Well-heeled travellers with a taste for the refined whimsical have most likely come across the work of Bill Bensley, the go-to designer for truly unique hotel designs. With a portfolio spanning from luxury groups like Four Seasons to independent ventures like Shinta Mani Wild – which begins with a zipline through the forest – Bensley's work never fails to offer one-of-a-kind memories for the discerning jetsetter. Away from the studio, however, Bensley retreats to the simpler things in life – in the comfort of his incredible home in Bangkok, where he lives with his husband Jirachai Renthong and their six Jack Russells. Bensley is not only a passionate admirer of gardening but also devotes much of his time to antiques and artworks – many of which play a great inspiration to his hotel works. We speak with Bensley on his proudest projects, his top recommendations for where to eat, drink and stay around Asia and how he's an adventurous soul at heart.
Images: Shinta Mani Wild (swipe)
You've designed over 200 hotels across the world – an incredible portfolio to to say the least. What were your most memorable experiences or proudest projects if you had to pick three?
Shinta Mani Wild as being a steward and protector of one of the last great wildernesses in Asia is an honour. It is all I would want in a hotel experience and is in many ways the culmination of all our work at BENSLEY over the past 30 years. The hardest project I have ever done, but most definitely the one which is closest to my heart.
My first Four Seasons in Langkawi in Malaysia. It was here that we spread our wings beyond landscaping and were recognised in our skill for Interior Design – as someone who did not study interiors, this was a huge compliment, especially from a giant like Four Seasons.