Fashion's move into hotels has been decisive this decade. Everyone from the Ferrettis to the Ferragamos is indulging in this form of brand extension. Giorgio Armani has hotels in Milan and Dubai. Bulgari has boltholes in Milan and Bali and has set its sights on Shanghai, Beijing and Dubai. Palazzo Versace is the glitziest hotel on the Gold Coast and its sister in Dubai is under construction.
So, if budget is a word banned from your vocabulary, here is our pick of the world's most stunning haute hotels.
THE DIOR SUITE AT THE ST REGIS NEW YORK
Who: Christian Dior
Where: Midtown Manhattan with views of Central Park.
Why: The St Regis group isn't embracing designer suites per se, but working with a range of luxury brands (there's also a rather demure Bottega Veneta Suite at the St Regis Rome and a Tiffany Suite, also in New York).
Style guide: This elegant, uber-luxe 158sqm suite consistently references the Paris HQ in making use of the classic Dior shades of oyster greys, off-whites and variations on pink. It's decorated with stunning watercolour paintings of vintage Dior designs by fashion illustrator Bil Donovan. Visit stregisnewyork.com.
FASHION FIX: For a cool $11,000 per night, a stay in the Dior Suite includes bed and breakfast, champagne, 24-hour butler service and an exclusive shopping event in the Dior 57th Street boutique, where a staff member will curate a personalised collection, including specialty products. Later, you'll enjoy an in-suite beauty treatment by a top make-up artist.
LA MAISON CHAMPS ELYSEES, PARIS
Who: Maison Martin Margiela
Where: A Haussmannian mansion right on the doorstep of the Grand and Petit Palais, within close reach of the Champs Elysees and high-fashion's main artery, Avenue Montaigne.
Why: The Belgian fashion house (headed by Martin Margiela) had dipped its toes in the interiors pool with a suite here (the Elle Decoration Suite at the Palais De Chaillot) and there (L'ile Aux Oiseaux suite at Les Sources De Caudalie near Bordeaux), but this was its frst major undertaking. MMM's playful minimalism has a Design Hotels tag.
Style guide: A 57-room black-and-white hued, firty stage set of a retreat. MMM furnished 17 suites, the restaurant, bar and reception. The panelled Cigar Bar has burnished leather chairs and black- stained oak foors. The restaurant is a symphony in white. Landings and corridors are for feeling your way: black-carpeted foors and black-painted walls are illuminated by elegant light projections. Visit lamaisonchampselysees.com.
GRAND PIANO SUITE AT CLARIDGE'S, LONDON
Who: Diane von Furstenberg
Where: Glamorous Mayfair, a stone's throw from the stores of Bond Street.
Why: DVF pointed out to Claridge's that their rooms were looking tired; they asked her to redesign 20 as part of an overhaul by London-based design studio Construct. She brought in interiors guru Olivier Gelbsmann to help out.
Style guide: From its zebra-striped rug to its window dressings and vibrant upholstery from the designer's home line, the boldly patterned Grand Piano Suite is pure fun. The rooms take their inspiration from DVF's travels: visual diaries in the form of her photographs of exotic places, custom-made campaign furniture and trunks recalling the glamour of the jazz era that chime with Claridge's Art Deco heritage. Murano glass mixes with artwork from Bali and handcrafted rugs. DVF has also designed a penthouse suite at Queensland's One&Only Hayman Island. Visit claridges.co.uk.
TORTUGA BAY, DOMINICAN REPUBLIC
Who: Oscar de la Renta
Where: The pristine beaches of Tortuga Bay on the Caribbean island of Hispaniola.
Why: Sometimes, fashion oldies go back to their roots - as did Oscar de la Renta when he designed Tortuga Bay in his home turf, the Dominican Republic.
Style guide: A series of 13 glamorously modern, sunny yellow oceanside villas attached to the (slightly less exclusive) Puntacana Resort & Club, Tortuga Bay is part of an elite residential community where you might bump into Julio Iglesias, the Clintons or dancer Mikhail Baryshnikov. The hotel prides itself on impeccable service, from picking you up on Tortuga's own tarmac to sorting out your itinerary. Visit tortugabayhotel.com.
PORTRAIT FIRENZE, FLORENCE
Who: The Ferragamo family
Where: Smack bang on the Arno River, with a view of the famous Ponte Vecchio bridge.
Why: This is an extension of the Ferragamo family's pre-existing hotel and restaurant empire, the Lungarno Collection, which includes Portrait Roma in Rome and the Gallery Art Hotel, Florence.
Style guide: An aristocratic 36-room retreat with sizes ranging from the 40sqm Studio to the 275sqm Penthouse Floor. Monochromatic grey decor and black-and-white fashion photography meet bespoke vintage furniture by Toscanova, and Carrara marble bathrooms stocked with Salvatore Ferragamo goodies. You might want to make use of their Lifestyle Team, who can offer a comprehensive concierge service and uniquely tailored tours. Visit portraitfrenze.com.
UXUA CASA HOTEL & SPA, TRANCOSO, BRAZIL
Who: Wilbert Das
Where: A small fshing village on Brazil's beautiful southern Bahian coast.
Why: Dutchman Wilbert Das, Diesel's former creative director of 20-plus years, fell in love with this part of Brazil and resolved to build his idyll here.
Style guide: An ethically sound, creatively exciting rustic-chic pousada (small inn) made up of 10 one-to three-bedroom casas. It's been a huge hit with the fashion industry: almost as soon as it opened, Terry Richardson shot the 2010 Pirelli Calendar here. Das collaborated with local artisans, including the Pataxo Indians, creating one-off furniture and decor from recycled and organic materials. Bahian art and antiques complement the sprawling beach lounge, tranquil spa and lush gardens. Solvent hippies adore the pool made of 40,000 green aventurine quartz stones. It's all low-key and there's nothing so crass as signage, but the private airstrip and heliport tells another tale. Visit uxua.com.
Couture in a click: WestHouse, New York's 1920s-inspired boutique hotel, has hooked up with Net-a-porter.com to provide guests with bespoke shopping services. Hotel guests can shop online in their room or get direct assistance from one of the retailer's personal shoppers. Guests also have 24/7 access to the e-tailer's customer care team.