David Montalba spent his childhood living between California and Switzerland—two locations that now serve as home bases for his firm Montalba Architects, Inc., which is headquartered in Santa Monica and has a satellite office in Lausanne. His notable clients, including fashion brands The Row and Isabel Marant, as well as Sony Music Entertainment, seek out Montalba for the practiced minimalism he brings to his architectural designs. Here, the architect divulges the travel destinations, hotels, and places that inspire him the most.
The Conservatorium in Amsterdam is an incredibly wellappointed hotel, lit with great natural light throughout. Its sophisticated suites are designed to balance the classic with the refined, and the corner suites have 18 foot tall ceilings—a rare scale for any hotel. If you can bring yourself to leave, the best of Amsterdam’s rich culture lies right outside the door.
Balanced materiality and exceptional service are reasons I stay at the Yabu and Pushelberg designed Park Hyatt in New York City. The roof level pool and spa area provides a soulful break from the intensity of the city, while the upper gym has a perfectly framed view of Central Park. And if you need to get some work done, the Living Room bar can function as both a meeting place and home office.
Set in stunning Southern Utah, Amangiri has a spiritually informed design that doesn’t try too hard. Still, it manages to create a framework within its environment. Quiet and inspiring, it’s the perfect place to relax your mind and body. Frankly, it’s the only hotel I’ve ever felt like should have charged more—like I got the better end of the deal.
That would have to be a stay at A manzoe in Porto Heli, Greece. The hotel’s villas are constructed with a poetic, timeless sense of architecture, with columns framing reflective pools and the azure Mediterranean. I’m trying to book it for this fall.
My goto outfit consists of a thin black tshirt, light sweater, jeans with a nice belt, and a pair of black leather shoes. Other essentials include my Bally Dopp kit, a scarf, and a stretch band.
Go-to Vacation Spot
I often go to Switzerland to visit family and keep tabs on our Lausanne office, and the summer is a great time to sneak away to Gstaad for a long weekend. It’s a great place to hike, or just to enjoy the fresh mountain air. The Swiss national holiday on August 1st is a perfect time to go, as the locals celebrate with lots of fireworks and events. The hotel in the area I recommend is The Alpina—both quintessentially Swiss and the best alpine resort in Europe.
Every February, my family spends a week in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, with a group of old friends and their families. We take over the Four Seasons, which is literally 40 feet from the chair lifts. It’s a true, unaltered Western landscape.
Au Vieux Navire in Buchillon, Switzerland, overlooking Lake Geneva. It has a terrace, fenced in with potted greenery, which is nice in the summer.
My firm designed the interiors of Cassia in Santa Monica, located inside a raw concrete Deco era building. But the best part of the restaurant is the food. They serve a revolutionary blend of Vietnamese and French cuisine unlike anything I’ve had anywhere else.
Most Inspiring Travel Memory
Still working on that. They say it’s the journey, not the destination.
When I’m home in L.A., I head ...
Home to see my kids and chill out!