Painter Louis-Nicolas Darbon travels through four European cities to soak up the sights and nourish his soul. Check out the stunning highlights.
The Scene: As a sought-after artist and jet-setter who has exhibited his work all over the world, London-based Louis-Nicolas Darbon thrives off the visual stimulation he gets while exploring new and familiar locales. He kicked off his European journey in Tenerife, the largest of the Canary Islands.
“I've never been to that side of Spain, so I was really excited to discover it. The lush, exotic vegetation transports you a bit. From a sensorial perspective, the tropical smell of the palm trees, and the light at sunrise and sunset really inspired me,” Darbon says.
At The Ritz-Carlton, Abama, Darbon’s eyes were treated to even more aesthetically pleasing backdrops, inside and outside the property. “The freshly-cut green grass and exotic trees contrasted with the blue ocean and the pink-coral building. I loved the clash of colors,” he says.
When he wasn’t enjoying the impressive views from the hotel rooftop, Darbon was busy appreciating the unforgettable design of the hotel. “As soon as you walk in, the lobby has that wow factor, but the most Instagrammable spot at Abama is the staircase situated in a gap built into the property. That’s the money shot,” he says.
The artist also took leisurely dips in the relaxing swimming areas that are available to guests. He splashed around the lagoon pool and the infinity pool, which leads into El Mirador, the seafood and Canarian restaurant perched on a cliff’s edge.
The Scene: “The first thing I noticed about Budapest was the architecture. I was very surprised by it, in a good way,” Darbon says. His trip began with a boat ride on the Danube River (the longest in the European Union), which provided him with a unique view of the House of Parliament. “If you can take that trip at sunset, it’s just beautiful,” says Darbon.
Other standout moments included strolling around Old Town, home to Budapest’s ancient buildings and historical sites, and touring Fisherman’s Bastion, a 19th-century structure known for its lookout towers. “It’s sort of Gothic-inspired–definitely a must-see,” Darbon says.
The Stay: Located in the center of Hungary’s capital, The Ritz-Carlton, Budapest expertly mixes modern luxury with tributes to the city’s heritage. As Darbon describes it: “From the lobby space to the different restaurants, the hotel is quite striking and elegant but also feels fresh and new.” The detail-oriented talent was particularly awestruck by the Kupola Lounge.
“It has a massive blue cupola on the ceiling and the area is decorated with iconic photos of Budapest. The room really captures the essence of the city.” And what about the eateries? Ipanema Brazilian Grill was a hit with Darbon. “The restaurant spills out onto the main shopping street at the back of the hotel, and they've got this cool area where you can eat outside,” he says.
The Scene: A place with a rich and fascinating history, Berlin is also known for its vibrant art scene. Darbon, who had never traveled to the city before, wasted no time getting immersed in it.
On a guided bike tour, he got to take in gritty street art, and he also stopped by the Boros Collection, a selection of contemporary work housed in a former war bunker turned art gallery. “There’s now an apartment above it and they curate exhibitions with artists from all over the world. I spent a few hours there. It was amazing,” Darbon says.
Within minutes of arriving at The Ritz-Carlton, Berlin, Darbon could describe it in a few words: “Very Great Gatsby. You have the extremely high ceilings, a lot of white marble, and beautiful brass details. It’s quite grandiose,” he says approvingly.
Darbon leaned into the decadent spirit of the hotel and appreciated show-stopping moments like the daily Champagne Hour. “Every day at six o’clock, they pour bubbly into a pyramid of glasses. It’s a cool way to transition from day to night,” he says. Dining at Pots provided another form of exciting visual entertainment. “The décor is filled with lots and lots of copper and there’s an open kitchen so you can see the chefs working. They focus on what German cuisine is about, and they did that well,” Darbon says.
The Scene: “I've been to Geneva almost twice a year over the past five to ten years — mostly for the Geneva Watch Fair — but this was the first time I got to discover the city in a totally different way,” says Darbon.