a j.crew art director on her 6 favorite hotels

Dulci Edge on the six properties that made her list, from a kasbah in Morocco to a farm in Tennessee.

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Whether it’s a funky roadside motel or a clifftop former castle, there’s nothing like a hotel with a little style. A property planted firmly at that sweet-spot intersection of considered decor, welcoming ambiance, and thoughtful service. And someone with an uncanny ability to ferret out such stays is Dulci Edge, a former J.Crew art director and graphic designer, who recently relocated from New York to San Francisco and launched travel site The Far and Near. “I’m a sucker for good design and guilty of picking hotels, restaurants, and shops based purely on branding,” she says. “My suitcase is always full of matchbooks, business cards, coasters, and stolen menus. If it were possible, I’d check into the Grand Budapest Hotel for life.”

“If it were possible, I’d check into the Grand Budapest Hotel for life.”

Edge has been on the go like mad recently, kicking off the new year off in Patagonia, completing a cross-country road trip, and hitting Hawaii, Morocco, and Japan (twice). “Some travel was planned, and then several work opportunities and weddings fell into our laps,” she says. “I’m a big believer in the motto “Always Go,’ so it’s resulted in a pretty wild few months.” Since there’s nothing better than an on-the-ground endorsement, we asked her to share her favorite design-minded hotels.

Below are the six properties that made her list, which touches on everything from a kasbah in Morocco to a farm in Tennessee.

From the team at Spot.com.

Kasbah Bab Ourika, Atlas Mountains, Morocco
“This is a true hideaway in the Ourika Valley tucked into the foothills of the Atlas Mountains. Built in traditional Berber style, Bab Ourika’s decor is more understated than what you’ll find within the opulent, tiled riads of Marrakech (just 45 minutes by car). Here, you can lounge in olive, lemon, and orange groves, hike to a nearby Berber village for lunch, or spend an hour in the on-site hammam, but reading by the pool under the watch of the snowcapped Atlas Mountains was good enough for me. Add spotty Wi-Fi to the mix and this is how you do off the grid.”

The Island House, New Providence, Bahamas
“Some island hotels miss the mark and skew kitschy when it comes to decor, but this one packs a real punch with thoughtful, well-designed common spaces and spacious rooms—our bathroom was bigger than most New York City studio apartments! The lap pool was perfect for frequent dips and the on-site restaurant Shima is absolutely delicious. Iced Intelligentsia lattes in the morning at the chic coffee bar weresuch an unexpected bonus; hotels with bad coffee are the worst!”

Cavas Wine Lodge, Mendoza, Argentina
“We re-planned an entire South America trip to experience Cavas, and I’m so pleased we did. The hotel manages to feel both intimate and expansive, with just a handful of adobe villas scattered across its vineyard. Each one has a private plunge pool, rooftop terrace—with wood-burning fireplace, naturally—and, best of all, stunning views of the Andes. Eating dinner and sipping Malbec in front of our rooftop fireplace under a million-star sky is definitely on my travel-highlight reel.”

Zero George, Charleston, South Carolina
“Off a Charleston side street, this spot feels like a secret, but its location couldn’t be better for exploring. Great shops and restaurants are a short walk away, but it’s more fun to bike over on one of the hotel’s mint-green cruisers. Afternoons are best spent on the veranda, drink in hand, playing a round of backgammon. And did I mention the homemade biscuits and jam for breakfast?”

U Palazzu Serenu, Oletta, Corsica
“With only eight rooms, this hotel is small in size, but big on style. It’s housed in a 17th-century villa on a hillside with sweeping views of the mountains and coast. And the views inside are equally lovely—unsurprising given that it’s a self-proclaimed “art hotel.” The common spaces feel more like galleries and showcase works by top contemporary artists. When it comes to what to do, the pool is tempting, but you’d be silly to miss out on the nearby beaches of Saint Florent.”

Blackberry Farm, Walland, Tennessee
“Blackberry Farm nails southern hospitality, making it look easy. The service is perfect every time and I love the cozy rooms with big featherbeds in the main house. Nightly dinners in the 100-year-old barn are an experience, but the highlight for me is sitting in one of the rocking chairs with a spiked lemonade, and watching the sun go down over the Smoky Mountains. They just recently added a Wellhouse offering spa treatments and fitness classes…not like I needed a reason to go back.”

Meet the Spotter

Art director and jet-setter Dulci Edge (@dulciedge in Spot) answers our quick-fire questionnaire.

You travel for the…Perspective. It’s a humbling experience to realize how big the world is and small you are.

A great hotel, in five words…Good lobby bar, great service.
Favorite hotel amenity…I’m obsessed with turndown service. The thought of someone coming in to fluff my pillow is so nice.

Ritual you do in every hotel…If a hotel has free slippers, they’re coming home with me. I like to wear them on the plane.

Dying to visit…We’ve been kicking around the idea of doing a ski trip in Japan. The snow is supposed to be amazing, but I’m most interested in the après-ski ramen bowls.
Travel advice you swear by…Don’t stick to the script; leave space during your trip for the unexpected moments. You’ll likely walk away with a truer experience than any guidebook could offer. 
Coolest discovery in Spot so far…Haven’t been yet, but Fat Angel, looks right up my alley. And it’s just around the corner from my apartment!

Phrase you always master in the local language…Thank you! I think good manners are universal.

Dream travel partner in crime…My husband, Spencer. But if I could pick one other person, it would be Zelda Fitzgerald.

Current faves on Instagram…@dapperlou takes such beautiful, rich photos. @dapperlou if you’re reading this, I’m your #1 fan!

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