Checking in to Fairfield by Marriott Copenhagen

Marriott recently laid down its Fairfield hat – for the first time in Europe – in Copenhagen, and writer Pauline Brettell was there to find out more about the design, the brand and the pipeline…

lobby design of Fairfield by Marriott Copenhagen

On the surface, Copenhagen may appear to be an odd choice for the quintessentially North American Fairfield by Marriott brand to make its European debut, but after a few hygge-filled days punctuated with Danish design and lashings of pastries, it all started to make senses as the brand and the city are, in many ways, the perfect match.

comunal table around an olive tree in the lobby at Fairfield copenhagen

Image credit: Fairfield by Marriott Copenhagen

Situated in Copenhagen’s vibrant Nordhavn (North Harbour) district, the opening marked a significant milestone for Fairfield, which is the second largest brand within the Marriott Bonvoy portfolio. The Fairfield aesthetic has its historical design roots in nature and the homespun concept of a country retreat – in Copenhagen, this heritage has been considered and woven into a more contemporary, urban and distinctly European design that feels relaxed and welcoming, while at the same time retaining a strong identity. The ‘beauty of simplicity’ is the concept and thread that is woven through, and creates a cohesive design from the moment you step inside.

reception desk, organic shaped seating and pillars at the entrance to Fairfield Copenhagen

Image credit: Fairfield by Marriott Copenhagen

Having had time to explore the hotel post-arrival, it was time to sit down and listen to a panel at the opening event, providing a little more insight into the brand, its location and the design choices being rolled out. The panel included Mary Garris, Global Vice President of Classic Select Brands, Marriott International; Piotr Stempkowski, Senior Director, Select Brands, Europe, Middle East & Africa, Marriott International; Kate Mooney, Founder, OCCA Design Studio and Sanne Faergsted, Opening General Manager of Fairfield by Marriott Copenhagen Nordhavn.

After an interesting discussion on stage, as the canapes were being rolled out, I was able to sit down with Kate Mooney from OCCA Design Studio, to find out a little more about the inspiration and process behind the studio collaboration with the Marriott Global Design Team, resulting in this a new prototype design for the Fairfield by Marriott brand in both Europe & the Middle East. The result of the brief being  a case study in that aforementioned strap, the  ‘beauty of simplicity’.

“The challenge when asked to create a brand prototype for Europe, is that it is a very diverse territory,” explained Mooney, elaborating on the studios journey with the brand team to develop the design concept in relation to the European market. “So the approach we took was to try and bring a little bit of everything from the Northern European, Scandinavian furniture and design influences, to the warm Southern European hospitality, and everything inbetween. Everything we looked at, every colour, every texture every piece of furniture, was to celebrate that very diverse European mix of cultures and climates and approaches to design and hospitality.”

seating and dining area in a natural colour palette in the hotel

Image credit: Fairfield by Marriott Copenhagen

Stepping through the front doors you are immediately greeted with an easy combination of functionalism, design and comfort. This then follows seamlessly through into the guestroom experience at Fairfield Copenhagen, where rooms are primarily functional but with a luxurious element of comfort – honestly, that bed was one of the most comfortable hotel beds I have had the pleasure to enjoy – or maybe it was just the hygge kicking in!?

There is a place to sit, a place to work, a place to sleep – the understated practicality of the room doesn’t however mean that design has been forgotten. There are thoughtful details and references throughout the guestroom, in the surfaces, furniture and in particular in the lighting.

seaview across the harbour in copenhagen

Image credit: Fairfield by Marriott Copenhagen

While there is not a huge workspace in the guestroom – a lifestyle element that is becoming increasingly important in hotel design – the multi functional downstairs space felt like it could be all things to all people. And it worked… I saw it shift seamlessly from being an office space during the day to a more social space with the quiet clinking of wine glasses in the evening.

Both guestrooms and the public spaces are made up from a palette of essentially natural colours and materials that clearly reflect the surrounding harbour and sea views. Despite being housed in a relatively stark and simple brick façade, the interior, punctuated with organic shapes and muted colours, manages to be both functional and inviting.

But back to that lighting – it was in fact the lighting throughout the hotel design that elevated the entire design and certainly drew me in. In the lobby the contemporary architectural lighting makes a strong statement, while at the same time pulling the high volume space into a warmer more personal arena. There is also focussed lighting for working with a distinct scandi feel, and a generous amount of natural light from the floor-to-ceiling windows that punctuate the common space. In the guestrooms there is the same combination of intuitive and aesthetic lighting that is key to a successful guest experience.

work space and meeting table at Fairfield Marriott Copenhagen

Image credit: Fairfield by Marriott Copenhagen

Fairfield Copenhagen is as much about the interior hotel experience as it is about its location, ensuring that it is not just about an American brand making a footprint in Copenhagen, but more about the brand finding its place within, and reflecting the local community. The hotel for example doesn’t have an in-house restaurant, but instead encourages its guests to step outside and support the local community and this, along the bicycles available at the front door, (and there are a lot of bicycles in Copenhagen!) directs the guest experience to one distinctly embedded in its local environment.

Fairfield by Marriott Copenhagen brick façade

Image credit: Fairfield by Marriott Copenhagen

Stepping outside the hotel, my experience of Copenhagen – and the Nordhavn district in particular – was one of understated modernity. It felt like a glimpse into what a functioning, forward thinking urban lifestyle could be about. There are no brash statements of glass sheathed towers reaching for the heavens, instead a quiet and thought-through functionalism and sustainability, that at the same time doesn’t neglect the aesthetic and the individual. People and the community seem to be central to the design process – a design ideology that is mirrored in the Fairfield experience.

Main image credit: Fairfield by Marriott Copenhagen