As the aesthete behind interiors ranging from the Beckhams’ chic Hollywood home to the sleek Murmuri hotel in Barcelona, it would be an understatement to say that Kelly Hoppen knows how to craft perfectly contextualized, transporting spaces. And that is just what the Johannesburg-born, London-based designer has done with her latest property—the breezy Lux* Grand Gaube on Mauritius’s northern shore.
The 168-room retreat welcomed guests late last year and features Hoppen’s signature mix of earthy textures, eclectic accents, and laid-back luxury alongside the quirky details that Lux* guests have come to expect (think bars housed inside vintage Citroën H Vans, bespoke Victorian bathtubs, and beachside art exhibitions). To celebrate the opening, Robb Report sat down with the acclaimed interior designer—fresh off her first trip to the completed property—to chat about all things design and travel.
How did you approach the design of Lux* Grand Gaube?
So I first went to actually walk the property because I like to get a sense of the space, especially if it is a hotel. And it just spoke to me. It’s not a massive property, but it’s large in that the resort has so many different areas that all have different feelings about them. While I was there, I got a sense of what it should be and came back to London and designed it incredibly quickly. We presented it to [the Lux* team], they loved it, and we built it in six months.
Was there anything that particularly inspired you when you were conceptualizing the interiors?
I design most of my projects to music, and I am all about experiences and travel. My brain is filled with so many images, and that’s how I pull projects together. [That said,] I do need silence to design. I go on a retreat every year to the Caribbean, and I train for four-and-a-half hours a day and go for long walks—I do it to clear my head. We’re so busy with so many projects that it’s much easier for me if my brain is really clear so that I can get inspired by nature and everything else. Otherwise, I’m in the humdrum of cities all the time.
Do you buy into trends, like creating Instagram-worthy interiors, when it comes to hospitality design?
I don’t follow trends at all—and I’ve said that for the past 41 years. I think they are a big mistake. What I do is look at the brand [I am working with] and try to create a home away from home.
Lux* is all about barefoot luxury, though they do have a lot of quirks—whether it is cinemas on the beach or hidden baths. Going to a place like Mauritius or the Maldives, you don’t need a shoeshine in your room or all of the leaflets. You’re coming to take your shoes off, put your feet in the sand, and really relax. It’s all about having that feeling of timeless luxury, so all I had to do is create really chilled-out interiors that look like they belong in Mauritius.
What does your ideal hotel room look like?
I can’t really say—though I’ve been known to go to hotels and move furniture around because I don’t like the way it looks. If it is a business trip, I like space in a room. I like to have a bath as well as a shower, and I need natural daylight. But when I am on the beach, the view is everything—that’s why we’ve made sure every room [at the Lux* Grand Gaube] has an amazing view.
What destinations are on your summer itinerary?
My family and I will be traveling to Italy a lot this summer. We’re planning to hit Positano on the Amalfi coast, Puglia . . . lots of different areas. I just love Italian food, and I wanted to try something different from Spain.
You travel constantly for work, so where do you go to unwind?
I go to our home in the country outside of London almost every weekend. Or I’ll go out to see my daughter and grandchild in the Cotswolds. The country helps me unwind as much as possible while I’m in England.
What do you never travel without?
A great pair of cashmere pajamas. I hate flying, so I’ve learned to get myself tired [and comfortable] enough to just fall asleep on the plane and wake up in the next country. It’s much less painful that way.