“Buongiorno, Signor Farley,” said Umberto, the head waiter at Hotel Missoni’s Cucina restaurant. By the beginning of the third day of my stay, the staff knew my name. And what I drank with breakfast. An espresso doppio was delivered to my table a minute later. “Prego,” the server said.
You’d think I was in Italy. In fact, I was 2,500 miles southeast of the country’s heel, in the capital of diminutive, oil-rich Kuwait. Opened in spring 2011, Hotel Missoni, owned by the eponymous fashion and home furnishings house, is one of many designer-conceived hotels that have popped up around the globe.
I have to confess: I have a complicated relationship with fashion. Maybe it’s related to my childhood. (Isn’t everything?) In the seventh grade, I wore a T-shirt to school that read, "My Son Is in the Navy." My trend-conscious peers, who clearly had no sense of irony, laughed at me until the final bell rang.
When I wore bowling shoes to high school, I was similarly mocked. How would I do in a hotel designed by a couturier?
I was picked up at the airport in Kuwait City in a Maserati (a complimentary perk for all Missoni guests). Not a bad start.
The property (like its sister hotel in Edinburgh, which opened in June 2009) is the brainchild of the Missoni family matriarch, Rosita. The hotel’s 169 rooms were designed to feel like her home. Compact Hans Wegner wishbone chairs and tuliplike Eero Saarinen–designed tables rest on hardwood floors, and everything—espresso cups, towels, even the swimming pool—displays the colorful striped patterns Missoni is known for. Generous helpings of turquoise, gold, and beige are splashed throughout the hotel to evoke the bayfront landscape outside, and every room looks out on the ever-expanding Kuwait City skyline. Like many things Italian, the hotel is simple and comfortable.
The Missoni team, which is fine-tuning its approach before opening hotels in larger markets, learns fast. There are no design hotel clichés here: no faucets with the function designed out of them, no overly formal staff. “Are those Camper shoes?” a waiter asked me one day at breakfast. I nodded. “Like bowling shoes,” he said. “Very cool.” Here, it seemed, fashion and I got along great.
965/2577-0000, from $414. This appeared in the September, 2012 issue. See more fashion hotels around the world.