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Pascale Lauber & Ulrike Bauschke on steps

5 minutes with: The hotel designers behind Ostuni’s new boutique jewel

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
5 minutes with: The hotel designers behind Ostuni’s new boutique jewel

Pascale Lauber & Ulrike Bauschke, owners and hotel designers of Paragon 700 Boutique Hotel & Spa, have not had the smoothest ride to open their labour of love. Hotel Designs’ Hamish Kilburn catches up with the duo as they prepare to welcome the world to their dream boutique hotel…

Pascale Lauber & Ulrike Bauschke on steps

Back in early 2020, before Covid-19 had become the distraction of the year, Hotel Designs was packing its bags ready to check in to a new boutique hotel that had made it onto the editorial team’s radar. Paragon 700 Boutique Hotel & Spa is situated in the heart of Puglia’s White City of Ostuni – on the heel of Italy – and is elegantly sheltered inside a restored red palace.

Arial view of Paragon 700 Boutique Hotel & Spa

Image credit: 700 Boutique Hotel & Spa

The team were particularly impressed by the story of Pascale Lauber and Ulrike Bauschke, owners of the property, who painstakingly restored every inch of the former Italian palace using traditional handcrafted techniques, while injecting a splash of modern flair.

Unfortunately, days before our scheduled trip to review the new 11-key hotel that stands in stark contrast to the whitewashed buildings of the city around it, the spread of Covid-19 put a major halt on plans to visit the naturally stunning destination.

Almost one year later, plans to review the luxury lair are unsurprisingly still on hold. While we wait patiently, though, it felt fitting to catch up with Lauber and Bauschke in order to understand the context and challenges that come with such a magnificent project.

A vintage looking room inside 700 Boutique Hotel & Spa

Image credit: Paragon 700 Boutique Hotel & Spa

Hamish Kilburn: How did you come to take on the restoration project?

Pascale Lauber: It was in 2016. We were actually in Puglia to recharge and had no intention of taking on a new project at all. An Ostunian friend invited us to visit the Palazzo Rosso and we agreed, simply to admire the architecture of such a historic building. However, as soon as the red carriage door opened it was love at first sight and we knew instantly that we would not be able to resist. We were immediately drawn to the potential of the centuries-old gem. The height of its ceilings, its vaults, its frescoes, its red-stone.

HK: Did you always know that you wanted the building to be transformed into a hotel?

Ulrike Bauschke: For us, it was unthinkable not to make the building a hotel and accessible to the public, it really is just too beautiful to stay hidden! We have shaken up the rules of real estate and interior design in projects all over the world, from Romont, Lausanne and Verbier, Switzerland; to Paris, New York and Cape Town and knew instantly that we could do the same here.

“Several smaller details and treasures were also discovered, such as a wooden door with peepholes typical of 17th century cloisters” – Ulrike Bauschke.

A artefact of a monkey on a bar

Image credit: Paragon 700 Boutique Hotel & Spa

HK: What discoveries did you make during the restoration?

UK: We worked with conservator Maria Buongiorno to uncover the mysteries of the multi-secular Palazzo, which has so many stories to tell from the 17th Century to present day. The most ancient parts of the building from the 1700s including fireplaces, stone vaults and also frescoes, like the magnificent “Jesus and the Samaritan” were significant discoveries. Several smaller details and treasures were also discovered, such as a wooden door with peepholes typical of 17th century cloisters that suggests that the Palazzo once housed a convent.

PL: Equally, the beautiful original majolica tiles, which have been brought to new life in Bar 700. On the back of some of those tiles, we found an M stamp, the brand of a famous workshop owned by the three Massa brothers, ceramics masters of early 18th century Naples, suggesting the building was once in Neapolitan hands.

a dark room with high vaulted ceilings

Image credit: Paragon 700 Boutique Hotel & Spa

HK: You both worked on the project together, who does what and are you always in agreement on the design details?

UK: We have opened and renovated restaurants, boutique hotels and apartments all over the world together and we make a complimentary pair, each with our own, very distinct strengths.

PL: I’m an instinctive designer, something that runs through my veins and guides everything I do, so the architecture and interiors were very much my vision. I took the lead with the renovation, but the way I work is with few words and thousands of images in my head. Sometimes I wish one could invent a copy machine to print all my ideas that are spinning in my head 24 hours a day… I couldn’t have brought it to life exactly how I wanted it without the help of Ulrike, who as a passionate traveller as well knows exactly what makes an outstanding hotel.

UK: Yes so we are pretty much in agreement and the only challenge was to show and create understanding of what Pascale’s vision was. She had it all in her head so between us bringing it to life exactly as she envisioned it was the biggest challenge.

A large red headboard in a vintage setting

Image credit: Paragon 700 Boutique Hotel & Spa

HK: Let’s address the elephant in the room… You opened the hotel in the middle of Covid-19, how was this?

UK: The timing could not have been worse for us and like everyone in the hospitality and travel industry we have been badly affected. However, we’ve been luckily has it seemed that everybody wanted to come to Puglia when we finally managed to open our doors and welcome guests throughout the summer months. With only 11 rooms and plenty of beautiful outdoor space, the hotel is actually ideal for safe travel in these times so we are lucky in that respect as well and have always made sure the health and wellbeing of our guests and team is paramount. We have been blown away with the glowing feedback from our guests and if we can make a success of a hotel opening during a global pandemic, we can do anything!

HK: Pascale, can you explain your personal design ethos and would you say Paragon 700 Boutique Hotel embodies this?

PL: Each project I do is so different and distinct, but the creative association of old and new art, objects and furnishings in a head-spinning and yet personal mix is my trademark and signature design style. I have a vision that is multicultural and original down to the smallest detail and this creates a unique result that is coherent, deeply modern and stimulating. I would say that Paragon 700 Boutique Hotel & Spa embodies my design ethos. The heart of the hotel’s design and what I really set out to achieve was creating exquisite design in every detail with beautiful energy while also preserving and celebrating the history of the building.

HK: Where do you look to for inspiration?

UK: We love travelling and have been lucky to live around the world, providing a fantastic source of inspiration. Visiting countless international art and trade shows, but also local flea-markets, is always inspiring and for this particular project the architecture and heritage of Puglia was certainly an influence.

Image credit: Paragon 700 Boutique Hotel & Spa

HK: If (or should I say ‘when’!) I can come and visit the hotel, what should I do first?

UK: If you can, request to stay in the room called Onyx. Every one of our guest rooms and suites is different, but Onyx, which is black, is a firm favourite. Once you have checked it out, head to the pool, which is the only one in the city, for a refreshing swim followed by some time unwinding in the garden and of course an aperitivo at Bar 700. The next day you will be ready to enjoy beautiful Puglia- the food, culture, people, history, landscapes, countryside and sea!

A luxury pool with white washed buildings

Image credit: Paragon 700 Boutique Hotel & Spa

PL: With only 11 guest rooms, our friendly team are able to offer an insider experience so be sure to ask them for their personal tips and recommendations and also enjoy some of our bespoke experiences, from burrata making to motorbike tours or trips out on our boat, a former carabinieri boat transformed into a private yacht, Dragonfly.

Main image credit: Paragon 700 Boutique Hotel & Spa

Image of cut-out switch plates in luxury suite

Case study: Why Hotel Indigo Bath chose Hamilton Litestat

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
Case study: Why Hotel Indigo Bath chose Hamilton Litestat

When finding the balance between contemporary and classic, Hotel Indigo Bath ‘fell in love’ with Hamilton’s Hartland CFX wiring accessories in Antique Brass – and here’s why…

Image of cut-out switch plates in luxury suite

Just a stone’s throw from the vibrant city centre, Hotel Indigo Bath provides a unique stay in the historic Somerset location famed for culture, architecture, literature, and romance. Set in a stunning grade one listed Georgian terrace, the hotel features 166 guestrooms, of which no two rooms are the same.

As with all Hotel Indigo venues, the boutique hotel has been renovated to reflect the charm and character of its local surroundings. Mixing contemporary design with a traditional 18th Century twist, the Georgian building caters for all the requirements of a modern guest while telling the historic story of the city’s architectural and literary influences.

Exterior image of Hotel Indigo Bath

Image credit: Hotel Indigo Bath/IHG

The guestrooms inside the hotel have one of five different design themes: Romance and Mischief, Architectural Beauty, Literary Hideaway, Garden Rooms, and The Vault Rooms.

The Romance and Mischief rooms look back to the famous Debutante Season in Bath and the afternoon teas and grand balls that inspired literary depictions of the city. These rooms put a modern and abstract twist on the era’s romantic promises and frivolity, but also draw attention to the mischievous gambling culture that was commonplace in Georgian society.

The Architectural Beauty Rooms accentuate the building’s period features and reflect the city’s stunning architecture. The rooms benefit from high ceilings and walls lined with ornate ceiling sconce covers that revive the elegance of the Georgian period.

Bath influenced the writings of Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, and Mary Shelley, amongst many others, and the Literary Hideaway Rooms feature décor inspired by novels and a traditional writer’s bureau that provides the perfect spot for guests to lose themselves in a book, or be inspired to write their own story.

Within a newly built extension, the Garden Rooms overlook the hotel’s garden terrace, bringing the outside view indoors with light and airy nature-inspired design, while incorporating modern features to create a warm and comfortable environment.

And finally, the Vault Rooms are set within the building’s 18th Century vaults. The vaulted Bath stone ceilings and traditional black timber finishes are softened with delicate lighting and underfloor heating to create cosy and atmospheric guest suites.

“Hotel Indigo Bath sought a decorative range of wiring accessories that offered modern conveniences and services to its guests, but would be sympathetic to the building’s period features.”

The brief

To support its thorough refurbishment, Hotel Indigo Bath sought a decorative range of wiring accessories that offered modern conveniences and services to its guests, but would be sympathetic to the building’s period features. To be installed within all 166 guest rooms for continuity, the wiring accessories also needed to complement all five design themes.

The solution

Hamilton Litestat was the supplier chosen with its popular Hartland CFX plate selected in Antique Brass with Black inserts to equip all of the guestrooms.

The Hartland CFX plate has a sophisticated, contemporary design with soft edges and a screwless faceplate thanks to Hamilton’s patented four-point clipping system that conceals the fixings. While elegant in appearance, the design is also robust, making it suited to the high demands of the hotel industry. The choice of Antique Brass finish gives the contemporary design a classic flair and reflects the traditional-meets-contemporary décor scheme that permeates the Hotel Indigo Bath.

Image of cut-out switch plates in luxury suite

Image credit: IHG/Veerle Evens

At the main entrance to each guestroom, a Grid Fix 4-Gang plate controls the master light switch, bathroom light and features two LEDIT-B100 rotary dimmers for softer lighting options.

Beside each bed, dual switched sockets are equipped with two 2.4A USB Ultra charging outlets to provide easy and accessible charging functionality for smart devices, a modern convenience expected by today’s guests. Positioned alongside is a 2-Gang 2-Way Rocker Switch plate to control the bedside lighting.

In the same Hartland CFX design with distinguished Antique Brass finish, power is distributed throughout the rooms with 1-Gang and 2-Gang Switched Sockets. Meanwhile, in the larger suites these are supported by a 4-Gang Aperture Sheer Floor Plate housing dual USB charging outlets and an Unswitched Socket to provide further charging capability.

The Result:

The Hamilton wiring accessories within Hotel Indigo Bath complement the boutique hotel’s refined décor that blends traditional with contemporary design and modern convenience. The wiring accessories are in-keeping with the architecture while also providing robust and innovative functionality.

A guestroom inside Hotel Indigo Bath and cut out images of Hamilton products

Image credit: IHG/Veerle Evens

According to the hotel’s manager, Nicola Fender, the switch plates were the perfect fit for the project. “The rooms look stunning, with the wiring accessories fitting our décor and functionality requirements perfectly,” she said. “The design of the switch plates and sockets delivers the exact look needed, and provides a robust finish that will cope with the wear and tear anticipated of a hotel environment. The finished setting is a delightful place to relax, and the process of specification, ordering and delivery was smooth and seamless despite dealing with lockdown restrictions as a result of Covid-19. We couldn’t be happier, and we look forward to welcoming the many guests that will appreciate these fitting features.”

Hamilton Litestat 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.

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Main image credit: IHG/Veerle Evens

Suite inside The Modernist in Athens

The Modernist Athens – designed for the urban explorer

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
The Modernist Athens – designed for the urban explorer

With a statement as grand as that headline, it was only ever a matter of time before Hotel Designs took a sneaky peek inside the latest boutique beauty to arrive in Athens: The Modernist. Sheltering a design that is said to inspire curiosity, we find out how this new 38-key hotel is settling in to its city surroundings…

Suite inside The Modernist in Athens

For many design enthusiasts, including myself, Athens is the etherial Goddess of boutique hotels – and therefore any brand entering this built-up authentic metropolis should do so with caution. In a destination where culture actually rises from the earth – I’m talking about the acropolis, of course – any hotel planning to open without a personality will be exposed and swallowed up by the noise of disobedience that echoes through cobbled streets.

Cue the opening of The Modernist, a 38-key gem that is perched aptly on a street corner. It opens with the aim to authentically connect its guests to the real Athens; to entice its guests to “explore its soul through culture and meaningful connections with the locals.”

The boutique hotel stands as the sister property to the award-winning Modernist Thessaloniki and marks a second chapter in the expanding hospitality brand created by entrepreneur Kostis Karatzas.

Located in the former Canadian embassy in Kolonaki, this new project maintains the same playful juxtaposition of art deco elements, mid-century detailing and Danish design found in its companion Thessaloniki location. Its high-quality offerings are grounded by the interior and exterior’s cool, well-honed character. The result is a relaxed, elegant environment that makes guests feel at home from the moment they set foot in the lobby.

“The Modernist is about contemporary hospitality that inspires curiosity and authentic experiences,” Karatzas says. “Ethics and aesthetics course through everything we do, as an invisible thread that connects us with the world. Following the opening of our first property in Thessaloniki two years ago, Athens was a natural next step for us. And this is only the beginning for our brand.”

Image of the staircase inside The Modernist Athens

Image credit: The Modernist

The building itself commingles the minimalism of post-war 1950s architecture with the nowness of sleek yet subtle contemporary spaces. With clean, symmetrical lines that stay true to the brand’s design philosophy, the exterior of The Modernist Athens is a sight to behold amid the vibrant cityscape.

Inside, guests are greeted by sharp contrasts in colour and shape, which anchor them back in the present day. The raw assertiveness of the marble, plaster, bronze and black glass within the lobby perfectly juxtaposes the softer, more refined nature of the oak wood floors, leather headboards and artful midcentury-inspired furnishings found inside the rooms.

An image showing exposed wardrobe and work area inside suite - The Modernist in Athens

Image credit: The Modernist

“We want its guests to be able to move and thrive in this space.” – Konstantinos Theodoridis and Eleni Papaevangelou, Co-Founders of FORMrelated.

Collaborating architects FORMrelated made use of an eclectic mix of local and international interior design brands, while employing custom builds such as embossed veneer panels and bronze details to articulate the second, equally cool addition to the Modernist name.

“We see The Modernist Athens becoming a compelling value proposition not just in living but in the experience industry as well,” explains Konstantinos Theodoridis and Eleni Papaevangelou, the studio’s co-founders. “We want its guests to be able to move and thrive in this space, in this small and intimate unit that manages to encapsulate contemporary luxuries in such an understated way.”

The 38 rooms are spread across six floors. Designed to be modern living spaces, each guestroom offers an uncomplicated aesthetic that is elevated by custom lighting and made-to-measure furniture, ensuring elegance across the board. Meanwhile, a meaningful sizing nomenclature (S, M, L, XL) makes it easy for guests to select the option that best fits their individual needs.

Image of a guestroom with contemporary interiors inside The Modernist in Athens

Image credit: The Modernist

Elsewhere, the lobby maintains an aura of refinement thanks to its midcentury vibe, with dark tones and bronze details marrying minimalism with opulence. At the same time, true to the brand’s overall intuitive approach to spatial planning, it acts as the hotel’s beating heart, orienting and guiding its patrons organically between different floors and services.

On the ground floor, the breakfast buffet transforms into an all-day cafe bar, ideal for relaxation. Plywood and marble blend together to create a warm atmosphere, while minimalist shelves are filled with a refined selection of modern and limited edition books.

The rooftop garden, which can double up as an open cinema, features verdant greens and frames breath-taking views over Athens and the Acropolis, which serves as the jewel in the crown of this urban oasis.

Image of rooftop garden overlooking Athens

Image credit: The Modernist

The Modernist project began in downtown Thessaloniki as the perfect hub for constant travellers. While ideating its Athenian counterpart, the main challenge lay in staying true to the spirit of the brand, and at the same time expressing the individual spirit of each city.

A respect for the existing exterior architecture has remained one of the brand’s common denominators, as has the propensity towards using natural, reusable materials in the interiors.

Still, by far the most important element of both Modernist hotels is the symbiotic relationship they maintain with their respective creative communities.

Given Athens’ vast cultural heritage, the hotel has a plethora of options to connect its guests to locals through highly curated experiences. The introduction to a refined couleur locale starts from inside the hotel, where various artists have put their stamp on everything, from ceramics and the artwork on walls to tailor-made music playlists, and even a vinyl collection that’s in the works. The hotel also offers itself as an events epicentre, with its rooftop garden doubling as an open cinema and its ground floor as a space for workshops and talks by guest artists.

Aiming to inspire curiosity and meaningful connections with the city’s creatives, The Modernist Athens is an exciting new chapter not only for the brand which celebrates metropolitanism in a collected, understated way but also for the hospitality scene in Athens, which has taken a battering this year due to the on-going Covid-19 crisis.

Main image credit: The Modernist

How one boutique hotel is attracting modern travellers to Africa

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
How one boutique hotel is attracting modern travellers to Africa

Urbano Hotel is the modern design inspired boutique hotel located in the heart of Osu, Accra’s most vibrant neighbourhood designed by architect Hussein Fakhry…

With its landmark I LOVE ACCRA sign at the entrance, focus on design, attention to customer care, healthy food options and coveted location surrounded by international quality grocery stores, casinos, sports bars, African craft market, and thriving nightlife, Urbano is making waves on the African hotel design scene.

The hotel is part of the new hospitality trend in Ghana focused on affordable luxury and improved customer service that led the country to be named one of the top tourist destinations in the world.

“When we designed Urbano Hotel, we wanted to bring the concept of “New Africa” to life, an experience that fuses traditional African design and art with a cosmopolitan aesthetic and amenities that our guests are accustomed to when they travel to NY, London, or Paris or other top markets in the world. Urbano Hotel feels youthful and fresh yet a business traveller or family can still find comfort,” shares Fakhry, the Managing Director of Urbano’s parent company, Roots International and co-founder of Key Architectural Group who has more than 22 years experience on prestigious and diversified designs and construction projects throughout the Middle East and West Africa.

Team outside the sign 'I LOVE ACCRA' at hotel

Image credit: Urbano Hotel

It was the love and conception of urban neighbourhoods which promoted Fakhry’s team to revive and refurbish what was formerly the Penta Hotel into Urbano, a modern aesthetic piece, both internally and externally to enhance the facets of Oxford Street. Urbano Hotel features 43 rooms ranging from standard to the luxury bi-level suite and mini-apartment, a multi-functional hall with a capacity for 60, The Arabian, an indoor open courtyard, state of the art gym, The Terrace Bar, and Zaytoun Artisan Cafe featuring Middle Eastern specialities.

“Our utmost vision was to make Urbano Hotel a compelling, “must visit” destination within Accra and we complemented this objective with the mounting of the colourful “I LOVE ACCRA” installation which stretches across one side of the building to welcome every visitor to this culturally charming and vibrant neighbourhood. The millennial traveller is constantly documenting their travel experience on social media and Urbano’s facade lends itself to capturing iconic images of a visit to Ghana,” adds Fakhry.

Fakhry is passionate about the growth and development of Ghana’s tourism and hospitality industry and the possibility of the country emerging as a center of sustainable design in Africa.

“This year there has been a noted spike in travellers to Ghana due in part to Ghana Tourism Authority’s Year of Return initiative and several international conferences, music festivals and celebrity-driven tours scheduled to take place in the country. We are thrilled that discerning millennial travellers from around the world are travelling to Accra for both business and pleasure and finding Urbano’s eclectic style in alignment with their own sense of design, function and adventure and Osu serving as starting point to better understand the culture, dynamics and people of Ghana!”

Main image credit: Urbano Hotel

UK’s first vineyard hotel opens in South Wales

1024 675 Hamish Kilburn
UK’s first vineyard hotel opens in South Wales

The UK’s first vineyard hotel has opened its doors in Hensol in South Wales. Llanerch Hotel is the result of a £2m investment by Ryan Davies, owner of Llanerch Vineyard…

Comprising of just 26 rooms and suites, the Llanerch Hotel has opened in South Wales as the UK’s first vineyard hotel, situated quite literally in the heart of the vineyard.

“To become the first vineyard hotel in the UK is a fantastic achievement for the team at Llanerch,” said Ryan Davies, owner of Llanerch Vineyard. “Across Europe, wine hotels are very popular and we wanted to bring that unique experience to south Wales.”

Davies took over the vineyard, which is one of the oldest in Wales, in 2010 with the aim to replicate the successful wine tourism models he had seen whilst working in vineyards in New Zealand and Australia, where vineyards are tourist attractions in their own right, offering restaurants, weddings and events, in addition to traditional wine tasting and vineyard experiences.

Since then, Llanerch has become the largest commercial vineyard in Wales and attracts visitors from around the world with its award-winning restaurant and bar, unique marquee and lodge wedding venues, on site cookery school owned by Angela Grey and wine tasting and vineyard tours.

Davies added: “We have had a number of B&B rooms available at the vineyard since 2010, but as the business grew, so did the demand for accommodation at Llanerch. The popularity of Cardiff, which is just 20 minutes away, as an events destination for everything from rugby to high profile concerts has also pushed up demand for high quality accommodation in south Wales.

“This has been a vision for Llanerch for many years. We have managed every aspect of this project – the biggest we’ve ever undertaken – ourselves to ensure that the hotel offers the highest quality and that every detail has been thought about, from luxury in-room products to maximising the spectacular scenery enjoyed by every room.”

Large, modern guestroom which overlooks green vineyards

Image credit: Llanerch Hotel

The superior rooms at Llanerch Hotel are 42 sq ft and include a super king size bed with a large sofa and living area and a luxury ensuite bathroom with shower.

The four suites, located in each corner of the hotel, are over 45 sq ft and include a bedroom with super king size bed, as well as a large living room with sofas and a seating area, which can be separated by a partition, and a luxury ensuite bathroom with shower.

The vineyard’s existing courtyard rooms, set in one of the vineyard’s original stone outbuildings, have also been fully refurbished in keeping with the new hotel.

Each room has a large widescreen smart TV, allowing guests to stream from their own devices, a Nespresso coffee maker and kettle and luxury interiors, including Welsh wool blankets, made at Pembrokeshire’s traditional woollen mill Melin Tregwynt, and art by local photographer Andy Stoyle.

Main image credit: Llanerch Hotel

Al Faya Lodge: A boutique hotel made from stone and steel

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
Al Faya Lodge: A boutique hotel made from stone and steel

Architecture firm Anarchitect was inspired by the desert location and opted to use raw materials to design the five-key boutique hotel…

Located in Sharjah, the third largest emeritus that make up the UAE, Al Faya Lodge is a striking architectural gem that was developed by SHEROOT. The lodge-like boutique hotel sits on undisturbed desert, of which architecture firm Anarchitect used as inspiration when crafting it out of raw materials and earthy colours, resulting in a camouflaged hotel within the red sands and baron landscape.

Embracing its heritage, the location of the lodge was formerly occupied by a clinic and grocery store in the 1960s, which were located next to one of the UAE’s first petroleum pumps.

Now the three single-story stone constructions have been transformed, including the addition of a luxury spa and salt-water swimming pool. Featuring just five guestrooms, its contemporary feel combines aspects of its original features, blended together with luxe, minimalist modernity.

image of seats by pool

Image credit: Sharjah Collection

Featuring a dining room, reception room, library and viewing deck, every aspect of the design looks to emphasise its surroundings. The guestrooms feature a skylight for star-gazing at night with a fire pit primed for recapping adventures.

The boutique hotel, steeped in authenticity, becomes one of of the main components of the Sharjah Collection, a unique group of luxury lodges and boutique hotels.

Main image credit: Sharjah Collection

New luxury floating hotel launches in Edinburgh

800 565 Hamish Kilburn

The new floating hotel that will be permanently located in Edinburgh has launched, marking a new era in luxury hotel design in Scotland…

Developed by The Royal Yacht Britannia’s trading company, Royal Yacht Enterprises, Fingal, a new floating hotel with 23 luxury cabins that are each named after Stevenson lighthouses, has launched.

The hotel, which will be permanently berthed in Edinburgh’s historic Port of Leith, includes considered design that offers high specifications of craftmanship and finishes with nautical touches and polished woods throughout. Sumptuous Scottish leathers and the finest linens are in colour palates inspired by Fingal’s journey from land and sea.

The design development was led by the Pedley Group’s Co-founder Alan Pedley who has been responsible for manufacturing and installing more than 180,000 hotel rooms in 61 countries for the world’s leading hotel groups including IHGHyattHilton and Marriott.

Image credit: Fingal

A stylish yet relaxed restaurant with banquette seating offers a light menu celebrating the best of Scotland’s larder, from coast to field. Guests can raise a glass at the welcoming Moët Hennessy Champagne bar or opt to enjoy a cocktail from the creative menu.  Spacious outdoor decks provide a blend of private and public spaces to bask in the quayside setting or sit out under the stars.

Launched in 1963, Fingal was the last ship to be built by the prestigious Blythswood Ship Building Company in Glasgow. She spent most of her service life working out of Oban helping maintain lighthouses and transporting their keepers, equipment and supplies to some of the most treacherous locations in Scotland. Fingal was originally registered in Leith and has now returned home to Edinburgh’s vibrant waterfront, the largest deep-water port in Scotland.

Main image credit: Fingal


Top stories of the week: MOB talks, Brit List countdown and celebrating Manchester’s decadent playground

Hamish Kilburn

With less than a week until interior designers, hoteliers, architects and key-industry suppliers descend on BEAT London for The Brit List 2018, editor of Hotel Designs Hamish Kilburn breaks down the top five stories of the week… 

There seems to be a lot of uncertainty in the air at the moment – mainly around the political situation in the UK. While the nation performs the political ‘Hokey Cokey’, Hotel Designs has been busy speaking to interior designers, hotel groups and architects on why Britain strongly remains a major international design hub. Celebrating Britain as wonderful incubator of ideas, we are counting down to our most anticipated event this year, The Brit List 2018. There are very limited spaces left, so if you would like to purchase your ticket to network with the industry’s leading designers, hoteliers and architects, click here. I look forward to welcoming you to the climax of our nationwide search to find the hotel design influencers in Britain today. Until then, though, here are the top five stories of the week.

1) Interactive hotel review: Checking in to Hotel Gotham, Manchester’s decadent playground

As Manchester continues to turn heads on the hotel design scene, I checked in to check out Hotel Gotham’s bold and decadent interiors – all sheltered within a former bank.

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

2) The Brit List 2018: One week to go

In seven days time, the UK’s leading designers, hoteliers and architects will gather at BEAT London for what is being dubbed the ‘after-party of SLEEP + EAT’ for a networking event like no other.

With just seven days until The Brit List 2018 is unveiled and the winners of the six newly launched events are announced, time for designers, hoteliers, architects and key-industry suppliers to purchase their tickets to meet up with the UK’s leading influencers in international hotel design is running out.

3) MOB HOTEL speaks to Hotel Designs about expansion plans in Europe and the US

The hotel group, which launched last year with two properties, has announced large plans to expand its lifestyle portfolio in Europe and the US with a Washington hotel in the pipeline. I sat down with the CEO, Cyril Aouizerate, to find out more.

I predict a riot, at least in the hotel scene anyway. Since launching in November of last year, MOB HOTEL has started a revolution, proving that the centre of a city’s action does not have to neccessarily be geographically pinned in the centre of the city. The lifestyle brand has turned up the volume – and thrown in a bit of colour – in the mid-market sector with two quirky hotels; one located in a Paris Flea Market, the other situated riverside in Lyon.

4) IHG opens first voco on Australia’s Gold Coast

Following the exclusive unveiling of the new branding just five months agoInterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) has opened the first hotel globally for its new upscale hotel brand: voco™. Owned by Australian property investment firm SB&G Group and located on the shores of the Gold Coast, voco™ Gold Coast is now open for guests to soak up the sun, sand and sea in Australia’s beloved Surfers Paradise.

voco™, inspired by the meaning ‘to invite’ or to ‘come together’ in Latin, will combine the informality and charm of an individual hotel, with the quality and reassurance of a global and respected brand. The public spaces of voco™ Gold Coast emphasise this social element, fittingly named Social House Café, which collectively houses a bar and lounge within the venue, offering a space for everyone.

5) Overcoming Grade II listed challenges to create £1.8m boutique hotel

Two derelict office buildings in Leicester – adjacent to the site of the car park where King Richard III’s remains were discovered in 2015 – have been converted into the 28-key boutique hotel, St Martins Lodge, which has just opened.

Building Services Design (BSD) provided mechanical and electrical engineering services for the Grade II listed Georgian buildings, with many of the original features being retained –including the hallway, with its chandelier and staircase.

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Overcoming Grade II listed challenges to create £1.8m boutique hotel

Hamish Kilburn

A suite overlooking cathedral gardens, original fireplaces and character windows are just some of the features included in a new £1.8m boutique hotel in a historic location in Leicester…

Two derelict office buildings in Leicester – adjacent to the site of the car park where King Richard III’s remains were discovered in 2015 – have been converted into the 28-key boutique hotel, St Martins Lodge, which has just opened.

Building Services Design (BSD) provided mechanical and electrical engineering services for the Grade II listed Georgian buildings, with many of the original features being retained –including the hallway, with its chandelier and staircase.

“We’re delighted to be involved in a project that has created modern, elegant accommodation while at the same time, honouring the heritage of the important site and its surroundings,” said Joel Sawyer, director at BSD, the lead designer on the project.

“We provided a design that is a mix of traditional and modern installation.” – Joel Sawyer

As 40 per cent of the hotel – located directly opposite Leicester Cathedral – is of listed status, all original internal cornices, ceilings and floors are having to be retained, meaning BSD had to design the building services around the structure of the existing building.

Sawyer added: “We provided a design that is a mix of traditional and modern installation, meaning some of the building services run through the floors and into the ceiling. To meet listed status building regulations, air conditioning equipment has also been moved to the roof where it is out of sight.

“In order to make the spatial challenges work, we held regular on-site visits in order to overcome and catch any potential problems before they happened.”

The plantroom has been designed to fit within the existing basement, which has height restrictions due to a vaulted ceiling.

To ensure the heating system would fit within the confinements of the basement, it has been designed as a modular system for better efficiency and ease of installation.

The domestic water and hot water systems have also been centralised in the basement and we have made provisions within the design to allow for a possible connection to the Leicester District Energy Scheme, which supplies low-cost, low-carbon energy to major buildings across the city. “The future advantages of this will mean energy efficiency and lower running costs,” explains Sawyer.

Nick Quinn, director of St Martins House, said: “With our neighbouring conference and events centre, St Martins House, located only a few steps away, we are now able to offer a 24-hour conference rate – including overnight accommodation with breakfast – alongside our function run hire and catering facilities.

“This is frequently requested by conference and wedding hosts so St Martins Lodge is now meeting a known demand and adding to the room capacity available for business and for tourism in the city.”

The new luxury accommodation offers modern guestrooms with unrestricted views of Leicester Cathedral and its beautiful Gardens. The hotel opens in an unmatched location, becoming an ideal base for all who come to Leicester to enjoy the Richard lll experience and its historical past. 


Independent Hotel Show 2018 exceeds expectations

Hamish Kilburn
Hotel Designs was proud to be a media partner of Independent Hotel Show 2018, which proved to be a huge success ahead of the show’s arrival in Amsterdam next year…

Flawlessly bringing together the UK’s best independent hoteliers with premium and innovative suppliers, delivering insightful seminars and creating a myriad of opportunities to network, the seventh Independent Hotel Show, presented by James Hallam Insurance Brokers, has been heralded a great success.

“We were delighted to see the first-class and visionary quality of the show exceeding all expectations once again,” said Event Director Miranda Martin. “The UK’s most talented hoteliers, industry stalwarts, innovative entrepreneurs and influential media attended in droves, whilst an impressive number of exhibitors rebooked for next year (15 &16 October) on the spot. The feedback about the design features has been amazing and comments from visitors about their experience are evidence of yet another great show for the sector.”

Inspiring new features were found in every corner of the show at Olympia London on 16 and 17 October, including live installation ‘The Hotel Room of the Future’ created by Two’s Company Interiors.

Providing a glimpse into the near future, the Hotel Room of the Future buzzed with excitement and conversation over the two days. The room offered intuitive tech to enhance the guest experience, rather than to taint it with confusing switches and screens, the bed incorporated tech, scent and science for a night of deep sleep, while the futuristic design of the bathroom provided the essential instagrammable feature.

Many hoteliers headed for The Dyson Meeting Space designed by Galapagos to take part in facilitated speed networking sessions. Offering a ‘conversational menu’ as a prompt for peers to share views and experiences on various themes and topics such as ‘The Future is Female’, ‘Multiple Site Operators’ and ‘Future Leaders’, this new feature at the show was a success for encouraging interaction and making new contacts.

Conducive to further networking was The Lobby, designed by Capellini. Located at the heart of the show with a range of seating options and tables, warm lighting and vibrant green foliage, it provided a calm space for conversation.

Over the two days, thought leaders from across the industry discussed a range of hot topics – from service and staffing to technology, design, loyalty, marketing and wellness – in front of packed audiences at the Business Theatre, in partnership with Sky and designed by sofa.com and the Innovation Stage, in partnership with eviivo, designed by Elli Popp.

Over in the Business Theatre, Hotel Designs’ editor Hamish Kilburn moderating an engaging panel with leading figures such as Emma King (Head of interior design at IHG, europe), Chris Hill (Hotels Operations Director, House of Daniel Thwaites), Anant Sharma (CEO, Matters of Form) and Jonathon Slater (Owner, Oddfellows Management).

Panelists in The Great Service Debate 2018, led by EP Business in Hospitality and Penshee, delved deep into the subject of service – attributing good service to five key pillars – low effort (installing systems to allow staff to attend to guests), personality, adaptability, empathy and authenticity.

Recruitment was hot topic at the Business Theatre with HR consultant Claire Elston joined by Adam Rowledge of Georgian House, Sarah Powell of Soho Farmhouse and Babington House and Dee Smith of Springboard, who gave invaluable advice on how to inspire and engage the workforce.

On the Innovation Stage, ‘The Hotel Room of the Future’ was discussed by Gilly Craft, BIID President and Partner & Designer at Two’s Company Interior Design and Rodney Hoinkes, Chief Insight and Innovation Officer, Fresh Montgomery, who talked through the journey of the room, from research to reveal.

“The talks, panel discussion and power breakfast gave us lots to think about and actions to put in place back at our hotel” – Hoteliers Julia and Nick Davies, Owners of The Cottage in the Wood.

UK Hospitality’s CEO Kate Nicholls gave an overview of UK Hospitality and talked about strategies to address the industry’s labour shortage by making it an appealing place to work. Nicholls said work was underway to convince the Government that the sector is not a low-skilled one, but a semi and soft-skilled one and to promote the sector as an attractive and viable place to build a career.

Other events at the show included a rare chance to hear former Waterside Inn Maître D’ Diego Masciaga reveal what it was like to front the three Michelin-starred restaurant for 30 years. Diego shared his service tips in a keynote interview with Peter Hancock, Chief Executive of Pride of Britain Hotels.

Throughout the show, esteemed speakers, VIP hoteliers, show partners and their guests were invited to visit The Suite designed by Valdivian. Bold colours, striking patterns and beautiful furniture set the scene for networking, meetings or simply catching up.

Consistent with every year of the Independent Hotel Show, hoteliers, returning and new exhibitors alike were impressed with the high standards and calibre of opportunities and leads.

“We loved the Independent Hotel Show,” said hoteliers Julia and Nick Davies, Owners of The Cottage in the Wood. “The talks, panel discussion and power breakfast gave us lots to think about and actions to put in place back at our hotel. We met with key suppliers that we were looking for as well as new ones too. The Hotel Room of the Future was fascinating and gave us lots of ideas for our upcoming rooms refurbishment.

Barry Stuart, UK Sales Director Key Accounts, ADA International, whose company also fragranced the show, said: “The Independent Hotel Show 2018 has been one of the best exhibitions I’ve been to in a decade. Our stand was at its best and the footfall has been brilliant with the quality of attendees high.”

Thibault Gence, Co-Founder of tech provider Hotelhero: “This year was our first time exhibiting at the Independent Hotel Show and I have been impressed by the design of the Show and quality of stands. It’s more personal and on-point than other trade shows I’ve been to and is the best one for independent hotels – it’s not just about business, or branding, but about everything relevant to hoteliers.”

Nina Tarnowski, Director and Designer, Woodchip & Magnolia, the Show’s wallpaper partner, said: “Our business has only been going for 18 months, so being at the Show has been about brand recognition as well as connecting with hoteliers. Previously, we’ve only exhibited at design shows. The response we had to our mural in the foyer was amazing, so we’re thrilled to have been able to show our work in key places as well as have a stand.”

The Independent Hotel Show Awards for Independent Hotelier and Outstanding New Hotel were given to Adam Rowledge, general manager of Georgian House, and Another Place, The Lake.

The Independent Hotel Show will be back for its eighth year on 15 & 16 October 2019.


Luxurious eco-minded boutique hotel re-opens

800 568 Hamish Kilburn

Let’s Sea Hua Hin Al Fresco Resort sets new boutique standards following renovation…

The ocean-facing boutique hotel Let’s Sea Hua Hin Al Fresco Resort champions locality and eco-minded initiatives. The barefoot Thai luxury hotel has recently completed a significant renovation to its 40 suites, public spaces and famous beachside restaurant. Eco-chic and dedicated to supporting the community whilst preserving the natural beauty of its surroundings – the hotel’s staff are entirely local, and its eco-architectural design minimises the overall environmental impact.

With sense of responsibility to sustain and be a leader in romantic relaxation for conscious travellers, the resort briefly closed over the first two weeks of June 2018 to give each of the public areas the full renovation.

Taking it one step further and looking beyond aesthetics, the ambition behind the renovation is to set inspiring new standards of quality in luxury hospitality. With sense of responsibility to sustain and be a leader in romantic relaxation for conscious travellers, the resort briefly closed over the first two weeks of June 2018 to give each of the public areas the full renovation.

Reopening with its fresh new look as a destination that draws a new blueprint of cutting edge cool in Hua Hin, the intimate suites orbit a spectacular 120-metre lagoon pool whilst the carefully considered architecture takes full advantage of natural light and cooling breezes. Certifying the resort’s carbon footprint is kept to a minimum, all food is locally sourced with sensitive waste management systems.

Leaving lasting impressions, newly installed eco-friendly air conditioning and smart showers blend into natural hues to create an organic ambience that retains a strong sense of place with Thai influence. New to discover is a wellbeing pavilion located above the high-tech fitness studio, high-speed internet connections, Bose Sound Wave 10 Bluetooth speakers and oversized spa tubs situated on the rooftops of the suites whilst recognising the importance of sleep is the hotel’s new collection of next generation LaZzzzz Beds.

“Great design sits at the heart of all we do and we’re lucky to have amazing talent working with us to bring our guests a whole new level of luxury, relaxation and romance,” said Srayut Ekahitanonda, CEO of Let’s Sea Hua Hin Al Fresco Resort. “Our Barefoot Luxury concept introduces a softer, richer character to the resort, creating a space that suggests genuine refinement but with a casual, laid back ambiance that puts guests immediately at ease.’

Let’s Sea Hua Hin Al Fresco Resort originally began as a restaurant which has become renowned with both local and international diners. Female Head Chef Supanee J. Ketbumrung leads the way serving a fragrant blend of local and international favourites that are seasonally sensitive, along with its own unique creations that make Let’s Sea Hua Hin Al Fresco Resort a gourmet destination in and of itself.

Grade II listed townhouse buildings converted into boutique hotel

800 503 Hamish Kilburn

Dexter Moren Associates and 3D Reid reveal 19th Boutique hotel in Hotel Du Vin portfolio, the Hotel du Vin in Stratford-upon-Avon…

The latest interiors by expert hospitality designers, Dexter Moren Associates (DMA) have been revealed at the opening of the 46-key boutique Hotel du Vin, Stratford-upon-Avon.

Positioned in the centre of Stratford-upon-Avon, the boutique hotel, which was structually designed by 3D Reid, is situated in two converted Grade II listed Georgian townhouses. DMA has worked with Hotel du Vin to refine and blend the boutique brand’s classic-design style with the building’s sophisticated heritage, emphasising the existing features and creating subtle references to the Bard of Avon throughout the hotel.

The design of the hotel features the traditional Hotel du Vin touches that the brand is known for, but with a contemporary update. Many elements are bespoke to the Stratford site, but providing a “golden thread” that will be taken forward to future projects, developed yet always in keeping with the place and context.

“The client was keen to return to Hotel du Vin’s heritage, and to develop an intriguing scheme that would invigorate the property and attract potential local and tourist clientele alike,” said Neil Andrew, Associate Director of DMA Interiors. “Our design plays with irreverent modern elements within the historic fabric, and subtly references Shakespeare in artwork and styling without being too obvious.”

In the public areas, much of the original brick walls of the Georgian townhouses is left exposed to create an expressive backdrop for the scheme

The mix of Georgian and contemporary structures provide the perfect setting for the traditional style of furniture, art and lighting in the old to transition compellingly to the modern theme and design in the new.

In the guestrooms, the period colours of the Georgian era, usually pale greens, blues and pinks are deliberately amplified to deeper tones of olive green, teal blue and aubergine with punches of ochre yellow to deliver a more vibrant feel. Generous low-set velvet headboards sit against feature wallcovering referencing Shakespeare’s pathetic fallacy; whilst the artwork captures the playful nuances.

The guestroom joinery is finished in rich veneer offset with brass ironmongery and contemporary lighting. In contrast, bathrooms are kept minimal with classic white subway tiles and chrome and stainless steel fixtures.

In the public areas, much of the original brick walls of the Georgian townhouses is left exposed to create an expressive backdrop for the scheme. A rich colour palette influenced by the bespoke carpet, which takes its inspiration from the nearby mythological Forest of Arden, is used throughout. Herringbone cross sawn oak timber flooring links the old and new buildings and injects a feel of traditional charm to contrast the contemporary furniture and detailing.

Hard finishes have been selected to provide a durable and practical environment which will age timelessly with the building. Soft furnishings in accent colours and patterns lift the scheme.

The glazed wine room becomes the central focus in the Bistro; wine bottles are stored in a wire frame structure set against an accent ochre wall for additional impact, further drawing guests’ attention to the rhythm of the display and wine selection.

The luxurious washrooms celebrate the Georgian era with grandiose freestanding vanities made from black granite and inspired by the forms of a cut crystal decanter. Matt blue walls are offset with glossy sapphire blue tiles and contemporary brass fixtures set against a terrazzo and black granite floor. The darker palette links back to privacy and night-time – a key theme in Shakespearean literature.

From the outset, lighting was an integral component of the design, highlighting specific areas to draw guests’ attention where required. The original junctions between the old and new building’s brickwork have been expressed by concealed lighting whilst carefully located coffer lighting accentuates the texture of the existing brickwork and enhances feature metal ceiling tiles. Focused lighting has been designed into the joinery to showcase key styling items such as locally-sourced vintage glassware that references the Hotel du Vin brand. Modern glass orb light fixtures are used to dramatic effect in the bistro, with more traditional pendants with an industrial slant in the older building.

The public areas have been carefully planned to create an intuitive flow around the central service core, seamlessly linking reception, lounge, bar and bistro. This layout also proclaims the stylish landscaped courtyard, visible from the bistro, function space and a large number of the guestrooms. At its centre, the design locates a tree – further referencing the Forest of Arden – that can be lit to become a focal point from all public areas. The reception room itself faced size constraints and so more compact, low level desks have been designed to not only make the space feel more airy but offer a more intimate check-in experience for guests.

Opened on 1st May 2018, the Hotel du Vin, 7-8, Rother St, Stratford-upon-Avon, is located opposite the popular Rother Street Famers’ Market. In total the hotel consists of 46 guestrooms, bar, lounge, bistro and function facilities.

Image credits: Amy Murrell