Nicky Dobree is best known as the influential interior designer who gave the luxury ski chalet market a much-needed pivot away from a rather dated design rut. Although she has also worked on prestigious private homes from Munich to Ibiza, she had never worked on a commercial project before, until Plaza 18 came along.
The perfect subject for some armchair daydreaming about future travel plans, this six-bedroom boutique hotel in the town of Vejer in Andalucia was, in scale, not a daunting prospect in comparison to Dobree’s previous work. Her brief was much more expansive than a residential project, however, and involved overseeing not just the interiors but the branding, too, from the logo right down to the ingredients in the bespoke toiletries. “It was unbelievably satisfying to able to do something so holistic – a complete experience from the moment you walk through the door to the moment you leave,” she says.
The hotel is housed in a former 19th-century merchant’s house, centred around an airy black-and-white-tiled central courtyard, topped by a glass dome that makes the space feel more akin to an outdoor patio. “I was so lucky,” says Dobree of the grandeur of the architecture she was given to work with. “It is the most fabulous structure that just has an innate sense of feeling. It’s very special.”
Following a major trend in hospitality design for more intimate, home-like places to stay, the hotel does not feel remotely corporate. In the sitting room (pictured top), C & C Milano linen covers the skirted chairs and a Porta Romana ‘Shisha’ lamp illuminates the tempting bar trolley. Performance fabrics for the terrace were sourced from Sutherland Perennials Studio.
“Every room has a different look and feel, and every room has story to tell,” says Dobree, who describes these spaces as being “heavily layered with textures and art.” The bedrooms loosely follow a colour theme: in the green room (above right), the headboard is upholstered in Paolo Moschino for Nicholas Haslam Ltd’s ‘Pheasantry Blotched’ fabric, with white linen cushions from de Le Cuona and curtains in a C & C Milano plain fabric. In one of the blue rooms (above left), a ‘Tribeca’ side table from Julian Chichester in bleached, aged oak complements the exposed beams, with curtains made from ‘Opium Cotton’ fabric from Paolo Moschino for Nicholas Haslam Ltd and a headboard fabric from Pierre Frey,
Some original features have been reused – all the black and white floor tiles were painstaking lifted and relaid, for example – but it is not just the building’s innate age and character that give this hotel its soul. That’s also down to Dobree’s deft layering, her understanding of what people need from their surroundings to feel relaxed and comfortable, and her eye for fusing a sense of place with a sense of timelessness.
C & C Milano, First Floor, Design Centre East
de Le Cuona, Second Floor, North Dome
Paolo Moschino for Nicholas Haslam Ltd, Ground Floor, Centre Dome
Pierre Frey, First Floor, Design Centre East
Porta Romana, Ground Floor, Centre & South Domes
Sutherland Perennials Studio, Second Floor, North Dome & Third Floor, Centre Dome