Taking a cultural dive into the 8,000-year-old city, Editor Hamish Kilburn arrived in Plovdiv to explore the contemporary yet sensitive design narrative inside The Emporium Plovdiv – MGallery…
Built on seven hills in the southern central region of Bulgaria, Plovdiv is as ancient as cities come – its architecture and design tells many narratives, from the (cobbled) Street of Craft in the Old Town where prominent masters of traditional Bulgarian crafts such as weavers, potters and woodcarvers still work today to the impressive Ancient Roman Theatre. According to nine sources, Plovdiv is the oldest continually inhabited city in Europe.
The bones of the city may be, by definition, ancient, but the soul of Plovdiv – its heart and warm personality – is very much ageless, with vibrancy around every corner.
Nestled in the heart of the city, a new hotel, designed by Sundukovy Sisters (S+S), has arrived to take the narrative of the city forward. Sheltered inside a former department store, the 61-key boutique hotel, The Emporium Plovdiv – MGallery, is “a tribute to the city, its people, architecture and culture,” and has become the brand’s flagship property in Plovdiv.
“The opening of this astonishing hotel is the beginning of the beautiful adventure of creating unforgettable moments for our guests travelling to Plovdiv from all over the world,” said Paweł Pańczak, General Manager, The Emporium Plovdiv – MGallery. “With the unique ambiance of the boutique MGallery brand taking hospitality to the higher level we encourage everyone to relax, admire some of the world’s oldest, golden treasures of the region and create stories that stay in memories forever.
Earning its rights to be considered a protagonist, budget was not spared on the design and operations of the hotel, which is evident immediately upon arrival as guests enter the building on the lower level to be greeted by a warm, open and inviting contemporary space, filled with textured interiors that feel, well, considered – the contemporary faux fireplace feels like the centre point of the design. Around it, an integrated lighting scheme in the ceiling as well as the stairs, together with accented modern furniture and a large contemporary fireplace, allow the space to feel apty multi-layered. Meanwhile, adding a sprinkle of personality and playfulness to the space, an indoor swing hangs in the corner, on a platform, next to the bar.
When moving through the public areas, past the Möet Champagne bar, the atmosphere evolves as guests transition from inside to out and into the courtyard, where an island of furniture on top of a striking water feature becomes the focus. “This courtyard is so much more than just a nice area to sit and relax in the public areas,” said Irina and Olga Sundukovy. “Prior to this area, the guestrooms lacked ‘a view’ seeing as many of them face inwards around this void in the building.” The new courtyard effortlessly blurs the boundaries between indoors and out.
The public areas are indeed impressive, but the real asset of the hotel, in my opinion, is the intuitive design of the guestrooms and suites, which have been worked into the existing architecture shell of the building. Here, the rooms are not as you would expect. The shower, for example, is in the middle to the layout, I imagine to save space. Despite the shower therefore being in the centre of the room, the designers have ensured that privacy has not been sacrificed with the glass to the shower being mirrored.
The other detail, which suggests this hotel had a healthy budget and an investor who understood the ingredients needed to operate a successful hotel equipped for modern travels, is the technology, which so seamlessly and effortlessly connects the guests with the room. “The owner of the hotel really understood our design direction,” the designer twins added. “This allowed us to take the latest technology and merge this within the design scheme, with the aim to simply elevate the guest experience.”
Keeping tech under control, the touch-sensitive panels are simple to use and allow guests to command various lighting settings. Taking things a step further than conventional, even elements like the bedside lamp have been reimagined with that, in this case, being a spot from the ceiling.
With the F&B experience yet to be unveiled, MGallery has made its mark in the city of Plovdiv, with thanks to the owner’s creative vision and the interior design flair of Sundukovy Sisters (S+S). It is true what they say, a hotel really has the power to capture a city’s soul. For MGallery, which has more than 100 properties worldwide – a brand that has built a reputation for telling unique narratives, Plovdiv is a key destination that will help craft Accor’s perception while expanding its portfolio in places you perhaps would not expect.
Main image credit: Accor