Books that provide a little insight into a new place

Standing in the sea of books in a bookstore, a black book cover caught my eye. From afar, only the word ‘Sleep’ is legible. Upon closer inspection, it says Where Architects Sleep. On my bookshelf at home, as a self-proclaimed foodie, is a copy of Where Chefs Eat; linking with the Where Chefs Eat series, Where Architects Sleep must be one of the book series of insider recommendations. For a moment, I was a little sceptical about the book’s title - a chef knows a lot about food, so if, say, I like Italian food, I would trust an Italian chef’s recommendations, right? While an architect might design spaces that we sleep in, architects are not the likely expert when it comes to sleep. In fact, I might say that many architects are often sleep-deprived, but that’s another story to tell. When the book says where architects sleep, it’s likely a generalisation of a space that is conducive to sleep, supposedly contributed by a hotel or resort’s overall architecture and design. With the book Where Architects Sleep at hand, I turned to the pages of the region I am familiar with - South East Asia. One resort that stood out is The Datai, Langkawi which has been renovated by Didier Lefort after Kerry Hill’s 1993 original design. Recommended by several renowned architects, including one of my first mentors in architecture, plus relatives who visited it post-renovation also highly recommended it. And so, the book came home with me.

Books that provide a little insight into a new place that is not on your radar, perhaps in countries that you might never or have not had a chance to visit are little gems. It reminds me that there is so much more to the world, that although there is ugliness making news headlines, there is also undiscovered beauty. Interested in architecture and design, the below books have offered a new way to see the world:

Where Architects Sleep


Where Architects Sleep published by Phaidon

This unique guide is an ideal reference for design-conscious individuals and travellers, from well-known hotels to low-key gems known by locals. With insights from over 250 of the world’s leading architects, this book reveals insider tips on where to stay across 100 countries. Phaidon describes the title’s relevance to architects as ‘no one appreciates a building quite like an architect.

Remote Places to Stay: The Most Unique Hotels at the End of the World


Remote Places to Stay: The Most Unique Hotels at the End of the World published by gestalten

For the travellers who are willing to travel the distance, this book shares 22 locations where one can escape from the hustle and bustle of a busy life. Some of these 22 locations are so remote that they are only reachable by foot or a small boat. Raw nature. Untouched space. Off the grid. If those words resonate with you, this book will provide some inspiration for your next trip.

New York Times: 36 Hours World


New York Times: 36 Hours World published by Taschen

Guided by The Times’ contributors, this book reveals the insights known by travel writers, travel photographers, food and culture writers who dig deep for their columns. The stories of city must-visit spots are revealed, sharing some fresh insights from those who are in the know that even locals may not know. The book has a piece for us who love cities, from the obvious major cities to the lesser-known cities in the world.

Tree Houses


Tree Houses published by Taschen

When looking at tree houses, even as an adult, the excitement of staying in a tree house or simply spending a few hours in one seems like an unfulfilled dream from childhood. This is why looking through this book, which showcases 50 tree houses around the world, is an exciting book to have on a quiet day. A few of the tree houses operate a teahouse or as hotels with modern amenities; visiting or staying there will probably evoke the feeling of a child visiting Disneyland with a fastpass! One that piqued my interest is the Mirrorcube Tree Hotel, Sweden designed by Tham and Videgard.

Let’s Get Lost: The World’s Most Stunning Remote Locations

Mockups Design

Let’s Get Lost: The World’s Most Stunning Remote Locations published by White Lion Publishing

Again, off the beaten track, this visual book with over 200 stunning shots share remote locations from the mountains to forests, from Scandinavia to Southeast Asia. The book is a curated collection of photographs by various photographers. Accompanying the photographs are each of the photographer’s background stories about each location, inspiring people to take the leap in search of remote natural environments across the world.

Design Hotels


The Design Hotels Book (Edition 2020) published by Prestel Publishing

The latest edition of the Design Hotels book is still Edition 2020, skipping the pandemic year of 2021. Typically, the Design Hotels' in-house team presents a global collection of design-led, independent hotels each year. The book contains a series of photographs accompanied by photo essays on the 25 trailblazing member hotels that are setting the benchmark of modern hospitality. This book shows a glimpse into the 300 plus hotels across 60 countries that member hotels are located.

These are only some of the many travel or travel-related books. Each book, I hope, contains a little nugget of information for inspiration; they accompanied my weekends, widened my view, and provided inspiration not only for work but in the appreciation of what exceptional surroundings can offer, eg. a simple structure within exceptional surroundings wins every time.

If you have any questions or would like to share any other relevant resources to this topic, please do not hesitate to contact me via email at