Restoring a national treasure: creating The Marmorosch Bucharest

Architect Indre Sangus of joined Hamish Kilburn, Editor of Hotel Designs, on Travel By Design, the podcast he hosts for Marriott Bonvoy Traveler, to share the challenges and triumphs of creating The Marmorosch Bucharest, Autograph Collection…

Marmorosch-Bucharest lobby lounge area

Naturally high ceilings, vaulted rooms, central city locations and interior design details that so elegantly answer to both the architecture and the energy of the destination: former banks often shelter exceptional hotels. For the latest episode of Travel By Design, a podcast that is brought to you by Marriott Bonvoy Traveler, I found myself in Bucharest, Romania, a travel destination that is fast-becoming a hotspot for travellers seeking culture and adventure. My goal was to meet the lead designer who can teach me why that statement resonates true.

Listen below to the full 16-minute episode of the podcast, featuring the resort and Editor Hamish Kilburn’s interview with Almeida.

The Marmorosch Bucharest, an Autograph Collection hotel, was crafted inside the Marmorosch-Blank Bank Palace, a stately building in the heart of old town Bucharest that was originally constructed in 1912. Previously critical to the modernisation of the Romanian economy, the bank building is now a protected national monument — with intricate woodwork, stained glass and marble tiling throughout.

Marmorosch Bucharest public area in lobby

Image credit: Marriott International

Respecting the building and the city’s heritage, architect Indre Sangus was tasked to carve out a modern hotel, confronting a series of design challenges while creating something truly exceptional that would stand at the centre of Bucharest’s hospitality scene. The bathrooms, for example, required individual attention in order to ensure they were preserved without interfering with their performance.

A modern bathroom in heritage building

Image credit: Marriott International

“In one room, the wall is covered in glass, and the wooden panel is behind with a light,” the architect explained on the podcast episode. “It even looks better. But of course it’s protected from humidity, and you can freely have a shower and not damaging the wooden panel, but you can still feel the wood around you, which is quite exclusive, I would say.”

bar inside old bank at Marmorosch Bucharest

Image credit: Marriott International

Another complex aspect of the extensive restoration project was hiding the necessary above-ground plumbing. Sangus and her team answered this challenge with a confident solution, to hide the pipework inside the furniture and even the bar itself. “We used the furniture as a path for these pipes,” she said, “although nobody can see it now. When you see the final result, you will not even identify things like that, but at that time it was really a big challenge.”

A modern restaurant with lit up walls and contemporary art on the walls

Image credit: Marriott International

The other key focus for any designer and architect who is in the process of injecting a modern luxury hotel inside a heritage building is to ensure that the space feels comfortable, and full with personality. For the hotel, Sangus and her team, this led to creating a one-off experience for those who are checked in and adding drama inside the hotel’s speakeasy bar, which is located inside the former bank vault. “Everywhere you can see the deposit boxes,” explained the architect. “So it makes you feel a little bit, you know, visually, lost. We even found the old keys of these deposit boxes, so in some deposit boxes, we decided just to keep these keys, so the guests can unlock the deposit box and leave notes to friends.”

> Since you’re here, why not explore another podcast episode from Hamish Kilburn and Travel By Design? 

Travel By Design is a podcast, hosted by Editor Hamish Kilburn and brought to you by Marriott Bonvoy Traveler. Search ‘Travel By Design’ wherever you get your podcasts. New episodes, which feature incredible design stories from all corners of the world, drop bi-monthly.

Main image credit: Marriott International