Employing the services of top-drawer designers like Jade Jagger, Sophie Conran or Kelly Hoppen demands a trust-fund lifestyle. But if you plan your next holiday well, you can tap into the style secrets of the best interior designers for no more than the price of a weekend break.
It's a growing trend for hotels, villas, even pubs and weekend cottages to employ the services of big-name interior designers. This month it was announced that a boutique hotel will open in Hong Kong next year with interiors by celebrated Dutch designer Marcel Wanders. Closer to home, a Kelly Hoppen-designed spa opens in the Cotswolds in December, with a hotel set to follow in 2012.
And there's plenty more to choose from both here and abroad.
The Olde Bell and The Crown by Ilse Crawford
Ilse Crawford is the designer of choice for the hip, creative crowd. She's crafted interiors for Soho House and its foreign and British offshoots and works for brands such as Aesop.
Her style is quintessentially British, fusing classic and contemporary with a hint of eccentricity. At the Olde Bell and The Crown – coaching inns in Berkshire and Buckinghamshire – this means hanging an antler chandelier above a simple oak dining table and accessorising Ercol Windsor chairs with sheepskin throws. In the bedrooms, oak trestles are topped with Anglepoise lamps, soft Welsh wool blankets cover the beds and rush mat rugs under foot.
"We wanted to create a new English vernacular that picks up on the past but can also evolve and be modern and relevant today. The materials – oak, felt, rush mat, wool – are very important to the look," says Crawford.
To get the look at home, bend the rules a little and don't sacrifice comfort for style. "Keep it simple, elemental and practical. Focus on building layers and use materials that improve over time," says Crawford.
Melyn Tregwint (www.melintregwynt.co.uk) is great for wool rugs and cushions; John Lewis for Ercol chairs, (pictured above), and tables (www.johnlewis.com); and Toast (www.toast.co.uk) for sheepskin throws. The Natural Rug Store (www.naturalrugstore.co.uk) and Woven Ground (www.wovenground.com) are good for seagrass, sisal and reed rugs.
Invest in overstuffed sofas and easy chairs but choose contemporary upholstery. If budget is no problem try traditional British sofa makers George Smith (www.georgesmith.co.uk) or for more affordable versions, Scoop from Heals (www.heals.co.uk). Add personal touches: find local designers and artists; display photographs in a mix of old and new frames. And add discrete splashes of bright colour such as yellow chairs (try Ikea's new Bernhard range) around a plain oak table.
The Olde Bell, Hurley, Berkshire (www.theoldebell.co.uk). The Crown, Amersham, Buckinghamshire (www.thecrownamersham.com). Double rooms from £139.
The Barn at Temple Guiting by Sophie Conran
When your dad is Terence Conran there's a good chance that an eye for design is in your genes. Sophie Conran's interiors for the Barn at country house Temple Guiting illustrate her heritage: a combination of sophistication and luxury with just a hint of romance.
The Barn, a centuries-old building with exposed beams and honey-coloured Cotswold stone walls, is worth a visit if you're looking for ideas on making the most of traditional architectural styles.
"The bedrooms are quite rustic so I wanted to bring a sense of elegance and glamour to them," says Conran. In one room she chose a luxurious French-style bed with drapes of gold brocade; another has a soft pink day bed beneath an antique chandelier. And all are dotted with an eclectic mix of antiques ranging from an African chest to Baronial-style pieces and furniture from the 1940s.
In contrast, the kitchen and dining room are open, clean and modern with a long oak dining table and a pale colour scheme. "I like things quite simple," says Conran. "You don't need much in a kitchen or dining space; people are what happens here, they bring the colour."
To get the look at home, Conran suggests "having a squirrel around antique fairs and choose things that are beautiful and in good condition. Things you really love," she adds.
Then combine these with pared-back modern designs. Try the French Bedroom Company (www.thefrenchbedroomcompany.co.uk) for a selection of French-style beds; the Conran Shop (www.conranshop.co.uk) for Eames dining chairs; and Heal's (www.heals.co.uk) for dining tables.
Temple Guiting, near Stow-on-the-Wold, is let for house parties. You can rent the Barn, which sleeps 10, for £2,200 per night (www.sophieconrantg.com).
The Lakes by Yoo by Kelly Hoppen
One of Britain's best-known designers, Kelly Hoppen, is the probable cause of our ongoing love of neutral tones such as taupe, mushroom and cream. If you like her calm and elegant style and want to try life à la Hoppen, rent a home at Yoo Lakes in the Cotswolds for a week.
The controversial homes – not popular with all locals – are set around a network of six lakes spread over 650 rural acres, The Lakes is a development of weekend homes combining water views and the tranquil countryside with urbane luxury. "I've gone for a chic look featuring vintage pieces, loose linen throws and gorgeous textures, finished off with modern features," says Hoppen.
To get the look at home stick with a neutral palette – creams, whites, warm grey and mushroom brown (try Farrow and Ball, www.farrow-ball.com, for a selection of neutral shades) and add accents in navy blue and red. Combine with natural materials such as linen, cotton, wool, rattan and wood. Plump cushions are a must – on sofas, chairs and even outdoors. The White Company's Santorini bed linen and Meribel bedspread in smoke makes for a soothing combination in the bedroom (www.thewhitecompany.com). The Natural Curtain Company (www.naturalcurtaincompany.co.uk) has a selection of linen blinds and curtains that will work for this look too.
The Lakes by Yoo, Cotswolds, rent a 4-bed home from £2,250 – £3,500 per week (www.thelakesbyyoo.com).
Finding inspiration further afield
If all this restrained Britishness just isn't your thing and you're after the glamour and sexiness of the international jet set, then head for Morocco and the Jade Jagger-designed Baglioni Marrakech. It's a mix of downright luxury, with four-poster beds for sunbathing beside the infinity pool and subtle ethnic touches: Moroccan lights, coloured ceramic tiles, bronzed metalwork and bronze glazed doors. Add a touch of navy blue and burnt orange for drama and you've got the look nailed.
Or maybe quirky Dutch is more your thing, in which case you'll have to wait until 2012, when the Marcel Wanders-designed Jaffe Road hotel opens in Hong Kong. Details are still under wraps but Wanders says interiors will combine "fantasy, wonder and a sense of humour". Colour, distortion of scale and visual surprises are all on the cards. "It will be modern and magic," says Wanders.
For a more French flavour, Le Beauvallon Sur Mer Beach Club (www.lebeauvallon.com) opens on the bay of St Tropez this summer with a pavilion by Japanese architect Toyo Ito. The hotel, Le Beauvallon Prive, opens next spring. Details of the interior design are being kept confidential but expect classically French, seaside-inspired interiors.
... or just a day's work
Can't spare a full week away? Interior designer Susan Llewellyn this month launches a series of day tours in London. Day trips include Leighton House and William Morris's workshop – the latter will let you into the Arts and Crafts master's design and interiors secrets (www.thesusanllewellynacademy.co.uk).