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Person in factory eating

Editor checks in: The unethical merry-go-round in design I want to jump off

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
Editor checks in: The unethical merry-go-round in design I want to jump off

Somewhere between furious and frustrated are where editor Hamish Kilburn’s emotions currently sit after learning about the inexcusably unethical design processes behind many products that are in demand of being specified in hotel design projects globally. But will the industry wake up to realise the human cost of a low-priced product?

Person in factory eating

Interior designers are taught and trained to create consciously; to look beyond aesthetics, to consider elements such as materiality and sensory touchpoints, in order to transform empty shells into meaningful spaces. By doing so, students arguably hold the key to unlock hospitality’s innovation and future. The initiatives I have seen emerge recently from young designers – most noticeably when judging the Accor Design Awards – are a breath of fresh air. Some are equally completely unrealistic, which is why, in their raw and brilliant state, they should be nurtured for when technology, behaviour and society inevitably catches up (which they will).

Something changes, though, when a student enters the workplace. Firstly, they start getting paid fairly for their efforts. As a result of being part of something far larger and greater, the freedoms of having ownership of a project in its entirety are, however, lost. That void is filled with hurdles you simply cannot simulate, no matter how many modules you take, such as outrageous client demands, brand standards, and your creativity feeling, at times, somewhat muted. If you are a young designer in this position, I’m afraid it is just part of the process, and in relation to other graduates who are struggling to find the first step on the ladder, you are winning. Perhaps, tough, I can offer you some words of wisdom that may or may not help you on your journey. They come from a close friend of mine who recently shared these strands of advice with a colleague of his who was about to embark on a new chapter in their career.

His advice was:

  • Nobody likes a drama-queen. You might be dying on the inside but try to come across as cool and in control and you will be admired by everyone.
  • Think about the ‘now, next and future’ – carve your plans into these categories and give each one equal attention.
  • Stand your ground when you really believe in something.
  • Balance art with science. Art alone will divide people. Science alone is cold and lacks emotion.
  • Nobody will argue with the data (mostly)

There were actually more than five (at least 15 points in total) but I digress, which wasn’t but should’ve been his next top tip of what not to do. For the purpose of this piece, I want to focus my attention on the fifth statement: “Nobody will argue with the data (mostly)”.

Well, it has come to my attention recently – in fact, like you, I have been aware about it for a while but ignorantly let it sail past my radar without any action or comment being taken – that some manufacturing processes, in this rule-lacking race to bring down the price of products, are deeply and abhorrently unethical. I would like to say that they’re not adhering to ethical standards and/or guidelines, but the truth is that there are no such parameters currently in place. “Blame the brands,” some may argue, but even the companies using these factories that offer a good price are, sometimes with the best intentions, blinded – or choose to shut their eyes – so cannot focus the lens on the social and human costs behind these deals.

One gentleman who is all too aware of the damage that can be caused by moral-abandoning factories is Chris Stimson, the Co-Founder of lighting brand Well-Lit, which I now champion and will amplify hard because of its unapologetically clear stance on ethical manufacturing. I was hosting an exclusive roundtable, exploring this very topic with Stimson and a handful of leading lighting designers, when relayed to us his up-close and personal account with factories that treat their staff badly – he has been arrested three times before (think fly-on-the-wall, Panorama eat-your-heart-out kind of content)!

“I freely admit that I spent the early years of my lighting journey on the wrong side of ethical manufacturing. I knew plenty about lamps, but nothing about the people who made them, or the real conditions in most Asian factories.”, he said. “I made lots of ignorant and naive errors – until I personally witnessed exploitation in factories making bulbs for western brands.

“Unfortunately, sustainability and ethics aren’t quite the same thing. A brand can tick every box for the climate and the circular economy, and still act in ways that most consumers would find entirely unacceptable.”

Sadly, as briefs become more specific, deadlines become tighter and budgets have to work harder. Therefore, the demand for cheap specification in this fast-turn-around society takes precedent. As a result, this is one area of the interior design arena that will unfortunately continue to fall into what will soon be disrepair. The people who suffer most will be the people working in the factories, often hundreds of miles away from their families, who have little to no choice but to accept the disgraceful working conditions that are sheltered in some of these factories that many well-known brands with deep pockets for PR and marketing use, perhaps unaware of the truth that is locked from view.

To all brands, internationally, that are currently using marketing tools to amplify ethical, feel-good messages: I urge you to consider thoroughly which factories you decide to partner with. Ask difficult questions. Become a nuisance. Demand the data to back up the grand statements you will undoubtedly receive when hearing about care of and working conditions for the factory workers. This is the only way to separate quality craftsmanship from cheap labour. Even then, with the best will in the world and by asking all the right questions, brands can be lied to and fed misinformation.

As designers, I believe it is your duty to challenge manufacturers and brands – and if you have access, then also the manufacturing process behind products.

However, even with the best will in the world, you will get so far before you find a black hole of information. This is why it is so important for brands to know what happens under the roofs of the factories that are producing their products – the more information you can gather in this area, the better equipped you will be to help create an ethical design landscape that doesn’t sacrifice the welfare of people over price (and quality).

It’s a difficult yet important road to travel for the greater good of design and humanity, but it is not all doom and gloom. I am pleased to see that brands are, it seems, working hard to amplify craftsmanship and authentic design. In a recent roundtable I hosted, I learned that Ennismore is only interested in working with brands that can prove their products have been made ethically. Perhaps, I hope, the tight-knit design team at the studio is setting the tone for others to follow.

Editor, Hotel Designs

Main image credit: Unsplash/JKN

Rock Galpin and his new collection of furniture

Rock Galpin: “My new furniture collection is like a human hug”

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
Rock Galpin: “My new furniture collection is like a human hug”

A few years and a pandemic after editor Hamish Kilburn first put forward Rock Galpin as the designer that furniture brand Morgan should work with next, the collaboration has reached a milestone with the unveiling of the Lugano Collection. Ahead of its official reveal this week, Kilburn exclusively caught up with Galpin and Morgan to find out more…

Rock Galpin and his new collection of furniture

I’m stood in Clerkenwell, a site myself and fellow design enthusiasts are familiar of. Although the streets are almost empty and the lights in many showrooms are switched off (for now) – it all looks so different post-pandemic – Dallington Street has a pulse running through it. There’s excitement in the September air as the Morgan showroom is about to shelter the official unveil of a new furniture collection. The Lugano Collection, designed by legendary furniture designer, Rock Galpin, has taken years to perfect – and London Design Festival 2021, four years since I first met the designer himself, is the perfect time (and place) for such an occasion.

It’s more than just another product launch affair for me. Believe it or not, I was the one who connected the brand with the designer a few years ago, before there were signs of a cultural shift – and planting a seed is all the credit I shall I claim with this collection. Following a few emails, the creative flair from both sides came together in harmony, with the aim to create a comfortable masterpiece for the brand to confront a new hospitality era.

Ahead of the official unveil, which takes place later this week, the team have kindly offered Hotel Designs the exclusive interview, for us to understand how this partnership evolved following our most meaningful introduction (to date)…

Hamish Kilburn: First things first, Rock, talk us through how this collection’s themes came about…

Rock Galpin: Personally I believe that the ‘quality of the experience’ of a design, of a product such as this, has become increasing more and more important. I believe we are now looking for design that serves us on a much higher level, beyond utilitarian needs, where greater levels of comfort, increased quality of experience of use, control, even empowerment with a more ethical stand point will enable a more meaningful outcome.

“The collection took shapes from simple wrap around forms that hug you – like a human hug.” – Rock Galpin.

To bring this back to the collection, the starting point for me was a simple one; to focus on comfort and what I associate with it. Warmth, being wrapped up, hugged, softness around, smoothness, soft forms and materials that we connect with, deriving from nurture and to be nurtured. The collection took shapes from simple wrap around forms that hug you – like a human hug. The frame supporting the user in a kind of protective nurturing cradle, with crafted paddle like legs extending up the sides and back. 

Two armchairs in the new Lugano furniture collection

Image credit: Morgan

As the forms and pieces started to take shape we looked further at materials and colour-ways from inspiration found in nature, one was beach pebbles, which particularly resonated with the collection for me. The experience of being on a beach and searching for that perfect pebble, that fits your hand beautifully, feeling so smooth and warm, with such beautiful colours… almost feeling like it was part of you. This in way is what I have tried to connect with and draw from in the collections typological design development, whilst retaining a certain definition.

HK: What were the major challenges when designing this collection?

RG: Creating a collection that somehow felt fondly familiar but that was also has its own unique personality, whilst potentially being timeless in appeal, is always and exciting challenge and demanding balance to try to get right. In addition there were some interesting challenges with the new method of manufacture in how the elements needed to come together to create one of the main benefits of the collection in interior schemes, that being to offer three distinctly different elements; back/arm rest, seat pad and frame giving many configurable different options, allowing interior designers further possibilities to express their signatures styles, whilst from a sustainable perspective increasing the products operational lifespan, by the option of high wear parts replacement.

Four armchair furniture pieces in the new collection

Image credit: Morgan

HK: What was it like finalising this collection while not only dealing with time zones, but also while confronting a pandemic?

RG: I am certainly the type of person and designer who enjoys working closely, hands on, with clients throughout the whole process, so it was certainly challenging finding ways to communicate particularly with the fine complexities in artistic and design refinement, and ergonomics when there could be no direct contact in the Pandemic lock down. In addition with different timezones and the fact that the week ends and starts on different days in both countries does slow communication down a little, but we’ve found ways to address this. 

HK: We have followed your work for a while now, but what’s different about this collection?

RG: My work, is quite often centred around human behaviour and experiences, with aspirations to push the boundaries of how our material world, in this case furniture can shape an improved life, with exciting materials, processes and technologies. This collection was a little different for me, in a sense that it was far more about a stripped back, more deeply routed project about connection with ‘us’, nature and timelessness. A more timeless collection that celebrates comfort, modern elegance and craftsmanship but one that also take takes a purposeful step forward.

Quick-fire round with Erin Johnson, Design Manager, Morgan

HK: In a sentence, describe the Lugano Collection?

Erin Johnson: Lugano is a collection of dining and lounge chairs, inspired by the idea of ‘nurture’, interpreted through form and balance between individual elements and material compositions.

HK: Tell us more about the name of the collection…

EJ: The collection is named after Lake Lugano, located in southern Switzerland’s Italian Ticino region. Lake Lugano reflects the floating quality of the chair’s seat which, along with the body, floats within the timber frame that cradles them.

HK: What three words would you use to describe working with Rock?

EJ: Vision, perfection, clarity.

HK: Can we expect more collaborative collections by Morgan and Rock?

EJ: We thoroughly enjoyed collaborating with Rock on the Lugano collection. Rock strives for perfection, which is a quality we admire and try to embody ourselves. He challenged us to look at structure and strength of different construction methods, looking at the relationship between frame and body in ways we’ve never explored. So yes, we’d be very open to working with Rock again on future collections.

HK: As a furniture designer, what have you learned throughout this collection with Morgan?

RG: Every project is always an incredible learning process and this project has been no exception. From understanding Morgan’s perspective, the team’s passion for design, their in-house craftsmanship to the limitations and streamlining skills necessary for production to reach beautifully balanced product collections, much has been learnt. It’s a pleasure to work with a manufacturer, such as Morgan, who is prepared to take the time a design really needs to take to create the best outcome, from overall concept to the smallest subtle detail and pricing. 

HK: What can we expect next from you?

Well I am sworn to secrecy, but there is wind of a new collaboration or two, working on some exciting new furniture projects with some very interesting materials and processes. 

In stark contrast I have also been working on an incredibly challenging project for The Ministry of Justice over the last two years, to design and develop an exciting collection of beds for prison cell use by in mates in UK prisons. The collection is currently being prototyped by The Ministry of Justice.

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

Main image credit: Rock Galpin/Morgan/Ed Reeve 

Writers Room inside Park Hyatt Toronto

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

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

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

Writers Room inside Park Hyatt Toronto

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Main image credit: Hyatt Hotels

Public areas inside Graduate hotel in Cambridge

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

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

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

Public areas inside Graduate hotel in Cambridge

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

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

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

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

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

Inside Graduate Cambridge

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

Public areas inside Graduate Cambridge

Image credit: Graduate Hotels

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

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

The Randolph Hotel by Graduate Hotels

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

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

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

Main image credit: Graduate Hotels

Accor hotel room on top of mountain

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

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

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

Accor hotel room on top of mountain

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

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

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

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

Main image credit: Accor

citizenM paris champs elysees

citizenM opens hotel on Champs-Élysées in Paris

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
citizenM opens hotel on Champs-Élysées in Paris

Talk about changing  up the narrative… the street of traditional luxury gets a french kiss from affordable luxury – citizenM Paris Champs-Élysées, designed by Concrete Amsterdam, becomes the brand’s fourth hotel in the City of Light…

The multi-award winning, Dutch hotel-and-lifestyle brand citizenM is returning to Paris to open its fourth hotel – on one of the world’s most famous avenues. 

citizenM paris champs elysees

From September 2021, citizenM Paris Champs-Élysées joins its three sister hotels in the French capital – making it the first city with a quartet of citizenM hotels . Overall, this is citizenM’s 15th hotel in Europe – and 23rd globally – since 2008.

citizenM Paris Champs-Élysées, the hotel brand’s 15th property to open in Europe, stays true to the brand’s promise of ‘affordable luxury for the people’ – serving it up, as usual, in a triple-A well-connected location. This one is centered almost precisely between Arc de Triomphe and Place de la Concorde. On the doorstep: luxury shopping and dining on Avenue de Champs-Élysées, two metro stations, Galeries Lafayette, Grand Palais, Petit Palais, countless restaurants and boutiques, and much more. The location is ideal for tourists and business travellers visiting Paris for both short and long stays. 

a blue sofa and red furniture inside citizenm in Paris

Image credit: citizenM

Over approximately two years, the existing 1970s building on Rue la Boétie had been redesigned and converted into a modern 151-room citizenM hotel, with the help of long-time collaborators and architects Concrete Amsterdam, who took part in Hotel Designs LIVE this year. Approximately a quarter of the rooms on the front facade have a view of Rue la Boétie and a slice of Avenue de Champs-Élysées. The rest of the rooms are arranged in a U-shape around a peaceful ground-floor courtyard with greenery and comfortable outdoor seating. 

To get to the rooms, guests enter via a designer living room – citizenM’s signature space and everyone’s favourite hangout – passing a commissioned wall mural by Lucky Left Hand (French artist Steven Burke) on their way. In the living room itself, a spectacular Golden Age wallpaper by Ai Wei Wei will undoubtedly become one of the most photographed art pieces. It is best contemplated from one of the many cosy and colourful Vitra couches and chairs. Other notable art pieces in the living room include ‘Tauros’ by Sarah Morris, a lightbox by JR (Jean René), photo print by Frank Horvat, and Andy Warhol’s ‘Flowers’, as well as hand-picked pieces by Thomas Raat, Christophe Bucklow, David Salle and Jordan Wolfson, courtesy of the citizenM collection, which belongs to citizenM Executive Chairman Rattan Chadha.

For that ‘just like home’ feeling, the living room has space for working and relaxing, hundreds of books, interesting objects, and a 24/7 kitchen in the centre. Known as canteenM, it serves 24/7 food, drinks and snacks – nearly all locally sourced – hot à la carte meals, craft cocktails and delicious coffee. The indoor canteenM bar/dining area expands onto the aforementioned inner courtyard with Parisian-style furniture. 

When creating a new hotel, citizenM likes to include an element of surprise to keep all returning guests delighted. This way, the ‘affordable luxury’ experience is consistent around the world, but with a unique attraction at every location. citizenM Paris Champs-Élysées is the first-ever hotel with three outdoor spaces – the courtyard on ground level, the canteenM terrace, and an enchanting cloudM rooftop bar with a fresh, casual vibe. This spectacular park-style bar on top of the Champs-Élysées will serve a menu of delicious finger food, snacks, and bottled drinks (a variety of refreshing wine, beer, soda and spritzes). The cloudM bar – featuring views of the Eiffel Tower – will be open to the public, available for private hire, and stylishly furnished by Vitra.

Upstairs, 151 rooms are designed especially to fit the existing building – and for ultimate relaxation. The most important things – the XL king-size bed, jungle-like shower, and entertainment – are all optimised for comfort, luxury and ease of use. Superfast Wi-Fi is always free, and the entire room ambiance (from lights and blinds to the temperature and TV) is controlled by the free citizenM app, or the MoodPad tablet. 

For room art, citizenM hand-picked three French female artists – Marie Guillard, Elvire Caillon and Melodie Bachet – in collaboration with Starter, a creative agency run by Parisiennes Aurelie Dablanc and Anne-Marine Guiberteau. In every city it calls home, citizenM seeks out local artists to collaborate with and highlight their talent. 

White contemporary bedroom

Image credit: citizenM

For the final touch to the true citizenM experience, the hotel ambassadors make the whole world feel at home. Every one of them is empowered to do what’s right for the guests, and prepared to take on any role – barista, concierge, housekeeping or receptionist. At citizenM, guests who need attention are never sent to ‘speak to someone else’, but instead receive genuine warmth and attention – deservedly noted in the many positive online reviews. 

citizenM Paris Champs-Élysées hotel is open for bookings from September 2021. Together with the existing three locations – at Gare de Lyon, La Défense and Charles de Gaulle Airport – the quartet of Parisian citizenM hotels fulfills the needs of every visitor seeking affordable luxury in the City of Light.

Main image credit: citizenM

W Changsha

W Hotels arrives in Changsha with futuristic design scheme

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
W Hotels arrives in Changsha with futuristic design scheme

Bright, bold and playfully fun, W Changsha has arrived sheltering a ‘uniquely eclectic’ design scheme that modern travellers expect from the W Hotels brand. The hotel opening marks the first W in central China – and the brand’s eighth property in the country…

W Changsha

The future is now, according to W Hotels, which has lit up the capital and largest city in Hunan province, China, with the opening of W Changsha. Owned by the Hunan Yunda Industry Group, the hotel is strategically located in the buzzing heart of the city and reflects the bright spirit of the futuristic and multi-dimensional city with a provocative and playful design inspired by space travel.

A red ceiling with tables and seats in public area of lobby

Image credit: W Chenghsa

“W Changsha marks the eighth W hotel to open in China, one of the most influential markets in both travel and business, and we’re excited to bring W Hotels to more destinations across the country,” said Tom Jarrold, Global Brand Leader, W Hotels Worldwide. “Cities such as Changsha, with their future-focused residents and fast-growing millennial luxury market who crave the new and unexpected, are playgrounds of limitless possibilities for W.”

Designed by the acclaimed Cheng Chung Design (H.K.) Ltd, W Changsha takes imaginative risks with daring new design forms celebrating Changsha’s rich heritage and modernity. In China, Changsha is also known as “Star City” and its name inspires the hotel’s design narrative featuring bold geometric patterns mixed with contemporary avant-garde artwork. Exclusively commissioned by the hotel, whimsical artwork such as the Schrodinger’s Cat series and the Zeta art installations explore the mystery of the universe through the W lens, creating unexpected encounters throughout the hotel.

Upon arrival at W Changsha, guests are greeted by the iconic W logo, illuminated to resemble the surface of the moon. “Avenue of the Stars,” a mixed-media landscape combining digital, interactive, and sound art, transports guests to RUNWAY, a destination bar in the Living Room, the brand’s signature, socially driven spin on the traditional hotel lobby. Here, the “Pepper Man” sculpture invites guests to look up and marvel anew at the wonders of space within the context of Changsha’s local custom and culture.

The hotel’s 345 guestrooms and suites offers modern luxuries and new-tech conveniences, with walls depicting planets, constellations, and discovery of the nebulae through a “meow eye cabin” LED screen emulating space exploration. From 26th floor to the highest floor on 28th, the triple-story Extreme – WOW Suite (the brand’s take on the presidential suite) incorporates more than 1,000 square meters of living and leisure space, including a private garden and a swimming pool, to make for a brilliant venue for private events amplified by the hotel’s signature service.

After work or play, guests can kick-back by the reflection pool or make a splash at WET®, an expansive pool with a three-meter ‘Space Cat’ sculpture. The 24/7, fully-equipped FIT fitness centre offers weights and cardio as well as heart-pumping dance classes to burn calories before the celebration begins again. For guests who live by the brand’s ‘Detox.Retox.Repeat’ philosophy, AWAY SPA awaits to restore and revive their glow.

“We are thrilled to debut the W Hotels brand in central China and mark another symbolic step for us as we continue to expand our luxury portfolio into new markets across the country,” said Henry Lee, President, Greater China, Marriott International. “As domestic travel continues to pick up tremendous momentum, we are bringing new and exciting brands such as W to the country’s emerging leisure destinations.”

W Changsha is the latest W Hotel to arrive onto the global hospitality scene, which comes parallel to the brand marking its arrival in Rome. With now nearly 60 hotels, the W brand continues to defy design and hospitality expectations by breaking the boundaries and norms of traditional luxury wherever the iconic W sign lands.

Main image credit: W Hotels

Hotel Designs becomes media partner for Festival of Hospitality

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lobby/lounge inside Pan Pacific London

Pan Pacific London – a new luxury wellness hotel is born

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

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

Lobby/lounge inside Pan Pacific London

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

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

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

What to expect inside

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

A minimalist lobby with plants

Image credit: Jack Hardy

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

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

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

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

A guestroom with neutral tones

Image credit: Jack Hardy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Main image credit: Jack Hardy

Hotel Designs LIVE: Social Spaces

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

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

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

Hotel Designs LIVE: Social Spaces

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

On the panel:

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

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

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

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

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

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25hours to arrive in Italy this September

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
25hours to arrive in Italy this September

The first 25hours hotel in Italy will open in Florence this September, with anything-but-subtle interiors by Milan-based designer Paola Navone…

The 25hours Hotel Piazza San Paolino occupies a central location in Florence, in the Santa Maria Novella district, which is among the most authentic and lesser-known neighbourhoods in the Italian city and a little off the beaten track.


The 171-key boutique hotel is situated in the former premises of Monte de ‘Pegni – the lending company of the Cassa di Risparmio di Firenze – and has its central core of 66 rooms in the original monastery next to the eponymous church of San Paolino. These hallowed halls are now imbued with fresh creative energy thanks to controlled demolitions, new building elements and restored areas. Enhancing the historic core is a new annexe boasting another 104 guest rooms with balconies, as well as the Casetta del Giardino, a small apartment with a private garden and pool. 

Created by Milan-based designer Paola Navone and her team, the hotel was inspired by Dante’s Divine Comedy and is brimming with light-hearted allusions to this legendary work: scenes from Hell and Paradise are playfully interspersed, offering an illuminating tour through Dante’s world of virtues and vices. Situated beneath the vast glass dome, the Restaurant San Paolino is the centrepiece of the hotel in the historical palazzo. Round about are a green courtyard garden, a classic Negroni bar and a typical alimentari – a grocery store for the neighbourhood and lively piazza that serves a small selection of food and drinks to suit the time of day.

The San Paolino restaurant epitomises Italian cuisine, offering the best produce from all regions of the country, although Tuscany occupies a special place on the menu. Changing with the seasons, there are also a few dishes from designer Paola Navone’s personal recipe collection. Guests perusing the wine list will find exclusively curated recommendations from choice wineries in Tuscany. Dining beneath the glass dome at the centre of the impressive palazzo is meant to be fun – and the imaginative design merely adds to this experience. San Paolino is a great place to meet at any time of day, and the hospitality space expands into the playful courtyard garden during the warmer months.

The Companion Bar at 25hours Hotel Piazza San Paolino appears both quintessentially Italian and strikingly international. Its signature products are bitter-sweet classics like Negroni, but include new interpretations that add a playfully seasonal touch to these flavours. The Companion Bar welcomes its guests from the aperitivo to the late-night drink and is establishing itself as a fixed star in the Florentine night life. The traditional ‘hole in the wall’, the buchetta del vino, allows guests to enjoy their glass of wine on the pavement in front of the establishment. Table bookings are not available, but personal advice from the bar crew certainly is.

Alimentari actually just means ‘food’ in Italian. But the word is also used to describe neighbourhood corner stores selling groceries and everyday items. The 25hours Hotel in Florence has its own alimentari on the small Piazza San Paolino. Besides paninis, sandwiches and salads, it also includes a traditional-style wine shop offering a selection of local products and specialities for gourmets – ideal for a culinary tour through the world of Italian delicacies. The range was curated by S. Forno, a legendary local bakery, and all of the freshly baked products come straight from their ovens, of course.

Main image credit: 25hours

The Other House Club Flat Kitchen in blue and mustard

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

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

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

The Other House Club Flat Kitchen in blue and mustard

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

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

Who’s who? 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Brit List Awards 2021 shortlist

The Brit List Awards 2021: Shortlist announced

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

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

The Brit List Awards 2021 shortlist

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The shortlisted finalists for The Brit List Awards 2021 are: 

Interior Designer of the Year

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

Architect of the Year

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

Hotelier of the Year 

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

Best in Tech

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

The Eco Award 

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

Best in British Product Design

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

The Rising Star Award (new for 2021)

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

The International Award (new for 2021)

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

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

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

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

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

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

Independent Hotel Show Awards GM of the Future 2019

Shortlist announced for Independent Hotel Show Awards 2021 

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
Shortlist announced for Independent Hotel Show Awards 2021 

The shortlist has been revealed and public voting is now open for the 9th annual Independent Hotel Show Awards, which celebrate the highly skilled professionals working in the UK independent and boutique hotel sector…

Independent Hotel Show Awards GM of the Future 2019

The results of the Independent Hotel Show Awards, along with the winners of the Good Hotel Guide’s César Award, will be announced on October 4 on the Independent Hotel Show’s Innovation Stage.

Across two days of judging, a panel of industry experts whittled down the nominees across two key categories: Independent Hotelier and GM of the Future, in partnership with The Master Innholders.

The Independent Hotelier award recognises an excellent independent hotelier or hotelier partnership with a reputation for pushing boundaries and creating exceptional guest experiences.

Since the Awards launched in 2012, the independent hoteliers recognised in this category have continued to drive change and innovation in the sector.

Brenda Collin, EVP Europe, Preferred Hotels & Resorts and judge for the Independent Hotel Show Awards, said: “The caliber of entries this year was exceptionally high and therefore difficult choices had to be made.

“Congratulations should be offered to all the nominees who, without exception, had given back in some way to society in addition to their day jobs. Our industry is so well served by exceptional people and these awards showcase the great leaders who will inspire future nominees.”

The shortlisted hoteliers for the Independent Hotelier award are:  

  • Joanne Taylor- Stagg FIH, MI, General Manager, The Athenaeum Hotel and Residences
  • Charlie Luxton and Dan Brod, Co-Owners, The Talbot Inn, The Beckford Arms and The Lord Poulett Arms
  • Laurence Beere FIH, MI, Co-Owner, The Queensberry Hotel
  • Henrik Muehle, General Manager, Flemings Mayfair
  • James Thomson OBE, Owner, The Witchery and Prestonfield
  • Ross Grieve FIH, MI, Managing Director, Seaham Hall & Luxury Lodges

The shortlisted nominees for GM of the Future, in partnership with The Master Innholders, are:  

  • Penn Chai, Room Division Manager, Castle Hotel Windsor
  • Kostadin Dimitrov, Front of House Manager, Hotel Brooklyn MCR
  • Juris Dubrovskis, Executive Housekeeper, The Athenaeum Hotel and Residences
  • Rachel Henley, Hotel Manager, The Fife Arms
  • Nathan Parkin, Operations Manager, Lakeside Hotel and Spa
  • Anna Sirba, Operations Manager, Salcombe Harbour Hotel

Commenting on the GM of the Future award entries, The Master Innholders Chairman David Morgan-Hewitt FIH MI, said: “We received a large number of excellent applications, each showing great talent and passion for the hotel industry, which made it very difficult to select a shortlist of just six candidates. Each of those chosen displayed an exceptional level of involvement in the industry and the qualities of a good leader, and I would like to congratulate them on their well-deserved success.”

Elena Attanasio, Independent Hotel Show Event Director, added: “After a tough 18 months for the hotel industry we’re thrilled to be announcing the shortlist for the Independent Hotel Show Awards.

“Our shortlisted Independent Hoteliers have shown incredible strength and leadership in the face of adversity and our GM of the Future nominees should be celebrated for their enthusiasm, hard work and commitment over the past year. Now more than ever it’s important to recognise the exceptional hospitality professionals that make up the UK’s boutique and independent hotel sector.

“We can’t wait to announce the winners of the Independent Hotel Show Awards at the event on 4 October and to see the hotel community all together, in person, once more.”

For the Independent Hotelier award, the judges’ picks will be combined with a public industry vote to decide the ultimate winners. The judges were as follows:

  • Brenda Collin, Executive Vice President, Europe, Preferred Hotels & Resorts
  • Charlotte Evans, Group Publishing Director, Condé Nast Johansens
  • Christian Graf, General Manager, Middle Eight
  • David Noble, Director of Hospitality and Leisure, James Hallam
  • Fiona Duncan, Travel Writer, Sunday Telegraph
  • Juliet Kinsman, Sustainability Editor, Condé Nast Traveller
  • Peter Hancock FIH, MI, Chief Executive, Pride of Britain Hotels
  • Richard Fraiman, Chief Executive, The Good Hotel Guide
  • Simon Numphud FIH, Managing Director, AA Media
  • Sue Williams FIH, MI, General Manager, Whatley Manor Hotel
  • Susan d’Arcy, Hotels, Luxury Travel and Wellness Editor, The Times and The Sunday Times
  • Zoe Monk, Editor, Boutique Hotelier

The judging panel for GM of the Future, in partnership with The Master Innholders, was as follows:

  • David Morgan-Hewitt FIH, MI, Chairman, The Master Innholders and Managing Director, The Goring
  • Tamsyn Mann, Regional People Manager, Cirrus Inns and 2019 ‘One to Watch’ highly commended GM of the Future
  • Elena Attanasio, Event Director, Independent Hotel Show
  • Sal Gowili FIH MI, GM of The Ritz London
  • Dr Hilary Cooke FIH MI, Director, Merlin Consultancy
  • Robin Hutson FIH, MI, CEO, Home Grown Hotels and Lime Wood Group
  • Wallace Vincent FIH, Executive Secretary, The Master Innholders

Find out more about each of the shortlisted individuals and cast your vote at independenthotelshow.co.uk/awards.   

The Independent Hotel Show, presented by James Hallam, takes place on 4-5 October 2021 at Olympia London. Register for your complimentary pass at independenthotelshow.co.uk

Main image credit: Independent Hotel Show

Two seats by hotel balcony

IHG launches new luxury & lifestyle brand, Vignette Collection

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

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

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

Two seats by hotel balcony

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Main image credit: IHG

Render of suite overlooking city skyline inside W Philadelphia

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

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

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

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

Render of suite overlooking city skyline inside W Philadelphia

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

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

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

Render of lobby/lounge at W Philadelphia

Image credit: W Hotels

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

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

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

Guestroom over looking the city of Philadelphia


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

Wow Suite at W Philadelphia

Render credit: W Hotels

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

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

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

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

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

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

Main image credit: W Hotels

A large suite in Lisbon that is airy and has breakfast on the side

Living like a local in Portugal – inside Lumiares, Lisbon

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
Living like a local in Portugal – inside Lumiares, Lisbon

The Lumiares, Lisbon is a five-star boutique bombshell, where the style is personal, not “corporate”, relaxed not “stuffy”, gives an authentic nod to Lisbon’s colour, culture and patterns. Editor Hamish Kilburn falls in love with Portugal again when exploring the city’s latest destination hotel…

A large suite in Lisbon that is airy and has breakfast on the side

The fully renovated hotel, which is housed in a former XVII century Palace in the heart of the city, has all the key amenities and facilities for business and leisure travellers who want to feel at home when away from home.

The Lumiares’ philosophy is to highlight the authenticity and personality of Lisbon by collaborating with local Portuguese businesses to showcase ‘the best of Portugal’. Almost every item of furniture, artwork, textiles and room accessories has been conceived, designed and manufactured in Portugal, some within 500m from the hotel, which transcends a new take on ‘living like a local’.

Guestroom - Lumiares Lisbon

Image credit: Lumiares Lisbon

The starting place for design and artwork within the 47-key hotel was the location. Perched on the central edge of Bairro Alto, the hotel is situated in a Lisbon quarter home to a bohemian mish-mash of everyday residents, artists and merchants’ studios, restaurants, quirky shops, lively bars and cafes; a warren of asymmetrical buildings with mismatched facades of varying heights and hues, its narrow streets and pavements cobbled in Lisbon’s iconic square paving stones.

Rooftop of Lumiares Lisbon

Image credit: Lumiares Lisbon

Surveyed from above, the quarter forms a striking grid of patterns, light and dark; painted walls adorned with Lisbon’s beautiful hero colours – sky blue, rosy pink and warm ochre. These colours change and intensify throughout the day – creating yet more contrast as the unique, golden light of Lisbon turns to dusk. By day, the neighbourhood is sleepy and quiet, while at night it comes alive and becomes a place of contrasts. This is reflected in the bold black, white and brass-accented flooring in the lobby area, a bespoke collection of abstract and geometrical original artworks on display throughout the rooms, and a captivating sculptural brass chandelier dominating the building’s grand staircase.

A gold and black and white open lobby in Lisbon

Image credit: Lumieres Lisbon

In design terms, day-to-night, light-to-dark transformation was brought to life to capture Bairro Alto’s topography of pattern and grids – choosing boldly geometric prints in the materials, fabrics, artwork and flooring, accented with the colours and golden light we see all around us. From the lobby’s bold black and white and brass-accented flooring, the colourful abstract original artwork of Maser to designer Beau McClellan’s captivating sculptural and cubic brass lighting installation in the hotel’s central stairwell, the unique character of the Bairro Alto quarter was central to the design theme.

The hotel’s simple style, charm and character is described as a colourful love letter to Portugal – what a way to fall back in love with authentic travel again…

Main image credit: Lumiares Lisbon

Sneak peek inside The St. Regis Longboat Key Resort and Residences

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
Sneak peek inside The St. Regis Longboat Key Resort and Residences

Designed by HBA Miami and Mac-Michaels Interior Design, with architecture by SB Architects, The St. Regis Longboat Key Resort and Residences is expected to open in spring 2024. Inside the elegant 166-room resort and 69 private luxury condominiums capture the natural beauty of the Gulf Coast and deliver a sense of relaxed comfort and barefoot luxury. Editor Hamish Kilburn gets a sneak peek inside…

SB Architects, an international architecture firm celebrated for creating spaces that capture the history, culture, and context of each location, has revealed the design for The St. Regis Longboat Key Resort and Residences, a new resort community nestled in the beautiful white sands of the Gulf of Mexico.

Arial view of site where The St Regis Longboat Key will be

Image credit: SB Architects

Situated on a barrier island outside of Sarasota, Florida, The St. Regis Longboat Key is scheduled to break ground this autumn and will deliver luxury seaside living with the amenities and service of a world-class, five-star resort upon opening in spring 2024.

Developed by Unicorp National Developments, the elegant 166-key resort and 69 private luxury condominiums will be distinguished both for the property’s architectural expression and the level of luxury that the St. Regis brand will bring to the locale. SB Architects is working alongside Hirsch Bedner Associates Miami (HBA), Marc-Michaels Interior Design, and Enea Landscape Design to bring the vision to life.

Render of bar in St Regis Longboat Key

Image credit: HBA Miami

Comprised mostly of glass, the buildings feature clean lines, fine detailing, and soaring floor-to-ceiling windows that draw in natural light and showcase stunning coastal views. “Our goal was to create a sense of relaxed comfort and elegance through contemporary design in both the resort and private residences,” said Pinar Harris, SB Architects’ Vice President and Principal. “Drawing inspiration from the existing landscape for materials and celebrating the pristine waters of the Gulf of Mexico through visual connections to the ocean, the design channels the spirit of the St. Regis brand through a timeless expression of barefoot luxury.” 

An immersive experience begins the moment guests and residents arrive, as they enter through a canopy of jacaranda trees. Inside, an entry corridor enhances the view to the ocean through an immersive, barrel-vaulted digital ceiling, where ambient lighting reflects the sky’s spectacular sunset colours daily. Projectors display graceful birds across the ceiling intermittently, capturing a sense of movement and bringing the outdoor environment inside. 

In addition to drawing inspiration from dance-like moments in nature, including the skillful flight of birds along the shore, the resort interiors by HBA honor Sarasota’s culture and history by gesturing toward the intersection of circus and dance. Sarasota is renowned for its performing arts – including The Sarasota Ballet – and for its circus heritage, owing to circus impresario John Ringling, who so loved Sarasota that he chose it for the winter quarters of Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey. Showcasing a clean and natural palette of colours, the contemporary interiors leverage these local insights in subtle touches, such as rope-like chandeliers suspended from the ceiling; an oval-shaped ballroom inspired by aerial rings; and in the St. Regis Bar, a centre feature latticed like a circus cage rising into the ceiling.

In the guestroom corridor, carpet patterns are reminiscent of local ocean currents while flowy drapes drawn over artworks and dramatic lighting add an element of theatrical surprise. Resort guestrooms and luxury residences offer unobstructed views of the ocean, with glass railings creating seamless connections between the outdoor living spaces and natural surroundings. Guestrooms feature wood paneling in the living area and subtle touches of color. Careful layering of materials, such as ceiling paneling with wood grain on the underside of the exterior balconies, complements the natural palette in the interiors and adds a sense of warmth to the architectural expression.

Sophisticated hotel corridor rendering

Image credit: HBA Miami

 The resort features a 20,000 square foot St. Regis Signature Spa, a salt-water lagoon with live fish and sea life, and an open-air Sunset Bar overlooking the Gulf of Mexico, in addition to a meandering drift stream, heated infinity edge pool, beachside event lawns, and business meeting facilities. The private condominiums – ranging from approximately 1,500 to nearly 6,000 square feet – comprise three six-story buildings and offer residents access to the amenities at St. Regis Resort & Spa, in addition to their own dedicated private amenities, including a waterfront pool and spa with a privacy sundeck and Resident’s Clubhouse featuring a world-class Wellness Center with meditation and yoga studios. Each residence will feature expansive terraces – some with infinity edge plunge pools – and a secured private access elevator opening directly into the residence.

Main image credit: SB Architects/HBA Miami

SVART in Norway - hotel concepts

Hotel concepts: Wild & wonderful hotel developments

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

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

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

SVART in Norway - hotel concepts

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

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

NOMADish – a conscious floating hotel

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

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

Tetra Hotel

Tetra Hotel

Image credit: Tetra Hotel

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

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

Image credit: Snøhetta/Plompmozes/Miris

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

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

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

The space hotel – will it happen?

The Axiom space station hotel - interior design

Image credit: Philippe Starck

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

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

GAIA hospitality concept

Render of floating hotel in Dubai

Image credit: AMA Design

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

Al fresco guestrooms

a room in the middle of nowhere

Image credit: Zero Real Estate/Appenzellerland

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

Main image credit: SVART

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

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

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

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

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

FEATURE // Inside Virgin Hotels, Las Vegas

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

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

Read more.

Bed trends: A post-pandemic insight into future guestrooms

Port Lympne Hotel & Reserve

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

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EXCLUSIVE: Meet the founders of Translation Architecture

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

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

Image credit: Hyatt Hotels

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

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

Image credit: Ruby Hotels

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

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

Since you’re here…

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

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Virgin Hotels - collage of Las Vegas property

In pictures: Inside Virgin Hotels, Las Vegas

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

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

Virgin Hotels - collage of Las Vegas property

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Main image credit: Nikolas Koenig

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

819 565 Hamish Kilburn
A Tara Bernerd project: Thompson Hollywood makes its debut in Los Angeles

The 190-key property, in the heart of Los Angeles, expands Thompson Hotels’ west coast footprint with interior design by British studio, Tara Bernerd & Partners. Let’s take a peek inside…

Hyatt Hotels has announced the debut of Thompson Hollywood, a luxury lifestyle hotel situated on Wilcox Avenue near Hollywood and Vine. A dynamic mix of global sophistication, hyper-local immersion and intuitive service, the prime location embodies the Thompson Hotels brand’s promise to provide guests with the ultimate “in-the-know” experience at the refined edge of travel.

Image credit: Hyatt Hotels

The new 11-story hotel features 190 mid-century-inspired guestrooms, including 16 suites, a sophisticated feature dining concept from acclaimed LA-based chef Lincoln Carson and Bar Lis, a destination rooftop lounge and pool with unparalleled city views. Sure to be a gathering spot for tasteful travellers and the eclectic Hollywood community alike, the much-anticipated project is owned by Relevant Group in collaboration with Steinberg Hart for architecture and interior design by Tara Bernerd & Partners, with Ten Five Hospitality overseeing food and beverage.

“Every touchpoint of the Thompson Hollywood experience has been concepted for the discerning traveler, particularly as pent-up travel demand has tourists and locals seeking memorable moments,” states Bruno Vergeynst, Managing Director of Thompson Hollywood. “Whether it’s the thoughtfully designed lobby and guestrooms by Tara Bernerd & Partners, chef Carson’s sophisticated dining concepts, the Bar Lis rooftop lounge or our intuitive guest programming, Thompson Hollywood invites guests to embrace a breezy Angeleno lifestyle.”

Render of luxury roomThe 11-storey hotel innovatively combines the hallmarks of timeless elegance with a raw industrial edge to create a unique atmosphere that is relaxing and inspiring, familiar and new.  The overall design is bold and confident, drawing upon the West Coast Modernist movement and a dash of Hollywood glamour as inspirations to seamlessly blend for a contemporary and elegant approach throughout.

Upon entry, a trellis-covered walkway beckons guests to a lobby adorned in mid-toned timber and teeming with verdant greenery, forming a tranquil and welcoming haven upon arrival. A spectacular custom terrazzo floor awaits guests underfoot, featuring an intricate metal inlay pattern that perfectly complements the elegant mid-century and contemporary furniture, bespoke Tara Bernerd & Partners rugs and inviting terrazzo reception desk. The convenient lobby bar – topped with a striking retro-green onyx – serves up coffee, cocktails or casual bites for those coming, going or staying to socialise, all with the laid-back hospitality and inclusive spirit emblematic of the Thompson Hotels brand’s desire to ensure everyone who walks through the doors feels more like a resident than a guest.    

Throughout the property and into the guestrooms, floor-to-ceiling windows flood rooms with natural sunlight, offering sweeping vantage points of the Hollywood Hills and beyond, and immersing guests directly in the city’s bustling energy. Guest bathrooms feature walls and vanities finished in rich terrazzo amidst contrasting pale-tiled floors, while exclusive D.S. & DURGA amenities add another touch of luxury to the experience. An honour bar containing various curated selections, lustrous Egyptian cotton linens, 55-inch smart televisions, and a state-of-the art 24-hour fitness studio round out the other exceptional amenities that elevate every stay. 

Through layers of inviting textures, timeless mid-century furniture and finishings, luxurious terrazzo details and a curated selection of modern art throughout, Thompson Hollywood redefines the notion of Hollywood glamour and is poised to become one of Los Angeles’ chicest destinations for culturally astute travellers and locals alike.

Thompson Hotels are known for featuring world-class culinary destinations on property. Thompson Hollywood features two exceptional food and beverage experiences created and operated by Ten Five Hospitality. They include the Martin Brudnizki-designed signature restaurant, Mes Amis, a modern French brasserie, and Bar Lis, a French Riviera-inspired rooftop lounge with spectacular wraparound views of Hollywood and Greater Los Angeles.

Helmed by celebrated chef Lincoln Carson, Mes Amis (French for “My Friends”) draws inspiration from bustling cafés and brasseries from Paris to Lyon while reflecting a decidedly Southern California sensibility. The menu reinterprets classic French dishes with an approachable bent, using the freshest produce and ingredients from local farms and markets, including the world-renowned Hollywood Farmers’ Market. Mes Amis is a new chapter for chef Carson following his nationally acclaimed Bon Temps, which received accolades from Food & Wine, Esquire and the Los Angeles Times. An industry leader and James Beard Foundation-nominated pastry chef, Carson’s background also includes stints at New York’s Le Bernardin, La Cote Basque, The Mina Group, Superba Food + Bread and more.

Designed by Bernadette Blanc, Bar Lis sits atop Thompson Hollywood, representing the crown jewel of the experience. Chic without pretention, the new rooftop lounge captures the iconic spirit and playfully sophisticated vibe of the Cote D’Azur. Serving inventive cocktails as well as fresh bites of locally sourced seafood, crudité and authentic bistro classics under the open sky, guests can enjoy Sunset Hour with unobstructed views of the Hollywood Hills, including the Hollywood sign. Bar Lis’ retractable roof ensures all-weather, all-year-round entertainment while a dedicated entrance with private elevator allows for more exclusive soirees. At night, Bar Lis comes alive with vintage and contemporary DJ sets, making it the perfect spot to top off the stay.     

“Introducing Thompson Hollywood in one of Los Angeles’ most sought-after real estate market is a groundbreaking move for the hospitality brand,” says Grant King, Managing Partner of Relevant Group. “This property not only perfectly sits at the storied intersection of the technology, media and entertainment realms, but will inevitably heighten Hollywood’s visibility as a coveted hospitality destination.”

 Located nearby to Sunset Strip, Runyon Canyon, the Hollywood Bowl, Griffith Observatory, Hollywood Boulevard, the Capitol Records Building and more, Thompson Hollywood sits at the very nexus of Los Angeles’ most appealing sites. The property joins other Thompson Hotels that are slated to debut in 2021, including Thompson Savannah, Thompson Denver, Thompson Buckhead and Thompson Austin.

Main image credit: Hyatt Hotels

Bed trends: A post-pandemic insight into future guestrooms

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
Bed trends: A post-pandemic insight into future guestrooms

One of the hardest-hit trades during the pandemic has been the hotel industry, however things are looking up with bookings for UK staycations jumping by a record 300 per cent following the announcement of the lockdown roadmap in February[1]. To celebrate our ‘beds’ feature for August, we ask Richard Naylor, Group Sustainable Development Director at Hypnos Contract Beds, to share his expertise on design and materials trends and offers insights into how hotel design could adapt as we begin to welcome guests back…

As we begin to move to a ‘new normal’ it’s time to consider how the events of the last 12 months will have an effect on factors like design, as interior designers are encouraged to think outside the box to deal with the challenges posed by the post-pandemic hospitality industry.


Learning to adapt their designs according to post-pandemic lifestyles, interior designers may re-evaluate some of the more common items or materials traditionally used in their hospitality projects. Considerations such as replacing rugs and carpets with tiles and stone, will make open spaces easier to manage and clean during busy customer change-over times, whilst still retaining style thanks to the vast array of options on the market.

In addition, opting for antimicrobial textiles and bleach-cleanable fabrics on larger items like beds and upholstery will ensure peace of mind for visitors whilst choosing materials with natural antimicrobial properties like copper, brass, bronze, or copper-nickel for high-touch surfaces such as light switches, sockets and door handles, will safeguard them from germs, keeping both staff and hotel guests safe.

Hypnos Residence mattress

Image caption: Hypnos Residence mattress

Although the pandemic has made us hyper conscious of cleanliness and hygiene, the basics shouldn’t be overlooked as restrictions ease, especially when it comes to guest room beds. Fitting a mattress protector that encapsulates the top and sides of the mattress will help to prevent stains and odours and ensure the bed lasts longer.

The pandemic has also encouraged many of us to re-connect with nature, and this is something that should be a consideration for designers as they look to incorporate elements of Biophilic design into their hospitality design schemes. Opting for natural materials like the ethically and sustainably sourced wool used in Hypnos’ Beaumont and Ashbourne and Lansdowne Cashmere ranges is one way to bring elements of the natural world into guest bedrooms without compromising on the luxurious feel that guests seek from a hotel stay.

Utilising in-room tech

Smart technology is something that has emerged within the hospitality industry, but we could begin to see a rise in the use of these kinds of technologies in a post-pandemic world.

Reducing the need for contact with surfaces like upholstery or switches will be of increasing importance in room design. Technology like voice activation is ideal in this ‘new normal’ world as it would enable guests and housekeepers to control everything from blinds and curtains, to lights and electrical items, without needing to physically touch surfaces. All great for reducing the spread of potential germs.

Image caption: Hypnos Beds were specified inside Corinthia London. | Image credit: Corinthia London

Image caption: Hypnos Beds were specified inside Corinthia London. | Image credit: Corinthia London

Furthermore, single point controls whereby guests control all room features from a single tablet, or from an app on their phone, is another way to minimise contact. Similarly, infrared taps in bathrooms and self-cleaning sanitary ware offers a no-touch solution for guest bedrooms, empowering guests to feel reassured of their safety and comfortable in their environment.

Add to this the provision of technology to minimise contact during check-in, which is something that is already in place in some hotels, and it could really help guests to feel safe and at ease.

For hospitality establishments that don’t already have it, moving over to check-in apps and keyless door entry, which negate the need for larger, manned reception desks, will allow them to rethink existing spaces and re-work them for the needs of the modern, hygiene-conscious hotel guest.

Image caption: Hypnos Sanctuary mattress

Air quality & space

Something that shouldn’t be overlooked in the overall design and layout for a hotel or guest room is ventilation and space. Ventilation and air quality, whether that’s through natural ventilation and increased access to private outside areas like balconies, is of the utmost importance.

The addition of advanced air filtration systems to ensure clean, sanitised air in both public areas and private guest spaces is something that more hospitality establishments need to factor in to their design or consider investing in.

Whilst guest bedroom design and layout will always be important, communal hospitality areas, such as lobbies, could see some of the biggest changes, with designers opting for more open, spacious schemes, allowing greater room for social distancing and wider thoroughfares for guests.

Sustainable design

An undeniable benefit of the last year has been the reduced environmental impact that has resulted from people across the globe having to stay at home. With sustainability once again in the spotlight, it is clear that it will continue to be a key booking decision for guests and consequently should be front of mind for interior designers working on hospitality projects.

Whilst products and décor should be robust and hygienic, the provenance of where they come from or how they’re made shouldn’t be overlooked. By working with moral companies with a sustainability focus, hoteliers can ensure that they are doing their part in creating safe but also ethical interiors, something of increasing importance to consumers.

As the world’s first Carbon Neutral bed manufacturer and only bed manufacturer to have been certified for a decade, Hypnos has led industry change on carbon reduction and was recently awarded ‘The Planet Mark – Carbon Neutral Certification’ and a Queen’s Award for Enterprise for Sustainable Development for its commitment to environmentally-friendly design, sourcing transparency and ethical bedmaking. The company was also awarded the Global Recycled Standard which is given to companies who use recycled materials from socially and environmentally responsible manufacturing processes.

By specifying products like Hypnos’ no-turn Beaumont mattress, designers can not only reinforce the significance of making sustainable choices, but design choices like this are also another way to maintain high hygiene standards. The low-maintenance design of the Beaumont means that housekeepers can limit contact with the hotel bed, ideal for post-Covid life where cleanliness, safety, and attention to detail will be of utmost importance. The mattress needs only seasonal rotation and has been manufactured to be 20% lighter than Hypnos’ other hotel mattresses meaning it can be turned with ease when required. The sewn-in topper guarantees a luxurious feel for hotel visitors, and when coupled with the versatile design of Hypnos’ Zip and Link beds which can be quickly and easily split from a king-size to two single beds, this will limit the need for room changes and allow for flexibility with room allocation.

Working with the right partner

Whether designing for a boutique hotel, or an up-scale international branded hotel, managing refurbishments and new furniture installations effortlessly and efficiently with cost, safety, timings and logistics in mind can be challenging, especially with the added pressures of the pandemic.

Understanding the complexity behind renovations and refurbishments, particularly for large scale developments Hypnos works closely with hospitality providers and designers to offer its unique Eight Step Sleep Plan – a thorough consultation and step-by-step process which supports hospitality provider’s or designers from their initial enquiry right through to completion.

These changes may be a departure from pre-pandemic hotel design but nevertheless, are important considerations for hoteliers and designers to ensure a safe and stylish environment for visitors and tourists to return to the hospitality sector.

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

Main image caption: Hypnos was specified inside a wildlife reserve in Kent, England. | Image credit: Port Lympne Hotel & Reserve

Registration now open: Workspace Design Show

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
Registration now open: Workspace Design Show

Innovative commercial interiors event, Workspace Design Show, will debut on November 4 – 5 at Business Design Centre. Here’s what we’re looking forward to…

Registration has opened for the inaugural Workspace Design Show, which will take place over November 4 – 5 this year at London’s Business Design Centre.

International Furniture Specialist, The Furniture Practice will be showcasing the latest high-end furnishings available from world-class brands such as Vitra, Gubi, Brunner and Andreu World, to create a stunning environment for the conference talks at the show.

Other leading brands on display at the Show include Buzzispace, Actiu, Dams Furniture, TC Office Group, Abstracta, Interface, Camira Fabrics, Mute, Kettal, IOC Project Partners and many more.

Workspace Design Show is excited about the top-level experts and partners involved in the show. The anticipation continues further with the announcement of a series of well-respected voices from end-user clients at the Workspace Design Talks, including:

  • Robert McLean, Head of Real Estate & Design at PwC
  • Emily Harding, Workplace Design & Culture Lead at Aviva
  • Alan Bainbridge, Head of Workplace & Corporate Real Estate at BBC

In the build up to the event, Stephen Guy, Chief Integration Officer and Chief of Staff at McCann World Group said: “This is a great opportunity to hear from a broad and diverse group of workplace industry leaders to inspire a new sense of place for greater collaboration, connection and creativity.”

Matt Waring, Editor of arc magazine, one of the world’s leading publications for lighting design in architecture, recently chaired the third instalment of the ‘Spotlight Series,’ a webinar programme created by the team at Workspace Design Show. On why lighting should be focused on, Waring said: “For too long, workspaces have fallen victim to drab, uninspiring, uniform lighting, which can seriously impact our productivity and wellbeing. We spend almost a third of our lifetimes at work, so it’s essential that our workspaces are designed to be comfortable and enjoyable places to work, and lighting forms an integral part of that.”

During the ‘Light Your Space’ session, the panellists, a team of industry specialists, raised some interesting points for discussion, ranging from the new working office to lighting your home office, as well as discussing how the lighting industry can do more than just simply produce products.

Panellists included:

  • Paul Nulty, Founder of Nulty Lighting
  • Rebecca Hodge, Senior Lighting Designer at Foundry Lighting
  • Susan Lake, Design Director at Susan Lake Lighting Design

Main image credit: Workspace Design Show


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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Render credit: Viceroy Hotels & Resort

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

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

Bathroom brand GROHE publishes third sustainability report

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
Bathroom brand GROHE publishes third sustainability report

To the surprise of nobody at Hotel Designs, GROHE has smashed its sustainability targets, and has announced an even greater sustainability commitment to the areas of water conversation and avoidance of plastics. Editor Hamish Kilburn takes a deeper look at the bathroom brand’s unquestionable achievements…

Every minute, a lorry load of plastic ends up in our oceans. The health of the oceans often seems like a distant problem, but all life on earth depends on the marine ecosystem’s health – this becomes very clear when you consider that approximately 70 percent of the oxygen we breathe is produced by the oceans. To mark this year’s Plastic Free July awareness campaign, GROHE published its third sustainability report, which outlines the brand’s continued commitment and efforts to sustainability, covering all aspects from business model and products to processes, employees and suppliers.

As evident in the newly published report, GROHE has been able to reduce its water consumption in production by 38.7 per cent, not only significantly exceeding its target of 20 percent first set in 2014, but also achieving it ahead of schedule. With projects such as the Less Plastic Initiative launched in 2018, the brand has also set itself the goal of eliminating plastic from its packaging. As a result, up until June 2021, 32 million pieces of plastic packaging have already been saved.

The report also provides an in-depth behind-the-scenes look at sustainability management at GROHE and the successes of recent years. In 2019, for example, 21,306 tonnes of the main materials used in the production process were recycled materials – a weight comparable to more than 106 blue whales. In this way waste is avoided, and, in the end, water that would be needed to produce new materials is also saved.

From linear to circular – GROHE paves the way for the economic model of the future

Building on its comprehensive sustainability measures of recent years, GROHE is now taking its sustainability strategy to a new level with the recent launch of four of the brand’s best-selling products as Cradle to Cradle variants.

This means that all four products have been tested for the use of environmentally safe, healthy and recyclable materials. The Cradle to Cradle approach goes far beyond the conventional recycling of products, as a tap, for example, is already designed and manufactured with the intent of using its components in its end-of-life-phase for the creation of new products.

GROHE Cradle to Cradle visual diagram

The circular journey continues – take-back processes for discarded C2C products

GROHE has taken a decisive step towards a circular future with the certification of its first Cradle to Cradle Certified products, but the journey continues. The brand is working on take-back processes for its discarded C2C products – an important step towards avoiding waste and saving valuable resources to help maintain the fragile balance of our ecosystems.

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

Main image credit: GROHE

Raffles Doha - aerial

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

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

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

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

Raffles Doha - aerial

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

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

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

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

2021 unveils

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

Image caption: An aerial shot of Raffles The Palm Dubai

Image caption: An aerial shot of Raffles The Palm Dubai

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

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

Image caption: Exterior of Raffles Udaipur in India

Image caption: Exterior of Raffles Udaipur in India

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

Image caption: Exterior render of Raffles at Galaxy Macau

Image caption: Exterior render of Raffles at Galaxy Macau

2022 unveils (and beyond)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Main image caption: Exterior render of Raffles Doha, Qatar 

Guestroom in qingdao overlooking ocean

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

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

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

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

Guestroom in qingdao overlooking ocean

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

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

Image credit: Marriott International

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

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

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

Lobby Chandelier inside St. Regis Qingdao

Image credit: Marriott International

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

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

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

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

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

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

Main image credit: Marriott International

The Brit List Awards 2021

The Brit List Awards 2021 – entries close on Friday!

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
The Brit List Awards 2021 – entries close on Friday!

FINAL CALL for all designers, architects, hoteliers and brands to submit their free entries for The Brit List Awards 2021 (scroll down to read more about the categories and how to claim a complimentary ticket to the awards ceremony). Entries CLOSE on August 6 (this Friday)…

The Brit List Awards 2021

Following months of campaigning, designers, architects, hoteliers and brands have until Friday August 6 to submit their free entry for The Brit List Awards 2021.

The Brit List Awards, sponsored by Crosswater, is one of the most prestigious awards campaigns for designers, architects, hoteliers and brands in the UK to be associated with. Each year, Hotel Designs opens up the nominations and the nationwide campaign begins to find the best hotel designers, architects and hospitality professionals.

CLICK HERE to submit your free-of-charge application/nomination.

This year, following last year’s virtual event, The Brit List Awards will climax with a spectacular awards ceremony, which shortlisted designers, architects and hoteliers will be given a complimentary ticket to attend – but you have to be ‘in it to win it’. “For many reasons, The Brit List Awards has become an event that we at Hotel Designs are extremely proud of,” explained editor Hamish Kilburn who will lead this year’s judging panel. “Not only does it seriously help to raise the profiles of exceptional designers, architects and hoteliers, but it also credits the individuals – whatever their backgrounds – who are ensuring that Britain remains a creative hub of design, architecture and hospitality.”

Here’s a reminder of this year’s categories:

*In addition to the individual awards that are up for grabs, the top 25 entries in the interior design, architecture and hospitality categories will be profiled in the prestigious The Brit List, Hotel Designs’ annual publication that references the top 75 most influential individuals in British design, architecture and hospitality.

Click here to read about last year’s winners. Click here to read more about this year’s event and timeline. Click here to read our FAQs about The Brit List Awards.

You can now purchase your tickets to attend the live awards ceremony, which takes place on November 3 at PROUD Embankment (designers, architects, hoteliers & developers, click here. Suppliers, click here).

Main image credit: The Brit List Awards

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read more.

Virtual roundtable: Colour & personality in the bathroom

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

Read more.

Now open: Inside Ace Hotel Brooklyn

Guestroom inside Ace Hotel Brooklyn

Image credit: Ace Hotel Brooklyn

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

Read more.

Design London to make its London Design Festival debut in September

Design London

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

Read more. 

Bathroom trends: Black accessories for a touch of luxury

Bathroom black accessories

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

Read more.

Since you’re here…

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

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Collage of interior images of inside the Ace Hotel Brooklyn

Now open: Inside Ace Hotel Brooklyn

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
Now open: Inside Ace Hotel Brooklyn

Following our cheeky sneak peek inside the hotel that was published earlier this year, Ace Hotel Brooklyn is open – with interior design by Roman and Williams , and architecture from Stonehill Taylor

From the brand who shook up conventional public areas and encouraged the rest of the hospitality industry to open their doors to the community as well as travellers, Ace Hotels has officially arrived in Brooklyn.

Collage of interior images of inside the Ace Hotel Brooklyn

Located in Downtown Brooklyn, the hotel stands on the cusp of Boerum Hill, above the ever-evolving intersection of everything: a geographical Venn diagram of intersecting energies, from the tree-lined streets and brownstones of Cobble Hill and Carroll Gardens to the art and culture clusters of Fort Greene, and all the way down to the restless East River. The property offers 287 guestrooms, an expansive in-room art programme, a public lobby with multiple bars and an art gallery, plus additional food and beverage outlets on the horizon. Designed by Roman and Williams, with architecture by Stonehill Taylor, Ace Brooklyn’s unique facade welds seamlessly with interiors inspired by the raw artist studio spaces of the European modernists — with soothing and stylish custom furnishings outfitting its every alcove.

> Since you’re here, why not read a roundtable on the new era of lifestyle hospitality, featuring Stonehill Taylor’s Sara Duffy?

“We see Brooklyn as it’s own city, filled with so much hope, possibility and excitement for the future,” said Brad Wilson, President, Ace Hotel Group. Ace Brooklyn has been a labour of love — a gorgeous building in many ways a reunion and a reinvention, and one we’re delighted to share with our guests and neighbours as the evolution of Ace Hotel. We’re proud to have filled its spaces with the talents of many collaborators across art, design and culture; it’s a testament and tribute to the irrepressible creative energy of the borough, and a firm investment in its future.”

Made up of metal, glass and precast concrete elements, the building’s rough-edged façade celebrates the natural beauty of its materials, along with the rugged handiwork of the builders who brought them together. The facade’s dramatic centrepiece is a custom ceramic mural crafted by iconic modernist Stan Bitters, coupled with a sculptural light installation designed by Roman and Williams in homage to the Hotel Okura in Tokyo — a beacon of modernist hospitality designed by Yoshiro Taniguchi, which was sadly demolished in 2015.

Inside, interiors marry exposed concrete with other naturally textural elements — surfaces of douglas fir, oak, plywoods and leathers — to form organic, open shapes throughout. The lobby features vintage and custom seating throughout, with half moon windows illuminating the lobby bar in natural light. The bar is finished with an original wall sculpture from RW Guild artist Verdan Jakšić, and a discreet, large scale drawing by Tara Geer.

“After seven years, we are proud to unveil one of our most comprehensive architectural and interior commissions to date for Ace Hotel Brooklyn, our third collaboration with Ace Hotel,” added Robin Standefer and Stephen Alesch, Founders and Principals, Roman and Williams. “We aimed to embrace a solid muscular design vocabulary, employing confident lasting construction methods and materials, ones with gravity and strength. A primitive modernist philosophy guided us, it is expressed in the tactile spirit of the design. From the building’s strong and unadorned facade, to the celebration of raw old growth timber in the public screens, to the honest plywood furniture collection in the bedrooms, we aspire to be as energetic and untamed as Brooklyn itself.” 

Drawing significant inspiration from Le Corbusier’s beloved workspace retreat Le Cabanon, the guest rooms at Ace Hotel Brooklyn were imagined as cabins of creative refuge: elegant and efficient, with the kind of breathing room that stirs up all sorts of possibilities. The furnishings are handcrafted from raw, understated materials — including custom sofas and chairs, classically-loomed cotton bedding and purpose-built, minimalist fixtures. Custom bed covers were crafted by Maine Heritage Weavers; bath products are from uka; in select rooms, acoustic guitars are provided by D’Angelico Guitars; turntables are made by Music Hall, with vinyl record selections courtesy of our friends at Rough Trade. Ace Brooklyn’s in-room art programme was curated by artist Niki Tsukamoto, and brings together a dream-woven assortment of original textile and fibre pieces from roughly two dozen artists, many based in the borough.

Guestroom inside Ace Hotel Brooklyn

Image credit: Ace Hotel Brooklyn

Throughout the rest of 2021, The Gallery at Ace Hotel Brooklyn will showcase works by artists featured in the guestrooms, starting with a show of textile works by Cynthia Alberto and Weaving Hand in July and August 2021. The hotel lobby’s Ace Shop will also be featuring custom home goods and jewellery from a number of the artists on an ongoing basis.

Main image credit: Ace Hotel Brooklyn

A private outdoor bathroom and sunbeds overlooking sea

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

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

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

A private outdoor bathroom and sunbeds overlooking sea

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

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

Villas and guestrooms at the Crete hotel

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pastel colour scheme in luxury hotel guestroom

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

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

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

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

Sunbeds overlooking pristine sea

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

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

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

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

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

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

Two buildings owned by Union Investments

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

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

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

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

Two buildings owned by Union Investments

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

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

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

Main image credit: Union Investments

Weekly digest: Maldives dip, the power of smart design & 3D printing at its best

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
Weekly digest: Maldives dip, the power of smart design & 3D printing at its best

Well hello there! You’re just in time to catch this week’s rendition of the ‘weekly digest’, which is essentially the only article you need to read in order to keep up to date with all the latest happenings on the hotel design stage. I’m Hamish Kilburn, editor of Hotel Designs, and I’ve done all the hard work/research for you – so sit back and enjoy…

Where do we start? This week we’ve covered news from all angles, including innovative sustainable furniture solutions, not-t0-be-missed exhibitions coming up and we’ve even helped one brand mark its territory on continental European soil. As the summer intensifies – and more and more brands start loosening their lips about their development plans – the editorial team is preparing to go live with yet another Hotel Designs LIVE event (on August 10) and doing everything it can to ensure that no designer, hotelier, architect or brand is unfamiliar with how to apply (free-of-charge) to The Brit List Awards 2021 – entries close on August 6.

But for now, here’s your round-up of all the hottest stories that we have published this week (and why not read this week’s news while listening to our latest episode of DESIGN POD)?

Accor announces the signing of SO/ Maldives

S/O Maldives - accor

Image credit: Accor

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

Read more. 

How smart hotel design can support guests’ mental health & wellbeing

Abstract architectural concrete, wood and glass interior of a modern villa on the sea with swimming pool and neon lighting. 3D illustration and rendering.

With wellness and wellbeing now higher up on the agenda than it has ever been, Ari Peralta, Founder of Arigami, conducts some research of his own to understand and explore whether or not smart design can be utilised to enhance not only the consumer journey but also the mental health of guests checking in…

Read more.

3D-printed furniture – it’s a thing now!

Collection of 3D-printed chairs

Architect and designer Yasmine Mahmoudieh, following years of studying sustainable design and materials, has designed a piece of 3D-printed furniture with partner Nagami that has been created out of 100 per cent plastic waste…

Read more.

Locke opens first hotel in continental Europe

Image credit: Locke

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

Read more.

5 minutes with: Interior designer Biagio Forino

Biagio Forino Hilton Venice

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

Read more.

Trend alert: Scandi style in the bathroom

Modern scandi bathroom

Image credit: VitrA

Thanks to its unique perspective over the industry – not to mention access to bathroom brand’s premium products – UKBathrooms qualifies in our hearts to give us an accurate trends special on how designers can inject Scandi style in the bathroom…

Read more. 

Since you’re here…

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

Click here to sign up to our newsletter.

Locke hotel in Munich

Locke opens first hotel in continental Europe

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
Locke opens first hotel in continental Europe

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

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

Locke hotel in Munich

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

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

Image credit: Locke

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

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

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

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

Image credit: Locke

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

Main image credit: Locke

THe lounge of the Bvlgari Suite in Milan

Suite dreams: Inside Bvlgari Hotel Milan

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
Suite dreams: Inside Bvlgari Hotel Milan

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

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

THe lounge of the Bvlgari Suite in Milan

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

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

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

Bedroom inside the Bvlgari Suite in Milan

Image credit: Bvlgari Hotels

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

Luxury bathroom inside the suite at Bvglari Hotel Milan

Image credit: Bvlgari Hotels

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

Main image credit: Bvlgari Hotels

Biagio Forino Hilton Venice

5 minutes with: Interior designer Biagio Forino

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

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

Biagio Forino Hilton Venice

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

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

Arial view of Hilton Venice

Image credit: Hotel Hilton Molino Stucky Venice

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

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

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

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

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

Dining area inside the presidential suite inside Hilton Molino Stucky Venice

Image credit: Hotel Hilton Molino Stucky Venice

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

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

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

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

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

View from terrace of Molino Presidential Suite

Image credit: Hilton Molino Stucky Venice

HK: How would you describe your signature design style?  

BF: Elegant, sophisticated and welcoming

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

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

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

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

Main image credit: Studio Forino/Hilton Hotels

Reminder: The Brit List Awards – less than 3 weeks to apply (for free)

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
Reminder: The Brit List Awards – less than 3 weeks to apply (for free)

Your chance to submit your free-of-charge entries for The Brit List Awards 2021 is slipping through your fingers – entries close on August 6 (scroll down to read more about this year’s categories and how to apply)…

The Brit List Awards is one of the most prestigious awards campaigns for designers, architects, hoteliers and brands in the UK to be associated with. Each year, Hotel Designs opens up the nominations and the nationwide campaign begins to find the best hotel designers, architects and hospitality professionals.

This year, following last year’s virtual event, The Brit List Awards will climax with a spectacular awards ceremony, which shortlisted finalists will be given a complimentary ticket to attend – but you have to be ‘in it to win it’. “For many reasons, The Brit List Awards has become an event that we at Hotel Designs are extremely proud of,” explains editor Hamish Kilburn who will lead this year’s judging panel. “Not only does it seriously help to raise the profiles of exceptional designers, architects and hoteliers, but it also credits the individuals – whatever their backgrounds – who are ensuring that Britain remains a creative hub of design, architecture and hospitality.”

Entries for The Brit List Awards close on August 6 (it is completely free to apply)

Here’s a reminder of this year’s categories:

  • Interior Designer of the Year*
  • Architect of the Year*
  • Hotelier of the Year*
  • Best in Tech
  • The Eco Award
  • Best in British Product Design
  • The Rising Star Award (NEW FOR 2021)
  • International Award (NEW FOR 2021)
  • Outstanding Contribution to the Hospitality Industry

*In addition to the individual awards that are up for grabs, the top 25 entries in the interior design, architecture and hospitality categories will be profiled in the prestigious The Brit List, Hotel Designs’ annual publication that references the top 75 most influential individuals in British design, architecture and hospitality.

Below are the faces of last year’s designers, architects and hoteliers who were profiled in The Brit List – all of whom benefited from ample exposure following The Brit List Awards.

The Brit List 2020

The faces above made up The Brit List 2020.

Click here to read about last year’s winners. Click here to read more about this year’s event and timeline. Click here to read our FAQs about The Brit List Awards.

CLICK HERE to submit your free-of-charge application/nomination.

You can now purchase your tickets to attend the live awards ceremony, which takes place on November 3 at PROUD Embankment (designers, architects, hoteliers & developers, click here. Suppliers, click here).

If you would like to discuss various sponsorship packages available, please contact Katy Phillips via email, or call 01992 374050.

Main image credit: The Brit List Awards 2021

S/O Maldives - accor

Accor announces the signing of SO/ Maldives

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

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

S/O Maldives - accor

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

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

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

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

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

Arrival at S/O Maldives

Image credit: Accor

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

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

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

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

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

Main image credit: Accor

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

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

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

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

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

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

45 Park lane collage

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

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

Read more.

LXR Hotels & Resorts arrives in Seychelles


Image credit: Hilton Hotels

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

Read more.

Registration is now open for Independent Hotel Show 2021

The innovation stage at Independent Hotel Show

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

Read more.

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

Fiona Thompson Richmond International

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

Read more.

Sneak peek: Inside Tembo Great Plains in Zimbabwe

Image credit: Great Plains (Tembo Plains Camp)

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

Read more. 

Since you’re here…

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

Click here to sign up to our newsletter.

Main image credit: Hilton Hotels

The innovation stage at Independent Hotel Show

Registration is now open for Independent Hotel Show 2021

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

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

The innovation stage at Independent Hotel Show

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Main image credit: Independent Hotel Show London

45 Park lane collage

Checking in to experience The Spa at 45 Park Lane

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

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

45 Park lane collage

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Spa at 45 Park Lane

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Main image credit: The Dorchester Collection


LXR Hotels & Resorts arrives in Seychelles

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
LXR Hotels & Resorts arrives in Seychelles

Situated on southern Mahé’s pristine beachfront, the island oasis, Mango House, LXR Hotels & Resorts’ debut property in Seychelles promises guests a bespoke barefoot luxury experience…

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


Stretching along the edge of the Anse Aux Poules Bleues, a sparkling calm bay with shallow clear waters, Mango House provides a convivial retreat where guests can explore Mahé’s breath-taking canvas of sun, sea, and sand all the while enjoying a handcrafted hospitality experience.

Originally built as a family dwelling by celebrated Italian photographer Gian Paolo Barbieri, this idyllic hideaway is nestled amongst the revitalising fragrance of surrounding fruit trees and offers a sense of home in a private and secluded location. All 41 impeccably designed guest rooms, suites, and villas offer unobstructed ocean views, adorned with distinctive natural décor echoing the rugged beauty of the Seychelles.

LXR-Mango-House-Seychelles-Bay-House_HR“We are thrilled to unveil this incredible property, which brings a truly unique guest experience to the shores of Mahé,” said Jochem-Jan Sleiffer, President, Middle East, Africa, and Turkey, Hilton. “Mango House sees the debut of Hilton’s luxury LXR brand to the Seychelles, joining our Hilton and DoubleTree by Hilton properties already welcoming guests, and the Waldorf Astoria and Canopy by Hilton hotels currently under development. The archipelago has long been a sought-after destination by discerning travellers who visit the islands for their vibrant tropical atmosphere and world-class hospitality. From immersive cultural experiences and bespoke service to locally inspired dining concepts, guests will be enamoured by all that Mango House has to offer.”


Image credit: Hilton Hotels

“Mango House has an abundance of captivating stories to be told and we cannot wait to share them with our guests,” said Feisal Jaffer, global head, LXR Hotels & Resorts. “Developed in harmony with its surroundings, Mango House mirrors the traditions of southern Mahé folklore, with the fascinating Seychellois culture woven into every aspect of the personalised guest experience. This fabulous property is an outstanding addition to our exclusive collection of LXR properties in alluring locations around the world and we look forward to welcoming guests to a magical experience.”

Staying true to the LXR brand, every element of Mango House is connected to its surroundings with a focus on sustainability and supporting local businesses where possible. Guests have the opportunity to explore the turquoise waters of the Anse Aux Poules Bleus bay and its kaleidoscope of flora and fauna through an exciting range of non-motorised water sport activities, such as kayaking and snorkelling. Locally sourced products can be found throughout the property, from the ingredients used in its mouth-watering delicacies to the handcrafted products at its wellness sanctuary, anpe.

Meaning ‘at peace’ in Creole, anpe offers personalised treatments that embrace the power of touch, delivered by skilled therapists in treatment suites overlooking the glittering Indian Ocean for the ultimate relaxation experience. Product ingredients have been carefully selected and blended to harness the power of local plants and natural resources. Together with a well-appointed fitness area, Mango House promises a complete sensory experience, allowing guests to conveniently relax and rejuvenate throughout their stay.

Guests will continue their sensational journeys through five world-class dining venues and bars showcasing distinct Mango House flavours –not to mention locally inspired menus with each concept promising a unique culinary experience.

Whether looking for spectacular views or pure tranquillity, guests can choose between the main infinity pool and the oval-shaped pool located next to Soley. Meanwhile, those in search for the ultimate family getaway can book an exclusive nestled cluster of 13 guest rooms. Known as Cliff House, the largest villa in the Seychelles comes complete with its own private elevated pool. Parents also need not worry about keeping kids entertained – Mango Pips, a programme specifically created for children, promises to take youngsters on a journey of curiosity, education, and adventure while the grown-ups enjoy curated experiences that will last a lifetime, from sunset yoga sessions and trekking through Mahé’s lush green forests, to traditional rock fishing and canvas painting.

Main image credit: Hilton Hotels

Fiona Thompson Richmond International

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

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

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

Fiona Thompson Richmond International

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

image credit: The Cosmopolitan, designed by Richmond International

image credit: The Cosmopolitan, designed by Richmond International

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

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

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

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

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

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

The plush Sterling Suite at Langham London

Image caption: The Sterling Suite, Langham London

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

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

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

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

Large and spacious public area of plush suite

Image Caption: Penthouse of London West Hollywood

HK: What lessons have you learned during lockdown? 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Main image credit: Richmond International

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

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
Interiors unveiled of The Springwoods Club Palm Tree Hotel in Heyuan, China

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

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

14_Springwoods Palm_Courtyard

Image credit: The Springwoods Club Palm Tree Hotel

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

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

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

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

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

Main image credit: HBA

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here are the top stories from the last few days…

Hard Rock Hotels arrives in Madrid

Render credit: Hard Rock Hotel Madrid

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

Read more.

Exclusive: Meet the designer behind London Design House

London Design House

Image credit: London Design House

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

Read more. 

Virgin Hotels to arrive in New Orleans this summer

Image credit: Virgin Hotels

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

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

Read more. 

Richmond International unveils new interiors at The Langham, Boston

luxe suite inside Langham Boston

Image credit: Langham Hotels

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

Read more.

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

Sky Pool London

Image credit: Ballymore and EcoWorld Ballymore.

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

Read more. 

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

The Brit List Awards 2021

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

Read more.

Since you’re here…

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

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Hard Rock Hotels arrives in Madrid

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
Hard Rock Hotels arrives in Madrid

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

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

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

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

Image credit: Hard Rock Hotel Madrid

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

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

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

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

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

image credit: Hard Rock Hotel Madrid

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

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

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

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

Main image credit: Hard Rock Hotel Madrid

London Design House

Exclusive: Meet the designers behind London Design House

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

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

London Design House

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pavilion Road by Gary Kellett Architects

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

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

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

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

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

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

HK: Why is London considered a major design hub? 

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

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

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

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

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

Main image credit: London Design House

A bathroom inside Virgin Hotels New Orleans

Virgin Hotels to arrive in New Orleans this summer

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
Virgin Hotels to arrive in New Orleans this summer

Ahead of the anticipated arrival of Virgin Hotels New Orleans this summer, Hotel Designs was given a sneak peak behind the scenes to understand the design narrative of the 238-key hotel that was designed by both the in-house team and local New Orleans’ based interior designers Logan Killen…

A bathroom inside Virgin Hotels New Orleans

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

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

Lounge in Virgin Hotels New Orleans

Image credit: Virgin Hotels

Located at 550 Baronne Street near the Central Business District, the new-build hotel will feature 238 chambers (guestrooms), including Grand Chamber Suites, plus multiple dining and drinking outlets including the brand’s centrepiece restaurant and bar, Commons Club, The Pool Club, a rooftop pool and lounge, Funny Library Coffee Shop,  state-of-the-art gym and dedicated meeting and event spaces

Virgin Hotels will manage the hotel architecturally designed by Mathes Brierre Architects, Callison, RTKL Architects, Broadmoor Construction and developed by The Buccini/Pollin Group.


Through neighbourhood-centric influences, the hotel will open to tell the story of its locale. The entire concept was to bring an authentic New Orleans flair to the project. As a result, the property will incorporate a Southern residential feel while combining colourful, tropical architectural motifs with Virgin’s signature style of fun and smart design.

“We always take a localised approach to our design and we wanted Virgin Hotels New Orleans to embrace the local community and celebrate the city’s rich culture,” said Teddy Mayer, Vice President of Design at Virgin Hotels. “We’re thrilled to have collaborated with the talented team at Logan Killen Interiors to bring this vision to life. Specialising in residential and boutique commercial design, they brought a unique perspective to the project and created spaces that are welcoming and comfortable, with local and luxurious touches incorporated throughout.”

The hotel’s corridors, often a forgotten ‘in-between’ area of the hotel, will feature a bold and unique design including custom carpet inspired by artist Henri Matisse’s 1943 art book “Jazz” and Virgin Hotels’ signature red entry doors ready to welcome guests.  The 238 chambers will be fresh and bright with local art, historical detailing and Art Deco-inspired elements woven throughout, evoking a sense of old world meets modern luxury. The Chambers will feature Virgin Hotels’ signature double chamber layout – The Dressing Room and The Lounge – designed to make the best use of space and promote privacy for guests. The spaces are separated by a pair of panelled doors, a nod to French doors as commonly seen in New Orleans design, which offer a more residential look and feel.

The first space, “The Dressing Room”, includes spacious closets built for two with a custom sleek wooden makeup vanity with a well-lit mirror and charming floral print vanity chair. Guests will enjoy an extra-large shower with a bench and industrial doors, tying in the exterior architecture. Deluxe chambers will offer grand soaking tubs, French wallpaper from Pierre Frey and Moroccan tile mixed with graphic Deco-inspired marble patterns. Through the panelled double doors, guests will enter “The Lounge”, which boasts a charming entry table and playful statement wall art created by local artist Jane Talton. The brand’s patented ergonomically designed lounge bed, complete with a bullion fringe trim, will anchor the room, allowing guests to rest, relax, work, dine and more from the comfort of their own bed. Other local influences include commissioned artwork from local artists such as a collage poster of Richard Branson and an abstract painting by Ansley Givhan, playful furniture details inspired by vintage items like rattan tables and rug covered ottomans, and modern lighting elements with deco shapes.

Image of contemporary suite at Virgin Hotels

Image credit: Virgin Hotels

“When Teddy Mayer from Virgin Hotels reached out with the opportunity to design their New Orleans based hotel, Katie and I were equally excited and intimidated.  It was a very large leap for us to take professionally, having mostly residential design experience,” said Jensen Killen Partner and Lead Designer at Logan Killen Interiors. “But, when opportunity knocks in the form of the Virgin brand, you just say yes! Their team is led by kind, smart and thoughtful people that made the experience extremely fun and fulfilling. The trust they instilled in us to meet the particular challenge of creating a hotel that felt like New Orleans but carried the voice of the Virgin brand was inspiring and ultimately led to a successful and vibrant space that we know New Orleanians and visitors alike will enjoy for years to come.”

All Chambers will incorporate the brand’s classic amenities including a red SMEG mini-fridge, High Definition TV, yoga mat, custom lighting on sensors that automatically illuminate when guests move and ample outlets for smartphones and other electronic devices.

With this opening, Virgin Hotels continues to lead with innovation, combining heartfelt service, straightforward value, and a seamless, personalised hotel experiences with the track record of smart disruption that Sir Richard Branson’s global Virgin Group has pioneered for 50 years.

Main image credit: Virgin Hotels

Four Seasons Sicily

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

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

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

Four Seasons Sicily

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

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

exterior image of Four Seasons in Sicily

Image credit: Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts

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

“Everything past guests have always loved about San Domenico Palace has been restored, with familiar faces and vistas at every turn,” says General Manager Lorenzo Maraviglia, who has returned to his home country following years abroad to introduce Four Seasons to Sicily for the first time.

“It’s been a meticulous evolution that honours the site’s past while elevating every aspect to a new level of personalised service, extraordinary experiences, and the opportunity to create memories to last a lifetime. We are incredibly grateful to Gruppo Statuto for their investment and proud of the fact that it’s an Italian company that undertook this massive renovation project using only local craftspeople. This is Italy at its best.”

With just 111 guestrooms and suites, the atmosphere is intimate, as though returning to a treasured friend’s seaside home each year. The most coveted room is the Royal Suite, with principal rooms all opening onto a large terrace and plunge pool with views of Mount Etna, the ancient Greek Theatre and the Ionian Sea. Terraces are lined with glass for infinity views, and in all, there are 19 rooms with private plunge pools.

Image of guestroom at Four Seasons in Sicily

Image credit: Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts

Built on the site of a 14th century Dominican convent, the San Domenico Hotel first came to life in 1896 with the addition of a new building in Italian Liberty style (today’s Grand Hotel Wing) adjacent to accommodations converted from former quarters in the Ancient Convent Wing. It soon became a highlight on the Grand Tour, favoured by royalty and nobility and increasingly, a colourful cast of artists, writers and Hollywood stars. Set amid lush gardens reimagined by acclaimed Italian landscape architect Marco Bay with sweeping sea views, the Hotel pairs contemporary art with antiquities and architectural relics throughout.

Travellers will find that most of Sicily has reopened, from the designer shops and charming outdoor trattorias in the town of Taormina to artistic venues such as the steps-away ancient Greek Theatre, where a full calendar of musical performances are planned throughout summer. Beach clubs are also open, with guests of Four Seasons receiving special access to one of the most popular clubs.

The rebirth of the San Domenico Palace also heralds the return of Principe Cerami to Sicily’s thriving culinary and viticulture scene, where Executive Chef Massimo Mantarro’s menu is inspired by the very land where he grew up on the slope of Mount Etna. True to his roots but always experimenting, Chef Massimo’s genius can be savoured best in his #FSMasterdish, pasta e seppia. This clever combination of fresh ingredients marries sea and earth in marinated cuttlefish tagliatelle perched atop homemade spaghetti with cuttlefish ink afloat courgette blossom fondue. Paired with a glass of local wine selected by Head Sommelier Alessandro Malfitana, it’s Sicily on a plate.

Additional dining experiences include Rosso, where a large terrace affords panoramic views of Mount Etna and Taormina Bay as a setting to enjoy local specialties and international classics; and the poolside Anciovi, where the menu celebrates the bounty of the sea, and where creative cocktails can be enjoyed long after the sun goes down. In the garden setting of Bar & Chiostro, drinks are best paired with light fare, including the must-try pennette served in the local “Norma” style with aubergine and ricotta cheese.

Not to be missed are the exquisite creations of Chef de Patisserie Vincenzo Abagnale, who joins Four Seasons following four years with Chef Mauro Colagreco at three Michelin-starred Mirazur in France, that was ranked #1 on the list of World’s Best Restaurants in 2019.

In the captivating setting that combines hundreds of years of history with the drama of an active volcano, events at San Domenico Palace are always memorable. Now, with the expert touch of Four Seasons event planners and the catering team, it’s a fantastic choice for inspired corporate retreats, fairy-tale weddings or simply gathering family and friends for a much-needed reunion in the sun. More than 1,700 square metres (18,300 square feet) of indoor-outdoor event spaces can be tailored for gatherings from a dozen to several hundred guests.


Main image credit: Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts

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

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
A new meaning of bathing: The Sky Pool at Embassy Gardens

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

The Sky Pool at Embassy Gardens has dominated headlines recently as the feel-good story every news channel in the UK gushed over. It is (as the name suggests) a 35-metre high pool that bridges together two buildings in London, creating an unmatched (and slightly terrifying for some) swimming experience. Despite the accessibility of the pool dividing opinions, considering it is not being accessible to the affordable housing residents within the same development, its ambitious architectural structure, designed by studio HAL, has undeniably taken rooftop pools and bathing to a whole new level.

Sky Pool London

Image credit: Ballymore and EcoWorld Ballymore.

Kaldewei, a bathroom brand that is considered an expert in the manufacture of eco-friendly, sustainable and 100 per cent recyclable bathroom solutions, was delighted to be part of this exciting and prestigious project on London’s South Bank, developed by Ballymore and EcoWorld Ballymore.

The pool has a frame which weighs 50 tonnes; it is 8 inches (200 mm) thick with a 12-inch (300 mm) thick base and is nearly 10 feet (3.0 m) in depth, resting on an invisible steel frame.

Due to its excellent quality, Kaldewei products were fitted in all the tower apartments either side of the Sky Pool. The shower trays and baths are all created from Kaldewei steel enamel and it is this fusion of steel and glass, which makes the products extremely strong and durable like the Sky Pool! However, if all the baths in both towers were filled with water they would not come close to filling the Sky Pool; which at 82 feet long, with 46 of those suspended in mid-air, it is longer than most Olympic-sized pools which when full contain more than 2.5 million litres of water.

Kaldewei ‘bathers’ can stay inside and enjoy the privacy of their own bathing space.  All the bathrooms in the Embassy Gardens apartments include a combination of the Cayono, Puro and Meisterstücke Centro Duo 2 bathtubs, each bath has a central waste and two identical back rests providing an elegant addition to the bathroom.      

In addition to the baths the floor-level Superplan XXL’s, with its flush – fitting recessed waste cover and generous dimensions, (they go up to 1.8 metres), ensures greater freedom of movement when showering; whilst Kaldewei’s Secure Plus anti-slip finish, which is virtually invisible and guarantees safe footing, an essential requirement when walking on any wet surface.

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

Main image credit: Kaldewei

luxe suite inside Langham Boston

Richmond International unveils new interiors at The Langham, Boston

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
Richmond International unveils new interiors at The Langham, Boston

London-based hospitality design specialist, Richmond International, reveals stunning interiors at the iconic The Langham Boston, following an extensive three-year renovation…

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

luxe suite inside Langham Boston

The project includes a complete transformation of the lobby, meeting rooms, event spaces and all guest rooms, as well as the addition of The Langham Club, and a brand new bar and restaurant.

The design carefully considers the building’s location in Boston, Massachusetts and draws on its history as the former Federal Bank of Boston. Richmond International expertly curated The Langham Boston’s new art collection which includes existing and commissioned pieces, reflecting the building’s rich background.

“This project was hugely exciting for the whole team,” said Fiona Thompson, Principal at Richmond International who won Outstanding Contribution to the Hospitality Industry award last year at The Brit List Awards. “We’ve worked with The Langham Group for many years on some of the finest hotels around the world, so we know the importance of integrating the historical and cultural influences of this fascinating building and city with a contemporary yet classic design that has become synonymous with The Langham brand”.

Hotel lobby and rear lobby

The lobby takes inspiration from the building’s banking heritage with bespoke furniture and lighting indicative of the space’s former life as a bank. A double-sided Chesterfield sofa, a modern take on banker’s lamps, and hand-tufted rugs replicating the colour scheme and motifs found on a dollar bill, all help to create a warm and welcoming lobby area; a charming antithesis to the imposing facade.

A focal point of the hotel Lobby, a bespoke artisan map of the city of Boston, has been produced using liquid metal on a cast resin base and sits behind the reception desk. A large portrait of the renowned Bostonian portraitist John Singleton Copley was created exclusively for The Langham Boston by Samuel Gareginyan and sets the tone for the for the significance and prominence of portraiture throughout the hotel.

In addition, the Rear Lobby has been transformed into an elegant entrance space with the introduction of a new, sculptural staircase leading to the ballroom, an ideal space for an intimate social gathering or for welcome drinks before a larger function in the Lincoln Ballroom.

Image caption: Sitting area in the lobby. | Image credit: Langham Hotels

Image caption: Sitting area in the lobby. | Image credit: Langham Hotels

Governor’s and Lincoln Room, Wyeth Room and Lincoln Ballroom

The Governor’s and Lincoln Room is a refined space that celebrates the historical significance and functionality that the room had as the bank’s former boardroom. Traditional panelled walls remain and, in-keeping with the theme, the plaid carpet is a nod to the tailored suits that were worn by the bankers. Historical photographs of the building and an assembly of antique maps of Boston and the surrounding towns and districts of Massachusetts adorn the walls.

Carefully renovated to preserve all its historical features, The Wyeth Room is the larger of the meeting spaces. The existing murals were lovingly protected during the refurbishment and now gallantly oversee the space. The Lincoln Ballroom is a new addition to The Langham, Boston and continues the sense of historical significance and classic aesthetic. A new vaulted skylight combined with the large windows create a bright and airy space for any occasion.

Grana and The Fed Bar

The new Grana restaurant is a vibrant destination and true celebration of its former life as main hall of the Bank, one of the most historical spaces in the building. Original features such as the stone flooring and the original terrazzo floors complete with the official Federal Reserve Bank seal were meticulously restored to their former glory. Likewise, the original frieze ceiling was maintained with the addition of a backlit lantern skylight to introduce an abundance of light into this expansive space. Fusing the new with the old; a modern interpretation of the original banking hall clock was created and a dramatic, modern sculpture of the Liberty head coin, created by Lyle London, is suspended above the entrance staircase.

In recognition of the former Federal Reserve Bank presidents, the restaurant features eight classic contemporary portraits by Debra Keirce, an award-winning member of The Portrait Society of America. Richmond International worked with local Boston Gallery, The Copley Society, which provided artworks throughout the property.

The hotel’s new bar, The Fed, is a sophisticated space with a lively central bar and intimate seating area. A tasteful take on a 1920’s private member’s club, the bar features a rich colour palette, velvet finishes and gold accents, as well as an eclectic mix of artworks and Persian-inspired rugs, a reflection of the 1920s and a new era of travel. 


The guestrooms are inspired by travel, the New England coast and Boston’s history as one of the first places in the US to be colonised. The design touches in these rooms include a cellaret based on an old traveller’s trunk and a fresh colour palette for an inviting space to settle and relax after a long journey. Artwork celebrating Boston’s culture, environment and history pepper the walls either side of the headboard, from the Boston Red Sox, New England-native birds and vintage stock certificates. 

The split-level Loft Suites each feature a sculptural art installation created by Boston-based ceramic and clay artist, Jeremy Ogusky that accentuate the double-height ceiling. Each installation comprises of approximately 60 pieces of wheel-thrown glazed plates arranged organically; the end result is a completely unique installation for every suite.

The hotel’s flagship suite, the Chairman Suite, channels the spirit of New England with a contemporary classic nod to the 1920’s period, including panelled walls and a selection of Persian-inspired rugs over a timber Herringbone floor. The suite also features an eclectic collection of unique items that one might acquire over time, capturing the essence of a true traveller. Furthermore, a one-of-a-kind installation from US-based paper artist, Olga Skorokhod, decorates the dining room wall.

The Langham Club

The Langham Club, a signature feature of The Langham Hotels & Resorts brand, has a clean and tailored aesthetic harmonised with contemporary detailing. The artwork in this space is a diverse mix of portraiture, sculpture and photography with subtle nods to the lounges of London and Chicago.

Main image credit: Langham Hotels

Weekly digest: The struggling generation & the latest hotel openings

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
Weekly digest: The struggling generation & the latest hotel openings

The struggle is real in this week’s round-up of our top stories, as we celebrate the launch of a campaign to help young designers and architects on their feet while networking events are brought back to IRL (in real life). Meanwhile, there seems to be a new hotel opening on the hour, at the moment. Editor Hamish Kilburn here – ‘struggling’ to keep up – but determined nonetheless to serve up your weekly digest…

For many reasons – catching up on my emails following a few frantic yet fantastic days out of the office being one of them – I am accosting this week’s round-up, or ‘digest’ as we have recently rebranded it,  around the theme of ‘struggle’. Taking my sprints between meetings, speaking events and much-welcomed hotel reviews to one side, the struggle young designers and architects are facing at the moment is immeasurable – and it’s time to address this situation head-on. Cue the launch of our new campaign, which will allow newcomers into the arena to interview established A&D professionals (with no question off limit) – thus bridging the gap between generations, allowing authentic mentorships to form and for all of us to start really understanding the challenges that young people face when leaving the safety reef of education.

Also in this week’s digest, we share with you our hottest hotel openings expected this month, unveil a case study that takes biophilic design to a whole new meaning and find out why fashion brand PrettyLittleThing is dipping its toe into UK hospitality.

Without further a due, here’s this week’s news in one article:

A young architect’s Q&A: Jestico + Whiles’ James Dilley

Gif James Dilley and James Ingram

If you read nothing else this week, please ensure you take the time to read young architect James Ingram’s interview with Jestico + Whiles’ James Dilley. This interview, which really left a personal impact on me (as I’m sure it will you, considering we have all had help at some stage in our careers), marks the launch of a wider campaign in order to help bridge the gap between generations within hotel design.

Read more.

VIP Arrivals: Hottest hotels opening in July

The Tawny Hotel is one of our most anticipated hotels opening in July

Image credit: The Tawny Hotel

As momentum and demand builds for the industry to reopen fully and for travellers to enjoy one-off travel experiences once more, it seems as if the hospitality landscape is updating its infrastructure with newly designed hotels, in both new and existing properties, standing to welcome the new era of modern travellers. Here, we take you through the hottest hotels opening in July…

Read more.

Marriott International opens 70th hotel in Japan

Aloft Osaka Dojima

Image credit: Marriott International

With the opening of Aloft Osaka Dojima, Marriott International now has 70 properties in Japan, which means that, with 18 brands in 21 prefectures, the hotel group leads with brand offerings in the country – and there are still more hotels in the pipeline.

Read more.

Wellness in design: tips from designer Shalini Misra

Shalini Misra

Ahead of her anticipated appearance at Hotel Designs LIVE, where she will join a panel of experts to discuss surface design, we caught up with interior designer Shalini Misra in order to understand how wellness and design are working together in this new era of lifestyle, luxury and wellness…

Read more.

And finally… Fashion brand PrettyLittleThing launches UK hotel

Pool inside PrettyLittleThing Hotel

Image credit: PrettyLittleThing

While staycation demand has increased 14,400 per cent, and as the boundaries between lifestyle and luxury continue to blur, it’s not a huge surprise to read that that global fashion brand PrettyLittleThing has entered the UK hotel market.

Read more.

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Aloft Osaka Dojima

Marriott International opens 70th hotel in Japan

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
Marriott International opens 70th hotel in Japan

With the opening of Aloft Osaka Dojima, Marriott International now has 70 properties in Japan, which means that, with 18 brands in 21 prefectures, the hotel group leads with brand offerings in the country – and there are still more hotels in the pipeline…

A few months ago, Marriott International opened its 800th hotel in the Asia Pacific region. A few months later, the hotel group announced that it would add 100 new hotels to that impressive portfolio between then and the end of the year.

Aloft Osaka Dojima

And now, the hotel group has reached yet another milestone by opening Aloft Osaka Dojima, which becomes the group’s 70th property in Japan. With this opening, Marriott International continues its solid growth in Japan as the hotel chain with the most brand offerings. The company has 70 properties across 18 brands in 21 prefectures including major cities such as Tokyo, Osaka and Kyoto, as well as other lesser known gems like Tochigi, Gifu and Wakayama. With a pipeline of more than 30 additional hotels, including three hotels expected to open later this year, the portfolio is poised for continued growth in Japan.

“We remain confident in the future of travel.” – Rajeev Menon, President, Marriott International Asia-Pacific (excluding Greater China).

“Expanding our presence and bringing more brands and experiences to Japan has been a priority for us,” said Rajeev Menon, President, Marriott International Asia-Pacific (excluding Greater China). “We remain confident in the future of travel and look forward to welcoming both domestic and international guests with new and exciting travel choices when they are able to travel again.”

The opening of Aloft Osaka Dojima, Marriott International’s 70th property in Japan, is emblematic of its select-service brand category growth in the country, with the number of open hotels nearly tripling since 2019. The brands in the category such as Fairfield by Marriott, Courtyard, Aloft Hotels, and Moxy Hotels to name a few, offer distinct value for travellers with streamlined services and amenities, paired with casual, convenient dining options and warm hospitality — all at an approachable price point. The new Aloft property is centrally located at the crossroads of entertainment, shopping, dining and business in Osaka. In addition to vibrant urban centres, many of the select-service hotels are opening in Japan’s lesser known areas and are expected to offer easy and comfortable stays for travellers exploring less travelled, yet attractive locations.

The “Michi-no-eki” portfolio – which now comprises 13 Fairfield by Marriott hotels in prime locations near roadside rest stations in Japan – is a key driver of growth in the select service category in the country. Earlier in 2021, five Fairfield by Marriott hotels opened across picture-perfect destinations including Odai in Mie, Minamiyamashiro in Kyoto, Nikko in Tochigi, Kushimoto in Wakayama, and Susami in Wakayama. Later this year, an additional new Fairfield by Marriott hotel is slated to open with the arrival of Fairfield by Marriott Gifu Takayama Shokawa. The new hotels are situated close to national parks and UNESCO World Heritage Sites, providing guests a gateway to secluded destinations and local gems across the country.

This summer, the highly anticipated opening of Japan’s fourth Moxy Hotel, Moxy Kyoto Nijo, is expected to add a stylishly playful twist to Kyoto’s bar and social scene, celebrating youthful nonconformity, open-mindedness, and originality above all. Located in the Kyoto Nijo historic district near the World Heritage site of Nijo Castle, it is set to be a buzzing new location to play and explore.

Meanwhile, the recently opened Hiyori Chapter Kyoto, a Tribute Portfolio Hotel, is the Tribute Portfolio brand’s second property in the country, and welcomes guests from near and far to craft their own story and live like a local on a journey of exploration in picturesque Kyoto.

Earlier this year Marriott International celebrated the opening of Japan’s very first W hotel with the arrival of W Osaka, which, thanks to design influence from design and architecture studio concrete Amsterdam, brought the brand’s singularly bold attitude and a playground of new possibilities to the city’s already-vibrant hospitality scene.

The iconic lifestyle luxury brand EDITION will further expand with the expected opening of The Tokyo EDITION, Ginza later this year. The hotel is slated to be the second EDITION property in Japan following The Tokyo EDITION, Toranomon, which opened in 2020.

A sedated interior scheme inside the guestroom of the hotel

Image credit: Tokyo Edition/Marriott International

“We are gratified to see the strong growth of Marriott International in Japan, and appreciate the confidence of our owners and franchisees in our vision for the future of hospitality in the country,” said Karl Hudson, Area Vice President, Japan and Guam, Marriott International. “Like us, our owners believe that the future of travel lies in providing what travellers truly want, based on lifestyles, interests and preferences. Marriott’s strong and differentiated portfolio of brands cater to the individual requirements of travellers, and this is how our guests know they can count on us to provide what they want, wherever they may travel to.”

With today’s announcement, Marriott International is well-positioned in Japan with 70 hotels across 18 distinct brands, aimed at serving differentiated experiences across traveler segments. The brands currently operating in Japan include: JW Marriott, St. Regis Hotels & Resorts, The Ritz-Carlton and Ritz-Carlton Reserve, W Hotels, The Luxury Collection, and EDITION in the luxury segment; Marriott Hotels, Sheraton, Westin, Autograph Collection, Tribute Portfolio, and Renaissance in the premium segment; Courtyard by Marriott, Four Points by Sheraton, Fairfield by Marriott, Aloft Hotels, AC Hotels by Marriott, and Moxy Hotels in the select service segment.

Main image credit: Marriott International