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Hyatt Centric brand debuts in UK with Cambridge opening

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
Hyatt Centric brand debuts in UK with Cambridge opening

The opening of Hyatt Centric Cambridge, situated in the same sustainable development of Turing Locke, marks the brand’s arrival in the UK. The 150-key hotel has been designed by AvroKO to reflect the destination’s storied history. Editor Hamish Kilburn explores…

Envisioned by the same interior design studio, AvroKO, that was responsible for the creation of the recently opened Turing Locke, Hyatt Centric Cambridge also shares the same postcode as the new aparthotel. Both hotels have recently opened their doors inside the new sustainable development in the neighbourhood of Eddington, but as far as the design narrative goes, both hotels stand alone offering something different.

The milestone opening of Hyatt Centric Cambridge marks the debut of the brand in the UK (and the 10th Hyatt hotel in the country). Situated just outside the centre of Cambridge, renowned for its leafy parks, magnificent architecture, picturesque River Cam and stunning historic centre, the 150-key lifestyle hotel provides the perfect launchpad for adventurous travellers to explore the buzzing city, which is sharply becoming somewhat of a hotspot for hotel developers.

Located two miles northwest from the city’s historic heart, guests can explore the quaint cobbled streets or enjoy an afternoon punting on the River Cam, passing by stunning University colleges.

Set around a central courtyard, the hotel’s modern, inviting architecture and interiors, designed by Stirling Prize-winning architects dRMM, reflect the destination’s storied history. The social lobby features floor-to-ceiling windows flooding the space with bright, natural light, and modern furnishings with natural, wood finishes. A carefully curated selection of artworks nods to the scientific history of Cambridge, adding vibrant flashes of colour to the communal spaces.

“We are thrilled to open the doors of Hyatt Centric Cambridge. Cambridge is one of the most iconic cities in the UK thanks to its magnificent architecture, university buildings and historic centre. The hotel’s location allows curious guests to make the most of what the destination has to offer,” said Martin Newbould, General Manager, Hyatt Centric Cambridge. “We are excited for our guests to enjoy the hotel’s array of facilities including our distinct bar, restaurant and coffee shop, which offer savvy travellers share-worthy experiences.” 

A blue large bedroom inside the Hyatt Centric hotel in CambridgeThe 150 chic guestrooms mix understated grandeur with art deco touches. Warming mustard velvets mix with bold, calming blues, all complemented by rich walnut wood touches. 57 guestrooms offer a stunning courtyard view, 30 of which are deluxe rooms offering an even more spacious stay. Rooms include a selection of thoughtful amenities, featuring a flat screen television with Bluetooth capabilities, an alarm clock radio with Bluetooth pairing, Bee Kind bath amenities, cosy bathrobes and more.


Four distinguished dining options offer a diverse mix of international cuisine, using local produce from established Cambridge brands. Guests can kick-start their morning at KOTA’s coffee shop, with artisan baked goods, third-wave coffee from Saint Espresso roasted on-site, as well as revitalising juices and smoothies.  

KOTA restaurant will focus on the Finnish concept of charcoal cooking and community dining; catering for guests and locals throughout the day with fresh, bright brunches leading into light daytime dining, and a chargrilled evening menu complemented by botanical cocktails.

Public areas of Locke/Hyatt Centric Cambridge

Image credit: Edmund Dabney

The Dutch offers classic cocktails with a twist, serving lip-smacking flavour combinations inspired by exotic drinks from all corners of the globe. Guests can indulge in delicious light bites and sharing platters including cured meats, British cheeses and antipasti.

The seasonal roof terrace is the perfect spot for a sundown and provides unparalleled views to match. Created by the team of mixologists, guests can sip on imaginative, botanical cocktails which mix aromatics, fresh infusions and shrubs. The menu also includes a selection of refreshing craft beers all from local breweries, as well as nibbles and small bites.

Meeting and event space

Guests can make the most of the comfortable co-working area, which offers free Wi-Fi and all the hotel’s amenities on hand. Two adaptable meeting rooms, spanning 44sqm and 24sqm, boast large windows and high-spec audiovisual equipment for meetings, conferences and events for up to 30 people.

The seasonal roof terrace will also cater for larger events, hosting up to 150 guests for drinks receptions, presentations, networking and many other social gatherings.

The hotel also includes a fitness centre offering state-of-the-art equipment and free weights, so guests can maintain their healthy lifestyle whilst on the road.

Main image credit: Edmund Dabney

Hotel design | 60's inspired living room inside Turing Locke

Locke opens hotel in sustainable development in Cambridge

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
Locke opens hotel in sustainable development in Cambridge

Locke, the pioneering lifestyle aparthotel brand from edyn, opens its ninth property. Turing Locke, a new 180-key hotel, is situated in the heart of Cambridge’s sustainable new development, Eddington….

Hotel design | 60's inspired living room inside Turing Locke

The opening of Turing Locke, in the heart of Cambridge’s sustainable new development, Eddington, marks the continued international growth of Locke (by edyn), which has opened four locations in London, Dublin and Munich so far this year.

“The aparthotel seamlessly combines mid-century design choices with modernist flares.”

Named after the revolutionary computer scientist Alan Turing, the aparthotel comprises 180 stylish apartments (including one- and two-bedroom apartments, up to 74sqm), which each feature Locke’s signature fully fitted kitchens, living and dining space – ideal for extended stay guests. The aparthotel also includes a restaurant, cocktail bar, coffee shop, retail space, co-working area, gym, meeting and events space for up to 150 guests, along with a seasonal rooftop terrace and central landscaped courtyard.

Designed by Stirling Prize-winning architects dRMM, with interiors by the globally renowned design firm AvroKO’s London studio, Turing Locke takes its design cues from the avant-garde movements established in Cambridge. The aparthotel seamlessly combines mid-century design choices with modernist flares, set against a calm and cosy colour palette of greens, pinks and teal.

Hotel designs | A soft and contemporary bedroom, with wooden headboard and insect art


Turing Locke will serve as a focal point for the new community of Eddington, which has been developed by the University of Cambridge as an exemplar of sustainable living. Sustainability has been a central focus in the construction and design of Turing Locke, which features on-site renewable energy sources, biodiverse landscaping, and responsibly sourced furniture, lighting, and timber – as well as 200 cycle parking spaces and 20 electrical vehicle charging spots. These measures have reduced the development’s carbon emissions by 20 per cent, and targets BREEAM Excellent certification. As part of a brand-wide initiative, Locke has partnered with climate positive procurement consultancy Dodds & Shute to source timber, furniture, and lighting from responsible suppliers. As a result, Locke has offset 116.53 tonnes of carbon emissions – equivalent to protecting 4,307 trees. 

“Our ambition is to create a new community hub in Cambridge and establish Eddington as one of the City’s most exciting new destinations.” – Stephen McCall, CEO, edyn.

“Turing Locke marks our ninth Locke opening, and a milestone in our commitment to sustainability,” said Stephen McCall, CEO of Locke’s parent company edyn. “It has been an honour to work alongside the University of Cambridge to create our new home in Eddington, which has enabled us to take significant strides towards becoming a more sustainably conscious business. Our ambition is to create a new community hub in Cambridge and establish Eddington as one of the City’s most exciting new destinations, where locals and visitors alike can meet, work and exchange ideas.”

Working with locally-renowned partners to create two new food and drink destinations – KOTA and Dutch – Turing Locke will firmly establish Eddington as the new hotspot in Cambridge, creating exciting opportunities for existing local businesses.

A contemporary walkway into soft pink living room

Image credit: Locke

KOTA expands across three areas of the building, including a restaurant, seasonal rooftop terrace and coffee shop. The main restaurant and courtyard area specialises in lazy brunches, barbequed flavours, cocktails and craft beer; while the coffee shop serves third wave coffee roasted in-house by London-based roasters Saint Espresso, alongside juices and light bites. On the seasonal roof terrace, KOTA showcases an innovative cocktail menu and small plates.

 Dutch features an extensive cocktail menu alongside expertly sourced spirits, wines and beers, plus locally sourced platters of British cheeses and cured meats and salads, tortillas and tapas-style small plates.

A permanent art installation by local artist, Fiona Curran, emboldens the courtyard space, which aims to connect the rich history of Cambridge with its progressive future by drawing on references from archaeology and astronomy. The destination will also host an evolving cultural programme, which will include regular talks, workshops, exercise classes and more, and will be available to attend to locals and guests.

Turing Locke co-habits the building with the new 150-room Hyatt Centric Cambridge – Hyatt’s tenth hotel in the UK and the debut of its lifestyle brand Hyatt Centric in the country. Turing Locke and Hyatt Centric Cambridge share the courtyard space and all communal areas, including the food and beverage offering at the hotel.

Main image credit: Locke

A distressed wall on the left and a cabinet on the right frame the enetrance into the restaurant in The Fellows House in Cambridge

Checking in to The Fellows House Cambridge – one for the history books

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
Checking in to The Fellows House Cambridge – one for the history books

Armed with a limited knowledge of Cambridge – but a deep connection to cycling and ingenious college pranks – editor Hamish Kilburn checks in to the city’s new hotel, The Fellows House – Curio Collection by Hilton. His time away from his desk to explore design firm Twenty2Degrees Design Partnership’ latest project sharply becomes a history, chemistry, literature and art lesson packaged up in one unforgettable hospitality experience…

A distressed wall on the left and a cabinet on the right frame the enetrance into the restaurant in The Fellows House in Cambridge

You don’t have to join a guided tour to know that the city of Cambridge is littered with history – and not all of it as pleasant as the innovative pranks from the ‘night climbers’. But I would thoroughly recommend that you go on one anyway (and ask for Tony Rodgers as your guide if you do). If nothing else, the entertainment value alone will etch the trip securely in your memory, while reminding you why Cambridge is a fascinating city. Alternatively, or in addition to, you could always give punting a go.

In a mini metropolis that is home to some 20,000 students all housed within 31 separate and competing collages that make up Cambridge University (See, Tony, I did listen), it baffles me somewhat that the hospitality scene here is not rupturing the seams of the city wall. With all its deep historic events, winding tales of mystery and scientific breakthroughs, Cambridge is a hotel designer’s dream! But for whatever reason – perhaps something to do with land value and hoteliers not wanting to get too close to the next college prank – the city, in my informed opinion, is home to just a handful of exceptional hotels. And perhaps, to preserve itself as a place somewhat lost in time, it is better off that way.

“We want everyone to experience Cambridge like a fellow and make the most of their time with us by feeling inspired and comfortably at home.” – Paavan Popat, Executive Chairman of The Fellows House.

The latest jewel to emerge shelters an unmatched history, chemistry, literature and art lesson in one module. After much anticipation, The Fellows House Cambridge has opened its doors – and in doing so has created its own legacy by marking the first Curio Collection by Hilton to arrive in the idyllic city. “We are extremely proud of the final product,” said Paavan Popat, Executive Chairman of The Fellows House. “We want everyone to experience Cambridge like a fellow and make the most of their time with us by feeling inspired and comfortably at home.” And following that official statement, my journey began.

Although the location is not slap-bang in the middle of Cambridge – however, the walk into the city centre takes less than 10 minutes and is a welcome way to find your bearings – the hotel design narrative is something of a treasure trove. Before guests have even stepped foot inside the hotel, the first nod to a Cambridge fellow can be seen. Two columns clad in patinated copper stand in Alan Turing’s legacy. On careful inspection – of course, any sculpture in the memory of Turing requires a great deal of thought – each of the columns are skilfully etched with mysterious text formatted like the Enigma code. However, this time, the codes hide famous quotes from Cambridge fellows for visitors to decipher at their leisure. The immersive experience begins, I thought as I went to check in.

Image caption: The enigma column outside the hotel, in homage to Alan Turing, is the first indication that The Fellows House in Cambridge will shelter a deep design narrative. | Image credit: The Fellows House Cambridge

Image caption: The enigma column outside the hotel, in homage to Alan Turing, is the first indication that The Fellows House in Cambridge will shelter a deep design narrative. | Image credit: The Fellows House Cambridge

From here, guests glide into the lobby lounge, which is a reclined area that smells magnificent, where the interior design, led by masterminds at Twenty2Degrees, responds to the location and academic heritage, which naturally includes countless clever references to the fellows of the university. “We very much wanted The Fellows House to be a neighbourhood amenity – an exclusive hotel but with an inclusive ambience,” Nick Stoupas, Director of interior design firm Twenty2Degrees tells Hotel Designs. “Clearly, The Sage Café at the front of the hotel [next to the lobby] and with its own street entrance is very much about drawing in the locals.”

Image caption: The Sage Cafe, with a separate entrance at the front of the hotel, is a light, bright and relaxing place where I sat for hours catching up on my emails. | Image credit: The Fellows House

Image caption: The Sage Cafe, with a separate entrance at the front of the hotel, is a light, bright and relaxing place where I sat for hours catching up on my emails, as I am sure many locals do also. | Image credit: The Fellows House

The power of art is extraordinary. No one knows this more than the art curators at Elegant Clutter, who were tasked to give a new layer to the interior design, which follows Twenty2degrees’ natural instinct to “design interiors that are original, yet true to brand, which are modern, infused with sense of place and a sense of fun, yet are seriously fit for purpose,” as Stoupas perfectly puts it. The body of art, therefore, is closely tied to the fellows that the name of the hotel marvellously celebrates. “When we were walking around the city on our first research trip, you could feel the history all around you,” explains Harry Pass, Creative Director at Elegant Clutter. “Cambridge is one of those locations which is overflowing with inspiration; it becomes more about what we have to consider ‘leaving out’ of the collection, as there is so much material!”


The portrait of Davidson Nicol, Cambridge’s first African fellow, is one of the first pieces of art that caught my attention, and I struggled to move past it. Hung on the opposite wall is a modern installation of bicycles. However, the celebration of the city’s affinity to two wheels is not quite as you would imagine. The bike frames have been deconstructed and placed together and repeated to create an impression of constant movement, which is kind of wonderful in a modern hotel lobby that is, in its own way, conducting a constant flow of traffic.

The Cipollino Ondulato Rosso marble to the reception desk is honed to striking effect and behind this a full-height pigeon hole cabinet of the kind once popular in the colleges. Each cabinet is labelled with a word in an old typewriter font, which on their own are nonsensical. Piece them together, however, and the form a poem by a Cambridge fellow.

The materiality in the public areas is vast and just as considered as the artwork. Upholstery fabrics are tactile, with the rouge pink tone of velvet offsets the dark marbles and timbers. To complete the design, the modern orb-like chandelier from Chelsom, finished in brushed brass, is a welcome touch to a hotel lobby that has timeless style and character.

Image caption: The colour pallete of the lobby/lounge and The Folio Bar is dark and rich to reflect that of a private memebers' bar. | Image credit: The Fellows House Cambridge

Image caption: The colour pallete of the lobby/lounge and The Folio Bar is dark and rich to reflect that of a private members’ bar. | Image credit: The Fellows House Cambridge

In truth, I spent the majority of my time in the public areas – and why wouldn’t you when an eclectic art collection and thoughtful design scene catches your eye and challenges your history knowledge from every perspective? That and I had a lot of emails to catch up on, which were comfortably answered while reclined in the leather chesterfield sofas next to large armchairs that have been playfully deconstructed as if to show the secrets of their inner craftsmanship.

Moving further into this space, the seductive coating of design yet again draws guests in and provides subtle reveals through partially glazed panels and free-standing walls of spaces beyond as well as new reflections captured in distressed mirrored columns – a proficient way to create barriers without halting flow. At the far end of the space, another art masterpiece in aged copper rounds off the journey. It is an etching inspired by fellow C.S. Lewis’ The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, which emulates the printing blocks used to create the original book by scaling-up and reversing the process to create a mirror image. And, not be left out, is a recording from Winnie the Pooh, written by another fellow, A.A Milne, which plays in the public restrooms.

Truly, every corner of the hotel’s public areas has been observed. Even the corridors, often forgotten spaces in hotels, have been utilised to keep the narrative of Cambridge and its fellows flowing. “Our references are very real but the way we have treated them is far from literal,” adds Stoupas. “We have layered these notes in a way that means returning guests and those who are staying for a long period of time will continue to discover new ideas and engaging stories.” They become an experience of Cambridge, if you like, putting the spotlight on brilliant minds interpreted through a design lens to encourage guests to look beyond what they already know.

Past a pool table in the middle of the room – my kind of hotel – in the far end of the hotel is The Folio Bar, but don’t let the warm ambiance fool you into a false sense of security, because the cocktails, made to look like the results of chemistry experiments, are lethal.

Image credit: The Folio Bar, where the design is strong and the cocktails are lethal. | Image credit: The Fellows House Cambridge

Image credit: The Folio Bar, where the design is strong and the cocktails are lethal. | Image credit: The Fellows House Cambridge

Designed to feel like a private members’ club – and it does so effectively with a warm and rich colour palatte with notes of deep reds and oranges – the lighting in this part of the hotel plays a major role. With little direct natural light available, the theatre of artificial lighting highlights feature elements, artwork and accessories, revealing luxurious finishes and creating a mood conducive to quiet conversations against the intermittent sounds of cocktail shakers.

Nearest to the bar, an elegant cocktail cabinet displays glass drippers used to curate local drinks in-house but which would look as if they should be in a scientist’s laboratory. At the other end, there is a full-height bookcase accessorised with scientific curiosities, games and a collection of books by or about the fellows.

The space is open and inviting. Where walls do exist, though, they have been designed to merge into artwork. For example, a free-standing wall alongside the bar hosts a “DNA Panel”, a celebration of the discovery of DNA by Cambridge fellows which, so the story goes, was modelled over a pint in the nearby Eagle pub. The double helix formation is carved and painted and the DNA profile of, I am told, the owner of the hotel itself is embedded into the piece as gold-painted strips. To the side of one of the lift lobbies, a faux aged brick wall has been created where the plaster has been made to look like it has “degraded in time” to disclose the college crests, painted as faded ghost signage.

Adjacent to The Folio Bar – but far enough away to lock in different atmospheres – The Folio Kitchen comprises a large indoor conservatory-style space which opens onto The Fellows Garden where a terrace and The Observatory snug give guests the opportunity to wine and dine al fresco. While flowing directly from The Folio Bar, the restaurant offers a step-change in ambience with a light-filled space thanks to a large roof lantern over the main dining area and a fully glazed wall at one end. In one direction, the restaurant looks towards a buzzing open kitchen, in the other towards the courtyard garden. “Since this area is hidden from the street, it feels a little like a secret gem for those in the know,” adds Stoupas.

Image caption: The Folio Kitchen has been designed in the Cambridge colours to be a light, bright and airy restaurant. | Image credit: The Fellows House

Image caption: The Folio Kitchen has been designed in the Cambridge colours to be a light, bright and airy restaurant. | Image credit: The Fellows House

The Folio Kitchen combines the contemporary and classic within a fresh and inviting colour palette. Walls and columns are clad in whitewashed brick and the accent colour is Cambridge Blue with punches of ochre orange in the leather upholstery. A Calacatta marble sharing table together with marble topped dining tables are elegant and sophisticated. They also provide a counterpoint to the traditional millwork of the roof lantern recess and the timber banquets as well as the geometric black and white tiling to the floor, all of which are a nod to historic Cambridge.

Certain elements are drawn through from the rest of the public areas. Antiqued mirror continues to play an important role in capturing design vignettes and adding drama to the space while original artworks are key to the storytelling. For example, a romantic poem written nearly 100 years ago by a Chinese student and a leader of China’s New Culture Movement becomes a collection of framed love notes to Cambridge abstracted into handwritten texts, modern re-workings of Chinese symbols and laser cut lettering.

The restaurant is refined, cosy and playful, aptly complementing the menu which features homely British classics served with a twist as well as a number of plant-based dishes, I couldn’t help by notice.

We’ve come all this way – travelled through time, it feels – and we have not yet even mentioned the guestrooms – or apartments, I should say.

The hotel houses 133 apartments, which are contemporary and pared-back – leaving room for guests to make their suite their own, which I think is a nice element. Pale timber floors and a monochrome colour palette are paired with marble topped tables and dark timber features and furniture. Accents of colour are introduced in the framed antique-style Cambridge maps which pay homage to alumni and fellows, Charles Darwin, Henry Cavendish, John Flamsteed and Siegfried Sassoon – but one can’t help but feel that the artwork in the rooms need to work harder to compliment the level of detail in the creative curated mix of art experienced elsewhere in the hotel. That’s not the say, by any means, that the rooms are not stylish, comfortable and extremely well specked, complete with Villeroy & Boch basins and WCs, Geberit flush plates and hansgrohe rainfinity showers.

Prior to checking in to this hotel, Cambridge to me felt like an exclusive zone; reserved for students and the alumni who passed the entry exam and the famous interview process. Well, now, I have a new perspective and deeper understanding of the city’s rousing past, thanks to the opening of this contemporary hotel that fills in all the history gaps. In fact, I feel like I need to return to in order to discover more.

Leaving Cambridge, less than 24 hours after I arrived, I feel as if I have somehow graduated from somewhere remarkable – and hotel that is both true to its roots while also being fully equipped to the new contemporary hospitality era that we are moving into – it even has a spa and gym. Until next time, The Fellows House Cambridge.

Main image credit: The Fellows House Cambridge

Dexter Moren Associates wins planning permission for a Cambridge hotel

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
Dexter Moren Associates wins planning permission for a Cambridge hotel

A planning win for Dexter Moren Associates will see Cambridge’s iconic Hobson House given new lease of life as an all-suite boutique hotel…

One of Cambridge’s most iconic buildings is to be given a new lease of life following the decision by Cambridge City Council to grant permission for the conversion of the city’s historic former police and fire station into a 57 all-suite luxury boutique hotel and destination tearoom.

Operating under the Rogue City Hotels brand, the hotel has been sensitively designed by established hospitality designer Dexter Moren Associates (DMA) for client Henley and will see key features of the Grade II Listed Hobson House preserved, restored and opened up to the public for the first time in decades.

Hobson House, built in 1901 and located on St Andrew’s Street, sits on a site associated with the charity founded by Thomas Hobson, the 17th century Cambridge philanthropist from whom the phrase ‘Hobson’s Choice’ derives. Over the years, the building has functioned variously as a workhouse, a gaol for the university, a police and fire station and, more recently, as council offices.

Through a sensitive conversion DMA’s design provides opportunities to enhance and reveal significant architectural features of the building, much of which had been lost or hidden through previous alterations. The design respects the important original spaces without significant alteration, whilst new build elements woven into the existing fabric will provide a visual lift to the character of Downing Place to the rear. DMA has proposed that the unique covered courtyard, the former Drill Yard, will be enclosed to become a destination tearoom and eatery in the very heart of the hotel, creating vibrancy and social interaction for both guests and local neighbours.

Given the historic and architectural significance of Hobson House, it is important that the building be respectfully converted to its new use. DMA’s inhouse conservation knowledge coupled with its planning expertise successfully navigated the design through a number of Pre-application meetings and a Design and Conservation Review Panel.

“The building’s original stained-glass windows, ceiling plasterwork and wood panelling will be restored throughout.”

The project has been led by DMA Partner Paul Wells. “Hobson House is an architectural gem located in Cambridge’s historic city centre, with many fantastic original features local people may be unaware of,” Well says. “Sadly, since its conversion to office use in the 1960s the building has suffered from chronic under-investment and its many of its original features have been denied the care they deserve. Now that our hotel proposal has been granted permission, Henley can give the building a new lease of life, not only helping to serve the needs of the city’s many visitors, but also preserving and restoring Hobson House for the local residents to embrace and be truly proud of.”

DMA’s proposals will see the original ornate entrance hall and principal stone staircase retained and repaired to their former glory, alongside the first-floor Chief Constable’s Office which will also be restored with the existing timber panelling and bold ceiling pattern fully repaired. The building’s original stained-glass windows, ceiling plasterwork and wood panelling will be restored throughout.

The exterior façade on St Andrew’s Street will be cleaned using methods that are appropriately sensitive to the stone exterior, to activate and ‘open’ the ornate and historic frontage and welcome visitors into the site.

Nassar Khalil, Director of Hotels and Leisure at Henley and Chief Executive of Rogue City Hotels said “We are extremely excited to have secured planning consent for our next hotel in the heart of one of the UK’s most enchanting cities. As with all our hotels, our focus is to provide guests with design led luxury accommodation, exceptional service, comfort and convenience, and curate a special relationship with the local area. These summed up the key attributes of a Rogue City Hotel.”

To introduce a meaningful and visually exciting new use to the central core of the building, the design creates a landscaped destination tearoom in the double height former drill yard. This will allow the public to access an otherwise ‘land locked’ part of the building, allowing visitors to enjoy the dramatic scale of the space.

Main image credit: Dexter Moren Associates

Editor Checks In: April ‘19

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
Editor Checks In: April ‘19

Everyone is talking about Milan…

Italy’s city of the future, which is also its fashion, culture and design quarters, thrives in between Gothic architecture. The fast-paced metropolis of Milan comes alive in April for what is seen as the largest design event in the calendar, Milan Design Week. Leading designers, architects and journalists from all corners of the world descend onto the city. Visitors are warned pre-show by the festival guides to expect the unexpected – and each year, companies come to premiere new collections. Over the six days, everyone is talking about Milan.

But with all the pre-event noise in the world, nothing could have prepared us for what came next. Having attended the annual event now for five years running, the British designer Tom Dixon decided it was time to make his permanent mark on the city. Instead of exhibiting in the traditional way – on a stand at Salone del Mobile – he opened a restaurant and showroom in time for this year’s activities, allowing visitors the ability to browse the studio’s products in an active context.

Witnessing the constant stream of ideas, launches and collaboration announcements made the week an incredible time to be curating the content on the editorial desk – albeit remotely at times. Salone del Mobile recorded 386,236 attendees, over the six days, from 181 different countries. That is what the Italians would regard as a ‘successo’.

Back on home soil, last month I was fortunate enough to check in to what was one of last year’s most anticipated hotel openings. The University Arms in Cambridge, designed by The Brit list 2018’s Interior Designer of the Year, Martin Brudnizki, is a jewel in the heart of a city riddled in history. Taking an aptly earnest approach (when in Cambridge), we published the interactive hotel review after speaking with both Brudnizki and John Simpson from John Simpson Architects who were the visionaries behind the reinvention of the heritage hotel that now shelters a modern soul.

As the sun sets on yet another incredible, immersive and influential Milan Design Week, I am reminded that there’s never a dull day in the life of a design editor (I’m writing this in between seminars at the inaugural Interior Design & Architecture Summit (IDAS)). There’s optimism in the air and London, which has been at the centre of the world’s attention recently for putting the magnifying glass on climate change, is calling for more to be done in terms of building sustainable cities and hotels around the world. As we gear up for Clerkenwell Design Week , will sustainability dominate the talks and sessions as it has at IDAS? Well check out our recently published pre-event guide identifies the major product launches to look forward to.

During May, Hotel Designs will be putting Bathrooms and Bars & Restaurants under the spotlight. If you would like to contribute to these topics, please do not hesitate to email me.

Editor, Hotel Designs

Checking in to University Arms, Cambridge

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
Checking in to University Arms, Cambridge

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

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

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

Image credit: University Arms, Cambridge

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

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

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

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

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

Image credit: University Arms, Cambridge

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

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

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

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

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

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

Image credit: University Arms, Cambridge

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

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

Main image credit: ACT Studios

Mandarin Oriental lobby

Top 5 stories of the week: London fire, summit success and first looks

1024 624 Hamish Kilburn

Here are our top 5 stories of the week…

1. Mandarin Kensington Fire: Hotel issues statement

fire at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel London

Image credit: Twitter @Watersun555

Not surprisingly, our top story of the week was the Mandarin Oriental London’s devastating fire. It happened on Wednesday afternoon, one week after completing “the most extensive restoration in its 115-year history.”

2. Hotel Designs celebrates record-breaking success at this year’s Hotel Summit 2018

Delegates and suppliers at Hotel Summit 2018

This year’s 20th anniversary of Hotel Summit becomes the most successful event to date in Hotel Designs history. You can read all about this year’s summit and what the delegates and suppliers thought via the link above.

3. First look: University Arms, Cambridge

Large suite wtih bookcase diver and bespoke furniture

Ahead of the opening of University Arms, Cambridge, we went behind the scenes to find out how the design concept developed between interior designer Martin Brudnizki and architect John Simpson.

4. Technology: Is Alexa welcome in the hotel industry?

In-room software

Image credit: Alice, info.aliceapp.com

This has been the most shared story of the week. In our technology feature this month, we’re discussing how tech, placed thoughtfully, can help create a relevant and modern in-room experience. With 73 per cent of travellers wanting in-room voice commands, should hotels offer Alexa in guestrooms? One company believes so.

5. designjunction announces new home for 2018

London Southbank

designjunction is set to transport to the cultural hub of London’s South Bank with a showcase of world-class design for the annual London Design Festival in September 2018.