inspired hotel interiors: alila uluwatu bali


When people ask this NY interior designer where he finds inspiration, I often say from my travels.  There is always something to bring home from a stay in one of the many chic hotels popping up across the globe. Contemporary design hotels, like the Alila Villas Uluwatu Bali, which we’re discussing today as another part of my chic hotel series, are just what the doctor ordered for creating inspired interiors at home.  And often it’s when you least expect it that inspiration strikes!



Alila Villas Uluwatu is inspiring in many ways:  from the dramatic setting perched high above the cliffs of the Indian Ocean, to their use of natural materials to build and decorate the inviting spaces.  I do not advocate building a Balinese style home in Tennessee or Montana, but here are a few lessons of hotel inspired décor that anyone can use to great effect.



If you are lucky enough to be working with a natural backdrop as gorgeous as this ocean vista, then you don’t want your interior to compete with the spectacular works of Mother Nature.  Here the eye is allowed to travel across the room and past the divans and pillow strewn sofas and out to the ocean beyond.  Now obviously your home in Jackson Hole cannot accommodate the open walls that a tropical setting can, however you can replicate this same idea with low slung furnishings that don’t interrupt the line of sight and take advantage of the natural beauty of the land beyond.



This chic hotel sitting room is a study in peaceful zen: soft cream colored walls contrast with the rich dark hues of the natural wooden pillars and slated ceiling.  Neutral fabrics on the sofa give you the versatility to employ riotous colors and fabrics with pillows that you can change whenever you want to try something new.  I personally change out the pillows in my living room and bedrooms at least once a season so that I create an inviting space.  It’s much cheaper to add personality via throw pillows rather than reupholstering your sofa every couple of years!  And one last thing – look at the play of light and shadow on the long hallway wall: no need for art here when you have a continually shifting image provided gratis.



The designer of Alila Villas Uluwatu has brilliantly created inspired interiors that blend seamlessly with the traditions of the Balinese people.  This detail is from the ceiling of the hotel’s restaurant.  It’s made of the intricate patterns from stamps used to print fabrics.  Because they are hand carved, no two wood blocks bear the same pattern. I have used these fabric stamps a decorations in various projects and my client’s keep telling me they are always a source of curiosity and delight to their guests.  A great example of repurposing something old and giving it a whole new life in your own home.  And backlit at night, the fall of shapes and patterns on the room below would be amazing.



Being a NYC Interior designer has opened my mind and eye to the varied cultures and backgrounds of my clients, and I try to learn a little something from each project and share it with my clients in the next.  Just like a visit to the inspired spaces of today’s contemporary design hotels, I try to look at the whole and select gems that I know will enrich my spaces at home.  And as chic hotels continue to compete for our attention, hotel interior design has never looked so good!

richard rabel
richard rabel: interiors + art
interior design and art advising
new york city

image credits: Alila Villas Uluwatu, Bali.