Hotel Design with Tara Bernerd

An accomplished London–based interior designer debuts her first California hospitality project and reveals the best ways to create a hotel aesthetic at home.

  • Category
    Design 101
  • Written by
    Jennie Nunn
  • Above
    The Lobby Living Room at Thompson Hollywood | Photo by Trevor Tondo

For the design of the recently opened 190-room Thompson Hollywood, London–based designer, Tara Bernerd, of Tara Bernerd & Partners, infused her take on West Coast Modern with old school Hollywood glamour. “For every Tara Bernerd & Partners project, geographical location plays an integral role in all our designs,” says Bernerd, whose projects include private yachts, residences, and hotels such as The Hari Hong KongThompson ChicagoZentis Osaka, and Four Seasons Hotel London at Park Lane. “We take inspiration from the landscape or cityscape of the location for our palettes. By drawing upon the local culture, the history, the climate and the atmosphere of a place, we seek to embrace the character and identity of the place it is set. For Thompson Hollywood in particular, we were inspired by the local vernacular of the West Coast Modern design movement, mixed with a playful dash of old school Hollywood glamour.”

Designer Tara Bernerd
Designer Tara Bernerd of Tara Bernerd & Partners | Photo by Raphael Faux Gstaad Photography

We caught up with Bernerd for more on the design of Thompson Hollywood, and her advice on how to get a hotel vibe at home. 

A guestroom at Thompson Hollywood
A guestroom at Thompson Hollywood with a leather upholstered bed and hints of midcentury modern. | Photo by Trevor Tondo

Describe your favorite aspects of the Thompson Hollywood. 

“The lounge lobby has to be my favorite spot. It is the heart of the hotel and brings all of the design themes together, which influenced our design for the entire hotel. The mezzanine levels on either side of the bar bring a sense of drama to the space, while also zoning the lobby. I really love the interplay between the two different colors of terrazzo and the way the L-shaped sofas have been integrated into the raised level of the sofa. The bespoke Tara Bernerd & Partners rugs have been inspired by fabrics from the late twentieth-century. The space has been designed to be a home-from-home and has great flexibility with its mixture of different seating groups and styles. The bar has high seating to the front, but due to the change of levels it was possible to bring in a lower wicker-backed seat, which allows for a cozier spot for a quieter drink with a friend. At the far end of the bar, we’ve bespoke-designed shelving with a curated mixture of books and objets d’art, which brings another dimension to the space. The shared table on the left of the bar is the ideal space to base yourself if your day happens to be more work focused. Throughout the lobby the art is bold, punchy and striking.”

The Lobby Living Room at Thompson Hollywood
The Lobby Living Room at Thompson Hollywood | Photo by Trevor Tondo

The most important elements for at-home hotel design? 

Analyze the Layout

“A key first step with any project is to look at the layout of the room, or living space, and ensure that this has been optimized and works for you.”

The inviting reception area at Thompson Hollywood
The inviting reception area at Thompson Hollywood | Photo by Trevor Tondo

Develop A Discerning Eye

“I have always believed that art brings any project to life. By grouping statement artworks in an entrance hall [as we have done in The Empire Suite at Four Seasons Downtown New York], so you can bring an immediate attitude upon arrival at your home. Curate your bookcases or credenzas to show off your favorite books and objets d’art. Don’t be afraid to add in a vase with succulents, or a terrarium, or a quirky iconic piece of retro technology.”

A Suite at Thompson Hollywood
A Suite at Thompson Hollywood with a velvet sofa, marble-topped coffee table, and a midcentury-inspired writing desk | Photo by Trevor Tondo

Don’t Forget Lighting

“Lighting is key to creating the right atmosphere in any room. Choose lighting to help that, then set the scene by adjusting your lighting to suit the time of day such as turning on strategically placed table or floor lights. With the ever-increasing range of home automation, it is also possible to set this up using your cell phone so that the lights adjust automatically at sunset, bringing that sense of theater that hotels do so well.” 

Set The Mood

“Think of all the senses. In addition to lighting, set the mood with a beautiful signature scent for your home. I love to mix the scents from two different, yet complimentary candles. Finally, don’t forget the music, which brings that final layer to your home.” 

A corner room at The Hari Hong Kong also designed by Tara Bernerd
A corner room at The Hari Hong Kong also designed by Tara Bernerd & Associates | Photo by Dennis Lo

Your resources for furniture and accessories? 


“It started off as a great source for vintage, or one-off pieces of furniture. They have been expanding and diversifying and now have a wonderful supply of new furniture in addition to their one-off pieces.”


“It’s a small American design and fabrication company, dedicated to timeless design and expert craftsmanship from furniture to lighting. They have a flagship showroom in New York, as well as being available to buy online. If you are able to travel, Milan is the epicenter of furniture design, particularly during their world famous Salone del Mobile. I have been spending more and more time there over the past year and make a point of visiting Officina Antiquaria, a wonderful source for vintage furniture. I always leave with one or two pieces and a very long wish list.”

The Upstairz Restaurant at Zentis Osaka in Japan
The Upstairz Restaurant at Zentis Osaka in Japan by Tara Bernerd & Partners Photo by Stirling Elmend

What’s ahead in 2022?”

“We have an exciting and busy year ahead. In Spring, we will see the launch of Conrad Los Angeles, a magnificent project in the heart of LA’s Grand Avenue Arts District, where we have worked closely with architect Frank Gehry and his team. Prior to that in Florida, our much anticipated Four Seasons Fort Lauderdale Hotel & Residences opens, bringing a new level of elegance to the city. Meanwhile, we continue work on Rosewood Munich and a prestigious resort with Belmond, along with a number of other exciting hotel and residential projects across Europe and Asia.” 

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