The Best: Urban gardens


The Lawn at the Upper House in Hong Kong might not be much bigger than a handball court, but it’s got mass appeal. Architect Andre Fu designed the luxe hotel on Hong Kong Island, which opened in 2009. The Lawn, located on Level 6 of the hotel, provides a rare green space in the center of a thriving metropolis. Lanterns line the steps leading from the hotel, creating a dramatic entrance to the outdoor space. As its name suggests, the centerpiece of the space is a manicured lawn surrounded by angular hedges and decorative stones that give it a Zen vibe. In the mornings, guests sip coffee and read the paper under lacquered umbrellas; during special events and the evening cocktail hour, drinks and appetizers are delivered to guests soaking up the skyline views from oversized beanbag chairs and cosy couches.

3b_Urban_Garden_Daytime_Horizontal_16703_standard-1024x623The James – NEW YORK
Located in the heart of SoHo, The Garden at The James is a neighborhood gem. Landscape designer and hotel horticulturalist Rebecca Cole designed the 93-square-metre garden to look like an urban park, complete with a birch grove and a dramatic wall of wisteria. To maintain an intimate atmosphere befitting the boutique hotel, which opened in 2010, the multi-tiered design separates the garden into several outdoor rooms. In addition to serving as a retreat for hotel guests who order drinks and relax in the park-like setting after exploring the city, The Garden is a popular local hangout. New Yorkers in-the-know sign up for outdoor yoga classes or gather to play chess with oversized game pieces. The James has also hosted movie screenings and art installations in The Garden.

Exterior_Sky-Gardens_Photo-Credit-Patrick-Bingham-Hall-1024x964PARK ROYAL – Singapore
The PARKROYAL hotel in Singapore has been dubbed the first hotel-in-a-garden thanks to the lush terraced gardens cascading down the side of the building. The Sky Gardens are planted with shade trees, flowering palms and creeping foliage that spills over the edge to soften the hotel’s modern architecture. Architecture firm WOHA drew inspiration from the rice paddies in Bali for the design of the gardens, which are cantilevered between blocks of guest rooms, giving the illusion of a waterfall of foliage flowing down the exterior of the building. The landscaped garden on the fifth floor provides the best vantage point for viewing the Sky Gardens. The gardens measure 15,000 square metres – twice the land area of the hotel – and helped the PARKROYAL earn a prestigious Hotel of the Year award from World Architecture News and BCA Green Mark Platinum status, the highest rating for eco-friendly buildings in Singapore.

Hotel-de-Russie-Rome-Secret-Garden-4368-copy-768x1024Hotel de Russie – ROME
The Secret Garden at the Hotel de Russie is hidden from view of the main promenade, creating a secluded space to escape the hustle and bustle of Rome. In 1814, famed Italian architect Giuseppe Valadier designed the terraced gardens to resemble a Roman piazza complete with promenades, stunning statues and green spaces. A delight for the senses, the landscape features waterfalls along with roses, orange trees and other fragrant plantings. In the evenings, soft lighting gives the Secret Garden a magical glow. Hotel de Russie is the only luxury hotel in Rome with an historical garden and its uniqueness draws guests as well as locals. The Diaghilev Terrace is a popular spot for people watching and al fresco dining at Le Jardin de Russie while the pergola and terrace gardens are sought-after venues to host private events. To maintain its old-world elegance, the garden underwent a restoration in 2000.

Dîner en terrasseSAINT JAMES – PARIS
Before the Saint James hotel was built in 1892, the site was used to launch hot air balloons. In a nod to its storied past, the hotel redesigned its garden in 2012 to incorporate three hot air balloons into the landscape, including one that doubles as a covered bar. Designer Bambi Sloan blended elements from the interior design into the garden, including leopard prints, stripes and floral fabrics that give the garden an Alice in Wonderland feel. Classic features such as white wrought-iron furniture help balance the whimsical design. Steps lead from the neo-classical French chateau into the 5,000-square metre garden located behind the historic hotel. Tall hedges surround the space, giving it an aura of seclusion in the heart of Paris. The restaurant serves meals in the garden and the atmosphere encourages guests to linger.