Five Favourite Summer Destinations for the Creative Traveller

“We travel to learn; and I have never been in any country where they did not do something better than we do it, think some thoughts better than we think, catch some inspiration from heights above our own.” Nineteenth century scientist Maria Mitchell’s musings on travel and inspiration are as relevant now as they were back in 1889. Travel is often cited as one of the main sources of inspiration for creatives from all corners of our world.

Topfloor’s Esquire Rug, designed by Esti Barnes. Inspired by sand dunes on the beach.

While travel for business is one of the great privileges of working in an international design and architecture industry, sometimes the weary designer needs time to detach from the norm, unplug from the internet and be one with a new and exciting environment. As the summer holiday season approaches, we’re sharing some of our favourite destinations for relaxing, recharging and getting inspired.

Bodrum Sunset. Photograph by Esti Barnes.

Bodrum, Turkey

The sea informs everything in Bodrum, a place that only really makes sense when experienced from the water. Turkey’s jagged western coastline means that peninsulas reach out into the ocean and many areas are only reachable by boat. While tricky to navigate, there’s a certain majesty in its hidden beauty. When writer Cevat Sakir Kabaa˘gaçli – an aristocrat from Istanbul – was exiled to live in a hut on the Bodrum beach for three years he (luckily) fell in love with the area and ended up staying for thirty years. We recommend staying at the local Mandarin Oriental or Amanruya hotels for a touch of luxury.

Bali seen from the ocean on the Amankila coast.

Bali, Indonesia

If you’ve ever craved the fused seclusion and glamour of a Bond film beach, Bali is the perfect destination. While the Indonesian island is more popular than ever with the rich and famous, its authentic appeal is fiercely protected by the locals and travellers are encouraged to find the unique Bali they are looking for. Soul-searching is a must when confronted with the incredible landscapes, and the spiritual healers of Bali are considered some of the best on the planet. While the island is teeming with stunning resorts, we love staying at Amankila.

Koh Samui. Photo by Kit Suman on Unsplash

Koh Samui, Thailand

We’ve all heard the tales of European and American tourists spoiling the many Thai destinations available to travellers, but a country with such rich culture, history, architecture and natural beauty is not one to be snubbed. Thailand’s second largest island, Koh Samui, lies in the Gulf of Thailand and is renowned for its palm-fringed beaches, coconut groves and densely packed, mountain rainforest. Not to be missed is the 12 metre tall golden Big Buddha statue at Wat Phra Yai Temple, located on a tiny island connected to Koh Samui by a causeway. To guarantee a peaceful, uninterrupted stay, we’d recommend the Four Seasons.


Left: A buzzy Cartagena street scene. Right: A Panama hat stall.

Cartagena, Colombia

Perfect for those who seek a little culture to accompany their sunshine, Cartagena is an important Spanish colonial port city, and home to an impressive array of historical architecture. This includes everything from striking palaces once used by the Inquisition, right through to imposing stone castles overlooking the glittering waters of the Caribbean Sea. Originally built as a convent in 1621, the Sofitel Santa Clara is a legendary landmark in the heart of Cartagena’s walled city and the perfect place to stay.

Cap d’Antibes. Photo by Reuben Mcfeeters on Unsplash

Cap d’Antibes, France

When it comes to glamour and a flirtation with the frivolous, nowhere compares to the French Riviera. From vintage tales of champagne-fuelled hedonism to the cultural relevance of the Cannes Film Festival, this sun-soaked corner of France is all about indulgence and elegance. While Monaco and Cannes often steal the limelight, the home of the riviera’s largest port is in fact Antibes, which is also where F. Scott Fitzgerald used to summer. Inspiring in so many ways, Antibes is the ideal destination for those charmed by the eccentricities and excesses of the world’s most flamboyant travellers. Our favourite hotel has to be the Imperial Garoupe.

Topfloor’s Eldorado Rug, by Esti Barnes. Hand-woven with metal threads inspired by the Sun.

Wherever you choose to travel, be sure to practice mindfulness, taking in your surroundings and experiences as they happen, so they can serve as flawlessly recollected sources of inspiration when you head back to work. To browse more of our own travel-inspired designs click here.