There’s something undeniably enticing about seeing inside other people’s homes – even more so if the properties are the secret retreats of extraordinary creatives, designed for rest, recuperation and inspiration. Selecting a holiday destination can be a daunting task, so what better place to start than by perusing those favoured by celebrated cultural icons, factoring in a visit to their beloved abodes along the way? Here, we spotlight three of our dream holiday homes, from Le Corbusier’s customised cabin in the south of France to David Bowie’s Indonesian fantasy on the island of Mustique, all of which are open to explore or available to rent.
Le Corbusier only ever designed one home for himself: a tiny wooden beach hut or cabanon, located in Roquebrune-Cap-Martin, a picturesque enclave between Monaco and Menton on the southeastern coast of France. The master of modernism was besotted by the Mediterranean – its light, its landscape and its local architecture – and in 1951 built this simple seaside retreat where he would spend every August thereafter.
From the outside, it looks like a Canadian log cabin but its one-room interior is carefully rendered according to the architect’s “modulor” principles, based on the height of a man with his arms up. It is divided into three areas for living, sleeping and washing, each boasting purpose, built-in furniture. In Le Corbusier’s day, eating and bathroom facilities were catered to via an adjoining partition to the café next door, owned by the Rebuto family, for whom Le Corbusier also designed a series of rental homes in the area in his more familiar Brutalist style.
Book a stay at the nearby Hotel Victoria, its frescoed rooms and custom-built furniture inspired by Le Corbusier and Eileen Gray, whose E-1027 house, another modernist gem, sits just east of the cabanon. Visitors can enjoy a guided tour of Le Corbusier’s self-described “chateau”, but must book in advance.
Don’t forget to bring: A Panama Zip Currency Case, in printed calf leather, for an easy switch from Pound to Euro. Opt for the Black, with green and yellow zips, in keeping with the Cabanon’s primary-hued interior decor.
During a painting sojourn in New Mexico in the early 1930s, Georgia O’Keeffe stumbled upon the tiny desert town of Abiquiu, near Santa Fe, and above it an abandoned, Spanish Colonial-era house with a large garden. She fell in love with the property and resolved to buy it – a process which took over ten years and much bartering. In 1945 she finally did so, employing her friend Maria Chabot to restore the building. Initially intended as a holiday haven, it would eventually become the feted American modernist’s home and studio until 1984.
The single-storey adobe structure comprises of spacious, one-room wings that encircle a central patio. The artist adored the patio and its surrounding wall, which is punctuated by the famous black door that appears in many of her paintings. O’Keeffe and Chabot sought to preserve many of the building’s original features but integrated various modern elements into its design, including skylights and picture windows offering magnificent views across the Chama River Valley and an influx of natural light. Inside the decoration is sparse but beautiful, white walls showcasing O’Keeffe’s paintings and sculptures inspired by the area and its myriad natural forms.
For an immersive O’Keeffe experience, stay at Ghost Ranch Lodging, a rustic retreat at the foot of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, where the artist owned a second home. This can be visited by a scheduled tour, as can her covetable Abiquiu abode.
Don’t forget to bring: A Panama Mini Cross-body bag in Fuchsia to inject a dose of O’Keeffe hue into the desert.
“I think Mustique is Duchampian – it will always provide an endless source of delight,” David Bowie told Architectural Digest on a tour of his expansive holiday villa, Mandalay Estate, situated on the idyllic Caribbean island. The house, which Bowie began building in1986, is made up of a series of conjoined, Indonesian-style temple pavilions, designed by Robert Litwiller and positioned around a two-tiered ornamental pool, filled with water lilies and koi, which gives way to an infinity pool below. “I wanted something as unlike the Caribbean as possible,” the music icon said, “because it’s a fantasy island, Mustique.” Inside the magic continues; the house is divided into different sections, each uniquely conceived to surprise. “You can go eight days and find a different place each day,” Bowie noted gleefully.
After meeting supermodel Iman in 1990, Bowie and his soon-to-be-wife spent long periods at Mandalay, before selling it to the poet Felix Dennis in 1995. Dennis left it largely as he found it – Bowie’s beloved parlour, decorated with trompe l’oeil foliage, a 18th-century Murano-crystal chandelier and colonial-style wicker armchairs, is exactly the same, as is his studio – peppering it with esoteric objects d’art, and adding a games room and dedicated writer’s cottage. Dennis died in 2014, and the wonderfully playful house, which accommodates up to 14 guests, is now available to rent for the pop-culturally curious.
Don’t forget to bring: A Mara Sunglasses Case in suitably futuristic storm blue to channel the late, great intergalactic pop star.
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