Guide to Living the Suite Life
The Suite Life. It’s a way of living that has its own style.
It’s the lifestyle of the modern global nomad. Traveling with ease, understated luxury, at home anywhere, local connections, simplicity as sophistication and authenticity.
The Suite Life, as I have lived it is, one that accommodates the new creative class and the globally minded business class.
I left my home town, Milan (Italy) when I was 23, setting out to live in cities that are the most alive and priciest in the world: London, Rome, Paris, Cannes, San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York…with practically no money. Always intent on making the best of scarcity, especially space, I mastered how to live in style without destroying my wallet and no, not that tacky, trying-too-hard style, but rather, in that easy, understatedly chic style that the European old money classes do so effortlessly.
Today I would say this lifestyle suits a new creative and business class that, for the sake of consistency, I like to call the New Chic.
As I began to build a name for myself as a boutique hotel concept designer and a “Master of Space” I applied the same “Suite Life” principles that I had developed over time and simply expanded it.
At times, I’ve had two to three suite-sized ‘homes’ across four different countries and way before Airbnb was even in the picture, I was exchanging my (meticulously designed & stylishly furnished) city apartments with others who sought after the same, simple, stylish nomadic lifestyle that I was living. This is how I founded the original short-stay apartment suites business in NYC in 2007 but more on that in a different post…
If you are the style-conscious, global, urban nomad
— this is the way to do it well.
The key idea is simple. Living small and in style in the best neighborhoods of big cities around the world.
What does Living Small mean exactly? It’s an approach, a philosophy, that can be applied to travel and to the urban lifestyle. From suitcase packing to your closet to what bed you sleep on and where, it’s about living grand within an economic space without sacrificing the basic needs and functions of normal living like entertaining friends, cooking, relaxing in a cozy home, and sleeping like a baby anywhere in the world while traveling for work or play.
Over the years I was my own project of sorts. My first challenges were, how to design each square inch of these shoe box apartments so that it had the basic functionalities that I needed to live comfortably while retaining an overall sense of style that felt cozy and still sexy. I applied this experience to develop interiors of small apartments, as small as 400 sq. feet and priced for that size in big metropolises, so that they felt like double the space and comfort of the space and at half the cost. Click to read more on Why We Focus on Small City Apartments.
The pied-a-terre is a quintessential component of The Suite Life. Owning a couple of pied-a-terres gives you a home that you can return to with ease in several countries whether traveling for business or pleasure or just for an escape from your current city.
That said, the New Chic is not the ultra high net worth individuals that don’t worry about their wallet. We do. So, we are the creative and business class that search for the stylish apartments, in the best locations, in the best cities — and at half the price. And what did this look like in practice for me?
PARIS is where I started. I designed my first project, my own apartment, there in 1997. It was barely 350 square feet but I designed it to perfection. It ended up on the cover of many magazines at that time and catapulted me further in my career. I lived there happily until 2003.
In SAN FRANCISCO, I lived in the butler home of the Principal of Roma Design Group. Their Buena Vista terrace had an exceptional view of the fog rolling into the bay but that white obliterating fog never won my heart over. I love the sun too much.
My tiny duplex in CANNES had NO view. At all. It was located idyllically in the Croisette. Cozy, warm, and tucked inside a small building by the Opera Night Club.
Cities we love that offer The Suite Life?
New York, London, Stockholm, Los Angeles, Munich, Ibiza, Paris.
BEST SMALL APARTMENTS IN NEW YORK
I landed in New York in 2004 and the next year, I commenced developing my suite life concept. I’ve kept on a steady pace where I have been buying, remodeling, designing and selling a boutique suite every year. This is my way of being able to introduce The Suite Life concept, apartment and lifestyle to likeminded global nomads like me.
Apartments that have been sold and are currently on offer include The Butter Suite in the coveted Gramercy area, The Bowery Soho Thompson Suite in the heart of Soho, Miss Jade Suite in Greenwich Village, and many more. The Bowery Nolita Suite in Nolita and the LA East small, fully furnished apartments sold for record prices.
My heart is now with the Jackson Suite in Chelsea. It’s a tiny duplex that feels luxurious, feels local and matches the lifestyle that you may have always wanted. I believe that it is one of the most well designed small apartment in the entirety of Manhattan. Check out other apartments that I have designed here.
As far back as I can remember, I have loved staying in hotel suites where you want to steal pieces of the room to bring home. From the radio, the soap dish, the shampoo dispensers, the notepads and pen, the literature, the table lamp — if you loved the stay, you want to take it with you as a living memory of that Suite Life.
Back in 2010, with this idea in mind, I created my first MySuites online shop where guests who stayed in our short term rental suites could buy pieces of the room that they loved during their stay. We’ve now added this feature to our real estate company, too.
M&Co. not only conceptualizes, develops and sells small apartments but also completely redesigns, furnishes and styles each so they are tailor-made for the New Chic: locally designed and sourced with a nomadic, easy-to-carry feel.
Now, even if you do not end up purchasing that apartment but still loved the decor or that one design accent, you can integrate it into your home by stepping into this store — and see how it looked within our designed Suites: M&Co. Shop.
The best beds are those that I place in all my MySuites properties. The best deal that I’ve encountered so far is IKEA’s memory foam mattress. The value / price proposition is impressive. Super comfortable and affordable.
For pillows, I usually do 7 per bed. The Real Simple ones, which I picked up from the Soho House bedding style. Beyond my own beds, I’ve slept the best at Soho House in Berlin, The Standard in Miami, Nobis in Stockholm and Canaves Oia in Santorini.
BAGS & SUITCASES
No matter how long my travels, my suitcase has always been minimal — one. Except when I move, I allow myself two. I love the RIMOWA with the leather handle. Size 85 liters or less, no more than that. A well curated small suitcase will always look and be, more sophisticated, pulled together, stylish.
I carry very few things on me. The constant is my Rolex GMT, and everything else goes into a tote bag from my collection. I initially started with Jack Spade years ago when Andy [Spade] was still there at the Warren Street shop.
My closet is a two size Pax system from IKEA. Each is just enough to hold a well curated selection of apparel for one season.
My wardrobe has been fine tuned over the years and non-stop travel. The more clearly you identify your own personal style, the easier to shop, pack and simplify. My suitcase consists of one Filipa K. suit and 5 pairs on Nudies jeans, both of which I get from Stockholm.
I live and travel in Frye boots whether summer and winter and white Adidas sneakers.
For everything else I have and don’t always need, I box them up and leave it to BoxButler.com to handle it for me. It’s a huge time saver. They pick up, store it and drop off for you. I am a big fan of outsourcing where you can. The time and stress is worth the investment.
RELAX & RECHARGE
I travel with a couple of book options as I read very slow. Last year’s book was The Courage to Create by Doctor Rollo May. The most recent one is still in progress and it’s The Power of Now by Eckart Tolle. It’ll probably take me another 6~8 months to get through it.
And then, there’s my collection of black note books. I always have one on me as I wrote down pretty much everything including inspirations, ideas, project details, wish lists, and on girlfriends, too.