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<< Back to Home & Style, July 2014

Suite Escape

Alexandria Abramian

The new Bungalow One by Robb Report Home & Style at the Fairmont Miramar Hotel ditches formality in favor of a restrained take on the VIP retreat.

The arresting view inside the recently unveiled Bungalow One by Robb Report Home & Style at the Fairmont Miramar hotel owes, in part, to what is not there: no ornate drapery, no high-gloss dining table for 12, no gilt-framed oil paintings. Rather than include such trappings, the Los Angeles–based interior designer Michael Berman—who was tasked with converting four of the Santa Monica, Calif., property’s bungalows into one presidential suite in collaboration with the Fairmont Miramar and Home & Style—took a low-key tack with the high-end lodging’s design.

“I wanted this to be more like staying in a personal guest home of a really great beach house,” says Berman of the comfortably appointed bungalow, where the nightly rate starts at $4,000. “Yes, I wanted it to feel luxurious, but not necessarily formal or opulent. This is Santa Monica, not Los Angeles, so things are a little more relaxed. But I get that this is an anomaly in terms of what you’d typically expect from a presidential suite.”

If his treatment of the accommodation is unique, it is in keeping with the Fairmont’s history as a one-of-a-kind coastal hideaway for high-profile guests. Thirty-two bungalows scattered throughout the 4.5-acre property perched above Santa Monica Bay were built in the 1930s and 1940s and have housed such luminaries as Marilyn Monroe, Eleanor Roosevelt, and Charles Lindbergh. Today, the 10-story Ocean Tower, built in the 1950s, anchors the hotel (owned since 2006 by the computer tycoon Michael Dell), while the bungalows remain in demand for their homelike ambience amid the poolside bustle.

Bungalow One, however, stands apart from the other cottages for one attribute in particular: space. The unit’s indoor and outdoor areas total 2,500 square feet, which is more than twice the size of any other suite at the hotel. To imbue the larger dwelling with a feeling of home and style, Berman had to contend with the extant architecture. “One of the major challenges here was to provide a sense of flow to what was essentially a linear row of four suites,” says Berman, whose own furniture designs appear in the bungalow and in other hotels, such as the Peninsula Beverly Hills, Wynn Las Vegas, and various Four Seasons properties.

Though major construction was not an option, Berman was able to create a core living room and sleeping quarters within the building’s rectangular layout using the center two rooms as the main design event. “The center rooms include a living area and the master suite, which are soft and opulent but in a casual way,” says Berman. (Some of the wall between the living area and the master suite was taken down, to connect the spaces via double doors.) Both stay within a similar palette of dove gray, charcoal, blues, and whites, with punches of greens—not exactly warm and cozy tones, but the designer purposefully chose cooler colors to interact with the sunlight. “Everything gets so warmed up in here by the sun,” he explains. “The clear, cool palette plays off of that.”

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Photo by Nigel YoungFoster + Partners
Photo by Mike Van Tassell