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Red lobby inside the first Canopy by Hilton property in Spain

First Canopy by Hilton hotel opens in Spain

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
First Canopy by Hilton hotel opens in Spain

Situated in the heart of the capital city, Canopy by Hilton Madrid Castellana has arrived in the Azca neighbourhood with a focus on cultural hospitality and contemporary design that speaks the local language…

Red lobby inside the first Canopy by Hilton property in Spain

The vibrant lifestyle brand that takes inspiration from local neighbourhoods, Canopy by Hilton, has official arrived in Spain, with the opening of Canopy by Hilton Madrid Castellana.

Since your here, why not read our review of the UK’s latest Canopy by Hilton hotel?

The property, owned by Hotel Investment Partners (HIP), is located in the financial district of the city. It is one of a trio of European openings under the Canopy by Hilton brand this year, following the summer opening of Canopy by Hilton Paris Trocadero, and the soon-to-open Canopy by Hilton London City.

“This stylish hotel truly emanates the iconic city of Madrid, offering travellers an authentically local experience. Our third opening in the Spanish capital in the last year and Spain’s first Canopy by Hilton, we’re excited to launch yet another enticing option here in Spain for travellers visiting from across the globe, including the more than 118 million members of our award-winning Hilton Honors guest loyalty program,” said David Kelly, Senior Vice President, Continental Europe, Hilton. “This opening is a further statement of our continued commitment to the Spanish hospitality market, as well as our growing confidence in a strong recovery for the tourism sector in the months and years to come.”

The theme of ‘Red’ Madrid underpins an interior design scheme that embraces popular “Madrileño” culture from the forefront of design. The project was masterminded by the studio of interior designer Jaime Beriestain and takes inspiration from the city itself — as the cradle of cañí [traditional Madrid] culture — to produce a space by everyone and for everyone, in the words of Madrid’s unofficial hymn. The 314-key hotel, with 12 meeting rooms, has a distinct local look and feel, creating a comfortable environment for business and leisure travellers alike.

“We wanted to create an airy, open space, without barriers so that people could meet, see and be seen,” explained Beriestain. “For me, Madrid symbolises the colour red; it is a place where passion reigns and different, connecting cultures converge. That is why it is so important to offer the city a space that reflects that philosophy, a place to connect and meet — that is the concept behind Canopy by Hilton Madrid Castellana.”

Following the comprehensive refurbishment of the building’s interior, the hotel was planned as a setting to be lived and enjoyed. Airy, open spaces greet the visitor in a lobby — which creates an ambience conducive to conversation. The lobby is dominated by Canopy Central, a gastronomic meeting point where visitors can enjoy a specialty coffee or food prepared from healthy, local ingredients.

On the mezzanine, locals and visitors mingle at Planta Z, a spectacular terrace where you can enjoy fun street food-style dishes with live music. The menu is focused on delicious, fresh and healthy cuisine, designed to be shared and combined with the extensive cocktail menu. A new casual meeting place in the capital for residents and visitors to experience the unique ‘Madrid vibes’.

Pool terrace at Canopy by Hilton Madrid

Image credit: Canopy by Hilton

Hotel guests can also enjoy the exclusive pool terrace with views of Madrid’s rooftops and skyline – a typically romantic Madrid scene. To complete this ‘local experience’, the hotel welcomes all guests with violet sweets in their rooms, a souvenir that no visitor to Madrid should miss.

There are currently 31 Canopy properties open around the globe and 29 under development across 16 countries and territories. 

Main image credit: Canopy by Hilton

Writers Room inside Park Hyatt Toronto

Park Hyatt Toronto unveils new design inspired by ‘striking seasons’

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
Park Hyatt Toronto unveils new design inspired by ‘striking seasons’

Park Hyatt Toronto has re-emerged on Canada’s vibrant hotel scene, with a fresh interior design from Studio Munge that combines luxury guestrooms with world-class F&B outlets and a rooftop lounge that will take your breath away…

Writers Room inside Park Hyatt Toronto

Hyatt Hotels and Oxford Properties have announced recently the re-opening of the restored Park Hyatt Toronto hotel. Long considered one of Toronto’s most iconic addresses, the property now offers deeply personalised and engaged service as the cornerstone of the hotel’s revival.

The re-imagined Park Hyatt Toronto combines luxury, sophistication, and glamour with a distinctive nod to Canadian heritage, art deco, and literature. The hotel collaborated with world-renowned designer Alessandro Munge of Studio Munge, who drew inspiration from Canada’s striking seasons and natural landscapes to bring this experience to life. The luxurious property offers an elevated home-away-from-home experience with purpose and style through modern materials and soothing colour schemes.

“We are proud to welcome guests to the restored Park Hyatt Toronto hotel, with exceptional personalized service at the heart of every touchpoint,” says Bonnie Strome, general manager, Park Hyatt Toronto. “The remarkable transformation was thoughtfully crafted to provide unparalleled luxury experiences across culinary, arts and culture, travel and design.”

Rooted in celebrating the sophistication of the arts, the hotel features a significant permanent art collection highlighting spectacular pieces from renowned Canadian and indigenous artists. A new public art sculpture “Rendezvous” by renowned Canadian artist An Te Liu, forms a vivid and iconic tableau establishing the hotel as a singular destination. “Dead Ringers”, a large-scale tapestry in the lobby by Canadian artist Shannon Bool, sets the tone for each guest’s enriched and immersive stay.

The 219 guestrooms – including 40 luxurious suites – artfully balance residential comfort with contemporary design.

The unrivalled presidential suite located on the 14th floor includes a welcoming foyer, a chef’s pantry and dining room, a study and living room grounded by a stone-clad fireplace with champagne metal accents. The stone-tiled bathroom is a lavish wellness sanctuary featuring a contemporary double vanity, glass-enclosed double rain shower, and a free-standing soaker tub overlooking Yorkville.

The immersive journey continues at Joni, a new culinary destination inspired by the spirit of Toronto’s vibrant arts and culture scene, harmonises casual bistro dining with contemporary cooking techniques and focuses on fresh and flavourful ingredients.

The return of the iconic rooftop cocktail bar, now known as Writers Room, pays homage to the history of literary legends that shared moments in the Park Hyatt Toronto hotel. This clever interpretation of a classic cocktail bar reflects the bar’s historical significance as a gathering spot for great minds as they take in the unparalleled Toronto skyline views.

In addition, and to feed new wellbeing demands from modern travellers, a spa and wellness destination is expected to be unveiled at a later date, welcoming guests to an escape from the surge of city energy.

Main image credit: Hyatt Hotels

Public areas inside Graduate hotel in Cambridge

Making an entrance: Can Graduate Hotels’ debut in the UK settle a legendary rivalry?

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
Making an entrance: Can Graduate Hotels’ debut in the UK settle a legendary rivalry?

Graduate Hotels has made a bold entrance in the UK with the opening of two hotels in Cambridge and Oxford. Editor Hamish Kilburn explores the tension, the design details and what this means for the two locations that have been at war since 1209…

Public areas inside Graduate hotel in Cambridge

Having just returned from Cambridge, I find it difficult to include ‘Cambridge’ and ‘Oxford’ within the same sentence. I say this because in one of the city’s, Oxford is referred to as ‘the O word’ – I can only imagine what Cambridge is known as in Oxford… That’s right, the two universities – both of which pride themselves to be the most prestigious academic institutions in the world – share one thing in common, aside from their ability to churn out Nobel Prize winners; they both share their mutual (un)healthy rivalry towards one another. Since 1209, when the the University of Cambridge was founded, the history books have painted the two establishments as enemies, which has in the past – many, many years ago – even resulted in murder.

Making what I am comfortable to describe as the boldest debuts in 2021 (so far), Graduate Hotels, a collection of handcrafted properties in university-anchored cities across America, has opened its first set of hotels in Europe in… yes, you guessed it… Cambridge and Oxford. Graduate Cambridge and The Randolph Hotel by Graduate Hotels have officially opened their doors for overnight stays with food and beverage outlets to follow later this month.

Inspired by the world-famous academic reputation and unique traditions of the cities and universities, both Graduate Hotels properties offer design rooted in storytelling, distinct food and beverage experiences and a range of programming and events with local partners hosted year round. Crafted for local neighbours and students, regional alums and weekenders and international travellers alike, the hotels both seek to celebrate the dynamic communities they are positioned within.

“Our team is humbled to be launching the Graduate Hotels brand in two of the most historic and prestigious university communities in the world,” said Ben Weprin, Graduate Hotels founder and CEO. “The legacies that these iconic destinations represent drive the ethos of what inspires us to create memorable spaces to be enjoyed for generations to come. We look forward to welcoming global travellers for a uniquely Graduate experience in these centuries old, one-of-a-kind cities.”

Graduate Hotels has partnered with restaurant developer, White Rabbit Projects to launch all food and beverage outlets at Graduate Cambridge and The Randolph Hotel by Graduate Hotels. White Rabbit Projects is behind some of the most exciting hospitality concepts in the U.K. including Kricket, Lina Stores and Island Poké. With input from local suppliers throughout the regions, the range of culinary offerings will encompass restaurant, bar and café concepts.

Inside Graduate Cambridge

Positioned along the idyllic banks of the River Cam, the 148-key Graduate Cambridge is surrounded by the University of Cambridge, within walking distance of several colleges, and a stone’s throw from the city’s best restaurants, bars and shops. The hotel has undergone a complete interior renovation that includes all rooms, common spaces, fitness club and pool. A ground floor conversion has seen the addition of a café and bar, as well as the renovation of the full-service restaurant, which opened on September 10.

Public areas inside Graduate Cambridge

Image credit: Graduate Hotels

Led by Graduate Hotels’ in-house interior design studio, the hotel’s design incorporates the history of the city, making the river the focal point with various accessible views, especially in the lobby bar. Colour palettes, patterns and textures in the public areas reflect the green surroundings of fields and the pastoral English countryside. With the punting boat rentals located just outside, the design brings local inspiration into the hotel, with life-size punting boats incorporated in the bookshelves in the lobby, a statement installation by local craftsmen.

The lobby is also home to a hanging DNA installation to celebrate Rosalind Franklin, a pioneer in the development of DNA at the University of Cambridge. The guest rooms see splashes of “Cambridge Blue.” Key design details include wallpaper depicting school gates, bedside built-ins reimagined as punting boats, whimsical lamps in the shape of a penny coin, as well as striking wood and leather desks to give the rooms a studious feel. Bathrooms feature scenic pastoral wallpaper and mirrors in the shape of the university crest.

The Randolph Hotel by Graduate Hotels

Located in the city’s cultural epicentre, The Randolph Hotel by Graduate Hotels is within close walking distance to the University of Oxford and its iconic colleges, including Trinity and St. John’s. The hotel is also close to St. Giles Street, as well as the world-famous Radcliffe Camera and Ashmolean Museum. The design of the 151-key hotel takes inspiration from the university’s history, paying homage to its storied innovators and alumni. The hotel has undergone a complete renovation across all of the common spaces, the lobby and guest rooms, which includes a spa featuring treatment rooms, a sauna, steam room and jacuzzi, all of which will open in autumn 2021.

The hotel has relaunched with comprehensive interior renovations throughout all of the guest rooms, the lobby and common spaces. Led by Graduate Hotels’ in-house interior design studio, the design details at The Randolph Hotel by Graduate Hotels include bold hues and architectural elements inspired by the hotel’s heritage and locally inspired art which tells the narratives of Oxford’s past. In-room art includes paintings of Oxford alumni and well-known author and playwright, Oscar Wilde, and a painting of the famous ‘Steamboat Ladies’ (1904-1097), tells the story of a group of more than 700 women who travelled by a steamboat ferry to obtain degrees at a time when their own universities withheld graduation from female students.

Founded by CEO Ben Weprin in 2014, Graduate Hotels currently has 30 U.S. locations in addition to the two new U.K. properties. Owned by Adventurous Journeys (AJ) Capital Partners, Graduate Hotels’ properties in Oxford and Camdbridge join AJ Capital’s growing portfolio of hotels throughout the U.K. AJ Capital additionally owns and operates Marine & Lawn, a collection of bespoke hotels in the world’s most distinguished golfing destinations. The inaugural properties recently launched with Rusacks Hotel in St Andrews, Scotland and Marine North Berwick in North Berwick, Scotland, and will be followed by Marine Troon in Troon, Scotland.

Main image credit: Graduate Hotels

Virtual roundtable - ethical lighting solutions

Virtual roundtable: Ethical lighting solutions

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
Virtual roundtable: Ethical lighting solutions

With the aim to put ethical lighting – and not just sustainability – under the spotlight, Hotel Designs’ latest virtual roundtable welcomes Chris Stimson, Founder of lighting brand Well-Lit, and a handful of leading designers and lighting experts to explore ethical product design. Editor Hamish Kilburn writes…

Virtual roundtable - ethical lighting solutions

For years now, the buzzword that is ‘sustainability’ has been a constant tone; a consistent and unavoidable noise ringing in the ears of every designer, architect and hospitality professional – like tinnitus. Despite the topic remaining important and in its infancy regarding us seeing real change, in order to really clean up our act when it comes to designing consciously, it is not the only subject we need to consider and, if needs be, expose.

To really one day achieve a totally ethical arena for designers, architects and hotel professionals – we live in hope here on the editorial desk – we must also place product design under the spotlight. To do this, designers must not be afraid to question how raw materials are sourced as well as how each element of the product they are specifying is made. But how do we, as an industry, realistically achieve this when deadlines become tighter, briefs become narrower and so many other details need to be addressed on a project?

In addition to advising designers to specify responsibly, after moderating the below roundtable discussion, I no longer believe it is acceptable for brands to be ignorant on how their products are being made. The reason why I say this is because the consequences of such naivety, which emerge thousands of miles away from the first-world problems we face in the western world, can be (and are) unequivocally devastating.

Image caption: Susan Lake's lighting design, sheltered inside Yotel Edinburgh. | Image credit: Yotel Hotels

Image caption: Susan Lake’s lighting design, sheltered inside Yotel Edinburgh. | Image credit: Yotel Hotels

Many brands, both large and small, that currently manufacture their products in Asia are (knowingly or not) fuelling modern slavery. One man who has seen the human cost of unethical manufacturing is Chris Stimson, Founder of lighting brand Well-Lit, who inspired the topic of our Hotel Designs next roundtable.

To panoramically explore ethical lighting solutions with might and purpose, we invited Stimson, along with a handful of designers and lighting experts, to discuss just how bad the problem currently is.

On the panel:

Hamish Kilburn: Chris, why is ethical lighting so high up on your agenda? 

Chris Stimson: It’s based on my own experience. Previously I was based in China, and worked as a sourcing agent for western brands that were looking for manufacturers. Before LED bulbs for domestic homes were known, I was watching the research, travelling to trade shows and meeting the people who were developing the technology. I successfully connected the manufacturers with brands – and that went well for about two years.

Then in 2010, there was a dramatic shift in the market as mass production entered, and the price of LEDs and what manufacturers could achieve fell. I was literally told over night to halve my prices or I would be out of a job. It was during that time when I witnessed things that rocked me to my core; I saw things that could not be unseen. Over the period of just six months I realised I facilitated it. I was part of the problem, so I decided that I was in a position to do better. And this is how we started the lighting brand Well-Lit.

Well-lit light bulbs

Image caption: Well-Lit are one of the few lighting brands that is actively ensuring that the manufacturing process to make its products and components is ethical.

HK: As lighting experts and designers, how aware are you all about non-ethical practices when it comes to manufacturing?

Charlotte Flynn: I’ll be honest, before we had an introduction with Well-lit, we were not aware of the unethical side of lighting manufacturing. It really was new to us. At least knowing that brands, such as Well-Lit, were willing to bring this forward was comforting, but it was also pretty unnerving to think that, despite working with brands who claim to be ethical and sustainable, we actually had no idea just how bad the situation was. The reality is that many designers are unknowingly specifying products that have been made in barbaric conditions.

Metehan Apak: As designers, I think we have all noticed prices of products come down as demand rises. What cannot be ignored are the demands among modern travellers for sustainable design and hospitality. As a result, our clients are getting on board with our thinking to source sustainable and ethical products.

Arianne Ghezzi: We do pay close attention to the suppliers we are working with. There are a few items that we really care about when specifying and that’s usually around what happens in the background. Clients start coming on board when they realise that these ethical decisions often end up saving money when it comes to running costs. More and more, I have seen, that clients are also asking about the lifecycle of products and the recycling qualities of each product.

I also think that manufacturing tours are very usable for designers to understand how components are made and put together.

Image caption: Ennismore recently set new standards to only work with brands that can prove their ethical value. | Image credit: The Hoxton Paris

Image caption: Ennismore recently set new standards to only work with brands that can prove their ethical value. | Image credit: The Hoxton Paris

HK: I can imagine, though, it is very difficult for designers who are working towards a brief for a space to be aesthetically pleasing while also remaining on budget and for the materials to be sourced ethically. Realistically, can all three demands be met?

Susan Lake: It’s a very difficult tightrope that as designers we have to walk. We have to think about the larger picture but we also have to consider the budget, time and aesthetics. It’s reassuring to see that there are brands out there that do source and manufacture responsibly. Equally, it is our responsibility to really demand these credentials when we are specifying products. When it comes to ethics, though, to produce in an ethical way will naturally result in the prices going up.

HK: How do you qualify what is ethical – and what is the human and social cost of unethically made lighting?

CS: The situation around fast fashion really brought awareness to other industries. Even Apple – one of the world’s most recognised brands in the world – has huge problems with their manufacturing in Asia. For example, the brand launched a huge campaign about ethics and manufacturing. Well, on the day they released their press statement, a video emerged showing footage from inside a Chinese factory where the manager was throwing workers’ name badges on the floor for them to pick up at the start of their shifts. It’s incredibly difficult and if a brand like Apple is struggling then you can imagine how challenging it is for everyone else.

“It’s almost like ‘made in China’ is a dirty phrase. And it usually is, but it doesn’t have to be. – Chris Stimson, Founder, Well-Lit.

Image caption: Public areas inside Hotel Zeppelin, designed by Dawson Design Associates. | Image credit: Viceroy Hotels

Image caption: Public areas inside Hotel Zeppelin, designed by Dawson Design Associates. | Image credit: Viceroy Hotels

In terms of my own experience and what I have witnessed, the social and human cost of manufacturing [unethically] in my industry is devastating. I am seeing migrants working hundreds of miles away from their families for very low pay – sometimes even refused pay. The working and living conditions in and around these factories can be disgusting and dangerous. They are being made to work inhumane hours and their jobs are threatened on a daily basis because they can be easily replaced. I have seen what that can do so someone’s physical and mental health and it is disturbing. It destroys people, and yet it still doesn’t get spoken about.

For a lot of brands, it’s almost like ‘made in China’ is a dirty phrase. And it usually is, but it doesn’t have to be. My beliefs are that we all live on the same planet and we should be treated equally. It is as important to discuss ethical sourcing as it is to highlight sustainability and carbon emissions.

“Sustainability seems to be the key word in the briefs but trying to find out information on how the products are manufactured and the conditions of the factories is very difficult.” – Glenn Campion, Partner, LAPD

Image caption: LADP Lighting Design's simple yet dramatic lighting scheme inside The Loft Restaurant. | Image credit: The Loft Restaurant

Image caption: LADP Lighting Design’s simple yet dramatic lighting scheme inside The Loft Restaurant. | Image credit: The Loft Restaurant

HK: In your experiences, are you being told the truth when brands tell you about their ethical credentials?  

Glen Campion: Finding and measuring metrics and data on the ethical standards of manufacturers is nigh on impossible. It’s not something that is published. Sustainability seems to be the key word in the briefs but trying to find out information on how the products are manufactured and the conditions of the factories is very difficult. I think there is a lack of accreditations. The only one I am aware of is the Green Alliance but I know that doesn’t cover everything, so there is a long way to go.

CS: That’s really important because there are no accreditations out there that define exactly what an ethical brand is. I can set up a brand tomorrow and convince a lot of people that we are doing everything the right way and it would simply not be true. The only time in my career that an organisation has really challenged me on what we do was when The Observer  were considering us for ‘ethical product of the decade’ in their ethical awards. They asked deep questions and requested evidence.

For designers, it is almost impossible to know if you are purchasing sustainable or ethically made products, it really is!

“It is impossible to find out in certain regions. We have tried, for years, and we can source about 85 per cent of our raw materials and then there is just a hole. – Chris Stimson, Founder, Well-Lit.

HK: It seems that price is a pretty good indicator then. How much more expensive are ethically sourced lighting products?

CS: When we designed the business, we asked how we could create an ethical product. We had to be a profitable, sustainable and ethical enterprise. By truly doing this, it became clear that there was no way we could afford large-scale PR or a large offices and teams in London. In fact, in 12 years, we have spent about £12,000 on marketing because every penny we have has to go into the design of the product.

What’s more is that we need to present our products at competitive prices to our competitors otherwise we are out of the game. The challenges of running a business like ours is extraordinary when competing against the large brands with deep marketing pockets.

Two big bulbs in lighting scheme for a bar

Image credit: Well-Lit

Glen was talking about supply chains and where raw materials come from. The truth is that it is impossible to find out in certain regions. We have tried, for years, and we can source about 85 per cent of our raw materials and then there is just a hole. Therefore, we cannot promote ourselves as a completely sustainable business – but we try everything we can to be as ethical and sustainable as possible, while being ahead of the technology curve when it comes to lighting innovation.

I also don’t think you can be a sustainable business without being an ethical business. The real sustainability crime is the sheer amount of the low quality, often broken, bulbs that we shipped from China to the western world. If you think about the carbon footprint of these products that end up faulty and subsequently replaced with another bulb that has done the same journey, it’s not an ethical solution.

We make everything by hand, and that gives us such a low failure rate. Yes, we suffer on the cost of that but there really is no other way for us to produce those products ethically.

HK: Charlotte, how have your conversations changed with other brands since learning about what Well-Lit does?

CF: When it comes to the supply chain of products, we have an in-house sustainability focus group. We set up a schedule and there are questionnaires sent out to our recommended suppliers about their supply chain of materials. And yes, we have seen the same, we manage to trace back materials half way and then it descends into a black hole. With lighting, Chris was the first to put this on our radar. We actually only work with Well-Lit at the moment because of our shared ethos around ethical sourcing.

Obviously, we do have the benefit of being in-house so we are able to make those pledges and they are transparently communicated and understood among the whole team here. However, I believe we can set a tone for the industry to follow. It’s been really key to ensure that this, sustainability and conscious sourcing, is within our brand standards at Ennismore.

HK: Why is more lighting not manufactured in the UK?  

SL: It really does depend project by project. Some clients, depending on their clientele and demographic, are more focused on ethics and environment than others. Those clients are willing to pay more for the products. It is easier to trace back materials when the products have been made in the UK, but it is tough because all businesses need to think about their profitability.

HK: Please tell me that brands can ethically manufacturer products abroad as well…

CS: Yes, it can be done – our brand uses very good factories in China while also manufacturing in the UK. There are certain items that you simply cannot manufacture in the UK, such as bulbs, while also retaining a price point that anyone would touch. One of the things that gets missed out in topics like these is that there are brilliant crafts people in Asia who are doing brilliant things. In terms of both technology and the governmental support given to these creatives, they are some of the best people in the world and yet their reputation is being tainted by the result of greed and poor quality mass production of products.

In terms of being able to manufacture in China, there is a lot of trust that come into it. There are just two or three factories that I would use because of genuine shared values when it comes to the manufacturing process and human ethical standards. The most important element for us is that the workers are passionate and buy into the products they are producing. If they are benefiting from the products they are creating, then they will produce better quality products. This ultimately results in a product that has more longevity.

HK: How has this situation become so out of control?

CS: In my experience, most LED bulb brands do not know what is happening. It’s not always that these companies don’t want to know but it’s more that they just assume everything is happening the way they think it is. The sourcing process for most companies is to meet suppliers while travelling to trade shows, perhaps stay on to visit a factory where samples can be made and prices can be agreed. They might do a factory inspection but a lot can be hidden and this process, in my experience, can be highly manipulated and deceptive.

HK: What can designers do to make the industry more ethical?

CS: Ask difficult questions and demand hard evidence. For suppliers, these questions should be directed towards the factories they are working with. Suppliers should know about the living and working conditions of the workers who are in these factories.

GC: I’ll be honest, when it comes to specifying, over the last 10 years the decisions from clients have been driven by cost. The choices on the lighting projects I have been involved in are around supply costs. There are so many components in lighting schemes that need to be measured and presented, so weighing them up against another product that is ethically sourced is not often asked for. It would be great, however, to promote ethical sourcing and really help to educate the industry on the effects of unethical manufacturing.

HK: I think you’re right, the more companies that put forward good, solid evidence around ethical production of products, the more the industry will naturally demand this being an essential. Ultimately, if all suppliers looked deep into their supply chain and if all designers were more inquisitive about the products they are supplying then the healthier the industry will become on a global scale.

Main image credit: Hotel Designs

Accor hotel room on top of mountain

The sky is the limit: Germany’s highest hotel room

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
The sky is the limit: Germany’s highest hotel room

Accor, in a bid to raise awareness of its ALL – Accor Live Limitless campaign, has installed a glass box that contains a fully-furnished hotel room on the top of Germany’s highest mountain. But you can’t stay here (not yet anyway)…

Accor hotel room on top of mountain

Calling all stargazers, Accor has recently unveiled an entire hotel room at the top of the Zugspitzplatt, the highest mountain in Germany. But not so fast, it’s not actually possible (yet) to spend the night here without trespassing. Instead, the installation has been created to highlight the brand’s ALL – Accor Live Limitless campaign. Still, it’s a pretty interesting hotel concept that the editorial team at Hotel Designs identified recently.

Travellers who who make their way up to the glass construction will, as a result, be rewarded as an ALL newcomer with 500 points on their personal ALL account, redeemable at their next stay in one of Accor’s hotels.

The interior design scheme inside the glass structure includes real hotel furniture that comes from the Accor brand Novotel, with which the hotel group started more than 50 years ago. 

Many are now calling for the hotel group to actually make this installation a real-life experience, but only time will tell whether or not sleeping under the stars at altitude will become the next unparalleled travel trend.

Main image credit: Accor

Hotel Designs becomes media partner for Festival of Hospitality

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
Hotel Designs becomes media partner for Festival of Hospitality

The inaugural Festival of Hospitality takes place this month across London with the aim to bring the hospitality industry together. Right on cue, Hotel Designs swoops in to help amplify the purposeful venture that will shelter many conversations, authentic networking experiences and forward-thinking initiatives – everything we believe in as a brand…

The Festival of Hospitality, which is quick to state that it is “not your usual industry conference,” launches this month, and everyone is welcome! The month-long programme of fun, free events have been developed and curated by the industry itself. Everyone is welcome to attend, with specific activities for the Next-Gen as well as senior professionals. “

“It has always been our goal to align ourselves with meaningful campaigns that help to elevate the hospitality industry and the people who work in it to make the arena creative and forward-thinking,” said editor Hamish Kilburn. “Karen Wiley and Katie Tobin, the duo from Always Thinking who are leading the Festival of Hospitality, are innovatively and seamlessly giving the industry what it needs (and wants) following a challenging few years and we are so delighted to help amplify their work.

“What’s more, I am delighted to be moderating a panel discussion on October 6 that will specifically highlight a handful of rising talents and discuss the challenges fresh designers and hospitality professional face in this already congested industry.”

As well as a great programme of headline events and tours, the festival wants you, the hospitality community, to get involved. Whether you’ve got a new project that you’d like to showcase or an interesting point up for discussion, the team can include your event in the schedule and help to share it with the right people.

“We’re really excited to have the support of Hotel Designs as media partner for the inaugural Festival of Hospitality,” added Katie Tobin, Director, Always Thinking. “We are big believers in collaboration, partnerships and sharing of knowledge, and we can’t wait to work with the Hotel Designs team to make this happen, reaching a wider audience and sharing the great content from the Festival wider.

“The exciting, month long programme includes future hospitality trend seminars, panel discussions with operators, developers, investors and designers, and an opportunity to get personal tours of some of the great new hotel openings from the last 18 months by the project teams themselves. Check out the full programme and keep updated as new events are being added daily.” 

Main image credit: The Londoner/Pan Pacific/NoMad London/Festival of Hospitality

Lobby/lounge inside Pan Pacific London

Pan Pacific London – a new luxury wellness hotel is born

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
Pan Pacific London – a new luxury wellness hotel is born

There is no doubt that Pan Pacific London was one of the most hotly anticipated hotel openings in London in 2021. With the hotel now open, following a spectacular opening party, it’s time to experience what luxury and wellness at new heights really feels like… 

Lobby/lounge inside Pan Pacific London

Following what has been a hard-hitting few years for the hospitality and tourism industry, it’s refreshing to finally see new hotels – properties we have been drawling over since their concept phases were unveiled – are starting to emerge in the ever-so-congested London hotel arena. Pan Pacific London was one of those hotels. In an interview with its architect, Mark Kelly from PLP Architecture, we learned the need for flexibility in today’s era of design and hospitality. “Architecture is an inherently flexible process – always evolving while constantly questioning and reinventing itself,” he said when discussing architecture’s role post-pandemic. “As such, it is well placed to respond to the current and seemingly ever-changing Covid crisis and, for that matter, other current and future global concerns such as the climate emergency.”

Pan Pacific London is a fine example of a new hotel that was, prior to the Covid-19 crisis, already planning to take wellness in luxury into a new era. However, after hospitality’s months and months of forced hibernation, this hotel opens with a greater meaning and purpose for the wider luxury hotel landscape. This haven in the heart of the city fuses together architecture, contemporary design, boundary-pushing wellbeing, and leading destination restaurants and bars, with sincere Singaporean hospitality to create a lifestyle destination in London.

Located in Liverpool Street, Pan Pacific London is on the doorstep of world-renowned locations yet also home to its own inner world. Sitting proudly in the landmark tower at One Bishopsgate Plaza, the hotel is situated near many of the city’s finest attractions including high-end shopping in Spitalfields, the Barbican cultural hub, and the stylish Shoreditch neighbourhood.

What to expect inside

Setting the tone immediately upon arrival, the lobby is minimalist with earthy and warm tones creating a modern and paired back home-from-home scene. Accents of colour and personality, however, come from carefully placed plants that were provided by biophilic design experts at Leaflike. “This is one of the most rewarding projects we have worked on because of the alignment between our businesses regarding sustainability,” Brandon Abernethie, Head of Design at Leaflike told Hotel Designs.We cannot wait to help more hoteliers achieve their goals.”

A minimalist lobby with plants

Image credit: Jack Hardy

The hotel has been created by esteemed design duo Yabu Pushelberg, who bring their signature style to the hotel sparked by the fusion of south-east Asian vibrancy and the refined elegance of traditional British design. A unique sanctuary in the middle of The City of London, modern lines and artistic flair run throughout the hotel’s public spaces whilst guest rooms offer a sense of peace and calm with curved walls and neutral colour palettes.

Led by a team of seasoned industry veterans, Pan Pacific Hotels Group’s acclaimed attention to detail and a proactive approach to environmental sustainability and wellness can be seen in the 237 guestrooms and suites which offer some of London’s finest accommodation. The signature Pan Pacific Suite, for example, perched on the 19th floor, is the essence of luxury with spectacular views of city landmark, The Gherkin. 

The guestrooms have been designed as retreats from the bustling city and feature a lighter colour palette offering peace and tranquillity to the private spaces while the omission of 90-degree angles in bedrooms and washrooms creates a gentle embrace where guests can seek rest and comfort.

Custom headboards act as personalised art pieces, adding a layer of calm through the depiction of oak, elder, elm and maple trees while accessories introduce small bursts of colour and organic forms to reinforce the tonal and tranquil nature of each guestroom. 

A guestroom with neutral tones

Image credit: Jack Hardy

For ultimate wellbeing, an innovative ChiliSleep™ Ooler Sleep Cooling System to aid better sleep via temperature regulation is available upon request, and rooms come complete with yoga mats and on demand virtual yoga sessions, as well as health-benefiting botanical planting.

Integrating fitness, nutrition, treatments and mindfulness, the hotel is one of the first in London to include an impressive 1,083m² floor dedicated to holistic wellness, featuring an 18.5m infinity pool and the latest equipment from TecnoBody®, including the D-Wall and conditioning gym, making it one of the most technologically advanced facilities showcased by any hotel gym in the UK.

In addition to high-performance training, aqua fitness in the hotel’s infinity pool is a unique addition to the wellbeing floor, along with mindful workshops and sustainable nutrition. Spa treatments infuse Western science and clinical research with South East Asian tradition of clean beauty focusing on result-driven relaxation techniques, pregnancy treatments, and personal grooming rituals.

The F&B offering at Pan Pacific London is unparalleled, with each of its five venues incorporating unique elements of the flavour, diversity and elegance of modern Singapore. Led by multi award-winning Executive Chef Lorraine Sinclair and renowned Executive Pastry Chef Cherish Finden, the hotel’s Straits Kitchen restaurant, Ginger Lily bar and The Orchid Lounge drawing room delights guests with new and innovative flavours. The team are working closely with British producers, Nurtured in Norfolk, to grow their own high quality Asian ingredients as well as sourcing local produce to help minimise the carbon footprint whilst bringing authentic flavours to the table.

Pan Pacific London offers a serene haven away from the hustle and bustle, with every element carefully crafted and tailored to offer one of London’s most complete contemporary and luxury hotel experiences. The panelled wood screens which wrap the ground floor reception have been carried up and throughout the wellbeing floor to create continuity. Tall ceilings lend an inviting feel to the space whilst the spectacular poolside fireplace and sofas create a homely feeling making guests want to relax and linger.

Located at the top of the lobby’s spiral staircase, Straits Kitchen is an ode to Southeast Asia both through design and cuisine. Embracing a respectful approach to cooking inspired by heritage recipes, the menu at Straits Kitchen has been carefully crafted by the hotel’s Executive Chef Lorraine Sinclair working alongside Singaporean Group Executive Chef Tony Khoo and showcases the melting pot of cuisines represented in multicultural Singapore. Quirky, bold and bright, Straits Kitchen stands as a gem of the hotel, featuring two private dining spaces, custom dining tables and a custom wine-cabinet-as-art. Custom murals have been brought to life by En Viu which further enforce the restaurant’s Eastern influence, depicting Asian botanicals mirroring the unique flavours on the menu. The floor-to-ceiling glass windows offer guests unparalleled views of The City.

Located on the first floor, The Orchid Lounge offers a uniquely sumptuous and serene Afternoon Tea from award-winning Executive Pastry Chef Cherish Finden. Cherish brings her unique flair for Asian flavours to the traditional British tea with the Singaporean-inspired Kopi Tiam, celebrating bao, dim sum and choux. 

In addition to superb dining and dynamically designed guestrooms and suites, Pan Pacific London includes the most technologically advanced and largest ballroom in the area, accommodating up to 400 guests. The hotel also features an Event Emporium alongside a further nine innovative and flexible meeting and events venues, with a dedicated in-house events management team plus state-of-the-art technology, superfast WiFi and 5G receivers.

The extensive 464sqm smart Pacific Ballroom has direct access from Bishopsgate Plaza via a glass escalator and elevator as well as direct access via the hotel. A custom Lasvit chandelier designed by Yabu Pushelberg hangs sumptuously above the expansive ballroom and is composed of floating crystal orbs creating a starry night’s sky under which any occasion may be celebrated.

Main image credit: Jack Hardy

Image of a guestroom inside The Londoner

NOW OPEN: The Londoner – let’s take a look inside

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
NOW OPEN: The Londoner – let’s take a look inside

The much-anticipated, first-of-its-kind, “super boutique hotel”, The Londoner, has officially opened its doors in the heart of London’s iconic Leicester Square. Costing a whopping £500m, will the new luxury hotel take the tourist trap of a piazza into a new, more refined era? Editor Hamish Kilburn poked his head through the door to find out…

Image of a guestroom inside The Londoner

Following years of speculation and rumours around exactly what the hospitality experience would be like inside, The Londoner has opened – and with it, we hope, it will take the worn-down and tired Leicester Square into a new era of luxury, while also shining as a wonderful example that luxury is not an excuse not to be sustainable, from architecture to hospitality sheltered inside.

The Lobby at The Londoner hotel

Image credit: Andrew Beasley

From one of the UK’s largest family-owned hotel groups, Edwardian Hotels London, the hotel is the latest launch set to astound both Londoners and International guests with a staggering 350 guestrooms spread across 16 storeys and a subterranean series of spaces, creating one of the deepest habitable basements in the world. And yet, despite its size, the hotel, thanks to its intuitive design, still feels warmly intimate. 

Designed in collaboration with world-renowned architectural designers Yabu Pushelberg, the opening marks a bold and pivotal moment in the return and scale of global hospitality, and an exciting ‘re-birth for Leicester Square’.

Known as the ‘luxury urban resort’, The Londoner shelters a variety of rooms, suites, penthouses, two private screening rooms, an exclusive 24-hour residents’ space, an entire floor dedicated to wellness, expansive ballroom, private art gallery, wealth of meeting places, and a mix of several concept eateries. This includes the hotel’s signature Mediterranean restaurant, Whitcomb’s, plus a contemporary Japanese lounge bar with a rooftop terrace and fire pit named 8. To ensure there is something for everyone, the hotel even has its own neighbourhood bar, Joshua’s Tavern.

Whilst super in scale, the hotel’s boutique approach and commitment to hospitality offers the highest levels of luxury with an experience designed to make every guest feel at home. As a brand-new opening in London, it is also important to note that The Londoner has employed pioneering methods of sustainable luxury, which exceeds the BREEAM Excellent category in building environmental and sustainable performance.

Watch this space… full review coming soon.

Main image credit: Edwardian Hotels


Cove by edyn to arrive in The Hague in 2022

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
Cove by edyn to arrive in The Hague in 2022

Hospitality group edyn continues the rapid expansion of its serviced apartment brand Cove into Europe with a new acquisition in The Hague. Here’s what we know…


Extended stay hospitality leaders edyn has announced the acquisition of a new asset in The Hague, which will become the first opening of its recently-launched serviced apartment brand, Cove, in mainland Europe.

The asset will be converted into 121 serviced apartments, which will open in March 2022. The project will comprise a combination of studio and open plan one-bedroom apartments with fully fitted kitchens and will benefit from an updated design scheme throughout, representative of Cove’s contemporary sophisticated aesthetic. The building will also include 250sqm of lobby, lounge, and co-working area, providing informal workspace for groups or individuals.

Located on Grote Marktstraat, one of The Hague’s most important shopping districts, ‘Cove – Centrum’ will serve a base of corporate clients, as well as leisure travellers and families seeking more spacious, comfortable accommodation. Set in the iconic ‘De Passage’ building, designed by architect Bernard Tschumi which opened in 2014, the serviced apartments will also benefit from extensive local shopping and dining options.

The acquisition of ‘Cove – Centrum’ follows the recently announced ‘Cove – Landmark Pinnacle’; a £62.5m acquisition in London’s Landmark Pinnacle development in Canary Wharf, which is scheduled to open in November this year.

“The signing of ‘Cove – Centrum’ marks a milestone in the growth trajectory of the brand, which we are excited to expand into mainland Europe just two months after launch,” said Steven Haag, Managing Director of Cove. “Not only does this signal our intent on the continent, but it also is our first conversion of an existing hotel to serviced apartments which we feel is an increasingly likely path for growth.

“Flexible, thoughtfully designed accommodation that caters to both long and short stays has never been more in-demand, and the brand’s rapid expansion into Europe signals its relevance and appeal to investors, owners and travellers alike.”

JLL acted as advisor to to seller in this transaction, and more information about the new property is expected to emerge soon.

Main image credit: edyn 

Hamilton Wide Rocker Switch

Product watch: Hamilton launches new ‘Gray’ plate finishes

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
Product watch: Hamilton launches new ‘Gray’ plate finishes

Hamilton Litestat, an event parter for The Brit List Awards 2021, will showcase the breadth of its decorative wiring solutions for the hotel sector at the Independent Hotel Show, on October 4 – 5,  2021 at Olympia London. This will include the new ‘Gray’ plate finishes and USB-A&C charging devices…

Hamilton Wide Rocker Switch

On Stand 1464, the British brand Hamilton Litestat will display its latest on-trend metallic finishes, its vast design and finish capabilities, as well as solutions that deliver the functionality guests are demanding in today’s highly connected world.

New standout finishes

Hamilton’s latest on-trend ‘Gray’ finishes will be showcased at the Independent Hotel Show – Basalt Gray and Anthra Gray.  Inspired by Italian design trends, Basalt provides a teasing refractive aesthetic – grey base with a neutral cast and subtle bronze hue provides a warm, nature-inspired finish. Meanwhile, Anthra Gray, with a subtle granular finish, oozes volcanic strength and natural sophistication. Visitors to the show can collect free samples of the new finishes at Hamilton’s Stand, No. 1464.

Hamilton's new Basalt Gray finish

Image caption: Hamilton’s new Basalt Gray finish

Additionally, a new insert finish has also been added to Hamilton’s popular Hartland range, which will also be on display. Alongside Black and White inserts, a new Quartz Grey finish has been added to Hamilton’s insert options.

USB-A and USB-C – rapidly recharge

Now a guestroom necessity, Hamilton’s latest solutions to rapidly recharge smart devices while your guests relax and recharge themselves will also be on show. Available in 11 finishes and four sleek and stylish designs, Hamilton’s combined 2.4A USB-A and USB-C dual switched sockets make them ideal for the latest devices as well as legacy smart phones and tablets. While USB-A offers charging of up to 2.5W, USB-C facilitates extremely fast data transfer of up to 10 Gbps and power transfer of 100W for speedy charging. This solution is perfectly placed either side of beds for guest convenience.

Hamilton also offers a 18W USB-A and 45W USB-C Euro Module that delivers a superior rate of charge for high-capacity devices including the new MacBook Pro and iPad Pro. Ideally suited to positions at the desk area of a suite, the Euro Module can be fitted within a single plate or combined with other functional solutions within a multi-part bespoke plate. Supporting both legacy and long-term charging requirements, the Euro Module is in high guest demand and is a standout strength in Hamilton’s vast portfolio of products.

Wide Rocker – classic with a twist

Inspired by design trends in the Asian market and making a big impact in the hotel sector to welcome international guests, Hamilton’s Wide Rocker Switches will again be on show. The on-trend design is available in five Linea CFX collections, as well as Hartland CFX and Sheer CFX, and can be supplied in a range of finishes, including popular bronze and brass finishes. With 1, 2 and 3-gang switch configurations available, as well as 1-gang Push-To-Make (PTM), Double Pole and Intermediate Wide Rockers, these switches provide a functional solution with a stylish contemporary design twist.

Made to order

As a British family-run company, Hamilton has its headquarters in Bristol and it’s from here that it offers its bespoke service. It has the capability to cost-effectively produce custom-made plates to support customer requirements, including low volume requests. Configurations particularly suited to the hotel sector could include a plate featuring a Euro Module, Schuko Socket, American Socket, and double switched socket.

As well as offering bespoke functionality, Hamilton offers bespoke plate finishes courtesy of its Paintable service. Switch plates and sockets can be powder coated to match RAL, British Standards or Natural Colour System references, ensuring that they perfectly match a wall design scheme, soft furnishings, or other design details. This hassle-free service is even offered on low volume orders, with Hamilton having increased its capacity due to the service’s popularity.

Perception CFX – distraction-free design

For hotels featuring bold statement wallpaper or mural walls, Hamilton’s Perception CFX is the ideal transparent wiring solution. The switch plates and sockets have concealed fixings and a clear snap-on front plate that houses an insert of a chosen wall covering, making them almost imperceptible. Seamlessly matching the wall covering pattern, they allow the room’s décor to sing and make an impact on the guest without distraction.

Hamilton Litestat, which will be on Stand 1464 at the Independent Hotel Show, is one of our Recommended Suppliers and regularly features in our Supplier News section of the website. If you are interested in becoming one of our recommended suppliers, please email Katy Phillips.

Main image credit: Hamilton Litestat (Wide Rocker Switches)

Hotel Designs LIVE: Social Spaces

(In video) Hotel Designs LIVE: Social spaces in 2021 & beyond

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
(In video) Hotel Designs LIVE: Social spaces in 2021 & beyond

The fifth edition of Hotel Designs LIVE was sponsored and broadcasted from the Minotti London showroom. The virtual event for the design, architecture and hospitality industry was rounded off with an engaging panel discussion with leading designers and developers that explored the future of social spaces – from arrival experiences to lobby lounges and F&B hospitality…

Hotel Designs LIVE: Social Spaces

With all the noise around ‘social distancing’ and regulations against human interaction, many of industry’s leaders believe that tomorrow’s hotel scene will be a celebration of human connection. While we are at the T-junction on the road out of Covid-19 lockdowns, editor Hamish Kilburn invited world-renowned designers and hospitality experts to understand challenges and considerations to bear in mind as we re- open the doors of hospitality, to be social, once more.

On the panel:

Making a nod to an early session, which explored sensory design, Kilburn kicked off the discussion by asking the panel how designers are utilising the senses in design to evolve social spaces. “The advantages of hotels is that you can offer different levels of stimulations through transition spaces as well as in social spaces,” explained Beth Campbell, CEO, Campbell House. “This helps to build the momentum and makes the experience even more meaningful.”

Charlie MacGregor, Founder, The Student Hotel (TSH), joined the panel as an example of a forward-thinking hotelier, who was among the first to push hospitality into the lifestyle lane. “By making the lobby the beating heart of a hotel, you immediately set the scene – and energy level – for guests and locals alike who are arriving,” he said. “With Covid, we have seen this new generation of corporate travellers, where people are digital nomads and want to work as well as play in spaces.”

The conversation logically went into the territory of creating subtle boundaries in public areas, which is a topic that has become high on the agenda since the Covid-19 pandemic, but also as public areas in lifestyle hotels are being designed to be multifunctional. “Lighting is becoming more and more important when it comes to curate these spaces,” He said. “As well as building spaces, you can separate them and change them as the day goes on. When designing these areas, understand the possible mise en scènes is paramount.”

Here’s the full video of the panel discussion (on demand), which was produced by CUBE and includes Product Watch Pitches by Vaughan, Leaflike and Luxiona:

The full recordings of all Hotel Designs LIVE sessions are available on-demand.

Since you’re here…

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Crosswater Artist

Crosswater introduces Artist – celebrating meaningful colour

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
Crosswater introduces Artist – celebrating meaningful colour

Artist is the new high-end bathroom collection from Crosswater, which partners style with performance to offer luxury bathroom solutions for all spaces. Let’s take a peek…

Drawing inspiration from Scandinavian design, the modern Artist collection from contemporary bathroom brand Crosswater features curved silhouettes, softer styling, and natural wood elements to for a true hygge home.

Crosswater Artist

The centrepiece of the Artist collection, which cleverly injects meaningful colour into the bathroom, is the vanity unit, a contemporary storage solution that features a calming colour scheme, alongside a solid oak worktop. There are three different vanity unit sizes to choose from, each available in four finishes, Onyx Black, Cashmere Matt, Storm Grey, and Matt White. The soft-close, handle-free drawers can be fitted with two or four section dividers, allowing smart storage for the everyday bathroom essentials.

Crosswater Artist in bathroom

The vanity can either be installed as a wall-hung unit or assembled with coordinating height adjustable legs to create a more trend-focused feature in the bathroom. The legs are available in the same four finishes as the vanity unit – Onyx Black, Cashmere Matt, Storm Grey, and Matt White. For those that prefer more natural elements, the legs are also available in beech veneer.

The solid oak worktop and beech veneer legs are crafted from sustainable sources and are specially designed with an anti-UV matt varnish to protect the wood from discolouration and fading.

The Artist vanity unit is best pared with Crosswater’s new Nepi or Circus basins. Nepi, a clever inset basin that sits both above and below the worktop, is ideal for those that want the look of a minimalist countertop basin, without compromising on space. Alternatively, the Circus Countertop Basin in Brushed Brass is perfect for those wanting to make a statement. As for brassware, Crosswater’s new Glide II taps, available in Chrome, Brushed Brass, Brushed Stainless Steel, and Matt Black, provide additional elegance.

To complete the look, the Artist collection also offers a back-to-wall bath, back-lit mirror, and a towel warmer that can double as additional storage space, thanks to optional oak shelves.

Crosswater is one of our Recommended Suppliers and regularly features in our Supplier News section of the website. If you are interested in becoming one of our recommended suppliers, please email Katy Phillips.

Main image credit: Crosswater

The Other House Club Flat Kitchen in blue and mustard

Video exclusive: The making of The Other House (part 1)

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
Video exclusive: The making of The Other House (part 1)

The first video in our exclusive concept-to-completion series with The Other House takes a tour inside what will soon be its first hotel – AKA, residents’ club. Editor Hamish Kilburn speaks to the brand’s CEO and the design team, which including Bergman Design House and architecture firm Falconer Chester Hall, to understand more about the design narrative that will be sheltered inside…

The Other House Club Flat Kitchen in blue and mustard

A new era of hospitality is on the horizon. The Other House is an innovative concept that we first explored earlier this year, which, right on cue, has raised some eyebrows recently. Since joining a panel discussion on ‘a new era of lifestyle’ at Hotel Designs LIVE in May, CEO & founder Naomi Heaton – a self-confessed newcomer into the hospitality arena who aims to disrupt conventional approaches to hotel design and development – has invited our cameras in to capture the concept-to-completion story behind brand’s first property. Sheltered inside Harrington Hall, a heritage property, The Other House South Kensington will offer 200 Club Flats – all of which will feature signature, fully fitted and contemporary design – for leisure travellers and corporate visitors alike. 

With less than one year until the first residents’ club opens, here’s what we discovered when we took a sneak peek inside the building. During our access-all-areas visit, we spoke to Heaton about the pillars of the brand. In addition, we caught up with the architect at Falconer Chester Hall, Alastair Shepherd, who is responsible for carving out the body of the hospitality experience. And, to make things really interesting, we even made a visit to Bergman Design House to speak to Marie Soliman, the interior designer tasked to bring her sketches and renders to life, while sourcing as much as she possibly can locally and sustainably.

Who’s who? 

Elevating the traditional long stay and serviced apartment models, the new brand will combine beautifully designed apartments – complete with fully fitted kitchens, living and sleeping areas – with a private club exclusively for residents and members to relax and enjoy, complete with two bars, spa and fitness studio. For a local vibe, the bold public spaces will include a destination bar and all-day dining bistro (renders of these areas will be available shortly).

While targetting an audience that is conscious and cares deeply about the environmental impact hotel development can have on the planet, sustainability was one of the first pillars for The Other House. “We take a sustainable approach to renovating existing buildings and is committed to making a positive impact on the community, our employees and the environment,” explained Heaton in an earlier interview with Hotel Designs. “Our residents will be a part of our environmental journey so they can make a measurable, personal difference. There will be a focus on health and wellbeing at all the guest touchpoints and we will be using, for example, recyclable packaging, healthy, sustainably produced food and British-made furniture.”

With eight categories of Club Flats – Club Town, Club Garden, Club Courtyard, Club Mezz, Club Class, Club Vault, Club Turret and Club Access – the units range from 258 sqft (24sqm) to 581 sqft (54sqm), as well as two-, three- and four-bedroom options. The intelligent use of space revolves around the living area (rather than the bedroom) just as it does in the home, which was key for the brand to create a real sense of place and comfort.

What’s more, despite all the noise around the new era of luxury suggesting a paired back, even removed, stance on technology is the way forward, central to The Other House will be a downloadable app that offers personalisation and control through on-demand access to hotel-style services. The software, which, if seamless, meaningful, discreet and easy to use, will become a revolutionary element of the hospitality experience at The Other House. It will enable residents to manage their entire stay andexperience; tailoring their hospitality journey to their own specific needs and requirements. As a result, the software will certainly answer to modern demands that are calling for more personalised experiences.

For long-stay guests, The Other House will provide a new alternative to renting, offering any length stays, around the clock security, access to hotel style services and the very best of city living. The first of this type of accommodation that the UK has seen, it will also offer flexibility for residents to book in and out. With stays bookable from a day to a year, The Other House offers a stylish solution for those looking for a city base. And services such as clothes and luggage storage between trips makes it perfect for guests looking for a regular London pied-à-terre a few days each week.

Establishing itself as a ‘one to watch’ on the glabal hospitality scene, with a forward-thinking concept and immersive design scheme, The Other House South Kensington is the first residents’ club to be launched. The brand is on track to open in other ‘villages’ throughout central London, including Covent Garden by 2023, before rolling out internationally. 

In the next video in our exclusive concept-to-completion editorial series with The Other House, produced by CUBE, we will rejoin the development and design team ahead of the opening of the brand’s first residents’ club. In this video, we will explore more about the technology behind-the-scenes, as well as understand how the drawings, sketches and renderings have been brought to life. By then, we may also have more news and exclusive design details about the interior scheme behind the heavy doors of the brand’s second property in Covent Garden. 

Main image credit: The Other House | Video credit: CUBE

The Brit List Awards 2021 shortlist

The Brit List Awards 2021: Shortlist announced

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
The Brit List Awards 2021: Shortlist announced

The shortlist for The Brit List Awards 2021 has been announced, with more than 130 individuals and projects – the most finalists in the campaign’s history – selected across nine categories. The winners will be unveiled in spectacular style at the awards ceremony, which takes place on November 3 inside London’s famous cabaret venue, PROUD Embankment…

The Brit List Awards 2021 shortlist

Regarded and respected globally as the industry’s most widespread campaign to identify the leading interior designers, architects, hoteliers and brands, The Brit List Awards 2021 has unveiled this year’s shortlist, which includes more than 130 individuals and projects.

The finalists, listed below, have been invited to attend The Brit List Awards’ annual award ceremony, which, following last year’s virtual affair, will take place live in the extravagant cabaret venue, PROUD Embankment. At the event, as well as the individual winners being announced, The Brit List 2021, a publication that will profile the top 25 designers, architects and hoteliers, will also be unveiled.

The Brit List Awards is Hotel Designs’ the nationwide search to find the most influential interior designers, architects, hoteliers and brands operating in Britain.

Now in its fifth year, The Brit List Awards is Hotel Designs’ the nationwide search to find the most influential interior designers, architects, hoteliers and brands operating in Britain. This year’s meticulous process began months ago when Hotel Designs opened up nominations and applications to its loyal readers. Since then, the expert judging panel have taken over to whittle down the shortlist as well as decide upon the individual winners.

“As I cast my eyes down this year’s shortlist, I am reminded once more that Britain is, and will no-doubt remain, a major pin on the design, architecture and hospitality map.” – Hamish Kilburn, editor, Hotel Designs.

“One only has to look at this year’s entries to be able to see that Britain is a melting pot for creative design and authentic hospitality,” explains editor Hamish Kilburn who will take the microphone on November 3 to host this year’s awards. “It’s sensational to see, despite obvious adversities, that the design, architecture and hospitality industry has risen to the challenge, once more, to present forward-thinking solutions in the global arena. As I cast my eyes down this year’s shortlist, I am reminded once more that Britain is, and will no-doubt remain, a major pin on the design, architecture and hospitality map. Here, on this tiny speck of land, we incubate innovation, nurture talent and amplify meaningful initiatives that challenge conventional approached to hotel design and hospitality.”

Adding more sparkle to this year’s live awards ceremony will be the sponsors and partners. They are: Crosswater (Headline Partner)Hamilton Litestat (Event Partner)Duravit (Event Partner), Schlüter Systems (Showcase Partner), Leaflike (Decorative Partner), GROHE (Broadcasting Partner), NEWH (Industry Partner) British Institute of Interior Design (Industry Partner) and CUBE (Videography Partner).

The shortlisted finalists for The Brit List Awards 2021 are: 

Interior Designer of the Year

Name Studio
Alex Kravetz Alex Kravetz Design
Beverley Bayes Sparcstudio
Clare McDonald Design Command
Clara Mason Dexter Moren Associates
Craig McKie Bell & Swift Ltd
Dale Atkinson Rosendale Design
David Mason Scott Brownrigg
Dennis Irvine Dennis Irvine Studio
Ed Warner Motionspot
Fiona Thompson Richmond International
Geraldine Dohogne Beyond Design
Hamish Brown 1508 London
Hayley Roy Harp Design
Henry Chebaane Blue Sky Hospitality
Hilary Lancaster Fusion Interiors Group
Ilse Crawford StudioIlse
Jeremy Grove Sibley Grove
Jouin Manku Jouin Manku
Kirsty Vance I Am London
Marie Soliman Bergman Interiors
Mark Bithrey B3 Designers
Neil Andrew Perkins&Will
Nicholas J Hickson THDP
Ravi Lakhaney Bailey London
Robert Angell Robert Angell Design International
Sally Proctor Majik House
Samantha McCulloch ICA
Sara Browett Sara Copeland Interiors Ltd
Scott Torrance 3DReid
Simon Kincaid Conran and Partners
Simon Rawlings David Collins Studio
Solomija Bogusz Interior Designer
Suzanne Garuda Garuda Design
Tina Norden Conran and Partners

Architect of the Year

Name Studio
Adam Hall Falconer Chester Hall
Alastair Shepherd Falconer Chester Hall Architects
Alexandra Birmpili Kappa planning Ltd
Ali Alammar Alamar Architects
Amrit Naru ADP Architects
Ben Adams Ben Adams Architects
Catarina Pina-Bartrum LDS Architects
Cathryn Crisp Randell Design Group
Christos Passas Zaha Hadid Architects
Doug Pearson 3DReid
Ed Murray Dexter Moren Associates
Gordon Ferrier 3D Reid
Graham Barr jmarchitects
Herbert Lui Dexter Moren Associates
James Dilley Jestico + Whiles
Jen Samuel 3DReid
Jonny Sin ReardonSmith Architects
Julie Humphryes Archer Humphryes Architects
Luke Fox Foster + Partners
Mark Bruce EPR Architects
Mark Kelly PLP Architecture
Matthew Salter HGP Architects
Metehan Apak Dawson Design Associates
Nicholas de Klerk Translation Architecture
Richard Coutts BACA Architects
Richard Holland Holland Harvey Architects
Sarah Murphy Jestico + Whiles
Simon Whittaker Orms
Tom Lindblom Principal, Architect
Tony Kho Trehearne Architects
Yasmine Mahmoudieh Yasmine Mahmoudieh Studio

Hotelier of the Year 

Name Hotel
Andrew Hollett Kettering Park Hotel and Spa
Charles Oak The Londoner
Conor O’Leary Gleneagles
David Connell South Lodge Hotel & Spa
Dominic Sauls Qbic London City Hotel
Edward Workman The Newt
Elli Jafari The Standard London
Federico Ciampi Mayfair Townhouse
Franck Arnold Savoy, London
Gareth Banner The Ned
Grace Leo The Relais Henley
Guillaume Marly Hotel Café Royal
Hector Ross The Mitre, Hampton Court
James Clarke Hilton Bankside London
John Scanlon 45 Park Lane
Julian Hudson Fellows House Cambridge – Curio by Hilton Collection
Marie-Paule Nowlis Sofitel London St James
Michael Bonsor Rosewood London
Michael Mason-Shaw Hyatt Place London City East
Murray Ward Soho Farmhouse
Olivia Richli Heckfield Place
Paul Bayliss Hotel Brooklyn, Manchester
Robin Hutson THE PIG Hotels
Sergio Leandro Sea Containers London
Simon Mahon The Grand York
Stuart Geddes The Lanesborough, London
Thomas Agius Ferrante The Grove of Narberth
Will Ashworth Watergate Bay Hotel

Best in Tech

Brand Product/project
Lutron Athena
SONANCE Peninsula London
Majik House Absoluxe Suites
Franklite L11 Tuneable

The Eco Award 

Brand Product/project
Harrison Spinks The Sprint Collection
Hypnos Contract Beds Various products
Leaflike Pan Pacific London
GROHE/LIXIL Cradle to Cradle certified products
Video Tree Re Charge
CTD Architectural Tiles The Global Collection
Yasmine Mahmoudieh Flow
Clarke & Clarke Eco Sustainable Weaves
Ozone Clean OC Range
Well-Lit Various products
Barber Osgerby AXOR One
Siminetti Seasons Collection
Silentnight Group Hosptiality Various products

Best in British Product Design

Brand Product/project
Newmor Wallcoverings Healthcare Collection
Franklite Perry Range
Franklite L11 Tuneable
Hypnos Contract Beds Various products
SMD Textiles, ILIV Exotic Garden
Edelweiss Pianos The Solis
The Monkey Puzzle Tree Metamorphosis
The Collective Agency Swell
Ziad Alonaizy Eileen Cabinet
Dernier & Hamlyn Bespoke lighitng for Nobu London Portman Square
Wandsworth The Baton (and other) switches
Morgan Rakino
Morgan Kaya

The Rising Star Award (new for 2021)

Name Brand/Studio/University
Adam Wardale Middletons Hotel, York
Aleksandra Tredez The Lost Poet (Cubic Studios)
Matthew Maganga University of Kent
Sophie Piggot Concorde BGW Group
Sarah Yuma Dexter Moren Associates

The International Award (new for 2021)

Name Brand
Wilderness Safaris Wilderness Safaris
Bill Bensley BENSLEY
DLR Group Madinah Gate
noa* network of architecture noa* network of architecture
YES.design.architecture YES.design.architecture
Royal Mansour Marrakech Royal Mansour Marrakech

There is no shortlist for the award for Outstanding Contribution to the Hospitality Industry, which will be the final award presented at the exclusive ceremony.

How to attend The Brit List Awards 2021 – the awards ceremony 

All designers, architects and hoteliers that have been shortlisted will receive an email asking them to confirm their complimentary ticket to attend the awards ceremony on November 3 at PROUD Embankment. Outside of the shortlist, designers, architects, hoteliers and developers can purchase tickets here (£10 + VAT per ticket if purchased before September 10)*. Suppliers, and anyone else wishing to attend, can click here to purchase their tickets (£99 + VAT per ticket if purchased before September 10)*.

*After September 10, tickets for designers, architects and hoteliers will inflate to £20 + VAT per ticket. For suppliers, tickets will inflate to £150 +VAT per ticket. There are limited number of tickets on sale, which will be issued out on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Main image credit: The Brit List Awards 2021/Hotel Designs

A guestroom inside M Social

M Social arrives in Europe with hotel opening in Paris

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
M Social arrives in Europe with hotel opening in Paris

Millennium Hotels and Resorts is marking the first outpost for the M Social brand in Europe, with the opening of M Social Hotel Paris Opera on August 31. The new lifestyle offering will merge the ‘elegance of the historical Parisian lifestyle with contemporary design, vibrant art and inviting rooms’ to create an enchanting retreat for guests to gather, work and discover all that Paris has to offer. Let’s take a sneak peek inside…

A guestroom inside M Social

Following the opening of M Social in New York’s Times Square earlier this summer, lifestyle hospitality brand M Social is about to open a new hotel in Paris. M Social Hotel Paris Opera, which will shelter 163 rooms, will become the brand’s debut hotel in Europe when it opens later this month. Located at 12 Boulevard Haussmann, the hotel is in the heart of Opéra making it within walking distance to some of the city’s most famous landmarks including the Louvre, the Sacré-Cœur and the Moulin Rouge. To cater to a new diverse community of travellers, EUR 5.4 million was spent on refurbishing the former Millennium Paris Opera into more contemporary lodgings.

“People are in search of new and exciting experiences. M Social is all about creativity and passion. Combine this with the hotel’s central location and you have a winning formula to satiate travellers’ wanderlust,” said Mr Kwek Leng Beng, Executive Chairman of Millennium & Copthorne Hotels Limited. “With Europe re-opening, this is an opportune time for us to introduce M Social to this key gateway city.”

A hub for explorers, M Social Hotel Paris Opera features spaces that are designed to be accessible, comfortable and practical to guests’ needs with rooms that offer sweeping views overlooking the famous Boulevard Haussmann. The hotel is conveniently located near major shopping, art and cultural attractions of the Paris Opera district. Guests are guaranteed to experience Paris like a true Parisian in the heart of the city of lights escaping the hustle and bustle in timelessly stylish surroundings.

Step back in time to 1920s elegance as soon as you walk through the revolving door into the hotel’s Art Deco foyer, made of marble surfaces, ornate chandeliers and a glass-roofed cupola. StudioCaid, the creative architects behind the newly renovated areas, describes the design concept as an exchange of styles that emphasises the contrast between classic and modern. They have incorporated into the design the artistic styles of the surrounding iconic infrastructures such as the Opera Garnier and the Louvre to create the “Hotel of Today”. Each room holds the history of Les Années Folles (in English “The Roaring Twenties”) and the future of M Social Paris. The newly renovated rooms allow guests to have an authentic Parisian experience within the comforts of today’s modern world. Accommodation choices range from cosy yet spacious Signature rooms that give views into the hotel’s peaceful inner courtyard to Grande Sweetie suites that offer separate living areas and breathtaking views of the Opera Garnier or the Sacré- Cœur.

The M Social brand was launched in Singapore in 2016. Millennium Hotels and Resorts plans to grow the brand in more cities with strong character, to capture diverse stories and build up a vibrant and creative community. M Social Hotel Paris Opera is the fourth location for the brand with other outposts in New York, Singapore and Auckland.

Main image credit: Millenium Hotels and Resorts

Hotel Designs LIVE - Session 2

(In video) Hotel Designs LIVE: Designing the perfect night’s sleep

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
(In video) Hotel Designs LIVE: Designing the perfect night’s sleep

The fifth edition of Hotel Designs LIVE, sponsored by and filmed from Minotti London, invited world renowned designers, architects and hospitality experts to, once again, define the point of hotel design on an global scale while keeping the conversation flowing throughout. The second session of the day, sponsored by Silentnight Group, looked at how to create the perfect nights’ sleep. Grab a coffee and let’s begin…

Hotel Designs LIVE - Session 2

On August 10, designers, architects, hoteliers and developers from around the globe tuned in to watch the latest edition of Hotel Designs LIVE. The event, which first launched in June 2020 to keep the industry connected while keeping the conversation flowing, took place virtually – broadcasted at Minotti London’s Fitzrovia showroom, and included four engaging panel discussions with world-renowned hospitality and design experts on the following topics:

  • A design assault on the senses
  • Designing the perfect nights’ sleep
  • Design, beneath the surface
  • Social spaces in 2021 & beyond

Following an engaging and energetic first session, which looked at sensory design and hospitality, the audience were invited in to find their inner zen as attention switched towards sleep performance. With new innovations and technology taking bold leaps as each day passes, the aim for this session was to explore the science behind getting the best nights’ sleep.

On the panel:

  • Hannah Shore, Sleep Expert, (Session Sponsor)
  • Nathan Hutchins, Founder, Muza Lab
  • Ananth Ramaswamy, Project Architect, The Doyle Collection

To introduce this meaningful session, it was integral for the audience to first understand the role of a sleep expert, which was highlighted in detail in a recent masterclass Hotel Designs hosted with Silentnight Group. “We obviously look into sleep and sleep research,” Shore said. “We also look at sleep personalisation, how sleep is affected in different scenarios – ultimately to establish how the mattress can help us to sleep better.”

One term Shore uses throughout the session is ‘TLC’, which is an acronym for temperature, light and comfort; three areas she and her team look at when monitoring sleep performance.

Also on the panel was Nathan Hutchins, a designer believes the team TLC is about the whole package. “TLC is about making people feeling good,” he said. “It’s about the entire environment of the hotel and the bedroom that we all create, from the bed to the architecture to the design, around leading guests into a sense of security and relaxation as they enter their hotel room.”

Ananth Ramaswamy joined the panel wearing the Doyle Collection hat, which allowed the audience to use the brand as somewhat of a case study. “We design our bedrooms around sleep performance,” he explained. “We have eight hotels [in the collection], and all are sheltered in different architectural buildings. Sleep is a very important touchpoint and everything that surrounds the bed is very considered.”

Here’s the full video of the panel discussion (on demand), which was produced by CUBE:

The full recordings of the first session, A design assault on the senses, is now available to watch on-demand.  The other two sessions (‘Design, beneath the surface and Social spaces in 2021 & beyond) will be available to watch on-demand shortly.

Since you’re here…

More than 40,000 readers per month enjoy the content we publish on Hotel Designs. Our mission is to define the point on international hotel design, and we are doing that by serving relevant news stories and engaging features. To keep up to date on the hottest stories that are emerging, you can sign up to the newsletter, which is completely free of charge. As well as receiving a weekly round-up of the top stories, you will also access our bi-monthly HD Edit –staying ahead of the curve has never been so easy!

Click here to sign up to our newsletter.

Two seats by hotel balcony

IHG launches new luxury & lifestyle brand, Vignette Collection

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
IHG launches new luxury & lifestyle brand, Vignette Collection

Hotel group IHG has  announced Vignette Collection as its new Luxury & Lifestyle brand, with hotels in Australia and Thailand the first to join the collection…

Vignette Collection becomes the sixth addition to IHG’s brand portfolio in the past four years, taking it to 17 in total across nearly 6,000 hotels in more than 100 countries. The Collection further enriches IHG’s fast-growing Luxury & Lifestyle offer for both leisure and business travellers. 

Two seats by hotel balcony

IHG’s Vignette Collection will give owners of world-class independent hotels the opportunity to retain their distinctive identity, while benefitting from our global scale, Luxury & Lifestyle expertise, and powerful IHG Rewards loyalty programme. These exclusive properties in sought-after urban and resort locations will accelerate IHG’s growth and meet an increasing appetite from travellers for ‘one-of-a-kind’ stays. 

Keith Barr, CEO, IHG Hotels & Resorts, commented: “Our new Vignette Collection gives IHG a compelling way to welcome world-class independent hotels into our brand family, combining each property’s distinctive identity with the power of our global scale. As our first hotels in Australia and Thailand both showcase, each property is as unique as the next, and all will be endorsed by IHG’s trusted reputation for quality. 

“We’ve been strategic with the enhancements we’ve made to our luxury and lifestyle portfolio in recent years, which at more than 400 hotels and 100,000 rooms is the second largest in the industry. We’ve built on the heritage and global success of our InterContinental brand, with the rapid international expansion of Kimpton and Hotel Indigo, and acquisitions of Six Senses and Regent. We expect to attract more than 100 Vignette Collection hotels in 10 years, and the brand will be key to delivering our ambition of industry-leading net rooms growth.”

Among the first hotels to join IHG’s Vignette Collection will be Hotel X, a 5-star hotel, dining and lifestyle destination in the centre of Brisbane’s Fortitude Valley, Australia. Hotel X’s distinctive design and luxurious facilities celebrate this iconic Brisbane neighbourhood through ultra-cool art, Avant Garde lighting and exceptional views of the cityscape

Thailand’s vibrant Pattaya Aquatique hotel will also be one of the first hotels to join the Vignette Collection. Working in collaboration with Thailand’s leading integrated lifestyle real estate group, Asset World Corporation Public Company Limited (AWC), the hotel is based in Pattaya’s Aquatique district, the city’s first iconic lifestyle destination. 

“AWC feels honoured to be the first partner in Asia and one of the first globally to launch a hotel under IHG Hotels & Resorts’ new Vignette Collection,” added Mrs Wallapa Traisorat, CEO and President, AWC. “With the backing of IHG’s global systems and support, we are confident that our unique hotel, located in the vibrant and lively beachfront destination of Pattaya, The Aquatique, will appeal to all travellers seeking inspirational and exceptional experiences.”

Whether it’s a city haven, sun-kissed resort, or beyond, IHG’s Vignette Collection will provide one-of-a-kind stays, with each hotel serving up a distinct service style and character.

Owners of independent hotels and small chains are increasingly attracted to the opportunity to benefit from the scale, expertise and investment of a global hotel brand leader, such as IHG. Those joining IHG’s Vignette Collection will gain rapid access to world class revenue delivery and guest reservation systems, Luxury & Lifestyle expertise, our powerful IHG Rewards loyalty programme, and procurement savings. All of this will come without high upfront costs and each hotel will retain its distinctive identity.

Alongside the significant owner benefits, Vignette Collection will meet the needs of travellers seeking exciting independent stay experiences, and provide a greater choice of outstanding destinations to earn and burn loyalty points. Nowhere is this more sought after than in Luxury & Lifestyle, where the desire for distinct experiences and unique service is permanent.

Seamless conversions of high-quality, unique independent luxury and lifestyle hotels and small portfolios will further fast-track IHG’s growth in a market worth more than $100 billion, and where more than 1.5 million rooms globally are currently independent. Over the next 10 years, IHG expects Vignette Collection to attract more than 100 properties globally.

Main image credit: IHG

Render of suite overlooking city skyline inside W Philadelphia

Now open: W Philadelphia – a racy love letter to the ‘City of Brotherly Love’

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
Now open: W Philadelphia – a racy love letter to the ‘City of Brotherly Love’

The highly anticipated wait for the arrival of W Hotels in the Philadelphia is over. The metropolis affectionately known as the ‘City of Brotherly Love’ has welcomed the opening of W Philadelphia to its glowing skyline…

Located in the heart of downtown, W Philadelphia is housed with a 51-storey skyscraper, and its arrival is already being described as a celebration of the city’s street art, musical legacy and historic embrace of originality – as seen through the provocative lens of the W brand. 

Render of suite overlooking city skyline inside W Philadelphia

W Philadelphia is the first W-branded hotel to open in North America since W Aspen in 2019, and follows the unveiling of W Osaka, which, earlier this year, marked the brand’s arrival in Japan.

“Philadelphia is the quintessential city for a W hotel – rebellious, unexpected and original.” – Tom Jarrold, Global Brand Leader, W Hotels Worldwide.

Embracing the same drive, grit and irreverence that sparked our nation’s revolution, the new hotel liberates the city’s traditional rules of luxury through its design as well as a lineup of local creative partners who authenticate and elevate every stay. 

Render of lobby/lounge at W Philadelphia

Image credit: W Hotels

“Philadelphia is the quintessential city for a W hotel – rebellious, unexpected and original,” said Tom Jarrold, Global Brand Leader, W Hotels Worldwide. “Its diverse neighbourhoods and rich history attract travellers from around the country and the world and we are excited to put our unique stamp on its luxury hotel scene.”

From The Sound of Philadelphia and the city’s legendary 1970s nightlife scene to its famed urban grid richly juxtaposed with vibrant green spaces, the design of W Philadelphia is as rich and diverse as the city itself. Punctuated throughout the hotel is an extensive artwork collection, much of it exclusively commissioned by the hotel using the talent of local artists. From abstract murals celebrating urban gardens to oil and digital print portraits of the city’s most famous musicians of the past and present, the art of W Philadelphia is as thoughtful as it is thought-provoking. 

W Philadelphia features 295 guestrooms including 39 suites, which feature floor-to-ceiling windows and breathtaking, panoramic city views. Nods to traditional Pennsylvania craftsmanship can be seen in entry way and bathroom tile patterns as well as Shaker-style chairs at each workspace. Illuminated in the guestrooms are the words of the Declaration of Independence, etched in graffiti font on a custom light fixture. The signature W Bed is made with a bespoke bedspread print – “Philly Toile” – featuring both modern and historical city icons. A throw pillow features the iconic Robert Indiana LOVE statue on one side and, for a playful twist, the word LUST on the opposite side. 

Guestroom over looking the city of Philadelphia


The hotel’s six suite categories feature oversized soaking tubs and ornate details including Danby marble and Chesterfield-style furnishings, as well as the only private guest balconies of any luxury hotel in the city. Local artwork imagined under the theme of “Collective Independence” is displayed in salon groupings inspired by the impressionist and modern art collections housed at the nearby Barnes Foundation. The WOW and Extreme WOW Suites push the unexpected even further with custom foosball and billiard tables as well as in-room DJ booths.

Wow Suite at W Philadelphia

Render credit: W Hotels

Equally important to the design of a W is each hotel’s sonic identity. Shaping the sounds of W Philadelphia’s music activations is Joshua Lang, a multi-faceted artist with a background in design and music. In addition to spinning regular sets on property as resident DJ, Lang will book DJ talent with his distinct approach to curating the sound and vibe specific to the hotel’s social outlets: think soulful and loungey in the Living Room with funk and soul and high-energy and vibrant house and global dance music on the WET Deck. 

The hotel features an eclectic selection of spaces for guests and locals to socialise as they unwind and indulge. First is the Living Room, with design inspired by the historic sunken gardens of Fairmount Park. By day, coffee from local artisan roaster Rival Bros. will be served in custom ceramics from Philadelphia-based houseware and design studio, Centerpeak, and, by night, craft cocktails curated by famed local mixologist Resa Mueller will flow. The focal point of the Living Room is a wall of hand-painted, custom ceramic skulls which draw inspiration from the Hyrtl Skull Collection at the nearby Mutter Museum and feature references to hip-hop, fashion and garden icons. 

Tucked away behind the skulls and a two-way mirror, guests will find “Stevens’ Prophecy,” a salon adorned with artwork celebrating Hollywood and Philadelphia royalty, Grace Kelly. The name is a reference to the story of Grace Kelly’s high school yearbook superlative in which it was predicted she would become “a famous star of stage and screen.” The salon will soon feature its own specialty menu including small-batch as well as limited-run spirits.  

On the 7th floor, the WET Deck features a heated, year-round pool with intricate, green and blue custom tile work inspired by French parterre pattern, while the WET Deck Bar is adorned with a large-scale, pixelated floral motif from floor to ceiling. All WET Deck Talent will wear custom uniforms from Philadelphia’s own Grant BLVD, a Black-owned sustainable fashion brand that upcycles vintage clothing.  Around the corner, guests will discover a lush green space known as the Secret Garden, where Illuminated busts of Benjamin Franklin and Marie Antoinette are tucked amongst the greenery for a modern twist on traditional garden design. The urban retreat will play host to local pop-ups and host live music performances where guests and locals can discover up-and-coming talent of the musically-driven city. 

Located on the same floor, the AWAY Spa embraces socialisation with a lounge, beauty bar and DJ set-up for private events. AWAY features five treatment rooms inspired by the colour palette and joie de vivre of Sofia Coppola’s Marie Antoinette as well as two large-scale wallpaper prints of Marilyn Minter’s provocative take on beauty and pleasure – Kicksilver and Goldkicker. 

In addition to all of this, the hotel also has more than 45,000 square feet of event space inspired by the brand’s long-standing passion for music. It begins with pre-function space connected by a monumental grand staircase with a dramatic floating chandelier made of 10,000 gold coins as a nod to Philadelphia’s banking history. Alcove seating under the stairs shares space with a locally-produced skull sculpture, another reference to the famed Hyrtl Skull Collection and a signature iconography of rock n’ roll. Each of the 37 meeting rooms flow with natural light and high-design lighting concepts that create the feeling of private recording studios. Lastly, the sun-drenched-by-day Great Room features floor-to-ceiling windows, abstract floral carpeting as well as circular lighting fixtures and shimmering wall finishes that resemble the night sky during evening events. 

Main image credit: W Hotels

Hotel designs LIVE senses

(In video) Hotel Designs LIVE: A design assault on the senses

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
(In video) Hotel Designs LIVE: A design assault on the senses

Watch, on-demand, our exclusive panel discussion that was broadcasted recently on the Hotel Designs LIVE platform. To launch the virtual event, which took place on August 10 at the Minotti London showroom, editor Hamish Kilburn welcomed world-renowned designers and hospitality experts to explore sensory design in hospitality (scroll down for full video)…

Hotel designs LIVE senses

On August 10, designers, architects, hoteliers and developers from around the globe tuned in to watch the latest edition of Hotel Designs LIVE. The event, which first launched in June 2020 to keep the industry connected while keeping the conversation flowing, took place virtually – broadcasted at Minotti London’s Fitzrovia showroom, and included four engaging panel discussions with world-renowned hospitality and design experts on the following topics:

  • A design assault on the senses
  • Designing the perfect nights’ sleep
  • Design, beneath the surface
  • Social spaces in 2021 & beyond

During the editor’s welcome, editor Hamish Kilburn was joined with Anke Summerhill, Managing Director of Minotti London which was the event’s headline sponsor. The pair discussed what’s new in the Minotti 2021 Collection as well as exploring how recent cultural shifts will impact the social nature of hospitality while the panel for the first session of the day were preparing to go live in the virtual wings.

The first session of the day, sponsored by bathroom brand GROHE, was inspired by a previous session that was broadcasted on the Hotel Designs LIVE platform, which looked at sound in design. Taking what he learned during that hour-long conversation with designers and architects, Kilburn was keen widen his perspective to discuss all of the senses in hotel design and hospitality. “Following that insightful session on sound’s role in hotel design and after reading a mountain of press releases recently that all reference sound, touch and even smell to evoke a deeper meaning of wellness and wellbeing, it feels fitting to position the editorial spotlight on the sensory experience for our next event,” Kilburn said when introducing the subject. “It also comes as the industry, albeit slowly, is starting to reopen and reconnect.”

On the panel:

  • Damian Saint, Music Director – W Hotels Asia Pacific
  • Robbie Bargh, Founder, Gorgeous Group
  • Diana Espejo, Director of Technical Services (EMEA), Six Senses Hotels Resorts Spas
  • Justin Wells, CEO, Wells International

The conversation began with Kilburn asking the panel why only now we as an industry were starting to look at the benefits of sensory design in hospitality experiences. “I might challenge that, becasue I think in design, we have always been striving to extend the positive outcome for the end user,” explained Justin Wells, CEO, Wells International. “Take the retail sector, for example, which has been exploring sensory design for many years. Currently, today, there is a heightened awareness around reconnecting and with a higher demand for wellness and wellbeing it has perhaps amplified our appetite for understanding technology. As a designer and architect, I have always researched how we can create a better, more holistic approach – and sensory design is most certainly a way to achieve this.”

To understand how a brand like Six Senses Hotels Resorts Spas was utilising the technology around sensory design – and how the brand plans to inject their luxury wellness and wellbeing hospitality experience in an urban environment, Diana Espeja, Director of Technical Services (EMEA) for the brand explained: “The Six Senses brand is growing and the challenge was face is how we translate our core values into different environments. The beauty of this is that our pillars of wellness and sustainability are really universally applicable – so we are constantly challenging our consultants to think outside the box on how we can achieve this. We do use the sensory experience not only in our design, but we also like to create really unique moments for guests who are checking in. In Ibiza, for example, the energy was amazing – and we really wanted to inject this into the design and the hospitality. We are constantly evolving and there is not a formula that works across all of these destinations – you have to research the area.”

Moving the conversation on, Kilburn then engaged with Robbie Bargh, a F&B experience consultant and the founder of Gorgeous Group, to better understand how sensory design can be utilised effectively in F&B spaces. “Telling stories is a fully immersive experience and to do this you have to use all of the senses,” he said. “Everyone gets obsessed by the way something looks, but actually when you get into it, the sound, smell and touch are all equally important to consider. And now, this is even more important.”

Here’s the full video of the panel discussion (on demand), produced by CUBE, which includes Product Watch pitches from GROHE, Benholm Group, Utopia Projects and Franklite.

The full recordings of the other three sessions (‘Designing the perfect nights’ sleep; Design, beneath the surface and Social spaces in 2021 & beyond) will be available to watch on-demand shortly.

Since you’re here…

More than 40,000 readers per month enjoy the content we publish on Hotel Designs. Our mission is to define the point on international hotel design, and we are doing that by serving relevant news stories and engaging features. To keep up to date on the hottest stories that are emerging, you can sign up to the newsletter, which is completely free of charge. As well as receiving a weekly round-up of the top stories, you will also access our bi-monthly HD Edit –staying ahead of the curve has never been so easy!

Click here to sign up to our newsletter.

A reminder of the sponsors

Headline Sponsor: Minotti London

Pool at Four Seasons Lodge

Hotel concepts: 3 hotel pools that will blow your mind

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
Hotel concepts: 3 hotel pools that will blow your mind

Editor Hamish Kilburn continues to enjoy this month’s spotlight on ‘hotel concepts’ by sharing three hotel pools that he discovered recently…

Many would argue that the sign of a quality hotel can be measured by the quality of its pool – we’re talking more style over size.

Pool at Four Seasons Lodge

With my wellness hat on – in sync, I hasten to add, with modern traveller demands as we start to emerge from the pandemic with a hunger for wellbeing – I have been on a quest to find unconventional design pools – and here’s what I found.

Villa Vedas at The Luxe Nomad

It’s not strictly a hotel (forgive me) but Villa Vedas, which is exclusively managed by The Luxe Nomad, is a prime example of a property that decided to tear up the rulebook when designing its interiors. Villa Vedas is designed and engineered to feature a breathtaking 22-metre span without any supporting columns in order to provide an unobstructed view right through the property and out to sea. The villa itself represents approximately 1,800 square metres of construction, and is a modern architecturally designed home that is unique and unequalled, with many interesting design features, most of which have been meticulously fabricated on site. The property features a large living area, dining areas, a bar, a media or snooker room, and two bedrooms downstairs, and three bedrooms upstairs. The living area can be opened to benefit from the regular breeze off the ocean, or alternatively enclosed and air conditioned by deploying the Häfele glass sliding wall system, and turning on the Daikin VRV central air-conditioning system.

“I am the Robin Hood of building. Not only do I clean Indonesia and help solve the worlds plastic problem, I feed the poor doing it.” – Designer Stuart Bevan.

But that’s not all. The designer behind this wonderful project, Stuart Bevan, has recently taken a turn towards a sustainable future with an innovative approach to pool design and management. “I was also the builder and the local designer in collaboration with an Australian architect for Mrs Sippy Bali, Bali’s premier pool club that featured Bali’s biggest saltwater pool, Bali’s first and only high dive tower with 4m deep pool and the first pool in the world to to use my new newly developed 100 per cent recycled plastic pool finish. EcoLuxe is a beadcrete made from recycled water bottles. The average pool uses 150,000 water bottles. That’s 150,000 bottles off the beach, out of the rivers and landfill. I take plastic out of the system, not just recycle it. I swap rice with local villages, kilo for kilo to collect waste plastic for my product. It is taking Bali by storm! And  I am about to start international export. Indonesia only recycles two per cent of its plastic. I have an unlimited supply of raw material, only it needs to be hand collected. Hence my rice swap program. I am the Robin Hood of building. Not only do I clean Indonesia and help solve the worlds plastic problem, I feed the poor doing it.”

The Spa at 45 Park Lane

It’s impressive all on its own that 45 Park Lane, a luxury hotel that was once mistaken for sitting in The Dorchester’s illustrious shadow, has recently unveiled a new spa that now shelters the longest pool on Park Lane – the real estate alone in that leafy corner of London usually mean that spa facilities are limited in place for large revenue-generating F&B outlets. But against the odds, 45 Park Lane, which is part of The Dorchester Collection, can now boast itself as a place that nurtures both wellness and wellbeing in style. What makes this project even more extraordinary is the fact that the new spa is located underground, which created a challenge for designer  Jouin Manku and developer Clivedale London. The answer on how to bring the outdoors in was to adorn the walls with hand-placed mosaic tiles to inject a sensitive nod to biophilic design. The result is an enchanting space that feels far removed from the hustle and bustle of London.

Four Seasons Safari Lodge

It’s all in the location for our next property, which is strategically situated next to a watering hold in the Serengeti, Africa. Perched on a series of elevated platforms and walkways, the Lodge allows guests an unparalleled view of the local safari wildlife from the comfort of the pool.

Main image credit: Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts

Lobby inside Riad Elegancia

Riad Elegancia, Marrakech – a traditional yet contemporary hotel

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
Riad Elegancia, Marrakech – a traditional yet contemporary hotel

Riad Elegancia in Marrakech is the latest addition to the Cenizaro Hotels & Resorts group – the 10th hotel to open in the portfolio – and sister property to La Maison Arabe in Marrakech, Morocco’s first boutique riad hotel which opened in 1998…

Lobby inside Riad Elegancia

Behind Marrakech’s towering pink walls, hidden in one of the Medina’s unsuspecting alleys close to the Bab Doukkala mosque and vibrant Jemaa el-Fna square, you will find Riad Elegancia. Following a major refurbishment in 2020, this charming 11-key truly boutique property offers one of the most authentic riad experiences in the city, whilst providing all the modern luxury touches of a five-star, boutique hotel. 

Set over three levels and built around two patios, the building remains loyal to its Arab-Andalusian architectural roots. The riad’s interiors pay homage to true Moroccan craftsmanship, with traditional features running throughout the property including a magnificent chandelier hanging in the atrium. 

Tiled lobby inside Riad Elegancia

Image credit: Riad Elegancia

Each one of the 11 en-suite rooms features a hand-carved or painted cedarwood ceiling, with nickel silver and chiselled copper features, smooth and shiny tadelakt (plaster), and colourful zelliges (Moroccan tiles) in geometric patterns.

Painted with Morocco’s distinctive colour palette of Majorelle blue, yellow, pink and green, Riad Elegancia’s rooftop is a destination in itself. Up here you’ll find a sophisticated space to relax and soak up the panoramic views of the ancient Medina. 

Pool at Riad Elegancia

Image credit: Riad Elegancia

The rooftop pool is heated during winter months for guests’ comfort. There’s also a sundeck, a Jacuzzi and a restaurant and bar area, both great spots from which to enjoy the city’s unrivalled sunsets over a cocktail and home-cooked food. 

Dining at Riad Elegancia is an important part of the guest experience, with breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea and dinner served throughout the day. Meals are prepared by the riad’s resident female “Tabakha” (Moroccan chef) who combines Moroccan-inspired flavours with a hint of Mediterranean influences. Cooking classes are also available to guests wishing to bring a taste of the exotic back home.

Head down to the basement level to find the riad’s beautiful “Espace Raha” Oriental Hamman & Spa, a peaceful sanctuary dedicated to beauty and wellbeing, and a welcome respite from the hustle and bustle of the city.

The spa inside Riad Elegancia

Image credit: Riad Elegancia

Features include a traditional Moroccan hammam made from marble, one of the few riads in the city to offer this experience on site, plus two treatment rooms including one for couples, where therapists use natural, locally-sourced products. There’s also a relaxation area, a fitness room with the latest cardio and weight training equipment, and mats for rooftop Yoga.

Despite the hotel being designed to reflect the traditional architecture and interiors that are typically found and celebrated in the city, the hotel is equipped for tomorrow’s on-demand modern traveller. High-speed Wi-Fi, air-conditioning and underfloor heating, for example, are additional and convenient touches designed to enhance the guest experience at Riad Elegancia, making this a great home away from home whatever the season or reason for travel.

Riad Elegancia’s 24-hour concierge service delivers the same exceptional standards that guests can expect from all Cenizaro Hotels & Resorts and The Residence by Cenizaro properties across the world. From arranging airport transfers and Covid-19 PCR tests, to coordinating desert excursions and hot air balloon rides, the team is dedicated to making your stay in Marrakech as comfortable and hassle-free as possible.

Guests of Riad Elegancia are also welcome to use the facilities at La Maison Arabe, only a short walk away, including access to the hotel’s exclusive country club and pool, set amongst olive groves just outside the city in the Palmeraie suburb.

Main image credit: Cenizaro Hotels & Resorts

SVART in Norway - hotel concepts

Hotel concepts: Wild & wonderful hotel developments

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
Hotel concepts: Wild & wonderful hotel developments

To celebrate this month’s feature of ‘hotel concepts’, editor Hamish Kilburn puts some interesting hotel developments under the spotlight – some more realistic than others – that are currently on his radar…

As with any brief to source new and truly innovative ideas, to find hotel concepts that were really going against the tide I needed to look outside what I already knew leading designers, architects and hospitality experts were currently working on.

SVART in Norway - hotel concepts

Recently, I was lucky enough to sit on the judging panel for the Accor Design Awards, an initiative that was launched by the hotel group in order to celebrate and champion young student designers globally. In doing so, the panel of judges were able to see, from the unmatched perspective of bold, fearless young designers who have not yet made a name for themselves, an unedited landscape of ideas that naturally challenged the conventional approach to design, architecture and hospitality. From hovering hotels to floating vessels, each idea was supported by solutions for the industry moving forward.

Inspired by this year’s shortlist of finalists, I made it my mission to see what other hotel concepts are out there. From space hotels, to floating suites and a plethora of sustainable architecture concepts that will take hospitality into a new era, here’s what I found…

NOMADish – a conscious floating hotel

Our first hotel concept to look at in this feature was born out of that awards – and won not only the judges over but also the public. Manon Figuier, Victoire Datchary, Mathéo Maurel, Harold Loquillard from L’Ecole de Design Nantes Atlantique, whose project NOMADish provided an innovative solution that hit the three key goals: overall guest experience, element of surprise and delight, and consideration for social, economic, and environmental responsibility, won the first prize. They also won the Public Choice Award, voted for by the general public via our bespoke online award voting platform.

The concept drawn up by the team of students allowed guests to shelter themselves in their own floating pod, that would allow them also to explore the city and never wake up to the same view twice. In addition to showcasing a new hospitality experience, the team also confronted sustainability by utilsing the power of hydrogen to fuel this approach.

Tetra Hotel

Tetra Hotel

Image credit: Tetra Hotel

No, the aliens have not landed (not yet anyway). Tetra Hotel is a concept drawn up by David Ajasa-Adekunle who has reimagined the ‘pod’ hotel in such an innovative way. His idea to build Tetra Hotel combined the use of symmetrical rows of rhombus-like geometric ‘pods’ that sit lining the banks of a glacial river in Iceland. According to other reports, every room will feature a multi-storey configuration, starting with a work area on the ground floor, moving through an entertaining space on the middle, and finally a top-floor bedroom and shower situated beneath an enormous skylight.

SVART – the world’s first ‘energy-positive’ hotel 

Image credit: Snøhetta/Plompmozes/Miris

The 99-key Svart hotel, which we believe is still on track for opening in 2022, will incorporate stilted, circular design, and will be positioned atop of the Holandsfjorden Fjord, allowing guests to enjoying an unparalleled 360-degree view of the Svartisen Glacier. We have been privileged to follow this concept from very early development, to when it announced its interior design team – and more recently by inviting the team to speak on the Hotel Designs LIVE platform.

To reach hefty sustainability goals, several cutting-edge design choices have been made. Architects working on the project first conducted an extensive mapping-out of how solar radiation behaves in relation to mountainous context throughout the year, in order to optimise energy output. The findings influenced the design of the hotel, with hotel rooms, restaurants and terraces strategically placed within a circular design to exploit the sun’s energy no matter the time of day or season.

The hotel’s roof will be clad with Norwegian solar panels that were produced using clean, hydro-energy. This will further reduce overall carbon footprint, while energy-intensive building materials such as structural steel and concrete have been avoided as much as possible.

The space hotel – will it happen?

The Axiom space station hotel - interior design

Image credit: Philippe Starck

The space race is on, it seems. Following numerous rumours and ignored press releases, there seems to be a buzz in the air that space travel – and dare I say it hospitality – is not a question of ‘will it happen’ but more ‘when will it happen’. Sir Richard Branson recently flew to the edge of space on aboard a rocket-powered plane, 22 years after he created the Virgin Galactic brand that aims to fuel a brand-new tourism industry. Aside from moral questions regarding sustainability and whether or not there is a ‘need’ for space travel, it has undoubtedly floated the idea of space hotels on our radars.

While the headlines were publishing Branson’s achievements, 250 miles above the earth in the wilderness of space, with cabins designed by the world-renowned Philippe Starck, the idea of Axiom space station, which is the brainchild of former NASA chiefs, is coming together and has a ‘launch date of 2024. Costing a reported $2 million, the Axiom station is intended to become the first ever free-flying, globally available private space station, which is planning to launch in 2024. Although its manufacturing requires space engineers, the interiors have been handed over to French industrial architect and hotel design legend Philippe Starck who will have the honour of designing the cabins inside – think “nest-like comfort” – that will frame panoramic views of our home planet below.

GAIA hospitality concept

Render of floating hotel in Dubai

Image credit: AMA Design

With the aim to design a hotel resort that offers guests an unparalleled at-one-with-nature experience, AMA Design has developed a hospitality concept called GAIA, a floating eco hotel that pushes boundaries to re-connect people with nature. The concept has been designed to fit into its context. Respecting its natural environment in a light and positive way whilst considering sustainable design and circular economy principles, the hotel fits into an emerging contemporary ‘Eco-Gothic’ style. Built from pre-fabricated lightweight composites from boat technology, finishes will be all natural such as bamboo and timber so that visitors are immersed in a natural environment framed with the sky and sea.

Al fresco guestrooms

a room in the middle of nowhere

Image credit: Zero Real Estate/Appenzellerland

We’re not over this trend, which we first highlighted this time last year following us identifying an undeniable demand for one-off travel experiences that allow travellers to be ‘at one’ with nature. Well, you can’t get more connected to the elements than this. New hotel concepts continue to emerge showing completely open-air rooms in the middle of nowhere. One of the developers that is leading the way is the aptly named Zero Real Estate. The theory behind the layout, with the bed being perched on a wooden platform, is that the natural landscape becomes the backdrop. Removing surfaces altogether to eliminate boundaries is a drastic strategy in the post-pandemic world, which will not work for everyone, but it certainly works to deepen one-off experiences for luxury modern travellers.

Main image credit: SVART

Exterior render of Tribe Budapest

Accor signs first TRIBE hotel in Hungary

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
Accor signs first TRIBE hotel in Hungary

Hotel group Accor has announced the signing of the first TRIBE hotel in Hungary in partnership with Futureal, a leading real estate developer in CEE. The 250-key TRIBE hotel will open in Budapest, Hungary, at the end of 2023. The project is being described as a “major milestone” in Futureal’s operation as part of its new business line focusing on hotel developments…

Exterior render of Tribe Budapest

Accor is stepping up its ambition in the lifestyle market with the expansion of the TRIBE hotel brand in Europe. The Group has established a partnership with Futureal for the first TRIBE hotel not only in Hungary, but also in Eastern Europe. The new property will be located in the vibrant city centre in Kertész Street, one of the capital’s most frequented tourist areas. The construction work of the complex is expected to start at the end of 2021 with opening forecast for 2023.

“TRIBE is an alternative lifestyle hospitality brand with modern, unique and urban spaces designed in collaboration with local designer,” said Frank Reul, Vice President Development, Accor Northern Europe. “The TRIBE brand aims to surprise travellers with an original, exciting and carefully curated experience that focuses on style rather than price, making it a leader in the design-led affordable luxury lifestyle sector. The vibrant capital of Hungary, and the 7th district, is perfect destination for this sophisticated and contemporary brand, and is sure to win the hearts of guest and locals.”

The first TRIBE in Hungary will offer more than 250 rooms and spaces designed by the Puhl and Dajka Architects Studio to provide inspiring state-of-the-art technology and comfort. Guests and locals will benefit from a vibrant community experience including a sky bar with spectacular view and intimate atmosphere, bicycle rental, a fitness centre and a co-working office. Distinguished international design studios have contributed to the Hungarian hotel’s unique concept including DeSallesFlint Interior Design, as well as Nina Weinstein Lighting Design and Hilla Mayer Lighting Design. The investor of the hotel is Futureal Group, one of the leading real estate developers and investors in Central and Eastern Europe.

TRIBE is Futureal’s first hotel development, further expanding the company’s diverse portfolio. Building on its vast domestic and international real estate development experience, Futureal is going to enrich the centre of Budapest with a high-quality, unique and competitive hotel.

“Futureal is about to open a new chapter in its successful real estate operation of almost two decades as we are entering the hotel sector,” added Tibor Tatár, CEO of Futureal. “As a result of careful preparation, deep market research and planning, our latest business line can start with a remarkable project in Hungary. We believe that we have found the right partner in Accor to introduce an exciting brand to the local market, and to create a solid, long-term cooperation for realising further developments.”

The hotel is expected to welcome its first guests in 2023.

Main image credit: Accor

Weekly digest: Exclusive meet, Sin city design & an L.A. debut

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
Weekly digest: Exclusive meet, Sin city design & an L.A. debut

Hello and welcome to the weekly digest, with me editor Hamish Kilburn at the helm. In this round-up of stories from the last few days, we enter inside Virgin Hotels’ latest property in Las Vegas, take a deeper look at designer Tara Bernerd’s latest unveil and even find time (and the space) to introduce you to a brand-new architecture studio. Enjoy…

Can you believe it, I am writing this week’s digest while balancing my laptop on top of a vessel while punting – and why not? In order to feel truly creative, I need to get outside my comfort zones – and my pyjamas past 07:00 now that life is getting back on track – in order to experience new things. This week, that means I’m rolling up my sleeves in between reviewing a new hotel in Cambridge in order to ‘punt’ my way through a city tour (and this round-up).

So, without further a due, allow me to show to you the main sights of Hotel Designs this week.

FEATURE // Inside Virgin Hotels, Las Vegas

Image caption: The bar inside the Commons Club. | Image credit: Nikolas Koenig

And like all good experiences, we start our tour in Vegas (yee haar). Sin City has a new neighbour, and it comes in the form of a red-laced, rather swanky looking hotel. Leading New York-based hospitality design studio Rockwell Group has unveiled new images of its designs of the public areas inside Virgin Hotels’ new property in Las Vegas – and it’s everything and more we were expecting it to be…

Read more.

Bed trends: A post-pandemic insight into future guestrooms

Port Lympne Hotel & Reserve

Nap time! To celebrate our ‘beds’ feature for August, we ask Richard Naylor, Group Sustainable Development Director at Hypnos Contract Beds, to share his expertise on design and materials trends and offers insights into how hotel design could adapt as we begin to welcome guests back…

Read more. 

EXCLUSIVE: Meet the founders of Translation Architecture

Nicholas De Klerk (a former Director at Aukett Swanke) and Sze Wei Lee (a former Associate at Aukett Swanke) have teamed up to launch a new design and architecture studio. Based in London, Translation Architecture is on a mission to translate innovate ideas into extraordinary spaces on tomorrow’s hospitality scene. Hotel Designs exclusively speaks to the two founders to establish more…

Read more. 

A Tara Bernerd project: Thompson Hollywood makes its debut in Los Angeles

Image credit: Hyatt Hotels

Our tour leads us to Hollywood! The 190-key Thompson Hollywood, in the heart of Los Angeles, expands the brand’s west coast footprint. With interior design by British studio, Tara Bernerd & Partners, the hotel’s effortless style is something special. Let’s take a peek inside…

Read more.

It’s ‘show time’: Ruby Hotels arrives in Cologne, Germany

Image credit: Ruby Hotels

This week’s journey ends in style in Cologne. Ruby Hotels, which shelters the well-known ‘lean luxury’ hospitality concept, has opened a 186-key hotel in the city.“Ruby goes Late-Night” is now the motto at Ruby Ella – and becomes the brand’s 11th hotel property…

And that’s enough fun for one week – before my laptop falls into the River Cam…

Since you’re here…

More than 40,000 readers per month enjoy the content we publish on Hotel Designs. Our mission is to define the point on international hotel design, and we are doing that by serving relevant news stories and engaging features. To keep up to date on the hottest stories that are emerging, you can sign up to the newsletter, which is completely free of charge. As well as receiving a weekly round-up of the top stories, you will also access our bi-monthly HD Edit –staying ahead of the curve has never been so easy!

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Virgin Hotels - collage of Las Vegas property

In pictures: Inside Virgin Hotels, Las Vegas

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
In pictures: Inside Virgin Hotels, Las Vegas

Leading New York-based hospitality design studio Rockwell Group has unveiled new images of its designs of the public areas inside Virgin Hotels’ new property in Las Vegas – and it’s everything and more we were expecting it to be…

Virgin Hotels - collage of Las Vegas property

Leading New York based interdisciplinary architecture and design firm Rockwell Group, which recently completed the design scheme inside Moxy South Beachhas unveiled its design of the interiors of Virgin Hotel’s debut property in Las Vegas, which is a re-conceptualised and revitalised property in the former Hard Rock Hotel.

The design studio’s authentic ability to push boundaries to disrupt and challenge conventional hospitality and design in a meaningful way is probably the reason why it has been developing Virgin’s signature playful spirit since 2015, when the firm designed Richard Branson’s first Virgin Hotel in Chicago in 2015.

Naturally, therefore, Rockwell Group was appointed to design the ‘Virgin Spaces’ that surround the main casino, including a new porte cochère and entry experience – The Junction – as well as a check-in area for guests, the Commons Club and the Commons Club Restaurant and the Shag Room. The studio also designed two additional bars within the main casino and transformed the lobbies throughout the hotel. 

Image caption: Check-in lobby inside Virgin Las Vegas. | Image credit: Nikolas Koenig

Image caption: Check-in lobby inside Virgin Las Vegas. | Image credit: Nikolas Koenig

The hotel, which first entered our radar earlier this year, is situated a few miles away from the iconic Strip, and Rockwell Group chose to accentuate this separation by creating a luxury destination that taps into the wider context of the desert landscape with pure forms and sculptural moments. The public spaces within the hotel reference desert modernism and, wherever possible, blur the lines between indoors and out, with glazing and an outdoor terrace.

With limited creative inspiration in a city that was effectively built in the wilderness (a strong part of its allure, of course), the design team envisioned taking guests on an adventure along a desert highway, spotted with natural wonders and follies – a clear homage to the city of Las Vegas and its surrounding desert landscape. The neutral, natural material palette includes flagstone flooring and rammed earth walls with pops of Virgin’s signature red, agate stones, and greenery. The result is an inclusive series of lounge and dining spaces that invite guests to linger and explore.

A new entrance welcomes guests with monumental, rammed earth walls, a cactus garden planted in a dune-like setting, and a striking geometric breezeblock wall. The dramatic centerpiece of the porte-cochère is an angular canopy clad in reflective gold metal, while red tiles frame the entry portal, signifying the Virgin brand and contrasting with the neutral rammed earth that surrounds it.

The Junction – the main lobby, gathering, and lounge space – announces Virgin Las Vegas’s departure from the Vegas norm and helps guests orientate themselves. A plywood, coffered, hung ceiling undulates throughout the space creating an impressive sculptural setting with light wells that glow at night. 

Alongside the Junction, the design team have designed a more private space – the Harmony Lobby, which houses a VIP check-in and a bar. A long communal library table in front of a fluted wooden screen features a record player and earphones, inviting guests to linger, surrounded by a central mirror-clad ceiling cove that unites all the spaces and features acrylic chandeliers that seem to float above.

Image caption: The bar inside the Commons Club. | Image credit: Nikolas Koenig

Image caption: The bar inside the Commons Club. | Image credit: Nikolas Koenig

Extending from the lobby, the Commons Club features a bar surrounded by a casual dining area that spills out onto an expansive terrace. The circular bar sits under a sculptural dome that terminates in a 20-foot diameter skylight with a diffused pattern. The bar die is composed of crushed, coloured glass inspired by rammed earth, while the back bar features a circular, sculptural tower composed of angular, mirrored panels that surround a glowing crystal centre inspired by cracked earth. Curved metal screens embellished with agates surround the back bar and create a sense of intimacy.

Sitting next to the Commons Club, its namesake restaurant features central banquette seating framed in light-coloured wood that sits under a recessed cork ceiling and pendant lights. Dining tables are made of an unexpected wood chip terrazzo and the seating niches at the perimeter of the restaurant feature art and breezeblock detailing. 

Image caption: The Shag Room. | Image caption: The bar inside the Commons Club. | Image credit: Nikolas Koenig

The Shag Room, a casual yet sumptuous bar and lounge is accessed through a speakeasy photobooth entrance and features plush soft seating and banquettes in shades of purple and red upholstery with shag carpet surrounding a conversation pit. Swooping Persian carpets hang from the ceiling, and the main bar is hidden behind dramatic drapery. 

Elsewhere in the hotel, the team at Rockwell Group have made interventions to the floor and ceiling landscapes in the casino area, with a red carpet design that mimics curving tracks in the sand dunes and ensures design continuity throughout the hotel and the casino.  

Meanwhile, the guestrooms and suites were designed by Los Angeles-based Studio Collective, which has previously completed projects inside Hotel June, Hotel Figueroa and The Landsby Inn.

The rooms inside Virgin Las Vegas are spread over three distinctive towers – Opal, Canyon and the all-suite Ruby Tower. These spaces manage to balance the vibrancy of Las Vegas yet remain calm and inviting for guests checking in.

Main image credit: Nikolas Koenig

Industry insight: Sound solutions for hotel bathroom design

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
Industry insight: Sound solutions for hotel bathroom design

Hotel guests today are increasingly expecting much more from their hotel stay. But, as Sophie Weston, channel marketing manager at Geberit explains, understanding the impact of unwanted noise on the guest experience can hold the key to a more positive outcome at what is a critical time for the hotel sector…

The impact of sound cannot be over-estimated. Our ears work even when we’re asleep, with the brain continuing to process the sounds it detects. And when we are awake, the impact that those everyday, seemingly mundane sounds can have a huge impact on our wellbeing. Consider the effect that a constantly dripping tap or flushing toilet, for example, can have on one’s mood.

Sound is something we’re particularly passionate about at Geberit, with acoustics one of our core research areas. When we first commissioned a YouGov poll in February 2020, we wanted to get a greater insight on the effect of unwanted internal noise and, in particular, bathroom noise. We also wanted to understand a little more about how these ‘unwanted noises’ affected wellbeing.

Noisier than ever?

Our survey found that almost a third (30 per cent) of respondents who had stayed in a hotel in the last 12 months (February 2019 – February 2020) had been disturbed by bathroom noise at night. What was clear, too, from our research was the impact of this; more than half (51%) of respondents cited unwanted internal noise as having a negative impact upon their wellbeing.

Fast forward from our 2020 poll to the aftermath of the pandemic, and the importance of guest experience has never been more keenly felt. With the hotel sector one of the most hard hit by lockdowns and restrictions, the so-called ‘stay-cation’ boom this summer and easing of restrictions has offered a timely boost to the industry. The sector now has a unique opportunity to encourage this year’s guests back. And this starts with a positive guest outcome.

Meeting challenges

It’s fair to say that the hotel washroom has a crucial role to play in defining one’s guest experience. And yet, looking at our YouGov research, bathroom noise is clearly an issue for many. So what solutions are available for architects and designers to meet these very obvious challenges?

 From acoustically optimised pipework with noise reducing properties, to decoupled pre-walls for added noise insulation, manufacturers are constantly innovating sound-proofing solutions that help to mitigate the age-old issue of sound from flushing toilets and other unwanted bathroom noise.

Wall-hung toilets with concealed cisterns and pre-wall frames decoupled from the construction, for example, are an effective way to prevent noise from travelling down the wall and through the floor. Opting for a toilet mounted using a frame such as Geberit Duofix can almost halve the decibels produced by a traditional floor standing toilet.

Likewise, sound optimised drainage piping can reduce noise transfer from flushing water, washbasins or showers. The Geberit Silent db-20 range, for instance, inherently uses more dense materials and, when combined with rubber and plastics where possible for decoupling and dampening, will prevent the transmission of sound more effectively than less dense materials.

Positive guest experience

The confidence is there. We carried out a YouGov poll in March 2021 of 2,000 adults across the UK which found that 43% of respondents planned to visit a hotel this year, compared to just 25% who had visited a hotel in the six months before the pandemic.

And, as the trend for selling ‘experiences’ and creating an escape for guests continues, so too does the value of creating a unique, positive experience to help build stronger memories and ensure customers keep coming back.  The hotel washroom could hold the key to this.

Geberit is one of our Recommended Suppliers and regularly features in our Supplier News section of the website. If you are interested in becoming one of our recommended suppliers, please email Katy Phillips.

Main image credit: Geberit

Outdoor bathroom design: Allure shines brightly

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
Outdoor bathroom design: Allure shines brightly

Gessi, through a luxurious proposal that reveals hi-tech aspects waiting to be discovered, once again becomes a trendsetter, bringing decorations and aesthetics to be integrated in outdoor bathroom design and nature…

With Outdoor, private wellness is dipped in nature, in the open air, without compromising on design and technology. Special moments of wellbeing in close contact with the outdoor environment, to fully experience the sensations that only an outdoor space can provide.

Moody design scheme for outdoor bathroom

Image credit: Gessi

The shower columns of the Gessi Outdoor Wellness System have been specifically designed for outdoor spaces. They offer innovative combinations of materials, finishes and processes, with the aim of recreating the stylistic and functional pleasantness of the Gessi Private Wellness System in the open air.

The refined and delicate lines of the collection are naturally integrated into the landscape, creating a continuum and a harmonious fusion between the indoor and the outdoor environment.

Outdoor aspires to be a project able to transmit Gessi’s idea of design, the aesthetic research of a product and the care for details, to the open air.

Image credit: Gessi

A product that stands out for its captivating and strong personality, for its iconic and at the same time discreet shapes. Qualities that make Gessi Outdoor Wellness designs cross-cutting, able to adapt perfectly and naturally to the surrounding environment. The collection also stands out for its two different aesthetics, G01 and G02, and the choice of six finishes and textures. 

With an elegant, modern and sophisticated appearance, Gessi G01 and Gessi G02 give rooms a refined and contemporary style. G01 conquers thanks to its slender, tubular and essential design, giving a special atmosphere to terraces, gardens and swimming pools.

OUTDOOR_G01_privatevilla_ambienteGessi Outdoor G02 presents itself with an outstanding line and a minimal and essential look, sometimes almost schematic. The geometric structure characterised by a rectangular-section steel tube features an adjustable shower head equipped with special augers for a rich rain jet.

The shower head of both lines is available with a smooth surface treatment or in 4 different textured patterns (Trame, Intreccio, Cesello, Meccanica), while the vertical tubular body is equipped with elegant ton-sur-ton ring controls or in a contrasting finish, available smooth or knurled.

The Outdoor collection adapts perfectly to different environments and styles: from tropical swimming pools to Japanese onsen and modern city penthouses. A design product that combines contrasting and at the same time complementary philosophies of life, where the unique objective is to give emotions by emphasising the person and, consequently, the time they dedicate to themselves, so that every moment is a precious and exclusive moment.

Gessi is one of our Recommended Suppliers and regularly features in our Supplier News section of the website. If you are interested in becoming one of our recommended suppliers, please email Katy Phillips.

Main image credit: Gessi


Sneak peek: Sugar Beach, A Viceroy Resort’s latest renovation

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
Sneak peek: Sugar Beach, A Viceroy Resort’s latest renovation

The iconic luxury hotel in St. Lucia, Sugar Beach, A Viceroy Resort, is expected to unveil new accommodations, upgraded culinary outlets, renovated spa and wellness facilities, and more in November of this year. Here’s what we know…


November 2021 will mark a new chapter for Sugar Beach, A Viceroy Resort, which is situated on the shores of the picturesque St. Lucia coastline. Following a five-month closure, which began in June, the property will reopen its doors in November with an enhanced guest experience through a variety of property renovations and experiential upgrades. Set to debut are nine accommodations, a plethora of upgraded culinary outlets, brand-new beachside fitness facility and expansive amenity enhancements including a refreshed spa and new main pool area.

“Every aspect of the renovation has been thoughtfully designed to bring the best out of each space.” – Mark Sterner, General Manager.

“We are excited to kickstart this multi-phase renovation journey that will bring a new and elevated luxury guest experience to our already celebrated Sugar Beach property,” says Mark Sterner, General Manager. “Every aspect of the renovation has been thoughtfully designed to bring the best out of each space and provide a new level of service, privacy and hospitality to our valued guests. Those visiting in November can expect to see Sugar Beach completely revived and like they’ve never experienced before.”

The property is currently home to a variety of culinary destinations from fine-dining to al-fresco, all set to get a luxury upgrade come November. The fine-dining restaurant, located in the main house, will see an interior refresh that will further show off its grand location overlooking the beach and UNESCO Pitons, alongside the addition of a new open-air bar experience. Down by the beach at the popular al-fresco dining locations, a new barefoot luxury culinary journey will await. Various enhancements will be unveiled including the expansion of undercover outdoor seating areas that will allow guests to dine beachside no matter the weather.

The iconic main pool sitting beneath the edge of the UNESCO Pitons mountains, will be completely renovated to debut what the brand is calling ‘a totally new guest experience’. A multi-tiered landscaped design of the pool area is being built to house a fleet of exclusive luxury cabanas and a brand-new poolside bar where guests can order light bites and drinks. Also overlooking the main pool, a special events lawn is being landscaped to accommodate the increased requests for private celebrations and functions.

Catering to the soaring demand for private accommodations, November will see the addition of nine new luxury guest rooms. Four one-bedroom beachfront bungalows are being built right on the shoreline, while Five one-bedroom luxury cottages are being built higher up the mountain. Each will unveil a contemporary interior design with a fresh, neutral colour palette, complemented by unmatched views of the estate gardens, Pitons and beach.

A brand-new spa and wellness experience will also debut come November. The property’s award-winning Rainforest Spa, nestled in the heart of an actual rainforest surrounded by lush foliage and soaring mountain vistas, will add one couples treehouse treatment room. Bringing the total treatment room count to 10, the new couples treehouse will be built on stilts and perched high above the ground.


Render credit: Viceroy Hotels & Resort

With a completely different design to the existing treatment rooms, the new treehouse will have large glass windows that overlook the serene forest, an indoor free-standing bathtub, outdoor shower and balcony that will provide various options for couples to relax before and after their treatments. A new spa partner will also be announced when the property reopens alongside an exciting, revised treatment menu, and a refreshed lobby space. A new wellness and fitness facility is also being built more centrally located right on the beach and will be home to a gymnasium and yoga studio.

As Sugar Beach is set to unveil this new chapter of its legacy, those visiting from November 2021 will be the first to experience the enhanced product that will be amplified with the property’s well-known, top of the line service and impeccable island hospitality.

Raffles Doha - aerial

Raffles to more than double current portfolio of luxury hotels by 2023

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
Raffles to more than double current portfolio of luxury hotels by 2023

The legendary brand that is Raffles Hotels & Resorts is set to open flagship properties in Dubai, Udaipur, Bahrain and Macau later this year. Here’s what we know… 

With newly appointed CEO Stephen Alden at the helm, Raffles Hotels & Resorts, which first emerged in 1887 with the opening of the now iconic Raffles Singapore, embarks on an exciting new era, which will start with aggressive growth in the Middle East in 2021 and beyond.

Raffles Doha - aerial

A legendary brand known for transforming landmark properties in storied destinations around the world, Raffles is on track to more than double its illustrious portfolio, adding a host of distinguished locations that will continue to set the standard in the luxury hospitality industry. Later this year, Raffles will open a second hotel in Dubai (The Palm), along with Bahrain, Udaipur and Macau. Next year and beyond, the brand will debut flagship locations in London (2022), Boston (2022), Doha (2022), Jeddah (2022) and Moscow (2023), among others.

“Raffles approaches every endeavour with the utmost thought, care and discernment; our global expansion is no exception. With our pioneering spirit, we have sought out locations where we can really bring Raffles’ gracious welcome and tradition of excellence to life,” said Stephen Alden, CEO, Raffles & Orient Express. “Each new Raffles property is a destination in itself, and we are creating places where people want to be, in tune with our well-travelled guests’ contemporary lifestyles.”

Next year will see two watershed moments for the brand – with Raffles making its debut in North America and the United Kingdom. Raffles Boston Back Bay Hotel & Residences is located in the heart of the Back Bay, Boston’s most prestigious neighbourhood, and comprises a distinctive hotel as well as exquisitely appointed residences.

Raffles London at The OWO and The OWO Residences by Raffles will be an opening unlike any other in London. Located within the iconic Grade II* listed Old War Office building, an architectural masterpiece originally completed in 1906 which has witnessed world-shaping events, this property is set to be a momentous addition to the brand.

2021 unveils

Raffles the Palm, Dubai – The hotel is set to open its doors in Q4 of 2021. This will be the first Raffles resort on the Palm Jumeirah – the world’s largest man- made island and archipelago. Raffles the Palm Dubai, located across 100,000 square metres of landscape on the West Crescent, will feature 389 luxurious rooms, suites, and villas, each with a balcony and sea-view terrace, and offer eight bar and restaurant concepts.

Image caption: An aerial shot of Raffles The Palm Dubai

Image caption: An aerial shot of Raffles The Palm Dubai

Raffles Al Areen Palace, Bahrain – A serene sanctuary known as ‘the island of a million palm trees’, Raffles Al Areen Palace is located near the island’s protected wildlife park and reserve – home to a wide range of exotic animals and desert plants. With 78 opulent pool villas, one of the largest spas in the region and a wealth of tailor-made and signature Raffles experiences, this palatial property is set to redefine luxury hospitality in Bahrain. Honouring the Raffles heritage, the property will play its part as a cultural hotspot. A collection of one- and two-bedroom villas will feature living and dining areas, an intimate office, and expansive master bedrooms with ensuite bathrooms. A lush and majestic resort, Raffles Al Areen will feature an enchanting secret garden under the care of the hotel’s dedicated palace botanist.

Raffles Udaipur, India – Bringing this new-built site to life on a 21-acre private island in Udai Sagar Lake, the palatial Raffles Udaipur will be a sumptuous property, set to open in 2021. Surrounded by spectacular hills and a view of the 400-year-old temple in the background, the property has 101 rooms, each with a private pool. The hotel will provide a rare and authentic experience of one of India’s most scenic destinations.

Image caption: Exterior of Raffles Udaipur in India

Image caption: Exterior of Raffles Udaipur in India

Raffles at Galaxy Macau – The hotel will be situated within a stunning architectural landmark featuring a glass airbridge that connects the two towers on every floor. Each of the 450 suites draws inspiration from a modern palazzo, with curated artworks and some featuring private pools and gardens. Raffles at Galaxy Macau will be a spectacular addition to the Galaxy Macau, a world-class luxury integrated resort that offers an array of bespoke leisure activities, on-site entertainment and a specialty restaurant helmed by a multi-Michelin-starred Japanese chef.

Image caption: Exterior render of Raffles at Galaxy Macau

Image caption: Exterior render of Raffles at Galaxy Macau

2022 unveils (and beyond)

Raffles London at The OWO, UK – The hotel, sheltered in a historic building, will be the capital’s first Raffles property – a storied building that served as Winston Churchill’s base during the Second World War and was the birthplace of Ian Fleming’s James Bond. Many original architectural details have been preserved while also allowing room for updated design elements. Comprising of 125 rooms and suites, 85 residences, a collection of nine restaurants and bars and an immersive spa, the hotel and residences represent an incredible opportunity for the public to experience this historic property. It is set to be completed in 2022 and will open to the public for the first time in more than a century.

Raffles Boston Back Bay Hotel & Residences, USA –  Located in Boston’s prestigious Back Bay neighbourhood, the 35-storey building will be a new landmark in Boston’s skyline, with 146 residences, 147 guest rooms, and six restaurant and bar venues, including a sky bar and speakeasy. The property will feature state-of-the- art facilities and amenities. The striking three- story sky lobby, the first of its kind in Boston, will be the centrepiece of the property, complete with a grand staircase spanning the 17th, 18th and 19th floors.

Raffles Doha, Qatar – A cultural tribute to Qatar’s heritage, the Iconic Towers in Lusail, a representation of Qatar’s national seal, will be home to the new Raffles Doha. A lavishly impressive property with 132 sophisticated suites and 49 branded apartments, the luxurious combo hotel will feature state-of- the-art entertainment and recreational facilities, boutique shopping, movie theatres, restaurants and a cigar lounge, as well as a variety of meeting spaces.

Raffles Jeddah, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia – Inspired by the rich history of Saudi Arabia and Jeddah’s old town architecture, Raffles Jeddah will have 181 guestrooms – including a spectacular wedding suite and penthouse suite with in-room entertainment – and 188 branded residences. Alongside six restaurants and lounges, there will be an extensive library, a 1,200 square metre spa with eight treatment rooms and a state-of-the-art fitness club. The hotel’s meeting facilities include a 1,500 square metre ballroom overlooking the corniche and 1,000 square metres of conference rooms.

Image caption: Render of suite inside Raffles Jeddah, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

Image caption: Render of suite inside Raffles Jeddah, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

Raffles Moscow, Russia – The new flagship Raffles Moscow, located next to the Kremlin in the heart of Moscow, is expected to open in 2023 – becoming the first Raffles hotel in Russia. The landmark hotel will offer 153 exquisite rooms across nine floors with views overlooking the Kremlin and Red Square. These will include 20 two- bedroom suites, 19 junior suites and two presidential suites with private terraces. Each guestroom has breath-taking views of the city, with a select few offering access to the hotel’s courtyard terrace.

Main image caption: Exterior render of Raffles Doha, Qatar 

Guestroom in qingdao overlooking ocean

St. Regis Hotels & Resorts makes debut at former Olympic venue

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
St. Regis Hotels & Resorts makes debut at former Olympic venue

St. Regis Hotels and Resorts has made its glamorous debut in China’s coastal city of Qingdao, which is the former Olympic sailing venue of the 2008 Games. Let’s take a look inside… 

The highly anticipated opening of St Regis Qingdao marks the first Marriott International luxury brand hotel in the northeastern Shandong region.

Guestroom in qingdao overlooking ocean

Strategically located in the landmark Haitian Center in the heart of historic Qingdao – overlooking Fushan Bay, the Olympic sailing venue for the 2008 Olympics – the hotel is set to delight the city’s luminaries and tastemakers with its elegant design, refined craftsmanship and time-honoured signature rituals.

“We are very excited to expand our luxury footprint to one of the most beautiful coastal cities in the region with the debut of the iconic St. Regis brand, bringing bespoke experiences curated for the most discerning travellers,” said Henry Lee, President, Greater China, Marriott International. “The opening of The St. Regis Qingdao ushers in a new benchmark of luxury hospitality in this dynamic city and underscores our commitment to continuously grow in Eastern China.”

Image credit: Marriott International

The arrival of St Regis in Qingdao follows a very public effort from Marriott International to expand its portfolio growth in Asia, following the group opening its 70th hotel property in Japan.

Occupying the 58th to 78th floors of the 369-meter-tall Haitian Center, The St. Regis Qingdao is the tallest hotel in the region, enthralling guests with panoramic vistas of the Yellow Sea and picturesque coastal scenes.

Drawing inspiration from the brand’s rich heritage, the renowned Singapore based interior design firm, LTW Designworks, subtly infused local Qingdao influences with St. Regis’ avant-garde aesthetic. This includes a crystal chandelier inspired by a legendary dress of golden thorns that Caroline Astor, mother of St. Regis founder John Jacob Astor IV and doyenne of New York high society in the Gilded Age, wore to one of her famed Midnight Suppers.

Lobby Chandelier inside St. Regis Qingdao

Image credit: Marriott International

A brilliantly-lit grand staircase offers the perfect venue for the celebrated St. Regis tradition of sabering a bottle of champagne to mark the transition from day to night. The backdrop of the grand staircase is a 74-metre-high atrium art wall that reflects the delicate traces left on the beach by the ebb and flow of the Yellow Sea.

The hotel features 233 guestrooms, including 30 luxury suites with spectacular ocean views. In each guest room, the bedside backplate features camellia motifs as an homage to the official flower of Qingdao, representing inspiration, integrity and romance. The bespoke amenities, design narratives and spectacular views combine to transport guests into a world of exquisite luxury and service. Guests will also enjoy the brand’s signature Butler Service, offering around-the-clock anticipatory service and ensuring that each guest’s stay is customised according to their tastes and preferences.

The St. Regis Qingdao also invites guests to embark on multi-sensory culinary journeys with exceptional presentations, memorable flavours and spectacular views at its five distinctive dining outlets. The Drawing Room, located on 59th floor, offers an indulgent Afternoon Tea along with panoramic seascapes. In spaces that combine contemporary chic with traditional charm, YAN TING serves authentic Cantonese cuisine featuring the freshest locally-sourced seafood. Social is an exciting all-day dining experience, featuring international delights at breakfast, along with fresh local seafood and western grill items on the lunch and dinner menus. The Carvery celebrates convivial dining in a classic New York steakhouse setting. In the evenings, guests are invited to The St. Regis Baroverlooking Qingdao city and its charming nightscapes to enjoy handcrafted cocktails. The signature St. Regis cocktail, the Bloody Mary, is given an intriguing new twist using essences of sparkling Qingdao beer, fresh local clams and fine sea-salt and aptly reintroduced as the “GáLa Mary”.

With a total of more than 2,000 square metres of dedicated event space, the hotel offers venues and facilities for iconic gatherings and meetings. The Astor Ballroom, covering an area of more than 900 square meters, is the perfect setting for celebrations, events, galas and talk-of-the-town wedding banquets. The St. Regis Qingdao also offers a bespoke wedding planner service to assist couples in planning their once-in-a-lifetime dream wedding.

The exclusive St. Regis Spa elevates the traditional spa visit into an enjoyable social occasion featuring five treatment rooms including the St. Regis Spa Suite, a private space for couples, families or small groups of friends to relax and enjoy bespoke treatment time together. The Celebration Bar is a joyous space of refined elegance serving the finest Champagne and effervescent cocktails. Fitness enthusiasts will enjoy the hotel’s well-equipped fitness centre and indoor infinity swimming pool offering stunning views of the surrounding sea and sky.

“We are thrilled to celebrate the debut of The St. Regis Qingdao. As one of the most important destinations for business and leisure travellers in China, Qingdao now has a most iconic luxury landmark,” said Jennie Toh, Vice President, Brand Marketing and Management, Asia Pacific, Marriott International. “We look forward to sharing Qingdao with guests through the lens of St. Regis’ signature glamorous spirit, sophistication and impeccable service when they visit the destination.”

Main image credit: Marriott International

Tokyo’s award-winning The Bay Window Tower House

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
Tokyo’s award-winning The Bay Window Tower House

The Bay Window Tower House is a tower building with bay windows in Shibuya, Tokyo, which has just won 2020 Architecture MasterPrize in the ‘Small Architecture’ category. Let’s take a look why…

The 2020 Architecture MasterPrize in the “Small Architecture” category was presented to Takaaki Fuji + Yuko Fuji Architecture for their project “The Bay Window Tower House”. The prize is awarded by an international jury of designers, architects, curators, and academics with the aim of promoting the appreciation of architecture around the world.

The prize-winning building is located in the Tokyo district of Shibuya and comprises a small family home and office. Taking their inspiration from traditional Japanese verandas, the vision was to create rooms that offer all manner of pleasant places to sit. Takaaki Fuji + Yuko Fuji Architecture conceived the building as a tower with bay windows on each floor from which the residents can enjoy

Based on an environmental analysis, the tower was designed to exhibit different environmental qualities depending on the time of year, time of day, floor, and orientation – to make the most of the varying conditions in terms of light, wind, and warmth. Carbonised cork – a material that exhibits a low weight, high heat insulation, and ease of workability – was used to reduce the thermal load. views of the city.

The different floors are connected by a spiral staircase. Takaaki Fuji + Yuko Fuji selected materials such as wood, cork, and certain types of paint – materials with their own unique character that develop and flourish over time.

In harmony with the changes to the materials, the building was also designed to meet the similarly changing needs of its inhabitants. For example, lamps are integrated into the pieces of furniture that can be moved wherever they are needed – so the room layout can be easily adapted as the children grow older. “The uniqueness of the building is the result of its environment and the people who live in it,” summarises Takaaki Fuji.

Integrated into one of the bay windows – in fact  right in front of the window – is a Duravit DuraSquare furniture washbasin, which is perfectly at home thanks to its timeless looks and longevity – even as the design of the room changes. In the bathroom, a Starck bathtub is set into the expanded window area, affording a breathtaking view of the downtown skyscrapers.

Duravit is one of Hotel Designs’ recommended suppliers. To keep up to date with their news, click here. And, if you are interested in becoming one of our recommended suppliers, please email Katy Phillips by clicking here.

Main image credit: Masao Nishikawa

Weekly digest: Ace moves into Brooklyn & a Royal welcome in Crete

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
Weekly digest: Ace moves into Brooklyn & a Royal welcome in Crete

Editor Hamish Kilburn here rounding off your week (and month) with a digest of the hottest stories from the last few days. Before we start, first, a checklist: Have you applied yet for The Brit List Awards? Have you signed up to attend Hotel Designs LIVE. If not, hurry, as you only have a few days left to do so…

Quite frankly, July couldn’t have come soon enough! Following an unjust – and extended – sin bin, the hospitality industry is finally able to return to the arena in order to showcase the true value of an industry that is held together by people, relationships and boundary-defying innovation. Our celebration of these hero players comes in the form of The Brit List Awards, Hotel Designs’ annual awards ceremony – free to apply/nominate for – that’s aim is to credit the individuals who are taking design and hospitality to new heights. Therefore, I urge you (even if you are in doubt) to submit your free entry, before August 6, to this year’s awards – you literally have nothing to lose. Don’t forget, this year we have introduced two new awards: International Award and The Rising Star – even more reasons to get involved…

In the meantime, the editorial team are putting the finishing touches on preparations ahead of our next Hotel Designs LIVE event. If The Brit List Awards are about celebrating the heroes, then Hotel Designs LIVE’s role is to bring the industry’s finest together to keep the conversation flowing  by discussing key issues in global hotel design and hospitality. With limited spaces available, time is running out to attend in the audience.

Other than keeping these two vital dates and events front-of-mind, we have spent this week exploring some milestone projects, writing about new products and we even found time to publish our latest virtual roundtable, which explores the heavily discussed topic of injecting personality into the bathroom. Here are our top stories of the week…

In pictures: The Royal Senses Resort, Curio Collection by Hilton

Image credit: The Royal Senses Resort, Curio Collection by Hilton

Following the highly anticipated opening The Royal Senses Resort, Curio Collection by HiltonHotel Designs gets its hands on the official images, which highlight the design scheme that aimed to celebrate the “timelessness of the Cretan soul in a contemporary way”.

Read more.

Virtual roundtable: Colour & personality in the bathroom

Our latest virtual roundtable, in association with Bathroom Brands Group, comes following Hotel Designs LIVE in May where we hosted the panel discussion entitled: ‘Bathrooms beyond practical spaces’. Extending what we learned at the event, we invite a handful of designers to explore how to inject colour and personality into the bathroom…

Read more.

Now open: Inside Ace Hotel Brooklyn

Guestroom inside Ace Hotel Brooklyn

Image credit: Ace Hotel Brooklyn

From the brand who shook up conventional public areas and encouraged the rest of the hospitality industry to open their doors to the community as well as travellers, Ace Hotels has officially arrived in Brooklyn. Located in Downtown Brooklyn, the hotel stands on the cusp of Boerum Hill, above the ever-evolving intersection of everything: a geographical Venn diagram of intersecting energies, from the tree-lined streets and brownstones of Cobble Hill and Carroll Gardens to the art and culture clusters of Fort Greene, and all the way down to the restless East River.

Read more.

Design London to make its London Design Festival debut in September

Design London

Anticipation is building around the reopening of events and Design London is among the shows that are gearing up to showcase the best in design. The show will welcome the architecture and design community to the capital’s new favourite neighbourhood, North Greenwich, for its inaugural event.

Read more. 

Bathroom trends: Black accessories for a touch of luxury

Bathroom black accessories

When crafting a bathroom it’s the finishing touches that often bring everything together and complete the look; be it elegance and glamour or a sophisticated urban edge. The new Black Selection of accessories from KEUCO with its deep black silk matt finish brings a touch of luxury to every element in the collection.

Read more.

Since you’re here…

More than 40,000 readers per month enjoy the content we publish on Hotel Designs. Our mission is to define the point on international hotel design, and we are doing that by serving relevant news stories and engaging features. To keep up to date on the hottest stories that are emerging, you can sign up to the newsletter, which is completely free of charge. As well as receiving a weekly round-up of the top stories, you will also access our bi-monthly HD Edit –staying ahead of the curve has never been so easy!

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Roundtable - colour and personality

Virtual roundtable: Colour & personality in the bathroom

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
Virtual roundtable: Colour & personality in the bathroom

Our latest virtual roundtable, in association with Bathroom Brands Group, comes following Hotel Designs LIVE in May where we hosted the panel discussion entitled: ‘Bathrooms beyond practical spaces’. Extending what we learned at the event, Editor Hamish Kilburn invites a handful of designers to explore how to inject colour and personality into the bathroom…

Roundtable - colour and personality

Gone now are the days of bathrooms being used solely as practical spaces. When colour, pattern and material trends spilled over in the ’70s, the bathroom became an experiential area where designers could rip up the rule book to reflect personality. With the demand for experience-driven travel and the addition in recent years of wellness and wellbeing being top of modern travellers’ agendas – not to mention technology evolving at a rapid rate – the options designers can now use in the bathroom is phenomenal.

To see how far we can take colour and personality in the bathroom, we invited leading designers from multiple brands and studios to help us explore how we can meaningfully add a bit of flair in these once-forgotten spaces.

On the panel:

Hamish Kilburn: Traditionally, why did colour not play a large a role in the bathrooms? 

Fiona Thompson: In the luxury hotel sector, the simple answer is that we were reflecting what had been done previously – so it was more a nod back to the heritage of the projects, which were usually sheltered in historic buildings. In terms of sanitaryware, there was a big change in the 70s from using colour to then only using white. And that’s probably because white represents cleanliness. However, in more trendy brands we are seeing colour being injected back into the bathrooms, but it is a big step for more luxury hotels.

The bathroom is the last thing that gets stripped out of a hotel, so anything we do has to stand the test of time.

“I have seen a shift toward a more experience-led design when it comes to bathrooms in hotels” – Diana Darmina, Interior Design Manager, Lamington Group.

Akram Fahmi: I would say there has been a shift over the last 10 years of moving to blacks, dark bronzes for accent colour in the bathroom. But I think sanitaryware companies have been widening their colour ranges as styles and fashion has also moved on. I think black is here to stay; it’s now staple and consumers accept it’s a stylish option, but colour, bold colours, pastels are having a renaissance. We have been devoid of fun for almost two years, staring at our own bathrooms at home thinking, ‘I want something to lift me in the morning, perk me, surprise me continually’. I think colour has that ability to affect your mood. Bold yellows give you warmth and comfort, red is energetic and bold, green is calming and fresh. All these amazing feelings from colour, and designers need to be braver when it comes to utilising it in powder rooms and bathrooms. In fact, I think bathrooms are the perfect place to be a little quirky or offbeat. The bathroom is the most informal space in a house or hotel. It’s ultimately the space you need to feel comfortable without clothes on – and if you can’t have fun without clothes on, when can you!

Diana Darmina: Working in the hotel industry, I have seen a shift toward a more experience-led design when it comes to bathrooms in hotels. At room2 we always push for our bathrooms to be playful and energising in their look and feel. We always push for our bathrooms to be remembered as a place which guests love, but would probably not have the courage to do in their own homes.

Black and pink bathroom with brassware

Image credit: Bathrooms Brands Group

Nick Hickson: Some brands are very prescriptive when it comes to brand standards and certainly with the sanitary ware being white. So, it’s tough to have conversations about injecting colour in. You could suggest minor changes, such as the shower tray being made from Quartz Stone or designing the space with tile surfaces.

Meanwhile, there are new brands entering that want to define new categories. Those lifestyle brands don’t want white or to feel corporate. Instead, they are reaching out for something more experiential – something coloured or made from other materials than simply white porcelain.

David Balmer: Also, with hygiene being such a big focus point, there is still that need and demand for the perception of cleanliness. So, what we are seeing is that colour is being used on the outside of ceramics and not on the inside to maintain that.

“Traditionally, we were concerned and timid to use coloured brassware because of the cost and quality.” – Paul Savage, Design Director, IA Architects.

Modern bathroom with colour and personality

Image credit: Bathrooms Brands Group

HK: Crosswater, from a brand’s perspective, would you say those lifestyle brands have allowed you to inject colour in your products?

DB: Without a doubt. If you look at the new versions of the basins with the tinted brass or gold on the outside of the bowl you will see we are able to add more personality in our products thanks to the demand.

Paul Savage: From my previous experience of working with one of the large American operators, there was no colour in the bathrooms. If we take the high-luxury brands as an example, they want to achieve a classy look, and they are also protecting the owner’s investment. So typically we would expect a hard refurb of a bathroom every 14 years. Traditionally, we were concerned and timid to use coloured brassware because of the cost and quality. We would say that housekeeping would do the most damage to the rooms because of some of the strong cleaning solutions they use. Now that the quality has improved and the cost has come down I think we will see more of it.

Image credit: Bathrooms Brands Group

Image credit: Bathrooms Brands Group

HK: Were you wanting to inject more colour into your projects before you were able to do so because of the delay in the supply catching up to the demand?

PS: I think with how popular lifestyle brands are, I think it’s a really good opportunity to make a bathroom really unique. I really do think the development of lifestyle hotels – and the expansion of that sector – is allowing the industry as a whole to think more creatively when it comes to the bathroom. You can still sensitively add colour to these bathroom spaces to more classic hotel bathrooms but there are less opportunities.

FT: Also, the perception of a bathroom in a luxury hotel was traditionally marble or stone or granite. That has changed substantially – and now there are so many other materials for designers to choose from that still give the perception of high-end luxury. The traditional mindset has changed quite a lot.

NH: Nowadays, we would design the room, selecting from a vast range of surfaces and materials before we specify the bathroom products in order for the space just to feel as considered as other areas of the hotel.

“You don’t have to be clinical to be clean.” – Fiona Thompson, Principal, Richmond International.

HK: With Covid-19 being the elephant in the room, do you think the new demands will put a halt in how much colour will be put into the bathrooms?

FT: I think everyone just wants to move on. You don’t have to be clinical to be clean.

HK: As designers, selecting colours and tones that match is very important. Do you ever find this difficult in the bathroom?

NH: Sometimes. So, at the moment, matt black is a very popular bathroom finish for taps and even basins. I have in the past struggled to find hinges of doors that match in, but generally the result is very impressive when you use contrasts in the bathroom.

“We are not against the idea of taking out the basin outside the bathroom in order to open up the space and create more of a language between the bathroom and the bedroom.” – Nick Hickson, Co-Founder, THDP.

Image of modern bathroom

Image credit: Bathroom Brands Group

HK: How else, other than using colour, can we inject personality into bathrooms?

FT: Bathrooms are becoming quite focal key points in the design of a guestroom because they are the differentiator. I think using and exploring patterns and textures are therefore great ways to hep these areas stand out. People are becoming more playful, I have noticed, especially in hotels where the bathtub is removed from the bathroom in order to open up space.

NH: And even the basin, we are not against the idea of taking out the basin outside the bathroom in order to open up the space and create more of a language between the bathroom and the bedroom.

PS:  There has been a massive renaissance in materials such as terrazzo in the last few years, so that’s a really good opportunity to bring in colour. Also, we are seeing that wallpaper is becoming a popular option in bathrooms for a feature wall. So, people are certainly getting bolder. The only thing I would tend to avoid is lighting that changes skin tone, because these areas are spaces where people go to groom and get ready. The other easy way to tell the design narrative is through artwork.

HK: Nick, you joined us for HD Live where we explored bathrooms beyond practical spaces. What would you say were the key takeaways in that discussion? 

NH: One of the biggest things for me was being able to sit down with other designers (both seniors and juniors) to discuss key topics. We had a designer from Marcel Wanders Studio and Zaha Hadid Architects – and just understanding how others think about this topic. The other conversation we had, which I have been asked about since then, was materiality in bathrooms – I think we can afford to be a bit more adventurous these days.

HK: What would you say is really exciting you at the moment when specifying bathroom projects?

FT: I think it’s beyond look and feel and now it’s really about guest experience. The world has moved from wanting just a good thermostatic shower and a good toilet. I think now there are more products out there to help us create more of an immersive experience. With that in mind, the vast array of materials out there is very exciting! There’s certainly a demand to understand more about where materials come from.

NH: There are so many new products out there that are pushing the envelope. In-house designers are also pushing us to be more creative when reacting to a brief. I’m also loving the fact that broken-up mosaics are being used in bathroom design schemes, which I think is very interesting.

PS: The biggest difference for me, in recent years, is now the accessibility to coloured brassware – before you just couldn’t afford it in the budget! Also, the improvement to finishes and coating. Developers and investors don’t like taking risks – they need to know that the products are going to stand the test of time. So, we have really enjoyed being able to use these materials. The trends go full circle – next thing you know, chrome will be back in fashion!

Tom Lowry: Yes, and it’s important for brands like Bathrooms Brands Group to ensure that we focus on long-lasting trends. I have certainly seen an appetite for earthy colours and materials that have texture – as opposed to just looking at colour.

HK: I think the Bespoke Collection by Burlington is a fantastic example of this  – and actually it was this collection, followed by the Riviera Collection, that allowed me to really see how the bathroom can absolutely become the ‘hero shot’ for a hotel. What are your thoughts?

PS: I think guests are much more sophisticated – and exposed via social media to high-end design. I think they expect this design being carried through to the bathrooms.

NH: Being conventional is now unforgivable on the hotel scene – we are constantly thinking, as designers, how we can push a projects design narrative.

HK: For many, it’s easy to see colour injected in bathrooms sheltered under lifestyle brands. How can colour be sensitively injected in more luxury hotels?

FT: Whether it’s colour or texture, it’s about giving the space personality – and injecting sense of place. So, it becomes about using locally sourced materials. We did a project in Las Vegas where the bathroom was bigger than the rooms, so we used lots of back-painted glass to make it an extraordinary space. It is about doing things that are appropriate for the local location and culture. The bathroom now is quite often half the size of the bedroom, so it has to be a signature piece, if you like, but also keep it cohesive to the rest of the room.

“Layering colour, tone, accent in the choices of FF&E, accessories, artwork, make bold choices in the colour of joinery, doors and of course powder rooms!” – Akram Fahmi, Co-Founder, London Design House.

AF: I think it’s a very good question, colour is sometimes seen as cheap or tacky, but I totally disagree. Many modern luxury hotels have this element of seriousness, elegant and sophisticated tonality – we are all guilty of it at some point in our careers, and yes, that tonality and “properness” is expected and often pushed by the hotel operator and guest expectations, and yes it might look beautiful, but is it fun? No. Is it quirky? Not really. So how do you bring interest, surprise, moments of emotion into a the luxury environment, and I think the answer is layering. Layering colour, tone, accent in the choices of FF&E, accessories, artwork, make bold choices in the colour of joinery, doors and of course powder rooms! Colour has been slowly washed out of hospitality over the years, if you look back historically at hotels like the Savoy, the bold greens, or the Dorchester ballroom in the 1930s was full of pinks, blues and golds. These spaces historically had colour and we need to get back to celebrating these spaces again and have fun rather than align to a pretence that sophistication is black and white or grey. 

HK: We’ve spoken in depth about guestroom bathrooms, but what about public bathrooms – can we afford to throw out the rule book in these spaces? 

FT: I think public bathrooms can be much more playful – I like to see a bit of reverence in these areas!

PS: I agree, a bit of humour doesn’t go a miss. You really can, to a degree, judge a restaurant’s design on their bathrooms. If they are not an afterthought, if they have been considered then it’s a great opportunity to do something different.

HK: And finally, how can designers working on a tight budget still add personality into the bathroom?

PS: Accenting. The price of coloured brassware has come down so it’s easier to include these in a project – and opens design opportunities. Another way is to add colour on the outside of basins, and also paint on the wall – a half height tiled wall and paint is an easy way make these spaces a bit more characterful.

NH: And don’t be afraid to paint the ceilings too.

AF: I think that white is always an easy ‘go to’ in terms of making a space feel larger or brighter naturally. However, there are many tricks one can use to give that feeling of space, whether it be to give the feeling of height, or making a space feel brighter. Use of colour is very clever tool, highlighting door architraves and skirtings for instance in an accent colour can give a feeling of height as your eye is physically drawn up and down.

Bathrooms Brands Group 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.

Bathroom black accessories

Bathroom trends: Black accessories for a touch of luxury

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
Bathroom trends: Black accessories for a touch of luxury

When crafting a bathroom it’s the finishing touches that often bring everything together and complete the look; be it elegance and glamour or a sophisticated urban edge. The new Black Selection of accessories from KEUCO with its deep black silk matt finish brings a touch of luxury to every element in the collection…

Bathroom black accessories

There are 19 offerings in the Black Selection series by KEUCO. This includes three different styles of towel hook as well as different versions of towel rails, tumbler holders, toilet paper holders, shelves and cosmetic mirrors.

Each element has been coated in a special lacquer making them exceptionally durable, tough and easy to clean and all are colour matched in RAL 9011. This means that the products can be combined with KEUCO’s freestanding accessories and shelving which is also available in RAL 9011.

The Black Selection is tactile, the surface has a velvety matt finish, making it not only pleasant to touch but easy to grip. The simple lines and minimalist design of the accessories make them unobtrusive in the grand scheme of bathroom design, but boldly stylish in their simplicity.

Like a perfect little black dress the KEUCO accessories do not draw attention to any one particular aspect; but artfully complement the finished scheme.

KEUCO offers a large assortment of fittings, accessories, mirror cabinets, lights and mirrors, washbasins and bathroom furniture “made in Germany”. At KEUCO design and function play a key role. Perfectly manufactured products combine aesthetic form with sensible functionality. A standard that is systematically applied, from the idea right to implementation.

Collaboration with designers is a long tradition at KEUCO; the company has been family run since it was founded in 1953.

KEUCO is one of our Recommended Suppliers and regularly features in our Supplier News section of the website. If you are interested in becoming one of our recommended suppliers, please email Katy Phillips.

Main image credit: KEUCO

A private outdoor bathroom and sunbeds overlooking sea

In pictures: The Royal Senses Resort, Curio Collection by Hilton

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
In pictures: The Royal Senses Resort, Curio Collection by Hilton

Following the highly anticipated opening The Royal Senses Resort, Curio Collection by Hilton, Hotel Designs gets its hands on the official images, which highlight the design scheme that aimed to celebrate the “timelessness of the Cretan soul in a contemporary way”. Editor Hamish Kilburn explores…

A private outdoor bathroom and sunbeds overlooking sea

Situated on a serene, undisturbed coast outside the picturesque village of Panormos, a brand-new haven awaits the modern nomad. Combining Crete’s rich heritage with exceptional experiences of the here and now, the Royal Senses is the latest chapter in lifestyle hospitality from the Troulis Royal Collection.

Positioned right next to its sister property, the recently renovated seafront Royal Blue with its 100-acre premises, the Royal Senses makes its mission to go above and beyond that of a typical luxury family resort. As a true ambassador of Crete’s rugged beauty, the Royal Senses is deeply intertwined with the landscape of the island and the character of its people, while still maintaining a cosmopolitan aura.

Villas and guestrooms at the Crete hotel

Image credit: The Royal Senses Resort, Curio Collection by Hilton

Built with togetherness as a guiding principle, the resort’s 179 suites and villas connect seamlessly with their natural surroundings. Accommodations range from spacious 35-square-metre rooms, where undisturbed sea views and natural furnishing materials bring to mind a private cove, to ultra-luxurious 200-square-meter villas with amenities such as private infinity pools organically carved from the rock that surrounds the island. Ever present is the element of water: the four large communal pools and the 74 private infinity pools lined with elegant sun loungers and cabanas seem to cascade from level to level, creating a sense of motion that stirs the soul of the traveller.

For Zacharias, Kostas and Manolis Troulis, co-owners of the Troulis Royal Collection, this project showcases their lifelong dedication to Crete. “We are fully committed to our responsibility to the island, its people and our cultural heritage,” they said. “We wish to show guests all sides of the Cretan identity and embed ourselves purposefully into the texture of the island.”

The celebration of Cretan roots has been the main driving force behind the resort’s overall architectural and design approach. “The landscape’s rough beauty creates a wonderful juxtaposition with the clean, minimal lines of the buildings,” said Nikos Peppas and Katerina Tsiolaki, of Peppas N Architects, when describing the project. “We designed and positioned all buildings in such way that ensured unobstructed views to the endless blue of the Aegean Sea, wherever you are.”

The interior design project was awarded to Constantina Tsoutsikou while she was Creative Director at Hirsch Bedner Associates (HBA) London. Following her departure from HBA, Tsoutsikou became the founder and creative director of the new London-based high-concept practice, Studio Lost. Her task, outlined in the original brief, was to showcase the owners’ genuine commitment to local authenticity in a modern way.

Since you’re here, why not listen to our podcast episode with Constantina Tsoutsikou?

“We wanted to create a destination that benefits local communities,” explained Tsoutsikou, who briefed local artisans in their workshops and on-site. “I found a wealth of excellent craftsmanship and local techniques that informed the design as we went along. We created handcrafted bespoke furniture, repurposed items, objects and artwork that celebrate the artisanal skills of the islanders throughout.”

Pastel colour scheme in luxury hotel guestroom

Image credit: The Royal Senses Resort, Curio Collection by Hilton

The rooms and suites, all flowing towards their outdoor terrace, are built to remind the contemporary globetrotter exactly where they are — with framed views of the Cretan sea setting the tone. Earthy and textural, every guest room features carpentry and furniture from highly skilled local third-generation craftsmen (many of whom make their living by building traditional fishing boats), while furnishings, such as the cushions, are entirely made by hand in traditional motifs from the local women weavers association. The walls, treated with softly textured paint and cornices, are subtly marked out with traditional Cretan patterning, whereas the juxtaposition of rough and smooth surfaces mirrors the untamed character of the island itself.

All rooms maximise the time spent outdoors celebrating views and private pools, while the dark metal finishes and details such as leather wrapped door handles add an extra layer of depth in the overall look and feel. The open, boundless, layout connects the indoors with the outdoors and invites guests to enjoy these generous, calm spaces in their entirety.

At the Royal Senses, the traveller is called to connect with a community of kindred souls and experience a renewed sense of ancient mindfulness. This sense of community is highlighted by the fact that guests can seamlessly traverse across both resorts. Experienced in tandem, the Royal Blue’s private beach and marina and the iconic hilltop views of the Royal Senses set the tone for a holistic exploration that goes beyond the beaten path. Here, Crete’s multifaceted culture and ceaseless joie de vivre can be taken in at one’s leisure.

Sunbeds overlooking pristine sea

Image credit: The Royal Senses Resort, Curio Collection by Hilton

As celebrating locality is of the utmost importance for the resort, the three restaurants (two of which offer la carte menus) and the various pop-up food bars at the Marketplace honour Crete’s rich culinary tradition in various ways. Along with four bars, these dining locales create the perfect backdrop for precious moments together.

True to the spirit of engagement and togetherness, the resort provides travellers a plethora of distinctive experiences to help them connect with the island and one another. At the farm, visitors can stroll the fragrant hillside, discover a cornucopia of local herbs and harvest their own fruits and vegetables. Guests may also enjoy the resort’s unique Marketplace – a home to curated selections from small-farm producers and local artisans, blending tradition with a contemporary shopping experience.

Last but by no means least, guests can luxuriate at an activity spa offering therapies that exclusively utilise Cretan herbs, as well as a heated pool, leaving them radiating with serenity and relaxation.

Rustic, authentic, joyful and proud, the Royal Senses Hotel & Spa is above all a contemporary interpretation of the Cretan soul.

Main image credit: The Royal Senses Resort, Curio Collection by Hilton

Design London

Design London to make its London Design Festival debut in September

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
Design London to make its London Design Festival debut in September

Look alive, London! Design London will make its London Design Festival debut in creative Greenwich from September 22 – 25, 2021. Here’s what we know about the trade show…

Anticipation is building around the reopening of events and Design London is among the shows that are gearing up to showcase the best in design. The show will welcome the architecture and design community to the capital’s new favourite neighbourhood, North Greenwich, for its inaugural event.

Design London

Taking place from September 22-25, Design London, will be the largest official trade destination at this year’s London Design Festival marking a new phase for what was formerly known as 100% Design, the UK.’s longest running trade show dedicated to design. The dynamic and propelling show will be housed in Magazine London, a brand new, state-of-the-art venue on the Greenwich Peninsula overlooking Canary Wharf and just a short walk from North Greenwich Station and the shiny new Design District.

An essential platform for those looking to network and source the latest and most innovative furniture, lighting and design pieces during the annual festival, the four-day event boasts a jam-packed programme of engaging content and a highly curated selection of sought-after design brands from around the globe.


As part of the main programme there will be a timetable of talks curated by Katie Richardson, led by renowned industry influencers and thought leaders, each themed and addressing the most pressing topics to encourage debate. Design London is excited to announce British-Nigerian artist Yinka Ilori as its headline speaker and chief collaborator; he will open the talks programme on day one of the show and welcome guests through a kaleidoscopic tunnel of colour inviting them to take a seat in his joyfully designed auditorium, ‘Transparency in shades of colour’.

“I’m super excited to be part of Design London’s launch and to design my first ever dedicated talks space; meeting people and expressing my creativity is what I love most and this brings the two together,” says artist Yinka Ilori. “Community and creating spaces to make people feel safe and comfortable is so important, especially this year, and with Design London being the U.K.’s first major design show, it’s the perfect environment to unite, celebrate and uplift one another.”

Following months of grey, the show will offer visitors a welcome spectrum of colour through a vibrant lineup of speakers. Those who will succeed Ilori include Eley Kishimoto, and Pearson Lloyd. New London Architecture (NLA) will form a specialist panel to debate the future of our cities whilst commercial interior design studio Trifle Creative will join a workspace discussion. Dulux’s Creative Director, Marianne Shillingford will take to the stage with a cast of colour experts, Roddy Clarke will conduct a talk centred around sustainability in craft, and in a hospitality panel, speakers will discuss how hotels are reinventing themselves in a post pandemic world.

Exhibitor highlights

The expansive venue will house a multitude of international brands including Dutch furniture producers Artifort and Van Rossum; and esteemed Italian manufacturers Ethimo Design; Penta, and Artemide who will show their antiviral ultraviolet Integralis range alongside a selection of iconic pieces and new products from Bjarke Ingels (BIG) and Neri&Hu. The Association of Industries of Wood and Furniture Portugal (AIMMP) will present a Portuguese ensemble of brands; and Fritz Hansen’s focus on circularity will be complemented by a neighbouring pavilion of over 10 new Scandi names curated by Lifestyle & Design Cluster in conjunction with the Danish Embassy.

As part of a ‘world tour’ city-inspired collection, bathroom innovators Ideal Standard will create a cinematic experience; Industrial design label Buster + Punch is set to unveil a new look and a new line of home hardware; and bespoke sculptural lighting company Cameron Design House will reveal new contemporary brand Empty State as well as creating a spectacular installation with never-before-seen handmade chandelier, Kuulas.

[d]arc room will return to London for its fifth year with an established lighting area within Design London and a series of lighting talks led by experts. Exhibitors within this pop-up include Delta Light, John Cullen Lighting, Mesh, Nichia and Thorlux. Visitors to Design London can also expect to see work from award-winning London based design studio Haberdashery London; and architects and designers Beep Studio who will join forces with the show’s sustainability partner, Schneider Electric.

Brimming with festival-like content, Design London’s visitor experience will be enhanced by a series of street food vendors and designer bars by Campari which will line the banks of the Thames making it a one-stop shop during the busy London Design Festival.

“Greenwich Peninsula is one of London’s most fascinating and rapidly expanding neighbourhoods with a new Design District fuelled by creativity so we felt it was the best location for Design London,” explains Jedd Barry, Marketing Manager, Design London. “The district is peppered with public exhibitions and contemporary art installations and we’re excited to add to that with our cutting-edge content. We’ll be showcasing originality, diversity and innovation, and particularly look forward to celebrating the U.K. as one of the most important places for specification internationally.”

Hotel Designs is a proud media partner of Design London. The full Design London programme and list of brands will be announced in due course. For more information visit the website.

Main image credit: Design London

Two buildings owned by Union Investments

Union Investment acquires new operators for hotels in New York City and Portland

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
Union Investment acquires new operators for hotels in New York City and Portland

Union Investment has acquired two new, big-name operators, Motel One and Curio by Hilton, for its hotels in New York City and Portland. Here’s what we know…

The developer Union Investment has signed two leading operators for hotels in New York and Portland, both of which are held by UniImmo: Global. Motel One has signed a 20-year lease for the hotel in New York City. In Portland, Oxford Capital Group, LLC will take over as tenant and manager of The Porter hotel. The hotel will continue to form part of the Curio Collection by Hilton. The hotel in New York City has already been handed over to Motel One, and the hotel in Portland is also due to be handed over this month.

Two buildings owned by Union Investments

“In this challenging market environment, we’re pleased to have found solutions that secure a viable future for these hotels. We have achieved this by teaming with strong hotel partners with whom we have worked closely for many years. The follow-on leases were agreed quickly, underlining just how attractive these two properties and their locations are,” said Martin Schaller, head of Asset Management Hospitality at Union Investment. The previous operators of the two hotels came under pressure as the pandemic unfolded and were no longer able to meet their lease obligations. The operator of The Porter had to pull out of the hotel for financial reasons.

“The toughest part of the journey is now behind us. The US hotel market is already staging a comeback and hoteliers are anticipating a surge in demand. With Motel One and Oxford as operators, our hotels in New York City and Portland are extremely well positioned to benefit from the expected turnaround,” said Martin Schaller.

Motel One’s lease with Union Investment in New York City marks the chain’s entry into the US market. The German hotel group is scheduled to take over the hotel on 21 July. The property is located in downtown Manhattan, close to the World Trade Center complex, and has been operated under the Courtyard by Marriott brand since 2016. Motel One will carry out extensive refurbishment and rebranding. The agreement with the previous operator was terminated prematurely by Union Investment. Motel One already operates lifestyle budget hotels in eight properties held by Union Investment across four funds. “As Motel One’s biggest landlord, we are delighted to have the opportunity to extend our longstanding strategic relationship outside Europe as well. We’re looking forward to jointly bringing this successful lifestyle concept to the local market and travellers from all over the world in the heart of New York very soon.”

Main image credit: Union Investments

Schluter Systems underfloor heating

RIBA-approved: Schlüter Systems’ CPD learning for architects and specifiers

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
RIBA-approved: Schlüter Systems’ CPD learning for architects and specifiers

Schlüter-Systems, the market leader in high performance integrated systems and solutions for tile and stone, are hosting a suite of RIBA-accredited CPDs online aimed at architects and specifiers…

Schluter Systems underfloor heating

The CPD seminars are a fantastic way of learning about best-practise within the construction industry. Each seminar provides a detailed look into a specific area, and the aim is that you come away armed with the tools you need to install products with ease.

Considerations for Tile and Stone Installations

Offering an overview of what should be kept in mind when dealing with tile and stone considerations, this seminar provides a solid introduction to working with these materials.

Specifying Integrated Underfloor Heating Systems

Focusing on the different options available for the specification of underfloor heating, this seminar details the ins and outs of hydronic and electric systems and what type of projects each are best suited to.

10 Point Plan for a Perfect Wetroom

Exploring wet room installations at the design and specification stage, this seminar will go through a variety of topics. This includes integrated vs. multi-manufacturer combined systems, waterproofing, technology and the difference between waterproof systems and water-resistant systems.

Specifying Solutions for Crack-Free Tile and Stone Coverings

Learn how to guarantee a crack-free finish for tile and stone, with recommendations and essential considerations in specifying problem-free coverings that last. Find out what you need to know about uncoupling, movement joints and best practise.

Specifying External Applications with Tile and Stone

Enhance your understanding of how to protect bonded installations of tile and stone installed on balconies, terraces, and patios. This seminar explores how to counteract the stresses of the environment and achieve functional assemblies.

The CPDs are presented by Schlüter’s Area Specification Consultants and are currently being held online – to find out more and to book, please visit www.schluterspecifier.co.uk

Main image credit: Schlüter Systems

The Design Museum's Charlotte Perriand exhibition

Accor has partnered with the Design Museum in London this Summer – here’s why

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
Accor has partnered with the Design Museum in London this Summer – here’s why

Hotel brand Accor, which, as far as we can see, is on track for world hospitality domination, has partnered with the Design Museum in London to support and celebrate its summer exhibition, ‘Charlotte Perriand: The Modern Life‘…

On June 19, the, the Design Museum’s brand-new exhibition, “Charlotte Perriand: The Modern Life”, launched in partnership with ALL: ACCOR LIVE LIMITLESS, Accor’s free to join loyalty program.

The Design Museum's Charlotte Perriand exhibition

The exhibition explores the life and works of French architect and designer Charlotte Perriand, whose pioneering designs shaped the 20th century with many of her modern ideas still found in the way we live today and in hotel design around the world.

As well as celebrating the groundbreaking designer, Accor’s partnership also highlights the importance of design and ease of living across the hotel’s brands, in particular ibis Styles, where design and style is at the very core. Both Accor and the Design Museum share an understanding of the power of design to improve lives. Every ibis Styles hotel has its own unique design and theme, offering functional living space whilst still adding personality and style to each room, echoing Perriand’s functional design ethos.

The Design Museum's Charlotte Perriand exhibition in London

Image credit: Felix Speller

Members of ALL will be able to book a Design Museum package, which gives the opportunity to receive complimentary tickets (worth £18) to the new exhibition when booking an overnight stay in a participating hotel in London. Guests who are not yet a member can sign up to the free to join lifestyle loyalty program and enjoy the member perk straight away.

As well as at the London ibis Styles hotels, the Design Museum package will also be available at Sofitel St James, Pullman St Pancras, Novotel London Blackfriars and Mercure London Bridge.

The Design Museum’s “Charlotte Perriand: The Modern Life” runs until September 5, 2021. Curated in collaboration with the Perriand family and the Fondation Louis Vuitton in Paris, the exhibition falls on the 25th anniversary of Charlotte Perriand’s last significant presentation in London, held at the Design Museum in 1996. Featuring large-scale reconstructions of some of Perriand’s most famous interiors, as well as original furniture, her photography and her personal notebooks, the exhibition sheds new light on Perriand’s creative process and her place in design history.

Main image credit: The Design Museum/Felix Speller

Locke hotel in Munich

Locke opens first hotel in continental Europe

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
Locke opens first hotel in continental Europe

Lifestyle aparthotel brand Locke unveils first property in continental Europe with the launch of Schwan Locke in the heart of Munich…

It was only ever going to be a matter of time – and timing – before Locke, the pioneering lifestyle hospitality brand was to launch it’s first hotel in continental Europe. Well, following the brand’s arrival in Dublin, Locke has finally touched down in Europe with a hotel opening in Munich.

Locke hotel in Munich

Situated just a few minutes’ walk from the Theresienwiese, the site of Oktoberfest, Schwan Locke features 151 spacious, design-led studio apartments, as well as a complimentary co-working space, gym, coffee shop, retail space, leafy courtyard and craft cocktail bar.

Locke’s innovative home-meets-hotel concept aims to put the guest at the centre of the experience, creating spaces that are designed to be lived in in, not just slept in. This makes each location attractive to a wide range of travellers from the leisure and business markets – for both long-, mid- and short-term stays.

Image credit: Locke

Each of Schwan Locke’s signature studio apartments offer more space than a typical hotel room – featuring fully equipped kitchens, living areas and dining space. Schwan Locke’s premium apartment, the Ludwig Suite, takes this concept a step further; with a six-person dining table and custom cocktail bar, plus an expansive terrace with views of over the city.

Designed by interior architecture firm Fettle, Schwan Locke’s design is inspired by the Deutscher Werkbund, which established itself in Munich in the early 20th century. The Werkbund sought to redefine aesthetic standards by combining traditional crafts and industrial mass production techniques, in the belief that high-quality applied art could improve the nation’s quality of life.

The spaces at Schwan Locke pay homage to these principals rather than a pastiche of this iconic style; housing custom-made furniture as well as a sophisticated, mid-century-inspired colour palette. All the upholstered furniture for Schwan Locke is bespoke and inspired by furniture from the early 20th century. A colourful yet relaxing palette features throughout the social spaces and apartments, including muted reds, greens, yellows and blues that echo the era of the early modernist movement, while maintaining a sense of fun.

Schwan Locke is home to a unique art collection, which draws inspiration from the pioneering women involved in the Werkbund movement – from photographer and sculptor Marianne Brandt to Lilly Reich who was on the board of directors. The collection also champions local talent, featuring vibrant artwork from designer and illustrator Veronika Grenzebach, graffiti artist Armin Kiss-Istok, and illustrator Tomomi Maezawa.

Image credit: Locke

“Schwan Locke marks the first of two Locke openings in Munich and it is a particularly exciting start for all of us. Like other Locke locations in the UK & Ireland, we have gone to great lengths to create a space that is deeply rooted in the neighbourhood – where both locals and visitors can feel at home,” said Eric Jafari, Chief Development Officer & Creative Director, Locke. “Achieving this was a significant creative challenge, but also a unique opportunity. Munich is steeped in a rich and diverse history, while also being home to a unique creative landscape. We wanted to celebrate this – paying homage to the city’s past, but working with disruptive, forward-thinking partners to bring our vision to life.” 

Main image credit: Locke

THe lounge of the Bvlgari Suite in Milan

Suite dreams: Inside Bvlgari Hotel Milan

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
Suite dreams: Inside Bvlgari Hotel Milan

Architect Flaviano Capriotti has curated the brand new, two-bedroom Bvlgari Suite inside Bvlgari Hotel Milan, which is complete with a private terraced garden that boast simply stunning views over the vibrant city…

With Bvlgari Hotels planning its portfolio growth, with luxury hotel openings expected in Tokyo, Rome and Miami in the next few years, it would be easy to miss how the brand’s currently opened hotels are ensuring to remain at the height of luxury within their territories.

THe lounge of the Bvlgari Suite in Milan

As well as summer launching the Dom Pérignon Trolley and Picnic by Niko Romito, Bvlgari Hotel Milan has also unveiled a masterpiece suite, curated by architect Flaviano Capriotti.

Expansive and impeccably appointed, with a rooftop private garden of 194 sqm, the new 210 sqm two-bedroom Bvlgari Suite is a peaceful haven of pure, undisturbed luxury. A thoughtful expression of timeless contemporary design, the new suite comprises two bedrooms, a living room and even a private garden with 360-degree views of Milan’s skyline. Additional touches include a library featuring rare art and design books, furniture from Antonio Citterio’s Flexform and Maxalto collections, custom drapes and headboards displaying the Bvlgari eight-point star. 

The Bvlgari Suite master bedroom presents an elegant walk-in closet and a large restroom with a vanity table, steam shower, and a Brera stone 900kg carved bathtub that, due to its size, was set in the suite by crane before installing the room’s windows. Its second bedroom accommodates a king or twin bed option, a walk-in closet, and views of the city from both its bedroom and large bathroom. The Suite spacious living room, defined by its teak finishing and floor to ceiling windows, is furnished as a private residence with a beautiful library and a fireplace that serves both the inside and the outside wrap-around balcony and terrace. The Suite also features a private kitchen alongside a dining area that can accommodate up to eight people.

Bedroom inside the Bvlgari Suite in Milan

Image credit: Bvlgari Hotels

Upon request, guests at the Bvlgari Suite can experience the latest generation full-length mirror FORME Life and training equipment to work out directly from the privacy and comfort of the Suite. The touch-screen mirror offers the opportunity either to book a virtual training session with Lee Mullins, the founder of Workshop Gymnasium, or to pick from a library of pre- filmed Workshop workouts, the favourite session of yoga, Pilates, bodyweight training, stretching, breathing, and meditation routines.

Luxury bathroom inside the suite at Bvglari Hotel Milan

Image credit: Bvlgari Hotels

And just because it shelters luxury does not mean it’s not sustainable. As part of the hotel’s renovation work, a geothermal system has also been installed to improve the environmental impact and the carbon footprint of the property. It employs heat resources retained in shallow ground to heat or cool the different hotels’ environments and to create hot water that was previously provided by boilers. Using non-polluting renewable energy, the geothermal energy is able to supply what was previously obtained with two plants, significantly reducing the overall consumption of gas and emissions.

Main image credit: Bvlgari Hotels

Biagio Forino Hilton Venice

5 minutes with: Interior designer Biagio Forino

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
5 minutes with: Interior designer Biagio Forino

Following the recent unveil of Hilton Molino Stucky Venice’s new rooms and suites, editor Hamish Kilburn caught up with the designer who brought the iconic project to life within the heritage building. With sustainability and materiality key focuses of the design ethos and brief, Studio Forino’s Biagio Forino was in his element, staying true to his belief that “you cannot disregard the importance of using environmentally friendly building materials…”

Biagio Forino Hilton Venice

Born in Salerno, (Milanese by adoption), Biagio Forino opened his studio in 1987 dedicating himself with passion to his work, in the constant search for beauty and taking care of every detail for an overall result in harmony. “My work is an expression of my way of life,” he says. “The intellectual dimension of research and meticulous design is always accompanied by the realisation aspect in every little one detail, with rigour and technical efficiency, from building practices to the search for works of art, for the transformation of dreams into reality ”

Most recently, the designer was asked to renovate the suites inside Hilton Molino Stucky Venice, which emerged following Hilton’s Travel with Purpose commitment, which states: “By 2030, we [Hilton] are committed to double our investment in social impact and cut our environmental footprint in half through responsible hospitality across our value chain.”

Arial view of Hilton Venice

Image credit: Hotel Hilton Molino Stucky Venice

Formerly a flour mill factory on the peaceful island of Giudecca, the hotel is a modern Venetian masterpiece steeped in history. The historically listed building has been exquisitely restored with a series of recent refurbishments including sophisticated deluxe rooms and new spacious elegant suites – some offering guests enviable views of picture-perfect Venice.

After arriving at Hilton Molino Stucky Venice by water taxi, guests are spoiled for choice with 379 rooms and suites, one of the largest spas in Venice, an unrivalled conference centre and a collection of bars and restaurants. The new Presidential Suite at Hilton Molino Stucky Venice is the tallest and largest suite in town with private access to the hotel’s popular rooftop pool and bar. Fondly referred to as the First Lady Suite following a visit by Michelle Obama herself, the spacious new Presidential Suite is designed with tranquil blue and silver interiors, large floor-to-ceiling windows allowing natural light to illuminate the delicate Murano glass vases.

“My goal was to ensure that after a day of cultural visits in the most beautiful and unique city in the world, customers feel the desire and pleasure to return to Hilton Molino Stucky Venice to relax.” – Biagio Forino, Founder, Studio Forino.

Hamish Kilburn: What was your biggest challenge designing the new suites and presidential suite?

Biagio Forino: The existing suites were extremely dark and dusty. The furniture was dark wood with black leather headboards and carpeted floors. My biggest challenge was to transform the suites into a light and bright environment using soft colours enriched with touches of brilliant colours.

Dining area inside the presidential suite inside Hilton Molino Stucky Venice

Image credit: Hotel Hilton Molino Stucky Venice

HK: Tell us a bit more about the materials you used during this project…

BF: When I entrusted the realisation of my project to the ‘Status Contract’, I made sure that all materials were used with the certifications that guaranteed compliance with the regulations to safeguard ecology. From the use of glues, of woods, to the materials used for the upholstery of the sofas, the mattresses of the beds, the lighting with low energy consumption, the air control systems, etc!

Aside from the original darkness inside the rooms, another challenge was to make the suites as comfortable as possible making sure that the technology was present but integrated and harmonised with the very warm and welcoming yet contemporary style. Among the various materials used, I focused on one in particular for the bedside tables and desks using carbon because I wanted to bring the technology of boats into the furniture since we are in a city of sea also famous for its Moro Di Venezia.

HK: The views from the hotel are incredible! As you have now designed the tallest and newest suite in Venice, do you have a favourite viewpoint of the city from the new suites?

BF: Obviously, from all the Tower Suites the view is very beautiful but certainly my favourite is from the top of the tower which is accessed from the top floor of the Presidential Suite which allows you to see Venice at 360 degrees. It is truly a breathtaking view, a privilege that I wish everyone to be able to give themselves at least once in their life.

View from terrace of Molino Presidential Suite

Image credit: Hilton Molino Stucky Venice

HK: How would you describe your signature design style?  

BF: Elegant, sophisticated and welcoming

HK: How do you hope guests feel when staying in the new suites and presidential suite at Hilton Molino Stucky Venice?

BF: My goal was to ensure that after a day of cultural visits in the most beautiful and unique city in the world, customers feel the desire and pleasure to return to Hilton Molino Stucky Venice to relax and rethink the wonders they enjoyed and experienced.

HK: What projects is Studio Forino working on now/have in the pipeline?

BF: We are working on several projects for private clients and open public space areas. We are transforming two wonderful historic villas, one in Forte Dei Marmi in Tuscany and one in San Michele Di Pagana, not far from Portofino, in two luxury bed and breakfasts equipped with every comfort. In short, Studio Forino is busy!

Main image credit: Studio Forino/Hilton Hotels

S/O Maldives - accor

Accor announces the signing of SO/ Maldives

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
Accor announces the signing of SO/ Maldives

Accor, the leading international hotel operator in the Maldives, has signed a hotel management agreement with S Hotels, Resorts Public Company Limited and Wai Eco World Developer Pte. Ltd. (WEWD) to introduce SO/ Hotels & Resorts to this idyllic Indian Ocean archipelago in 2023. Here’s what we know…

S/O Maldives - accor

Accor, no stranger the pages of Hotel Designs, has just announced the signing of a luxury resort in the Maldives that will boast 80 villas overlooking the emboodhoo lagoon at CROSSROADS Maldives.

Nestled on its own exclusive island overlooking the azure Emboodhoo Lagoon, just 15 minutes by speedboat from Malé’s Velana International Airport, this eclectic resort will bring a fresh sense of avant-garde style and sophistication to the Maldives, while also reflecting the local spirit of this captivating country.

Scheduled to open in 2023, the new resort will take centre stage on the third island of CROSSROADS Maldives, the extraordinary integrated leisure destination in the exotic South Malé Atoll, connecting it to a wealth of world-class attractions and facilities. 

Vivid, vivacious and full of personality, SO/ Hotels & Resorts are only found in socially vibrant destinations such as Berlin, Bangkok, St Petersburg and Singapore. One of the fastest-growing brands in Accor’s lifestyle portfolio, it is designed for savvy travellers who have a passion for fashion and like to keep their finger on the pulse. Every stay is underpinned by the brand’s signature ‘Just Say SO’ service, to craft truly unforgettable experiences.

 This makes SO/ the perfect fit for CROSSROADS Maldives, which was recognised as the “Best Leisure Development Maldives (Five-Star)” in the Asia Pacific Property Awards 2021-2022. The presence of such a dynamic player on the global hotel scene will play a key role in helping CROSSROADS Maldives to expand and reach new markets worldwide, thanks to Accor’s global distribution and loyalty network.

Arrival at S/O Maldives

Image credit: Accor

Guests will be able to unwind on SO/ Maldives’ private island or take advantage of fantastic facilities at The Marina at CROSSROADS, an 800-metre lifestyle area and beach walk where visitors can discover cool cafés, refined restaurants, a chic beach club, upmarket boutiques, a spa, the Marine Discovery Centre and a 30-berth yacht marina. Unforgettable events can be hosted at the oceanfront wedding venue and meeting space.

“It gives me great pleasure to announce the arrival of SO/ Hotels & Resorts in the Maldives,” commented Garth Simmons, Chief Executive Officer – Accor Southeast Asia, Japan & South Korea. “This playful and distinctive lifestyle brand can only be found in the world’s most iconic destinations so it is the perfect fit for this renowned island paradise. The resort’s location within CROSSROADS Maldives will allow guests to experience a truly vibrant luxury lifestyle offering with plenty of options for both relaxation and adventure. SO/ Maldives will be a place to see and be seen for bold and stylish socialisers and we look forward to working with S Hotels & Resorts and WEWD to bring this project to life.” 

“We are so excited to unveil SO/ Maldives as the latest jewel in CROSSROADS Maldives’ crown, as we continue to transform the tourism landscape in this highly-desirable destination,” added Dirk De Cuyper, Chief Executive Officer, S Hotels & Resorts. “With its signature sense of style and commitment to creating unique guest journeys, SO/ is the ideal fit for our third island. It will stand out from the crowd, complement our two other industry-leading brands and complete our collection of luxury and lifestyle resorts, further raising the bar for hospitality in the Maldives.”

“The Maldives is a truly special place and we are delighted to enter the market with such a prestigious project,” said Zaw Win Maung, Managing Director, WEWD. “S Hotels & Resorts has a proven track record of developing exceptional lifestyle resorts, including CROSSROADS Maldives, and the edgy style of SO/ always strikes a chord with its trend-setting guests. With such strong partners, we are confident of creating a one-of-a-kind resort experience at SO/ Maldives.”

SO/ Maldives will join Accor’s collection of five resorts in the Maldives which include the midscale Mercure brand, premium Pullman and Mövenpick brands, and the luxury Raffles and Fairmont brands. Accor is a global industry leader in the lifestyle segment with 13 dedicated brands such as Mondrian, Mama Shelter, and 25hours.

Main image credit: Accor

Weekly digest: Seychelles arrival & a review of London’s latest spa

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
Weekly digest: Seychelles arrival & a review of London’s latest spa

Editor Hamish Kilburn here, checking in with your weekly digest to give you the low-down of some of the hottest stories that we published over the last few days – we’ve had arrivals in the Seychelles and Zimbabwe while also exploring a rather swanky new spa on London’s Park Lane…

July is proving to be a busy month. Not only are there just a few weeks left to apply/nominate (free of charge) for The Brit List Awards 2021, but we are also counting down the days until we broadcast our next Hotel Designs LIVE event – designers, architects, hoteliers and developers can click here to purchase their complimentary tickets. And while we at Hotel Designs are slowly preparing ourselves to move away from virtual and instead start meeting the industry in person once more, there’s a lot happening on the hospitality scene.

Right on cue, here’s our digest of the top stories and features from this week:

REVIEW: Checking in to experience The Spa at 45 Park Lane

45 Park lane collage

I have always wondered how a hotel like 45 Park Lane can differentiate itself from not only its neighbouring sibling but also other luxury hotels in the neighbourhood. After a few years of making my way through the cocktail, wine and steak menu, I have no regret to admit that I had been looking in the complete wrong direction all this time. The answer to how 45 Park Lane can remove itself from the cold-morning shadow of its older sister is in fact situated in what was, until recently, a building being used as offices.

Located on the lower levels of the hotel, and reached via its very own lift (which I haste to add is completely accessible for people of all abilities), the hotel has recently opened a spa, designed by Joubin Manku and developed by Clivedale London, that will simply take your breath away – and transport you worlds away from the hustle and bustle of London.

Read more.

LXR Hotels & Resorts arrives in Seychelles


Image credit: Hilton Hotels

LXR Hotels & ResortsHilton’s collection of independent luxury properties, has the opening of Mango House Seychelles, a hotel we first teased our readers with in January. The intimate and exclusive island oasis promise “a captivating, yet refined Seychellois experience on southern Mahé’s unspoiled beachfront.”

Read more.

Registration is now open for Independent Hotel Show 2021

The innovation stage at Independent Hotel Show

Have you heard? Independent Hotel Show London, presented by James Hallam, will return to Olympia London on October 4 – 5 2021 – and visitor registration has just opened. The Independent Hotel Show will bring together professionals from across the independent, luxury and boutique hotel sector for the first major industry gathering of 2021.

Read more.

A winner’s Q&A: Fiona Thompson, Principal, Richmond International

Fiona Thompson Richmond International

Following Fiona Thompson spectacularly winning at The Brit List Awards 2020, where she virtually walked away with the Outstanding Contribution to the Hospitality Industry title, Hotel Designs is finally about to present the Principal at Richmond International with her trophy. We joined the designer for lunch and a catch up in their home county, Kent, commonly known as the Garden of England…

Read more.

Sneak peek: Inside Tembo Great Plains in Zimbabwe

Image credit: Great Plains (Tembo Plains Camp)

Great Plains, the iconic eco-tourism company led by wildlife filmmakers and conservationists Beverly and Dereck Joubert, is expected to open Tembo Plains Camp on August 1, 2021, which will become Relais & Châteaux’s debut property in Zimbabwe.

Read more. 

Since you’re here…

More than 40,000 readers per month enjoy the content we publish on Hotel Designs. Our mission is to define the point on international hotel design, and we are doing that by serving relevant news stories and engaging features. To keep up to date on the hottest stories that are emerging, you can sign up to the newsletter, which is completely free of charge. As well as receiving a weekly round-up of the top stories, you will also access our bi-monthly HD Edit –staying ahead of the curve has never been so easy!

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Main image credit: Hilton Hotels

The innovation stage at Independent Hotel Show

Registration is now open for Independent Hotel Show 2021

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
Registration is now open for Independent Hotel Show 2021

Following an unstable period where all live events were down due to the outbreak of Covid-19, The Independent Hotel Show 2021, which Hotel Designs is a proud media partner of, has just announced that registration has opened for the headline event that will take place at Olympia London on October 4 – 5…

The innovation stage at Independent Hotel Show

Have you heard? Independent Hotel Show London, presented by James Hallam, will return to Olympia London on October 4 – 5 2021 – and visitor registration has just opened.

Independent Hotel Show will bring together professionals from across the independent, luxury and boutique hotel sector for the first major industry gathering of 2021.

A carefully curated selection of more than 300 innovative businesses representing the variety and diversity of the hotel sector – including transformational hospitality tech, high end design and unique in-room f&b solutions– will be on hand to discuss their latest products and services.

Elena Attanasio, Event Director for Independent Hotel Show, commented: “We’ve been overwhelmed by the enthusiasm of our exhibiting companies and partners. It’s clear that the industry can’t wait to come together, meet face to face and do business at the leading event for the UK independent hotel market.”

The 9th edition of the show will see the return of the Innovation Stage, in partnership with eviivo and dressed by sofa.com, where hoteliers and hospitality leaders (including our very own editor Hamish Kilburn) will discuss all the trends and issues most relevant to the 2021 industry, from rebuilding the urban hotel market to destination gastronomy to navigating the return of the corporate traveller.

The Social Business Space will once again provide a hub for the industry to meet with peers and discuss best practice, while new addition The Tech Solutions Bar in partnership with HOSPA will enable hoteliers to seek out expert, objective advice on solving their technology pain points. Guests at the show will also be able to network and relax in expanded feature area, The Lobby presented by IH Connects.

After an incredibly difficult year for the hotel and hospitality sector, the Independent Hotel Show Awards will once again be celebrating the winners of the Independent Hotelier Award and the GM of the Future Award, in partnership with The Master Innholders. The award ceremony will also celebrate the winners of The Good Hotel Guide’s Cesar Ritz Award, given to the UK’s 10 best hotels.

Peter Hancock, Chief Executive of Pride of Britain Hotels and Independent Hotel Show Ambassador, commented: “Wild horses could not keep me away from Independent Hotel Show this year, firstly because it’s one of the most informative events our industry has to offer and secondly because I am lucky enough to be involved in the awards presentations on 4 October. Wise hoteliers from all over the UK will be there to learn from their peers and from other industry experts in a stylish and pleasant setting. What’s not to like?”

Serena Von Der Hyde, Partner at Georgian House Hotel and Director at Victorian House Hotel added: “As a hotelier, Independent Hotel Show is the best show for me by far because of all the stands and the different sessions on the stage, I would say that 95 per cent of it is relevant to me, compared to larger shows. I’m also much more likely to bump into colleagues of mine and like-minded people, so for me it’s the best show that I attend.”

To learn more about everything on offer at Independent Hotel Show 2021, and to register for your complimentary pass, visit www.independenthotelshow.co.uk 

Main image credit: Independent Hotel Show London

45 Park lane collage

Checking in to experience The Spa at 45 Park Lane

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
Checking in to experience The Spa at 45 Park Lane

“All this time, I had been looking in the completely wrong direction when trying to understand how 45 Park Lane can stand out from its older sibling – and neighbour – The Dorchester.” Editor Hamish Kilburn is among the first to explore the luxury hotel’s new spa, which shelters a clever biophilic design narrative as well as the largest pool on Park Lane, London…

45 Park lane collage

For any hotel operating in close proximity to a sibling property, the need to do something different is innate. In the case of 45 Park Lane, whose sister (and neighbour) is The Dorchester, which in style as well as service is one of London’s most iconic hotels, standing out is essential. Luckily for 45 Park Lane, though, its 1920s design scheme along with its effortless ability to serve up London’s finest pre-dinner negroni followed by an award-winning steak has kept the property on the map – and as such an integral member of The Dorchester Collection.

With arguably less weight on its shoulders than that of The Dorchester to preserve a deep-rooted legacy, the design scheme inside 45 Park Lane is given space to play. That’s not to say for one minute that it does not feel like a Dorchester Collection hotel, because it very much does with the same attentive service that threads together all properties within the collection. The smaller (in size, not personality) hotel stands up to The Dorchester as a younger, confident and slightly more masculine sibling. The General Manager, John Scanlon, who first joined the hotel in 2015 and who was profiled in The Brit List 2020 as one of Britain’s leading hoteliers, is totally committed to ensuring that guests have the best possible stay experience, immediately upon entry. Scanlon’s hospitable nature is undisputed – I caught him, on several occasions, warmly greeting and seating guests. Aside from his cordial style of leadership, it is his passion for art that is simply refreshing.

As I check in, what would be a conventional check-in experience becomes a conversation between myself and the front desk about who is responsible for the colourful art installation that is on show around the public areas. “The artist is called Nat Bowen,” I am told – and to my delight that Scanlon has just extended her artist residency. Perhaps it’s the times we are living in, or my admiration for hotels with traditional values creating scenes that juxtapose pre-conceptions – more than likely it’s a mixture of both – but as arrival experiences go, 45 Park Lane delivers the goods.

Image caption: The lobby lounge at 45 Park Lane sets the tone for an unparalleled luxury experience. | Image credit: The Dorchester Collection

Image caption: The lobby lounge at 45 Park Lane sets the tone for an unparalleled luxury experience. | Image credit: The Dorchester Collection

In just 10 years since it originally opened, the hotel has carved out its own niche, sheltering a members’ club-like interior design scheme that attracts those who want luxury served in more contemporary glassware.

“After a few years of making my way through the cocktail, wine and steak menu, I have no regret to admit that I had been looking in the complete wrong direction before.”

But, despite being a stunning hotel that naturally beats its own rhythm, I can’t help but feel, with just a decade of experience on the London hospitality scene, that it has been wrongly overlooked for more obvious and iconic properties nearby. Well, not anymore.

I have always wondered how a hotel like 45 Park Lane can differentiate itself from not only its neighbouring sibling but also other luxury hotels in the neighbourhood. After a few years of making my way through the cocktail, wine and steak menu, I have no regret to admit that I had been looking in the complete wrong direction all this time. The answer to how 45 Park Lane can remove itself from the cold-morning shadow of its older sister is in fact situated in what was, until recently, a building being used as offices.

Located on the lower levels of the hotel, and reached via its very own lift (which I haste to add is completely accessible for people of all abilities), the hotel has recently opened a spa, designed by Joubin Manku and developed by Clivedale London, that will simply take your breath away – and transport you worlds away from the hustle and bustle of London. “The major challenge was making the spa feel like it is not below ground and a separate destination to the Residences and 45 Park Lane,” explains Steven Blaess Head of Interior Design, Clivedale London.

The Spa at 45 Park Lane

Image caption: The Spa at 45 Park Lane is a botanical dream designed by Joubin Manku. | Image credit: The Dorchester Collection.

Its clever design utilises space while allowing guests the pleasure to meander through wellness and wellbeing heaven, where the walls are adorned with hand-placed mosaic tiles to inject a sensitive nod to biophic design and where the length of the pool is (almost) endless, by Park Lane’s standards at least.

But with any underground spa comes the challenge of light. “The intention for the spa spaces was to create a sense of calmness and tranquillity,” says Blaess. “The subtle glistening of light onto the glass mosaics is a reminder of water droplets on foliage. Dappled lighting was dispersed to help create the illusion of walking through a leafy canopy of light.”

I’m told that Manku, when taking on the project, conducted a brief study of other spas in central London and what was missing from all was a sense of nature and connectedness. “These other spas were usually designed with hard architectural materials and more formal in their layout and approach, adds Blaess. The important thing for the spa was to address both the 45 Park Lane guests link and the residences direct access, without making one or the other less important. It was about creating a unique yet somewhat separate experience for both.

“The Spa Lounge, for example, is the hub of the entire level, where people want to naturally either start their journey or end their spa experience, relaxing on over-sized sofas and armchairs set around a central feature fireplace. Visual glimpses onto the swimming pool provide a connection to water while also providing swimmers with privacy.”

The overriding theme and concept developed by Manku was a connection to Hyde Park and therefore bringing into the interiors natural references of leaves, native grasses and wild flowers. “The glass mosaics were conceptualised by Manku to reference a liberty-style, decorative design pattern, that were successfully mass manufactured as part of the Industrial Revolution,” adds Blaess. “The glass mosaics were made in Venice with one of the regions oldest family mosaics manufacturing companies.” Natural feeling timber was also used to reference woodland trees on wall and ceiling slatted panels with leaves, grasses and native wildflowers designed into the glass mosaics.”

Image caption: The hand-placed mosaic tiles are a unique theme throughout the spa areas that inject biophilic design into the space. | Image credit: The Dorchester Collection

Image caption: The hand-placed mosaic tiles are a unique theme throughout the spa areas that inject biophilic design into the space. | Image credit: The Dorchester Collection

The Spa at 45 Park Lane is undisputedly beautiful, but I would go one step further. The addition of the spa inside the hotel has actually elevated the entire hotel experience for guests checking in. Pre-spa era, the hotel’s rooms and suites were aptly stylish, timeless and complete with their own details (as you would expect from a hotel within the collection). While these areas continue to marry together a voguish collection of art with a distinct 1920s soul that comes through in the interiors, many modern travellers feel as if a luxury experience is not absolute without a destination spa to match. Interestingly, for me, the spa has put more of a focus on wellbeing. As such, even the bathrooms, which always have been beyond perfect – complete with walk-in showers, sumptuously deep baths and hidden TVs in the mirrors, now feel that much more special.

As with all good and meaningful renovations, there wasn’t anything particularly wrong with the hotel before. However, the addition of the spa has, I believe, helped keep 45 Park Lane on the radar of luxury travellers by offering an experience unmatched by any other hotel on Park Lane.

Today, as the hotel re-opens up to welcome a new chapter of hospitality – one where the demand for wellness is and will remain off the scale – the existing hotel that shelters timeless decor remains an invigorating blend of art and landmark architecture in the middle of classical London. The spa feeds the demand of luxury travellers, while also cleverly staying true to the Dorchester Collection’s undisputed hospitality style.

Main image credit: The Dorchester Collection

Parkside Criaterra tiles

Product watch: Parkside Introduces 100% natural, ‘zero waste’ wall tile

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
Product watch: Parkside Introduces 100% natural, ‘zero waste’ wall tile

Made from 100 per cent natural materials using a patented, low-energy production process, Criaterra tiles are the latest decorative wall tiles to join the Parkside portfolio…

Following the brand’s spectacular win at The Brit List Awards 2020, Parkside has launched a new product that perfectly answers to demands for conscious and sustainable surface design that is also stylish.

Parkside Criaterra tiles

Made from stone powders, clays and plant fibres cast in three-dimensional patterns that fuse geometric and organic forms, and available in colours derived from natural pigments, Criaterra is a unique decorative wall tile that challenges the conventions of production and design. 100 per cent biodegradable – and as strong as concrete and with six times the thermal resistance – Criaterra takes a bold step towards product circularity.

Offering a 90 per cent energy saving in production against ceramics and using up to 70 per cent upcycled quarry waste material, the tiles use Advanced Earth Technology, the result of an intensive five-year scientific R&D project. This innovative technology re-engineers the way tiles are manufactured and introduces a fully regenerative product, as well as replacing conventional high temperature firing with a low temperature process that reduces greenhouse gas emissions.

Brian Linnington, managing director, Parkside, says: “We’re hugely excited to welcome Criaterra into our portfolio as it makes inroads in tackling the environmental challenges we face as an industry. The tile’s ability to deliver performance as well as 100 per cent product circularity is hugely impressive, but it is also incredibly beautiful to look at. Already gracing commercial interiors in EMEA, we’re looking forward to seeing how UK projects make use of the unique geo-organic forms and thoughtful natural palette.”

Criaterra is available in eight geometric shapes which can be organised into limitless combinations in Quad or arranged through the irregular hexagon and concave form of Hex to reference the shape’s common occurrence in the natural world. A nine-strong palette of clay like tones, from pale Dolomit through to Onyx and Ruby, give a strong ‘from earth’ feel, making Criaterra well-suited to commercial interiors heavily influenced by natural materials. The square, rectangular and rhombus flat shapes of Quad also ground the tile well in more ordered contemporary schemes.

Suitable for internal decorative wall use only and designed to work best without grout, Criaterra is a natural alternative to mass produced ceramic tiles.

Parkside, which won Best in British Product Design at The Brit List Awards 2020, is one of our recommended suppliers and regularly feature in our Supplier News section of the website. If you are interested in becoming one of our recommended suppliers, please email Katy Phillips.

Main image credit: Parkside

Fiona Thompson Richmond International

A winner’s Q&A: Fiona Thompson, Principal, Richmond International

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
A winner’s Q&A: Fiona Thompson, Principal, Richmond International

Following Fiona Thompson spectacularly winning at The Brit List Awards 2020, where she virtually walked away with the Outstanding Contribution to the Hospitality Industry title, Hotel Designs is finally about to present the Principal at Richmond International with her trophy. Editor Hamish Kilburn joined the designer for lunch and a catch up in their home county, Kent, commonly known as the Garden of England…

Fiona Thompson Richmond International

Admittedly, there was little to celebrate in 2020. For so many, the year is now a blur in history following Covid-19 and the pandemic which followed putting an eraser through any of last year’s social and then plans. The hospitality industry waded through each lockdown and slowly but surely hotels around the globe started to re-emerge – but, even now, travel restrictions are preventing the industry to thrive as it did before.

Despite the year being challenging for the majority of industries, it would be remiss to ignore the heroes in hospitality and hotel design who proved themselves of their leadership skills to put forward meaningful solutions while allowing us, the media, to share their community-centred and selfless initiatives.

The Brit List Awards 2020, which was broadcasted in November 2020 as a virtual event due to the circumstances at the time, aimed to do just that – with The Stock Exchange Hotel in Manchester’s Gary Neville, among other individual award winners, scooping up Hotelier of the Year following its decision to close its doors in order to open them up, free-of-charge, to NHS workers during the peak of the pandemic.

The Outstanding Contribution to the Hospitality Industry category, for many reasons, is the most prestigious award of the campaign – past winners include Kit Kemp and Robin Shepherd. It is open to all designers, architects, hoteliers and developers. Last year, the award was presented to Fiona Thompson, Principal of Richmond International, who was, in fact, the first designer I ever interviewed. Richmond International, a studio that Thompson was adamant to remain London, has completed projects such as Sandy Lane in Barbados, Rosewood Miramar Beach, The London West Hollywood and a cluster of Four Seasons and Langham hotels to name but a few. What’s more, I have seen first-hand Thompson supporting and inspiring the next generation of designers, such as Harry Allnatt who was a finalist in our 30-under-30 campaign a few years ago.

Between the award ceremony in November to now, there have been limited opportunities – if any at all – to see Thompson in person in order to celebrate her new title. But just the other day, we found the perfect time, place and weather to meet, allowing us to finally present her with the timeless trophy in recognition of her style and character.

Over lunch, nestled in the quiet countryside of the Garden of England, we caught up to explore diversity in design, getting the industry back on its feet and how much the industry has changed in more than 55 years since Richmond International first launched.

Editor Hamish Kilburn was finally able to award Fiona Thompson her award, seven months after the virtual awards ceremony of The Brit List Awards 2020.

Editor Hamish Kilburn was finally able to award Fiona Thompson her award, seven months after the virtual awards ceremony of The Brit List Awards 2020.

Hamish Kilburn: What have been the biggest changes since you started at Richmond International to now? 

Fiona Thompson: The industry has changed so much since I joined Richmond International as a designer in the early 80s, and then again as a studio director in 1992. In this time, we have seen a huge increase in new hospitality brands popping up around the world, an increase in demand for specialised spaces such as spas, the rise and integration of technology in hospitality settings, and a greater focus on environmental and socially sustainable design, to name a few.

Another key change has been the way that consumers use hospitality spaces and therefore what they demand from them. This was in fact the main driving force behind one of our latest projects, Múzsa at Four Seasons Gresham Palace, Budapest. We were tasked with responding to the changing demands of a hotel lobby and to create an experiential space with an energy that could attract both hotel guests and locals.

With this project, we moved away from traditional lobby design, in favour of creating distinct guest experiences, from sampling local wines in the tasting room to sipping cocktails in the lively, central bar. This not only gives the property its own vibrant identity, but it also helps drive revenue in a space that traditionally people just pass through.

Fiona Thompson, Principal, Richmond International at a Hotel Designs' roundtable in 2019

Fiona Thompson, Principal, Richmond International at a Hotel Designs’ roundtable in 2019

HK: As our winner of the Outstanding Contribution to the Hospitality Industry award, what words of advice do you have for designers struggling at the moment? 

FT: It’s been a tough year for everyone for so many reasons, both professionally and personally, but now it’s time to pull together as an industry so we can bounce back stronger than ever. It’s difficult to see great designers struggling, but with restrictions beginning to ease and life starting to feel slightly more normal again, we’re already seeing positive signs; for the first time in a long time there’s confidence in the market and new projects with fresh investment coming back online.

image credit: The Cosmopolitan, designed by Richmond International

image credit: The Cosmopolitan, designed by Richmond International

HK: What is the secret to success in hotel and hospitality design? 

FT: We’ve been in the hospitality design business for over 55 years, and in that time, we’ve learnt that the key to success is always a great team, which includes clients, operators, consultants and of course designers. Any project in a hotel or a cruise ship is a mammoth task that demands the commitment and efforts of so many different people.  

Image caption: Render of cabin inside P&O vessel, designed by Richmond International

Image caption: Render of cabin inside P&O vessel, designed by Richmond International

The most successful and enjoyable projects are always the ones where every player is pulling in the same direction. It’s important to remember that the initial design is only part of a long process, where ideas constantly evolve, so it’s vital that the entire team is aligned and working towards a clear vision.

In more challenging environments, it’s our job to listen and respond to conflicting points of view, but ultimately be prepared to fight for our designs and see them through to the end.

The plush Sterling Suite at Langham London

Image caption: The Sterling Suite, Langham London

“Surround yourself with design and designers, be observant and open to new things and learn as much as you possibly can from the people around you.” – Fiona Thompson, Principal, Richmond International.

HK: We recently celebrated International Women’s Day at HD. What advice would you give young designers wanting to climb the ladder – and were there any female mentors when you started in the industry? 

FT: At Richmond International, we support and champion all great designers and recognise the importance of mentoring and nurturing young talent. We’re a relatively inclusive industry, that is often less male dominated than the likes of architecture, but it’s still essential we continue to bring talented females into the industry and up the ranks into senior positions.

My biggest piece of advice for any young designer would be that you must love what you do and be passionate about the industry. Surround yourself with design and designers, be observant and open to new things and learn as much as you possibly can from the people around you. Secondly, I would always encourage young designers to be brave, bring your ideas to the table and contribute positively. As designers we would never criticise someone for suggesting an idea, good or bad, it’s all part of the process.

Large and spacious public area of plush suite

Image Caption: Penthouse of London West Hollywood

HK: What lessons have you learned during lockdown? 

FT: A big learning for me is that we can successfully work remotely, especially for aspects of the job like team and client meetings. That being said, the value of face-to-face meetings should not be underestimated or forgotten. When meeting a client in person, there’s an opportunity to build chemistry and trust, and when we’re all in the studio we can bounce ideas around and brainstorm together. There is a real spark that’s created from in-person collaboration, it’s certainly something I can’t wait to get back to.

Without commuting and having to travel to projects, which ordinarily is a huge part of the job, I’ve definitely seen an improvement in my own work/life balance, as well as that of my colleagues. While travel will inevitably return, the balance is something we will be more mindful of as a company moving forwards. 

HK: What other projects are Richmond International working on at the moment? 

Despite the events of the past year, we’ve been extremely busy. The team have worked on lots of exciting new projects, including the renovation of the iconic The Langham, Boston, the refurbishment of Tuscan hotel, Grotta Giusti and the introduction of a new destination spa on site, as well as various spaces onboard the new addition to the P&O fleet, P&O Iona. We will be able to give you more details on these very soon!

HK: If you had the power, what words would you ban people using in the industry? 

I think it would have to be photo sharing social media sites. While they are brilliant for showcasing visuals and discovering new and exciting hotels, restaurants, bars and even designers from all corners of the world, I worry that it can often stifle our creativity and curiosity. For me, great designs are born from team brainstorms and discussions where designs are reviewed and evolved based on new discoveries and changes in approach. After this process, the finished product will not just be aesthetically pleasing and fit the purpose but also completely original, rather than a replica of something that we’ve seen online.

If you would like to take part or nominate someone for The Brit List Awards 2021, you have until August 6 to do so. Once entries close, the shortlisted finalists will be announced in September and the award ceremomny will take place on November 3 at PROUD Embankment, London.

Main image credit: Richmond International

Sneak peek: Inside Tembo Great Plains in Zimbabwe

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
Sneak peek: Inside Tembo Great Plains in Zimbabwe

Great Plains, the iconic eco-tourism company led by wildlife filmmakers and conservationists Beverly and Dereck Joubert, is expected to open Tembo Plains Camp on August 1, 2021, which will become Relais & Châteaux’s debut property in Zimbabwe. Editor Hamish Kilburn writes…

In the heart of Africa, Great Plains is putting the finishing touches on what will become its latest luxury safari camp, which will also mark Relais & Châteaux’s debut in Zimbabwe.

As we have been following the story of Great Plains and Beverly and Dereck Joubert – and the fascinating lives they carve out for themselves and the community around their meaningful camps – it’s hard not to anticipate what the film makers-turned-hoteliers will do next. We last spoke to the couple a few months back when they teased us and our readers about two camps that were expected to arrive in the summer. Mara Toto Camp and Mara Plains Camp, both of which are now open in Kenya.

For those who know the Jouberts, though, will understand that their brand’s narrative is a never-ending, ever-evolving portfolio of authentically designed camps – after all, there is still so much of Africa to explore. The latest plot twist in what is no-doubt a difficult chapter for hospitality worldwide, is the entrance of Tembo Plains Camp, which will make its entrance in August as a proud member of Relais & Châteaux. Although, at the time of publishing, we are limited to how many images we have, you can see how the camp will, in true Great Plains style and substance, naturally blend into working around nature’s rhythm.

With four spacious guest tents, an exquisite two-bedroom family unit and a private guide tent, the camp, designed to frame African wildlife in all its majesty, will be ideal for couples, families, multi-generational travellers, and those looking for an exclusive personal safari experience.

The beautiful family unit, with interiors designed by Beverly, comprises two tents with a shared lounge and dining area and pool and will accommodate up to four adults, two adults and two children. Each guest tent offers an indoor lounge and outdoor dining area, private plunge pool and exercise bikes, in addition to expansive en-suite bathroom facilities, indoor baths, showers and double vanities. Guests have access to professional Canon cameras and Leica binoculars throughout their stay to capture the many special holiday moments.

“When I designed Tembo Plains Camp, it was with a view to reference the famous Grean Zimbabwe ruins but not lose sight of our love of canvas and exploring,” explained Dereck. “So we ended up with a unique combination of canvas and stone walls. The semi-circular walls inside each tent isolate the bath and shower from the bedroom and indoor lounge areas bringing that architectural reference inside. Outside, this pack-stone wall design continues along the back of the guest bedroom, and that really gives you a greater sense of privacy, often an issue in tents. I didn’t want a completely ‘built room’. Hence, the front has these uninterrupted views of the Zambezi flowing just meters away from the canvas ‘tented’ portion.”

‘Tembo’, meaning elephant, pays tribute to the animals frequently seen around Tembo Plains Camp along with painted dogs, buffalo, lions and leopards. The Sapi Private Reserve borders the Mana Pools National Park and is recognised as one of Africa’s finest wildlife destinations today. Twitchers will be spoiled for choice as Tembo Plains is situated in a prime bird-watching country, ideal for photographers and nature enthusiasts. Activities at Tembo Plains include day and night wildlife-viewing drives, walking safaris, canoeing and boating on the Zambezi River.

Tembo Plains will join the Réserve Collection of camps, the highest-level brand at Great Plains, alongside sister properties Zarafa Camp, Selinda Camp, Duba Plains in Botswana, and Mara Nyika, Mara Plains and ol Donyo Lodge in Kenya.

Both Beverly and Dereck will join as speakers at Hotel Designs LIVE on August 10, where the pair will discuss the role of surface design in the camps they develop and design. If you are a designer, architect, hotelier or developer, click here to secure your complimentary tickets in the audience.

Main image credit: Great Plains

Interiors unveiled of The Springwoods Club Palm Tree Hotel in Heyuan, China

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Interiors unveiled of The Springwoods Club Palm Tree Hotel in Heyuan, China

Emotion derived from balance of nature, relaxation and luxury are all cues that have inspired the design narrative, led by Hirsch Bedner Associates Los Angeles (HBA), inside The Springwoods Club Palm Tree Hotel in Heyuan, China…

Design firm Hirsch Bedner Associates Los Angeles (HBA), which recently completed Hotel Carmichael, Autograph Collection and joined us for Hotel Designs LIVE in May, has unveiled the public area design of The Springwoods Club Palm Tree Hotel in Heyuan, Guangdong, China, bringing welcoming luxury, tranquility and the brilliance of nature together in perfect harmony.

14_Springwoods Palm_Courtyard

Image credit: The Springwoods Club Palm Tree Hotel

Sophisticated simplicity, synchronicity of the five elements, the alluring destination and the natural landscape establish the foundation of the design concept. The award-winning hospitality design firm drew inspiration from the scenic mountains of Heyuan and the property’s lakefront locale to achieve balanced interiors and a bespoke sanctuary of calm.

“The design brief was to utilise the natural beauty of the lake and surrounding topography as our muse to create serene environments and an overall respite from hectic city life,” said HBA Los Angeles Partner Kathleen Dauber. “There is a transformative moment when the morning mist enveloping the lake and scenery clears, revealing the setting’s radiance and tranquility. We embraced the emotion felt in that sense of discovery in writing the narrative of this project’s design.”

Guided by Eastern philosophies and a transitional mindset, HBA Los Angeles designers composed the public spaces with layered symmetry in a natural palette of wood and stone. Wood-beamed ceilings and sculpted archways in the voluminous lobby and lounge gracefully bring in elements of Mediterranean style, while floor-to-ceiling windows fill the space with natural light and usher in an airy ambiance. Vignettes and congenial seating groups create moments of intimacy without sacrificing social opportunities.

The themes of natural materiality and the balance of luxury and comfort are carried through the corridors, instituting an intuitive flow, as well as into the meeting spaces, VIP room, sauna room and patio dining area. In the ballroom, backlit glass screens line the perimeter of the ceiling and illuminate the space, while structural columns and wood paneling to wainscoting height cultivate a comfortable sense of enclosure. Cedar surfaces the sauna room with a Himalayan salt installation that acts as an artistic focal point in addition to a functional element. On the outdoor dining patio, textural walls of wood wrap the space to direct views of the picturesque lake, greenery and mountains.

Many of the furnishings throughout the public areas are custom crafted of carved wood and stone in organic shapes, balancing the grand scale of the interiors with tactile touchpoints, exceptional artisanship and refined detailing. All areas of the property are focused on the views outward, providing a visual connection to the outdoors.

Main image credit: HBA

Weekly digest: Another launch for Virgin Hotels & a new London design studio

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
Weekly digest: Another launch for Virgin Hotels & a new London design studio

Editor Hamish Kilburn here, tasked to serve up this week’s hotel design headlines – such a Virgin Hotels’ arrival in New Orleans, Hard Rock entering a new territory and a new design studio launching in London – in one juicy shot…

“In a marketing email we sent this week, the marketing team added their own spin on the saying: “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” We felt as though, unless you are driving or it’s a particularly hot day (and even then, gin is always an option), that the industry isn’t that keen on the idea of sipping lemonade in the corner of a room. Instead, and I say this following my attendance at a handful of events recently, we are all reaching for the limoncello after 18 months strictly no socialising.

Answering to the demand of the industry, therefore, we’re tempted to raise the shot glass at The Brit List Awards 2021, which takes place on November 3 at PROUD Embankment. You have until August 6 (less than one month) in order to submit your entries – shortlisted designers, architects and hoteliers will get a complimentary ticket to the awards ceremony.

Between now and then, we on the editorial desk are committed to serve you a variety of flavours of news, features and exclusive insights. Taking the metaphor perhaps too far, this weekly digest is, if you like, the limoncello shot needed to finish off your week.

Here are the top stories from the last few days…

Hard Rock Hotels arrives in Madrid

Render credit: Hard Rock Hotel Madrid

Sheltering all the ingredients to make an exceptional lifestyle hotel, Hard Rock Hotel Madrid marks the brand’s debut property in a Spanish city. Located at the Golden Triangle of Art in the Spanish capital, the hotel is the newest addition to an international portfolio and compliments the brand’s recent growth throughout Europe.

Read more.

Exclusive: Meet the designer behind London Design House

London Design House

Image credit: London Design House

You may already know – or know of – Akram Fahmi (former Design Director at 1508 London) and Gary Kellett (former architect at ReardonSmith), but did you know that the two have joined forces to set up and launch their very own studio. In an exclusive interview, we caught up with Fahmi and Kellett to understand more about London Design House…

Read more. 

Virgin Hotels to arrive in New Orleans this summer

Image credit: Virgin Hotels

For any hotel that is owned by a pioneering boss who, in just a few days time, will attempt to make the history books by flying to the edge of spaceto reach a major milestone in his campaign to introduce a commercial spaceflight service, the expectation for an unmatched hospitality experience is huge.

Luckily, the Virgin Hotels New Orleans, which is about to make its bold debut onto the hospitality scene as soon as this summer has been designed with both Virgin’s in-house team and locally based interior designers Logan Killen in order to ensure its interiors hit all the right notes for tomorrow’s modern travellers – think texture and colour, lots of colour! 

Read more. 

Richmond International unveils new interiors at The Langham, Boston

luxe suite inside Langham Boston

Image credit: Langham Hotels

With a range of dynamic spaces accommodating both guests and day visitors, The Langham, Boston, a landmark hotel, has reclaimed its position as one of the country’s most desirable destinations following the completion of a three-year renovation by design studio Richmond International.

Read more.

A new meaning of bathing: The Sky Pool at Embassy Gardens

Sky Pool London

Image credit: Ballymore and EcoWorld Ballymore.

The launch of the new headline-grabbing Sky Pool at Embassy Gardens has introduced a new twist to the concept of bathing – and whats more, our Recommended Supplier, bathroom brand Kaldewei, was involved in the development led by Ballymore and EcoWorld Ballymore.

Read more. 

And finally… The Brit List Awards 2021: FAQs (applications/nominations close soon)

The Brit List Awards 2021

Your chance to apply or nominate someone, free of charge, to enter The Brit List Awards 2021 is running out. Ahead of applications/nominations closing on August 6 – and to ensure that you are fully in-the-know about your opportunity to enter and join us at our largest networking event in this year’s calendar, here are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions…

Read more.

Since you’re here…

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Hard Rock Hotels arrives in Madrid

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
Hard Rock Hotels arrives in Madrid

Music, art and culture… turn up the volume as we welcome, Hard Rock Hotel Madrid, the brand’s first Spanish city hotel… 

Sheltering all the ingredients to make an exceptional lifestyle hotel, Hard Rock Hotel Madrid marks the brand’s debut property in a Spanish city. Located at the Golden Triangle of Art in the Spanish capital, the hotel is the newest addition to an international portfolio and compliments the brand’s recent growth throughout Europe.

The Hard Rock International brand is one of the most globally recognised companies with venues in 68 countries spanning 239 locations. The group’s hotel portfolio has properties in Asia, North America, South America, The Caribbean, the UK and Europe. Following the launch of Hard Rock Hotel London, – and ahead of an expected touch-down in Budapest – the brand’s latest arrival is in Spain’s capital, Madrid.

“Hard Rock Hotels has always felt very in tune with the vibrancy and spirit of Spain. It is one of the reasons we introduced the brand to Europe with Hard Rock Ibiza in 2014, followed by our Tenerife hotel shortly after” said Dale Hipsh, Senior Vice President of Hotels, Hard Rock International. “As our first Spanish city hotel, Hard Rock Hotel Madrid brings a distinctly different personality to our beach resorts. Our guests will discover art, music, history, culinary excellence and culture at their fingertips – all brought together through Hard Rock’s curated and entertainment-infused hospitality.”

Image credit: Hard Rock Hotel Madrid

The new hotel caters to both business and leisure travellers, with 161 contemporary rooms and suites (from 18 sq. metres) offering diverse views, so guests can take in the lights of Madrid, or retreat from the city with a room overlooking the lush garden. Additionally, over 2,000 sq. metres of event space including garden and rooftop venues set the stage for world-class immersive events.

At the heart of the property, guests will find a dramatic architectural hanging guitar sculpture above the welcoming, amber-hued sofas of the lobby. Vibrant artwork is featured throughout the hotel, including a life-size pink ‘Las Meninas’ adorned with Rosalía lyrics, inspired by Diego Velázquez’s masterpiece hanging in the Prado Museum and mural in GMT+1 bar inspired by the La Movida movement in Madrid.

The colourful artwork is complemented by a thoughtfully curated memorabilia collection that showcases Madrid style and culture, as well as international music legends. Hard Rock Hotel Madrid is now home to over 70 pieces of memorabilia, with notable pieces including an acoustic guitar from Madrid-native singer-songwriter, Antonio Vega; blue denim jeans outfit worn by Elvis Presley during an NBC TV special in 1968; and platform boots worn by David Bowie.

The property’s premier location in the Triángulo de Oro del Arte, is surrounded by the Reina Sofia National Museum, the Prado National Museum and the Thyssen-Bornemisza National Museum. Within walking distance, guests can explore the historic art nouveau train station (Atocha), the Royal Botanical Garden, and the charming Lavapiés and Embajadores neighbourhoods.

The hotel will be a draw for travellers and locals alike as it is home to unique bars and restaurant concepts including the brand’s signature restaurant Sessions, with interiors by Rockwell Group, and RT60, a spectacular rooftop bar offering craft cocktails, a jamón carving station with cheese and unbeatable 360-degree views of the city to the beat of live DJ sets. Sessions, with its open and airy terrace, overlooks the hotel’s garden and serves a unique take on classic Spanish cuisine with unexpected culinary delicacies on the menu, whilst the GMT+1 lobby bar offers drinks and light fare throughout the day. The Green Room, a private chef’s table serving an exclusive menu to no more than six guests is set to open in September.

image credit: Hard Rock Hotel Madrid

image credit: Hard Rock Hotel Mimage credit: Hard Rock Hotel Madridadrid

Lifestyle consultant and international restaurateur, Maria Font Trabocchi, has played a crucial role in bringing the gastronomy at Hard Rock Hotel Madrid to life with her distinct Spanish spin. As the woman behind, Fiola, Fiola Mare, Sfoglina and Del Mar in Washington D.C. and across the United States, Maria has built a career’s worth of successful restaurants based on excellent quality and hospitality.

“I am honoured to be working with Hard Rock Hotels to bring my knowledge, experiences and personal take on restaurants to the capital of my home country,” said Trabocchi. “The hotel is incredibly well-located, and we are confident that it will soon become a social hub and meeting spot for residents in the city as well as visitors. The restaurants offer beautiful surroundings, the food is vibrant, and we look forward to the chef breathing his own emotion and energy into the restaurants now the hotel is officially open”.

The property also encompasses an outdoor swimming pool, Body Rock® fitness centre and Rock Om®, which fuses the ancient practice of yoga with the rhythm of a custom DJ-curated soundtrack for complimentary, in-room yoga sessions.

Main image credit: Hard Rock Hotel Madrid

London Design House

Exclusive: Meet the designers behind London Design House

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
Exclusive: Meet the designers behind London Design House

You may already know – or know of – Akram Fahmi (former Design Director at 1508 London) and Gary Kellett (former architect at ReardonSmith), but did you know that the two have joined forces to set up and launch their very own studio. In an exclusive interview, editor Hamish Kilburn caught up with Fahmi and Kellett to understand more about London Design House…

London Design House

If ever there was the right time to do something different, it’s now! Over the last 18 months, during a strange ‘no mans land’ of time when many were twiddling their thumbs on furlough while others were struggling to man the forts (myself included), others were plotting the storyboard of their next chapter.

Before the pandemic, the idea of setting up a new, independent studio was nothing more than a dream for architect Gary Kellett (who has been operating his own studio for three years now) and architect and designer Akram Fahmi. The duo used to work together at ReardonSmith before Fahmi made a leap to become Design Director at 1508 London. In short, pre-2020, both had been used to – and comfortable with – the inner workings of established studio life, benefiting personally and professionally from the brands that sheltered their work. As the cultural shift happened, though, as the world reacted to a deadly virus that forced nations to close their boarders, the concept of having more control and the ownership and responsibility of their own projects and business became more and more appealing.

After a few months of hard planning – and a cluster of sleepless nights later – London Design House was born. To understand the triumphs and challenges that came with setting up the studio – and to understand what’s next – I caught up with the inspirational chaps over breakfast in Shoreditch, London, while lockdown measures were slowly starting to ease and the Capital’s hospitality was starting to open up once more.

Hamish Kilburn: Tell me more about London Design House? What will set it aside from other design studios?

Akram Fhami: Having known each other for 17 years, personally and professionally, there is an innate understanding of how each other works and what each of our complimentary skillsets are. We both hold a keen appreciation of the importance of guiding clients through every stage and mastering the translation of client briefs into fully realised schemes. We are not afraid to admit, our strongest asset is each other, and we are able to interchange and crossover skillsets on any project.

Gary Kellett: Having both been on the wing of an industry leader in our early development as architects the mentorship we received taught us to be flexible and adaptable and whilst still operating at the very highest level of interior design and architecture. 

Our experience and exposure in delivering across all scales and stages at the highest end of interior and architecture is unrivalled. We have the ability to lead designs of luxury hotels and private residences alike with the expertise to also execute these on site which is an ability we both relish and enjoy.

“London is the melting pot into which we have grown.” – Akram Fahmi, Co-Founder, London Design House.

HK: Can you give us a sneak peek at some of the projects you are working on?

AF: Sure! We are working on some really interesting and fascinating projects at the moment, and we haven’t even had time yet to get our headshots done! One project of which is an incredible super prime multi-unit serviced apartments project in Moscow, in close proximity to the National Stadium. We are the executive interior designers working with an internationally recognised architect, delivering luxury concept and technical designs for multiple apartment typologies including the grand rooftop penthouses. We are finding the process very exciting and unique working on such a scheme remotely. The logistics is challenging, but ultimately it is the nature of the industry at the moment, but we are very excited to see it through and eventually travel out to see it realised.

Pavilion Road by Gary Kellett Architects

Image caption: Pavilion Road | Image credit: London Design House

GK: Closer to home we are currently engaged on an extensive refurbishment of a 8,500 sqft, nine bedroom luxury property in the heart of the Chelsea. The period property is set over five floors which will be sensitively reordered and reconfigured to meet the demands of high end residential living. The residence will benefit from a new landscaped roof top terrace which will be provide incredible views across Cadogan Sq.

HK: What have been the major challenges, so far, of setting up your own studio?

GK: Connectivity to People! The largest challenge has been remotely driving business. For us, being adaptable and light on our feet has meant that we are able to take on varying scale of projects, from high end restaurants, private residences to multi-unit luxury apartment developments.

AF: We have found the face-to-face networking and social aspect of our venture to be the most challenging at the moment, yet we see glimmers of this side opening up and people becoming more receptive to meeting again. We have had to learn new ways of revenue generation which ultimately has made us much more savvy in terms of how we approach projects whilst still providing a tailored and non-compromised level of service. 

“I think don’t take life too seriously, or don’t over think things, the opportunities are always there for you take or create.” – Gary Kellett, Co-Founder, London Design House.

HK: Why is London considered a major design hub? 

AF: For us – as in our name – London is the melting pot into which we have grown, developed and now established ourselves. The tantalising blend of people, culture, design influences and art makes the fabric of London incredibly unique. We are able draw on the incredible range of suppliers, artists, crafts people, and consultants to tailor a bespoke composition of materials, elements, people and skills to create unique projects – each beautifully different from the last.

HK: What advice would you give to designers, who, up until now have only worked within large studios but are considering to start a new chapter on their own?

GK: Life is like a bowl of cherries as someone once said to us. I think don’t take life too seriously, or don’t over think things, the opportunities are always there for you take or create. Ultimately, believe and trust in the skill sets you have.

HK: Late nights aside (Akram, I saw you sent me an email at 3am the other day), what’s the best thing about setting up your own studio? 

AF: Oh, wow, sorry about that – to be honest, I didn’t even realise it was that late (or early)! I think having the freedom to operate and design independently twixt with the direct influence and control over the trajectory of business development is incredibly rewarding. It’s quite refreshing to have such an influence on both aspects, it feels like the handbrake has been released and now have the right platform to express ourselves.

Main image credit: London Design House

Four Seasons Sicily

A legend returns in Italy: San Domenico Palace reopens as a Four Seasons hotel

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
A legend returns in Italy: San Domenico Palace reopens as a Four Seasons hotel

Just in time as travellers around the globe start planning their first post-pandemic trip abroad, and as we approach the much-anticipated return of the high season in southern Italy, a landmark hotel is debuting a fresh new look and feel. San Domenico Palace, Taormina, A Four Seasons Hotel is now open – let’s take a look inside…

Four Seasons Sicily

Currently operating 120 hotels and resorts, and 45 residential properties in major city centres and resort destinations in 47 countries, and with more than 50 projects under planning or development, Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts, which recently announced new plans for a hotel in Puglia, Italy, consistently ranks among the world’s best hotels and most prestigious brands in reader polls, traveller reviews and industry awards. It is, therefore, no surprise that a storied hotel in southern Italy has reopened, with new interiors and now wearing the Four Seasons brand with pride – and it fits perfectly.

“The legendary San Domenico Palace was already very well known to us at Four Seasons,” notes Christian Clerc, President, Global Operations at Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts. “It is an exceptional property in every way, and we are honoured to have been chosen once again by our owner-partners Gruppo Statuto to manage such an important property, and to add to our growing collection of transformed historic hotels in Italy and around the Mediterranean.”

exterior image of Four Seasons in Sicily

Image credit: Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts

With spectacular views in every direction, San Domenico Palace is uniquely situated between the majesty of Mount Etna above, the deep blue waters of the Ionian Sea below, and the beautiful south-eastern coast of Sicily as far as the eye can see.

“Everything past guests have always loved