkok, Thailand

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137 Pillars
Bangkok, Thailand

The sister property of Chiang Mai’s 137 Pillars House, the Bangkok outpost of the expanding hotel chain occupies the top eight floors of a sparkling skyscraper in the heart of the capital. The equally sparkling interiors are the work of P49 Deesign, who extended its contemporary design to the jazzy marble bathrooms, some of which feature small sofas. All have glass-walled rain-showers perfect for putting on a show, as well as deep, circular standalone tubs that are ideally suited to watching TV, drinking something bubbly or taking in the expansive views over Bangkok’s sprawling cityscape through the floor-to-ceiling windows.

59/1 Sukhumvit Soi 39, T 66.2 079 7000,

Middle East Editor