Q&A: Interior Designer Adam Tihany Shares His Surprisingly Simple Hotel Room Demands

The jet-setting interior designer dishes on his latest projects, his hotel checklist, and his fall travel hit-list.

The mastermind behind instantly recognizable hotels, resorts, and restaurants like the Beverly Hills Hotel and Daniel Boulud’s renowned New York City restaurant Daniel, Adam D. Tihany is no stranger to traveling in style. We sat down with the interior designer to get the scoop on his latest projects—including a Robb Report Best of the Best winner and one of the most expensive suites in the country—and his travel philosophy this season.

What do you look for in a hotel room?

I am on the road two weeks each month, so my requirements are very practical. I must have daylight and a window that opens. If I get off of a plane after a 10-hour flight and I go into a hotel room, it’s horrific if I can’t open the window. As for the design, I don’t really care if a room is green, red, or blue—I like them all.

You recently completed Seabourn’s newest cruise ship, Encore. How does designing a boat differ from designing a hotel?

Designing the Encore was great fun. Seabourn has a very high percentage of repeat guests, so I had to be quite cognizant of that. I could do a pretty big evolution of the design, but it couldn’t be something people would be unfamiliar with. I went to great lengths to emulate the feeling of being on a yacht. The corners of every space are very soft and curvaceous. The space is totally fluid.

You also recently collaborated with Marnell Architects on the new Boulevard Suites at the Cosmopolitan Las Vegas. Tell us about your vision for these suites.

The suites are designed for a certain type of clientele that expects to be wooed, pampered, and surprised. There was no design brief [from the Cosmopolitan], so I created the personalities that I was going to design for: One was a very successful, young film producer from Los Angeles, and the other an equally successful young real estate developer from New York City. We wanted the suites to feel like a really luxurious apartment where these two people could actually live, and there is no doubt that you can immediately associate which suite goes with which character.

How did you approach designing Grant Achatz’s new Aviary NYC and Office NYC at the Mandarin Oriental New York?

[The Aviary NYC and the Office NYC] is a very unusual and innovative bar concept—it is really a yin and a yang between the two spaces. Instead of a bar in the traditional sense, with bottles lined up against a back wall, [The Aviary NYC] is like an exhibit kitchen where the mixologist makes the drinks. It is on the 35th floor, and has magnificent views of New York and Central Park—probably one of the best bar views in the city. We wanted to [play this up] by giving it an alluring, sexy design. [The Office NYC], on the other hand, is hidden away, and once you cross the threshold you feel like you really are in an depression-era speakeasy.

What is your approach to design?

My biggest fear is to do things that are anonymous. I love projects that have a story behind them, that are more than just a pretty place. At the end of the day, I am in the hospitality business, which means I work for people. So, if I don’t have an actual guest in front of me [for a project], I create one. That way the [design is] not a set, but something that is actually living.

What’s on your travel itinerary this season?

Fall is the best time to travel, so I want to be everywhere. First on the list is Tel Aviv. It is singularly the hottest place right now—great food, culture, art, beaches. It’s amazing. Then Hamburg for a concert at the new Elbphilharmonie hall, a must for anyone who loves music and architecture. And finally, Istanbul: It’s completely overpopulated, crowded, and impossible to get around, but it is just one of the world’s most interesting cities.

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