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Contributors: Ultimate Rooms, Rides, and Reinventions

Finding the rooms for “The Ultimate Home Tour” is relatively easy, says Samantha Brooks, the feature’s author and chief compiler. The real challenge is securing the owners’ permission to present their homes in the magazine—to invite the public into their kitchens, living rooms, or bedrooms. “A lot of times the designers really want their work to be published,” Brooks says, “but anything too high-profile can be difficult. The owners become a little timid.”

Brooks, an associate editor with Robb Report Luxury Home and Robb Report Vacation Homes,  describes all of the rooms that compose this year’s home tour as “totally drop-dead gorgeous,” but, she says, as with each of the previous five annual installments of this feature, beauty is not necessarily a prerequisite. “Some of these rooms might not be right for everyone; they might not appeal to everyone’s taste. But they should really make your jaw drop. They should make a strong statement.”

Brooks begins searching for rooms to include in next year’s Ultimate Home Tour even before the current issue goes to press. Her involvement in the process, she says, has helped change the way she views interior design. “Before I started working here, my taste was only modern/contemporary,” she says. “Now that I’ve seen so many different styles—many taken to the extreme—when I think about designing my dream home, I want something completely modern one minute, and more traditional, filled with rare antiques, the next. It’s a blessing and a curse.”

Beijing’s efforts to modernize began as early as the 1980s, intensified in the ’90s, and have become absolutely frenetic since 2001, when the city was selected to host the 2008 Summer Olympics. “The general attitude of the people who live there is changing,” says Robb Report associate editor Jessica Taylor, who writes about her recent visit to the city in “The Changing Face of Beijing”. “They’re becoming more confident and are visibly happy. They’re proud that they now have a world-class city that they can present to the world.”

Modernization was one of the Pen­insula Hong Kong’s goals when it recently replaced its aging fleet of courtesy cars—trademark green Rolls-Royce Silver Spurs—with 14 new bespoke Phantoms, painted green, of course. Automotive editor Gregory Anderson, who attended the ceremony that marked the cars’ delivery, writes about Phantoms and the long-standing relationship between the Pen and Rolls-Royce in “Uncommon Courtesy”. “The outside of the car is something that you notice,” says Anderson, noting that the hotel’s sedans include 39 different modifications to the base model Phantom. “But you get in the car and you feel like you’re at home, and that was exactly what the Peninsula was trying to achieve. You don’t want to notice how easy the climate control is to adjust; it’s just there.”
 
Anderson also writes about Audi’s first serious sports car, the R8, in “Ace of Eights”. “With this car, my expectations were high, and I was not disappointed,” he says. “Audi has had dominating sports cars in Le Mans races for years, but those cars never had a connection to a road car. Now Audi has one of the greatest sports cars in the world. It’s not a supercar, but it’s a usable, daily driver’s sports car—something you can take to work every day and be comfortable driving.”

Witnessing the changes in Belfast, a city long plagued by the Troubles, was an especially gratifying experience for Patricia Harris, a writer of Northern Irish descent who authored “Belfast Rising”. “They’re becoming apolitical,” Harris says of the Belfast residents, “because they’re seeing that if they can put aside their political divisions and work through it, the city is going to prosper. It’s getting to the point where you’re able to go into a restaurant or a pub without wondering which side of the controversy the person sitting next to you supports.”

Photo by Darin Schnabel
Copyright 2013 American Honda Motor Co., Inc.
Photo by Stephan Cooper
Copyright 2014 Infiniti
Photo by Pietro Carrieri