Creative Vacation

Designers Pick Their Most Inspiring Travel Destinations (Photos)

Creative block is impossible at these destinations, ranging from Baroque imperial palaces to magical gardens, where top designers and architects go to inspire their creativity.

Marcel Malherbe/Redux

Abbaye Notre-Dame de Sénanque

Rose Tarlow

Interior Designer

"Go to the Abbaye Notre-Dame de Sénanque in Provence in June, when the lavender is out and the monks are chanting in the garden."

Thomas O'Brien, Aero Studios

Interior Designer

"Time pauses quietly while I’m looking at the bedroom from Venice’s Sagredo Palace that is installed at Manhattan’s Metropolitan Museum of Art. Even though the interior is seductively elaborate, it has such a peaceful spirit."

Pictured here is a field of lavender at the Abbaye Notre-Dame de Sénanque in Provence, France. 

Hearst Castle/California State Parks

Hearst Castle

Madeline Stuart

Interior Designer

"At Hearst Castle in San Simeon, California, the remarkable architect Julia Morgan worked with her peripatetic client William Randolph Hearst to incorporate myriad decorative elements—ceilings, fireplaces—found abroad. A brilliantly successful collaboration."

Thomas a. Kligerman, Ike Kligerman Barkley


"At least once a year I visit the Stanford White–designed dining room at Kingscote, a Gothic Revival mansion in Newport, Rhode Island. It has an incredibly rich mix of marble, cork, mahogany, tile, oak, and Tiffany glass."

Pictured here is an interior of Hearst Castle. 

David Zidlicky

Villa Tugendhat

Allan Greenberg


"The Villa Tugendhat in Brno, Czech Republic, is not only the apogee of Mies van der Rohe’s work in Europe but also his most important residential design, with sublime materials and uniquely articulated separations between the interiors and the garden."

Shamukov Rusian/Corbis

The Chinese Palace at Oranienbaum

Veere Grenney

Interior Designer

"Commissioned by Catherine the Great and conceived by architect Antonio Rinaldi, the 18th-century Chinese Palace at Oranienbaum, near St. Petersburg, Russia, is one of the world’s great decorating wonders. The salon’s glass-beaded walls are breathtaking—unlike anything I’ve ever seen."

Pictured here is the glass-beaded salon.


U.S. Air Force Academy Cadet Chapel

Emily Summers

Interior Designer

"We take anyone who visits us in Colorado Springs on a tour of the U.S. Air Force Academy Cadet Chapel, built by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill in 1963. It was inspired by flight, a theme that is evident in the winglike spires and the pews that resemble propellers.

Age Fotostock/Alamy

30 Rockefeller Plaza

John Berson, Sawyer⎮Berson


"The lobby at Manhattan’s 30 Rockefeller Plaza is pure and uncompromising Art Deco."

Renée Comet

Mount Vernon

Gil Schafer


"Mount Vernon, George Washington’s Virginia home, manages to be both supremely elegant and surprisingly low-key. The grand façade has an almost wonky feel, with little regard to symmetry."

Panoramic Images

Katsura Imperial Villa

Toshiko Mori


"Kyoto’s Katsura Imperial Villa is an example of architecture that is totally integrated with its landscape. The sequence of spaces exposes you to the weather and seasons, exciting the senses and enhancing every moment."

David Mann, MR Architecture + DECOR


"At the 1937 Grace Miller house in Palm Springs you can see that Richard Neutra and his client did not rely upon the tried-and-true but instead cleverly rethought how to live in a better, smarter way."

Pictured here is the Katsura Imperial Villa in Kyoto.

Pierre Rochon Photography/Alamy

Sant'ivo Alla Sapienza

David Piscuskas, 1100 Architect


"The Baroque chapel of Rome’s Sant’Ivo alla Sapienza cathedral sets a richly ambiguous tone—at once dynamic and serene. I consider it a clarion to the power of design."

Massimo Listri/Corbis

Villa Kérylos

William T. Georgis


"I love the Villa Kérylos on France’s Côte d’Azur. The nostalgia for an imagined past is poignant and palpable throughout the neoclassical house, which was constructed in the early 20th century. Its beauty is sublime."

Gardel Bertrand/

The Doge's Palace

Brian J. McCarthy

Interior Designer

"The Doge’s Palace in Venice defies imagination. I’ve spent entire afternoons just absorbing the energy of the place, reveling in the light that streams through the windows. It’s even more magical in the evening, when the crowds thin and the city descends into quiet."