Soap, plates, teacups, matchboxes, luggage tags, pens, and more – design-savvy hotels around the world embellish hundreds of items with their logos and brands, enhancing a traveler’s stay with wit and whimsy, class and character.

In Virtuoso Life’s May issue, we delve into these products in “It’s the Little Things,” a photo essay highlighting everyday hotel objects that stylishly serve both form and function.

But how do you edit a room full of products from around 150 hotel brands into a concise visual tale? Associate Art Director Korena Sinnett takes us behind the scenes.

What inspired this story?

Elaine Srnka (Virtuoso’s vice president of content) and I were talking about how we collect hotel pens, paper, and matches. I suggested we shoot all of these items in an artistic photo essay. We brainstormed other keepsakes that travelers bring home, from bag tags and soap. Lastly, I had always wanted to do a hotel china pattern story, and we were able to incorporate that as well – so the focus ended up being small items that literally put a hotel’s brand at your fingertips.

How did the process go?

We collected items for two months, and had so much fun ooh’ing and aah’ing every single day when a new package arrived. My poor colleagues who sit near me had to hear me talk about each new product that arrived and I always showed them every single item – for two months! We requested pens, soap, matchboxes, paper baggage tags, china, and cocktail swizzle sticks. Sadly, we didn’t receive enough swizzle sticks for this story, but maybe one day.


What stood out in the packages you received?

My favorite products were pieces of china, whether they were intricate traditional patterns with a storied history or the more contemporary, whimsical patterns. However, I was so impressed seeing the variety, creativity, and incredible thought that Virtuoso hoteliers put into their properties, down to the smallest details.


How many products did you receive?

Around 400. We got way more than we asked for – everything from stuffed animals and shoes to silk ties, poker chips, and playing cards. Our office looked like a bazaar of branded items from around the world.


Any stand-out items or surprises?

I loved the branded Superga shoes from Grand Hotel Tremezzo in Lake Como, Italy (which we included on the issue’s masthead). But the best surprise from the whole shoot experience was getting deliveries from far-flung destinations such as Jordan and the Maldives.


See the final feature in the May issue of Virtuoso Life:
 “It’s the Little Things.”