Hotel Home – Peter Greenberg’s Unique Odyssey
By Nicola Pittam
Traveler Peter Greenberg has transformed his house into a real holiday home. Peter was so impressed with his stay in hotels around the world, that he immediately turned to them when he wanted to decorate his home.
Now the travel writer has decked out his Los Angeles house with furnishings from 47 different hotels. From the wooden floor and kitchen appliances through to his bed and toilet, all the items can be found in a number of famous hotels. He has even gone as far as modeling his swimming pool on one at a tropical paradise hotel.
Peter, who lives in Sherman Oaks, Los Angeles, said: “My home really is decorated from 47 hotels from around the world. Everything here from the wooden floor down to the door locks has been bought from a hotel somewhere. Each furnishing is something that I fell in love with while I was staying at the hotel. I just wanted to recreate that feeling in my home and after a lot of phone calls, I did it.”
But is doesn’t come cheap to keep your holiday memories with you all the time – so far Peter has spent close to $200,000 decorating his house. The most expensive single item, apart from the wooden floor from Sweden, is the bathroom window.
Peter first spotted the window at the Princeville Resort on the island of Kauai in Hawaii. The window looks like any ordinary window at first but at the push of a button it instantly becomes frosted so people cannot see through it.
Peter, who has been a travel writer for 20 years, has now installed one of the windows next to his bathtub, which came from the Peninsula Hotel in Hong Kong.
He added: “I was fascinated with the window the moment I saw it in the hotel. I had great fun playing with it. I would go into the toilet and just stand there until someone came in and looked at me oddly. As soon as they did that, I would press the button and the window would get frosted. I’m still amazed I never broke the thing, because I took great delight from that moment on in constantly running to the bathroom.
“The window was tricky to get because the hotel at first had no record of where they got it. But after two months of tracing, we found the company and got one.”
Another quirky item in Peter’s bathroom is a toilet from the Park Hyatt Hotel in Tokyo. It is the only toilet Peter has ever seen that comes with an owner’s manual to operate the heater, bidet and fan.
But one of the cheapest pieces is also in Peter’s bathroom and comes from the Savoy Hotel in London. The 15 inch diameter showerheads looks impressive but cost him just $200.
Peter added: “I just had to have the shower head. I could never forget the feeling of standing under the shower at the Savoy. It is the reason I stay there when I travel to London, it was one luxury I could not do without!”
But Peter came up with the idea of decorating his home from hotels purely by accident. His original home in Sherman Oaks, a suburb of Los Angeles, had been destroyed in the 1994 Northridge earthquake. The house had to be razed to the ground and Peter spent more than two years fighting with the insurance company before he could start rebuilding.
He brought in architect Garth Sheriff who asked him what style he would like the house. Peter started listing a number of items that had caught his eye over the years during his world-wide travels.
Garth was making detailed notes but after 20 minutes stopped Peter telling him: “You’ve given me a list of all your favorite hotels furnishings.” And Peter quickly had the brainwave of calling round the hotels to see if the items he loved were available.
He quickly hit the phones and found out that in most cases the hotels were happy to sell him the things he wanted. And if they didn’t sell it themselves, they soon put him onto the manufacturers.
Peter said: “It was time to my house rebuild from scratch. When Garth first met me with contractor Matt Matheson, nothing was left of my house except a huge dirt pit. They both sat me down and told me to make a list of what I wanted in the new house and to decide what style I wanted.
“I had no clear idea but Garth said: ‘Ok just go room-by-room and give me a wish list of what you’d like in each of them’. So I went from room to room telling Garth what I wanted but ten minutes later he interrupted me. He laughed as he showed me that what I had given them were about 47 separate, fabulous, individually great hotel experiences I had had around the world.”
“In the bathroom, if I could just get the showerhead from the Savoy hotel in London, the bathtub from the Peninsula in Hong Kong. I had carried on with the tiles from the Four Seasons in Hawaii and I saw this great sink at Caesars Palace, and then there was this incredible toilet from the Park Hyatt in Tokyo.”
Peter’s list went on for four pages and he soon realized that he wanted to live like he worked. With his schedule as travel correspondent for NBC, Peter traveled all over the world to hundreds of destinations. And he finally realized that not only did he stay in the hotels that he had written on the list but had had great experiences at them.
“With my travel schedule, I had not only stayed in all the hotels I mentioned, but had experienced that showerhead at the Savoy in London, and had been intrigued by the unusual toilet at the Park Hyatt in Tokyo. In fact, it was arguable that I spend more time in hotels than I do at home, so I thought wouldn’t it be logical to want to incorporate the best hotel creature comforts in my house?”
As soon as Peter finished his list he started hitting the telephones and calling every hotel. He asked if he could buy the king-size bed from the Four Seasons in New York and the pillows from the Athenium in London. Peter also wanted to get made from the same wood used by the Regent Hotel in Bangkok and some lights from the Park Hyatt in Sydney.
Finally after many phone calls to hotels and manufacturers, Peter had his complete home. He said: “I hit the phones and started calling the hotels in the United States and around the world where I had those great experiences. Within three weeks, I had made the decision – to build my house around the great hotel experiences of the world.”
After furnishing the bedroom and bathroom, Peter decided he didn’t want to stop there. Soon he had the wooden flooring from the presidential suite at the Sheraton in Stockholm and the granite tiles he had seen from the Hyatt in Jakarta. The Regent in Bangkok put him in touch with their furniture maker, Peter Joghrat, who has his own workshop and showroom directly behind the hotel.
Peter loved the wood from the hotel so much, he flew architect Garth to the hotel to talk to Joghrat. He then had several items made including doors, cabinets and bookcases.
Peter then moved on to the detail work like the lights, looks and the kitchen. He bought lamps and bathroom sinks from the Europa Regina in Venice and for his kitchen appliances he went to one of his favorite hotels, the Mark in New York. Peter said: “I also wanted the appliances from the Mark Hotel which were Viking Stoves and Sub Zero refrigerators.
“For the sinks and the bathtubs, I went to the folks at Kohler, in Wisconsin, then stopped by the factory in Madison, to watch them make my refrigerator at the sub-zero plant. I even flew the architect out to Bangkok because I loved the furniture so much at the Regent Hotel. And not only did I get the built in counter tops and cabinets but also the doors and window moldings.”
Peter has also bought table lamps from the Century Plaza Hotel in Los Angeles, a dresser from the Dorchester in London, the master closet from the Oriental Hotel in Bangkok, a huge clock from the Hilton Hotel in Akron, Ohio and a Karastan Carpet from the Regent Beverly Wilshire in Beverly Hills where they filmed the Julia Roberts movie Pretty Woman.
He also has an antique phone from a different hotel from such countries as Albania, Denmark, Argentina, France, and Greece, twenty in total.
But Peter didn’t keep the hotel designs to inside the house, he even got his swimming pool from a hotel. He said: “Even my pool comes from a hotel. I copied the design from the Westin Hotel in St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands. And what distinguishes this pool is not just the structural design, but the lighting and engineering. At night, a tube of fiber optics ringing the underside of the pool coping produces a seductive, subdued light that also slowly changes colors.
Now six years after his first home was destroyed, Peter has his dream home featuring all his favorite comforts. But, as he explains, anyone could furnish their homes with items they see in hotels.
Peter said: “This idea is totally accessible to anyone staying at any hotel. For example, the Four Seasons in New York sells a few hundred of their beds a year to guests. The Savoy is doing a brisk business in showerheads while the The W hotel chain sells its ‘heavenly bed’. Literally dozens of hotels throughout the world place their logo on ashtrays or bathrobes but it is essentially meaningless. But if a guest likes their armoire, sink or even the toilet, what better advertisement for the hotel than for that item to be installed in the guest’s own house!”
Here is a list of some of the furnishings that Peter Greenberg has bought from hotels to furnish his home.
Lights – Europe Regina Hotel in Venice
Wooden floor – Sheraton Hotel in Sweden
Appliances – Mark Hotel in New York
Granite tiles – Hyatt Hotel in Jakarta
Built in wooden counters and cabinets – Regent Hotel in Bangkok
Lights and sink – Europa Regina Hotel in Venice
Wooden book cases and cabinets – Regent Hotel in Bangkok
Granite tiles – Hyatt Hotel in Jakarta
Door locks – St Regis Hotel in New York
Chairs – Century Plaza Hotel in Los Angeles
Lights – Park Hyatt Hotel in Sydney
High backed chair – Manila Hotel in the Philippines
Clock – Hilton Hotel in Akron, Ohio
Key Cabinet/dresser – Dorchester Hotel in London
Phone system – Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas (although antique phones in other rooms from various hotels)
King size bed – Four Seasons Hotel in New York
Bedding – Shutters Hotel in Los Angeles
Pillows – Athenium Hotel in London
Lamp – Century Plaza Hotel in Los Angeles
Slate – Four Seasons Hotel in Mauii, Hawaii
Carpet – Greenbriar Hotel in Virginia
Master closet – Oriental Hotel in Bangkok
Coat hangers – Peninsula Hotel in Hong Kong
Sink – Europa Regina Hotel in Venice
Frosted window – Principal Hotel in Kauai, Hawaii
Bathtub – Peninsula Hotel in Hong Kong
Shower head – Savoy Hotel in London
Toilet – Park Hyatt Hotel in Tokyo
Swimming pool – Westin Hotel in St John’s, Virgin Islands
Photography by Leigh Green of Splash News.
Writer Nicola Pittam is a British journalist who has worked for Splash News in Los Angeles for four years. She reports daily on the latest from Tinsel Town for the British newspapers