Call it prefab luxury decorating: If you like what you see in a cushy hotel suite, take the whole thing home. You can buy the tables, chairs, towels, martini glasses, even the bed. About the only thing you can't take with you is the maid.
As the idea of making a home look and feel more resort-like has caught on, interior designers, furniture manufacturers and landscape contractors have cribbed ideas from hotels and scaled them down to fit residences. But over the last year, more hotels have started selling their furniture and smaller items for the home.
Westin Hotels & Resorts may have inadvertently pioneered the trend. If they had a spare nightstand, they would sell it. After the hotel chain upgraded its beds five years ago, there quickly was a long waiting list of guests who wanted to buy the new custom mattress, padding, pillow and linens. This year, the Westin expects to sell guests $8 million worth of bedding.
When Shutters on the Beach in Santa Monica finishes its remodel early next year, it will introduce a custom line of beach-house tables and headboards and offer them for sale.
At the St. Regis Monarch Beach in Dana Point, a glossy brochure glowingly describes the hotel's chairs, rugs and barware, with prices included. Call a toll-free number or jump on its website, and you can order a 9-by-12-foot wool rug for $4,200 that can be delivered in a few weeks.
The impulse to want to shop in a plush hotel room is easy to understand. What's not to like? Rooms with fine furnishings look like they've jumped out of the pages of a design magazine, and you can try out the hand-rubbed mahogany cupboard without lugging it home first.
"Buying hotel furniture for a home is a logical extension of walking away with the toiletries," says Kathryn H. Anthony, an author and architecture professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign who specializes in environment and behavior.
"A certain scent from the shampoo used at the Hotel del Coronado may help bring us back there, at least for a moment. So too might sleeping in one of the hotel beds. It may be an attempt to re-create the entire sensual experience — not just the visual, but the sense of smell and touch as well. It's also a way of mentally distancing ourselves from the present, where there is terrible news going on in the world."
Peter Greenberg, travel editor of NBC's "Today" show, has taken the concept of hotel comfort at home to the extreme. When his Sherman Oaks home was damaged in the 1994 Northridge earthquake, he decided to build a new one and fill it with the best from around the world.
He cashed in his frequent-flyer points and went shopping, not in furniture stores, but to the places he knows best: hotels.
"When I stayed at these hotels, I would see something and think, 'That would be great at home,' but I never did anything about it," he says. "Then the earthquake hit and I had to start from scratch, so I thought, 'Why not?' "
He liked the teak work carved by artisans at the Four Seasons in Bangkok and had them make 300-pound doors for his parlor. His bathtub is from the Hong Kong Peninsula, light sconces from the Park Hyatt Sydney, door locks from the St. Regis in New York and a shower head the size of a dinner plate comes from the Savoy in London.
"There are other shower heads like it now in stores," says Greenberg, "but it's not the same."
In total, he cherry-picked from 47 hotels. Some hotels sold him the items, while others put him in touch with their vendors.
Now hotels have made the buying easier. Starwood, which includes the Westin, W, Sheraton and St. Regis hotels, is a leader in turning its guest rooms into showrooms.
The company promotes its products for sale in its advertising, catalogs, in-room TV channel and on its website. It even displays fully fluffed beds with a price list in some of its lobbies.
Few people object to the idea of being marketed to while they're paying for a room, says a concierge at the Westin in Seattle. In fact, she says, people check in specifically to check out the beds before they buy.
Mattresses are the hotel industry's best sellers. Usually manufactured by well-known labels, these versions are made to be extra comfortable and durable.
Since introducing its Heavenly Bed five years ago, Westin has sold 4,000 Simmons mattresses, and 30,000 cotton sheets and goose down pillows, says Nadeen Ayala, a spokeswoman for the hotel chain. A complete Heavenly Bed, all 10 layers, is $2,565 for a queen package.
The eternal quest for a good night's sleep is probably behind the mattress sales. People don't want to make a costly, long-term mistake so they buy a mattress they have already test driven, says Cary Schirmer, president of Boxport, a San Francisco-based company that provides furnishings to top-tier hotels and their customers.
"If you're in the market to buy a bed, you can go to the mattress store and jump up on one and see if you like it while a crazy salesman in a Tasmanian devil tie pressures you to buy it, and your husband urges you to hurry up because he just wants to go home and watch TV," he says.
Or you can spend the night at a hotel, dial a toll-free number, place your order, and in two weeks, the bed — from frame wheels to neck pillow — will be shipped to your home.
Susan Cannon wasn't thinking about replacing the bed in her Venice home until she went on a business trip to Scottsdale. She stayed at a Westin and by morning she was hooked on the company's Heavenly Bed.
The mattress set was beyond her budget ($1,100 for a queen), but she splurged on the cotton ball-white sheets, duvet and pillows.
"Thankfully the [hotel] rate fits my expense account so I can visit the bed when I travel," says Cannon, regional sales director of the Silver Oak Wine Cellars in Napa.
Boxport's Schirmer says the $35 million spent decorating the St. Regis Monarch Beach went toward pieces the company thought people would want to buy — including patio furniture, lamps and serving trays. They made a point of dealing with vendors who could keep the supply coming. The Montage Resort and Spa opened in Laguna Beach last year with the subliminally named Sanctuary home collection for sale by Chris Madden, an author and host of "Interiors by Design" on HGTV.
When Shutters on the Beach finishes its renovation early next year, the Hamptons-style rooms will have furniture for sale by Santa Monica designer Michael S. Smith, who specializes in residential interiors. "He's not a hotel designer and that was an intentional choice," says Armella Stepan, Shutters' vice president of business development. "The most important thing a hotel can do for you is make you feel at home."
Mayer Rus,the acerbic design editor and "Testy Tastemaker" columnist for House & Garden magazine, says, "Part of the charm of a hotel room is it's not my home and I don't want it to be. Hotels are very controlled environments and people get seduced by that experience, but it's hard to re-create that experience with a lamp or a chair. You can have a little piece of it, but if you're going to the effort and expense to create an experience, it should be one that caters to your personality, not a hotel's."
Perhaps the most important thing for some hotels is making you feel like you want to take it home.
The Four Seasons in New York will sell guests entire suites of furniture (and the velour sofa in the lobby) even though the hotel doesn't advertise that pretty much everything inside is for sale. People who bought two-bedroom homes this year for $1.4 million on the property of the Carneros Inn in Napa had the option of paying an extra $140,000 to have them fully furnished like the inn's cottages.
Kelly Gray, the globe-trotting president as well as a model for St. John Knits, said she had to furnish her Newport Coast mansion fast, so she dial-decorated while on a fashion shoot. Her house was inspired by her stay in the chic Delano Hotel in Miami Beach, from the furniture down to the mirror treatments in her dining room.
People who want to replicate that getaway experience at home are also coming across hotel-inspired items in stores. Restoration Hardware sells luggage stands, Macy's has its Hotel Collection of white shower curtains and toothbrush holders, and Robinsons-May carries a Hotel Suite line of furniture and china.
Most of the merchandise sold at hotels is exclusive to them — granting new owners bragging rights along the lines of: "This carving knife? It's used by the chef at the Waldorf-Astoria, where we stayed when we were in New York." Less showy products are also popular with the impulse buyer. The St. Regis Monarch Beach sells a Conair hair dryer ($32) and Hamilton Beach blender ($225).
Confessed one guest at the St. Regis: "I'm rarely in a shopping mood, but if I'm relaxing and I see something I want, even if I don't need it or I can buy it someplace else for less, why not just get it now? It's part of the vacation experience."
Times staff writer Janet Eastman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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Shop where you stay:
a guide to the goods
If guests like the furnishings in their high-end lodgings, they may love them for their homes — or so proprietors hope. Here's a list of some hotels and resorts that sell their look-alike wares:
Beverly Hills Hotel flaunts its signature colors, forest green and pastel pink, in its hat box ($20) and crib blanket ($65). (310) 281-2952;
El Capitan Canyon in Goleta has temporarily sold out of the handmade willow canopy beds and benches found inside its A-frame cabins, but it has wool throw pillows with a turtle design ($60).(805) 685-3887;
Plaza Hotel in New York has reproduced its high-rise façade onto an English enamel oval box by Crummles ($225) and a tin of chocolate ($21). (212) 546-5375; http://www.Plaza Hotel.com.
The Ritz-Carlton sells complete beddings, including a 230-thread-count, cotton feather bed ($250). To request a catalog, (800) 222-6527; http://www.ritzcarlton.com .
Waldorf-Astoria in New York pampers chefs — with branded cutlery such as four steak knives with its Bull and Bear crest ($90) — and pets — with a $140 snuggle bed. (800) 274-1006; http://www.waldorf collection.com.
The Monmouth Plantation in Natchez, Miss., directs its guests to the Historic Natchez Foundation's website (www.natchez.org), which sells furnishings seen in antebellum homes, from wallpaper and lamps to hardwood flooring and mantels. For more information, call the Historic Natchez Foundation, (800) 445-2510.
The lodgings in Colonial Williamsburg in Williamsburg, Va., sell reproductions of a Federal-period convex mirror ($1,775) as well as plants and garden items. (800) 414-6291.*
Loew's Hotels, including the Regency New York, offers dimpled martini glasses, $24 for a set of four, and a three-tiered snack stand ($170). (800) 820-0299; http://www.loews athome.com.
The Montage Resort and Spa in Laguna Beach has a Sanctuary home collection by Chris Madden with a chenille throw ($85) and pillow ($40) in azure blue, gold and eggplant. (877) 715-6544; www. montageshops.com.
Sonesta Hotels International offers a mahogany-finished breakfast tray ($70-$85) and a set of six espresso cups designed by Italian artist Guy Serfaini ($120). (800) 445-4942; http://www.sonesta-hotels athome.com.
The St. Regis Monarch Beach Resort & Spa has furniture for the bath — a hand-rubbed mahogany cupboard ($3,900) — and floor coverings such as its 9-by-12-foot wool Swirl Rug ($4,200). (800) 447-4145; http://www.stregisathome.com
Westin Hotels offers its Heavenly Bed (prices vary), dual shower heads ($130) and curved shower rods that grant six extra inches of elbow room ($40-$60). (877) 777-5418; http://www.westin-hotels athome.com.