Latest Hotel Review

    MINIVIEW: The Biltmore Mayfair, London

    730 565 Hamish Kilburn
    MINIVIEW: The Biltmore Mayfair, London

    In the heart of London’s leafy neighbourhood, The Biltmore Mayfair, London has had a £60 million renovation – and it is unrecognisable…

    The red-brick facade of The Biltmore Mayfair reopened its doors in September of this year as Europe’s first LXR Hotels & Resorts property. The 307-key hotel’s recent renovation has resulted in the building – and its interiors sheltered inside – becoming a new jewel in the prestigious neighbourhood, uniting 20th century grandeur with modern architectural details throughout.

    The hotel combines exquisite contemporary accommodation, stunning views across the gardens of Grosvenor Square, and innovative culinary concepts by Michelin Star restaurateur, Jason Atherton, creating the ultimate urban sanctuary in the heart of Mayfair.

    Red-bricked exterior of the hotel

    Image credit: The Biltmore Mayfair

    Guests looking for an elegant escape can book into one of the 57 quintessentially British suites. Designed to reflect the iconic area, each suite’s panelled walls and distressed mirrored headboards feature references of leafs and nature. As well as referencing a timeless location, the hotel guestrooms also feature modern touches, such as Ruark audio systems that sit on the bedside tables. The dark furniture of red and blue creates a deep luxe scene, while accents of colour in the soft furnishings adds a sensitive layer. The layout of each room has been sensitively designed so that guests can take in the vistas of Grosvenor Square.

    Quintessentially British suite

    Image credit: The Biltmore Mayfair

    The bathrooms, specified by Utopia Projects, continue the luxury theme with marble surfaces complimenting muted gold towel rails. Clever spot lighting has been added either side of the twin vanity basins to create meaningful statement as guests demand for wellness evolves.

    Luxe bathroom with marble and large bath tub

    Image credit: The Biltmore Mayfair

    The Biltmore Mayfair is also home to the capital’s most sought-after new restaurant concepts from world-renowned restaurateur Jason Atherton:

    • The Betterment features a seasonally driven menu, from locally-sourced fish and meats that are wood-fired, to signature salads and plant-based dishes.
    • The Pine Bar operates as a sophisticated bar with classic cocktails, exceptional wines and delicious bar snacks, including home-cured charcuterie.
    • The Tea Lounge, located within the hotel lobby, is ideal to enjoy one of London’s finest afternoon teas, and indulge in a selection of homemade sandwiches.  Guests can also enjoy sweet delicacies including a Dorset spice apple cake and lemon and lavender macarons, in the Writer’s Corner.
    • Finally, within the heart of the hotel is The Terrace. Open all year round, the relaxed, alfresco area is surrounded by stunning floral arrangements, sweeping greenery and glimmering fairy lights, making it the perfect spot to drink and dine under the stars.

    “We are delighted to be opening The Biltmore Mayfair, Europe’s first LXR Hotels & Resorts property, on London’s prestigious Grosvenor Square,” said Simon Vincent, President, EMEA, Hilton when the hotel opened in September. “Bringing contemporary luxury to Mayfair, guests will experience outstanding hospitality, including dining by Chef Jason Atherton, in remarkable surroundings that truly capture the spirit of London and British luxury.”

    With a host of iconic landmarks and neighbourhoods on its doorstep, including the home of bespoke tailoring, Savile Row, and exclusive retailers on Bond Street – the hotel is a decadent retreat to experience the best that London has to offer.

    Main image credit: The Biltmore Mayfair

    Checking in: Anse Chastanet and Jade Mountain, Saint Lucia

    730 565 Hamish Kilburn
    Checking in: Anse Chastanet and Jade Mountain, Saint Lucia

    With his aim fixed on understanding how one jaw-dropping location can harbour two very different – but no doubt both luxury escapes – editor Hamish Kilburn travelled to Saint Lucia to review the wonders of Anse Chastanet and Jade Mountain…

    On the western stretch of Saint Lucia, an island that last year welcomed more than 1.2 million visitors, two incredible design gem stones can be found. While the two hotels are very different in style, the experience of Anse Chastanet and Jade Mountain comes as one.

    Not only are the hotels two of the region’s most sought-after places to check in to, but they also stand as a permanent reminder of an unforgettable journey, which is full of discovery, challenges and sustainable solutions that is still ongoing for husband-and-wife team Nick and Karolin Troubetzkoy.

    “I’m a man that looks for logic,” says the critically acclaimed architect Nick Troubetzkoy as he peers over the evening’s dinner menu to take in the sweeping views of the sun disappearing over the edge of the horizon. The last of the day’s light reflects off the luscious jade-green mountains, which are commonly referred to as The Pitons. Jade Club literally takes the concept of fine-dining to new heights, as it is perched majestically on the hotel’s top floor. It doesn’t matter where you sit, you somehow always manage to catch the postcard perfect perspective of the twin mountains. Nothing here has been designed by coincidence, which is refreshing. “Designing a hotel requires logical and thoughtful steps throughout the entire process,” Troubetzkoy smirks as he leaves a pause in the air for effect. “The game rugby on the hand is not a logical game – you pass the ball backwards for starters” And just like, as England prepares to execute its World Cup campaign, I catch my first glimpse of the legendary architect’s sense of humour, and his dislike for design without purpose.

    Image credit: Jade Mountain

    For guests checking in, the adventure of both Anse Chasanet and Jade Mountain starts shortly after the plane touches down on the island’s soil. For the Troubetzkoys, though, the adventure started in the ‘70s, when the couple visited the tropical destination and fell in love with the island’s pristine, Caribbean Sea-facing, west coast.

    Drivers in Saint Lucia don’t lie. When warned that you’re going to endure a bumpy ride, that’s a cue to buckle up. The exact location of both hotels is the first indication that these magnificent properties have been designed meaningfully, from concept through to completion, in order shelter ultimate and unquestionable privacy and luxury. That kind of treasure comes at a cost, which in this case is an uneven road and a toe-curling drive over a cliff-edge. It’s the only road that has access to the hotels and it’s a thread that connects them from the heart of Soure Friee, a charming and friendly town, which is home to many of the staff – and prevents trespassers.

    Anse Chastanet

    Anse Chastanet sits at the foot of the mountain and is, in part, hidden within the surrounding forest that covers a staggering 77 per cent of the island. The hotel’s open-air design in both the public and private areas invites nature in at every opportunity. This is where the Troubetzkoy’s quest began, to create and develop the luxury hotel experience. Purchased in the ‘70s, the 49-key hotel was the Troubetzkoy’s debut luxury resort. Their plans to redevelop the hotel was in order make room for a new level of premium accommodation in Saint Lucia, the Caribbean, and indeed the world.

    Image credit: Anse Chastanet

    B.T. (Before Troubetzkoys), the Anse Chastanet was a collection of a few huts scattered along the beach, reflecting a conventional and arguably unmemorable Caribbean hotel. Years later, the Troubetzkoy family transformed it into a thriving multi-award-winning resort that operates as one of the Caribbean’s most premium destinations – and for good reason. “As far back as when we first opened, I remember asking our guests why we didn’t see very much of them outside their one-with-nature rooms,” says the architect. “I was told by them, that they were simply relaxing, breathing in the air, basking in the surroundings and enjoying a wonderful sense of calm and peace. When you compare that experience to being boxed into a traditional glass enclosed hotel room, breathing recirculated, machine-processed air, the difference is enormous.”

    There is no doubt about it, the resort is of its time, but that’s also its charm; a space that feels lived-in with a warming home-from-home character that is amplified further by the caring and considerate staff. A home that has no boundaries between interiors and exterior, designed to reflect the topography of the land. A home that celebrates literally the very definition of nature in design. Anse Chastanet is a wonderful, colourful, playful and unpretentiously luxurious hotel – and it was here where the idea for Troubetzkoy’s next project, Jade Mountain, was born.

    Image credit: Anse Chastanet

    There are references of the same design ethos in the foundations of both Anse Chasanet and Jade Mountain. The Royal Palm, Anse Chasanet’s most premium suite, is an excellent example of this, and is located half way up the mountain where the two hotels almost meet. The open-air concept carves out an understated premium scene, very much opening up the space to allow for the 260-degree views to do the hard work, while the Caribbean-infused interiors frame nature and sense of place in all its majesty. Famous art pieces by both local and international artists add personality into the space. The walls in the are covered with vibrant paintings by postmodernist German painter, Elvira Bach. But what is most impressive, in my opinion, is how the structure of the suite, including the bathroom, has been carved out in such a way, with a logical eye, so that, just like Jade Club, guests can almost always see The Pitons from each and every corner, which adds scrutiny and challenges to the standard cookie-cutter approach when it comes to designing luxury suites.

    “One day, while the plans for the hotel were still in early development, he looked at his collection, turned towards me and commented that ‘Jade Mountain’ had a nice ring to it.” – Karolin Troubetzkoy

    Jade Mountain

    “Do you know why we called it Jade Mountain?” asks Karolin Troubetzkoy who, as well as being the co-owner of the resort and is very much the brains behind its incredible initiatives, is also the current President of the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism. “Everyone always gets it wrong. They think it was simply the views of The Pitons. But actually, for years my husband created and collected these amazing miniature mountains, which were a luscious shade of jade. One day, while the plans for the hotel were still in early development, he looked at his collection, turned towards me and commented that ‘Jade Mountain’ had a nice ring to it.”

    Image credit: Jade Mountain

    What makes the hotel unique to any other design story – or any other hotel around the world for that matter – is how decisions were made, and quickly changed. “I wanted to create individualised spatial environments that would enable guests to forget about the furniture or the fact that they’re in a hotel room,” explains Nick Troubetzkoy. “In essence, I want our guests to forget about everything but experiencing the psychology of the space on an emotional almost spiritual level.”

    Image credit: Jade Mountain

    The term ‘jewel of the crown’ feels appropriate when describing its position on site. The magnificent structure of rough concrete imbued with locally quarried stoneappears once guests make it up the stairway to heaven by either foot or complimentary shuttle bus, and walk across the long, suspended private bridges that lead to what the hotel describes as ‘sanctuaries’.

    Editor Hamish Kilburn soaking in the views from JD1 Galaxy Suite at Jade Mountain

    All 29 sanctuaries frame the unparalleled vistas of The Pitons. While each area has been individually designed, they all share a few common themes. The lack of right angles in the design, for example, removing the fourth wall and creating an open-air concept helps keep the relationship between guest and nature together, while the interior walls are finished in a crushed blush toned coral plaster quarried in Barbados. Because of these indoor and outdoor moments working in harmony, there is a natural rhythm to guests’ stay without the need for clocks or televisions. Almost all sanctuaries feature infinity pools – and, by far, the most impressive spaces are the Galaxy Sanctuaries. JD1, which became my luxe home-from-home (and my handstand hangout) felt like an oversized luxurious penhouse apartment. Following my move up the mountain from Anse Chasenet, it’s the first time during my trip where I recognised luxury manufacturers and suppliers, such as Duravit W/Cs and premium seating by Janus et Cie and Dedon.

    And that’s not all. At Jade Mountain, unlike many other luxury hotels that claim to be eco-friendly, sustainability is a core value and not greenwashed simply as a marketing tool. While Anse Chasanet shares the same ethos, the living areas of each sanctuary in Jade Mountain are finished with more than 20 different species of tropical hardwood flooring and trims harvested in an environmentally meaningful way. The resort’s technicians actually visited the Rain Forest of Guyana and personally chose which trees to be used. A multitude of hardwoods have been used including Purpleheart, Greenheart, Locust, Kabukali, Snakewood, Bloodwood, Etikburabali, Futukbali, Taurino, Mora and Cabbage Wood.

    The consciousness of the resorts stretches beyond the design. 30 per cent of all produce at both Anse Chastanet and Jade Mountain is grown on site, just a few miles away from the hotels. It’s also here where the resort grows its own coco beans, so that both properties can make their own mouth-watering chocolate for guests to enjoy.

    While hotel designers continue striving to cater to the heavy demands of the modern traveller, perhaps there is something to be said in stripping away unnecessary technology and opening up interiors to nature to ultimately allow the natural experience of a pocket of paradise to stand the test of time.. After all, luxury will never go out of style.

    Main image credit: Jade Mountain/Anse Chastanet

    Checking in to Inhabit Hotel, sheltering a new level of eco design

    730 565 Hamish Kilburn
    Checking in to Inhabit Hotel, sheltering a new level of eco design

    During the London hotel’s soft launch period, editor Hamish Kilburn checks in to discover Inhabit’s debut property, which in the process earns his eco stamp of approval…

    Last year, an insightful study revealed that the city of London had the eighth highest level of pollution in the world, making the sky 67 times brighter than it would be without the contribution of humans. In the same study, it was highlighted that a staggering 84 per cent of Brits spend less than 10 minutes a day enjoying peace and quiet.

    Armed with these statistics, it came with great delight reading about a new hospitality concept of a fresh urban hotel perspective, where wellbeing and sustainable design was at the core of everything. Where the aim is for guests to leave feeling lighter, more free and inspired by taking the pace of life down a gear or two. Where time is luxury. Where Inhabit Hotel becomes a home-from-home.

    After a chaotic experience navigating the London Underground, which I politely consider to be ‘the pits’ of all public transport with it being the most polluted place in the city, I arrived at Paddington’s new boutique hotel in the same state of mind as I imagine most guests do; slightly stressed showing early symptoms of rush-hour rage. Juxtaposing the hustle and bustle of the city’s zone 1, the hotel’s understated is guests’ first indication of a new kind of hotel.

    The sixth-floor urban sanctuary is the brainchild of Nadira and Rihim Lalji, and is the cousins’ first hotel within the portfolio. Created by architecture firm Holland Harvey Architects and Caitlin Henderson Design, the 90-key hotel is designed with busy travellers in mind. My arrival experience feels more as if I am staying with warm hosts rather than a hotel. The lobby sits in perfect harmony between the F&B area, named Yeotown, and book-filled library.

    The check-in desk is down-played, and marries nicely into the laid-back luxury design concept. While checking in, my eyes are drawn to a timetable that I am not familiar with; a yoga and mediation schedule, which I am told launched only this week but was very much part of the core plan for the hotel. “Wellness is at the heart of our brand,” says Nadira Lalji. “Every aspect of our hotel is aligned with what being well means to us. We think of wellness as more than a physical state, but a way of being. Our brand pillars, which stand for social connectedness, intellectual expansion and environmental responsibility, reinforce this belief.”

    The ground-floor library is Inhabit’s answer to the rise in demand for public areas designed with bleisure in mind. The space encourages residents and members of the public to unwind, work and be inspired. The noise-free corner is complete with LED bulbs, which are 80 per cent more efficient in terms of energy used than traditional lighting. Occupancy sensors ensure that no energy is lost and guests are seen in their best light when they require it.

    Image credit: Inhabit Hotel

    Yeotown, is an innovative and thoughtful F&B area, perfect for guests on the move or as a venue for casual meetings. By partnering with food-wastage apps Karma and Too Good to Go, the area allows non-guests to pick up perfectly edible bargains which would otherwise be put into waste. The tables and chairs, made also by Holland and Harvey, have been created using materials honestly and in their natural state. “At Inhabit, we have specified oak flooring and joinery, all finished with a natural sealant to show off their natural colouring and tones,” said architect Richard Holland. “The floor is a natural stone from Fired Earth, which has beautiful variations and tonal differences.”

    Upstairs, the sustainability story continues, which is most impressive when considering that the hotel is sheltered within a Grade II listed building. From Casper eco-friendly mattresses to the REN amenities that are made from recycled plastic – even the soft toilet paper is 100 per cent recycled – the guestrooms and bathrooms are quite obviously designed with conscious guests in mind. But on close inspection, it becomes apparent just how high up on the agenda sustainability is for the hotel. Taking the concept of ‘escapism’, one step further, each room comes complete with Studio ND phone charge and stowaway boxes, made from scrap materials, so that guests can break away from their devices.

    Perhaps it was my perfectly timed stay to sit in-between speaking about this very topic on stage at the Independent Hotel Show – more likely it’s simply the sheer statement of an urban hotel having such an eco-focused message – that has put on a smile on my face when checking out following one of the best night’s sleep I have had in London for a while. I can’t help but feel totally relaxed and reassured that the bottom line of profit is not the only value when it comes to successfully operating a hotel. And it was this that inspired my latest Editor Checks In online column, where I argue that consciousness could very well become the new luxury.

    Main image credit: InHabit London

    MINIVIEW: Balancing heritage and playful design inside Maximilian Hotel

    730 565 Hamish Kilburn
    MINIVIEW: Balancing heritage and playful design inside Maximilian Hotel

    Known locally as one of Prague’s most established boutique hotels, redesigning the 71-key Maximilian Hotel called upon experienced minds and skilful to sensitively reimagine and redesign the hotel’s interiors. Editor Hamish Kilburn checks in for a sneak peek…

    Situated on Haštalská Street facing the Haštal Church – close to Prague’s Old Town Square, Maximilian Hotel was first opened in 1995, and was last last renovated by Czech architect Eva Jiřičná in 2005.

    Since then, an evolving demand among international savvy travellers has called for a new kind of F&B areas. Combine this with the rise of the urban ‘hometel’ hotel, the hotel was in drastic need of tender, love and meaningful care.

    Commissioned by the owners, Christian and Rudolf Ploberger, Conran and Partners was given the task to sensitively restore the hotel to its former glory, adding a modern mix of personality and character without diluting its charm – something that, considering the architectural shells of the hotel, was easier said than done.  “Maximilian presented us with interesting challenges,” says Tina Norden, Partner, Conran and Partners. “It consists of two different buildings with different architectural styles, which are connected on the ground floor by a linear series of previously underutilised public areas. Our challenge was to open up and unify these spaces to create a coherent and engaging journey for guests and visitors.”

    Previously, only a limited food and beverage offer existed in the front-of-house areas. The design team have added a café and bar at the main entrance, which animates the building’s façade and engages with the adjacent streetscape, including a small tree-lined paved area directly in front of the church opposite.

    In addition, the ground floor spaces were re-worked to include a brasserie within the new living room hub at the heart of the hotel, providing social spaces for guests and visitors. The Plobergers have teamed up with innovative Austrian restauranteur Marco Simonis to create the F&B concepts for the hotel.

    Martina Honcikova, Maximilian’s Creative Director, adds: “The new brasserie is a wonderful additon to the Prague gourmet scene and the reconfigured spaces within the hotel will allow us to host a range of private and public events. The design approach is highly creative – yet practical – and has helped to confirm Maximilian’s position as one of Prague’s leading hotels.”

    Conran and Partners’ design approach for the 71-key hotel reflects the cultural and architectural heritage of its urban context, referencing Czech modernism and the progressive art movement influenced by famous avant-garde artist and architectural writer, Karel Teige. Teige developed a version of the modernist principle that was based on much softer elements than many of his peers; his poetic modernism embraced elements such as texture and colour as well as more playful elements also represented in his many surreal collage works.

    The design team wanted to retain a strong element of Teige’s poetic modernism while creating sense of place rooted in the city and the neighbourhood. This involved drawing upon the iconic pastel colour palette of Prague’s architecture and local crafts – including weaving and glass-making – for the materiality of the design.

    “By respecting the heritage of the original building and through an inspiring collaboration with Conran and Partners, we have created a chic, contemporary urban dwelling that brings together the best of Czech tradition, culture and design with brasserie-style food,” says Rudolf Ploberger, co-owner of Maximilian. “The new design will allow us to focus on the needs of our guests to ensure that they experience a truly memorable time while in Prague.”

    “Each area of the hotel is highlighted in a different pastel tone.”

    Bold use of colour is the defining element of the design approach. Each area of the hotel is highlighted in a different pastel tone, referencing the colourful architecture of Prague’s inner city. This ranges from light green tones on entry, to pinks in the historic stairwells and a deep blue for the guestrooms. Overlaid on this are elements of local craft, made bespoke for the hotel, and a carefully curated selection of contemporary and classic furniture pieces in similar soft and colourful shades.

    Bespoke lighting elements designed by Conran and Partners, and made by Czech manufacturer Sans Souci, feature throughout the public areas and a contemporary chandelier crafted from handmade Czech glass was created for the living room and library spaces. The popular basement spa has been optimised and refreshed throughout using gentle pastel paint colours, bespoke artwork murals by local design company Lavmi and warm ambient lighting to promote relaxation.

    “The bespoke headboards reference the local craft of basket weaving.” Tina Norden, Partner, Conran and Partners

    “We have created an approach which is playful, provocative but also functional,” says Norden. “Colour features very strongly in the rooms as well, combining a deep blue with softer highlights and warm oak joinery, textured glass, mirror and brass details. The bespoke headboards reference the local craft of basket weaving, while the artwork celebrates the Czech avant-garde movement, including photomontages by Karel Teige. The terrazzo in the bathroom areas is both decorative and functional. Each room has a window bench seat – some looking out onto the church opposite – to offer guests a direct connection with the city and outside. Our aim was to redefine Maximilian with a clear and compelling personality which is grounded in the local context and re-establish it as a prime design destination hotel for the city.”

    Image credit: Matthias Aschauer

    Artwork plays a key part in the design, based on pieces the owners had already, combined with prints of iconic Teige collages and contemporary works inspired by his playful, surreal and intriguing works. The Teige pieces were sourced through the Czech archives with the new pieces curated with Dais Contemporary in London.

    Conran and Partners’ design approach for the rooms has sought to optimise the spaces across various guestroom layouts, which include quirky rooms with curved ceilings within the roof space, and give them a contemporary yet warm and residential feel.

    Main image credit: Matthias Aschauer

    Eco gem: The Tongsai Bay, Koh Samui

    730 565 Hamish Kilburn
    Eco gem: The Tongsai Bay, Koh Samui

    In search of eco gems, as we continue putting sustainability under the spotlight this month, journalist Sara Darling has committed to long haul, and Asia is firmly on her agenda. Removed from the hustle and bustle of Bangkok, Koh Samui is Darling’s next adventure as it is home to one of the world’s few fully sustainable boutique hotels, The Tongsai Bay…

    Koh Samui, just east of mainland Thailand, is a relaxed island, famous for its giant temple of the Big Buddha- a 39ft golden Buddha erected in 1792 at Wat Phra Yai. It is also the home of what I have found to be one of the world’s most sustainable boutique hotels.

    The Tongsai Bay, on the north east tip of the beautiful island, is a family run business which has been welcoming visitors since 1987, and is the ideal  tranquil break that is full of many sustainable and thoughtful moments thanks to its design, architecture and day-to-day operations.

    Nestled amongst 28 and a half acres of greenery, the secluded property consisting of low rise apartments, bungalows and cottages are spread in the valley of a private cove. Only 15 minutes from the airport, it is a short hop north of the popular Choeng Mon beach, and a ten minute transfer to the buzzy restaurants, bars and shopping in Fisherman’s Village.

    Paying attention to all the small details, the hotel has a modern rustic feel, which blends Eastern and Western philosophies with science and spirituality; However the subtle decor is more homely than pretentious and enhances the brand’s ethical stance. For example, the art throughout the property, which has been created by the hotel’s resident artist Mook, uses recycled materials – and paints my first indication of a sustainable and eco-friendly picture.

    Meanwhile, the elegant, airy villas have private pathways and pools which are interspersed amongst the greenery. Along with cottages, villas and suites, there are low rise blocks, all which maximise the uninterrupted sea views, and are designed to utilise the natural sun and shade within their open spaces.

    With a low-key, back-to-nature environment, the 83 chalets and villas that cascade down to a private beach on the Gulf of Thailand, have also been designed to enhance their natural surroundings, so guests can enjoy the birdsong, crashing waves and sound of crickets on their terrace. The terrace cottages all offer an outside “bath with a view”, four poster gazebo, bar, dining area and sun loungers, along with a freshwater plunge pool for ultimate luxury while feeling at one with the elements.

    “Dedicated to improving its carbon footprint, Tongsai Bay has abolished the use of all plastic – providing re-fillable glass drinking bottles and lemongrass straws for guests.”

    Great care has been taken to integrate the buildings into nature. They are furnished in contemporary Thai style – dark wood tables and beds, hardwood floors, along with modern showers, hairdryer and walk-in wardrobe.

    Dedicated to improving its carbon footprint, The Tongsai Bay has abolished the use of all plastic – providing re-fillable glass drinking bottles and lemongrass straws for guests. It also applies energy-saving measures throughout, stocks guestrooms with environmentally-friendly toiletries made by local supplier, and only changes bedding when requested.

    Other eco-conscious details include washing-up liquid and cleaning products produced from leftover peelings, and mosquito deterrent created with natural citronella and lemongrass. Staff are trained to be environmentally aware and the hotel prides itself on upcycling and composting everything it can- including the waste of the compost toilets for fertiliser, and recycling cooking oil.

    These simple approaches go a long way in making a difference to the future of the planet, and the ethos is subtly carried out across the site. From a bay that is free from mechanical water sports, to avoid pollution, to the two fresh water pools.

    Image credit: Tongsai Bay

    In regards to food, as much produce as possible is home grown for the Tongsai, at an impressive, off-site organic garden which provides ingredients for the bar, kitchen and spa, and is open to guests by arrangement. Packed with edibles including exotic fruits, herbs and vegetables, they are cared for using sustainable agricultural practices, and knowledgeable gardners.  The breakfast “Happy Juice” prepared by larger than life Khun Pu is an essential kick start to your day.

    A visit to Thailand is not complete without a massage, and the onsite Prana Spa provides a wide range of luxury, innovative treatments for a traditional  taste of Thailand. The scents and oils are provided by the same organic company as the bathroom products, and you can get transported to another world either in one of the cosy spa cottages or shady daybeds on the beach.

    For a deluxe stay in a hotel that really puts the environment first, along with friendly staff, The Tongsai Bay is a great place to escape from the rat race where guests can feel at one with nature and themselves.

    Main image credit: Tongsai Bay

    MINIVIEW: Austin Proper to open in December 2019

    730 565 Hamish Kilburn
    MINIVIEW: Austin Proper to open in December 2019

    Austin Proper Hotel and Residences offers an artful immersion in lifestyle and well-being. Ahead of its official opening in December, editor Hamish Kilburn took a sneak peek inside..

    Following the opening of Santa Monica Proper in July, Proper Hotels has extended its portfolio with the launch of Austin Proper Hotel and Residences.

    Also designed by the acclaimed Kelly Wearstler, the hotel shelters 244 rooms and suites; 99 branded residences; four unique settings for dining and drink; a focus on wellness with a dedicated spa and fitness centre; plus a variety of atmospheric spaces for events. And it wouldn’t be Proper without a 5th floor pool deck offering small-batch tequilas and majestic lake views.

    This sculptural new construction also integrates the work of award-winning Handel Architects in a progression of atmospheres including two pools, 9,500 square feet of event spaces, and multiple dining concepts by McGuire Moorman Hospitality. In step with Austin’s natural lifestyle, LEED Gold certification minimizes footprint and maximizes sustainability. To promote wellness for those who stay and work with Proper, these rigorous environmental standards extend from water use (reclaimed irrigation systems, in-building chilled water loops, centralized boilers) to low-VOC paints, energy-efficient LED lights, and insulated dual-pane windows that save energy and block UV.

    Render of a private pool

    Image credit: Proper Hotels

    Wearstler’s creative direction for the site-specific design of Austin Proper has unfolded over three years. The layered, individualistic look mines a tradition of artistry and craftsmanship distinct to Austin. The historical influence of Austin’s most stately homes inspires eye-catching details, from a sculptural staircase installation of 60 patch worked vintage rugs, to the lobby’s monolithic wood-and-ceramic grandfather clock. Local artists and materials feature prominently throughout, with every surface adding textural interest: pots, trays and cabinet inlay tiles by ceramicist Rick Van Dyke; locally quarried travertine on the pool deck; Delta wood panelling; native elmwoods; and antique mirror finishes.

    With Austin as muse, each of the 244 rooms and suites has been carefully detailed by Kelly Wearstler for refined living and restful evenings. The design is deeply influenced by local craft and material, from raw travertine sourced at nearby quarries, to trays by Rick Van Dyke to original fibre artworks by Magda Sayeg. Well-considered appointments include Aesop bath amenities, Kelly Wearstler x Parachute Home robes and signature Proper beds layering Simmons Providence Mattresses, Fili D’oro and Bellino Fine Linens.

    Stylish and chic restaurant with glass barriers

    Image credit: Proper Hotels

    Leading Austin Proper’s dining front is McGuire Moorman Hospitality, the award-winning team behind many of Austin’s best dining and entertainment spots. At the landmark eatery, guests can savour Mediterranean–inspired foods and flavours. Mezze plates and wood-grilled fare are colourful, healthy and wholesome, paired with house-made pita from the wood-burning oven. On the rooftop pool deck, a coastal Mexican restaurant with raw bar offers wood-fired seafood and fajita offerings. Morning, noon or night, a ground floor Mediterranean coffee shop serves savoury items to-go and tempting treats like soft-serve Greek frozen yogurt, while the sunken bar is an elegant hideaway.

    In step with Proper’s commitment to wellness, this urban getaway begins with a private reception to discuss a client’s needs. The facility includes a soothing lounge, five spa treatment rooms, men’s and women’s locker rooms with steam showers, and wellness experts on call. A 2,000-square-foot fitness centre is also on property.

    An array of high-end amenities aim to refresh, whether with a challenging workout in the 2,000-square-foot fitness centre, borrowing a bicycle for a lakeside trail ride, or a dip into world-class wellness at the spa. Guests are encouraged to linger on property, perhaps set up your office for the day by the 5th-floor pool. Dining options satisfy a variety of moods, whether cafe grab-and-go, garden cocktails overlooking Shoal Creek; poolside suppers, or a full feast at the landmark restaurant.

    From well-appointed ballrooms to music gardens, Austin Proper offers more than 9,500 square feet of thoughtfully designed spaces for indoor and outdoor meetings, weddings and special events, and private dining. Adding distinction to the creative design, the Proper team and McGuire Moorman Hospitality specially curate menus and styles of service to match any occasion.

    Austin Proper rises above the waterfront of a 2nd Street District booming with creative offices, world-class design, conveniences and culture. Add in an easy-going lifestyle, and you’ve got a style forward epicentre of pedestrian activity.

    Main image credit: Proper Hotels

    Checking in to a urban landmark: The Edwardian Manchester

    730 565 Hamish Kilburn
    Checking in to a urban landmark: The Edwardian Manchester

    The Edwardian Manchester, which joins The May Fair as Edwardian Hotels London’s second Radisson Collection property, has recently completed a £12m renovation. Editor Hamish Kilburn was invited to exclusive review the 263-room hotel… 

    A coherent blend of old and new is my first impression when, stood under a glass box that divides two buildings, I check in to the modern and contemporary The Edwardian Manchester.

    The Grade II listed The Free Trade Hall plays an integral role in the UK’s history and has long been an important spot for Mancunians. From the political, the Free Trade Hall was constructed in 1853–56 on St Peter’s Fields, the site of the Peterloo Massacre, to the cultural; a range of  iconic names have either performed or spoken at the property, from Charles Dickens to the Sex Pistols to Winston Churchill, the hotel embodies a sense of community and union.

    Edwardian Hotels London’s Design Team, led by Creative Director Rob Steul and Product Design Manager Krishma Singh-Dear, has successfully created a dynamic destination through smart, intuitive architectural design. Guests are drawn to a series of connected focal points throughout the building, with each location serving as a distinct purpose to enhance their visit. Their refusal to compromise on quality, and consistent attention to detail is apparent through the use of robust, yet luxurious materials and subtle highlights that consciously link spaces together.

    “The top-to-bottom renovation allowed the opportunity to marry the modern bedroom tower with the important heritage of the Grade II* listed original building,” says Steul. “The ground floor public rooms now create a coherent guest arrival leading to a varied and memorable flow of elegant spaces – layering materials, colour and lighting in a clear spatial sequence with texture and drama. It was critical in this building to get the balance of old and new right, allowing the memory of the Free Trade Hall, with its heroic façade, to live on as part of a confidently modern yet comfortable hotel. For me, the great surprise is the spa, gym and pool found below the entry level – a true urban resort in the heart of Manchester.”

    The lobby’s design is an excellent place to start. Balanced to reflect both the building’s heritage as well as the modern soul of Manchester. A large contemporary chandelier hangs in the entrance under a carefully curated mix of relaxed public seating. Meanwhile, above the long check-in desk, deliberately hidden from view upon arrival, are crests of honour, which reference the properties previous life.

    Peter Street Kitchen

    The ground floor restaurant, Peter Street Kitchen, serves hotel guests a fusion of Japanese and Mexican cuisine under a quirky and thoughtful design concept that aims to bring people closer together. The design team created a sequence of four distinctive spaces; a heroic scaled bar, an intimate circular dining room, a shared table area, and a relaxed lounge running the length of the barrel-vaulted colonnade overlooking the nightlife of Peter Street.

    “A varied palette juxtaposes smooth and textured materials to further define the space.”

    The unique menu inspired design features such as shared bench tables, a Hibachi inspired fire pit, and sumptuous leather-clad booths. Highly dramatic mood and feature lighting complements the stylish textures of natural woods, river stone, and sleek steel, with the historic carved stone arches and highly detailed plasterwork serving as a rich backdrop.

    A varied palette juxtaposes smooth and textured materials to further define the space. Circular marble mosaics and wood planking is used on the floors with historic stone with hand-crafted plaster framing circular mirrors and reflecting the shape and light of the arches opposite. The rough, raw timber exterior cladding of the bespoke dining banquets gives way to a supple white leather interior, further enhancing the powerful, circular form of the dining area.

    Image caption/credit: Peter Street Kitchen/Edwardian Hotels

    The Library

    Also situated on the ground floor, The Library has been curated by Assouline and is nestled adjacent to the welcoming lobby. The chic and contemporary dining concept includes neon lighting and considered bookshelves to create subtle boundaries. What is arguably most impressive, though, is the style of the menu. Designed around the theme of a recipe book, a clean image of the dish is the left of the page, while a precise list of ingredients is on the right page.

    “Mirrored nickel lamps project a warm glow over the navy velvet and dark woollen charcoal grey armchairs.”

    Complete with stunning, limited-edition books, the area, especially during the day, is a sophisticated space that encourages guests to sink into leather sofas and wingback armchairs to truly relax. Mirrored nickel lamps project a warm glow over the navy velvet and dark woollen charcoal grey armchairs, whilst the baby grand piano greets guests with a luxury setting to eat, drink and relax in, simultaneously capturing Manchester’s ties to art and culture. The property’s birch tree wallpaper has been used to mirror the exterior birch trees that line South Street entrance, bringing a connection and synergy between the two spaces.

    Wellness and wellbeing

    The lower floor of the hotel features the hotel’s gym and spa, which has been completely reimagined to manipulate ceiling heights, remove the appearance of walls and barriers, and create an open and fluid floor plan that provides clear sight lines between the defined spaces. The entire pool area is encompassed by a neutral palette of wood, concrete, marble and white flooring which aesthetically contrasts with the 12-metre pool’s aqua blue stone lining, creating an alluring lagoon. Crittall glass dividers are used to open the space and maximise light, while the swimming pool is further enhanced as a destination space with seven low cabanas creating a truly relaxing escape for guests.

    “The project allowed us to combine modern design influence with the property’s classic heritage.” – Product Design Manager, Krishma Singh-Dear

    Image caption/credit: The spa/Edwardian Hotels

    Guestrooms and suites

    The hotel’s guestrooms and suites have also been transformed, aligning with the contemporary design used throughout the property’s ground floor. Modern, yet relaxed and inviting, a pallet of greys mixes with black leather, smart dogtooth, marble, walnut and brass.

    Iconic images of Manchester and its history adorn each room, bringing flashes of colour alongside bespoke graphic prints designed exclusively for the hotel, while quirky details, such as the same checkered armchair seen in the lobby, add personality and form to each room.

    Image caption/credit: Modern guestroom/Edwardian Hotels

    “Aside from our ongoing work on the group’s first Super Boutique hotel The Londoner, the refurbishment of The Edwardian Manchester has been our largest and most complicated in-house designed and managed project to date,” explains Singh-Dear. “The project allowed us to combine modern design influence with the property’s classic heritage. I am very proud of the result and enjoy seeing our guests enjoy the spaces we have created.”

    Combining luxury, style and a rich history, The Edwardian Manchester has become one of the most established five-star hotels in the region as the brand prepares to open what is said to become one of the most environmentally friendly in the UK, with sustainability at its core.

    Main image credit: Edwardian Hotels

    INTERACTIVE HOTEL REVIEW: Monkey Island Estate, Bray-on-Thames

    730 565 Hamish Kilburn
    INTERACTIVE HOTEL REVIEW: Monkey Island Estate, Bray-on-Thames

    Unearthing eight centuries of history, editor Hamish Kilburn checks in to Bray-on-Thames’ Monkey Island Estate to interactively review a new kind of private countryside luxury…

    Travel upstream from London and you eventually arrive in the quintessentially British surroundings of Bray-on-Thames, a quiet suburban village that is arguably most for harbouring two of the UK’s five restaurants that hold three Michelin stars.

    But before the existence of award-winning gourmet F&B establishment, some 800 years prior, there quietly sat an empty island, which went on to soak up interesting eras. It was firstly an ideal setting for monks seeking peace on the banks of the river. It is said that after the Great Fire of London in 1666, materials from Oxfordshire, such as stone and brick, were transported down the river for rebuilding the city. On the vessels’ return, rubble would be spread around some of the Thames islands, which greatly reduced erosion and helped to strengthen the foundations.

    A few decades later, in 1738, the land was purchased by Charles Spencer, 3rdDuke of Marlborough, who was rumoured to have paid palladian architect Robert Morris £2,277 to erect the first two buildings on the island in order to indulge his hobby of fishing. It took Morri three years to complete, but his work marks an important milestone in the property and island’s history – and it is arguably here where the narrative of what is now known as Monkey Island Estate really begins. But it was only recently when the story took on a new narrative, complete with the introduction of new characters, to become a completely unique boutique hotel.

    In 2016, YTL Hotels acquired the land, and work began to restore the property into a modern and relaxed countryside abode. Inspired by the haunts of monks, monarchs, aristocrats and writers alike, New York-based Champalimaud Design was responsible to sensitively orchestrate the interior design of the hotel. Having completed the interior design of YTL’s debut UK property, The Gainsborough Bath and Spa, and more recently The Academy in London, the studio, while also sensitively restoring Raffles Singapore, was well-poised to develop the relationship further.

    Unlike any hotel project that lead designer Jon Kastl has faced before, the geography of Monkey Island Estate presented its own unique set of challenges. “You have no idea how difficult it is to work on a island that has no direct car access,” he explains. “Everything had to be carried over the footbridge onto the island. And then, the other challenge was the age of the buildings, and dealing with the neglect of the building. They were in pretty rough shape, almost falling into disrepair.”

    Guests’ first impression of the hotel is an understated – almost camouflaged – lobby area in a cosy ‘boathouse’ – the feeling of being taken away from the daily grind does not get much stronger than this so close to the centre of London. “The hotel is relatively small,” adds “

    The short walk over the footbridge from the unassuming lobby to the public areas is one of wonder. Architectural landscape designer AV Design has created a majestic garden that compliments the various buildings.

    Framing what should be in my opinion the postcard picturesque views of the River Thames, the pavilion building, which shelters the majority of the public areas, sets a relaxing setting – and echoes, on a balmy summer afternoon at least, the same peaceful scene that I imagine was once enjoyed by monks centuries ago.

    Caption: The Restaurant | Image credit: ACT Studios

    Although the bar and restaurant is, on the surface, seemingly conventional, the building has a few hidden gems. The Monkey Room, for example, stands true to its original form and structure – and even design. “The only thing we changed was the purple paint colours on the ceiling and add the furnishings,” says Kastl. The eye-catching murals on the panelling is all original which has been there from since when the building was first built.

    Caption: The Monkey Room | Image credit: ACT Studios

    Up the spiral staircase, The Whiskey Room is the latest area that has opened. Designed with the winter months in mind, the cosy and home-from-home atmosphere, complete with tactile wallcoverings, is an expected treat.

    It is because of the fact that the 41 guestrooms and one originally restored suite are sheltered in a grade I-listed building that makes the design story even more fascinating. The design of each and every one of the guestrooms utilises the entire space, with some stretching out onto terraces which look over the river, while carefully blending in a modern style that becomes timeless.  “We just had to accept the smallness of the rooms when designing them,” Kastl explains. “We did things like designing miniature shelves and additional service space. We designed rails that lined the rolls for guests to hang items from. Because there is such a limited closet space, we had to rely on these rails.” The furniture is scaled appropriately so that it fits in the limited space neatly. Meanwhile, the blinds and curtains, supplied by Concept Contract Furnishings are deliberately not heavy, and instead naturally flood the rooms with light to make them look and feel more expansive.

    INTERACTIVE tour of The Wedgwood Suite | Image credit: ACT Studios

    Despite the guestrooms being impressive – and adding to the overall interior design story (and challenges) – the masterpiece of the hotel is perhaps sheltered upstairs in the Wedgewood Suite. “The room, from the panelling to the ceiling, was very much intact,” explains Kastl. “One of the challenges was that it has windows on three sides, so from a layout point of view it created a few headaches.” The ensuite bathroom has been re-gutted and given a fresh and modern look. “ The suite is the coming together of old heritage design and the new.

    Moored on the river bank, the hotel’s spa is unlike any other in or around London. The facilities have been curated by Melissa Mettler who took inspiration from its riverine surrounds, past inhabitants in the form of royalty, liturgy and literary stars, as well as elegant architecture. The floating spa, which features two treatment rooms that are uniquely sheltered within a renovated barge, is a celebration of the power of water blended together with natural wellbeing and wellness.

    Image credit: ACT Studios

    I’m sure, for the designers as much as the operators, that the thought of completing Monkey Island Estate and opening again to the public was a distant day dream. But, considering the drastic rise in demand for wellbeing as well as wellness, the timing of YTL hotel’s countryside retreat could not have been more perfect. Checking out of Monkey Island feeling fully restored in mind, body and spirit myself, following a short by sweet trip to the floating spa before departure, the hotel locks in so many unique and thoughtful moments – and exceeds expectations to become one of the UK’s premium countryside retreats.

    Main image credit: ACT Studios

    The Standard London, Camden’s new kid on the block

    730 565 Hamish Kilburn
    The Standard London, Camden’s new kid on the block

    In search of a new standard in design, creativity and urban hotels, editor Hamish Kilburn checks in to London’s most talked-about hotels this year to explore another world. The Standard London has opened, making a bold statement on the capital’s new hospitality scene… 

    Something significant is happening in London’s King’s Cross area. It’s been brewing for some time now, but it has only recently erupted.

    During London Design Festival and London Fashion Week, the area was the backdrop of a scene of celebrities, models and the odd design editor or two falling out of parties and onto pavements. Soho and Shoreditch were desolate deserts in comparison. It’s the power of real estate like you have never seen before. Selecting its opening date carefully, The Standard has disrupted everything – and it’s about time too!

    Although, for years, the district has evolved with the time, it was the expansions to King’s Cross and the new St Pancras International stations adjacent to each other that started the catalyst for change. Strangely enough, my father worked on the construction of both. I remember the odd non-official ‘bring your son to work’ day, the oversized hard hat specifically, as we meandered around the expansive building site unable to imagine the finished picture. “Soon, you will be able to travel from London to Paris in just two hours, imagine that” I remember my father saying overexcitedly. “Right here, where you are standing, is going to become London’s major international train station!”

    Whether or not my pops really was one of the first to envision the area’s potential is irrelevant. The station opened and almost instantly the cool, quirky neighbourhood of Camden became even more of a hotspot for the mainstream, without much – if any – loss of its bold and bohemian personality. As a result, the capital’s hotel scene – quick to follow major travel trends – moved outward to put a roof over the raw and rustic scenes that its locals had created.

    And here we are, welcoming the city’s new arrival, The Standard, which has been patiently waiting in the wings for some time now. And while all hotels have a story (some more worth sharing than others), The Standards’ narrative is as unique as the interior design scheme locked within; a perfect meeting of American soul and London’s ostentatious quirk.

    Housed in the former Camden Town Hall Annex in London’s thriving King’s Cross neighbourhood, the 1974 Brutalist building has been meticulously restored by the legendary ORMS Architects in collaboration, in part, with Archer Humphryes Architects.

    The 266-key hotel, which shelters 42 suites, sets the perfect stage for the brand’s first arrival outside America. Uniquely overlooking the iconic St Pancras Station, from street level it’s juxtaposition of architecture that shouldn’t but does work. On the north side is the traditional 19th-century iconic neo-gothic architecture, which has stood the test of time, and two world wars for that matter, unscathed. On the south side is the ultra-modern non-conventional structure, symbolising loudly that times are changing.

    “Three new storeys have been added to the top of the building,” explains Simon Whitaker from ORMS Architects. “The form of which has been derived from the host building below, and clad in new stainless steel and glass panels. Two of these floors provide hotel bedrooms, whilst the top floor is dedicated to the new restaurant and bar, with a roof terrace above.”

    Image credit: The Standard Hotels

    Upon entering, the lobby lounge sets the scene, with a carefully curated library that pays homage to the building’s original use. Further in, sound studio booths host weekly live music and talks. Executive Chef Adam Rawson’s street facing bar, Double Standard, designed by Shawn Hausman, the neighbourhood’s street-facing anchor for lunch, casual drinking and dining throughout the evening.

    Although the colour scheme in the guestrooms and suites may not be to everyone’s taste, it is very much so mine. Not so much because of the tones used, but more so because they have been intertwined together with purpose – and unapologetically so for that matter. Complete with bespoke curved sofas and the King’s rooms featuring outdoor terrace bathtubs, the idiosyncratic charm of the hotel is certainly not limited to the public areas.

    Image credit: The Standard Hotels

    Before it opened, the hotel’s street level, red exterior lift was the ultimate teaser campaign. Now fully open, it shoots guests up directly to the 10th-floor where Chef Peter Sanchez-Iglesias’ restaurant showcases his live-fire cooking and where guests and visitors alike can enjoy the building’s 360-degree views of the city below all-year round thanks to the retractable awning.

    No longer do party-hard followers of the brand have to travel stateside to experience The Standard’s retro maximalism. First launched in the late 90s with its debut hotel in Hollywood, which for the record remains to this day a go-to destination on the Sunset Strip, the hotel’s urban cool influence is London’s answer to keeping the Camden’s hospitality scene fresh, authentic and designed with purpose.

    It’s next stop? The Maldives, next month in fact, which will be an interesting page to turn in what is an unmistakably climatic chapter for the now international hotel brand.

    Main image credit: The Standard Hotels

    MINIVIEW: The Pig at Bridge Place

    730 565 Hamish Kilburn
    MINIVIEW: The Pig at Bridge Place

    Following its hotly anticipated opening in April, The Pig at Bridge Place marks the hotel brand’s sixth authentic boutique hotel within its portfolio. Editor Hamish Kilburn heads back to his home county in Kent to explore the countryside gem… 

    With its welcoming red brick façade and ornate Jacobean interior, Bridge Place is an intriguing old building with an usual rock-n-roll vibe. Over the past four decades, this musical honeypot in Bridge, Kent, has been home to some renowned parties and gigs playing host in the ‘70s to Led Zeppelin and The Kinks.

    The property houses a wealth of period features, which are most noticeable in the public areas, including large fireplaces, secret stairways, panelled walls and endless nooks and crannies. In the refurbishment, all of these structural nuances have been respected and enhanced to create seven bedrooms along with numerous cosy bars and sitting areas.

    But now, the building has turned the page to a new chapter, The Pig at Bridge Place is a 31-key boutique hotel that oozes effortless style thanks to the acclaimed designer Judy Hutson, whose signature style has given The Pig its unique brand of laid-back chic, which has been beloved by guests to date.

    The Pig, Bridge Place, Canterbury, Kent, hotel, boutique hotel, gardens, restaurant, bar

    Attached to the main building a new, carefully detailed Coach House contains a restaurant with open kitchen. Within The Coach House are 12 bedrooms; four on the ground floor and eight on the first floor. Over the brook via a hand crafted wooden bridge are seven fitting Hop Pickers’ Huts created from reclaimed materials all dotted along a meandering wooden walkway. Each hut houses a double bedroom with cosy bathroom and wood-burning stove. Next to the kitchen garden is The Barn; a large upstairs/downstairs room with vast bathroom and bedroom views across the garden.

    Worlds away from the building’s former existence of being an illustrious party scene in the ’70s, the rooms inside The Pig at Bridge Place are a calming oasis reflecting countryside bliss. Overflowing with character and style, each key unlocks its own personality. Original details can be found in each room, which are finished effortlessly with carefully curated artwork and an array of personally chosen vintage features.

    “We’ve had a great couple of years, with customers seeming to love what we do. Occupancy is in the mid 90 per cent in our rural locations and we know from our guests and their invaluable feedback that they want more PIGs,” said CEO of Home Grown Hotels Robin Hutson. “After searching far and wide for truly unique properties, we really are over the moon about our new hotel in Kent.”

    If the design wasn’t impressive enough, as with every other PIG, the kitchen garden and restaurant sit at the beating heart of this property; anything that can’t be supplied by the gardens are impressively sourced from Kent’s best producers within a 25-mile radius of Bridge.

    Main image credit: The Pig at Bridge Place

    MINIVIEW: Zafiro Palace Alcudia

    730 565 Hamish Kilburn
    MINIVIEW: Zafiro Palace Alcudia

    Zafiro Palace Alcudia is a family friendly hotel with a luxury edge. Chantal Borciani checks in to review…

    Framed by the majestic landscape of mountains in northern Mallorca, Zafiro Palace Hotel Alcudia occupies an enviable position just five minutes’ walk from the pretty harbour of Alcudia and just 15 minutes from the Medieval Old Town. Surrounded by sea and rolling countryside, it’s easy to see why nature plays a key role in Zafiro’s aesthetic.

    From the stylish marble lobby, the eye is immediately drawn outside to the vast gardens that form the focal point of the property. The immaculate tiered lawns are sown with native Mallorcan plants and flowers and feature 11 glittering pools. Despite the impressive aquatic offering, Zafiro Palace Alcudia retains the intimacy of a much smaller hotel with a boutique vibe that sets it apart from other family hotels on the island.

    “Antonia Plomer personally selects everything every material and piece of artwork used in the hotel.”

    Mature gardens are dotted with shaded hideaways and quiet corners while alongside some of the larger pools, billowing white draped cabana beds are available for all guests to use on a complimentary basis. Raised up a level above the swim-up pool bar and trendy poolside restaurant, the adult-only pool area is another cabana-lined oasis.

    Designed with small footprints in mind, kids are well catered for as well, of course with a fantastic pirate ship pool, slides and play area occupying a quadrant of the gardens. ‘Run for families, by families’ is the spirit behind the Zafiro brand, which was set up by father Tomeu Plomer and still rings true today. The hotel has recently had a refresh under daughters Antonia and Maria Plomer who now run the business and have deftly anticipated new trends.

    “Lines are clean, minimalist and chic; the white angular buildings emphasising the contemporary feel of the property.”

    Antonia Plomer personally selects every material and piece of artwork used in the hotel, sourcing the majority of elements from Mallorcan and Spanish suppliers to great effect. Décor is sophisticated and the neutral palette is calming and light, save small dashes of colour from soft furnishings and modern lighting and framed prints.

    While being resolutely family friendly, the all-suite hotel retains a luxury edge in design and feel. Lines are clean, minimalist and chic; the white angular buildings emphasising the contemporary feel of the property. Suites are spacious, elegant and flooded with light thanks to large balconies. Each suite features an open-plan bathroom, while sliding doors in the family rooms mean parents can easily ‘zone off’ sleeping areas for kids.

    All 369 suites can be configured to accommodate children while bespoke family suites feature two bedrooms. Handy touches such as microwaves in all rooms, high-end coffee machines and ample storage and wardrobe space add to the thoughtful design.

    Image credit: Zafiro Palace Hotels

    On the ground level, the aforementioned swim-up suites boast a private garden and direct pool access ideal for families who love to be in and out of the water all day. On the top floor, the penthouse suites are blessed with a rooftop terrace complete with Jacuzzi and Bali beds. With mesmeric views out across the Mallorcan mountains and coast, these sumptuous suites should be top pick for those looking for luxury escapism.

    The Presidential Owner’s Suite, usually the reserve of Mallorcan elite and celebrities, occupies 180 square metres and features a vast terrace with Jacuzzi, shower and Bali bed. The decadent interior is accented by design-led furniture and contemporary chandeliers selected from Barcelona-based procurer Santa e Cole, while alongside the master bed sits a decadent marble emerado and white makael bathtub.

    In the public areas, Antonia Plomer’s astute eye for design makes great impact. The four á la carterestaurants reflect a different aesthetic and cuisine without becoming overly thematic and each dining area is blessed with stunning views of the gardens and pools thanks to terraces and floor to ceiling windows.

    Image credit: Zafiro Palace Hotels

    Off season, the hotel is a magnet for cyclists and active travellers keen to make the most of Mallorca’s long season and enviable hiking and cycling routes. In fact, the hotel hosts many of the participants in Alcudia’s annual Ironman and is a fantastic base from which to explore the island. The Old Town of Alcudia is steeped in history and sprinkled with lovely wine bars, while at the harbour guests can hire a classic Mallorcan launch and cruise along the magical coastline.

    It’s no mean feat to cater to children while also affording the adults a slice of luxury and relaxation yet Zafiro Palace Hotel Alcudia has done so with ease. Small touches, so often only found in owner-run hotels such as this, make all the difference here alongside the sophisticated family accommodation which feels a world away from the large carbon copy, faceless all inclusives of old.

    Main image credit: Zafiro Palace Hotels

    Large and expansive public area that is designed to look very residential

    MINIVIEW: Discreet luxury unveiled by Nicky Dobree in the heart of Vejer

    730 565 Hamish Kilburn
    MINIVIEW: Discreet luxury unveiled by Nicky Dobree in the heart of Vejer

    To complete the Concept to Completion series with Nicky Dobree, Hotel Designs is given the keys to finally unlock the majestic heavy doors of pure luxury inside Plaza 18… 

    Up until now, the designer Nicky Dobree has been synonymous with luxury Alpine chalet design and most recently very high end residential design. Most recently she has turned her attention to Plaza 18, her debut hotel design project in collaboration with Vejer’s Hotel La Casa del Califa.

    Large and expansive public area that is designed to look very residential

    Set in the former 19th C merchant’s house Nicky Dobree has taken inspiration from this elegant building and brought new life back into this Grand Dame by respecting its history, but also lifting its character to provide an enriched experience for the modern traveller. Working with local trades and craftsmen, the building, which dates back to 1896 and stands on the foundations of an ancient 13th C Arab house, has been entirely restored using authentic organic building materials where ever possible.

    “Meticulous care and attention to detail has been maintained throughout the refurbishment of this important historic property.”

    Exterior of the hotel

    Image credit: Plaza 18/Philip Vile

    Dobree was determined to restore and re-use as many of its existing features as possible. The original black and white floor tiles were therefore lifted and re-laid on newly levelled floors. The Montera (large glazed roof lantern over the entrance patio) was carefully dismantled and repaired to its former glory, which now floods the entrance foyer with light. The stone staircase and balustrade were also completely restored, as was all the metal work around the entrance gate. Many of the original shutters and windows were restored along with the front door. Meticulous care and attention to detail has been maintained throughout the refurbishment of this important historic property.

    Extremely reclined interiors with personal interiors

    Image credit: Plaza 18/Philip Vile

    The designer felt that her role was to curate this elegant old building and to bring it a new lease of life, enhancing its beauty with style and a subtle creative twist.

    Plaza 18 has been a true labour of love with the inevitable obstacles of planning, working abroad and within a listed building. The trials and tribulations of restoring an old building and the rules and regulations that needed to be adhered to, to convert it into a commercial venture, has meant that the project took two years to get through planning and a further two years to compete.

    The hotel is now the secret second home that one has always dreamed of, warm and welcoming with a strong sense of place, an oasis within an oasis.

    Whilst the details adhere to the classical principles of the house, there is comfort and elegance through every door. Every room has a story to tell and contains pieces that have been lovingly curated by Dobree from around the world. This is evident from the moment you enter with the oversized black and white mirror by a South African artist which makes a dramatic statement in the entrance.  Dobree designed the bespoke console to sit beneath the mirror that complements the monochromatic entrance scheme.

    In the patio whilst your eye is drawn up to the montera and the wonderful central staircase you cannot miss the large scale butterfly painting sourced from an antiques fair.

    Stepping into the sitting room, there is nothing more welcoming than a well stocked drinks trolley, an honesty bar, that can be enjoyed by guests at Plaza 18. Standing proud above it is a painting of Admiral Lord de Saumarez who fought at the Battle of Trafalgar (a short drive from the hotel) alongside Admiral Lord Nelson.

    “On a clear day the North African coast is visible.”

    Leading off the sitting room is the main terrace with views across the old town, sierras and coast line. On a clear day the North African coast is visible. It is here that guests can enjoy breakfast, sitting on olive wicker chairs with outdoor fabrics that complement the vintage printed crockery. No detail has been missed.

    Tall black bespoke doors with circular brass handles designed by Dobree create drama and continuity throughout. Behind each of these doors are interiors that are intensely layered and so inviting that everywhere you turn is a visual delight.   Here you will discover more of Dobree’s curated pieces such as a Japanese Boro Kimono or collage painting by Peter Clarke.

    All the bathrooms have been beautifully designed using Spanish floor tiles and bespoke marble vanities with Lefroy Brooks deco style fittings echoing the elegance of the house.

    The attention to detail is reflected in every aspect of one’s experience here. Dobree worked with a renowned perfumer to provide bespoke toiletries that have been specially formulated to create a signature scent for Plaza 18 and that are soft and subtle on the skin. The scent is inspired by the aromas that perfume Vejer, orange, bergamot, lavender and geranium. The base of olive oil and almond that nourishes the skin is local too.

    Plaza 18 has a true home from home feeling that brings Dobree’s collective chic and timeless elegant style to Vejer. It is a place to feel at home, a place to disconnect and re-discover.

    Hotel Designs has followed the construction of Plaza 18, Dobree’s first hotel project, from concept to competition. Click here to read part one. Click here to read part two. Click here to read part three

    Main image credit: Plaza 18/Philip Vile

    Checking In: Wyndham Grand Athens

    730 565 Hamish Kilburn
    Checking In: Wyndham Grand Athens

    With unparalleled views casting over the ancient city below, Wyndham Grand Athens opened in 2017 to capture the city from a unique perspective. Editor Hamish Kilburn checks in two years later to explore just how timeless the interiors really are…

    It seems to me that Greece – and Athens in particular – is a magnet this year for influencers – my Instagram feed for starters is bursting at the seams with the hashtag #VisitGreece. And so, like all consumers, slaves to the travel trends, I felt obliged to check in on the action to discover hotel design Greek style.

    Despite the destination’s pockets of derelict and forgotten-in-time in places, Athens’ authentic charm amplifies through the streets and outwards towards the barefoot-luxury islands. And with a recent report published by GBR Consulting revealing that at least 40 new accommodation units (hotels and room-to-let properties) arrived in the city in the first half of this year, it seems as if my social media is, after all, an accurate tool for measuring travel hotspots.

    With the vast number of archaeological sites dotted around – and the 5th Century BC landmarks – I would argue that a good place to start is up high, soaking in the establishing shot from a rooftop bar, which features panoramic views stretching from the ancient acropolis right through to the port of Piraeus. Luckily for me, and after the recommendation from the hotel group’s President and Managing Director, Wyndham Grand Athens offers all of this and more.

    The hotel, which is the hotel group’s first property in Greece, is situated on Karaiskaki Place, an area that was once seen as an area to avoid for tourists. However, following a stream of newly opened art galleries, modern coffee shops and restaurants, it became one of the destination’s most up-and-coming neighborhoods – a reputation that Wyndham Hotels only strengthened when it arrived in 2017.

    Zeus International transformed the building owned by VIOHALCO, which formerly housed the Hotel Athens Imperial. The now 276-key hotel shelters timeless and dynamic interiors, balancing a healthy mix of warm and sharp public spaces combined with calming guestrooms and suites.

    Upon entering, guests are welcomed into a neutral yet inviting lobby, which leads up to FOS Restaurant on the ground floor. The interiors inside FOS, which is the Greek for ‘light’, create an appropriate scene. The contemporary F&B scene sits under a large chandelier that is suspended from an expansive floor-to-ceiling atrium.

    From one unforgettable public area to another, located on the rooftop of the hotel is the Above Bar and Restaurant. Complete with unobstructed views over the acropolis, making it one of the best roof-top restaurants in the city, this area is quirky and relaxed. Blue, mustard, grey and black contemporary Enka furniture confidently contrast the geometric flooring, creating a strong mise en scéne for any scenario.

    Adjacent to the subdued design-led restaurant and bar is a modest pool, which also captures the same Insta-worthy panoramic views over the city.

    The majority of the 249 guestrooms and 27 suites include views over the city and the Acropolis or Lycabettus Hill. The interiors feature soft silvery-toned wallpaper with accents of colour in the furniture and soft furnishings and some include windows that wrap around the room, adding further natural light in.

    Image credit: Marcelo Barbosa

    The stripped-back modern décor of the guestrooms and suites continues in the marble bathrooms. The yellow glow in the suites’ furniture becomes a motif as it is also echoed on the soft reflective surface behind the wide bathroom mirror, creating an ambiance of subtle contemporary luxury.

    Although Wyndham Grand Athens is not the latest hotel to emerge on the hotel design scene recently, it is certainly a strong example of how a design-led hotel can significantly lift a destination to become a major go-to travel hotspot.

    Main image credit: Marcelo Barbosa

    MINIVIEW: room2 Southampton, the debut hometel

    730 565 Hamish Kilburn
    MINIVIEW: room2 Southampton, the debut hometel

    Claiming to be the world’s first hometel brand, room2 Southampton shelters the best of both worlds in 71 rooms. As Hotel Designs continues to focus the Spotlight On Hotel Concepts, editor Hamish Kilburn spoke to design firm Project Orange to understand the design story…

    With the aim to create a home-from-home hotel on England’s south coast, room2 Southampton opened to float above the surface in a sea of competition among other sub brands sitting under larger groups to stand out as a lifestyle hotel.

    Tasked to redesign the hotel experience as we know it, the design team at Project Orange were briefed by Lamington UK to conceptualise and create the ultimate apart-hotel. “We believed that there are a lot of tired, soulless, corporate hotels out there, and we wanted to inject fun, energy and life into peoples stay,” says Robert Godwin, the Managing Director of Lamington UK. “The design brief was to take inspiration from the local surroundings, and so the ‘golden age of cruise lining from Southampton’, was our design starting point. We wanted to make a place which would put a smile on someones face, not make them feel stiff, because if a guest was relaxed, they would rejuvenate better, and be their best version of themselves the next day (whether for work or play).”

    Steering clear of gimmicks, which too often creep in to plans when innovating hotel concepts, the project started to convert a block of 1980s offices into the 71-key ‘hometel’. “The concept of room2 is neither conventional hotel nor conventional Apart-hotel,” says Christopher Ash, Director at Project Orange. “It is a space between a hotel and Airbnb.”

    Image credit: room2

    Before creating the modern, compact but well equipped kitchens and proper spaces to dine, eat sleep and relax, the design team faced a common challenge of planning restrictions. “The main challenges involved taking an un prepossessing 1980s office building in a fantastic location and transforming it into this new brand of hometel,” explains Ash. “Planning restrictions severely limited external changes to the main part of the building so we focussed on the ground floor and creating huge Edward Hopper type picture windows that drew the gaze into the room2 Living Room, married with a bold new entrance design. Incorporating new M&E services, especially as bedrooms include kitchen areas also presented challenges.”

    “Guests ‘get it’, they rave about the concept for us.” – Robert Godwin, Managing Director, Leamington Group

    In creating something new and aiming to make a marked improvement on conventional hotel and apartment-style accommodation, a new term has been created – the ‘hometel’ – and it’s the perfect way to describe the interiors, the feel and the overarching concept that is housed inside. “It has been our biggest achievement to date, because it is not a fad, or buzz word,” adds Godwin. “Guests ‘get it’, they rave about the concept for us, and what’s very special about ‘home’, is it means something special and personal to everyone, so therefore guests get an instant connection with the brand and their stay experience.”

    The extremely flexible accommodation has clearly been designed with purpose in order to suit both long and short stay, full or part self-catering and mixed/family groups. Many of the rooms, for example, include an iconic second loft-like sleeping deck area, ideal for families travelling with kids. “Everyone one loves a well-designed hotel room, cleaned daily and with fresh towels and linen, air conditioning and (generally) a big TV you can lie and watch in bed,” explains Ash. “And lots of people love a good hotel breakfast too. But sometimes you want a bit of flexibility, especially with extended stay guests.  – a chance to enjoy your favourite breakfast cereal in your room, or to cook up a quick pasta in the evening. Or you may want the chance to rustle up something simple for the kids whilst they’re glued to the TV. These are things more associated with home, or an Airbnb. But then you have to do your own housekeeping!

    “You can be as plugged in or as zoned out as you like.” – Christopher Ash, Director, Project Orange.

    “room2 is the perfect half-way house. An informal hotel with lots of personality you can enjoy but won’t be beholden to. There is no restaurant or bar in the traditional sense, just the room2 Living Room which is part hang out space, laid back working area, café, bar and meeting area. Likewise there are no designated reception staff, waiters or bar staff – the room2 Roommates are easy going jacks of all trades. You can be as plugged in or as zoned out as you like.”

    Drawing on extensive industry experience, room2’s design considers all people and checking in and all possible scenarios. The result is a rule-breaking design-led abode, full of personality and attitude that allows its guests to experience the hometel on their own terms.

    Main image credit: room2 Southampton

    Checking In: Down the rabbit hole in Devon’s Glazebrook House Hotel

    730 565 Hamish Kilburn
    Checking In: Down the rabbit hole in Devon’s Glazebrook House Hotel

    In search for English eccentricity, editor Hamish Kilburn checks in to Glazebrook House Hotel to explore the Alice-in-Wonderland meets Rule Britania interiors, designed by Timothy Oulton

    When Peter and Fran Hamman, the owners of Glazebrook House Hotel, originally embarked on their tremendous journey to open a statement luxury boutique hotel in South Devon, they were faced with several key decisions to make.

    The first, and arguably the most important: who was going to design the interiors of the hotel to help turn bring to life their vision of an Alice-in-Wonderland-themed hotel? If there was anyone who qualified in sensitively making this dream a reality it was internationally renowned British revivalist designer Timothy Oulton, a somewhat obvious choice considering his quirky portfolio of work.

    Oulton’s alternative, somewhat edgy charm can be felt immediately upon entering the hotel’s lobby. Two statement chandeliers hang from the tall ceiling above a deliberately distressed-looking rug. On one side of the room, past a striking chesterfield sofa, is a white sculpture of a young Queen Elizabeth. On the other side, past two clashing metallic armchairs, and above the mantelpiece are the hulls of mini boats hang on wall, injects a subtle sense-of-place. Meanwhile, an oversized, eye-catching union jack curtain hangs behind an understated check-in desk.

    Image caption: The lobby | Image credit: ACT Studios

    Since opening in September 2014, the hotel has become as famous for its food and beverage offering as it has its award-winning design. The elegant, intimate F&B area is balanced precisely with refined parquet flooring and reclaimed British oak tables, which adds an element of welcome authenticity. Fun details such as British-made china and shining silverware trays create a bold yet brilliant choice of wallcoverings. Across the hall, an equally impressive bar area spills out onto a sun-trap terrace and connects to the cigar room, which features a sculpture of Winston Churchill smoking an illuminated cigar aptly positioned next to the liquor cabinet.

    While corridors in some hotels naturally become a dead space that lack design and inspiration, Glazebrook House the hotel embraces the unconventional. Bizarre artefacts hang proudly on the walls, such as traditional horns and Oulton-style bowler hats. The landing is also a clash of ideas working together in harmony. A feature wall of traditional street signs reflects the main staircase, while furniture designed to be a nod towards Britain’s equestrian style – think upside-down saddle-inspired armchairs – create a relaxed yet refined feel.

    “My nest for the evening, The Mad Hatter Suite, is full of idiosyncratic moments.”

    Nine individually designed en-suite guestrooms, all designed in homage to Lewis Carroll’s most famous work, have been given apt names, such as White Rabbit (the hotel’s design-led disabled access room) and the twin room Tweedle Deez to reference further the overarching theme down the rabbit hole. My nest for the evening, The Mad Hatter Suite, is full of idiosyncratic moments, which include topsy-turvy dollhouses on the walls above a brown studded-leather headboard and low-hanging chandeliers tied with thick rustic rope, which juxtaposes solid marble side tables that sit underneath. The spacious ensuites in each room offer minimalist luxury, complete with Geberit WCs, Villeroy & Boch basins and Pura shower units.

    Voted, among other award wins, as the best boutique hotel for 2018 by Visit England, the converted Georgian Manor house is full to the brim of personality and charm at every corner. Combining the best in British design with one-off quality elements thoughtfully thrown in to add new layers, the design story of Glazebrook House Hotel has been a methodical one. On the surface it seems that arbitrary objects have been paired together. But the realty is that every item sheltered in the shell of the building helps to create a seamless and unforgettable hotel guest experience for all.

    Main image credit: ACT Studios

    MINIVIEW: COMO Metropolitan London

    730 565 Hamish Kilburn
    MINIVIEW: COMO Metropolitan London

    COMO Metropolitan London has announced the opening of ten luxury Residences, which all offer private apartment-style accommodation adjacent to the main 144-key luxury hotel… 

    Located in one of London’s trendiest neighbourhoods that is surrounded by discreet private members’ clubs, cult restaurants and a number of high-end boutiques. COMO Metropolitan London, like all luxury hotels in the area, has to work hard in order to stand out from the crowd and remain relevant to well-travelled guests.

    Since opening in in 1997, ‘the Met‘, as it became known has seen many minor renovations and redesigns – the most significant of which was in 2015 – in order to keep ahead of demand and trends. The mood has changed from the late-night antics once centred around the Met Bar to a more holistic experience that balances work, play and wellbeing while still underpinned by COMO’s commitment to passionate service.

    Most recently, the hotel has completed and opened of ten luxury Residences. Designed by Linzi Coppick of Forme UK, the Residences offer private apartment-style accommodation adjacent to the hotel on Brick Street, in Mayfair’s historic heart and opposite leafy Hyde Park.

    The two-bedroom Residences provide an ideal base for long or short stays in London, reflecting all the comforts of home living at its finest.

    Discretion is a significant draw, with the Residences benefitting from a separate entrance on Brick Street, as well as access to a courtyard designed by landscape architect Peter Curzon, shared only with the other Residences. The central feature of the courtyard is a strikingly crafted pergola, fitted with heaters for the cooler months and contemporary furniture from iSiMAR. Residences on the ground floor benefit from additional outdoor space, with private patios offering an unusual oasis in the heart of London.

    Inside the Residences, Coppick has prioritised a sense of home. Natural daylight floods the spacious apartments, augmented by contemporary design with subtle warmth and bespoke artwork by Marta Suarez. In the open-plan living and dining area, natural wood floors and furniture from BO Concept create a sleek entertainment area adapted to the modern traveller, whether guests are staying as a family or visiting for business. A fully equipped Lauren Nicholas kitchen blends a refreshing white palette with marble countertops, incorporating breakfast-bar seating for more laidback meals. For formal dining, a dark wood BO Concept table can extend to seat eight people, while a large corner sofa and a reading chair in warm grey leather ensures plenty of space for relaxation.

    Main image credit: COMO Hotels & Resorts

    Checking In: Zafiro Palace Hotel Palmanova

    730 565 Hamish Kilburn
    Checking In: Zafiro Palace Hotel Palmanova

    Past the old town of Palma’s cobbled streets sits a newly designed timeless hotel, Zafiro Palace Hotel Palmanova, which was designed by Marga Rotgeron. Chantal Borciani checks in to review… 

    With almost guaranteed blue skies and sunshine for an average of more than 300 days per year year, it comes with little surprise that Zafiro Palace Hotel Palmanova on the island of Mallorca has been designed to make the most of natural light so that it floods in to the guest areas at every possible opportunity.

    Upon entering the lobby, a double-height atrium with floor to ceiling glass ensures the connection between the interior scheme and the outdoors is seamless. Overlooking the hotel’s central garden and pools, as do all suites, restaurants and lounge areas, first impressions are that of a open and airy design scheme.

    Located on the south west coast of Mallorca, 15 minutes from Palma Old Town’s cobbled lanes, Zafiro Palace Hotel Palmanova marries contemporary style with home-from-home comforts.

    “The Zafiro hotel is imbued with a deep sense of connection to the island of Mallorca throughout.”

    Run by the Mallorcan Plomer family, initially by Tomeu Plomer and now headed up by his daughter Antonia, the Zafiro hotel is imbued with a deep sense of connection to the island of Mallorca throughout. Native Mallorcan plants, for example, dot the gardens amid myriad swaying palms and the artwork, photography, fixtures and fittings have been selected from Mallorcan and Spanish purveyors.

    Image credit: Zafiro Palace Hotel Palmanova

    Opened in 2017, Antonia Plomer worked with Mallorca-based interior designer Marga Rotgeron on the hotel design, with an aim to deliver a Mediterranean look that is modern and stylish, ornamental yet not overloaded and practical for guests.

    “Down the sweeping staircase from the reception, the cocktail bar takes centre stage.”

    Down the sweeping staircase from the reception, the cocktail bar takes centre stage. This octagonal centrepiece is hewn from black marquina marble purchased from local suppliers and imported from Italy. Commissioned by the Plomers, a sculptural 3D art installation occupies the double height wall adjacent, imagined to reflect Mallorca’s foliage, nature and land. The pleated trellis is made from acebuche olive wood, and textured cottons, harmonised by gold and ochre tones. Designed and produced by Palma-based ABA ART LAB and F. Schalekamp, its form deploys branches, some bare and naked, others adorned by texture, and adds a note of drama to the bar area.

    In a hotel ‘made for families, by families’ these rich artistic touches add intrigue and a sense of refinement that is usually the preserve of adult-only establishments. The choice of Edison light bulbs, large spherical white orb lights to illuminate the gardens, modernist wire chandeliers and sleek lighting in the a la carte restaurants, alongside the bespoke art afford this hotel a welcome contemporary edge and leave a long-lasting impression.

    The hotel’s 240 suites range from spacious junior suites to penthouse suites, the latter equipped with a bedroom, lounge, roof terrace with private Jacuzzi and cabana daybed – the ultimate option for an adult getaway.

    My room, a ‘swim up suite’, is on the ground floor and boasts a private garden terrace with direct access to the adjacent pool. There are a whopping 11 pools so guests opting for a swim up suite can largely find themselves in blissful solitude though the pool is not categorically private. A bali-style day bed sits snugly in the corner of the private garden area – a perfect spot to read and then pad down to the water’s edge.

    Inside, the rooms are airy, bright and spacious, and can be configured to accommodate cots and beds for children. From a super-king bed, the restful view out drifts across the private terrace to the sapphire pool. The bathroom and bedroom in all suites are open-plan and offer both a shower and bath with high-end and pleasingly tactile fixtures and fittings. “The colour scheme that we chose is natural as we wanted to create a cosy and warm ambience throughout,” says Plomer. “We felt it created a nice contrast to more commonly used minimalistic white.”

    image credit: Zafiro Palace Hotel Palmanova

    Nature infuses the hand-picked art in the rooms – locally sourced framed art includes fern leaves mounted on manuscript backdrops while geometric mirrors and quality soft furnishings add a touch of luxury. All fabrics and linens are also locally sourced on the island and handy touches include microwaves in most rooms and USB chargers by the bedside.

    At its heart, of course, this is a holiday destination and Zafiro Palace Hotel Palmanova doesn’t skimp on the attractions. Alongside the main pool, there are a multitude of smaller pools scattered around the gardens, giving guests a sense of space and exclusivity.  The children’s playground, bouncy castle and pirate ship are set away from the main gardens and pool area, meaning adults can relax in peace if desired. An adult’s only Oasis pool is also located on a raised terrace for ultimate seclusion and is lined with cabana beds. The delightfully squishy cabana day beds line many of the poolsides around the complex and are free to use for all guests, adding a feel of beach club luxury to proceedings. Complete with a swim-up bar in the main pool, and the al fresco poolside restaurant, the F&B areas have been created to enhance the overall guest experience.

    The island connection continues in the lounges and restaurants where large artwork has been acquired from Art Mallorcan art studio & Gallery ABA Art, while photographic art throughout the hotel has been sourced from local artist Joan Sastre.

    In the five a la carte restaurants, the interior design offers a nod to the cuisine or region of each dining concept, without (mercifully!) venturing into some theme feel.

    El Olivo, for example, is the a la carte Mediterranean restaurant and adorned with foliage, which trails down from planters above the tables and has an airy, al fresco feel inspired by the Med. Meanwhile the Tastes & Sushi Bar Restaurant gives a hint of the east with hummingbird print wallpaper, blush seating, and gold accent mirrors.

    It’s no mean feat to effectively cater for adults and families in the same establishment, but perhaps it’s the family hand on the tiller that steers Zafiro on the right course. The Plomers collaborate on every facet of the hotel’s design and operation and the result is all the better for it. Located in the busy Palmanova resort, the hotel will certainly suit families looking for a convenient haven close to the beach and hustle and bustle of Palmanova and nearby Palma. For vast vistas and a heightened secluded feel, the north of the island and perhaps the larger Zafiro Palace Alcudia will provide a restful alternative.

    This is a hotel with proud family heritage and a deep-rooted Mallorcan connection. Be sure to take advantage of the on-site concierge – the owners are keen to share the beauty of the island with their guests and the concierge is a font of great authentic recommendations. Some of our favourites include tours of the small island wineries of the town of Binissalem and the best tapas and vermouth bars in nearby Palma Old Town, both activities offering that secret gem, local feel.

    Zafiro Palace Hotel Palmanova is a hotel where adults can getaway and the kids can have lots of fun to boot. A step above many other family friendly hotels, this resort strives to deliver luxury with a home from home edge.

    Main image credit: Zafiro Palace Hotel Palmanova

    MINIVIEW: AC Hotels by Marriott arrives in Jamaica

    730 565 Hamish Kilburn
    MINIVIEW: AC Hotels by Marriott arrives in Jamaica

    The design-led European lifestyle brand, AC Hotels by Marriott, makes its debut in the heart of Kingston, Jamaica…

    AC Hotels by Marriott, which boasts nearly 150 design-led hotels in 19 countries and territories, has announced the opening of AC Hotel Kingston, Jamaica, bringing the brand’s forward-thinking design approach to the island.

    Born from the signature vision of renowned hotelier Antonio Catalan, the brand was founded in 1998 in Spain, and brought into the Marriott International portfolio in 2011, launching AC Hotels by Marriott globally in locations including France, Denmark, the United States, Latin America, Puerto Rico and now Jamaica.

    Embracing the AC brand’s focus on purposeful design, the AC Hotel Kingston, Jamaica features 219 rooms to provide guests with thoughtfully-designed moments of beauty and experiences that elevate their stay and help them focus on what is important to them. The result is sophisticated yet unpretentious style and innovative food and beverage programming with locally-inspired experiences for both international travelers and locals.

    Guests will have access to a spacious 24-hour fitness centre; an outdoor pool; the brand’s signature AC Kitchen which provides a daily European-inspired breakfast buffet infused with a taste of Jamaica; and the AC Lounge, which offers a chic, open and comfortable ambiance, ideal for co-working and socializing.

    “We are delighted to welcome our first AC Hotel to Jamaica, offering travelers a modern aesthetic and intuitive service, as well as an opportunity to slow down and uncover the beauty in the essential while visiting the destination,” said Toni Stoeckl, Vice President, Distinctive Select Brands for Marriott International, and Global Brand Leader, AC Hotels by Marriott.

    This new addition to the city is expected to have positive implications for the country’s tourism sector. In a recent walk-through of the hotel, Minister of Tourism for Jamaica, Edmund Bartlett said: “The debut of a brand like AC Hotels in Kingston will solidify the city’s status as a strong city tourism destination.”

    Image credit: Marriott Hotels

    AC Hotel Kingston Jamaica adds a modern touch not only to the Kingston skyline but to the wider Caribbean region, joining AC Hotel by Marriott San Juan Condado as the brand’s second hotel in the region. The hotel design includes elegant, clean lines that are signature features of the brand, along with thoughtful touches that harmoniously reflect Jamaica’s vibrant flair. Throughout the hotel, guests will find an impressive collection of art, each crafted by Jamaican artists, and one-of-a-kind furnishings that have also been locally made.

    The hotel is equipped with more than 18,000 square feet of cutting-edge meeting and banquet facilities, making this the largest meeting space in the city. Whether hosting a small meeting, or a group of up to 600 people, the hotel is ready to cater to groups of various sizes.

    “My family and I are determined to play our part in building the economy in the Caribbean. This is a monumental occasion as we venture beyond the beach to establish our first AC Hotel by Marriott,” said Adam Stewart, CD. Deputy Chairman of the Sandals Resorts International and ATL Group of Companies. “We are excited to work with a global company like Marriott International, while retaining the local Jamaican touch for guests visiting the city.”

    The Stewart family, who own the AC Hotel Kingston Jamaica, selected Koen Hietbrink to oversee the hotel’s operations as General Manager. In addition to his fourteen years of leadership experience with the Marriott brand, Koen has led the openings of numerous Marriott properties in the Caribbean.

    Main image credit: Marriott Hotels

    INTERACTIVE REVIEW: Oddfellows On The Park

    730 565 Hamish Kilburn
    INTERACTIVE REVIEW: Oddfellows On The Park

    Located on the fringes of Manchester, Oddfellows On The Park is quirky, timeless and in its own admission ‘a little bit odd’. Editor Hamish Kilburn writes about the hotel that was designed to be disobedient…

    By the looks of Manchester’s hotel development pipeline, creativity in British interior design and architecture is not limited to London. Despite Brexit uncertainty, this year alone, 835 new guestrooms will be introduced into the industrial city – with a further 11 more hotels slated to open between 2020 and 2021.

    The booming hotel design scene in the northern metropolis has resulted in more interest around the outskirts of the city, and it is here – less than 10 miles from the Manchester’s Piccadilly – where Oddfellows Hotels’ latest property is situated.

    A lamp shining from the head of a life-sized model of a horse and a chandelier made from bicycle chains hanging above the check-in desk is the first indication that Oddfellows On The Park doesn’t like to play by the rules. Tasked with the aim to stylishly go against the grain was design firm SpaceInvader, which is dedicated to creating spaces which fulfill their true potential, while unlocking the power to enhance human behaviour.

    Opened in 2017, the hotel is sheltered within an 1861 traditional Victorian Gothic building, which was named Bruntwood Hall. The shell of the now 22-key boutique hotel was designed originally by an industrialist, John Douglas, who was inspired by a Scottish home; the original ceilings in The Stud Room Bar are testimony to this with subtle thistle design. Today, the iconic structure stands in plain sight, nestled within endless playing parks which feature archery, a golf course, and even a BMX cycling track – hence the cycling chain chandelier in the lobby.

    In its history, Bruntwood Hall has served many purposes – from being a town hall during the war to becoming home to a film company and fashion designer. Now, though, for the first time in its winding narrative, the building has been redecorated, reconfigured and reborn to welcome guests into a luxury boutique hotel like no other.

    Katie Edgar who heads up hospitality at SpaceInvaders led the design throughout the project. She and her design team conducted thorough research into the history of the building, the location and the inhabitants of Bruntwood Hall, in order to understand how to thoughtfully reference the building’s past. “The approach focused on respecting the character and beautiful features of Bruntwood Hall,” explains Edger. “We were inspired by them, and wanted to enhance them to design a romantic scheme that celebrates the history of the building and its unique position.”

    Image credit: ACT Studios

    In addition to sympathetically restoring the building’s original features, the design firm worked with architect Tim Groom, in order to incorporate elements of innovative and playful design that has become a signature of Oddfellows Hotels. “The aim was to create a space that allows guests to lose themselves in their surroundings and feel that the Hall is theirs for the weekend,” adds Edgar.

    “Original 1860s encaustic floor tiles were uncovered in the reception area and revived to their former glory.”

    The public areas arguably give the most significant nod to the building’s heritage. While Edgar and her team were restoring the building as part of its transformation, original 1860s encaustic floor tiles were uncovered in the reception area and revived to their former glory.

    The Stud Bar, which is sheltered adjacent to the lobby area, is a small and intimate space dominated by the original statement ceiling complete with beautiful Jacobean-style decorative plasterwork. “The furniture here has been based around complementing, rather than competing with the overhead design,” said Edger. Comfortable high back chairs with fabrics supplied by Skopos and a soft approach to seating encourage guests to enjoy both the view out to the parkland and the historical building features.

    Meanwhile, the corridors that are staggered over three levels feature an array of abstract art, creating fun and creative moments throughout guests’ journey to their rooms and suites. Just like the corridors, the guestrooms and suites are layered with texture and each have their own personality. The Tower Suite, for example, is a two-tiered design gem that adorns contemporary finishes such as playful wallcoverings and portraits hung with human bodies and animal heads.

    The bathrooms in all 22 rooms and suites have been designed by Utopia Projects, which specified all of the sanitaryware for seven different room types and the spa facilities for the hotel. “Having worked with these designers before, and therefore having an idea of what they like, made this hotel a dream to spec,” said project consultant, Stuart Adamson. ” It’s truly genius how the designers have maintained the buildings country style but modernised it with complimentary elements like the hexagonal mirrors and tiles, although our favourite piece has to be the roll-topped, freestanding baths we supplied completely in white.”

    Image credit: ACT Studio

    On the top floor, the suites compliment the natural architecture of the building, featuring wooden beams and, with high ceilings, compliment natural arch shape of the roofing. The guestrooms feature over-scaled carpet designs, which are a stylish riff on the decorative plasterwork.

    In a nod to the building’s Scottish heritage, the design team included thoughtful elements throughout, including new tartan upholstery, wools and tweeds, and original decorative thistles that are on display. “Heritage colours were specifically chosen to accent walls throughout the bedrooms and public spaces,” explains Edger. “Muted shades of greens, blues, purples and blacks were considered room by room and provide a back drop to conversational artwork and decorative lighting.”

    The use of taxidermy would have been expected in the interior of the building’s previous iterations. And so to layer this sensitively within interior scheme was important, but as with everything in the hotel’s design, the use of taxidermy was anything by ordinary. “In a twist on this concept, we included elements such as bike handlebars mounted on elaborate wall plates,” explains Edger. “These have been utilised to provide another link to the activities that can be enjoyed within the building’s surrounding 100 acres of parkland.”

    The Pigsty is the hotel’s premium spa that sits in a separate building adjacent to the rest of the hotel. Fittingly, the intimate salon features its own mudroom as well as two treatment rooms and has an engaging atmosphere within the social salon quarter.

    Now managed by Bespoke Hotels, the UK’s largest independent hotel group that also owns Hotel Gotham, checking in to Oddfellows On The Park is a journey that celebrates oddities in spectacular fashion. With the combination of amplifying a unique style and through clever marketing to promote it, the Oddfellows Brand is taking its place in the northern hotel charts and it continues to push the boundaries of modern hotel design.

    Main image credit: ACT Studios

    MINIVIEW: Hard Rock Hotel London

    730 565 Hamish Kilburn
    MINIVIEW: Hard Rock Hotel London

    In spectacular fashion, as expected, Hard Rock Hotel London has opened its doors, adding 900 stylish rooms to the Capital’s hotel scene. Hotel Designs took a peak inside…

    Positioned on the corner of Oxford Street at Marble Arch, Hard Rock Hotel London has arrived, catering to the needs of both business and leisure travelers from around the world. Designed by award-winning design firm Scott Brownrigg, the concept for the interior design was inspired from the heritage of the existing building, which was built in the mid 1700’s.

    Drawing on the legacy of legends who stayed here in decades past, including Jimi Hendrix, Nina Simone, Stevie Wonder, Bob Dylan, Diana Ross and Madonna, the new venue pays homage to the site’s rich history through stylish interior design and carefully curated music memorabilia displays. It also is an inspiration to those who have yet to write their own story – Hard Rock Hotel London stands alone as a hotel haven for music lovers everywhere.

    Image credit: Roberto Lara Photography

    Hard Rock Hotel London accommodates two vibrant bars and a lively Hard Rock Cafe – the second Hard Rock Cafe to open in the Capital City. With 370 seats, the hotel’s Cafe is set to be the ultimate Central hang out. Combining elevated food and drink offerings with weekly live music performances that celebrate both local London and international talent, the Cafe offers an electric atmosphere, perfect for all occasions – from lunch meetings to after work drinks.

    “As the original birthplace of Hard Rock, we are delighted to open a new hotel in London, the brand’s spiritual birthplace,” said Ian Fletcher, general manager of the hotel. “In true Hard Rock style, the property offers stylish and contemporary design, incredible in-room amenities, fantastic food and unparalleled service, with the thread that unites them all – music. We know all our guests have an unforgettable experience.”

    Image credit: Roberto Lara Photography

    Meanwhile, the 42-seat Lobby Bar takes its inspiration from the original art-deco style ceiling of the Lyons Corner House, which originally stood on the site in the early 1900’s. As well as celebrating the site’s unrivalled heritage, the bar embodies Hard Rock’s musical roots, with an abstract installation designed to reflect a master disc and record player. Memorabilia, in true Hard Rock fashion, is suspended in the bar from the walls through guitar strings to replicate a ‘larger than life’ fret board.

    ‘It has been a great experience working with two established brands, glh hotels and Hard Rock International,” said Kate Jarrett, Interior Designer at Scott Brownrigg who was also credited as a Hotel Designs 30 Under 30 earlier this year. “We have enjoyed collaborating with them to create a unique and sophisticated offer for the London market. Combining the history of the central London location with the iconic musical heritage of the Hard Rock brand.”

    With venues in 73 countries including 184 cafes, 237 Rock Shops, 28 hotels and 11 casinos, Hard Rock International (HRI) is one of the most globally recognised companies – and the hotel brand’s most recent opening fittingly returns to where it all began.

    Main image credit: Roberto Lara Photography

    Checking in to Moxy Chelsea, New York

    730 565 Hamish Kilburn
    Checking in to Moxy Chelsea, New York

    Tucked into the hustle and bustle of Manhattan’s historic Flower District, Moxy Chelsea is an urban design jungle. Journalist Hannah Kaplan checks in to check it out… 

    There is nothing quite like the pulse of New York – its heart beat can be felt from miles away. The thump of excitement and possibilities draw the worldly and well-travelled from near and far in search of great opportunities and the prospect of their dreams becoming reality.

    The steady stream of humanity to Manhattan brings with it an expectation of all things beautiful. Manhattan’s Chelsea is not only the entry point for floral beauty, but is now home to the 35-floor oasis that shelters Moxy Chelsea.

    “It’s often true that many of New York’s best kept secrets are hidden in pockets sometimes so small one could easily walk right by.”

    Part of the Marriott International group and designed by the studio Rockwell Group – and developed by Lightstone – this chic new spot opened its doors three months ago and dares its guests to aspire to all things beautiful in a refreshingly modern environment.

    It’s often true that many of New York’s best kept secrets are hidden in pockets sometimes so small one could easily walk right by. However, this is one you won’t want to miss. Tightly nuzzled between dozens of flower shops, guests and locals alike enter through the Putnam & Putnam flower shop designed by Yabu Pushelberg. This charming first visual functions as a sort of a botanical library and homage to the Putnam & Putnam flower shop.

    If the astonishing arrangement of freshly cut flowers first draws you through the front door, it’s the palpable smell of Moxy’s signature scent that keeps one floating through the interior space. The rose-like aroma creates a unique ambiance that wafts through the lobby and second floor, drawing guests upwards and on.

    The lobby entrance where guests check in is very simple and inviting. There are two floating front desk pods that suspend from the ceiling – a subtle effect that creates more space, while simultaneously drawing your gaze up to the electronic display on the ceiling. The attempt here is to play with one’s senses, to have guests stop, pause and merge into the building’s sensory pulse. The digital ceiling boards were designed with a young millennial perspective in mind, with written messages like “You should Instagram This” flashing across the screen. You can even hashtag the #MoxyChelsea and have your image pop up in the lobby area.

    Simple and clean check in area with the words 'meet' and 'greet' hanging on the walls in neon lights

    Image caption/credit: Minimalist lobby area at the hotel | Moxy Hotels/Marriott International/Michael Kleinberg

    The architectural design of the building is very much influenced by its surrounding flower district, but equally important are the playful touches of modernism and hints of Italian romance scattered throughout. The theme trickles out as far as the street-styled Italian Feroce Café and the Feroce Restaurant – both are an extension of the hotel and serve as a sort of love letter to Italy – an important tribute from Italian chef Francesco Panella.

    This ode to Italy continues as guests migrate from the lobby area up a set of charming concrete stairs to the second-floor lounge. The floor’s dimly lit ambiance is matched by the sparse yet modern décor and creates a space that begs to be explored.

    There are small spots for the solo traveler who need a space to work and cozy corners for groups who need a small couch and a table to place cocktails between whispered conversations. On the wall above, guests can gaze up at the incredible 20-foot-high life-like green wall, reinforcing the idea of an urban jungle – bringing the outside in.

    Towards the back there are even private spaces available to rent for events, dinners, or just to lounge in. The idea is to bring guests out of their rooms – socialise, eat, have a drink – and to make sure the multitasking lifestyle is a communal and immersive experience for all.

    Subdued meeting studios

    Image credit: Moxy Hotels/Marriott International/Michael Kleinberg

    For the guests who want to continue their socialising, The Fleur Room is the next destination. Located on the 35th floor, the intimate rooftop bar is open to hotel guests and locals alike, but for the latter you’ll need to make sure your name is on the list. The alluring glow of light and color birth a heightened space of intimacy and mystery. The sofa material is embedded with a floral design and the bronzed furniture surfaces are smooth and polished. Sink back into the comfortable couches and let your eyes settle on an incredible view of one of New York’s most recognisable charms – the Empire State building.

    Dark-lit, open-planned room with lavish bar

    Image caption/credit: The Fleur Room | Moxy Hotels/ Marriott International/Michael Kleinberg

    As one drifts through the lush lounge space, a set of elevator doors appears midway through. Each elevator bank was strategically positioned to run through the center of the building, giving all bedrooms access to large windows and a beautiful view of the Manhattan skyline.

    The guestrooms are approximately 200-square-feet but equipped with floor to ceiling length windows that compensate for a new trend in hotel rooms – small and efficient living spaces. And for what it may lack in size, it makes up for in appearance. The urban sleekness of the room supports the space efficiency of modern travel. Clothes can be placed on the hooks that run alongside the wall, which conveniently are located next to collapsible furniture (e.g. a small table and chair) hung vertically on the wall to use at one’s leisure – a contemporary take on “glamping,” if you will.

    Image credit: Moxy Hotels/ Marriott International/Michael Kleinberg

    The compact tiled bathrooms offer quirky sets of phrases like “GET WILD,” giving the room a playful feel and reminding visitors that the pulse of New York City awaits them outside. And to remind guests of the ever-present and rejuvenating floral theme, each sink knob resembles a steel garden hose frame.

    The bold and modern design of the Moxy has created a space that endeavors to reform the way we perceive the hospitality industry as a whole — in this case, through the small and efficient styled rooms offset by the thematic design that encourages guests to get out of their rooms. It is also the romantic sense of Italian Café life and the simple love of flowers that Putman and Putnam won’t let us forget; The Moxy Chelsea reminds us that beauty and efficiency can co-exist and serve as portal for everything in New York.

    Main image credit: Moxy Hotels/Marriott International/Michael Kleinberg

    MINIVIEW: Hotel Indigo, Warsaw

    730 565 Hamish Kilburn
    MINIVIEW: Hotel Indigo, Warsaw

    As Poland becomes a thriving hotel design hotspot, Hotel Designs checks out one of Warsaw’s boutique hotels, Hotel Indigo Warsaw, to understand the combination of colourfully decorated rooms with bathroom solutions from Recommended Supplier Kaldewei…

    When historic architecture and modern interior design are skilfully combined, the result is inspiring rooms – perfectly demonstrated at the Hotel Indigo Warsaw Nowy Świat in Warsaw.

    This stylish four-star boutique hotel, owned by the InterContinental Hotels Group, is housed in a listed building, more than 100 years old, on cosmopolitan Nowy Świat Street. Later contemporary extensions, some with wraparound glass, afford not only a magnificent view of the old town and the Polish capital’s skyline from all the rooms, but also provide a suitable frame for a minimalist interior with vibrant splashes of colour. As the perfect complement to the interior decoration, the hotel has chosen enamelled bathroom solutions from Kaldewei which guarantee a comfortable showering and bathing experience in the 60 rooms.

    The building, Smolna40, which features playful decorative facade elements, was once the residence of Count Branicki and is in one of the city’s most picturesque areas which links contemporary and historic Warsaw. Destroyed during the Second World War, it was rebuilt in the 1950s and later a modern mansard roof and an annex with wraparound glass and a terrace were added based on a design by architect Bogdan Kulczyński. This produced an attractive mix of styles that runs through the entire hotel. Bright rooms with elaborate stucco and elegant columns contrast with the 60 bedrooms that embrace a more minimalist look in plain shades of white and grey. Throughout the hotel, coloured furniture creates exciting highlights that put their own spin on the palatial style of 19th century mansion flats.

    Distinctive bathroom design with Iconic Bathroom Solutions from Kaldewei

    The bathrooms reflect the property’s exclusivity and individuality. The Hotel Indigo chose bathroom solutions from Kaldewei which offer the perfect fit for the bathroom, thanks to their design language and superb quality. The baths from Kaldewei’s clean-lined, minimalist Puro line possess a persuasively unfussy elegance and, like all bathroom solutions made of Kaldewei steel enamel, are made of an exquisite material. As a highlight, the freestanding Meisterstück Centro Duo Oval brings timeless elegance and calm into the bathroom of the Superior Premium room. In a further 47 rooms, the Conoflat floor-level shower surface ensures a luxurious showering experience, while offering the greatest safety underfoot: because the shower surfaces in the matt shades of Lava Black and Alpine White from the Coordinated Colours Collection feature the anti-slip properties of Kaldewei’s Secure Plus finish.

    Modern bathroom with Kaldewei products

    Image credit: Hotel Indigo Warsaw/Kaldewei

    Worldwide expertise: Kaldewei a winner with international hotels

    Kaldewei shower surfaces, washbasins and baths are chosen for top hotels all over the world. The enamelled bathroom solutions, not only meet the highest aesthetic requirements of hoteliers and their guests, but are also extremely cost-efficient thanks to Kaldewei steel enamel’s longevity and ease of maintenance. Another point in their favour is: the intelligent surface finishes such as anti-slip Secure Plus which can optionally be annealed – heated and allow to cool slowly – in order to remove internal stresses and toughen it onto the steel enamel surface and which ensure the greatest possible safety underfoot in the shower.

    Kaldewei is one of our recommended suppliers. To keep up to date with their news, click here. And, if you are interested in becoming one of our recommended suppliers, click here.

    Main image credit: Hotel Indigo Warsaw/Kaldewei

    Checking in to University Arms, Cambridge

    730 565 Hamish Kilburn
    Checking in to University Arms, Cambridge

    Combining the best of British interior design and architecture, the University Arms in Cambridge is an effortless reflection of old and new. Editor Hamish Kilburn checked in to the Franklin Suite – and spoke to the leaders behind the project – to unearth the fascinating design story that’s written inside…

    In the race for luxury in tier two cities around the United Kingdom, Cambridge city centre’s lack of statement hotels doesn’t exactly rank it highly among others.

    Despite the city being riddled in history and context, substandard independents remain firm, not willing to set themselves aside from others in regards to design. But amidst the unimaginative and limited hotel scene, things are changing and there is one property in particular that is shaking up the competition to become one of the UK’s best luxury hotels. Cue the monumental unveiling of University Arms, Cambridge.

    Image credit: University Arms, Cambridge

    The 193-key hotel, which started life in 1834 as a coaching inn, reopened its grand doors in August of last year as interior designer Martin Brudnizki’s first full completed hotel project in the UK. “Cambridge has a really rich story that’s not just academic,” Brudnikzi told Hotel Designs. “It has a flourishing art scene – Kettle’s Yard is a haven for modern British art – and a food scene that’s worth investigating further. Of course, the architecture is wonderful and really quite awe-inspiring, however the city also has a unique sociable atmosphere. With it being small, you easily feel part of the city even after just a few days.”

    Click here for interactively view room no. 201, the Stephen Hawking Suite | Image credit: ACT Studios

    Following a number of large fires that broke out in the hotel, the most recent in 2012, University Arms closed in 2016. Working on the architectural restoration project from concept to completion, the team at John Simpson Architects were briefed to create new guestrooms, public areas, a gym and functional back-of-house spaces. “In terms of architectural language, the brief was to create a timeless appeal,” John Simpson from the architecture firm told Hotel Designs. “We wanted to create an architecture that honours the traditions and creates an aura that is present in so much of the historic buildings in the city.”

    While the hotel’s shell was on the boards, Brudnizki and his team took the mass of inspiration from the history and culture around the city and infused it into thoughtfully curated interiors. “I always knew we wanted to create a hotel that reflected the academic heritage of Cambridge, whilst also feeling fun and approachable,” added Brudnizki. “The hotel is in the perfect location for university parents to stay at when visiting children or for those visiting the city for a weekend break. With this in mind, we created a hotel that combined academic references – the tie-patterned carpets, suites named after famous academics and the restaurant that feels like a college dining room – with comfort and elegance.

    Guests now enter the hotel through an extravagant Porte Cochere entrance. “This element of the design references the scale style of the neighbouring Downing College, highlighting the historic association the hotel always had with the university,” Simpson added.

    Image credit: University Arms, Cambridge

    The large lobby is complete with two striking chandeliers that hang above both the minimalist check-in area and the concierge desk. On the walls, art curated by Adam Ellis hangs on chains and has been inspired by Cambridge’s roots, its past heroes and heroines and its many eras of charm. A poster-style piece “The Man in the White Suit” next to the lifts suggest that this hotel has been designed by and for the modern traveller to enjoy.

    Upstairs, the corridors and guestrooms include nods at every turn to the heritage of the city. For example, the carpet that leads to the guestrooms and suites has been designed to replicate colour and style of the original Cambridge College tie. Each of the suites are named after a significant individual who had a relationship with the city and the interiors represent the character of the personality. The Franklin Suite, for example, was named after Rosalind Franklin, an English Cambridge-graduate chemist who made contributions to the understanding of the molecular structures of DNA, RNA, viruses, coal, and graphite. The terraced suite located on the top floor includes literature about Rosalind Franklin that sit in a modern setting. “We wanted to make sure what we designed wouldn’t feel out of place or context,” added Brudnizki. “With this in mind, it was important for us to work closely with John Simpson, who is an expert in classical architecture, as well as the local area. The best way for us to achieve this was through carefully selecting artwork that rooted the project to Cambridge and that would tie the narrative together.”

    In all the rooms, which come in four categories, attention to detail is immediately evident. The ‘do not disturb’ signs are shaped as bookmarks, while the writing desks – think ink quill and paper rather than emails – were inspired by the traditional student desks that are finished with coloured leather tops.

    Click here for interactively view room no. 907 | Image credit: ACT Studios

    The bathrooms in the suites, complete with underfloor heating, are both stylish and lavish. Victoria + Albert baths positioned by the windows, accented with gold legs, create an immediate statement – as do the gold shower fittings from Vado. The walls, meanwhile, have been painted in the same light blue that is associated with the city, keeping the interiors balanced and tame in all the right places.

    If the lobby lounge area is described as the heart of the hotel, the guestrooms the brains, then the soul is quite rightfully reserved to the bar and restaurant located on the ground floor. Brudnizki’s masterful hands have created a welcoming environment that has attracted not only guests but also loyal locals. Guests entering for dinner or to have a drink at the bar enter via a separate entrance to those staying at the hotel. “They still arrive at the front of the building, through grand doors, so there is a sense of occasion and not a sense of separation,” explains Brudnizki. “The bar itself includes a spacious lounge area, with mixed seating and larger tables to encourage communal imbibing. During the day you can use the bar as a place to work or even enjoy an afternoon tea. Whilst at night it becomes a great place to sit back with friends and enjoy drinks before dinner in parker’s Tavern next door.”

    Image credit: University Arms, Cambridge

    The public areas overlook Parker’s Piece, a large plot of grass that is rumoured to have been where the rules of Football Association emerged from (probably over gin and tonics). The library, which, when pushed, Brudnizki admits to being his favourite area of the hotel, is a clever blend of indoor/outdoor interiors, designed to be light, bright and open for all.

    It’s refreshing to see an upscale hotel in Cambridge bravely achieve what no other hotel in the area has managed to; take on the history and heritage of the city and seamlessly blending into the architecture and the fabrics. Through true collaboration between MBDS and John Simpson Architects – both of which were winners at The Brit list 2018 in their categories – University Arms is now a timeless gem, in a league of its own operating in a modern city with a storied past.

    Main image credit: ACT Studios

    MINIVIEW: Joyze Hotel Xiamen Curio Collection by Hilton

    800 533 Hamish Kilburn

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    MINIVIEW: Joyze Hotel Xiamen Curio Collection by Hilton

    Opened late last year, Joyze Hotel Xiamen Curio Collection by Hilton, with all its unique design qualities, is a mere shadow of the stereotypical chain hotel you would expect check in to. Editor Hamish Kilburn dives deeper into its Chinese design story to uncover how the boutique 104-key hotel came to be… 

    As a boutique hotel, the concept of a ‘floating city on the sea’ can be seen throughout the hotel design of Joyze Hotel Xiamen Curio Collection by Hilton. Combining the local cultural elements of Minnan with urban design techniques, the hotel narrates the historical changes of “the fishing village” that it neighbours. Tasked to merge architecture with interior design was Hong Kong-based design firm CCD (CHENG CHUNG DESIGN).

    Image credit: CCD/Cheng Chung Design (HK)/Curio Collection by Hilton

    Surrounded by mountains and seas, with the Dongping Mountain in the North, and the coastline of Huandao Road in the South, the hotel enjoys the best of both worlds. The villages in Zengcuoan are divided by walls, and the houses in the villages are scattered around. The floor plan of the hotel follows the arrangement of the villages, as different zones are divided by walls and intersected by landscapes between different areas. Look down from the above; each area is like a box, representing a household with different personalities and designs. Guests enter the hotel as if they are on a village tour, complete with alleys, walls and landscapes.

    Image credit: CCD/Cheng Chung Design (HK)/Curio Collection by Hilton

    The entrance of the hotel incorporates the local culture of ‘brick wall’, which is a very unique way of building a wall in Minnan architecture that uses stones and bricks of different shapes to overlay and build simple and beautiful walls.

    According to the legend in the end of the Ming Dynasty that, there was a major earthquake occurred in the Southern part of Minnan region. After the earthquake, the native people used the local materials such as bricks, stones, tiles and gravels collapsed from the natural disaster to build the unique wall. And thereby, this way of wall-building has been widely practiced and followed in the region.

    Image credit: CCD/Cheng Chung Design (HK)/Curio Collection by Hilton

    The designer also used the mansion method to design the hotel lobby. The first sight of the guest after they get off from the drop-off area and enter the hotel is not the hotel lobby, but a door that is several meters wide, and if they are entering a mansion house. Then they will see the brick wall, followed by cultural exhibition area, then other landscapes and finally the lobby bar and reception.

    “Under each box, there is a light to create a sense of levitation.”

    The design concept of “Floating City on the Sea” is expressed through the subtle design method.The façade of the wall is constructed with boxes, and it transforms from empty to solid, presenting a feeling of ‘floating’, the orderly change of the gradient also presents a sense of rhythm swinging with the current. A corner of the reception desk floats into the air, becoming a warm chandelier, floating on the sea, and the entire hotel is like a floating city on the sea.

    In comparison to the hotel, every box in the space is the composition of the hotel as a floating city. Under each box, there is a light to create a sense of levitation.

    “The design of the guestrooms are natural, warm and cosy, creating a sense of home.”

    The design incorporates natural comfort and childhood memories, vintage chandeliers, metal-trimmed glass doors, wooden tables and chairs; it brings guests back to the restaurant where they used to go with their parents. Here, the curious people walk into the old days of Xiamen.

    Image credit: CCD/Cheng Chung Design (HK)/Curio Collection by Hilton

    The design of the guestrooms are natural, warm and cosy, creating a sense of home. Meanwhile, it also tries to open the space as much as possible as to form a transparent visual experience. Getting rid of the traditional framework, and strengthen the interaction of spatial functions through subtle design, so that each area can be used alone and connected.

    After the entrance is the cloakroom and the luggage rack, which is designed to make the walkway more functional and to make the largest use of space. In detail, it also closely follows the concept of floating city, as the wash table and the bed are suspended from the ground.

    The city view and beach outside the window is one of the hotel’s business cards. The wash table, mini bar and operating desk form a small living room, so that guest can sit in the living room and enjoy the scenery with tea, just like the local residents. The texture of the old buildings in the city is projected onto the walls of the guestrooms, and the patterns of the old buildings in Gulangyu are carved into ceramic tiles, which become time fragments to record the traces of the years.

    Main image credit: CCD/Cheng Chung Design (HK)/Curio Collection by Hilton

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    Checking In: MOB Hotel Paris, where it all started

    768 512 Hamish Kilburn

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    Checking In: MOB Hotel Paris, where it all started

    On the doorstep of Paris’ infamous flea market, MOB Hotel Paris – the original MOB – is designed ‘for the people’. Editor Hamish Kilburn checks in to see where the MOB Hotels story started…

    In order to understand MOB Hotels’ style, ethos and energy you must first, in my opinion, meet the man behind the brand.

    ©Aldo_Paredes_MOB_Hotel_Paris_HD_54-1-800x533-768x512

    Cyril Aouizerate, the CEO of MOB Hotels, is a gentleman who eats, sleeps and breathes MOB Hotels, which he created last year and believes that a great hotel is designed around great people. “My desire to was create movement,” he told me when describing the brand’s origins. “My objective is to use the hotels in our portfolio to create a new vision in the world that a hotel is more than just a bed for the night. That is why, for me, understanding the culture of each of our hotel’s location is so important.” That movement started in Paris and has since moved into Lyon as well as there being plans for a 2020 opening in Washington D.C.

    Hidden among red and orange buildings, the entrance to the 92-key MOB Hotel Paris is surprisingly understated and worlds away from the stereotypical view of postcard Paris. Instead being among of chic neighborhood of shops and cafes, the hotel is in the heart of an urban adventure, located just south of the Saint Ouen, north of the city centre. It’s not immediately obvious that the two buildings, which were disused telecom factories only a few years ago, would shelter a quirky design-led boutique hotel. But expecting the unexpected is something that all guests should prepare when joining the MOB way of thinking.

    Much like the Flea Market that borders the property, the architecture firm BBC Architecte created MOB Hotel Paris around the raw energy and creativity of the brand. The lobby inside is complete with wooden trunks as pod-like reception desks and very wears a bohemian personality. Simple yet productive, the space is a relatively empty shell that is curated only with stylish pop-up-store merchandise.

    Image credit: Mob Hotels

    The first real indication of Aouizerate’s unravelled creative mind comes when walking through the lobby and into the open-planned, lounge-like restaurant. With interiors by Kristian Gavoille et Valérie Garcia, the walls tell a story of comedy with fruits and vegetables being personified and remembered with plaques – my personal favourite among them being “R.I.P Mister Eggplant, who died for Baba Ganouche.” Furthermore, the large curtains that separate the restaurant from the conservatory, at first, look like they are printed references of The Last Supper. However, on closer inspection, all is not what it first seems. Famous faces in both the design world, from the likes of Philippe Starck, and significant figures in popular culture, such as Barak Obama, have been printed on the fabrics to add character and offer a further reference to Aouizerate’s involvement in the design process and decisions.

    ©Aldo_Paredes

    Image credit: Aldo Paredes

    Upstairs and although the comedy is softened, the style of each guestrooms is equally as edgy while also remaining thoughtful to the needs and requirements of guests checking in. In the bathrooms, which are tastefully positioned without creating too many unnecessary barriers, include Duravit fittings, Geberit WCs and Villeroy & Boch showers. Although the mustard yellow carpets and peachy pink walls in the guestrooms may not be to everyone’s taste, the unique headboards that are made to reference theatre stage curtains cannot be ignored as a quirky and unique feature to entice guests to tell their own narrative.

    Complete with a Fatboy beanbag, low-level furniture from IKEA and mobile spotlight lighting, the guestrooms are idiosyncratic to say the least, but also balance within them a sense of play and can adapted to suit the needs of whoever is checking in. With a strong message to bring guests together, there are deliberately no TVs in each of the rooms, but projectors and iPads can be provided on request.

    Sneak peak into the bathroom

    Image credit: Mob Hotels

    The dictionary definition of mob is “a large crowd of people, especially one that is disorderly and intent on causing trouble or violence.” Although the brand isn’t planning on causing any violence or trouble, it certainly is ready to cause a scene. With plans for the brand to broaden out as far as Washington D.C., the Paris MOB is also expanding. Just down the road, the skeleton of a new kind of MOB is taking form. MOB House, which is expected to open in January 2020, will pride itself on a sheltering a different style. The hotel’s interiors are being imagined by non-other than award-winning designer and long-term friend of Mob Hotels, Phillipe Starck.

    Other suppliers

    Furniture in the restaurant: Tonet/Drucker
    Outdoor furniture: Fermob
    Furniture in guestroom: Fatboy/Sempre

    Main image credit: Aldo Paredes

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    MINIVIEW: Lough Eske Castle Hotel, County Donegal, Ireland

    1024 576 Hamish Kilburn

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    MINIVIEW: Lough Eske Castle Hotel, County Donegal, Ireland

    Guest reviewer Stuart O’Brian checks in to the only five-star hotel in County Donegal…

    The first indication of the attention to aesthetic detail that runs through the entire Lough Eske Castle hotel site is the six-foot bronze dragon that greets visitors at the top of its long, winding, forest driveway entrance.

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    The hotel has experienced a recent change of ownership away from the Solis brand, but thankfully the new owners have seen fit to keep this magnificent beast on its staff roster, along with a dozen or so other animal (and human) sculptures dotted around the grounds.

    This corner of Ireland’s North West coast is abundant in natural beauty, something the Lough Eske Castle hotel’s original architects, and its current custodians, kept front of mind when considering exterior and interior décor. On this visit in December 2018, with the mist hanging in the woods around the site and the outdoor winter wonderland Christmas lights outside, the sense of seclusion was palpable.

    The ‘castle’ building itself has some history, built as it was by the local O’Donnell family in the 1400s, rebuilt in the 1860s, burned to the ground in the 1930s and then renovated in its current form in the mid-Noughties.

    Aesthetically, the exterior has the feeling of two personalities – the restored grandeur of the castle building and the more contemporary dining/function rooms, plus courtyard and garden accommodation that sit somewhere between the two. In fact, if you approach from the ‘alternative’ rear entrance and its views of the new-build accommodation building you’d be forgiven for thinking you’d accidentally stumbled into a different hotel.

    Internally, the same merging of classic and contemporary styles, plus Gaelic flourishes, is to the fore. The public spaces are a mix of high-ceilinged larger rooms and cosy nooks, while the 98 guestrooms contain bespoke furniture and commissioned artworks, with décor neutral with wood panelling and space (especially in the huge MEPA-appointed bathrooms) in abundance. All rooms have oak furniture and the majority feature dramatic four poster beds.

    freestanding bath in the middle of a modern bathroom

    Image credit: Lough Eske

    There are actually multiple room styles on offer, each sharing the same design cues but managing to feel very distinct – the Castle Suites are all regal flourishes, bare stonework, antiques and lead-lined windows, the Courtyard Rooms are converted stables, while the Garden Suites were built in 2007 during the renovation with a more modern touch.

    Spas are a given in the world of five-star and Lough Eske Castle has a well-appointed annex in its gardens dedicated to wellbeing, with a glasshouse waiting/relaxation area, indoor pool with hydrotherapy/sauna facilities and secluded treatment rooms – all flooring here is either sandstone or wood, adding to the sense of class and closeness to the natural world.

    And, of course, being in Ireland the hospitality on offer in the contemporary Cedars Restaurant (clean lines, floor to ceiling windows, views of the castle grounds) and Gallery Bar (floor to ceiling drinks cabinet, leather seating, oak tables) is casually exceptional.

    Main image credit: Lough Eske

    Technology expert Jason Bradbury reviews Eccleston Square Hotel in the future

    730 565 Hamish Kilburn

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    Technology expert Jason Bradbury reviews Eccleston Square Hotel in the future

    Healing heating, holographic entertainment and a toilet that tells you your food printer what snacks to make, technology expert and futurist Jason Bradbury spent a night future gazing in the technologically enhanced 19th Century luxury of Eccleston Square Hotel, London

    We’re living back to front. As technology marches inexorably forward, gaining speed at an exponential rate, it seems that the simple and the authentic have more value than ever before.

    The resurgence of vinyl is a great example of this, independent coffee shops and organic grocers too – and so is a certain type of boutique hotel. In order to understand what a night in the hotel room of the future might be like, it’s necessary to appreciate why many of the standout disruptors in the current market are looking backwards, hiding their high-tech flaunts and instead focussing on experiences and simply good service.

    Eccleston Square Hotel in London was the setting for my experiment in hotel room time travel. It’s a fine example of how well integrated smart technology can enhance a stay. Notable in-room features include LED clear-to-opaque glass in the bathroom, gestural lighting controls, a massaging bed and an improbably positioned outside/inside courtyard. All of these elements are design decisions that will have echoes in the rooms we will choose to book in the year 2049 (although few will have the Eccleston’s claim of being mere steps away from Winston Churchill’s front door).

    Image of in-room ipad next to lighting controls

    Image credit: Ecclestone Hotel London

     “The hotel room of the future will still rely heavily on technology, but it will be engineered for invisibility.”

    30 years from now, the Artificial Intelligence (AI) that is currently the subject of deep moral conjecture will be commonplace. All retail, education, medicine, travel and data-centric areas of our lives will be handled by our personal Block-Chain driven A.Is. Much of our entertainment will be virtual visualisations; what we now call Augmented and Virtual Reality, immersive movies and games so convincing they’ll be indistinguishable from reality. It’s logical, therefore, to assume that when the mundane in life is handled by our personal A.I assistant and our persistent screen experience digital, we’ll seek out authenticity as an escape.

    The hotel room of the future will still rely heavily on technology, but it will be engineered for invisibility. The down-lighters and wall switches that are currently in hotels will be replaced by neuro and mood interpreting imaging, ambient and natural light emulation, aimed at inducing calm and/or focus. Glass wall room dividers won’t just switch to opaque, they’ll transform into shimmering living jungle walls or expansive movie screens or personalised news feeds created by holographic projection. Think Minority Report, but without the need for gloves.

    Modern bathroom

    Image credit: Eccleston Square Hotel, London

    In order to get a handle on all this future gazing, it’s sometimes helpful to have tangible examples to hand. The recently launched Magic Leap mixed reality headset offers insight into how a futuristic hotel room could be brought or augmented with ultra-high definition virtual assets. By 2049, several exponential leaps up the curve, the headset might be unnecessary, imaging handled by a projector and a glass room divider infused with highly refractive silver particles.

    That’s entertainment, but what about the health and wellness opportunities offered by the hotel room of the next decade?

    “Beyond just heating, far infrared light offers all manner of health benefits including immune system support, helping to alleviate stress, psoriasis and relieving joint and muscle pain.”

    Astectherm is an example of an advanced technology that predicts the kind of hybrid between practical and health orientated benefits that might find itself in the guestroom in 10 years from now. I was able to install a working sample of this thin, flexible infrared thermal heating fabric between the electrically operated curtains during my Eccleston Square Hotel stay. More usually, lengths of Astectherm would be installed in walls or under floor and ceilings. Beyond just heating, far infrared light offers all manner of health benefits including immune system support, helping to alleviate stress, psoriasis and relieving joint and muscle pain. This system is an excellent example of an invisible technology that could offer in-room, spa-like health and wellness advantages for the future hotel room user checking in.

    Hyper-personalisation will drive much high-end retail and leisure experiences in the future. The 3D printers that are still mainly the preserve of industry today will perhaps print bespoke, nutritionally focused meals in the kitchens of tomorrow. In order to compete, a morning in an Eccelston Square Hotel room circa 2049 will, for example, have to offer a high-end personalised breakfast and coffee experience. To give a sense of where our future caffeine fixes might come from, I tested the Ikawa Personal Coffee roaster in my room. As well as infusing the suite with a gorgeous aroma of freshly roasted green coffee beans, the tiny app-controlled machine offers concrete insight into the quick, delicious and bespoke snacks and meals we will come to expect in the near-future. In future in-room coffee machines, the ingredients will be determined by a stool and urine analysing toilet and other health monitoring wearables. If your morning bathroom routine flags a rise in your inflammatory markers, you might find turmeric in your freshly-roasted, non-dairy latte.

    Image caption: Ikawa Personal Coffee Roaster – thanks to coffee gurus @Steampunkcoffeemachine & @Anyalou and Ben from imperialteas.co.uk

    While we currently have the Apple Watch, in the future we’ll see far more discrete wearables, which will offer a much deeper insight into our general wellness. Take sleep for example, a critical part of any hotel room experience. At the moment, Some hotels offer a vague ‘good night guarantee’ based on little more than firm pillows. Eccleston Square Hotel already takes its bedtime more seriously than most, but as well as a mood lighting and an electronically adjustable bed, in 10 years time its beds might map guests’ REM and movement signatures. They high-tech beds might compare them to a block-chain powered pattern from thousands of my previous nights’ sleep, cross-referenced with a range of biological and psychological markers, blood sugar readings from bathroom analysis and wearables and even neurological data. And if this is all sounding a little too Sci-Fi, I took the liberty of installing a Nokia Smart Sleep sensor in my Eccleston Square hotel bed.

    “The app data showed a high ‘Sleep Quality’ score of 90 per cent, only twenty seconds of snoring and a longer period of ‘deep sleep’ than on previous nights at home testing it.”

    Perhaps it was exhaustion from setting up all the gadgets- or the massage – but the app data showed a high ‘Sleep Quality’ score of 90 per cent, only twenty seconds of snoring and a longer period of ‘deep sleep’ than on previous nights at home testing it. This level of detail, while insightful today will seem laughably trivial in ten years, but again, Nokia’s gadget is a fine example of where we’re heading.

    Image Caption: Nokia Sleep Sensor. 2. Bed’s Massage Remote Control

    The Eccleston Square Hotel has several rooms with distinctive private outdoor spaces. It achieves this by cleverly slicing up what would be larger areas and then giving each outdoor triangle the perception of space with large mirrored walls. This is another precursor to a future trend; the use of spacial sensory imaging, both auditory and visual, to create outdoor experiences, but on a considerably smaller scale. Looking beyond 2049 and it’s not implausible to imagine something like a Star Trek holodeck that transforms a tiny 24m² courtyard into an infinite forest in which you can jog by virtue of a 360° treadmill.

    Image caption: Courtyard in Eccleston Square Hotel Room showing outside mirrored wall

    It’s a contradiction for sure, but technology will deliver what the hotel guest of the future will desire most, authenticity. The design ethos, eco and energy awareness, food and customer service expectations of the discerning hotel guest a decade hence will still be central to their choice. What will change is the availability of bespoke, luxury personalised services, many of which will have echoes of a bygone age, a time when the gadgets that distract us today hadn’t been invented. Of course there will be no obvious gadgets in the hotel room of the future, just ‘real’ services and experiences. And when reality can’t be delivered, we’ll be happy to accept the perception of it.

    Jason Bradbury can booked for futurology talks at jla.co.uk and found on YouTube  & Instagram. Thanks also to the lovely staff at Eccleston Square Hotel. 

     Main image credit: Twitter @JasonBradbury/Eccleston Square Hotel London

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    Checking in to Hotel X – the luxury Canadian hotel that stands alone

    768 405 Hamish Kilburn

    Situated adjacent to Lake Ontario, a shimmering glass tower shelters a new kind of luxury in Toronto. Edited by Hamish KilburnVincenzo Ferrara reviews Hotel X…

    Juxtaposing the neighbouring buildings in the Liberty Village area, which were once cut off from the rest of the city of Toronto, Hotel X Toronto is the new sought-after boutique kid on the block that is making waves as a new kind of luxury experience in a city that welcomes more than 40 million tourists each year.

    Imagined and designed by Stephen B. Jacobs Group and Andi Pepper Interiors Design, the hotel opened in March 2018 with the aim of creating an extravagant and contemporary hotel with dramatic flourishes. Using its unparalleled location and striking views as a design and architectural reference, X certainly does now mark the spot near Liberty Village, which becomes directly apparent when checking in.

    The exterior shell of Hotel X

    Image credit: Hotel X, Toronto

    Upon arrival, guests are immediately welcomed into the hotel’s towering size combined with unassuming elegance. On the exterior shell, reflected beams of light hit the glass building, which creates a colourful display in an otherwise grey, and somewhat sombre business district. Despite the hotel, with its state-of-the-art technology and business facilities, appropriately keeping in line with the suit-and-tie scene that surrounds, personality pops out in unassuming moments. In the entrance, for example, monochrome, geometric flooring that has been sourced from all corners of the earth is the perfect metaphor to represent the city as a place where people meet from around the world.

    Black and white tiles echo in the balck and white chandeliers in the lobby

    Image caption: View overlooking the monochrome lobby area at Hotel X

    The hand-cut marble reception desk sits in front of a living wall that covers the height and width of the lobby and creates an instant sense of peace that is far removed from the metropolis outside. A grand staircase on the right leads to a glass bridge that overlooks the spacious and minimalist area and offers a platform where guests can enjoy the lobby area from a different perspective, such as an up-close look at the detailed circular patterned chandeliers.

    The large, modern art gallery includes landscape photos on the walls and around the room

    Image caption: Kandy Gallery, Hotel X

    Art is a prominent theme captured throughout the hotel. A gallery on the ground floor is devoted to photographer Neil Dankoff, whose landscape pieces famously led him to become a staple on the art and photography scene in Toronto. His ‘Kandy Gallery’ commission with Hotel X, which sees his signature images that depict worldwide adventure hung on the walls, turned out to be the largest fine art photography transaction in Canadian history. Dankoff spent almost three years travelling the globe to capture more than 800 landscape photographs that were purposefully commissioned for use within the hotel. Hung in such a way so that guests notice an eye-catching canvas of natural beauty around every corner, Dankoff’s work is quite literally written on the walls. Cleverly, his work from the gallery filter into the guestrooms and suites, resulting in a further reclined backdrop. The guestrooms and suites that offer a lake view incorporate water within the pieces, whereas the rooms that face the city skyline contain more physical features such as woodlands and rock formations.

    Monochrome tiles feature in a library. A large desk with white chairs sit in the centre of the room, surrounded by large book-shelf walls.

    Image caption: The Library, Hotel X

    The gallery is a strong design unique selling point that positions Hotel X in a league of its own, but the adjacent library, complete with an oversized statement floor-to-ceiling bookcase, is another design centrepoint. Set in a monochrome setting, which is filtered through from the lobby area, the library’s matte-silver backdrop creates a sense of place with a carved map of the famous downtown area embossed in black paint. The space, which is open to both guests and the public, has been sensitively designed to offer guests a tranquil working environment.

    The ambiance within the ground floor corridors changes from the other public areas as the walls transform from a soft cream to white light glass panels. Placed side by side, these LED flashes create a chequered wall that both reinforces the Hotel X brand while also boosts new energy in an area that is lacking natural light.

    Large guestroom with orange and purple furniture. The floor-to-ceiling windows frame the skyline of Toronto

    Image Credit: Hotel X, Toronto

    Taking full advantage of the complete Toronto skyline, each guestroom and suite features floor-to-ceiling windows. The spacious living quarters in the suites, which are filled with natural light, blend blues, greys and blacks into dark-oak fittings. Bright, block colour in the furniture infuses the right balance of personality. The sliding doors between the living areas and the bedroom keep the space open at all times and flooded with natural light that flows, like the carpet, throughout each room. The large beds with cream headboards create another layer of calmness that is occasionally interrupted by loud accents in the furniture.

    “The glass conservatory has been built on several 18th century military forts.”

    New Fort Hall is a unique area of the hotel, not only for its visual appeal but also for its way of retelling history. The glass conservatory has been built on several 18th century military forts. Instead of demolishing the ruins completely, the design team incorporated them to create an eye-catching venue space. The glass floor quite literally allows visitors of the hotel to look down on the original floors of the military barracks. The room itself provides a beautifully simplistic contrast between the old beneath and the modern metropolis that can be captured through its glass.

    “No stay at Hotel X is complete without a visit to the 28th floor.”

    The hotel supports multi-level sports halls that have been positioned in such a way to overlook some of the city’s largest sport stadiums including BMO field. Adding to this motivation is the personalised EGE Atelier carpet, which divides each area with the lyrics to the song ‘imagine’ by John Lennon.

    No stay at Hotel X is complete without a visit to the 28th floor, which is where the vision for Liberty Village’s new era of luxury was conceived from. Both the rooftop Falcon SkyBar and heated swimming pool on the top floor offer guests the ability to experience the city from a VIP-perched level. The iconic three-level bar balances relaxation, style and drama. The suede purple wingback chairs sit alongside other gold and grey suede seating that tributes the colours of the sunset that reflects off Lake Ontario.

    The 404-key Hotel X is more than just another urban hotel with a view to pop up. Unlike other hotels in the area, Hotel X took on mission impossible to help transform the largely undiscovered area of Liberty Village into a luxury tourist hotspot that was also equipped to take bleisure travel to new heights. Through design lenses, it has completed that mission in style and has become a go-to destination in itself, further complementing the city skyline with effortless charm.

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    MINIVIEW: The Holiday Inn London – Heathrow M4, Jct.4

    768 512 Hamish Kilburn

    Taking the next junction in modern hotel design, the design team at IHG has recently unveiled new interiors at The Holiday Inn London – Heathrow M4, Jct.4…

    The days of the The Holiday Inn brand being perceived as a cheap and rather basic night away are long gone, as IHG has unveiled a new design era in the brand’s history which begins on the fringes of London Heathrow airport.

    Complete with a open lobby, flexible work stations and dynamic interiors throughout with a strong focus on contemporary art outside the frame, The Holiday Inn London – Heathrow M4, Jct.4 has pulled off a significant refurbishment to the public spaces, revolutionising the guest experience from check in through to check out.

    A modern styled room with accents of blue and cosy seating throughout

    The refurbishment followed the news that LGH Hotels Management Ltd, which owns and manages a portfolio of Holiday Inn and Crowne Plaza hotels across the UK, announced a multi-million-pound refurbishment plan across their properties, starting with the Holiday Inn London – Heathrow M4, Jct.4.

    The new open lobby transforms how guests eat, drink, work, meet and socialise by providing one cohesive space to fit their individual lifestyles. The redesigned space merges the reception, lounge, bar and restaurant to create one relaxed and multi-faceted area with no barriers, so that guests can blend work and leisure instinctively, which has already received rave reviews from guests and visitors.

    A mixture of leveled seating with a TV on the right hand side. Modern public areasOmar Nicholls, Development Director for LGH Hotels Management Ltd, was tasked to oversee and execute the refurbishment plans for the hotel and has worked closely with external design agency Design Coalition to achieve the new Holiday Inn open lobby concept.“Our main goal with the open lobby design was to create a space that feels familiar, like an extension of home, and has a logical flow so guests can truly relax and utilise each corner in a way that makes sense to them and accommodates all of their work and relaxation needs,” he explains.

    Designed to reflect a laid-back living room, guests find comfort in the furniture that feature appropriately placed charging units. The new dining area in the lobby is now a flexible and informal space with a range of high and low tables and booths to suit everyone, be it a working lunch or relaxed group meal.

    The open lobby concept is unique to The Holiday Inn brand and will be extended to properties across Europe to become a brand-defining feature.

     

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    MINI VIEW: CANVAS Dallas Hotel reopens

    768 511 Hamish Kilburn

    The newly branded CANVAS has been reimagined by Studio 11 Design to paint a fresh industrial-chic perspective on the boutique hotel in Dallas that previously lacked colour and character… 

    Guests checking in to the newly launched CANVAS Hotel Dallas should expect color outside the lines as they enter into a space where art and hospitality collide to create dynamic and contemporary interiors.

    Formerly known as NYLO Dallas South Side, CANVAS Hotel Dallas is an art-centric base for modern trendsetters, an inspirational hub for relentless artisans, and a destination for locals to be creatively inspired while enjoying world-class dining and unparalleled skyline views.

    “CANVAS Dallas Hotel is a timely addition to the burgeoning district of South Dallas,” said Jack Matthews, president of Matthews Southwest, lead developer and co-owner. “With a prime location in the heart of the Cedars district, and in close proximity to downtown and the convention center,
    CANVAS is nestled in an eclectic neighborhood undergoing a renaissance in terms of culture, shopping, food, art, and music. This property is poised to be the destination of choice for modern travelers looking for an authentic Dallas experience that will inspire their creativity and satisfy their contemporary tastes.”

    “CANVAS paints a fresh perspective of its original building.”

    With 76 art-infused suites and guestrooms, CANVAS Hotel Dallas offers an authentic-yet unconventional Lone Star State adventure. As a blank slate for guests to create their own experiences, the rooms, suites, lobby area, and F&B outlets have been renovated and reimagined.

    The fresh interior design, décor and artistic elements directed by Dallas-based Studio 11 Design, CANVAS paints a fresh perspective of its original building, a structure integral to the history of South Dallas that is almost a century old, that has been well-preserved, refurbished and now LEED certified.

    Upon entering, guests are made to feel at home in the refreshed first-level lobby and restaurant with elements that portray a living room-feel. Intimate seating areas foster common social spaces in the eclectic industrial space, adorned with locally discovered and bespoke accessories from the Dallas area. The restaurant’s dining area converts into flexible meeting space, divided by a sliding glass partition.

    The guestrooms and suites feature quirky, loft-style design and décor, with 10-12 foot high ceilings, pressed concrete flooring, exposed brick, and funky industrial elements and fixtures. New custom carpeting, two lighting and art has been installed in all public areas and guest hallways, and the lobby has been reconfigured to be more conducive to social gatherings, common work areas and meeting the needs of the modern hotel guest. More room renovations are slated for 2019.

    From palette to palate, CANVAS Hotel Dallas brings two art-inspired restaurants and lounges to the South Side of Dallas. Chef’s Palette is the redesigned first-level lounge and restaurant where every plate is a tasteful expression of culinary creation.

    Meanwhile, the rooftop bar formerly known as SODA has been redesigned and renamed The Gallery Rooftop Lounge. The indoor/outdoor lounge offers a sweeping 270-degree view of the Dallas skyline, but the vista isn’t the only masterpiece at The Gallery. From chef-centric food offerings, to handcrafted cocktails and eclectic art by up-and-coming Dallas artists, everything at The Gallery Rooftop Lounge is an ode to originality.

    Whether guests are experiencing the hotel for the first time or whether they are locals enjoying the sharp and quirky public areas, the whole hotel has been lifted and redesigned to inspire. CANVAS Hotel Dallas will officially open on January 1, 2019.

     

    Checking in to Matetsi Victoria Falls – Zimbabwe’s answer to luxury

    730 565 Hamish Kilburn
    Checking in to Matetsi Victoria Falls – Zimbabwe’s answer to luxury

    Travelling 7,500 miles to Zimbabwe, editor of Hotel Designs Hamish Kilburn learns more about the design direction of one of the country’s most luxurious hotel offerings, the award-winning Matetsi Victoria Falls

    Beyond the baobab trees – which are said to be sacred among the locals because of the natural healing powers they lock within their roots.

    The dehydrated shrubs on the African soil, elephants, hyenas, zebras, warthogs, leapards and lions sits an award-winning luxury riverside hotel that is indubitably one of the most luxurious offerings in Zimbabwe.

    After 15 minutes 4x4ing the dirt road into the heart of the 123,000-acre (55,000 hectres) reserve, we arrive at Matetsi Victoria Falls, a place that promises luxury, comfort and unmatched style. “I have the largest back yard in Africa,” jokes the owner John Gardiner who greets me on arrival. And with nothing between us and the natural safari, my experience in the African bush begins.

    The entrance of the hotel is framed by three traditional Mokoro (dug-out) canoes, which hang from wooden beams and sway in harmony with the soft Zambezi breeze. With no need for a traditional lobby, guests are immediately welcomed into the indoor-outdoor public areas complete with a copper bar and durable outdoor sofas and chairs scattered in a home-from-home setting that has been designed around nature, and not the other way round. “We didn’t take out a single tree when designing these camps, because we wanted these areas to remain as close to nature as we could,” said interior designer Kerry van Leenhoff , a previous graduate from Cape Town University of Technology who was hand-selected by Gardiner and totally supported in all her decisions. Using the striking vista of the Zambezi River, which flows towards the tremendous Victoria Falls, dining tables are placed in such a way to make every meal one to remember. “The lobby areas have been designed in order to encourage guests to connect with people and nature,” adds van Leenhoff.

    As we approach suite 17 – AKA, my home for the next four nights – I am reminded just how ‘in the sticks’ we are, catching a glimpse of an elephant and a giraffe just metres from each other as my key enters the lock. I open the heavy, black teak front door, which was recycled and polished from the previous lodge, and the room is immediately filled with light. Interestingly enough, though, this was not the case when the hotel first opened, as van Leenhoff explains: “When the hotel first opened and the guests gave us their feedback, we realised that we needed to revisit the lighting, especially in the public areas,” she says. “So we added some more outdoor feature lighting around the trees and columns in order to really pronounce what we felt were the important and dramatic areas of the hotel.” However, my immediate attention is not on the lighting. Instead, my imagination is taken over by the striking panoramic view of the Zambezi River, which I later find out is home to legend; the locals believe that a famous God is said to protect the flowing waters, and his name is Nyami Nyami. As legend goes, the spirit which is often depicted as half snake half fish, protects life in and around the river.

    The River Lodge Suite is everything you would expect of a luxury lodge in the bush, and so much more. The skin of matepi latte creates an organic ceiling and roof – and this material does more than just give a nod to the location. This decision was made in order to keep the lodge blending into its location and celebrate Zimbabwean culture. “It was really important for us to work with skilled craftsmen and women from our culture,” explains van Leenhoff. “We have such a diverse culture with about 16 different tribes and languages. We mainly focused around the Tonga tribes as we were by the river.” The result is that from the far side of the river, you can’t actually see where the hotel starts and ends, which suggests even further that the whole property has been created with nature in mind.

    Van Leenhoff decided to take Matetsi’s love for nature and the environment and inject it into the fabrics and the walls. The result is a naturally calming, peaceful abode, which empowers an everlasting feeling of total luxury and relaxation. Modern high-quality furniture and hand-scultpted trunks of trees used as tables create the perfect blend of modern, luxury and timeless décor.

    All 18 suites have been thoughtfully curated and the hotel is a credit to the talent of van Leenhoff. The art, for example is by Helen Teede who spent much time on site at Matetsi in order to find the inspiration of a unique collection of 18 paintings entitled ‘Mapping Matetsi’. Having done extensive walks and drives in the area, Teede divided the cartographic map of Matetsi unit seven into 18 parts and drew it to scale on each canvas, adding her own impressions of the river, the landscape and the pathways walked in the area, both man and animal-made. These 18 paintings hang separately in each suite. However, put together and these pieces of art actually form the aerial map of the reserve.

    With the privilege of space, the hotel shelters two camps: East Camp, West Camp and one large villa, River House, which sits in between the two camps. Interestingly, the whole team – chefs, butlers, housekeeping, back-of-house staff – alternate between both East and West camp every couple of weeks in order to maintain the property and keep service personable at all times.

    Gardiner, who I first met in London just a few weeks before my trip, is the real visionary behind the property surrounding the reserve. A local Zimbabwean hotelier, Gardiner has transformed the reserve since acquiring it in 2014 and aims to “give back to Zimbabwe”. With the help of his team, who all share Gardiner’s love for nature, he has restored and conserved the natural wildlife within the reserve by building various watering holes, 15 in total with a further 10 in the pipeline, I am told.

    Before I check out, I have an opportunity to exclusively discuss the future of Matetsi with the team and how it plans to expand its luxury arm. “We are working on a few things at the moment, which are really exciting projects,” adds van Leenhoff. “The design direction and our aim is to strike the balance between feeling isolated and feeling safe.” The new plans will further challenge conventional luxury lodges in Africa with a real focus on opening up the guests to undisturbed nature.

    The future sounds exciting and it’s clear that the design team and the hotel are totally in sync with ideas, vision and what luxury in Africa should look like. I leave Matetsi and Zimbabwe having cemented my respect in African design and culture. I am grateful that the reserve’s calming atmosphere allowed me to relax and escape from the lively London scene, if not only for a few days.

    Key suppliers

    Guest Suites-
    Tables/ Headboards/ Beds- Adam Seager Furniture (ZIM)
    Upholstery – Fiona Edmunds (ZIM)
    Desks/ Luggage racks/ Wardrobes/ Lounge chairs – Nigel Joselyn (ZIM)
    Pottery Pendants and Chandeliers- Chart Pottery (ZIM)
    Beaded Ottomans- CHIPO women’s group (ZIM)
    Spring stone Basins- Tonderayi Mahachi (ZIM)
    Bamboo Lights- STEP Trust (ZIM)
    Floor lamps- Collaboration between Bruce Elliot & Tonderayi Mahachi (ZIM)
    Porcupine wastepaper baskets- Lupane Women’s Centre (ZIM)
    Basin Tops- Zambezi Roots (ZIM)
    Bath- Euro trends (SA)
    Sanitary ware- Antique baths (SA)
    Nguni Cowhides- Holly Hudson (ZIM)
    Ceramics- Marjorie Wallace: Mutapo (ZIM)
    Mirrors- Brigette Lotter (ZIM)

    Main areas-
    Dining tables- Adam Seager Furniture (ZIM)
    Woven Screens- Collaboration between Jane Taylor & Judith Ncube of Matabeleland Weavers (ZIM)
    Curated Tables- Helen Teede (ZIM)
    Bar and Interactive kitchen- Collaboration between Adam Seager & Copperwares (ZIM)
    Woven Poufs – Lupane Women’s Centre (ZIM)
    Wrought Iron lights- Misty Edwards (ZIM)
    Pottery Pendants and Chandeliers- Chart Pottery (ZIM)
    Reed mats- Newlands Craft Market (ZIM)
    Shop – Nigel Joselyn (ZIM)
    Sofas- Fiona Edmunds (ZIM)
    Coco chairs- Coricraft (SA)
    Chairs/ Bar stools- Weylandts (SA)
    Boardroom table- Collaboration between Zambezi Roots & Complete Steel (ZIM)
    Ceramics- Marjorie Wallace: Mutapo (ZIM)
    Wine cellar Chandeliers- Basil & Lindy Rowlands (ZIM)
    Wine cellar- Ruwa Furniture (ZIM)

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    Checking in to Hotel Gotham, Manchester’s decadent playground

    768 513 Hamish Kilburn

    As Manchester continues to turn heads on the hotel design scene, editor of Hotel Designs Hamish Kilburn checked in to check out Hotel Gotham’s bold and decadent interiors – all sheltered within a former bank…

    Ever since its bold entrance onto the unapologetically loud Manchester scene in 2015, Hotel Gotham’s alluring charm has tantalised many senses of those who have passed through its spectacularly framed automatic doors. I, for one, am one of them, and I hold my hands up proudly to say that I have formed a lust for decadence and luxury since checking in.

    Expect disruptive interiors that are balanced with effortless style and a narrative threaded throughout the whole building that will take you right back to ’20s glamour.

    Manchester’s answer to Gothic-chic is often the heart of the action of the city thanks to the vivacious General Manager, Mario Ovsenjak. It’s this action captured within Hotel Gotham, almost on a need-to-know basis, that helped first raise the bar in hotel design in the North in order to compete not only against its London counterparts, but also against luxury hotels around the world. Because Hotel Gotham is, quite frankly, unlike anywhere else around the globe.

    “Think Art Deco meets the Batcave.”

    The concept was to create timeless luxury with the ability to take guests away from the city centre below they know and love and into a different universe entirely, all while remaining sensitive in restoring moments that capture the hotel how it used to be. Think Art Deco meets the Batcave.

    The entrance, under the watchful focus of the building’s gargoyles, is surprisingly understated given its majestic shell. Designed to emphasise a theatrical greeting from magnificently dressed porters, as if themselves are part of wider performance or an extension of the interior styling, the doors to the hotel are more like a curtain to a stage. Look up and all is not what it first seems. The ceiling is made up of numerous upside-down umbrellas – not for the superstitious I must add – painted in black and gold. These elements are special because they didn’t quite work out according to the original plan. These items were supposed to arrive painted gold underneath and black on top, but it wasn’t until the interior designers erected the first one when they realised that they had been designed to be gold on top and black underneath. Today, the subtle reference to Manchester’s inevitable downpour is cleverly injected and hides the secret well.

    Checking in on the sixth floor is an unusual experience to say the least, but an experience I have seen work before, at the W Amsterdam for example. Unlike the raucous, wild and fashion-forward W brand, though, Hotel Gotham’s lobby experience is private and provides and secluded and personal welcome. Just a few steps along and guests are greeted into a large and airy Honey Restaurant, with its own personality. The hotel describes this place as “Whatever Honey conjures up for you”, the 2 AA Rosette awarded restaurant offers guests to dine overlooking Manchester from an unmatched perspective.

    Downstairs, the guestrooms and suites shelter the true character of Hotel Gotham. Disruptive interiors balance a seductive, playful misé en scene, yet still feel like a home from home – like a modern designer’s sanctuary… The zig-zagged, soft Newhey carpets and the striking pink accents in the furniture and the inside of the drinks cabinet add flair in all the right corners. Meanwhile, the oversized beds, complete with faux fur throws, make lying-in a privilege.

    Challenging the convention of traditional luxury hotels, the most premium category rooms at Hotel Gotham do not boast the most premium views of the city – in fact they boast no view at all. Instead, cleverly I believe, the five Inner Sanctum Suites – each named after an iconic Manchester figure and featuring a huge ‘wonderwall’ screen – are vaulted within the core of the building. Windowless and worlds away from anything happening in the city below, the suites’ sharp cinema screen projections onto panelled wallcoverings offer various atmospheres, not just the one that Manchester wants you to see, including the intriguing narrative of Hotel Gotham characters.

    The real showstopper is located on the top floor (floor seven), and is reserved for guests and members only. The history of the building is quite literally written on the walls in the bar. The surfaces are lathered in gold, giving more than just a subtle nod to the bank that the building used to shelter. The bar and lounge area naturally over-spills onto four separate terraces that together capture a jaw-dropping view over the city and beyond.

    Bespoke Hotels recently announced that it was to open the 191-key The Brooklyn to Manchester, which will pay ‘homage to the Golden Age of New York City’. This follows Top Hotel Projects revealing a rather large development growth of luxury hotels in Manchester, with 18 first-class and luxury hotel projects listed for the city with 2,907 rooms in the pipeline – eight of which are slated to be unveiled in 2019. The Brooklyn, which will become the younger brother – or sister – of Hotel Gotham, is expected to share the same disobedience, and rightly so, as the hotel group arguably continues to lead the way in the city with endless possibilities that help to broaden the ever-changing landscape of hotel design in the North.

    Key suppliers list: 

    Carpets – Newhey Carpet
    Lighting – RS Robertsons
    Curtains –  Robena Contract Furnishings Limited
    Furniture (pink seating)  – Style Matters
    Desk – PTT design
    Bathroom toilet, basin and shower – Marflow

    Image credits: ACT Studios

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    MINIVIEW: New-look Hilton Imperial Dubrovnik

    1024 658 Hamish Kilburn
    Design firm Goddard Littlefair injects golden-age glam into the former The Grand Hotel Imperial…

    Hilton Imperial Dubrovnik, situated just above Dubrovnik old town, was originally built in the 1890s and went on to serve the great Mediterranean cruise liners docking in the city in the early 20th century. Then called ‘The Grand Hotel Imperial’, with a French Riviera feel and the glamorous cachet of an international clientele, the hotel was a roaring success for many decades, but, during the Yugoslav war, it was shelled and then used to house refugees. The hotel was subsequently brought back to active life in 2005, and most recently was renovated under the watchful eye of design house Goddard Littlefair.

    “When we were first commissioned, the hotel was already very well established and incredibly popular, with a wonderful location overlooking the old fort and the Adriatic, right on the edges of Dubrovnik’s historic old centre,” commented Martin Goddard, Director and Co-founder of Goddard Littlefair. “Whilst it had been majorly refurbished in 2005, costly building works meant that the interiors weren’t the main priority at that time and were primed therefore for a completely new treatment.”

    “The brief to the design team was to unlock the true potential of the four-storey hotel’s spectacular location, architecture, reputation and history.”

    Goddard Littlefair was initially commissioned towards the end of 2016 for a phased set of redesign works, with the first two now completed and including the reception and lobby, The Lobby Lounge, The Imperial Bar, The Executive Lounge, all connecting and guest-room corridors and all of the hotel’s 149 standard and executive rooms and nine suites. A refurbishment of the hotel’s existing restaurant, Porat, on the lower-ground floor, will follow in late 2019.

    The brief to the design team was to unlock the true potential of the four-storey hotel’s spectacular location, architecture, reputation and history. “Our inspiration lay in bringing back the romance of the hotel’s former glories,” Goddard commented. “Layering glamour into each individual space by means of a Riviera palette, soft detailing, a 1920s yachting influence and a subtle evocation of the hotel’s original elegance, whilst at the same time balancing that with clean and contemporary lines.”

    Reception

    Guests enter via a metal revolving door into a stunning, double-height reception, with tall, arched windows and cool ceramic flooring in a bespoke two-tone diamond pattern, created by Goddard Littlefair and inspired by the old stone streets of the city. The reception is spacious, soothing and calming, so that guests relax instantly, especially during the intense heat of the summer season.

    The visitor’s eye is immediately taken by a spectacular central chandelier, made up of eleven, sculptural, globe-shaped and antiqued brass pendant lights, hanging from chains in rows of three on antiqued brass rods. Each individual pendant light within the chandelier houses seven fluted, ribbed glass tubes, concealing the bulbs, with the ribbed glass treatment used matching seven bespoke vertical wall lights in the reception’s waiting area. The feature light was designed by Jana Novakovic, Interior Designer at Goddard Littlefair and was manufactured by Croatian lighting company Dekor, who worked on most of the lighting on the project. The scheme’s overall lighting consultant, especially focusing on architectural lighting, was DPA Lighting Consultants.

    The ceilings in the reception feature newly-instated decorative mouldings, whilst the walls are clad in inset dove-grey panels at the upper level, with feature areas of moulded timber panelling at ground floor level, located around and behind the reception desk and also enclosing the lobby waiting area opposite, where huge-scale arched windows – technically at first floor level – flood the space with natural light, with glare lessened by transparent sheer curtain panels and off-white blinds with a striking blue trim at the top of the windows.

    A bespoke, three-person reception desk is to the left of entry. The desk features a Carrara marble top and dark-stained timber panelling to the front, matching the wall panelling behind, with sculptural brass desktop lights by Dekor at each end. Behind the desk, set within timber-panelled wall surround, is a triptych of artworks by Croatian artist Antonia Čačić, specially-commissioned for the project by the scheme’s art consultants ARTIQ. The 3m-long abstract triptych incorporates a palette of soft hues inspired by the colours of the Dalmatian coast.

    Reception desk with bespoke marble-topped and timber-panelled desk with rear artwork triptych by Croatian artist Antonia Čačić

    Image caption: Reception desk with bespoke marble-topped and timber-panelled desk with rear artwork triptych by Croatian artist Antonia Čačić

    The Lobby Lounge

    Two lighting features immediately take the eye, one at the centre of each area. First, a bespoke chandelier in The Lobby Lounge, inspired by 1950s bathing caps, has cascading white porcelain petal shapes set on a brass framework and was made by Imagin. Secondly, The Imperial Bar meanwhile features a bespoke, six-armed chandelier in brass with spherical opal glass shades, designed by Goddard Littlefair and manufactured by Dekor. Wall lights in the space, with ribbed, cylindrical glass surrounds are identical to those in the reception waiting area.

    The ceiling in The Lobby Lounge area is painted white with new added decorative mouldings. The right-side wall is painted a pale shade of blue, as are the inner arches of the French doors that line the wall and open out on the terrace. Pole-hung curtains line the French doors in off-white, with a blue leading edge.

    The spaces feature three zoned seating arrangements, demarcated by individual rugs in blues and whites with a touch of coral, in a take on an antique Persian rug, set on top of timber chevron flooring that runs through the entire space. The three rugs were designed by Goddard Littlefair and made by Hotel Designs Recommended Supplier Brintons. The two end ones are identical, whilst the central one is subtly different. Each seating zone features a table, with a Carrara marble top and either fine brass legs or a more substantial dark-timber pedestal, and each has a different seating arrangement. Chairs at both the end-of-room set-ups are scoop-back armchairs in a blue-grey velvet with a woven pale grey fabric back, whilst the central chairs are all in grey with a contrasting dark blue piped edging and antiqued brass studs. Sofas are in upholstered in a linen fabric, whilst scatter cushions are either in blue with contrast piping or else in blue or rust, introduced here in small doses for contrast, with a central textile-design panel. A number of higher tables for dining line the inside wall of the space, in Carrara marble and brass, with peacock blue velvet-upholstered ‘shell’ design chairs with ebonised timber legs.

    The Imperial Bar

    Image caption: The Imperial Bar

    The Imperial Bar

    The Imperial Bar has a pronouncded deco feel. Located at the far end of the space, the bar is announced via a demarcating, stand-out brass surround screen, featuring brass shelving and fretwork panels set within its side arches and across its top section, where LED lights are also concealed. The screen was manufactured, along with all joinery, mouldings, case goods and furniture on the project by Internova. Dark timber detailing links the screen to the dark timber used for the furniture legs. The brass screen was also specially-designed to house a spectacular art piece – a second commission by Croatian artist Antonia Čačić, which sits at the centre of the screen and is in fact a triptych once more. Two of its three sections sit within the screen, with one facing each way, with the third at the other end of the space, to the rear of The Lobby Lounge. Further artwork in the bar area includes a series of 12 specially-commissioned monochrome photograms of local flowers, printed as negatives and arranged on unique, vertical-rod brass picture rails.

    The ceiling in The Imperial Bar is painted blue, for added drama and a moodier feel. The windows in the bar all have classic, white-painted shutters at their sides, for a subtly different feel from The Lobby Lounge. The bar also has its own table and chair arrangements with a more silky, cocktail feel to the furniture including a ‘love seat’ sofa, banquettes by the windows and small, round scatter cushions in gathered brown velvet with a trim and central large button either in the same brown or contrasting orange piping.

    The Executive Lounge

    Immediately beyond The Lobby Lounge and The Imperial Bar is the 88 sq m Executive Lounge, a further long and slim space, with entry through a double door. Hilton grades its rooms as standard, executive or suites and The Executive Lounge is for the exclusive use of guests who have booked executive rooms or suites. Essentially, rather like an airport lounge, this space offers a quieter area for guests, who can to use the space all day long and have breakfast here in the morning for example or make use of the complimentary afternoon wine and cheese served here.

    The Executive Lounge features a refurbished white ceiling and applied mouldings to the walls, with inset panels in a rattan wall covering from Phillip Jeffries. Flooring, for the upper two thirds of the space, is an inset carpet with a timber outer layer and brass trim from Ulster Carpets. Two gilded mirrors at the far end are by Water Gilders, with a small salon-hang arrangement of art between the mirrors, once again curated by ARTIQ. Bespoke tables run along the far end and down both sides of the room, with table tops featuring two different designs in Carrara and Nero Marquina marble, with ebonised timber pedestals. Bespoke seating includes three sofa seats below the antiqued mirrors in a peacock-blue velvet with ribbed scroll backs, with chairs opposite featuring a pale blue leather seat pad, a dark timber frame and a cane back. Seats accompanying the tables down the sides are in a dove grey with an ebonised timber frame and scatter cushions feature fabrics from Tissus d’Hélène. Curtains on the outer side of the room are full-height in an off-white with a blue leading edge, featuring the same design used for The Lobby Lounge.

    A long, thin island credenza runs down the centre of the space, with timber ribbing and brass detail shadow gap, a Carrara marble top and integrated timber trays, accessorised by a small terrarium of succulent plants set beneath bell jars, as well as a number of books and geometric objects of interest. Table lamps here have a brass stand and ribbed ivory shades. Armchairs to either side feature a dark timber frame and caramel leather upholstery, whilst small accompanying incidental tables have a Carrara marble and timber top with criss-cross brass and bronze legs. Above the central credenza is the room’s major lighting feature – a four-part brass ring chandelier with crystal elements and inset LED lights, bespoke-designed by Goddard Littlefair and made by Northern Lights.

    Each room features a bespoke Axminster rug from Brinton's

    Image caption: Each room features a bespoke Axminster rug from Brinton’s

    Guestrooms and Corridors

    The hotel features an Imperial Suite, together with eight other suites and 149 executive and standard rooms. Linking corridors are inset-carpeted with timber borders in light oak and carpet runners, with a bordered bespoke design in a subtle colourway running from greys to varying shades of blue, so that it seems to fade at the border, made specially for the project by Brintons. Walls are in a pale off-white wall covering from Muraspec. Room numbers are announced via bespoke wall lights in a brass finish, with layered bronze plates announcing the room number via a cut out number in the front plate, visible against the second plate thanks to a subtle shadow. These were made to Goddard Littlefair’s design by Dekor.

    The design feel of all the rooms is light and fresh, with classical clean lines and a refined and elegant colour palette of blues and silvers, plus the sparing use of pale pinks. Flooring is a natural light oak, supplied by a local company in Dubrovnik and arranged in a herringbone pattern. Each room features a bespoke Axminster rug from Brinton’s, with two used for the suites. The rugs in the suites are in a pattern that suggests the Middle East, with a whipped-edge border and the colour palette inverted from one to the other in blues, turquoises and ivories, with a touch of gold, whilst the standard room rugs have a more abstract, floral pattern.

    In the guestrooms hang a combination of prints by Raul Perčič and another local artist, Branka Ridicki. Hanging squarely above the bed, Branka’s paintings imagine townscapes in abstract composition and were selected for their success in capturing the feeling of Dubrovnik’s winding streets and undulating roof-scapes. Photos and prints of Dubrovnik centre on the sea and seaside life, with blues and oranges giving way to some hints of orange. The pictures hang in pairs with brass picture lights above, whilst the suites feature four works of art each.

    The beds feature full-height panelled headboards with the panels arranged in a single ‘bird’s beak’ pattern, with a blue-painted frame and upholstered in a soft gold silk-linen. The bed linen is all in white and the bedside tables alongside are oval-shaped, with a small inset drawer and open shelf, in dark-stained timber with a timber top and drawer, along a laminate body in grey with a linen texture and timber plinth. The bedside lights are fixed to panels and are in a geometric leaf print on linen with antiqued brass, made by Dekor. A floor light has a metal base and is finished in bronze and a softly-curved geometric four-section shade in ivory linen. Some rooms alternatively feature a fully-metal, slightly shorter floor light with a demi-globe rounded head. The hotel bathrooms were also lightly refreshed in the scheme, with new wall-lights, mirrored panels and decorative mirrors with brass frames and leather-hooked top detail.

    Circular dining tables/desks are in timber with a bell-shaped solid wood pedestal and additional gilding at the pedestal neck. The minibars are rectangular and panelled with chamfered edges, finished in dark-stained timber, together with a lacquered, low-sheen turquoise finish, with circular pulls for the drawer handles in a dark metal. Furniture in the rooms also includes an armchair and, depending on the room, a mix of other items including a stool, chaise or bench. The chaise, where present, is upholstered in a textured grey fabric with a ribbed back, a bolster and scatter cushions, which are made up of a variety of silk and linen materials with either geometric or abstract prints with a deliberately ‘worn-in’ look to the textile pattern. The bench is in a pinkish blush faux leather with tufted buttons and piping details, whilst the stool is in a turquoise faux leather with a turquoise top and piping and a base upholstered in a sandy colour. The armchair is upholstered in sky blue velvet, with ribbing to the inside of the back with a double-layered rear detail.

    The Imperial Suite contains a living room, dining room, bedroom and bathroom and has great views out from the front second storey of the hotel, overlooking the town’s famous old fort and the sea.

    For this and other suites, the design treatment links to the standard rooms, with subtle differences, including a marble-print fabric for the wall-lights, for example, and headboards with a padded chevron treatment in a light blue faux leather and a brass trim between the upholstery and the framing timber surround. Curtains in the suites uses the same fabric as the wall lights, coupled with white sheers. All suites have applied moulding and panelling featuring a pale grey wallcovering and a white paint surround.

    All the suites also have sofas, upholstered in a very light off-white linen-type material with arms that splay outwards and a long and loose back cushion. Armchairs in the suites are slipper-style. upholstered in duck-egg blue velvet with a contrast trim. Bedroom armchairs are curved with vertical piping detail to the interior of the back panel that looks like ribbing and are upholstered in a grey woven material, whilst a rectangular ottoman features a turquoise faux leather top and fabric sides that match the textile used for the armchair.

    Lighting for the suites includes four-armed chandeliers, suspended on a chain, with a linen shade. A table lamp has a faux-leather wrapped brown base, a linen shade and a contrast trim to the top and bottom in dark brown. A coffee table has a Carrara marble top and timber legs, whilst two side tables are black-lacquered demi-lunes. Bedside tables are in a linen-effect laminate with brass legs and handles and a timber trim.

    Image credit: Gareth Gardner

    MAR1664-800x534-768x513

    From textiles factory to New Road Hotel

    768 513 Hamish Kilburn
    Being the ‘first’ in international hotel design is a daring move, but one that carries ample rewards if conceived well. Editor of Hotel Designs Hamish Kilburn checks in to the newly opened New Road Hotel to explore what’s underneath the fossil that is a former textiles factory in London’s said-to-be up and coming neighbourhood of Whitechapel…

    Knocking on the back door of the hipster neighbourhood of Shoreditch, the New Road Hotel shelters stripped-back luxury in a building that its history is as fascinating as the newly refurbished interiors. It is the vision of three brothers, Monsur, Masrur, and Moksud Malik, who decided to build the hotel on the site of the Service House textile factory. Originally designed by architect Hume Victor Kerr, the property has always been used as a garments factory up until the turn of the millennium, and since its closure in 2000 the building had remained empty and abandoned. However, in 2011 the Malik family decided to convert it into a hotel, with ambitious goals to reinvent the somewhat desolate Whitechapel area with new life and social space for both consumers and walk-ins.

    Whitechapel’s first luxury design hotel is a modern abode with plenty of character and personality. The interior design by Nigel Howard Creative is thoughtful and clever with clear inspiration coming from the building’s former existence.

    The plot thickens when checking in, as I learn quickly that the owner’s father used to work in the former factory. The clocking-in machine, which was kept is now placed appropriately above the check-in desk. To the right of it is the original flooring that is now infused to form a striking feature wall which frames the two lifts. That distinct reference to the original factory is met with a nod from myself. Further still, the fact that these small allusions are so subtle – so much so that many guests would walk past without noticing the significance – further adds to the charm, knowing that the story, which is literally written on the walls, is there to be explored.

    Image credit: New Road Hotel

    Upstairs, the corridors reflect the colour of the former factory, with strips of loud, floor-to-ceiling pieces of fabrics interrupting the walkways as guests navigate themselves to their rooms.

    The 79 stylish guestrooms and suites have been inspired by a modern New York metropolis, created to keep the original factory features and to maximise space. The hotel’s slogan, “everything you need, nothing you don’t”, could not be more relevant when it comes to the beds. Hypnos beds were chosen and designed in such a way to eliminate the need for an in-room sofa. As a result, the rooms are cosy and feel unfamiliarly large considering that the hotel is situated a stone’s throw away from Shoreditch.

    The bathrooms have been designed to further echo the hotel’s theme, which just so happens to sync up to the industrial-chic trend – with grey surfaces having a major moment at the moment – that our industry has enjoyed of late. Roca worked with London-based contract furnishing company Concept Contracts to deliver a complete bathroom solution. “New Road Hotel is a virtually unique space,” commented Warren Stimson, Director at Concept Contracts. “The Roca Group has an impressive portfolio and being able to combine both the Roca and Laufen brands within one space has created the perfect solution for The New Road Hotel,” added Warren.

    Concept Contacts sourced The Gap wall-hung WC by Roca along with the Laufen Val basin for each room. The Gap range from Roca is a versatile collection that enables hotels to optimise the design and look of any bathroom space. Created by renowned industrial designer Antonio Bullo, The Gap features modern and stylish lines whilst delivering both a compact and functional bathroom collection.

    Room 402

    The Val bathroom collection from Laufen has been designed for the Swiss bathroom specialist by star designer Konstantin Grcic from Munich. Simple architectural lines, extremely narrow edges and fine surface structures make the washbasins of this collection globally unique.

    Downstairs, the public area is light, airy and lends itself naturally to members of the public using the space for themselves. The Marco Pierre White Chophouse restaurant, which gives a nod to tradition and centres on everything that chophouses are famed for: meat and hearty portions, is a blended in addition attached to the lobby and bar. The rustic furniture and exposed brick walls further adding to the industrial-chic vibe the hotel has mastered.

    With the Elizabeth Line (Cross rail) expected to connect the somewhat forgotten district to the rest of London and beyond, the hotel’s opening is a sign for the future. With many other former factories standing currently as empty shells, there is potential that is waiting to be grasped.

    Image credits: ACT Studios, unless stated otherwise

    Screen-Shot-2018-09-26-at-09.34.04-1170x658

    MINIVIEW: The Academy, London

    1024 576 Hamish Kilburn

    Editor of Hotel Designs Hamish Kilburn joins Alexandra Champalimaud herself to take a closer look of the new London boutique hotel that is on everyone’s lips at the moment…

    Located in London’s more literary neighbourhood of Bloomsbury, The Academy Hotel, has revealed details of its million-pound interior design refurbishment. The hotel, which is part of YTL Hotels’ UK portfolio, has been designed by Alexandra Champalimaud and her skilful team whose portfolio includes The Gainsborough Bath and Spa and soon-to-open Monkey Island in Berkshire. The team worked close with the hotel group to convert the five Georgian townhouses into a charming, sophisticated and historical experience for guests who are checking in.

    Inspired by the Bloomsbury Set who lived and worked there in the early 20th century, the interior design of the newly completed hotel is a tasteful blend of modern and vintage. The design team have perfectly balanced giving a nod to the building’s past while also drawing on inspiration from modern-day London.

    The guestrooms

    Each of the 50 elegant guest rooms have been designed to celebrate 240 years of the Georgian hotel’s history. High ceilings and sash windows give light-filled rooms an immediate sense of calm, which en-suite marble bathrooms and high king-sized beds (something I have noticed Champalimaud to love) add to the luxury. The soft furnishings of each guest room have been meticulously chosen to combine timeless glamour and fresh, contemporary city style. Statement walls feature fanciful wallpaper from Cole & Son, which arm chair, cushion and curtain fabrics have been sourced from Lee Sofa, a company that has been producing prints and fabric since 1823, and British brand Osborne & Little, among others.

    Quick-fire round

    Hamish Kilburn: What is your favourite colour this season?
    Alexandra Champalimaud: I favour classic colours that don’t abide by trends. Rust orange, rich shades of blue, and green.
    HK: What’s your advice to emerging designers?
    AC: Believe in everything that you do.
    HK: What is your number-one travel essential?
    AC: Floracopeia Aged Patchouli oil
    HK: What’s the secret to success in this world of hotel interior design?
    AC: Challenges are opportunities to create something more awe inspiring than you may have initially thought – there are always changes, change in budget, change in schedule, perhaps the entire project gets scratched – but these are opportunities to bring more to the table. Charisma and good humour will also take you far.
    HK: Biggest inspiration in your career?
    AC: My team. At Champalimaud we have an unparalleled group of individuals in our New York based office, they make coming into work an absolute joy.

    Beyond the guest rooms the hotel is brimming with personality and thoughtful design touched. On the ground level, the cosy Alchemy Bar which feature stunning olive-green velvet armchairs, marble-top tables and statement Liberty wallpaper, which leads out onto a sunlit-flooded garden, a rare feature for a hotel located in the centre of London. “Tapping into Bloomsbury’s storied past, we were inspired to create a space that is intimate, fresh and rich with charisma and narrative.”

     

     

    Checking in to The Gainsborough Bath and Spa

    800 537 Hamish Kilburn

    Editor of Hotel Designs Hamish Kilburn checks in to the only hotel in Bath that taps into the natural thermal springs of the city, designed by the one and only Alexandra Champalimaud…

    “First and foremost, the location is what really sets this project apart,” says Alexandra Champalimaud who, to me, looks far too composed and relaxed for two reasons as we meet for breakfast. For starters, although her soft English accent would suggest otherwise, Champalimaud is actually based in the loud, sleepless city of New York. And secondly, we are catching up at the same time of London Design Festival, when more than 450,000 designers, architects and creatives from around the globe descend onto the capital to catch the latest trends, discussions and product launches. Never before has the analogy of a duck above water been so apt than in this situation right now, and it’s inspiring to watch. “Bath is an actual treasure, a world UNESCO World Heritage Site, and frankly I think it’s one of the most magical places in the UK,” she says passionately as we begin to talk about The Gainsborough Bath and Spa, the five-star hotel that stole both of our hearts.

    A few weeks before, I was checking in to the hotel for the first time. The precious interiors and renowned spa that are housed within The Gainsborough Bath and Spa are on a need to know basis. Tucked away from the rest of the town, yet very central in its address, the hotel among the locals is known for its luxury edge over the rest of the hotels in the area.

    Just a two-hour drive from London’s thick smoke (and even quicker on the train), the feeling of tranquilly is immediately apparent upon arrival. “I can always tell if a guest is from London,” said Brian Benson, the hotel’s general manager as I arrived through the doors and into the large, open lobby. “Our guests from London always arrive in a hurry and look stressed. What I love about my job, and this hotel, is that guests always leave calmer than when they arrived.”

    The lobby at The Gainsborough

    Image caption: The lobby at The Gainsborough

    Like many buildings in the hilly town of Bath, the hotel was once a Georgian-era hospital. The British painter Thomas Gainsborough had spent time there, which inspired the name. “The building itself looks grand, but it’s actually quite cosy,” says Champalimaud. “There’s an intimacy there that’s unmatched by other hotels in the area. The building is also Grade II listed; visitors will find that there are a lot of original details throughout the hotel.”

    “Champalimaud and her team have created several dramatic scenes within the hotel’s public areas.”

    The hotel’s look and feel is – like its staff – inviting, warm and naturally comfortable to be around. Deliberate attention to detail has been given to ensure that the modern hotel gives an appropriate nod to its storied past, with several references of traditional items evident in the public areas. Such as the Turin Portantina Seden Chair, which once in the 17th Century was used to carry royalty and now sits at the bottom of the main staircase in the lobby, creating a lasting first impression. The artefact is one of around 50 known to exist of its shape.

    -The Gainsborough Restaurant

    Image caption: -The Gainsborough restaurant

    Champalimaud and her team have created several dramatic scenes within the hotel’s public areas. “We realised that we didn’t want to detract from the building’s historical charm, but simply enhance it,” says Champalimaud. “Whenever possible, we highlighted some of the hotel’s original features by employing design details that were reflective of the Roman and Georgian history of the city. Overall, the design is transitional – weaving in the classic English cosiness with a contemporary point of view.” One of these moments is the dynamically obscure chandelier that hangs in between the large main staircase. Another example of drama is quite literally written on the walls. Several pieces of contemporary art around the hotel, at first, look impressive and well placed. However, when learning that the artists are in fact local art students, the walls all of sudden have a different dimension. “What do you think it is,” said the waiter as I stood in front of a large abstract art piece which was full of dashes and colour. Tilting my head, I saw it. The piece of art, again imagined and created by local student artists was a contemporary representation of the restaurant we were actually stood in.

    The Canvas Room at The Gainsborough

    Image caption: The Canvas Room at The Gainsborough

    On the lower level, the hotel’s main unique selling point is another classy reference to the town’s infamous past. The spa, which I have read about – and have wanted to experience – since it opened, is incomparable. It’s truly world-class, a feeling that has recently been shared by Condé Nast Traveller readers who have just voted it the second-best spa in the UK. That may well be because it is the only hotel spa in the city that actually taps into the natural thermal springs, meaning that the several therapy pools are all organically heated. “The spa is a dream,” says Champalimaud. “Located near one of the town’s thermal reserves the spa pool inside of the hotel contains the sought after precious healing waters that made Bath so famous.”

    suite

    Image caption: The Gainsborough

    Although much of the attention at the hotel in the press is focused on the spa, the guestrooms and suites are equally as striking and impressive. Dressed to feel appropriately residential, with a colour palatte of duck egg blue, white and soft browns. My suite (room number 310) was defined as a junior suite, complete with a large living area, modest bathroom and a large bedroom. “Georgian design references are very much present in the guestrooms,” explained Champalimaud. “We wanted the rooms to feel comfortable, yet rich, so we focused on creating delicate layers with the tones, textures, and furnishings within them. The colours are contemporary and alluring while maintaining an air of subtlety – conjuring a sense of quiet. A number of the guestrooms have high ceilings that we accentuated with long curtains trimmed with a Roman inspired border, which complements the ornately patterned carpet. The furniture is all contemporary with a classic familiarity.”

    guestroom

    Image credit: The Gainsborough

    Despite the design project running relatively smoothly, as with all grade II listed structures, unexpected delays in the design process were almost inevitable. “Since we were working with a Grade II structure, we had to be patient with the construction phase of the project,” explained Champalimaud. “The building had to be excavated as ancient artifacts were found while they were breaking ground – which was unexpected. From an interiors perspective, the hotel’s listing made us very mindful of maintaining the building’s original integrity with every design decision we made.”

    Since experiencing the hotel in all its finery, The Gainsborough Bath and Spa has entered a special place in my heart – which is the same, it seems, for among many of its visitors who walk through its calming entrance. A little more than 100 miles from the centre of London, it is a South west gem, and certainly gives five-star hotels in the captital a run for their money. I checked out of The Gainsborough Bath and Spa and left with a much lower heart rate from when I arrived and a new-found appreciation for Georgian heritage buildings that shelter stunning hotels spas. The answer, perhaps, is in the waters.

     

     

     

    Hotel lobby, dark and mysterious

    MINIVIEW: Inside Denmark’s first chemical-free hotel

    800 531 Hamish Kilburn

    Hotel Herman K, Denmark’s first chemical-free hotel, is a converted station situated in the heart of Copenhagen. Hotel Designs took a sneak peak at the raw architecture within the bespoke hotel…

    Brøchner Hotels’ new 5-star luxury boutique hotel, Hotel Herman K, is the first hotel in Denmark where chemicals are not a part of the cleaning products and process. A natural step for the Danish leading boutique hotel chain, who aims to create unique and sustainable hotels.

    The hotel, which is situated in central Copenhagen in a converted station, welcomes guests through glass doors and into a large high-ceiling lobby area. In the centre of the lobby is a striking art piece, comprising of various branches which together hang above a bar in the public space.

    Large, open and simple guestroom

    Juxtaposing the dramatic public area, the guestrooms and suites upstairs are clean, light and typically minimalist with a soft cooling grey and dark blue colour scheme which marry up with white marble surfaces and contemporary furniture.

    Hotel Herman K’s new resources in its housekeeping and cleaning process, for the benefit of both the environment, guests and the staff. Brøchner Hotels has together with the Danish company ACT.Global, coated all the exclusive rooms and suites and has become the first chemical-free hotel in Denmark.

    The rooms and suites are treated with ACT CleanCoat – an invisible and odourless coating that makes surfaces self-disinfectant, ensuring low-bacterial level, healthy indoor climate and cleaner air. “We saw that limestone and dirt simply did not stick to bathroom elements, to the same extent as before the coating,” explained Christian Lond, Director of Procurement at Brøchner Hotels. “Because of this, our Quality & Service team do not have to use cleaning products containing chemicals, and the cleaning itself is also less demanding.

    In addition to the chemical-free unique selling point, the hotel’s tech edge allows for a seamless check-in process, while also allowing guests checking in to personalise their entertainment system, which all rooms featuring state-of-the-art screens and speakers.

    The hotel is the fourth property in the Brøchner Hotels portfolio and opens with the aim to raise the bar of Copenhagen’s hotel scene.

    Large suite in King Street Townhouse

    Checking in to King Street Townhouse, Manchester

    800 447 Hamish Kilburn

    With hotel design in the north enjoying a major moment, editor of Hotel Designs Hamish Kilburn checked in to the design-led King Street Townhouse, to marvel over Manchester from a totally unique perspective…

    “Manchester is a shrinking violet,” said no designer, ever! It’s impossible to ignore the scale of construction that is happening right now in the UK’s third largest city. It has become, in its own right, a hive for hotel design and is going through what is reported to be one of the largest city centre developments the north has ever seen. According to TOPHOTELPROJECTS, there are currently 18 first-class and luxury hotel projects listed for Manchester with 2,907 rooms in the pipeline. Seven of these projects are scheduled to open before the end of the year – and a further eight are slated to be unveiled in 2019.

    This has pushed open the floodgates to the launch of new hotels and turning a page to a new chapter of class, character and style – and the striking hotels are making London just a little bit jealous with the city’s jaggedly jaw-dropping cityscape skyline as a major focus.

    The building itself was originally designed by local Mancunian architect Edward Salomons

    Cue the launch of King Street Townhouse, which adds to the growing portfolio of the Eclectic Hotel Collection. The 40-key boutique hotel is small enough to have its own quirky personality but not to ever be confused with insignificant in any stretch of the imagination – its trendy interiors certainly make up for size. Located on Booth Street, on the fringe of the city’s central retail district, the hotel has attracted more than just city travellers and the occasional editor. The hotel has become ‘the place to visit’ for those wanting to experience the city from a totally unique perspective.

    The building itself was originally designed by local Mancunian architect Edward Salomons and originally built in 1872 for the Manchester Salford Trustees Bank. The Eclectic Hotel Collection unveiled the hotel at the end of 2015 with the aim to respectfully expand on the allure and unique qualities of this historic building with a baby grand hotel providing the need for new contemporary accommodation in the area.

    “The rich history in each of our properties is a part of our charm at Eclectic Hotels,” said Eamonn O’Loughlin, Founder of The Eclectic Hotel Collection in a press release. “Our intention was to respectfully expand on the allure and unique qualities of this historic building with our baby grand hotel providing the need for new, luxurious, contemporary accommodation in the area.”

    Checking in to the hotel is an intimate experience. Guests turn left to a small, functional check-in desk. Monochrome tiles lead the way toward the grand staircase and a single lift. The wallpaper in each of the corridors is fun and quirky.

    Each guestroom at the hotel is different, I mean really different. Because of its boutique label, the hotel owners were able to play around with different looks in each of the 40 rooms and suites. The result is that in each room, something different stands out. For example, in one room I viewed, an intricate headboard immediately attracted attention, giving the room a delicate feel. In another, a large free-standing bath, positioned under the window frame, sits on a slab of tiles.

    Room 10

    With the hotel being sheltered within a grade II listed building, the modern architects AEW Architects were limited as to what they could change. Using this as an opportunity for the hotel to give a nod to the heritage, the team worked on ways of how they could balance modern into the sensitive project.

    Art, as it should be in all hotels, is a major focus. Many of the pieces have been curated to obviously depict major milestones in the city’s history while avoiding looking and feeling too cliché. Although the theme is the city, each room has a different take on what Manchester means.

    Upstairs on the seventh floor is where the real point-of-difference is situated. The hotel is the only one in Manchester to have its own rooftop infinity pool, offering a totally unparalleled perspective over the city that stretches out towards the iconic Town Hall, Beetham Tower and the horizon beyond.

    Just below that on the sixth floor is an open terrace and a suitable meetings and events venue area that recently and appropriately sheltered Hotel Designs Meet Up North.

    From up high to down low, the The Cellars are reserved for the best screening seats in the house. Its own luxury cinema, in fact, and a private wine tasting room, complete with original red-bricked ceilings and walls create a unmatched atmosphere.

    The Eclectic Hotel Collection currently operates a total of four destinations within Manchester and has a wealth of knowledge in respectfully converting historic buildings.

    Overall, King Street Townhouse is a striking example of how Manchester is cutting the ribbon on design gems that have been designed to create unforgettable moments – moments that help lift an Instagram feed to new heights. The small hotel with a big personality – and even larger heritage – certainly makes its mark and turns a new page of luxury in the cultural and eclectic city of Manchester.

    Opposites attract at Wyndham Grand Phuket Kalim Bay

    800 533 Hamish Kilburn

    Nestled behind vibrant streets, where thousands of Gap-Year backpackers find shelter in cheap hostels, rises a luxury hotel with personality, style and unmatched ocean views. Editor Hamish Kilburn checks in to the Wyndham Grand Phuket Kalim Bay to see for himself how opposites in South East Asia can attract after all…

    Perched on a hilltop facing south, with Phuket’s Patong Beach to the left, Wyndham Grand Phuket Kalim Bay’s location was certainly not compromised when local architect Rachapuk Sungkhaphunt from Greenity Co. Ltd designed the foundations of what was said to be ‘a new kind of luxury’ away from the wild, bustling and polluted streets behind Patong Beach.

    Exterior of the hotel

    Image caption: Exterior of the hotel

    Opened in December 2016, the hotel offers 214 elegantly appointed guestrooms and private villas as well as large public areas throughout. The hotel’s structure was thoughtfully designed using the natural landscape as a tool to stagger the individual blocks so that from all corners of the hotel, guests can marvel over the sweeping ocean vistas that extend over the Andaman Sea.

    Guestroom image with stunning ocean views

    Image caption: The hotel has been designed to capture striking views of the A Sea

    Approachable by design, simplicity, minimalism and copious amount of space, interior designer Voravee Puranasamriddhi from Bangkok-based firm 1328 Pt Ltd led the interiors throughout the hotel. Vast emptiness and unused space captured my first impressions of the public areas. That’s because at first there is little to see, as the finest areas are rightfully to be enjoyed by guests only, and clearly detached from the loud streets across the bay.

    Tall floor-to-ceiling glass doors open into a refined, elegant space

    Designed to reflect more of a terminal than a lobby, the first building guests walk into when checking in on the ground floor is bare and offers just enough facilities for a member of staff to tick you off the list and direct you on. It shelters a constant flow of traffic and once guests have been filtered through this system they are picked up by a car and driven to the main lobby, which is situated three floors above the first terminal.

    Unlike the main entrance, the lobby is striking with a strong, solid check-in desk sat in the middle of a modern, light and airy room. Tall floor-to-ceiling glass doors open into a refined and elegant space, while intricate wallcoverings, designed to replicate corral, burst with personality. The furniture is simple yet comfortable with under-seat lighting reflecting off the ceramic flooring.

    Image caption: Lobby area

    All guestrooms and suites are Asian-inspired with a modern touch. Wooden floors, warm colours and floor-to-ceiling windows create a blissful sanctuary allowing guests to unwind and take in the jaw-dropping views.

    A control panel next to the large bed allows guests to personalise the ambiance to suit every mood

    Offering by far, though, the most luxurious experience is the Luxury Private Pool Villa Panoramic Ocean View, which sit in the middle of the complex. Designed to blend Asian decor with Western, modern, spacious living – complete with a private infinity pool and decking – the abode allows you to enjoy the panoramic vistas of the bay from a premium perspective – whether that be on the balcony or on the edge of your own infinity pool, accessible from the decking, the living room and the large bathroom.

    Image caption:  Luxury Private Pool Villa Panoramic Ocean View

    Each of the resort’s 152 pool villas, the most in the Kalim-Patong area, feature a private outdoor sundeck and a six- or nine-metre infinity pools overlooking the ocean, providing guests checking in with privacy and seclusion as well as ultimate comfort and relaxation.

    The lighting in the room is tasteful and well-designed. A control panel next to the large bed allows guests to personalise the ambiance to suit every mood. In addition to spotlight lighting, two pendants hang from the ceiling either side of the large bed. This, I believe, adds another dimension to the minimalist setup.

    The bathrooms are large and again offer unmatched views through floor-to-ceiling windows that open completely so that the panoramic view is never sacrificed. A large twin tub sits above the infinity pool. Next to it is the walk-in rainfall shower. Above the large twin sink is an oversized mirror that reflects a spacious home-away-from-home feel.

    Outside seating area at L'atitude 98 restaurant

    Image caption: Outside seating area at L’atitude 98 restaurant

    Dining at Wyndham Grand Phuket Kalim Bay has been designed to capture a multisensorial experience with two restaurants serving authentic Thai cuisine and international favourites amidst breathtaking sea views.

    What I respect most about this hotel is that it may be a stones throw away from provocative streets of Patong Beach, but it is worlds away from the ‘in your face’ attitude that’s evident across the bay.

    Wyndham Hotels and Resorts now has more than 9,000 properties worldwide. Recently, Hotel Designs sat down with the new Managing Director (EMEA) to discover what the next chapter for the hotel group looks like.

     

    Pastel palette in Legacy Suite

    Checking in to Gleneagles, Scotland

    800 534 Hamish Kilburn

    Intrigued to find out to what extent the power of interior design can lift a building, editor of Hotel Designs Hamish Kilburn checked in to review the one and only Gleneagles…

    Positioned in 344 hectares of land, under Perthshire’s Ochil Hills, is a Scottish jewel. The ever-majestic Gleneagles first soared to be a natural star in the spotlight when it first opened its grand doors in 1924. Its ‘cutting of the ribbon’ was celebrated with Scotland’s first ever outside broadcast, and these moments of the hotel’s many milestones can be found injected into the fabrics of many pockets of the today’s Gleneagles.

    Since the 1920s, ‘The Glen’ has served many important purposes and duties outside of being a luxury hotel in the country hills. During WW2, like many hotels of its time, it was converted into a hospital. In 2005, it witnessed world leaders tackle tough debates at the 31st G8 Summit. And most recently, in 2014, it’s famous golf course was the stage of the Ryder Cup.

    With all great hotels, comes great renovations – and in this case even larger responsibility in maintaining a priceless charm throughout. In 2016, just after the hotel was sold to the ‘hipster team’ behind Hoxton Hotels, Ennismore, a multi-million-pound upgrade was announced. Calling for sensitive brushes and creative minds, the task to revamp the building fell onto the shoulders of four leading design firms under watchful eye of lead architecture firm 3D Reid. David Collins Studio, Timorous Beasties, Macaulay Sinclair and Goddard Littlefair together gave the hotel more than just a lick of paint. Instead, they bravely and boldly went about redesigning, re-crafting and to some degree restructuring the hotel to ensure that it created both a warm and inviting space which also gave an appropriate nod to its history in all the right places.

    As I enter the building and walk up the steps, my pre-conceived perceptions of what I thought would be an overly stuffy and ‘far too posh’ hotel are immediately erased. Instead, thanks to the wonderful work of David Collins Studio, the large, airy lobby, which sits on luscious green carpet, creates the kind of first impression that many hotels from around the world can only strive to achieve.

    Long corridors at Gleneagles

    Image credit: Goddard Littlefair

    The long corridors, designed by Goddard Littlefair and lit by Heathfield, are unlike any I have walked through before. It took 20 minutes for me to reach my suite. The fascinating art and original memorabilia, conceived by ARTIQ, hang on delicate gold chains as a further reminder of what the hotel walls have witnessed over the years. Although each piece is different, together they tell a tale of rich Scottish tradition, which is further explored in the rooms.

    The guestroom experience

    The Legacy Suite on the fourth floor is, like all the other 25 suites, aptly named after famous Scottish whiskey. The left door to room 404 opens into what is a large and comfortable living area, while the right door to 405 opens onto the bedroom. With a timeless pastel palette, the whole suite is outlined by wood panelling, which creates a high-end residential style throughout.

    Formed of a lobby area, lounge, bedroom, bathroom and a dressing room, the overall look and feel of The Legacy Suite is that of a club lounge, where Chesterfield sofas and robust, hard-wearing materials reflect sporting activities and the feel of country life.

    A sense of place is very much underlined in the design of the estate-like rooms. Goddard Littlefair worked with local craftsmen, fabric producers and upholsterers wherever possible, referencing the many classic fabrics Scotland is renowned for, supporting Scottish businesses and paying respect to long-standing links between the hotel and particular manufacturers.

    The lounge is complete with an upholstered leather sofa, club chairs in olive-green buttoned leather, as well as a bespoke coffee table and a dining area that seats four people comfortably.

    Separating the living area from the bedroom – something that not many other hotels can achieve because of lack of space – is a quirky corridor which leads to an unparalleled view which stretches over the estate. This area allows the suite to naturally breathe and very much makes the room look and feel large and spacious.

    Image caption: The Legacy Suite (rooms 404 & 405)

    The bedroom on the other side of the suite is a plush oasis with the same soft hues as what is in the living room, again creating a warm and inviting atmosphere. The oversized burgundy headboard is comforting, while natural light floods in through the panelled windows, which again look out onto the grounds. The flooring is a bespoke carpet and the rugs were sourced from India with varying colourways and designs selected individually to work the scheme. The rugs are in taupe with hints of green, a further nod to its luscious location.

    The en-suite hand-picked marble bathroom is, quite frankly, fit and designed for a king. It is complete with a large bath on one side and a high-powered separate shower on the other, which is divided appropriately with vanity units and square basins from Villeroy & Boch with Perrin & Rowe brass finish taps. Completing the bathroom are ornate mirrors with an antique finish to communicate a timeless feel that marries up with the building’s age.

    Image caption: The Birnam Brasserie

    Elsewhere in the hotel, the public areas are equally impressive. The hotel shelters no less than nine bars and restaurants – of which the Strathearn is the main one and most formal. The Birnam Brasserie, designed by Ennismore Design Studio stands out as it is, unlike what I imagined, a casual dining experience designed in a conservatory-like space with many plants around the restaurant – including a full-sized living wall – playing on the concept of indoor-outdoor living to perfection.

    American Bar

    Image credit: The American Bar

    Every decent hotel experience should end with a night cap in the bar. The award-winning American Bar, designed by David Collins Studio, is the perfect setting for such a thing. Layered with cashmere walls, the bar is a time machine taking guests back to the 1920s, complete with just the right injection of ’20s glamour, without the cliché glitz.

    Meeting rooms

    The glue that holds the whole meeting experience together, in my opinion, is the newly unveiled Ochil House. Inspired by the original private members clubs, Ennismore Design Studio has carved out each of the six rooms available to hire to create light, open and refined meeting spaces. Named after their original rooms in the hotel – including The Card Room, The Reading Room, The Writing Room and The Broadcasting Room – these spaces give an appropriate nod to the hotel’s storied history.

    Image caption: Ochil House

    “The overarching ambition of the design was to inspire, arouse ideas and stimulate conversation – encouraging guests to look around, explore and discuss, rather than sit at a table in a blank function room,” said Charlie North, design director at Ennismore. “It’s a reinvention of the meeting space concept – somewhere that’s not just practical but also beautiful, as well as homely, welcoming and fun – and a place where people naturally want to gather and enjoy conversation.”

    Since checking out of Gleneagles, London – or anywhere for that matter – hasn’t quite looked or felt the same. The majestic countryside estate in the heart of Scotland made a lasting impression and it is as much a jewel today as it was in 1924.

     

    Striking lighting adorns the lobby

    MINIVIEW: HBA London completes a new jewel in Jerusalem

    800 533 Hamish Kilburn

    We took a closer look at the timeless details that make up the new hotel on the block, The Orient Jerusalem by Isrotel Exclusive Collection…

    Following Hotel Designs exclusive discussion with the design firm’s senior designer Constantina TsoutsikouHBA London has completed the interiors of The Orient Jerusalem by Isrotel Exclusive Collection.

    Beginning with the cherished Song of Jerusalem ‘A timeless love song to the city’, the hotel’s interiors were inspired by the extraordinary layers of history, culture and artistry as well as the sheer beauty of the indigenous stone which bathes the city in a golden hue.

    The Orient sits at the entrance to Jerusalem’s historically rich and increasingly cosmopolitan German Colony district. It combines two exquisite 19th century Templar houses, which have been restored and reinvented as a collection of more than 200 luxury guestrooms, with a modern nine-storey building crowned by an elegant rooftop pool and bar.

    “We were particularly blessed with this project because we not only had the city to draw on, but the influences of the German Colony’s Swabian architecture,” said Inge Moore, the former Principal of HBA London. “Jerusalem is an amazing city for a designer to work in. Everything is embraced by the golden tint of the stone, interspersed with the green of foliage and plants and with bright punches of colour in the fruits, markets, textiles and ancient decoration. Over the centuries, Jerusalem has been a melting pot of peoples, each bringing their stories and crafts and leaving a great legacy of artisanal resourcefulness.

    Striking sculpture in the lobby

    Artwork plays a key part throughout the hotel. Art curator Sharon Toval has emphasised Isrotel’s belief in the essential role that art has in creating spaces full of powerful associations and beauty. Like the interior design, the inspiration for the artwork was Jerusalem’s history and the land, reimagined into contemporary expression. The result is a collection of sculptures, watercolours, prints and etchings by acclaimed and emerging Israeli artists as well as by the students of Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design who undertook a year-long project to each create a sculpture relating to the city and the hotel.

    The Lobby 

    The journey begins within a grand atrium of glass and Jerusalem stone. The high-glazed ceiling welcomes in an abundance of natural light, that is complimented by thoughtfully positioned lighting from Northern Lights. The public area is dressed with gently gathered drapery that lends elegance to the space while also shields guests from the midday sun while softening the acoustics. Inspiration for the illuminated mosaic tiles was taken from encaustic tiles found in the Templar buildings.  The reception desk is of bronze and a chandelier with hand-blown local glass cascades through the central stairwell, suspended above a reflection pool two floors below, to captivate guests on arrival.

    Dark tones in the lobby

    The grand lounge bar is designed to be the beating heart of the hotel and has, as such, become a favourite hotspot for hotel’s residents and locals alike. Located just off the entrance lobby, it is an atmospheric double-height space that is a symphony of reflective and textural surfaces. The bar itself is clad in a richly grained green marble, the pattern of which has been translated into the wall covering. A composition of framed verre églomisé mirrors, together with antiqued mirror to the back of the bar, play with movement and reflections within the space.

    Plush banquet seating, elegant leather covered armchairs and local lace chandeliers soften the geometric pattering and beaten metal features, while screens on each side of the bar recall the many layered views to be found in the streets of Jerusalem. Through soaring arched windows, guests can access cosy balconies overlooking the delightful outdoor courtyard below.

    Courtyard dominated by striking treeThe Smadar Dining Room and Courtyard Terrace

    Jerusalem stone walls carry through from the exterior facade to meet silvered mirror clad walls and glass screens etched with the pattern of the old encaustic tiles, which together poses a play of reflection, transparency and opacity that is the experience of Jerusalem. Olive wood adds to the energy of the space and forms a striking assembly of suspended panels with acoustic insulation which manage the volume of sound in this imposing room.

    The dining room flows out into the courtyard – an al fresco area designed to accommodate guests throughout day and evening. From here, guests can take in the architecture of both the new and old hotel buildings.

    Guestrooms – The Templar Buildings

    The guestrooms in the Templar buildings are each unique in their architectural form and detailing, representing, in effect, 39 individual projects for the designers. Within the idiosyncratic spaces, the guestrooms combine luxury with elements of local handicraft to bring the authenticity of these heritage buildings to life. The blue and ivory palette is both beautiful and meaningful. These are the colours of the national flag and the “tekhelet” blue recalls the biblical blue of Judaism which, when combined with ivory tones, captures the spirit of Jerusalem. Encaustic floor tiles that flow from the bedroom into the bathrooms are similar to those found in the original buildings during restoration. Crafted wrought iron bed frames are focal points in the bedrooms with a blue leather chaise longue at the foot of each bed adding a touch of opulence.

    Locally crafted, antique-style mother-of-pearl inlaid cabinetry enhances the residential feel whilst the neutral palette, tiling and use of stone emphasise the simple beauty of the old architecture. Many of the bathrooms feature a large window through which light streams in, illuminating the fittings that include aged metal basins and mixer taps, as well as a traditional free-standing copper-clad tub by Cifal.

    Guestrooms – The New Building

    The 205 guestrooms and suites in the new building reference local heritage and craftsmanship but within the context of a contemporary background. Studded headboards hint at the old doors of the city, lamps are artisanal, and table tops are of olive wood. The naturally warm tones of the textural woven fabrics of the drapery and upholstery are instrumental in creating a sense of tranquil luxury. Sliding panels between bedroom and bathroom open up to allow guests to appreciate the balance of natural stone, olive wood, wrought iron and plush woven fabrics across the entire space.

    The 24 suites bring even further materiality and detailing as well as the addition of a spacious sitting room with deep, comfortable sofas and, in some cases, a dining area or a terrace allowing outdoor lounging and dining. The 118 sq metre Presidential Suite enjoys a deep, fully glazed dual aspect outdoor terrace. Indoor and out, guests have uninterrupted views across the panorama of Jerusalem.

    Large guestroom with studded headboard and dark, natural tones

    Carmel Forest Spa

    Light, water and stone work in perfect harmony. It is as if the cavernous space around the pool has trapped the very source of “Jerusalem Gold” between its faceted ceiling and Jerusalem stone walls. The grand design statements of the rough-hewn lava stone feature wall with its cascading waterfall and the golden crystalline structure of the ceiling capture elements of the volcanic. Shimmering bronze chain-link is suspended along a glazed wall to obscure the gym.

    In contrast to this grandeur, the seven treatment rooms, including a couple’s treatment suite, are simple and calming. They combine warm timber floors with a stone envelope and a light projection wall to create spaces where the focus is all on guest wellbeing.

    Large open pool on the hotel's rooftop
    Rooftop Pool and Orientop Bar

    The rooftop pool and bar tops out the new building at 10th level. Guests can take full advantage of the spectacular 360 degree views over the old city walls whilst lounging in cabanas and pergolas by the poolside, or sipping cocktails in the glamourous, electric blue and white tiled bar, which has been decked out with artisan ceramic tables discovered by the designers in a local market.

    “We approach every project with an open and curious mind,” explained Constantina Tsoutsikou, Creative Director of HBA London. “Our designers love to immerse themselves not just in the history and traditions of a place, but also the contemporary local culture, borrowing from both old and new to craft exceptional spaces that uniquely belong to their location.”

    The Orient opens not as a contemporary hotel, but more a timeless masterpiece that has been sensitively designed in every detail to reflect the charm and character of the historic city it surrounds.

    Key Suppliers:

    Lighting: Northern Lights
    Carpet/flooring: Timber floors May Sharon- Carpets and rugs- Brintons, Renby and  Dikla carpets
    Furniture: Ahsap and  Interdecor
    Wallcovering: Bruno triplet; Elite Homewear
    Fabrics/textiles: Etun Fabrics
    Bath fixtures: Cifial
    Artwork: Sharon Toval

    Dark-toned room with high ceilings mixes plush velvet and low lighting

    Fitzrovia’s mysterious and magnificent The Mandrake Hotel

    1024 681 Hamish Kilburn

    Nestled under a canopy of plants in London’s Fitzrovia district sits The Mandrake Hotel, an unlikely yet very welcome neighbour to this part of town. Hamish Kilburn takes a peek inside…

    Blink and you will miss it. The unassuming framed ornate wrought iron gates are the first of many indications that rules have been broken when designing the concept of The Mandrake Hotel. Unlike other luxury hotels in the area, such as Charlotte Street Hotel and The London Edition, The Mandrake’s entrance is very low key – almost as if its exact whereabouts is on a need-to-know basis, which of course it is.

    Five years in the making, and a first for the Fustok family, The Mandrake Hotel sits in a former Victorian office block and has been artfully converted into the cool, urban boutique hotel that it is today.

    During fashion week last year, when The Mandrake opened, its unique Bohemian-Gothic style led to it becoming the venue of choice for British Vogue’s editor Edward Enninful and a stream of A-listers who followed. The most recent neighbour to move in and name the hotel its premium local hangout spot is Facebook’s new swanky London headquarters in Rathbone Square.

    One thing that is immediately apparent when entering the building is that the design elements of the hotel feel very personal. Interior designer Tala Fustok’s creativity literally runs through the walls of the hotel. “It was important to keep the honest feel of the building, and preserve its identity,” explains Fustok in a recent press release. An example of this can be found in the public areas that have been carefully curated with surrealist sculptures to portray the feeling that nothing in this hotel is what it first seems.

    The Lobby. Image credit: The Mandrake Hotel

    Striking pieces of art depicted by nature make a lasting impression when entering the strangely calming lobby. Industrial-style walls marry nicely with the understated yet stylish reception desk. The lobby hangs under a large gothic-style chandelier, lit by 30 wax candles, and the soft ambient lighting is well balanced to welcome guests into a curious new world.

    The theme of outdoor indoor space has been well examined throughout the building, with natural light and the hotel’s incredible terrace being seen from almost all corners of the public area. A modest courtyard is poised and readily equipped for all occasions and looks up to the terrace, above which is a large living wall of plantation.

    Outdoor terrace looks down onto a palm courtyard

    The terrace. Image credit: The Mandrake Hotel

    The dramatic Labradorite bar, at some 30ft in length, is the hotel’s source of energy. The dark Victorian panelled mahogany long bar is balanced by the room’s inspiration of nature. This area is rich in greens, with a gentle riot of Parisian fabrics and thick verdant palm textures of green, purple and red. Above the bar hangs the specially commissioned mythical-gazelcock (part-impala, park peacock) by Enrique Gomez de Molina, adding the mixture of eclecticism and humour.

    The guestrooms

    Considering the hype, only 34 guestrooms, three suites and one incredible penthouse are sheltered on three levels, each designed to unlock a chic, unique, cosy, quiet, high-ceilinged refuge, worlds away from the hustle and bustle of London life below.

    All guestrooms are carved around the palm tree-studded interior courtyard, which centres the hotel and provides rooms with ample natural light. Designed with a mixture of maximalist bohemian throughout, the rooms create “a glamorous constructed garden of Eden” as Fustok puts it.

    There is a sense of harmony as if two cities are colliding in the room’s interior fittings. Indulgent Parisian jewel-toned velvets, gilding mirrors and commanding metallic coffee tables add a flare of glitz in the interiors. This is balanced with a cool London city vibe of earthy-toned drape curtains, an curvaceous wing chairs.

    Guestroom with statement circular mirror on the wall

    Image credit: The Mandrake Hotel

    “I wanted to keep the feel of the building’s natural, raw energy,” explains Fustok when describing the well-proportioned rooms and high ceilings of the Victorian shell. Clean lines have replaced the unusual period mouldings, resulting in bedrooms that envelop you in their infinity of moody hues. Striking vintage one-off pieces compliment the dark paint tones, while accents of colour are added by interesting artwork. Together, 33 different chandeliers and vintage panel screens covered with lush botanical plants in the guestrooms echo the bohemian vibes weaved around the hotel.

    The pièce de résistance is The Mandrake Suite, painted in dark sultry tones that echo through from the bar and seductive hallways. The luxurious bed is swathed in Bedouin-style folds of fabric. A standalone bathtub set on a slab of black-veined marble adding to the majestic look and feel of the suite.


    Image credit: The Mandrake Hotel

    As I descend down the lift towards check-out, the courtyard emerges and the sense of coming back down to earth feels very real. My conclusion is that, among the hundreds of hotels to open in London, The Mandrake stands as a shining example of how taking risks and following the heart when injecting a hotel’s personality pays off. Bravo Tala, the rest of Fustok family and all others who were involved in creating what we hope to be the first of many truly transformational boutique luxury hotels.

    Fitzrovia’s ever-evolving trendy hotspot is rumoured to soon welcome a new Bluebird cafe as well as one of London’s premium HIIT and spin studios, Digme Fitness, which will open directly opposite the new Facebook offices in Rathbone Square. With these major openings, I get the feeling that The Mandrake’s quirky shell could soon well become ‘the local’ for many premium businesses nearby.

    The Henrietta Hotel review, Covent Garden: Ideally located boutique stay with louder than life interiors

    1024 525 Adam Bloodworth

    Londoners, and visitors to London, will know Henrietta Street, even if they don’t know it by name. The unassuming road is one of four framing Covent Garden Piazza, and has celebrated restaurants Flat Iron, and new opening Frenchie, on it. It also houses the relatively new Henrietta Hotel.

    You’d blink and miss it. Behind a stately jet black door, the hotel is purposefully unassuming, to the point that this reviewer walked past it twice, without spotting it on both attempts at entry. Once in the day, and once at night. Thankfully I wasn’t hungry.

    At first sight the lobby is equally unassuming, like a private home, only past check in, things quickly get eccentric. In the adjoined bar and restaurant, eponymously titled Henrietta, and upstairs in the rooms, the hotel’s design is loud and proud. In fact it’s why guests visit the Henrietta in the first place.

    The intimate bar and lobby area (Picture: Hotel Designs)

    The eye-catching design is by Parisian designer Dorothee Meilichzon, whose design firm, Chzon, has been at the receiving end of plenty of awards. Those include Designer Of The Year by Maison & Objet In 2015, and being called one of the best 20 designers in the world by Wallpaper magazine in their W* Power 200.

    The main design themes are mismatching textures and patterns, and boldly bright colour schemes which compete for the eye’s attention.

    The Henrietta Hotel is a relatively new project from artisanal hospitality group The Experimental Group, behind London bars Joyeux Bordel, Compagnie Des Vins Surnaturels and Experimental Cocktail Club, who also run bars and hotels in Paris, New York and Ibiza.

    The 18 rooms are spread thinly across the three floors of this tall, skinny ex-townhouse. Doors have pineapple door knockers and old fashioned (read: proper) manual keys, there’s not a key card in sight.

    Chzon have made each room its own individual design statement. Embellishments are everywhere, from the golden skirting boards, to the retro amenities (radios, clocks) to mismatched fabrics.

    Statement seating in our room (Picture: Hotel Designs)

    The care taken to differentiate not even every room, but every inhabitable space within even the smallest rooms, is impressive. Designers and creatives will poke around for hours, although the sum of the parts taken as a whole can lack cohesion and feel overly busy.

    We felt this way particularly about our bed stead, a sort of interpreted Art Deco think piece, it needn’t have been so busy to have been beautiful.

    The bedstead was maybe a bit too much (Picture: Hotel Designs)

    However, the bathroom – with its gradual lighting enhancements – was a shimmering pale pink room which succeeded in feeling airy, while relaxed and calming.

    The bathrooms feature generous natural lighting (Picture: Hotel Designs)

    A statement bathtub embellished with marble finishes took up a third of the room, with bespoke toiletries bagged up below branded towels. The room found the perfect harmony.

    The gentle colour schemes in the bathroom (Picture: Hotel Designs)

    There are four grades of room which range from a comfortable double to a suite, although there isn’t much difference in size or amenities between the rooms. That said, the suite – at around £500 – isn’t outrageously priced considering it comes with its own intimate rooftop terrace.

    Staying at the Henrietta is really suited for guests exploring the area, so the hotel’s facilities are minimal. Breakfast, however, is included and can be served in the room and features classics alongside an excellent twist on the classic porridge, with dates.

    Of equal prominence to Chzon’s design is the famous British chef Ollie Dabbous, who is in charge of the food in the restaurant. Dabbous’s menu is ingredient-led with a French sensibility (simple, whole cuts of meat, finely served) and the restaurant features the same zany, whimsical interior design by Chzon as the rooms.

    Bespoke bathroom toiletries (Picture: Hotel Designs)

    The premise of “restaurant and cocktails” is an exciting one, given the hotel’s owners; we trusted our French, gentlemanly barkeep to make us the cocktails that suited our palettes.

    The a La Carte has five rotating starters and five mains. A smoked duck, pomegranate and chickpea flatbread was freshly baked and well-balanced, and deep with flavour. A theatrical dish of stracciatella had a flavour that was delicately policed by bold blood orange and pecans.

    The a La Carte (Picture: Hotel Designs)

    The sirloin arrived as delicately plated as it was to taste, as was a veal tonnato, served classically with a wave of puntarelle for flare.

    As delicately plated as it was to taste (Picture: Hotel Designs)

    Desserts though, are best. The rhubarb crumble is light! But so ripely full of flavour, and arriving with a fresh glass of rhubarb juice, still feels as hedonistic as the full slab of crumble you’d find homestyle elsewhere.

    And warm, fresh madeleines with Chantilly cream could, predictably, be scoffed 12 times over.

    ‘Normal’ prices are, shall we say, best suited to a celebration, rather than mid-week treat – but go for the Sunday Brunch or the spectacularly well-priced pre theatre dinner for £30 which is unmissable for food of this quality and notoriety (Dabbous has a new restaurant, Hide, which, opening this summer in Piccadilly, is already talk of the town).

    The view from the rooftop suite (Picture: Hotel Designs)

    The Henrietta will have extroverts squealing with excitement – but it packs a loud and bold punch that is divisive.

    Cheval Phoenix House, London

    750 750 Daniel Fountain

    Cheval Phoenix House, tucked away on a side street in one of the most exclusive parts of London, is a marvellous example of serviced apartment-style accommodation, in a beautiful part of the capital. Just off Sloane Square, this is an ideal location for people looking to be close to the heart of the city but away from the hustle and bustle of the streets of central London.

    The rooms are set in a stunning Victorian building, with interiors designed by the award-winning Fox Linton Associates, one of the UK’s leading interior designers. They offer spacious studios, as well as one-bedroom apartments and expansive duplexes. Although the attractive brick and stone frontage is unchanged on the exterior, the interior of this six storey building has been completely remodelled in contemporary style, so there aren’t any original features. Rooms are accessible by lift, though some, with mezzanine floors have internal staircases.

    All accommodations on offer at Phoenix House consist of a living room, desk area, full kitchen and dining area, and added bonuses such as luxurious goose down duvets, Bang & Olufsen televisions, Frette satin sheets and Royal Doulton china. They are definitely aimed at executives and business travellers who want the freedom of their own flat while in town, but also families who need more space and flexibility than a hotel room offering.

    The rooms’ colour scheme is a little conservative, consisting mainly of browns and creams but contemporary furnishings and furniture of decent quality makes up for that. I stay in an apartment with an open-plan kitchen and a well-appointed, good-sized sitting/dining room. The bedroom was spacious and was accompanied by a medium sized marble-lined bathroom.

    The bedrooms have been adapted from older reception rooms , with some on the first floor like the apartment I stayed in, where ceilings are high and have been converted into two-storey apartments with an interior staircase. Perhaps oddly, the bedroom is on the lower floor, which is an interesting design choice but definitely gives the guest a feeling of separation from living area and bedroom that isn’t always the case with serviced apartment accommodation.

    Cheval Residences has been around for 35 years, and their experience in delivering luxury accommodation shows in their properties. The company offers a collection of London’s most desirable serviced apartments, located in some of its most sought-after neighbourhoods. Each residence has its own individual style, yet all share the same ethos and levels of service rarely enjoyed outside the world’s finest hotels.

    Available for one night or more as well as for extended stays of 3 months or more, Phoenix House provides beautiful, comfortable and thoughtfully-furnished apartments. Whether travelling for extended periods on business, or staying as a family, Cheval is one of the first names that comes to mind. And Phoenix House should be a name at the top of any list of potential locations.

    Andaz Singapore

    Miniview: Andaz Singapore – Andre Fu’s design

    609 393 Daniel Fountain

    Conceived as a contemporary lifestyle destination that embraces the energy of Singapore’s urban spirit, architect Andre Fu and his design studio AFSO seek to capture the city’s eclectic shop-house experience of dining at Andaz Singapore.

    Working within the framework of the modernist Duo development by German architect Ole Scheeren, Fu has fashioned a multi layered journey that conveys relaxed luxury yet captures the vibrant atmosphere of local areas such as Kampong Glam and Bras Basah Bugis.

    As guests explore the hotel, they will experience a strong sense of discovery – an experience that is quintessential to Singapore itself.

    THE ARRIVAL & PANDAN
    The Andaz journey begins with a dramatic 8m high lobby where guests encounter an abstract interpretation of the traditional Singaporean shop-house façades which is a recurring theme throughout the hotel. The arrival experience also introduces the concept of a Pandan where guests are enticed by a spectrum of Pandan chiffon cakes and a selection of sweet and savoury soft buns to enjoy.

    Andaz SingaporeALLEY ON 25
    Conceived as the hub of the hotel, Alley on 25 brings the spirit of the local neighbourhood into a matrix of seven distinct shop-house experiences. Sunroom is an airy timber pavilion with an intricate checkered grid ceiling that has drawn inspirations from the works of modernist architect Schindler. Hanging ferns and greeneries are suspended from the ceiling to entice the guests with a sense of urban retreat. Icehaus , which is crafted in monolithic white Carrera marble has an open kitchen and views to a terrace of frangipani and guests can view live cooking preparations.

    Aunties Wok & Steam is an eatery dedicated to the art of steam and wok cooking and has been designed to evoke a lively market dining experience. Decked with tilted metallic windows and timber furniture upholstered in olive green and lemon yellow, this intimately-proportioned dining room offers panoramic views of the city and exemplifies a genuine street-dining spirit. Other shop-houses guest can visit are Bar Square, Smoke & Pepper, Plancha’Lah! and The Green Oven.

    Andaz SingaporeTHE GUEST ROOM EXPERIENCE
    In-keeping with the alley concept, the experience of the guestroom also embraces the neighborhood spirit. Conceived as a contemporary bungalow, Fu has introduced whimsical moments throughout the room – from the entrance doorbell that is housed in a bespoke post-box, the shop-house doors in bold mango yellow to the floor-to-ceiling ivory paneling. The room experience is also punctuated with ethnic touches in aubergine and mustard yellow to celebrate Singapore as a city.

    Andaz SingaporeMR STORK
    Nestled high above the hotel is Mr Stork – the destination rooftop bar set within a lush tropical landscape and cobbled paving. At the heart of Mr Stork is a free-standing bronze pavilion, designed as an installation with radial tilted fins reminiscent of a classic wind-mill. The journey is also layered with a series of private tents where guests are invited to escape into a rural dreamscape. The exposed aggregate and tropical landscape reinforce the idea of an urban yet rustic al-fresco experience.

    singapore.andaz.hyatt.com/en/hotel/home

    Hotel Football Manchester

    Hotel Football, Manchester

    954 508 Daniel Fountain

    Manchester is going through somewhat of a renaissance in the hotel industry.

    Recent openings – including Hotel Gotham – have put the critical and commercial spotlight on the city, drawing some of the attention usually hogged by the capital down south. During this wave of stylish, quirky and conceptual openings came a project by former Manchester United stalwarts Gary Neville and Ryan Giggs – Hotel Football.

    Hotel Football ManchesterIts location overlooking the club’s iconic Old Trafford stadium, affectionately known as the ‘Theatre of Dreams’, might suggest this is a haven just for followers of this particular megaclub. Far from it.

    Hotel Football ManchesterAny supporter of the ‘Beautiful Game’ will be pleasantly surprised by the ubiquitous football-themed touches throughout – like a mural of great footballing memories accompanying guests on their ascent or descent of the main staircase, the stadium-esque facilities for the gentlemen’s toilets in the Old Trafford Supporters Club in the hotel’s basement or the guestroom bathroom design, with a nod to football changing rooms. Most of the hotel art, too, was commissioned by the hotel and made by University of Salford students.

    The interiors are modern and slick, if not slightly ‘corporate’ at times. But make no mistake, the attention to detail is prevalent throughout – and despite this being a ‘themed’ hotel, guest comfort and satisfaction has not been overlooked.

    Given the market this hotel is undoubtedly looking to tap into, the corporate and event spaces are excellent appointed and have the ability to cater for various-sized parties. The Owners Room and The Boardroom for smaller meetings, to the Stadium Suite and Players’ Lounge, which can take up to 500 people and match-day hospitality is also available.

    Hotel Football ManchesterThe hotel has been well pitched – it is consciously not too over-the-top in being Manchester United-themed (considering the disdain with which some football supporters perceive the club), but rather more focused on football as a whole. The staff throughout the property are also commendably friendly and helpful; whether or not they are Manchester United fans seems irrelevant as they all appear to be genuinely invested in the success of the project. Overall, this is a hotel that knows its USP, does what it says on the tin and does it well. It’s fun, quirky and different – definitely another success story for the Manchester hotel scene.

    Based on a stay in March 2017
    hotelfootball.com

    hub by Premier Inn - Westminster, St. James' Park

    hub by Premier Inn – Westminster

    1000 666 Daniel Fountain

    Right in the very heart of any city – London in particular – is probably not the first place one thinks of when ‘affordable accommodation’ is mentioned. But with the opening of Premier Inn’s new, technology-focussed ‘hub’ hotels in the English and Scottish capitals over the last 12 months, that is now a distinct reality.

    Invited to take a look around the Westminster, St. James’ Park property earlier this year, which had opened in the October of 2016, I walk through the rather unassuming entrance and am instantly faced with a very impressive digital display complete with locale information and guest guidelines which makes up part of the check-in process for guests.

    And this marks the very heart of this new concept from Premier Inn; tapping into the app-driven travel culture. With an app already downloaded, guests can use it to book a room, to check-in, get recommendations on things to see, do, eat and drink in the surrounding area – and ultimately limiting interaction with staff.

    Speaking to Toby Wait of project management company TowerEight during my visit, he tells me how much travelling (for business or pleasure) has changed and continues to change. “The way apps have revolutionised our daily lives, it was only a matter of time before it became the norm in the hospitality world,” he says.

    While there is no restaurant as such, the hotel does boast a lounge next to the lobby. This is a great concept – being seen more and more in economy-driven properties – with free coffee, tea and pastries all day and complimentary ‘light bites’ offered after 5pm, as well as other drinks available for purchase; it’s a modern, well-designed and well-appointed place for breakfast or evening networking drinks.

    The rooms themselves, which come in ‘Standard’ and ‘Bigger’ sizes are also an excellent example of modernity and inch-perfect use of space. The white and olive-green colour scheme is tasteful and keeps the rooms feeling light and airy. A strategically positioned mirror adds to the illusion of space.

    The aforementioned app allows guests to control room temperature, lights, change TV channels and take advantage of an in-room ‘augmented reality experience’ – all very clever, but for the less technically adept, there is also a perfectly functional touch screen to perform those tasks by the bed. Providing both UK and European power sockets is another thoughtful extra – meaning that guests are covered should they forget their adaptors.

    hub by Premier Inn - Westminster, St. James' Park

    Due to the size of rooms, it is to be expected that storage space is at a premium, which for couples using a ‘Standard’ room might be a bit of an issue. But for solo travellers or those who pack light, the architects have made use of some clever solutions to optimise space. Plus, this is central London after all. Bathrooms are, again, ‘cosy’ but have everything a guest will need for a short stay.

    A recent Telegraph Travel survey found that technology-focused hotels are becoming increasingly common and popular with travellers; with the findings showing that 42 percent of UK guests preferring to operate a room’s lighting, air conditioning and television via a display instead of using a separate remote control or switch.

    With that in mind, Whitbread and TowerEight have tapped perfectly into this sector in the market with the ‘Hub’ concept. With seven London properties (including the Westminster, St. James’ hotel) and two in Edinburgh, the concept lives up to its promise and delivers both superb locations and a staggeringly competitive room-rate. In London, especially, that is a rare combination and one that I expect will only become more and more popular…

    Based on a visit in January 2017
    Photos: Whitbread PLC // Daniel Fountain

    www.hubhotels.co.uk

    Hotel Century Old Town Prague - MGallery Collection

    MGallery by Sofitel Prague property reopens following refurbishment

    1021 768 Daniel Fountain

    Hotel Century Old Town Prague – MGallery By Sofitel has relaunched following an extensive renovation of the property. The 5-star property has undergone a complete transformation, giving the historic interiors a unique ambiance where classic heritage and contemporary design are combined together.

    Hotel Century Old Town Prague - MGallery Collection - Photos: www.sofitel.com

    Hotel Century Old Town Prague – MGallery Collection – Photos: www.sofitel.com

    The hotel is situated in the heart of Prague, next to the Old Town Square, where the famous medieval astronomical clock is mounted on the southern wall of the Old Town City Hall. The Neo-Baroque building was built in the 19th century by Alfonse Wertmuller, a famous architect in Prague. It was formerly the office of the Workers’ Accident Insurance of Kingdom of Bohemia, where Franz Kafka worked as an insurance clerk from 1908 to 1922. His spirit can still be felt in the hotel, as his bronze bust welcomes guests in the lobby in front of the majestic stairs.

    Hotel Century Old Town Prague - MGallery Collection - Photos: www.sofitel.com

    Hotel Century Old Town Prague – MGallery Collection – Photos: www.sofitel.com

    The 19th century listed building was transformed into a hotel in 2002, and became part of the MGallery By Sofitel portfolio in 2009. The sculpted Neo-Baroque façade and spectacular stairway, with its columns, marble steps and wrought-iron banister are characteristic features of the building.

    Hotel Century Old Town Prague - MGallery Collection - Photos: www.sofitel.com

    Hotel Century Old Town Prague – MGallery Collection – Photos: www.sofitel.com

    Renowned French interior designer Ana Moussinet has transformed the hotel, whilst retaining its grandeur and original classical features. The Neo-Baroque interiors have been modernised to complement the rich history of the building. The hotel’s heritage has been integrated into the design with Franz Kafka’s random patterns, reminiscent
    of ink lines and splashes. His inspirational quotes are displayed on the hotel’s walls and his presence can be seen in the Kafka Suite, which used to be the writer’s office for many years. It is now an exclusive suite with a contemporary design, inspired by Art Deco and mid-20th century Cubism.

    Hotel Century Old Town Prague - MGallery Collection - Photos: www.sofitel.com

    Hotel Century Old Town Prague – MGallery Collection – Photos: www.sofitel.com

    The renovation saw 169 rooms transformed into 5* room categories from Classic to Suite; along with new design of the Living Room, Restaurant and Bar. The hotel’s interiors are light and spacious, with marble parquet, glossy black and gold decorative features, deep green velvets and sober lines. Long corridors featuring artistically
    geometric carpet patterns are a refreshing and stylish blend of classic and contemporary design. Guests can relax in the luxurious Le Dome Suite, which is a round and cosy cocoon under the dome, surrounded by the thousand spires of Prague.

    Hotel Century Old Town Prague - MGallery Collection - Photos: www.sofitel.com

    Hotel Century Old Town Prague – MGallery Collection – Photos: www.sofitel.com

    The Bar concept has changed and the space has been rebuilt. The main inspiration for the new Hedgehog bar ambiance and bar services was derived from the legendary Czech conundrum “The Hedgehog in the Cage”, which is often portrayed in comics, movies and TV series. It is a mysterious story of a plan of constructing a flying bicycle hidden inside a steel cone in shape of a hedgehog in a cage. Guests can enjoy The Flying Bicycle – a cocktail served in its cage as a metaphor of the famous Czech puzzle. The seasonal terrace has turned into a Glass Veranda available throughout the year and on level -1, a new fitness room was created.

    Hotel Century Old Town Prague - MGallery Collection - Photos: www.sofitel.com

    Hotel Century Old Town Prague – MGallery Collection – Photos: www.sofitel.com

    Hotel Century Old Town Prague is now a breathtaking sight in one of the most beautiful cities in Europe. MGallery has 90 existing fascinating addresses in addition to 30 others under development. Each hotel is inspiring, enhance local discovery and shapes memorable moments. With a compelling mix of Heritage, Serenity and Signature hotels, each MGallery is original with its own story to tell. MGallery will expand its collection with new openings including MGallery Leicester Square in London in August 2017; MGallery Dubai in the UAE; MGallery Livorno, Italy and MGallery Istanbul, Turkey.

    www.sofitel.com

    Residence Inn London - London Bridge bedroom suite

    A look behind the scenes at Residence Inn London Bridge

    1000 666 Daniel Fountain

    Marriott International recently announced the expansion of its extended-stay brand, Residence Inn by Marriott, with the signing of two new properties in London. With additional openings in Amsterdam and Aberdeen this year, Residence Inn expects to more than double its European portfolio in 2017.

    The opening of Residence Inn London – London Bridge in Q2 2017 will mark the debut of the company’s industry-leading extended-stay brand in the capital, and the opening of Residence Inn London – Kensington will follow in Q4. Both properties, owned by a controlled affiliate of Starwood Capital Group, will be operated under a franchise agreement with hotel management company and specialists in the extended-stay market, Cycas Hospitality – London’s second largest operator of serviced apartment and aparthotels.

    Editor’s Opinion: The extended-stay market has definitely been on an upward trajectory in this country for a few years now, catching up with our continental cousins at a rate of knots. I have been invited to (and visited) several of these sites around the UK in the last couple of years, and I can only see this market expanding in the coming decade. With Marriott having been a major player in this sector for four decades, with its Residence Inn brand, it is certainly exciting to see their expertise being brought to these two London properties, and further afield in the near future.

    Located on Long Lane in Southwark, Residence Inn London – London Bridge will offer 87 generous suites. Well-connected with good transport links, and a short walk from some of the city’s main historic attractions such as Tower Bridge and St. Paul’s Cathedral, it is ideally situated for leisure and business travellers alike.

    Residence Inn London – Kensington will be situated on Warwick Road in Earls Court, with 307 suites. The Kensington Olympia Exhibition Centre is a 10-minute walk away, while cultural attractions such as The Victoria and Albert museum, the Science Museum, Royal Albert Hall, and the Natural History museum can be reached within 10 minutes by car. Both properties will cater to guests looking for longer stays with spacious suites and separate living, working and sleeping areas featuring upscale design and amenities.

    Editor’s Opinion: Speaking to Diane Mayer, Residence Inn VP and global brand manager, during a hard-hat tour around the soon-to-open site, she tells me the brand ethos of Residence Inn – a slightly upmarket home-away-from-home – fits in perfectly with the London neighbourhoods selected to host the new developments. Becoming part of the locale is an important factor in Residence Inn properties, and the London Bridge property will be no different. Considering the length of a guest’s stay at the property, allowing them to feel part of the community is a unique selling point for the brand. There is no doubt the ‘public areas’ of this property will go a long way to achieving that goal.

    The interiors have a very clean feel, with studio apartment-esque finishes and muted colour schemes, of varying greens, browns and blues. The separation of living and sleeping spaces has been well done in both the smaller and larger offerings. I have no doubt, that these two properties certainly will mark a very good debut for the brand in the UK capital.

    Fully functional kitchens; grocery delivery service; fitness facilities; 24-hour markets; complimentary breakfasts and free Wi-Fi throughout the hotel help guests maximise their time and thrive on long stays. Staying fit is made easier at Residence Inn properties courtesy of custom running routes that guests can access via MapMyFitness, thanks to the brand’s global partnership with Under Armour Connected Fitness.

    Carlton Ervin, Chief Development Officer Europe, Marriott International said: “Residence Inn is already the global leader in the extended-stay lodging segment, and we’re excited that 2017 is set to be a pivotal year for the brand in Europe. We see these latest signings as a fantastic opportunity to grow the brand in such a strategic global destination, and we’re excited to be working with Cycas Hospitality, which has a strong history of hospitality expertise.”

    Residence Inn London - London Bridge receptionJohn Wagner, Founding Partner of Cycas Hospitality said: “We are thrilled to welcome the world class Residence Inn brand to the extended-stay sector in London and to our own expanding hotel portfolio. We look forward to creating memorable moments for all our guests visiting these two new Residence Inn properties. Delivering a first-rate guest experience is in the DNA of all our Cycas Hospitality staff and we have an excellent track record to prove it.”

    The two London properties will be joined by new openings in Aberdeen and Amsterdam this year, growing the European portfolio from three to seven hotels. The four additions planned for 2017 will see almost 600 rooms added to the Residence Inn portfolio, and there are a further eight properties anticipated by the end of 2019.

    www.residenceinn.marriott.com

    Provocateur, Berlin

    Provocateur, Berlin

    1000 629 Daniel Fountain

    Provocateur is Berlin’s first shamelessly sensual hotel designed by Amsterdam-based interior designer Saar Zafrir, who is behind a number of Europe’s most buzzed about new hotel properties.

    The Provocateur hotel, restaurant and club will push buttons and makes guests push their boundaries. The hotel’s ethos is provocative and explorational catering to the up all night, sleep all day adventurer for both hotel guests and nightlife enthusiasts.

    The Design Hotels™ member holds 58 rooms that whisper passion in every way with their mysterious romantic cosy corners bathed in red light with black and white photography adorning the walls along with a mix of soft and heavy textured interiors and furniture.

    Each room has a “provocateur mode,” a setting allowing guests to set the mood and drift to a different world as the room’s lights dim, seductive tunes commence and video art plays, making you not want to leave your bed…or lover.

    Zafrir’s playful burlesque inspiration for the property began in another city. A weekend getaway in Paris laid the groundwork for a revolution in the Berlin hospitality scene and design of Provocateur Berlin.

    Zafrir was drawn to discovering the secret and hidden spots of Paris by midnight, some beautiful, some dark, but all sharing the common pull of passion and desire. The aesthetics paired with the music of Paris began his design and development of Provocateur and led him to the realization that the property should be shocking and unexpected.

    Driven by the colors red and blue and using soft and sexy textures is what makes the hotel so warm, mysterious and provokes and pushes people’s buttons without crossing the line.

    www.provocateur-hotel.com/en

    Photo Credit – Peter Langer

    Mansion House across lilypad covered canal - The Grove

    The Grove, Hertfordshire

    1000 666 Daniel Fountain

    ‘20 miles from central London…’.

    Think of that radius and you likely imagine yourself still amongst the concrete jungle of Greater London. But with The Grove in mind, it’s time for a re-think. This 18th century country estate replete with championship golf course and world-class spa is as far removed from the hustle and bustle of the capital as is possible to imagine.

    The historic mansion, formerly the family seat of the Clarendon earldom and which forms only part of The Grove’s offering, has a storied past – having at various points in time been a girls’ boarding school, a health centre and a riding school. These days, it’s better-known as a haunt for the famously wealthy and wealthily famous. But all of that’s to ignore its sublime mix of the traditional and contemporary – or as interior design director Martin Hulbert calls it; ‘grand and groovy’. For the most part, he’s done a good job of capturing both.

    The luxury hotel is split into two very distinct (perhaps too distinct) parts – the original mansion and the new wing – and Hulbert’s latest work at The Grove has been concentrated on revisiting the event spaces, which within the modern West Wing definitely lean towards his ‘contemporary and groovy’ ethos. More than a decade on from his original vision for the 5-star luxury resort, Hulbert’s design group Martin Hulbert Design (MHD) has incorporated a two-fold brief of revamping and reinvigorating existing spaces with reconfiguring and reimagining to give each a unique identity.

    Cedar Suite - The Grove

    Of the venue, Hulbert himself says: “The Grove is an incredibly inspiring place for special events, full of wit and flair, wonderfully unexpected and naturally inspired – the original interiors had lasted really well, they just needed a shot in the arm, something to push them forward into the future.

    “Coming back to The Grove, we knew that it still had to be quirky and interactive, but things have changed in the last 15 years, people now want a beautiful space to work with,” he adds.

    The Grove

    With the new suites – Cedar, Amber and Ivory – he has given the people exactly what they want. The two separate units of Amber and Ivory both now have a dedicated entrance with their own reception desks. Artwork plays an extensive role in the décor of the newly imagined suites; with much of it commissioned especially. What impresses me most is the way the feel of the spaces is maintained however they are used, with the flexibility of the spaces based on guests’ requests having also been well thought through in the design process.

    The jewel in the crown of The Grove’s spaces, however, is the oval-shaped pavilion that houses the Cedar Suite – the first time MHD has led the architectural process. With the structure jutting out into the hotel’s gardens, Hulbert has incorporated the natural light from them perfectly with the walls of the pavilion being formed of floor-to-ceiling glass and its eco-green-roof. Inside, the wooden floor is outshone by a ceiling of what I’m told are ‘acoustic leaves’ – inspired by those in the Royal Albert Hall. For an event space, it makes for a refreshingly welcome visual treat.

    The Cedar Suite - The Grove

    From the pavilion, the Cedar Suite extends into the main building – with a new private entrance. The entrance canopy has also been specially designed, using Verdigris copper, uniting the spaces. And every element is bespoke, either commissioned by, or designed by, MHD. In the centre of the entrance room is a working sculpture – creating a focal point – namely a vast steel table, suspended between two steel columns, which moves up and down using a series of weights and pulleys. The result is a multitude of options: a table for dinner, a cocktail bar, a centrepiece to cover in flowers or a canopy to dance underneath, setting the elegant yet industrial feel that is evident throughout. And this is what Hulbert has done well with these spaces; there is a definite minimalist blend between industrial chic and natural inspiration, which gives The Grove a uniqueness in selling the spaces over other venues.

    The Cedar Suite - The Grove

    After my tour, I get a chance to check out the hotel’s renowned Sequoia spa, which itself has also recently been renovated. It is a spectacular example of a hotel wellbeing complex; being both state-of-the-art and thoroughly well-designed. During a short show-round, I’m told it has recently been recognised by the Good Spa Awards and it’s easy to see why.

    Swimming Pool

    I check into my Deluxe room in the more modern west wing – housing 191 of the hotel’s rooms – and am struck immediately by the excellent size of the room, which means having everything required of a room without it feeling cluttered; followed closely by the stunning views over the grounds from my balcony window. The nature-inspired design seen throughout the public spaces downstairs is prevalent in the rooms, with autumnal browns, golds and yellows strongly featured throughout.

    The choice of furniture and textural finishes to the room are of an extremely high quality. The bathroom is just as luxurious, with a free-standing roll-top bathtub and a separate shower unit; the artwork and colour scheme continuing the theme from the living area. The workspace is suitably supplied with power sockets; the 50-inch smart, plasma TV is well placed; and if there was one negative to mark it was the modest wardrobe space – only an issue if more than one person was staying in the room.

    Deluxe Room - The Grove

    Deluxe Room - The Grove

    Editor’s note: The aesthetics of these rooms – while clean, modern, defined and unfussy – might not be to everyone’s taste for a ‘country retreat’. For a more period, rustic and ornate feel, one of the 26 rooms in the original mansion might better suit this remit. The overtly contemporary elements of the west wing aren’t dominant here, instead rooms retain a traditional finish with antiques, deeper hues and opulent fabrics.

    The Grove - artwork

    On my way down to dinner, I notice how much artwork plays a role in giving The Grove an edge. Even dotted around amongst the corridors, stairways and outdoor grounds are eccentric, conversation-starting fixtures and pieces – from modern representations of Margaret Thatcher to ornate chandeliers to black-and-white photography of giraffes – which gives off just the right amount of edginess. Indeed, in a nod to Hulbert’s philosophy of blending contemporary with traditional, the lounges and the fine-dining offering Colette’s – the ‘heart’ of the Mansion – retain the character and tradition with a period-style feel, grand ceilings and elegant furniture, while The Glasshouse and its connecting bar definitely represent the sleek modernity, with up-to-the-minute décor of blacks, reds and whites; while the gastro-pub-style Stables sits somewhere comfortably between the two.

    The Grove - the lounges

    View through the Lounges

    Colette's - The Grove

    I had heard of The Grove before my stay. Afterwards, I can now express first-hand why this is a unique venue. The levels of service are as expected from a 5-star hotel. The standard of the interiors, the amenities and produce cannot be faulted. But the dichotomous design approach in respecting the old and embracing the new makes this a ‘country estate’ with a difference, and a very good one at that.

    Perhaps these dual personalities – you could stay in either section and rarely interact with the other – could bleed into each other slightly more without such stark division to truly show off the ‘grand and groovy’ ethos more seamlessly. Or perhaps that’s just me being too pedantic. In any case, kudos Mr. Hulbert, this is fine work…

    Based on a stay in December 2016
    Photos: Daniel Fountain // The Grove
    www.thegrove.co.uk

    The Principal York - Lobby Lounge

    The Principal York becomes triple award winner

    1024 683 Daniel Fountain

    It was confirmed last month that The Principal York (designed by Goddard Littlefair and one of the launch hotels for PRINCIPAL, a collection of landmark hotels in UK city centres) has won the Gold Award for Hospitality Interior Design at the London Design Awards 2016, to be presented at a ceremony in March of this year.

    The new award is in addition to the hotel’s double success at the Visit York Tourism Awards, where it won both Conference Venue of the Year and the overall Hotel of the Year crown. The Principal York was also shortlisted twice over for the refurbishment of its public spaces at the EHDAs (European Hotel Design Awards) at the end of 2016.

    The magnificent, Grade-II-listed hotel, boasting beautiful gardens and views over York Minster, was originally one of Britain’s greatest Victorian railway hotels, housed in a purpose-built building in yellow Scarborough brick by architect William Peachey and first opening its doors in 1878. After the hotel was acquired by Starwood Capital, Goddard Littlefair was commissioned to redesign its public spaces, including the lobby, reception, Garden Room, entrances and corridor spaces, as well as all 159 bedrooms and suites. The full design team on the project also included Michaelis Boyd (who redesigned the bar and restaurant at the hotel), whilst architects 3D Reid oversaw the structural works on the project.

    The Principal York - Lobby Lounge

    “Our overall ambition was to breathe life back into every artery of the hotel’s interior,” Goddard Littlefair Director and Co-Founder Jo Littlefair explained. “Giving a nod to tradition and heritage, but also creating a tremendously warm, light and welcoming contemporary environment for guests. We were briefed to reinstate the hotel’s essential character and to pay respect to its original architecture, whilst at the same time ensuring a feeling of comfort, restfulness, so that The Principal York was once again a true destination hotel.”

    The Principal York - Lobby

    Space-planning and Structure
    The hotel originally had two entrances, with the first on the garden side of the hotel for guests arriving by coach or car and a rather secondary entrance on the other side for guests arriving by rail. One of the first key elements of Goddard Littlefair’s new plan was to ensure both entrances were of equal importance so that all guests had a real sense of arrival, with both routes quickly joining one of two main public space circulation axes – the Promenade or the Colonnade. The ‘business’ of arrival is now contained within a relocated reception area, located off the Promenade, so the overall public space feels less transient and suitcases can disappear quickly into this dedicated and spacious contained room.

    The Principal York

    Opening up views throughout was key and two brand new entrances were cut into the Garden Room, alongside three more into the relocated reception area, so that the ground floor is flooded with light and there are tempting glimpses of spaces beyond, whichever way guests traverse the building. The new public and lounge spaces are bright and generously-proportioned and offer food and beverages throughout the day, from teas and coffees to afternoon tea or an evening menu, maximising revenue possibilities from the fabulously light and welcoming space.

    Interior Design Concept
    The central design concept was to create a modern and softer interpretation of a country house, featuring over-scaled furniture, such as large wing chairs, to ensure an instant feeling of welcome, combined with a light and soothing colour palette, featuring a gentle and fairly neutral base with softer highlights in shades such as eau de nil and lavender. Similarly, the furniture is in colours such as tan, buff and charcoal, with small amounts of texture and pattern for added interest.

    Interesting and unique art and antiques give the interiors a sense of heritage and character, whilst traditional, high-quality materials, including linen, leather, wool and linen velvet express both comfort and authenticity. A sense of place is incorporated through, for example, artworks referencing York Races or images from historic society gatherings in York, particularly involving the Duke and Duchess of York. The design team also integrated architectural drawings of Castle Howard and other local stately homes, as well as antique maps.

    The Principal York - The Garden Room
    The whole scheme features a series of antique objects, hand-picked by Goddard Littlefair from antique markets around the country, including old trunks, for example, and beautiful stone dogs. The furniture throughout is also bespoke. This ensures a unique environment and is part of the Goddard Littlefair design approach, looking to create as many bespoke items as possible, so that they are always designed with the exact location, function and end-user in mind – and also embody a certain location-specific exclusivity.

    Interiors Walk-through
    The Colonnade, which proceeds from a glass-roofed original hexagonal arrival space, now gives a real sense of arrival for guests arriving via the railway station, stretching out towards the main public spaces beyond. Ten custom-made mirrors, some full-height and some sitting above doors, line the space and give it a rhythm, whilst glass and brass pendant lanterns add yet more light and warmth via a specialist, subtly-sparkling antiqued finish. The mirrors feature antiqued glass set within carved, frames with a moon gold finish and are a great way of indulging visitors’ desires for subtle people-watching, as well as increasing a sense of space. Because of their immense proportions, the glass had to be manufactured in separate pieces and then assembled on site. Curtains hang alongside the mirrors in a soft brown colour with a darker trim near the bottom.

    The Colonnade has also been made warmer through the addition of bespoke, comfortable, high-backed wing chairs in mink brown leather along with tables with lamps. Cushions are in a green silk velvet with an oyster silk band, echoing the band on the curtains. The carpet is a bespoke design for the project, by Goddard Littlefair in conjunction with Hotel Design partners Brintons – as with the carpets throughout the project. A discreet concierge station awaits guests at the top of the Colonnade, so that guests arriving this way can be accompanied to the reception room.

    The Principal York
    The Promenade, which meets the Colonnade at a T-junction at its top end, runs the full width of the ground floor area and is punctured along its length by entrances. At its centre, it becomes a seamless part of the Lobby Lounge. The design treatment for the Promenade features the same pendant lights as the Colonnade, artworks that are top-lit by a brass light fitting and a grey carpet from Brintons with a darker border.

    The new reception is located next to the garden entrance and is a spacious and light and dressed with furniture that has a pronounced residential flavour, including two large desks designed to ressemble giant trunks; two tall bookcases behind the reception and a central display of framed vintage keys, as well as large and small-scale artwork (selected with art consultants Visto) and a separate seating area, with wingback chairs arranged around a newly-installed fireplace. Lighting is in the form of two French chandeliers suspended on heavy-duty dark metal chains, with desk lamps on the reception and in the seating area.

    The Principal York
    The heart of the new scheme is made up of two wonderful, large and light-filled open spaces, punctuated by handsome original columns with ornate capitals, all of which have been refurbished. These are the Lobby Lounge, which contains the hotel’s wonderful, dramatic staircase and the Garden Room beyond, which looks out, as its name suggests, onto the hotel’s extensive gardens. There are clear views through from one to the other, to ensure they interact, via the existing central and the two new entrances. Both spaces – as well as the reception room – feature oiled oak flooring from Havwoods with a special ‘sawn’ surface and laid in a herringbone pattern. The timber was deliberately chosen for its informal, not overly-polished look. Inset rugs are by Brintons.

    Beautiful, bespoke chandeliers, made up of faceted, cut crystal baguettes set within in bronze frames, which Goddard Littlefair developed together with Heathfield, punctuate the two spaces. There are three chandeliers in the Garden Room and three more in the Lobby Lounge, one of which, which hangs down through the stairwell, is triple-tiered.

    At the left-hand side of the Lobby Lounge is the staircase, which has been refurbished and re-carpeted with a bordered goose eye patterned carpet. New wall mouldings and panels have been added as guests go up the stair, acting as a background to the stair’s dramatic new decorative feature – a five-storey-high eclectic collection of mirrors with picture lights above, all in different shapes, sizes and frames, which allow views down, through and across the hotel and which also maximise light and reflectiveness.

    The Principal York
    For the furniture within the Lobby Lounge and Garden Rooms, every aspect was carefully considered, so that the heights of the seats correspond perfectly with the table heights, for example, ensuring guests can eat and drink in the public and lounge spaces with ease. The Garden Room is a particular highlight of the final design and is a beautiful, long, light and elegant space, complete with Chesterfield sofas, wing chairs and marble-topped tables, making it the perfect location to relax and enjoy afternoon tea – and more. The sofas here are upholstered in an Evitavonni fabric with bespoke, highly-detailed cushions featuring trimmings by Samuel & Sons and fabrics including Primavera by Rubelli and Plaza by Casamance. Tall plan chests around the edges of the room conceal waiter stations, as well as refrigerated drawers and storage space for point-of-sale materials.

    Set dressing here includes an array of antique objects, hand-picked by Goddard Littlefair from antique markets around the country for this project, such as antique books, old trunks and beautiful stone dogs. These suggest heritage and reflect the hotel’s long-standing and established reputation and also ensure that the environment is unique and not filled with things guests might see in other places. The hotel’s own archives were thoroughly investigated too in the search for treasure from the past, revealing such gems as a collection of old thank-you letters from the 1930s through to the 1950s, which have been used for display in the corridor approaching the restaurant.

    The Principal York
    Upstairs, the suites boast great proportions, plenty of natural light and have a natural, high-ceilinged elegance. Each one is comprised of a sitting area with sofa, bedroom and bathroom. The design accent here was on relaxation, answering a brief to be residential in feel and scale, so that guests feel at ease the moment their suitcases are out of their hands. A dado rail and wooden panelling add layers of interest, with added warmth from the wood. Fabric headboards add softness with an unusual concertina design adding interest and creating a sense of movement. Picture lights and room art create added visual interest via country-inspired imagery of wild flowers, horses, dogs and period cartography.

    For the suites and bedrooms, all bed divans and mattresses are by Moonraker, whilst the throws, in a beautiful soft wool, were bespoke-designed for the project and supplied by Bute Fabrics. The sofas are bespoke, as is all the furniture throughout. The wood panelling in the rooms is carried on through to the bathrooms, which feature a roll-top standalone bath, marble flooring and bespoke washstand and mirror in pre-aged timber.

    Jo Littlefair concluded on the overall scheme: “This project has been a great experience for us. It has been incredibly rewarding and we feel privileged to have been involved. We love restoration projects and challenges – particularly, as here, when we can address the whole space, be creative and successfully breathe new life into a property.”

    Photos: Gareth Gardner, PRINCIPAL and Daniel Fountain
    Hotel Designs also visited The Principal York in September 2016

    phcompany.com/principal/york-hotel

    CitizenM Tower of London

    citizenM Tower of London

    1024 683 Daniel Fountain

    For nearly a decade now, citizenM has been altering perceptions of what a hotel can and should be – with its ‘Living Room’ concept and modern take on what travellers need from a hotel. The Dutch chain has been blazing a trail in its native Netherlands and across Europe since 2008; blending ‘instantly-iconic’ interiors and furnishings with technology to create a unique guest experience for the ‘city-break, millennial’ types.

    I had the pleasure of sampling this quirky approach during a recent stay at one of the latest additions to its UK offering at the Tower of London property. While the hotel’s entrance is inconspicuous in comparison to some of its more illustrious neighbours, the building’s exterior and interiors are anything but.

    citizenM Tower of London

    The rectangular-clad façade is a stark juxtaposition of modernity against the overtly historic Tower of London just a stone’s throw away. And as soon as I enter the reception-cum-lounge-cum-dining area, I’m met with a brilliant visual treat for the senses. It might sound like an odd mix to combine all three with no regard for distinct separation, but the free-flowing design of the spaces has been treated with the utmost respect; utilising clever chainmail curtains and highly effective wayfinding to create the impression of three distinct entities.

    CitizenM Tower of London

    I’m a huge fan of the contemporaneous and wonderfully ‘kitsch Britannia’ feel of the space, and judging by the buzz of people using the space to work, network and relax, I’m not the only one. The walls lined with striking and lively photography and art, floor-to-ceiling shelves filled to the brim with more literature than a hipster could shake a stick at plus a mixture of delightful vintage pieces and Vitra furniture all go to create a fantastic space that demonstrates the citizenM brand ethos perfectly – and with a touch of style too. For those new to the concept, this communal area makes for a great first impression.

    Citizen M Tower of London

    *As if to emphasise the brand concept, doing away with a traditional reception desk has allowed for the placement of self-service check-in pods. I always love to see technological innovation in hotels, especially when it actually enhances the guest experience; this does – an easy-to-use system and not technology for technology’s sake.*

    The quirky and leftfield décor continues even in the lifts and corridors on the way up to the room. Each lift cubicle is fitted out in a different style and inspirational photography and quotes line the walls. And then there’s the rooms themselves…

    I was offered an external-view room which, with views directly onto the Tower of London, Tower Bridge and the London cityscape beyond, I definitely recommend; watching the sunrise over the Thames makes for a dramatic start to any day.

    citizenM Tower of London

    While small, the 370 rooms are fantastically formed and include everything a guest would need. The space has been utilised to perfection. The wall-to-wall Sealy bed against the window makes for a unique layout, but doesn’t feel cramped especially as it includes space-saving luggage stores stowed underneath, which more than makes up for the shortage of hanging space. The self-contained bathroom and rain-shower unit is a wonderful example of economic design, with privacy being maintained with curved, frosted glass. Having seen images of the rooms beforehand, I feared this might be a little too ‘university dormitory-esque’ and with space at a premium I worried about noise pollution from adjacent rooms and the corridor, but my fears on both counts are allayed immediately on entering.

    citizenM Tower of London

    citizenM Tower of London

    The biggest selling point for me has to be the iPad, from which central and mood lighting, the television, music and curtains can be controlled. An ingenious touch, and something that stands out long after checking-out. Another design choice I found myself giving a thumbs up for is the universal power sockets, as someone who often forgets adapters when travelling, this consideration from the designers is indicative of the ‘everything you need, nothing you don’t’ concept of citizenM. Make no mistake, this space isn’t designed for spending hours at a time in. This is a practical-but-fun base for exploring the city. And it fits the bill perfectly.

    citizenM Tower of London

     

    Once checked-in, I have time to take in a drink at the Cloud M cocktail bar, located on the top floor. The interior theme running throughout makes its way up here too, with Queen Elizabeth print wallcoverings, stunning bespoke brass light fittings and floor-to-ceiling bookshelves bringing a frisson of frivolity to the space. The attention to detail in the design here completes a top-to-bottom clean sweep for the hotel in terms of creating interesting, unique and stimulating interiors. The 180-degree panoramic views over London are definitely a bonus, too.

    This was my first experience of a citizenM property close-up. I was intrigued by the concept and I wasn’t disappointed – it has been carried out exceptionally. The designers have carefully thought out the process of designing a hotel that caters to guests’ needs with utmost efficiency without bombarding them with frilly extras, whilst at the same time creating interiors of a quirky quality rarely seen this close to central London and at these prices. A near-perfect balance of practicality and aesthetics.

    With more properties on the horizon, I can safely say this won’t be my last experience of a citizen property…

    citizenM Tower of London

    Based on a visit in November 2016
    Photos: Daniel Fountain / citizenM

    citizenm.com

    Hotel Chez Monnet, Cognac

    Project Preview: Hotel Chais Monnet, Cognac

    1000 562 Daniel Fountain

    Far removed from the bustling streets of European metropolises like London or Paris – the usual investment hotspots for British entrepreneur Javad Marandi – sits the grandeur of Chais Monnet and its vast cellars in Cognac.

    Built in the 19th century, this stunning site is nestled in the heart of this quaint and oh-so-French town, with its cellars from 1845 adding to its charm. Having originally been the childhood home of Jean Monnet, one of the founding fathers of the European Union, it has sat disused. Until now.

    In a €60 million investment personally financed by Mr. Marandi, the site is being transformed into a 15,000m2 luxury hotel, spa, restaurant and retail boutique complex, offering a “modern take on traditional French luxe”. Being on the doorstep of some of the great cognac houses, it will be the first complex of its kind in the region.

    And, at a recent stone-laying ceremony in October, Hotel Designs was able to see the plans first hand. Believe me, they’re impressive. The project will include:

    A five-star hotel with 100 bedrooms and suites, 14 apartments, two restaurants, a jazz bar and lounge, a 400m2 conference room, four meeting rooms, and a pool/spa.
    Six boutiques to be rented to French brand retailers
    A cultural meeting place commemorating Jean-Gabriel Monnet’s life and achievements

    Its importance to the area was emphasised in the opening presentation by Cognac mayor Michel Gourinchas, who himself played a key role in championing the project, one that he is confident will have a great economic impact on the town and its surroundings.

    “Here in the town we’ve been waiting for this for a long time. Since I’ve become mayor, we’ve asked ourselves a number of times what we could do with this site and thanks to this work we’ll be able to see a reality of what’s possible in a way that’s in the best interests of our town, its inhabitants, and tourists who can now benefit from an excellent site, which is in parallel with cognac – an excellent product,” he proudly tells the gathered dignitaries and press.

    Hotel Chez Monnet, Cognac

    Didier Poignant, chief architect on the project, Michel Gourinchas, mayor of Cognac and Javad Marandi, businessman and investor in the project addressing the crowd

    He’s not wrong. Cognac is a gorgeous microcosm of the effortlessly pretty aesthetics of western France. The historic cobbled streets, the perfectly-manicured gardens in its centre and traditional architecture lining the serene River Charente that runs through it all point to a life-less-rushed; beauty and tradition combined. Two things at the heart of the design of the Hotel Chais Monnet project.

    When I ask Mr. Marandi if this is why he chose this particular spot to bring a hotel to market, as opposed to the major centres of business and commerce in which he usually operates, he agrees.

    The centre of Cognac

    The centre of Cognac

    “I certainly have an affection for this region, for Cognac, and for the rich variety of local delicacies, but I also see a clear business opportunity. Cognac is a world famous upmarket product and the heritage of the Monnet family is another valued contribution to developing a hotel that will have all prerequisites to become a major success for this type of investment while being equally beneficial for the city and its community,” he says.

    But looking at the plans and speaking with chief architect Didier Poignant of Ertim Architects in Paris, what strikes me most is how much modernity is being brought to the project – in particular the striking façade of the Les Ceps part of the complex. I wonder for a moment how the reaction from the local Cognaçais has been to this overt blending of the historic with the ultra-modern, but Didier puts my mind at rest as he describes his extensive work with Architectes des Bâtiments de France in preserving French heritage in architectural projects.

    Likewise, Javad Marandi echoes his assurances, adding: “I have only had positive and complimentary feedback on the designs [by Didier and his team], which are very elegant and chic and are befitting of the location whilst preserving the brand heritage of both cognac and the Monnet family.”

    The locale might certainly be a departure for Mr. Marandi. As he himself tells me, Cognac is still a secondary tourist location within France and yet France itself is one of the most visited destinations worldwide. But with the “raw material” as he calls it – the name of ‘Cognac’ – attached to the project, there can be little doubt that this little pocket of France will be put on the map as a premium, upmarket location. With plans in place and construction under way, that vision is well on the way to becoming a reality. In his closing remarks, the mayor speaks of his excitement and impatience to see the project finally come to fruition in the spring of 2018.

    That makes two of us, monsieur le maire…

    Based on a visit in October 2016
    Photos: Daniel Fountain // Weber Shandwick

    Atlantic Hotel, Jersey

    Atlantic Hotel, Jersey

    1024 499 Daniel Fountain

    “You’ll love it,” I was told by friends when I mentioned I was heading to Jersey for the first time.

    It’s true, I knew little about this Crown Dependency nestled in the Bay of Mont St. Michel before I flew over (at the second attempt) from the mainland; this British-but-slightly-so-Gallic island had never been on my radar of must-visit destinations. After spending two days discovering this delightfully quaint bailiwick, that has most definitely changed.

    Atlantic Hotel, St Brelade

    The view over St. Ouen’s Bay from the hotel’s headlands

    I was visiting to spend an evening at the Atlantic Hotel in St. Brelade, a family-owned hotel under the stewardship of Patrick Burke and his wife Treena, and to review the two restaurants attached to the property. Prior research showed me that the hotel has built up a reputation for being one of the best hotels on Jersey. Indeed, when I announce my destination to my taxi driver, he nods his approval and commends my choice. With its effortless luxury and excellent service, it’s easy to see why.

    As we wind up the entrance road, I’m struck by the markedly 1930s-style exterior of the building, which is surprising considering the hotel was purpose-built and opened in 1970 by Patrick’s father Henry – but it makes for a refreshing change to the over-modernisation often encountered at projects back in London. Yet, given the retro vibe of Jersey it’s certainly not out of place and its ocean liner-esque appearance is befitting of Jersey’s obvious oceanic feel. And as soon as I enter the hotel, I note the understated elegance of the public areas.

    The reception-cum-lounge area is light, airy and the wooden floors and occasional exposed brickwork all reflect the property’s coastal locale. It’s an excellent blend of modern and classic. A range of sand-and-sea motif pieces from local artists line the walls – alongside beautifully appointed, unique furnishings – and the ‘Atlantic Dunes’ by Nicholas Romeril takes my breath away as Patrick explains the story of how it came to be in the possession of the hotel whilst Naomi Renouf’s ‘Crossing the Sands’ is an eye-catching centrepiece. The source of the constant sound of rushing water is a fountain set in a water feature traversing the indoor-outdoor divide complete with a carp fishpond. This space is built for a life less rushed.

    A baby grand piano sitting at the entrance to the hotel’s stunning Ocean restaurant adds a touch of glamour. Indeed, glamour is what the Michelin-starred Ocean is all about and the interiors are exquisite. It’s by far and away my favourite space in the whole hotel; the elegant pillars, French shuttered windows and blend of white, cream and beige with dashes of deep blues and reds conjure up a feeling of an Edwardian dining room – it’s a truly beautiful setting for a meal. It overlooks a delightful garden terrace and generous outdoor swimming pool, which was the next stop on my tour with Patrick.

    The pool area is reminiscent of a southern Mediterranean setting, not one just 50 minutes from London. Palm trees blend in with the stunning views over St Ouen’s Bay and the vast Atlantic expanse beyond – an enthralling sight so close to home. Our walk over the hotel’s 6 acres of grounds and headlands allows a glimpse of the tennis court as well as the Garden Suites – the deluxe offering at the Atlantic – which were fully occupied during my stay, but ‘extremely popular with families’ I’m told by Patrick, made up of ground floor rooms with large en-suite bathrooms and a private terrace with direct access to the gardens and swimming pool.

    It’s at this point I discover a bit more about the journey Patrick has been on with the Atlantic. Having taken over as managing director in 1987, Patrick went about transforming the property into what it is today and in the process – through various strategy groups – the hospitality scene on Jersey as a whole. Indeed, this is clearly a labour of love for Patrick; under his stewardship the hotel has enjoyed numerous accolades such as membership of the Small Luxury Hotels of the World group (of which, Patrick himself is a director), AA rosettes and the prestigious ‘Independent Hotel of the Year’ at The 2014 Cateys – an award, I can see, that evokes a great sense of pride. Rightly so.

    20160727_120537

    Jersey as a destination is in Patrick’s blood. He tells me of his work with the Luxury Jersey Hotels (LJH) consortium, a collection of Jersey hoteliers working together to bolster the reputation of the island as an internationally recognised hotspot for gastronomy and luxury. His obvious success led him to inaugurate the Eat Jersey Food Festival last year, which brings acclaimed chefs to the island from the UK, France and Jersey itself in a celebration of local produce. This is a way of life for Patrick, not just a job.

    He tells me, when I ask about possible expansion plans, that maintaining the look and feel of the hotel as well as the aesthetics of the site are extremely important; so building upwards is out of the question. Consolidating what is already a fantastic property is the name of the game. The tour comes to an end, which allows me some time to sample the modest but perfectly adequate Palm Club health facilities comprising an indoor swimming pool, Jacuzzi, a mini gymnasium and saunas and a welcome option considering the less-than-summery conditions outside.

    atlantic3

    I retire to my ‘Ocean View’ room, featuring a king size bed with a simple, contemporary oak headboard, and comfortably elegant furnishings; the Art Deco-meets-maritime theme of the hotel is strong in the room décor. My room is well equipped with a marble bathroom, complete with high-quality, ever-functional Hotel Designs clients Hansgrohe fittings and luxury toiletries by Molton Brown.

    My balcony windows do indeed offer views over the swimming pool area and the ocean – it’s just a shame about the uncharacteristically cloudy July day. Considerable refurbishment work has been carried out over the years since the turn of the century as part of Patrick’s commitment to constant improvement and maintaining a high standard throughout. The hotel offers a range of rooms – including ‘Executive’ and ‘Atlantic’ suites – all finished to the same levels of unfussy elegance and practicality.

    I spend an evening with Patrick and Treena over dinner in the hotel’s superb Ocean restaurant – fronted by the charming Martinho de Sousa and showcasing the supreme talent of chef Mark Jordan – which, having held its Michelin star since 2007, is a destination in itself. Combine the two, and staying at the Atlantic is most definitely an experience to savour. After lunch the next day in the hotel’s sister restaurant in nearby St Peter and a short time looking around southern Jersey, I take the short hop back to the mainland. I then proceed to spend the next few weeks telling anyone who’ll listen that they must find the time to visit this wonderfully idiosyncratic island and ensure that they stay at this gem of a hotel.

    Atlantic Hotel

    2020 will mark 50 years of the Atlantic. In his time at the helm, it’s clear to see that Patrick has firmly established the hotel as one of the best on Jersey. Having seen it first hand, I have no doubts that his passion for the industry and the locale as well as his dedication to quality and service that the property will continue to remain so in the years ahead. Trust me, one would be hard-pushed to find a more faultless example of what a small, luxury hotel should be…

    Based on a stay in July 2016
    Photos: Daniel Fountain // Atlantic Hotel
    theatlantichotel.com

    Chilston Park

    Chilston Park, Kent

    1000 625 Daniel Fountain

    Tucked away in 22 acres of Kent countryside is the beautiful Chilston Park – a Grade I-listed manor house from the 15th century – home to a 53-room hotel offering in the Hand Picked Hotels Collection.

    But its idyllic location belies a fantastic location, close to the M20 and Channel Tunnel, and ease of access to London and the Eurotunnel. Not that you would know when walking around the extensive grounds or spending time in its rooms.

    Chilston Park

    The building’s rich history over the centuries has seen architectural additions and furnished enrich this stunning property – 16th century wooden, carved panels above the main fireplace, twelve-paned sash windows and a smattering of priceless antiques left by the various families who have owned the property over the last five centuries.

    On our visit, we were given a feature room and a suite to sample – Treen and Tudor respectively – and the design and furnishings in both continue the celebration of classic antiquity seen throughout the rest of the hotel. The Tudor suite in particular was a joy to behold, with stunning original beams throughout, spacious living spaces and a sumptuous standalone bath being the highlights – a perfect example of country house splendour.

    Of Chilston’s 53 individually-named rooms, there are 15 in the main house, with the remainder located in the stone stables, coachman’s cottages and new extension outside. Mews rooms in the Stables and Coachman’s Cottages feature a more homely feel and courtyard views. All rooms are luxuriously appointed with Hotel Designs partners Hypnos beds, plush bed linens and toiletries.

    The main dining option of Chilston Park is the Wedgwood blue-themed, classically decorated Culpepper’s Restaurant where the majority of guests will dine. But all the public spaces carry the same charm, with the centrepiece being the main staircase (above, left); a fantastically grand space and a perfect spot for drinks. Chilston Park also caters for business guests, with 10 meeting spaces and the ability to cater for up to 150 delegates.

    With a blend of beautiful interiors, classic luxury and superb location – Chilston Park is a gem, and well worth a visit if one is in the area.

    handpickedhotels.co.uk/chilstonpark

    L'Amandier

    L’Amandier, Marrakech

    1000 635 Amelia Walker

    Marrakech is abuzz. Not just because of it currently being peak summer, nor because, earlier this year, when Tripadvisor announced the winners of its 2015 travelers’ choice awards for destinations travellers ranked the city as the top travel destination in the world (last year, it ranked at no. 6).

    But, because the long-awaited launch of the five-star L’Amandier hotel has finally been unveiled. It is nestled in the Ouirgane Valley and only an hour from the city.

    L'Amandier (Anthony Craddock)

    L’Amandier (Anthony Craddock)

    “My brother and I discovered this place some years ago when it was a scrub of land, with a few dying almond trees and nothing else. This was the start of a colourful journey of new friendships, discovering water, running water, sowing seeds, laying brick on top of brick, bring in power…and now we are here,” says Founder, Anwar Harland-Khan.

    Well, for those of you in need of inspiration for an international destination, be it for incentive travel, a private party, a conference, a holiday, team builder or celebratory venue, this gem-like haven is a beguiling place.

    L'Amandier (Anthony Craddock)

    L’Amandier (Anthony Craddock)

    “L’Amandier has been quite a journey,” says Anwar. We are sitting on one of the villa’s expansive sun-warmed terraces, within 12 acres of citrus groves and almond trees, surrounded by a patchwork of valleys and mountain peaks. The panoramic views over the surrounding Toubkal National Park that we’re looking out on are spectacular. Aside from the gentle hum of the call to prayer that I can hear in the distance, it is peaceful, quiet and wonderfully still. I can’t remember the last time that I’ve felt this relaxed. ‘Landscape therapy’ here is instant and you immediately give in to the pace of life. Calm trickles down from the top after all – and Anwar is warmth and charm itself.

    I am one of the lucky media guests invited to the hotel’s soft launch (before it officially opens its doors in Autumn 2016), to join his friends and family to celebrate this 12-year project coming full circle.

    L'Amandier (Anthony Craddock)

    L’Amandier (Anthony Craddock)

    L’Amandier is an environmentally sensitive venture that has remained sympathetic to its surrounding environs. The property has been designed by London-based architect, Nick Gowing, who has juxtaposed the contours of the surrounding landscape with the buildings geometric lines. His aim? To ensure that the beauty of the vista was incorporated into the living and communal areas where possible, through floor-to-ceiling windows (light and space are recurrent motifs throughout), and buildings rendered in the same colour as the rich, red earth of the L’Amandier Plateau, merging it as part of the landscape, in form and function.

    L'Amandier (Tara Panchaud)

    L’Amandier (Tara Panchaud)

    The premises accommodates up to 46 guests in the six suite boutique hotel and the 13 estate villas. All villas have been sold to private investors but are available to rent (each owner has full use of the hotel’s facilities and access to In-house Catering with Private Chef). Each boasts a vast roof terrace with frame pergola style seating area, swapped with deep cushions and white cotton drapes, and showstopping vistas – the perfect backdrop for sundowners.

    The architecture is cubist in form yet embraces the characteristics of a Moroccan riad – whereby the rooms are built around a central courtyard. Each villa accentuates L’Amandier’s philosophy of uniting a contemporary European design aesthetic with traditional Moroccan artistry and sustainable materials, think tadelakt walls, bejmat tiles and local walnut wood for the furniture.

    L'Amandier (Anthony Craddock)

    L’Amandier (Anthony Craddock)

    Elsewhere there’s a 50-cover restaurant, a blinding 25m-infinity pool, tennis court and a vast 40m2 terrace perfect for alfresco soirées.

    Elegant interiors represent a timeless grace and come courtesy of Michael Kopinski. His descriptions of “Zen-like” and “raw” are spot-on, nodding to the country’s past and championing the skill of the Moroccan people, through ethically sourced local products. It’s all in the detail right? Well the subtle intricacies do not go unnoticed. I’m referring to the change of light throughout the day, and how the colours of the bespoke handpicked tiles dotted around the resort flicker between cobalt aqua and silver depending on the positioning of the sun. “The feeling inside the hotel is of shimmering water,” explains Michael. “The colour palette reflects the beautiful rich greens of the surrounding lush valleys and the baked clay colour of the sunsets… but toned down, subdued, an echo.”

    L'Amandier (Anthony Craddock)

    L’Amandier (Anthony Craddock)

    I felt a shift at L’Amandier. At one point I did nothing but stare at the view for 40 minutes – no need for emails, or phone. It is a heady mix, this seamless blend of indoor-outdoor living and the combination of culture, creativity, spirit and vision.

    lamandierhotel.com

    Clevedon Hall, Somerset

    Clevedon Hall, Somerset

    1000 562 Daniel Fountain

    On a recent editorial jaunt for Hotel Design’s sister publication (PA Life) I was invited to spend an evening at Clevedon Hall, a Victorian mansion conversion overlooking the Bristol Channel. My invitation was to experience their new corporate hosting (FULL REVIEW HERE), but the overnight stay allowed me to assess the considerable work that has been carried out on the property’s upper levels in recent years.

    Originally used as office space for the venue’s long-thriving wedding hosting service, Jane Clayton & Company were tasked with restoring these upper floors to create 25 individually appointed bedrooms from the available space. It means that the interiors for each room have been uniquely designed and considered, taking into account size, aspect and architecture.

    Clevedon Hall, Somerset

    Speaking to Lawrence Dauncey, Clevedon Hall’s Corporate Concierge, he tells me that the firm have been careful to avoid a generic theme. Instead, and rather cleverly, Clayton and her team have kept a continuous theme running throughout the rooms through selection of furniture and furnishings and a subtle, nature-inspired colour palette.

    Speaking of nature, my wonderfully-named ‘Peregrine’ suite is a gorgeous blend of greys, browns and cream and the attention to detail in the upholstery and accessories adds a luxuriously traditional feel – but having recently been completed, the room still retains a ‘freshly painted’ look. Both the bedroom and bathroom are spacious and a well-lit entrance hallway splits the two, a touch I particularly like as it keeps a degree of separation between the living and washroom areas.

    Clevedon Hall, Somerset

    The touches of luxury continue in the bathroom: an extremely hi-tech toilet in the Japanese style (which I’m reliably informed costs upwards of £6,000), a striking standalone sink unit, walk-in shower and generously-sized bathtub – it’s a shame I’m only staying for one evening. The colour scheme from the living quarters continue with light mink tiling and panels, with marble and mahogany adding touches of luxury.

    Clevedon Hall, Somerset

    The public spaces of the hotel where events are hosted – such as the Grand Library, Orangery, and Conrad Finzel and Dame Rosa Burden suites – are beautiful in the grand, traditional sense and (as I wrote elsewhere) ooze character and style. They boast stunning architectural features, including an old wood panelled library and many original features.

    Clevedon Hall, Somerset

    Plans have been approved and action is already under way to carry out a renovation of the ground-floor levels in a similar style to the guestrooms, bringing a contemporary feel to the Great Hall entrance area, which will bring the standard of this building inside and out to a very high level.

    As I write, the hotel remains open to event or corporate guests only, and Lawrence tells me the owners plan to keep it that way. But the work already completed on the property, and considerable refurbishment to come on the ground floors (which I cannot wait to see for myself later in the year), make this an exemplary case study of interior design and using existing spaces well; so much so you might want to book an event just to try it for yourself…

    Based on a stay in May 2016
    Photos: Daniel Fountain
    clevedonhall.co.uk

    11 Cadogan Gardens

    11 Cadogan Gardens, London

    1000 552 Molly Dyson

    Guest reviewer Molly Dyson shares her experience of the newly refurbished 11 Cadogan Gardens in the heart of London. . .

    I arrive at 11 Cadogan Gardens just after 3pm on a Friday and the buzz going on around the property is refreshing. It’s a bank holiday weekend, so there are a few families milling about and the attentive staff are on hand to open doors and check in new guests.

    Daniela at reception happily tells me I’ve been upgraded to a signature suite on the third floor and assures me I’m going to have a wonderful stay. As soon as I turn around, Concierge Emelson is waiting to take my bag and show me the way to my room, which includes a ride up in the vintage lift. Emelson tells me he’s been working at the hotel for a while and suggests a few things to see in the area. He’s especially proud of the recent refurbishment to the property – my room was only finished two weeks ago.

    Signature Suite - 11 Cadogan Gardens

    My suite is light and airy, which is somewhat unexpected in an old building such as this. The room is nicely laid out, with a couch and television at one end, a desk with foldout dressing table in the middle and a massive king-size bed at the other end.

    The bathroom is a wonder on its own; a separate waterfall shower and toilet cubicle break up the space. I’m pleased to see the bathtub is the perfect size for a Friday night soak and fluffy white robes have been provided for added comfort.

    —–
    RELATED: 11 Cadogan Gardens unveils new interior by JSJ Design
    —–

    I head back down to the lobby for a tour with Petra, who tells me the refurb is quite extensive and took around a year to complete, with every care taken to preserve some of the hotel’s original features. Along the way we visit some of the property’s other signature suites, two of which feature their own private entrance – perfect for shopping trips.

    11 Cadogan Gardens

    We finish our tour in the drawing room for a cup of coffee while I look over the afternoon tea selection, which is themed around the Chelsea Flower Show. Downstairs is the restaurant Tartufo, where guests can dine on a sumptuous truffle-based tasting menu.

    In the evening, my plus one and I find a quiet corner in the richly decorated bar to nurse cocktails and Prosecco after dinner before retiring to our suite to veg out in front of the television. The super-soft bed with its fluffy duvet calls my name before too long and I get one of the best night’s sleep I’ve had in a long time.

    If you’re looking for a place that’s a bit quirky and stylish for any reason, I highly recommend 11 Cadogan Gardens…

    Based on a stay in April 2016. Photos: 11cadogangardens.com

    Forest Side Hotel review

    Forest Side Hotel, Cumbria

    955 674 Daniel Fountain

    For those of us in the know, the Lake District needs little introduction. Indeed, sometimes, there are no words to capture its outstanding beauty.

    For the rest, yet to discover its delights first-hand, I can only urge a visit to find out why this is the case – its stunning landscape, quaint villages and air of tranquil solitariness have been captured perfectly by the immortal words of Wordsworth, Landon and Procter far better than I could ever hope to attempt here.

    Forest Side Hotel - views from Master Room
    So, it was with great pleasure I was invited to dine and stay at the newly-refurbished Forest Side Hotel in Grasmere – the third property in the portfolio of affable and mild-mannered hotelier Andrew Wildsmith. Forest Side, which has joined Hipping Hall in Kirkby Lonsdale and The Ryebeck in Bowness in his eponymous collection, is a fantastic base for discovering just how accurate Lakes-native William Wordsworth’s love-letters to the district still are.

    Set amongst craggy mountains and serene lakeside grounds this former Victorian manor home – tucked away from the main road, which had just reopened during my visit after the damaging floods earlier in the year – oozes presence on arrival. I’m welcomed at a simple reception desk and then get a chance to spot the impressive main staircase and the various rooms that break off the main atrium – namely the bar, lounge and the hotel’s fantastic restaurant. (FULL REVIEW HERE)

    Forest Side Hotel - lounge area
    Andrew later tells me that the building was first surveyed in the autumn of 2013 after an online search and purchased in the summer of 2014 – with the kitchen requiring a complete re-equipment and refit and the small bedrooms needing to be repurposed to restore them to their original size. The latter has been done with great aplomb. My ‘Master’ room is incredibly spacious, luxuriously and tastefully furnished with predominantly light hues by HD Directory members Zoffany; and drenched in natural light thanks to the elegantly-dressed, period-style windows (all 80 of which in the property, I later read, were painstakingly installed). My only gripe would be with the placement of the television in relation to the location of sofas and chairs, it has been rather awkwardly placed in a corner and comes across as an afterthought.

    Forest Side Hotel - guestrooms

    But the attention to detail throughout, from the furniture choices (think custom-made Harrison Spinks beds), heritage-inspired upholstery and fabrics to the wonderfully simple but elegantly functional finish in the bathroom – the push-button thermostatic mixer for concealed outlets on the bath and shower by HD partner Hansgrohe a definite stand-out – all endorse the skills of an interior designer with an eye for modern luxury as well as the hotel’s bucolic surroundings.

    Forest Side Hotel - guestroom

    Forest Side Hotel - bathroom

    Indeed, James Mackie’s locally-inspired touch is to be found throughout all the Forest Side’s rooms. A perfect example of this? I read all the carpets are sourced from the local Herdwick breed of sheep and the entire hotel’s order totalled 2,000 fleeces from Wools of Cumbria.

    Forest Side Hotel - guestroom

    Forest Side Hotel - guestroom
    Moving downstairs, I get to sneak a peek at the open-view and modern kitchen, head chef Kevin Tickle’s team already busy at work preparing for the evening service ahead, as well as the spectacular wine cellar – it disappears into a cavernous opening below me as I try to get a glimpse at its treasures through a glass panel beneath my feet. An example of the blend of state-of-the-art and carefully restored historicity that makes this hotel so appealing.

    Forest Side Hotel - lounge areaForest Side Hotel - lounge area
    The look and feel of the lounge areas exacerbate the rich, textured feel of the rooms upstairs with varied wallcovering choices – the zany ornithological theme of the smaller lounge area balanced out by beautiful, shimmering metallic Lustre Quartz in the larger room – elaborate mirrors, original fireplaces and decadent sofas. These all offer more of an assault on the visual sense than in the guestrooms. But an earthier, rustic look is achieved in the dining room, complete with glorious views of the grounds and beyond. I adore this space and it’s my favourite in the whole hotel – I love the fact the dining tables are made from reclaimed wood from the original floorboards by a local carpenter. A superb touch.

    Forest Side Hotel - Restaurant

    The brilliant dining tables made using the old wooden floorboards of the original floor

    The next morning, after a hearty Cumbrian breakfast (what else…?), I’m shown around the hotel’s marvellous, manicured foraging / kitchen gardens built a short walk from the hotel itself on top of land originally left to overgrow; it’s now home to a host of vegetables, herbs and deliciously edible things I never realised were edible. “Not many gardens with such a view,” Andrew remarks as we gaze out on the dramatic Lakes landscape and local landmark ‘Lion and the Lamb’ rock formation. I can only agree.

    Forest Side Hotel - lounge area
    Forest Side Hotel - lounge area
    It’s with a heavy heart I have to pack up and leave on the long drive back south; I could have spent a week enjoying this gem of a hotel and exploring its locality. A no-expense-spared approach to the refurbishment and interior design is matched by the entire Forest Side team, whose accomplished, professional but personable approach to their work only adds to the experience of what is an outstanding property.

    Chatting briefly to Andrew before I leave, I discover he started his hotelier career having previously read chemistry at Cambridge. If his two other properties are half as good as the Forest Side, it appears he really does possess a Midas touch – especially when it comes to boutique hospitality…

    Based on a stay in May 2016
    Photos: Daniel Fountain // Forest Side Facebook
    www.theforestside.com

    The Landmark London hotel

    The Landmark London, Marylebone

    900 573 Daniel Fountain

    One of the many things I love about London is the way tradition and modernity seamlessly merge – it’s impossible to ignore its ‘grand old dame’ vibe and yet it’s often at the cutting edge of numerous fields; architecture, cuisine, music, art. And if a hotel typifies these two faces of the capital, it’s The Landmark London.

    From the outside, its archetypically Victorian façade immediately gives away the building’s roots as one of London’s great railway hotels – one of several constructed during the golden age of steam travel; the other tell-tale clue being its adjacency to Marylebone station. It was a labour of love for one of imperial Britain’s greatest railway visionaries and entrepreneurs Sir Edward Watkin, who had plans for Marylebone to become an ‘international hub’. The latter never came to fruition, but his ambitious plans for a hotel (then called the Grand Central) were imagined in 1899 and his vision can still be seen today.

    Landmark London hotel

    Looking down at the Winter Garden on the ground floor of the atrium

    TheLandmark4

    Inside, all the trappings of modern luxury expected at a five-star property ease you back into the 21st century. The beating heart of the hotel is the grand atrium with its Winter Garden restaurant and elegant public spaces. The glass ceiling of the eight-storey-high atrium allows natural light to stream in and gives the room an almost Greenhouse-esque and tropical feel. It’s a magnificent space to be in, and the hotel’s management have made the wise decision to use it for food and beverage as well as breakout offerings. This is best illustrated by the Gazebo, where guests can take afternoon tea or grab a bite to eat, but can also double up as a space for a drinks reception for the hotel’s numerous corporate events.

    Landmark London

    One of the public spaces – complete with grand staircase – of the Landmark London

    Indeed, the Landmark’s corporate offering has recently undergone a freshen-up and it now boasts some of the most exquisite rooms for hosting small exhibitions, conferences and meetings in London. While most hotels in the capital can and do host corporate guests, few can offer more sumptuous surroundings. The 11 meeting and event spaces – with a capacity ranging from intimate 6-person interviews right up to 750-people drinks receptions – not only incorporate the elegance of the hotel as a whole, but also provide functionality and the state-of-the-art technical facilities required. As superb as both the majestic Grand Ballroom and Empire Room are, for me the ‘jewel in the crown’ is the Drawing Room where stunning wood panelling, unbelievably detailed ceiling work and elaborate light fixtures give the room a distinct feel from the other offerings, a perfect setting for parties of up to 150.

    With the hotel having gone through a series of renovations throughout its various incarnations and long but not-always illustrious history, I was fascinated to discover that the current, healthy selection of 300 rooms and suites is less than half of the building’s original 700-room offering. This slimming down has allowed for larger-than-usual room sizes – especially considering the NW1 location of the Landmark. From the 35sqm Superior rooms to the 52sqm Family rooms right up to the 160sqm Presidential suite, the hotel prides itself on its spacious rooms with king-sized beds, flat-screen televisions yet traditionally, classically luxe décor. And it’s easy to see why. The furnishings and upholstery continue the theme of opulent golds, creams and browns in the public spaces which is perfectly juxtaposed by the cool, black-and-white marbled finish of the bathrooms. This is indulgent and decadent design, without being tasteless or tacky.