Text and hotel photography by Michelle Chaplow
There is nothing more inviting for guests than being welcomed with fresh flowers, whether in a home or in a luxury hotel. Scientific studies have shown that flowers are a powerful positive emotion-inducer, while their aesthetic beauty and rich perfumes reward any guests who “take time to smell the roses”.
Flowers can be a message from the heart, the essence of the hotel; these are the strong sensory memories that stay with you, once you have physically checked out of the hotel. Many personal memories of a stay are often associated with the sight and aroma of fresh flowers.
The Alvear Palace, Buenos Aires
This blog post evolved from an idea I had when staying at the Alvear Palace. I joined expert florists Elisa Sachs y Nora Bardon on an early morning excursion to a flower market on the outskirts of Buenos Aires to collect blooms for a photo shoot.
It was a dream – the hustle and bustle, the smiles of people who work with flowers and are in touch with nature on a daily basis; they seem to see the world through very special eyes. The vast majority of flowers at the Alvear Palace are grown in the Argentine – delphiniums, roses, lilies, gladioli, and agapanthus.
It’s not just the flowers in the hotels themselves, it’s the team behind the arranging: they bring the beauty of nature into the hotel and sprinkle floral perfume around its communal areas.
Roses abound everywhere; you can´t beat the classic beauty of the rose – its shape, colour, scent. When the sun goes down and evening creeps in, guests at the Alvear can indulge in a hot bath prepared by their top-notch team of butlers – who could resist a sprinkle of fresh rose petals as the final touch to your Hermès bubbles?
Mandarin Oriental Bangkok
Asian flowers are in a league of their own, and the Mandarin Oriental’s in-house florist team is legendary.
The moment you walk in the door, you are given a garland of flowers; then, in the lobby, comes the piece de resistance: cascading tropical flowers, set within a fountain.
If you are ever lucky enough to attend, or get a glimpse of, a wedding at this hotel, or to visit the Loy Krathong festival, be sure to check out the flowers – you will be amazed. This is the land of the floating lotus, jasmine, orchid and frangipani.
Oberoi Gurgaon, New Delhi
As you enter this hotel you are greeted with rose petals and a welcome bindi on a brass tray, with heated oil and a candle.
The lobby area is decorated with huge spheres of red roses and, throughout the hotel, single flowers float elegantly in shallow crystal vases.
Villa Kennedy, Frankfurt
I love it when hotels use local seasonal flowers within their décor, and this sophisticated northern European hotel does exactly that. Just look at this wonderful arrangement in the window of my room.
Finca Cortesin, Casares
When you walk into this Andalucian hotel there is always a magnificent display of flowers in the lobby. But when I think of Finca Cortesin, I remember the flowers joyously thriving in their gardens: the signature agapanthus, the five-metre high walls of jasmine outside of the spa, the very British rose garden, the climbing bougainvillea, and the enormous dark chocolate-coloured terracotta pots of vibrant geraniums drenched in the Mediterranean sun.
Raffles Hotel Beijing
Again it’s the roses in the reception area that grab your attention when you visit this Grand Dame of luxury hotels; their decadent floral decorations are in exquisite taste.
The Wellesley, London
The team of florists at The Wellesley hand-select their flowers in the early hours from Covent Garden. This young team are absolute perfectionists, but they are also open to experimenting with all kinds of flowers from the British daffodil, to delicate paperweights, iris, cala lilies, and orchids from warmer climes. The antique roses in their afternoon tea lounge are a firm favorite.
Do take time to not only admire the flowers, but the vases, which are individually selected for each flower on every occasion – dedication and perfectionism at this Knightsbridge address.
Four Seasons Prague
Walk from the subdued stone hues of Charles Vth Bridge and straight into the Four Seasons Prague. You are immediately greeted by a world of vibrant, exotic, freshly-cut flowers, perfectly arranged in cascading vases.
The reception is resplendent with glamorous blooms, carefully placed on exquisite antique furniture. The vases beg you to stare inside at the intriguing stem decorations. You almost get high on the aroma as you walk in the door. When I think of the Four Seasons Prague, I think flowers.
The Fairmont Zimbali Lodge, South Africa
Zimbali means Valley of Flowers in Zulu and this Fairmont property is situated in a 700-hectare protected coastal forest estate in the KwaZulu-Natal province of South Africa. This is a hotel where flowers bloom all year round, both inside and outside the establishment, making it a must for my top 10 list.
La Maison Blanche, Tangiers
This is a brand new nine-bedroom hotel, which is so new that they are yet to create their website. But if you stay there, I guarantee that you will remember the roses in your room and floating on the central courtyard fountain.
So there you have it, my Top ten luxury hotels in the world for flowers. Have you found that your most memorable hotel experiences have featured sensory floral experiences? Which hotels would you recommend for their fabulous flowers?