The best destinations for design inspiration, according to interior experts

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Interior designers find their ideas in different ways. But which one is always at the top of the list? Visit other places. “Travel is such an inspiration to me as a designer,” confirms Jill Croka of Jill Croka Designs. “As an observer, I find great satisfaction in learning different ways of approving space, materiality and function.” And it’s not just the obvious, well-known places filled with architecture that they seek out. No – the best destinations for design inspiration run the gamut and are chosen by interior experts based on a wide variety of factors.

Of course, these include art museums and buildings. But it is also much more. “Design hotels and restaurants are particularly popular when I travel,” continues Croka. Especially since each of these spots can influence every part of a designer’s work, from the fabrics they choose for their clients to the products they create. Croka herself has designed custom candles based on inspiration she gathered during a stay in Paris.

While travel can influence the work of interior designers, they aren’t the only ones who can enjoy design-inspired vacations. That’s why TZR reached out to several industry experts to get their recommendations on where to go to spark creativity, including their favorite cities and which hotels, attractions, restaurants and more are worth visiting. Here is what they said.

New Orleans

Why it’s a design paradise: “New Orleans is such a spiritual experience,” Dominique B. Fluker, founder of DBF Interiors, told TZR. “I love traveling there to witness the unique culture and architecture. It’s a great city for design inspiration. Some of Fluker’s favorite parts of the city include the antique French furniture, as well as the elaborate plaster featured throughout. “There’s a lot to see and digest, like hip antique shops, contemporary art museums and delicious restaurants,” she continues.

Inspirational Stays: Unsurprisingly, Fluker’s favorite accommodations in New Orleans offer serious style. These include Hotel Saint Vincent, a colorful hotel in a historic building in the Lower Garden District, and Ace Hotel, a spot in the Warehouse District with a sort of mid-century French Deco flair.

Other activities stimulating creativity: When it comes to exploring New Orleans, Fluker has countless recommendations. For delicious cuisine and inspiring interiors, don’t miss the Country Club’s modernized take on traditional Creole cuisine; the Franco-Creole cuisine and old-fashioned decor of the Antoine’s restaurant; or wild-caught oysters at Seaworthy’s classic Creole cottage (at the Ace Hotel).

For pure aesthetic and educational inspiration, Fluker likes to visit the fine arts institution New Orleans Museum of Art; the Sazerac House museum, bar and distillery; and The Backstreet cultural museum, which explores the traditions of New Orleans.

London

Why it’s a design paradise: “London is one of my favorite cities for design inspiration,” Nicole Fisher, founder of BNR Interiors, told TZR, citing its chic restaurants, beautiful neighborhoods and fantastic shopping opportunities.

Inspirational Stays: “The Rosewood Hotel is the ultimate inspiration for the design maximalist,” Fisher says of the five-star spot near Covent Garden. “I have dreams about [its] carved marble staircase and striped black and white marble entrance floor.”

Other activities stimulating creativity: One of the most important parts of visiting London for Fisher? “I always make sure I have a dinner reservation at Sketch, India Mahdavi’s masterpiece,” she says. “It’s so chic and playful at the same time.” In fact, the Instagram hotspot actually inspired her to use pink in her own kitchen.

Apart from that, Fisher says London’s Chelsea neighborhood “is brimming with inspiration with its manicured brownstones, whimsical English gardens, quaint shops and endless history”. And don’t skip Pimlico Road, which she describes as having “endless antiques and shopping perfect for any design lover”.

Turks and Caicos Islands

Why it’s a design paradise: “As a designer, I personally am more creative when I have space and solitude,” says Leia T. Ward, Founder and Principal Designer of LTW Design. “I make it a point to intentionally schedule downtime to explore and disconnect.” Her favorite place to do this? Turks and Caicos, which is close to his heart. “I actually got married on the island 15 years ago and have been going there ever since! The powdery white sand, crystal blue water and beautiful spirit of the islanders are ever so inspiring.”

Inspirational Stays: According to Ward, Grace Bay Beach and the Amanyara Resort are “as good as it gets” for solitude, self-care and reconnecting with nature. “Not to mention that Amanyara has my favorite color palette: white, wood and texture (yes, for LTW Design, texture is a color!). The architecture and materials used throughout the resort are so soothing and there is a new detail at every turn.

Other activities stimulating creativity: For Ward, getting out of the resort to eat locally at da Conch Shack is still an important part of his trip. There, “they pull the conch straight from the ocean in front of you and prepare it,” she says. “[It] is an experience that everyone should try once. The locals have such love and spirit that is contagious and always inspires me to create.

Paris

Why it’s a design paradise: “Only the streets of Paris are full of inspiration,” says Elisa Baran of Elisa Baran LLC. “It’s a designer’s dream to have time to get lost in this city!”

Inspirational Stays: There are countless fine hotels in Paris, but some of Baran’s favorites include Hotel Costes, Ritz Paris, Hotel Plaza Athénée, and Relais Christine.

Other activities stimulating creativity: Baran strongly suggests visiting museums and furniture galleries in Paris. Its list of must-sees includes the Picasso Museum Paris, the Rodin Museum, the Patrick Seguin Gallery and the antique store À Demain. Design-Only.com. To get your fill (of food and more interior inspiration), the designer also recommends checking out Brach Paris, Mamie Bidoche, and Pink Mamma, among others.

Bermuda

Why it’s a design paradise: Bermuda, for Elizabeth Gill of Elizabeth Gill Interiors, is special – and not just because it’s where she fell in love with her husband. “As a creative person, Bermuda is a wonderful place to draw inspiration from, thanks to its historic architecture, brightly colored homes dotting the shoreline, sparkling natural beauty and rich culture,” she said. at TZR.

Inspirational Stays: For Gill, there’s no question of where to stay — Rosewood at Tucker’s Point is his only recommendation. “A sybaritic property in a beautiful part of the island,” she says. “Try their gin cocktails – amazing selection!”

Other activities stimulating creativity: Gill loves strolling the streets of downtown Hamilton, where she shops at the boutiques of Front Street while taking in the historic details that surround her. At the end of the day, she heads to the Waterlot Inn (which opened in 1670 and has “the finest beef”) or the Beach Club at Rosewood for its fantastic seafood.

Madrid

Why it’s a design paradise: Interior designer Liza Reyes says traveling is her favorite way to find inspiration, and Madrid is one of her favorite destinations. “It’s a city with both contemporary and old European charm, full of art, impressive architecture, tradition, history and intimate neighborhoods within walking distance,” she told TZR. “I love walking around, because there is such attention to design in Spain.”

Inspirational Stays: Reyes says she prefers to stay in the Salesas neighborhood, which is small but has lots of energy and interesting shops. As for accommodations, she recommends the Only YOU, a “well-designed boutique hotel” with a blue-and-white-tiled elevator that’s “a delight to behold.”

Other activities stimulating creativity: If you’re interested in shopping, Casa González & González, a boutique full of “well-organized housewares and beautiful cleaning tools” that Reyes loves, is near the hotel. As for other venues, “The Prado is an art history student’s dream,” she says, though the designer also recommends the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía. And while she explains that she’s not used to tourist experiences, “Corral de la Morería is famous for all the right reasons. It’s tucked away in a corner of a quiet neighborhood, but some of the best flamenco talent in the world performs on its small stage.

Alys Beach

Why it’s a design paradise: “I like to visit Alys beach [in Florida] and the surrounding area when I need design inspiration,” says Lauren Sullivan of Well x Design. “I love the play of shadows on the all-white stucco structures that make you feel like you’ve been transported to Santorini, Greece.”

Inspirational Stays: Although Sullivan doesn’t name any particular location, you can find tons of vacation properties in the tranquil style she describes on Alys Beach’s own website.

Other activities stimulating creativity: While Sullivan says walking around the area is beautiful, you certainly can’t miss a stop at Charlie’s Donut Truck. And, of course, there is still a lot to do.

“Whether you’re enjoying the public art installations dotted throughout the city or a day at the community’s private beach, you can’t help but feel inspired by nature itself as well as the [large] amount of architectural beauty,” she says. “The Caliza Aquatic Complex and Zuma Wellness Center are thoughtfully designed and offer a truly luxurious experience. But really, what could be better than the beautiful sunsets along 30A?”

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