Chance are, you’ve never waked into a five-star hotel to find the owner or general manager – or anyone on staff, really – looking anything less than polished. The world’s sleekest hotels have some of the most fashionable men and women at their helms, who serve as ambassadors for the stylish digs that lie beyond. We called on three impeccably dressed hoteliers in three fashion-forward cities – London, Milan, and New York – for their insight on where to browse, what to buy, and how to pack for a visit. Here’s a look inside their little black books.
Michael Bonsor, Managing Director (Rosewood London)
You won’t catch Bonsor in a tracksuit, even on his days off. As he puts it: “I don’t dress down very well.” The sharply dressed Scotsman – whose style icons include Tom Ford and actor Eddie Redmayne – previously held posts at the Four Seasons Hotel New York and Claridge’s before opening the 306-room Rosewood London in 2013.
Go Big: “The idea of visiting a department store is actually quite daunting for me, but I find there’s a lot I can learn at Selfridges and Harrods. I’ll wander around to see how items are styled and presented, then take that back to the hotel. I do occasionally buy something – my last purchase was an Alexander McQueen shirt from Selfridges.”
Favorite Boutiques: “Browns in Mayfair has a huge array of designers from around the world. Dover Street Market in Saint James’s is super cool – it carries Comme des Garçons and other eclectic brands for men who want to take a bit more risk.”
Airplane Uniform: “I typically wear all black or dark jeans with a T-shirt and sweater. I still want air travel to be somewhat glamorous, so I dress smart yet comfortable. I always carry on Bang & Olufsen noise-cancelling headphones and a hydrating cream from SkinCeuticals.”
Classic Souvenir: “A Burberry trench. It’s incredible to see all the colours and styles at the flagship store on Regent Street. They’re all made by hand and lightweight – you can throw one in a carry-on without feeling like you’re lugging around a huge coat.”
Suit Up: “I have two go-to shops for suits. Gieves & Hawkes, at No. 1 Savile Row, has been around since the 1770s, so they really know what they’re doing. Everything is beautifully tailored. The other brand I love is Hackett. They make lovely yet hard-wearing and durable suits – which is exactly what I need because I don’t have a desk job. Some days I’m running up and down stairs, carrying stuff, or packing things.”
Off-Duty Style: “Always Prada jeans. On top, some kind of sweater or shirt from Belstaff. And Lanvin does comfortable, cool trainers that are more formal looking.”
Packing Tips: “A typical London day brings sunshine in the morning and a bit of wet and windy conditions in the afternoon. I recommend layers; if it looks like rain, pack a small umbrella. Generally, though, London is warmer than you might think. And the best way to see the city is to walk, so super-comfortable shoes are essential. ”
Home Goods: “Timothy Oulton makes furniture out of leather and reclaimed materials such as old fishing vessels. I have two chairs inspired by saddles that incorporate real stirrups into the design.”
Dream Purchase: “It always comes down to watches. Should I pay my mortgage, or should I get a watch? I would love one from Patek Philippe, which has a boutique on Bond Street – an area home to many jewellers.”
London Style Pro Tip: “Some people here get excited when the sun comes out, and you’ll see them wearing shorts even when it’s not quite warm enough. I think it looks silly. Leave those for the Caribbean.”
Paola Giambelli, Owner (Palazzo Parigi, Milan)
This glamorous architect and owner of Palazzo Parigi – an 88-room jewel housed in a seventeenth-century building, with interior design by the renowned Pierre-Yves Rochon – loves her home city for its dedication to culture, fashion, and design. It is the birthplace of Prada, Dolce & Gabbana, and Armani, after all.
Neighborhood Spree: “Quadrilatero della Moda in the Centro Storico district is a well-known area for shopping, especially Via Montenapoleone and Via della Spiga, where you’ll find high-quality brands such as Gucci and Giorgio Armani. It’s really hard to walk by and not fall in love with some of the clothing – they’re like pieces of art.”
Happy Feet: “Whether I have a busy day ahead or I’m going to the theatre or a special event, I always turn to Hermès or Roger Vivier for shoes. They blend fashion, quality, and comfort well. I also can’t forget about the modern touch and elegance of Prada.”
Treasure Hunt: “In the Brera district, Cavalli e Nastri is a must-visit for vintage lovers. From clothing to cutlery, everything in their collection is beautiful – and a throwback through time and style. And don’t miss Robertaebasta, a contemporary art gallery that’s also in Brera.”
Seasonal Style: “Summertime in Milan can be really warm, and many hotels, boutiques, and bars do not set their air-conditioning below 75 degrees. My suggestion is to wear something light and comfortable to enjoy your walk around the city, but pack a sweater for the evening breeze.”
Trim and Proper: “For my male friends, I always recommend a visit to Antica Barbieria Colla. It’s the most famous barbershop in Milan and has been open since 1904.”
What a Gem: “I’m always looking for rare jewellery to add a unique touch. Damiani and Gioielleria Pederzani are two of the oldest stores in town and have some of the most precious and inimitable pieces.”
Outside the Palazzo: “My passion for work absorbs most of my time, but when I’m off duty, ‘elegance’ and ‘comfort’ are two words that come to mind. That means stretch trousers, a cashmere sweater in the cooler months, and a pair of Hermès on my feet.”
How to Dress Like a Local: “Wear flat shoes, natural colours, and light makeup during the day, and high heels, elegant dresses, and jewels in the evening. As far as what to avoid, skip the Panama hats, leather pants, and short skirts with high heels.”
Oliver Lordonnois, General Manager (The Mark, New York City)
Since 2011, French-born Lordonnois has presided over NYC’s 152-room Mark, a popular retreat for the A-listers attending the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s annual Met Gala. He played a key role in the recent launch of Le Shop, an online boutique with items made exclusively for The Mark, from Frédéric Malle candles to Lingua Franca cashmere sweaters.
Top Shops: “The Armoury in Tribeca is the only U.S. outpost of this Hong Kong-based men’s haberdashery. It’s where I buy fantastic suits from Japanese brand Ring Jacket and shoes from Carmina, which are handmade in Mallorca. In SoHo, London clothier Drake’s is a favourite. Their products perfectly marry the sense of tailoring and casual luxury I always strive to achieve.”
Head Straight to: “Madison Avenue, of course! It really has the best of absolutely everything, yet it remains quaint and picturesque. At Barneys New York, I recently bought a flannel shirt from French brand Cifonelli. The street is also home to John Lobb, one of my favourite brands for shoes. Our butlers at The Mark are John Lobb-certified shoe polishers.”
Local Designer Love: “Todd Snyder perfectly captures New York cool. His boutique, located off Madison Square Park, is also home to a barbershop and a bar. I shop there for casual menswear.”
Style Icon: “Gianni Agnelli, the head of Fiat until 1996. He had such a strong European sensibility, with an effortless elegance that always reminded me of my grandfather.”
Seasonal Style: “Summer in the city can get very hot. I recommend a great pair of tailored shorts or linen pants to stay comfortable but also stylish. A light sweater is good to bring along, as restaurants and museums keep the air-conditioning going strong.”
Packing Advice: “My golden rule is to never check any luggage. I usually pack one suit and one jacket, plus a shirt for every day I’m away.”
- This article originally appeared in the May 2018 issue of Virtuoso Life.