When it comes to pampering the body and soul, boutique hotels have truly got it covered. Polar opposites of their bland hotel-chain relatives, these modern oases of cosseted tranquility are built around the latest trends in comfort and style.
Boutique hotels are designed around a central theme. You can find the Old-World ambience of an ancient English manor home, the north-country appeal of a rustic hunting lodge, the bold and brassy South Beach look and the ever popular European-spa atmosphere. Rooms are designed individually, offering a broad choice of layout and décor. But the focus is lifestyle driven.
These hotels are selling an experience, and it's an experience that we want to linger. So we have claimed it as our own and taken it home. The boutique experience, particularly the spa concept, is the catalyst for a wave of home-decorating choices that celebrate the ideal of personal indulgence on a daily basis.
The rejuvenating experience of a day at the spa no longer needs to be a special occasion visited once or twice a year. The elements that make up the look can be acquired on any budget.
Colors and materials are chosen for their ability to calm and relax the senses. Ocean blues and greens, sand shades of pinky beige and brown, and refreshing whites are all cleansing hues that chase away anxiety. Simple, clean lines allow the eyes to rest.
Unadorned shelves and plain cabinetry help to strip the spa bathroom of unnecessary excess. Bleached wood keeps it light, reminiscent of a summer shore lined with driftwood.
Soaker tubs and separate glass-enclosed shower stalls with rain shower faucets have become the new norm. Attention is paid to lighting that can be controlled for practical grooming purposes as well as restful bathing.
In order to accommodate the delights of the spa bath, these rooms are being enlarged, either pushed into adjoining bedrooms or moved to a larger space. But until recently, the spa bath remained a room apart, a space of its own with a door to close and blinds to pull.
The W Hotels are a group of fabulous boutique hotels that are ever mindful of the needs and wishes of their guests. They provide rooms that encapsulate the complete spa experience.
Their spa loft suite seen in the accompanying photo shows a new twist -- the soaker tub sits open to the bedroom, perched on a platform center stage. The natural components that make up the feeling of relaxed bliss are all present in the bedroom and bath.
A soft mix of sandy beige hues run through the plank floors and walls, sensuous chocolate-brown duvet and cushion fabrics enhance the simple pleasures of the room. The potted palm stirs memories of a tropic isle.
Is this going to be a trend we rush to incorporate into our own homes? The picture is compelling. I can imagine (even remember) the romance of young lovers sharing bed and bath. But 20 years later, do I really want to see my beloved emerging from the bubbles? Would steam be an issue? I just don't know.
But I am intrigued. Is this bath in the bedroom your idea of the ultimate? Will the next renovation dilemma be reinforcing the bedroom floor and replumbing the house? I'd love to hear your viewpoint.
Debbie Travis is a columnist for King Features Syndicate. E-mail questions to her at firstname.lastname@example.org.