Winding Roads

Natalia Swarz

Founder of Hôtel Weekend, Natalia Swarz, talks about the eternal lure of  her home country Colombia, the joy of palm trees, botanical illustrations, and the transformative power of new motherhood.

Colombia is truly magical. It has everything: the stunning beaches of the Caribbean, the raw sea of the Pacific, even a river of seven colours, Caño Cristales. The eye travels over a landscape filled with towering palm trees, dense green jungles, golden deserts, traditional pueblos, before dropping off into crystal clear seas. 

The spirit of Latin America is hard to describe in words. Life is full of joy and every moment is an exhilarating bombardment of the senses: delicious flavours, tempting aromas, the heat of the sun on your skin, and the sound of a gentle breeze rustling the leaves on the trees. It’s more of a feeling that you have to experience for yourself. The ambiance is relaxed and joyful, and there is always music playing in the background. There is no rush, with every day feeling laid back and full of laughter. It’s a siesta, but also a fiesta. A place that welcomes conversation and encourages you to make new friends. There is also an element of nostalgia, with every day filled with romance, poetry, and dance. My inspiration always goes back to the flowers, music, and good vibes of Columbia. 

I moved to Madrid two years ago, as we needed a change of scenery. We were drawn by the city’s growing vibrant cultural scene. It feels like untapped territory for many new projects and ideas, and we keep finding ourselves discovering new shops, restaurants, galleries, and makers that are all so eager to create. This “creator” energy is what drew us here. Compared to the rest of Europe, we have more sunny days. Spring is great here, and this time I am looking forward to spending days in the park with my family.

Becoming a mother completely changed my life. I see the world from a different perspective now. I am in awe of what women can do, from pregnancy and labour to motherhood. I’ve got this new feeling of enormous love I’ve never felt before, I mean—not like this. It’s truly indescribable. I love getting to know her every day, finding parts of me and parts of my husband, but also discovering new things that are just uniquely her. I love waking up with her by my side. Ceci is our rainbow baby, as we lost our first in 2020. We dreamt of her for so long—it’s incredible that she’s now here with us. The journey wasn’t easy but I think that makes every moment even more meaningful and special. 

I am taking things slowly at the moment, enjoying the newborn phase. We wake up around 9–10 am and have a slow morning while my husband makes breakfast. These two months we’ve been spending most of our time between snuggles. I also love dancing salsa with her, it’s a great way for me to be active, and she loves it too! I also love taking her on long walks in her carrier, she loves being close to me and sleeps like a little koala in it. When she gets a bit older, I can’t wait to take her to lots of museums, the Mediterranean and to the beach.

Nature has always been an important part of my work. My drawings all come from my mind, I’m not very technical but I do love delicate flowers like the feminine and beautiful orchid. It’s the flower I love the most, not just because they are Colombia’s national flower, but because they remind me of my grandmother. She was a florist. She has the most beautiful collection of botanical books and wandering through her library as a kid was where my work as a creative all started. Sometimes, I do collect real stems and flowers which I press and include in my work. 

“I belong in nature. I feel alive when I’m surrounded by rivers, the sea, the jungle. Living in the countryside brings you closer to it. When you gaze out of your window at rolling hills or golden meadows, you feel more in tune with the natural world.”

I belong in nature. I feel alive when I’m surrounded by rivers, the sea, the jungle. Living in the countryside brings you closer to it. When you gaze out of your window at rolling hills or golden meadows, you feel more in tune with the natural world. Bucolic living encourages you to spend more time outdoors; walking in the hills, picnicking in meadows, and swimming in ponds. Living among rural landscapes evokes a sense of wildness and freedom. 

Eventually, we want to move to Portugal’s countryside. There, life is good and unrushed and I love the language and music. I find people are always nice to others, food is always fresh and delicious, and there’s just a general good vibe. In the countryside around Alentejo, you can just go to the nearest little store, get some wine, bread, cheese, and enjoy life at a slower pace. 

As a multidisciplinary creative, across painting, consulting, styling, and art direction—I’m inspired by my books. Hilma af Klint is one of my favourite artists, and I have a few of her works that I always refer back to. I also just published my first book, Barefoot Living, so of course, this is one that I am particularly fond of. 

I stay inspired through my travels, and I often take from my surroundings. One of my most magical trips was to Oaxaca. During our stay, we met the most amazing women and everything felt very fertile and maternal. The abuelas, the land, the food—I felt so inspired and creative while I was there. I created an altar as part of my residency. It was in honour of our first baby we lost during pregnancy, and for my daughter who was in my belly at that point. I wanted to welcome this new life that I was creating and to honour the one that was lost. One day, I found a ceramic of a pregnant mermaid. I kept it on my nightstand during my pregnancy and it was like my amulet, it kept me company during my bed rest and she always felt like a guardian.

For interiors, I love Axel Vervoordt. My bathroom is my little sanctuary. The restorative powers of soaking in a hot bath, or just a warm shower, are undeniable and so essential to me. This is where I meditate and I feel reenergised or relaxed, depending on the mood. As someone who works with design, I think creating an inspiring space means choosing colours that bring you peace and calm. The place we choose to inhabit shapes us. It gives us the freedom to be who we want to be—the best version of ourselves. Our homes also function as a nest and cocoon, where we should feel nurtured, relaxed, and safe. Gather items that have a meaning for you. Stay true to yourself.

Photography by Natalia Swarz. Follow her travels @nataliaswarz