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MINIVIEW: Joyze Hotel Xiamen Curio Collection by Hilton

800 533 Hamish Kilburn

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MINIVIEW: Joyze Hotel Xiamen Curio Collection by Hilton

Opened late last year, Joyze Hotel Xiamen Curio Collection by Hilton, with all its unique design qualities, is a mere shadow of the stereotypical chain hotel you would expect check in to. Editor Hamish Kilburn dives deeper into its Chinese design story to uncover how the boutique 104-key hotel came to be… 

As a boutique hotel, the concept of a ‘floating city on the sea’ can be seen throughout the hotel design of Joyze Hotel Xiamen Curio Collection by Hilton. Combining the local cultural elements of Minnan with urban design techniques, the hotel narrates the historical changes of “the fishing village” that it neighbours. Tasked to merge architecture with interior design was Hong Kong-based design firm CCD (CHENG CHUNG DESIGN).

Image credit: CCD/Cheng Chung Design (HK)/Curio Collection by Hilton

Surrounded by mountains and seas, with the Dongping Mountain in the North, and the coastline of Huandao Road in the South, the hotel enjoys the best of both worlds. The villages in Zengcuoan are divided by walls, and the houses in the villages are scattered around. The floor plan of the hotel follows the arrangement of the villages, as different zones are divided by walls and intersected by landscapes between different areas. Look down from the above; each area is like a box, representing a household with different personalities and designs. Guests enter the hotel as if they are on a village tour, complete with alleys, walls and landscapes.

Image credit: CCD/Cheng Chung Design (HK)/Curio Collection by Hilton

The entrance of the hotel incorporates the local culture of ‘brick wall’, which is a very unique way of building a wall in Minnan architecture that uses stones and bricks of different shapes to overlay and build simple and beautiful walls.

According to the legend in the end of the Ming Dynasty that, there was a major earthquake occurred in the Southern part of Minnan region. After the earthquake, the native people used the local materials such as bricks, stones, tiles and gravels collapsed from the natural disaster to build the unique wall. And thereby, this way of wall-building has been widely practiced and followed in the region.

Image credit: CCD/Cheng Chung Design (HK)/Curio Collection by Hilton

The designer also used the mansion method to design the hotel lobby. The first sight of the guest after they get off from the drop-off area and enter the hotel is not the hotel lobby, but a door that is several meters wide, and if they are entering a mansion house. Then they will see the brick wall, followed by cultural exhibition area, then other landscapes and finally the lobby bar and reception.

“Under each box, there is a light to create a sense of levitation.”

The design concept of “Floating City on the Sea” is expressed through the subtle design method.The façade of the wall is constructed with boxes, and it transforms from empty to solid, presenting a feeling of ‘floating’, the orderly change of the gradient also presents a sense of rhythm swinging with the current. A corner of the reception desk floats into the air, becoming a warm chandelier, floating on the sea, and the entire hotel is like a floating city on the sea.

In comparison to the hotel, every box in the space is the composition of the hotel as a floating city. Under each box, there is a light to create a sense of levitation.

“The design of the guestrooms are natural, warm and cosy, creating a sense of home.”

The design incorporates natural comfort and childhood memories, vintage chandeliers, metal-trimmed glass doors, wooden tables and chairs; it brings guests back to the restaurant where they used to go with their parents. Here, the curious people walk into the old days of Xiamen.

Image credit: CCD/Cheng Chung Design (HK)/Curio Collection by Hilton

The design of the guestrooms are natural, warm and cosy, creating a sense of home. Meanwhile, it also tries to open the space as much as possible as to form a transparent visual experience. Getting rid of the traditional framework, and strengthen the interaction of spatial functions through subtle design, so that each area can be used alone and connected.

After the entrance is the cloakroom and the luggage rack, which is designed to make the walkway more functional and to make the largest use of space. In detail, it also closely follows the concept of floating city, as the wash table and the bed are suspended from the ground.

The city view and beach outside the window is one of the hotel’s business cards. The wash table, mini bar and operating desk form a small living room, so that guest can sit in the living room and enjoy the scenery with tea, just like the local residents. The texture of the old buildings in the city is projected onto the walls of the guestrooms, and the patterns of the old buildings in Gulangyu are carved into ceramic tiles, which become time fragments to record the traces of the years.

Main image credit: CCD/Cheng Chung Design (HK)/Curio Collection by Hilton

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Checking In: MOB Hotel Paris, where it all started

768 512 Hamish Kilburn

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Checking In: MOB Hotel Paris, where it all started

On the doorstep of Paris’ infamous flea market, MOB Hotel Paris – the original MOB – is designed ‘for the people’. Editor Hamish Kilburn checks in to see where the MOB Hotels story started…

In order to understand MOB Hotels’ style, ethos and energy you must first, in my opinion, meet the man behind the brand.

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Cyril Aouizerate, the CEO of MOB Hotels, is a gentleman who eats, sleeps and breathes MOB Hotels, which he created last year and believes that a great hotel is designed around great people. “My desire to was create movement,” he told me when describing the brand’s origins. “My objective is to use the hotels in our portfolio to create a new vision in the world that a hotel is more than just a bed for the night. That is why, for me, understanding the culture of each of our hotel’s location is so important.” That movement started in Paris and has since moved into Lyon as well as there being plans for a 2020 opening in Washington D.C.

Hidden among red and orange buildings, the entrance to the 92-key MOB Hotel Paris is surprisingly understated and worlds away from the stereotypical view of postcard Paris. Instead being among of chic neighborhood of shops and cafes, the hotel is in the heart of an urban adventure, located just south of the Saint Ouen, north of the city centre. It’s not immediately obvious that the two buildings, which were disused telecom factories only a few years ago, would shelter a quirky design-led boutique hotel. But expecting the unexpected is something that all guests should prepare when joining the MOB way of thinking.

Much like the Flea Market that borders the property, the architecture firm BBC Architecte created MOB Hotel Paris around the raw energy and creativity of the brand. The lobby inside is complete with wooden trunks as pod-like reception desks and very wears a bohemian personality. Simple yet productive, the space is a relatively empty shell that is curated only with stylish pop-up-store merchandise.

Image credit: Mob Hotels

The first real indication of Aouizerate’s unravelled creative mind comes when walking through the lobby and into the open-planned, lounge-like restaurant. With interiors by Kristian Gavoille et Valérie Garcia, the walls tell a story of comedy with fruits and vegetables being personified and remembered with plaques – my personal favourite among them being “R.I.P Mister Eggplant, who died for Baba Ganouche.” Furthermore, the large curtains that separate the restaurant from the conservatory, at first, look like they are printed references of The Last Supper. However, on closer inspection, all is not what it first seems. Famous faces in both the design world, from the likes of Philippe Starck, and significant figures in popular culture, such as Barak Obama, have been printed on the fabrics to add character and offer a further reference to Aouizerate’s involvement in the design process and decisions.

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Image credit: Aldo Paredes

Upstairs and although the comedy is softened, the style of each guestrooms is equally as edgy while also remaining thoughtful to the needs and requirements of guests checking in. In the bathrooms, which are tastefully positioned without creating too many unnecessary barriers, include Duravit fittings, Geberit WCs and Villeroy & Boch showers. Although the mustard yellow carpets and peachy pink walls in the guestrooms may not be to everyone’s taste, the unique headboards that are made to reference theatre stage curtains cannot be ignored as a quirky and unique feature to entice guests to tell their own narrative.

Complete with a Fatboy beanbag, low-level furniture from IKEA and mobile spotlight lighting, the guestrooms are idiosyncratic to say the least, but also balance within them a sense of play and can adapted to suit the needs of whoever is checking in. With a strong message to bring guests together, there are deliberately no TVs in each of the rooms, but projectors and iPads can be provided on request.

Sneak peak into the bathroom

Image credit: Mob Hotels

The dictionary definition of mob is “a large crowd of people, especially one that is disorderly and intent on causing trouble or violence.” Although the brand isn’t planning on causing any violence or trouble, it certainly is ready to cause a scene. With plans for the brand to broaden out as far as Washington D.C., the Paris MOB is also expanding. Just down the road, the skeleton of a new kind of MOB is taking form. MOB House, which is expected to open in January 2020, will pride itself on a sheltering a different style. The hotel’s interiors are being imagined by non-other than award-winning designer and long-term friend of Mob Hotels, Phillipe Starck.

Other suppliers

Furniture in the restaurant: Tonet/Drucker
Outdoor furniture: Fermob
Furniture in guestroom: Fatboy/Sempre

Main image credit: Aldo Paredes

Technology expert Jason Bradbury reviews Eccleston Square Hotel in the future

730 565 Hamish Kilburn

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Technology expert Jason Bradbury reviews Eccleston Square Hotel in the future

Healing heating, holographic entertainment and a toilet that tells you your food printer what snacks to make, technology expert and futurist Jason Bradbury spent a night future gazing in the technologically enhanced 19th Century luxury of Eccleston Square Hotel, London

We’re living back to front. As technology marches inexorably forward, gaining speed at an exponential rate, it seems that the simple and the authentic have more value than ever before.

The resurgence of vinyl is a great example of this, independent coffee shops and organic grocers too – and so is a certain type of boutique hotel. In order to understand what a night in the hotel room of the future might be like, it’s necessary to appreciate why many of the standout disruptors in the current market are looking backwards, hiding their high-tech flaunts and instead focussing on experiences and simply good service.

Eccleston Square Hotel in London was the setting for my experiment in hotel room time travel. It’s a fine example of how well integrated smart technology can enhance a stay. Notable in-room features include LED clear-to-opaque glass in the bathroom, gestural lighting controls, a massaging bed and an improbably positioned outside/inside courtyard. All of these elements are design decisions that will have echoes in the rooms we will choose to book in the year 2049 (although few will have the Eccleston’s claim of being mere steps away from Winston Churchill’s front door).

Image of in-room ipad next to lighting controls

Image credit: Ecclestone Hotel London

 “The hotel room of the future will still rely heavily on technology, but it will be engineered for invisibility.”

30 years from now, the Artificial Intelligence (AI) that is currently the subject of deep moral conjecture will be commonplace. All retail, education, medicine, travel and data-centric areas of our lives will be handled by our personal Block-Chain driven A.Is. Much of our entertainment will be virtual visualisations; what we now call Augmented and Virtual Reality, immersive movies and games so convincing they’ll be indistinguishable from reality. It’s logical, therefore, to assume that when the mundane in life is handled by our personal A.I assistant and our persistent screen experience digital, we’ll seek out authenticity as an escape.

The hotel room of the future will still rely heavily on technology, but it will be engineered for invisibility. The down-lighters and wall switches that are currently in hotels will be replaced by neuro and mood interpreting imaging, ambient and natural light emulation, aimed at inducing calm and/or focus. Glass wall room dividers won’t just switch to opaque, they’ll transform into shimmering living jungle walls or expansive movie screens or personalised news feeds created by holographic projection. Think Minority Report, but without the need for gloves.

Modern bathroom

Image credit: Eccleston Square Hotel, London

In order to get a handle on all this future gazing, it’s sometimes helpful to have tangible examples to hand. The recently launched Magic Leap mixed reality headset offers insight into how a futuristic hotel room could be brought or augmented with ultra-high definition virtual assets. By 2049, several exponential leaps up the curve, the headset might be unnecessary, imaging handled by a projector and a glass room divider infused with highly refractive silver particles.

That’s entertainment, but what about the health and wellness opportunities offered by the hotel room of the next decade?

“Beyond just heating, far infrared light offers all manner of health benefits including immune system support, helping to alleviate stress, psoriasis and relieving joint and muscle pain.”

Astectherm is an example of an advanced technology that predicts the kind of hybrid between practical and health orientated benefits that might find itself in the guestroom in 10 years from now. I was able to install a working sample of this thin, flexible infrared thermal heating fabric between the electrically operated curtains during my Eccleston Square Hotel stay. More usually, lengths of Astectherm would be installed in walls or under floor and ceilings. Beyond just heating, far infrared light offers all manner of health benefits including immune system support, helping to alleviate stress, psoriasis and relieving joint and muscle pain. This system is an excellent example of an invisible technology that could offer in-room, spa-like health and wellness advantages for the future hotel room user checking in.

Hyper-personalisation will drive much high-end retail and leisure experiences in the future. The 3D printers that are still mainly the preserve of industry today will perhaps print bespoke, nutritionally focused meals in the kitchens of tomorrow. In order to compete, a morning in an Eccelston Square Hotel room circa 2049 will, for example, have to offer a high-end personalised breakfast and coffee experience. To give a sense of where our future caffeine fixes might come from, I tested the Ikawa Personal Coffee roaster in my room. As well as infusing the suite with a gorgeous aroma of freshly roasted green coffee beans, the tiny app-controlled machine offers concrete insight into the quick, delicious and bespoke snacks and meals we will come to expect in the near-future. In future in-room coffee machines, the ingredients will be determined by a stool and urine analysing toilet and other health monitoring wearables. If your morning bathroom routine flags a rise in your inflammatory markers, you might find turmeric in your freshly-roasted, non-dairy latte.

Image caption: Ikawa Personal Coffee Roaster – thanks to coffee gurus @Steampunkcoffeemachine & @Anyalou and Ben from imperialteas.co.uk

While we currently have the Apple Watch, in the future we’ll see far more discrete wearables, which will offer a much deeper insight into our general wellness. Take sleep for example, a critical part of any hotel room experience. At the moment, Some hotels offer a vague ‘good night guarantee’ based on little more than firm pillows. Eccleston Square Hotel already takes its bedtime more seriously than most, but as well as a mood lighting and an electronically adjustable bed, in 10 years time its beds might map guests’ REM and movement signatures. They high-tech beds might compare them to a block-chain powered pattern from thousands of my previous nights’ sleep, cross-referenced with a range of biological and psychological markers, blood sugar readings from bathroom analysis and wearables and even neurological data. And if this is all sounding a little too Sci-Fi, I took the liberty of installing a Nokia Smart Sleep sensor in my Eccleston Square hotel bed.

“The app data showed a high ‘Sleep Quality’ score of 90 per cent, only twenty seconds of snoring and a longer period of ‘deep sleep’ than on previous nights at home testing it.”

Perhaps it was exhaustion from setting up all the gadgets- or the massage – but the app data showed a high ‘Sleep Quality’ score of 90 per cent, only twenty seconds of snoring and a longer period of ‘deep sleep’ than on previous nights at home testing it. This level of detail, while insightful today will seem laughably trivial in ten years, but again, Nokia’s gadget is a fine example of where we’re heading.

Image Caption: Nokia Sleep Sensor. 2. Bed’s Massage Remote Control

The Eccleston Square Hotel has several rooms with distinctive private outdoor spaces. It achieves this by cleverly slicing up what would be larger areas and then giving each outdoor triangle the perception of space with large mirrored walls. This is another precursor to a future trend; the use of spacial sensory imaging, both auditory and visual, to create outdoor experiences, but on a considerably smaller scale. Looking beyond 2049 and it’s not implausible to imagine something like a Star Trek holodeck that transforms a tiny 24m² courtyard into an infinite forest in which you can jog by virtue of a 360° treadmill.

Image caption: Courtyard in Eccleston Square Hotel Room showing outside mirrored wall

It’s a contradiction for sure, but technology will deliver what the hotel guest of the future will desire most, authenticity. The design ethos, eco and energy awareness, food and customer service expectations of the discerning hotel guest a decade hence will still be central to their choice. What will change is the availability of bespoke, luxury personalised services, many of which will have echoes of a bygone age, a time when the gadgets that distract us today hadn’t been invented. Of course there will be no obvious gadgets in the hotel room of the future, just ‘real’ services and experiences. And when reality can’t be delivered, we’ll be happy to accept the perception of it.

Jason Bradbury can booked for futurology talks at jla.co.uk and found on YouTube  & Instagram. Thanks also to the lovely staff at Eccleston Square Hotel. 

 Main image credit: Twitter @JasonBradbury/Eccleston Square Hotel London

Top 5 stories of the week: Suites in the sky, defining trends and X marks the spot in Toronto

Hamish Kilburn

In the same week Hotel Designs’ announced a new floating hotel in Edinburgh, a mountain of so-called 2019 trends and major openings were among the highlights of this weeks headlines, as editor Hamish Kilburn reports… 

January arrived, and what inevitably followed was a plethora of emails of which each subject claimed to have the answers to this year’s must-have trends (I use the term loosely). And while it’s interesting to read all about whether the ’70s will or will not makes its return, or whether chrome really will replace the brushed-brass finishes, hotel designers must ensure that whatever they produce is timeless. The age-old argument between whether it’s best to be fashionable or stylish is never more relevant than it is in hotel design. Style, in our industry at least, wins every time over ever-changing fashion. It is somewhat hypocritical of myself, therefore, to have uploaded a piece about flooring trends this week, but I urge you to approach this topic with a pinch of salt. If trends were concrete (and I’m not referring to the industrial-chic bathroom look that was ‘in’ in AW19), international hotel design would become static with nothing ever changing. My hope is that this piece, along with all my features I have the pleasure of writing for Hotel Designs, can be seen as a guide – one opinion among many, if you like, with the ‘many’ referring to our wonderful readers of course.

To start the conversation over the weekend, leaving trends aside for now, here are five headlines that have grabbed the attention of our industry this week.

1) New luxury floating hotel launches in Edinburgh

Image credit: Fingal

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

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

Read more about Fingal >

2) SPOTLIGHT ON: Major hotel openings for Q3 & Q4 2019

Wallcoverings reflecting the city of Malta and a large bed in a modern suite

Image credit: Iniala Malta

Last week, we brought you what we considered to be the top hotels that are planning on opening in the first half of this year. Following suit, we have identified even more significant launches of design hotels that are planning to cut their ribbons from this Summer onwards this year. From beachside resorts, to cliff-side eco hotels, here are the editorial team’s top picks.

Read more about the major openings in Q2 & Q3 >

3) Checking in to Hotel X – the luxury Canadian hotel that stands alone

outdoor pool

Image credit: Hotel X Toronto

Juxtaposing the neighbouring buildings in the Liberty Village area, which were once cut off from the rest of the city of Toronto, Hotel X Toronto is the new sought-after boutique kid on the block that is making waves as a new kind of luxury experience in a city that welcomes more than 40 million tourists each year.

Read more about Hotel X here >

4) Hotels At New Heights: Airlines’ race to launch luxury suites in the sky

The bedroom of The Residence

Image credit: Etihad Airways

Travelling the world today is arguably the most comfortable it has ever been. And it comes with few raised eyebrows that the long-haul travel market is dominated, without a shadow of a doubt, by the airlines. In 2017, National Geographic reported that air travel is predicted to over the next 20 years. In the same year, Forbes reported that within just 12 months more than a staggering four billion passengers travelled by plane, which set a new record. But with slower forms of travel, such a luxury cruises and iconic train carriages, making their return in popular demand, airlines are having to adapt for the luxury market – and each other – in order to welcome guests into suites in the sky.

Read more about suites in the sky >

5) Radisson Blu opens two hotels in Abu Dhabi

Two new Radisson Blu-branded landmark hotels have arrived in Abu Dhabi, one of which is located on the vibrant and iconic sea walk of Abu Dhabi, while the other is situated in one of the UAE’s cultural gems, known as the Garden City for its natural springs, plantations and lush palm groves.

Read more about the Radisson openings here >

To keep up to date with all the international hotel design news as it happens, follow Hotel Designs on Twitter.

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Checking in to Hotel X – the luxury Canadian hotel that stands alone

768 405 Hamish Kilburn

Situated adjacent to Lake Ontario, a shimmering glass tower shelters a new kind of luxury in Toronto. Edited by Hamish KilburnVincenzo Ferrara reviews Hotel X…

Juxtaposing the neighbouring buildings in the Liberty Village area, which were once cut off from the rest of the city of Toronto, Hotel X Toronto is the new sought-after boutique kid on the block that is making waves as a new kind of luxury experience in a city that welcomes more than 40 million tourists each year.

Imagined and designed by Stephen B. Jacobs Group and Andi Pepper Interiors Design, the hotel opened in March 2018 with the aim of creating an extravagant and contemporary hotel with dramatic flourishes. Using its unparalleled location and striking views as a design and architectural reference, X certainly does now mark the spot near Liberty Village, which becomes directly apparent when checking in.

The exterior shell of Hotel X

Image credit: Hotel X, Toronto

Upon arrival, guests are immediately welcomed into the hotel’s towering size combined with unassuming elegance. On the exterior shell, reflected beams of light hit the glass building, which creates a colourful display in an otherwise grey, and somewhat sombre business district. Despite the hotel, with its state-of-the-art technology and business facilities, appropriately keeping in line with the suit-and-tie scene that surrounds, personality pops out in unassuming moments. In the entrance, for example, monochrome, geometric flooring that has been sourced from all corners of the earth is the perfect metaphor to represent the city as a place where people meet from around the world.

Black and white tiles echo in the balck and white chandeliers in the lobby

Image caption: View overlooking the monochrome lobby area at Hotel X

The hand-cut marble reception desk sits in front of a living wall that covers the height and width of the lobby and creates an instant sense of peace that is far removed from the metropolis outside. A grand staircase on the right leads to a glass bridge that overlooks the spacious and minimalist area and offers a platform where guests can enjoy the lobby area from a different perspective, such as an up-close look at the detailed circular patterned chandeliers.

The large, modern art gallery includes landscape photos on the walls and around the room

Image caption: Kandy Gallery, Hotel X

Art is a prominent theme captured throughout the hotel. A gallery on the ground floor is devoted to photographer Neil Dankoff, whose landscape pieces famously led him to become a staple on the art and photography scene in Toronto. His ‘Kandy Gallery’ commission with Hotel X, which sees his signature images that depict worldwide adventure hung on the walls, turned out to be the largest fine art photography transaction in Canadian history. Dankoff spent almost three years travelling the globe to capture more than 800 landscape photographs that were purposefully commissioned for use within the hotel. Hung in such a way so that guests notice an eye-catching canvas of natural beauty around every corner, Dankoff’s work is quite literally written on the walls. Cleverly, his work from the gallery filter into the guestrooms and suites, resulting in a further reclined backdrop. The guestrooms and suites that offer a lake view incorporate water within the pieces, whereas the rooms that face the city skyline contain more physical features such as woodlands and rock formations.

Monochrome tiles feature in a library. A large desk with white chairs sit in the centre of the room, surrounded by large book-shelf walls.

Image caption: The Library, Hotel X

The gallery is a strong design unique selling point that positions Hotel X in a league of its own, but the adjacent library, complete with an oversized statement floor-to-ceiling bookcase, is another design centrepoint. Set in a monochrome setting, which is filtered through from the lobby area, the library’s matte-silver backdrop creates a sense of place with a carved map of the famous downtown area embossed in black paint. The space, which is open to both guests and the public, has been sensitively designed to offer guests a tranquil working environment.

The ambiance within the ground floor corridors changes from the other public areas as the walls transform from a soft cream to white light glass panels. Placed side by side, these LED flashes create a chequered wall that both reinforces the Hotel X brand while also boosts new energy in an area that is lacking natural light.

Large guestroom with orange and purple furniture. The floor-to-ceiling windows frame the skyline of Toronto

Image Credit: Hotel X, Toronto

Taking full advantage of the complete Toronto skyline, each guestroom and suite features floor-to-ceiling windows. The spacious living quarters in the suites, which are filled with natural light, blend blues, greys and blacks into dark-oak fittings. Bright, block colour in the furniture infuses the right balance of personality. The sliding doors between the living areas and the bedroom keep the space open at all times and flooded with natural light that flows, like the carpet, throughout each room. The large beds with cream headboards create another layer of calmness that is occasionally interrupted by loud accents in the furniture.

“The glass conservatory has been built on several 18th century military forts.”

New Fort Hall is a unique area of the hotel, not only for its visual appeal but also for its way of retelling history. The glass conservatory has been built on several 18th century military forts. Instead of demolishing the ruins completely, the design team incorporated them to create an eye-catching venue space. The glass floor quite literally allows visitors of the hotel to look down on the original floors of the military barracks. The room itself provides a beautifully simplistic contrast between the old beneath and the modern metropolis that can be captured through its glass.

“No stay at Hotel X is complete without a visit to the 28th floor.”

The hotel supports multi-level sports halls that have been positioned in such a way to overlook some of the city’s largest sport stadiums including BMO field. Adding to this motivation is the personalised EGE Atelier carpet, which divides each area with the lyrics to the song ‘imagine’ by John Lennon.

No stay at Hotel X is complete without a visit to the 28th floor, which is where the vision for Liberty Village’s new era of luxury was conceived from. Both the rooftop Falcon SkyBar and heated swimming pool on the top floor offer guests the ability to experience the city from a VIP-perched level. The iconic three-level bar balances relaxation, style and drama. The suede purple wingback chairs sit alongside other gold and grey suede seating that tributes the colours of the sunset that reflects off Lake Ontario.

The 404-key Hotel X is more than just another urban hotel with a view to pop up. Unlike other hotels in the area, Hotel X took on mission impossible to help transform the largely undiscovered area of Liberty Village into a luxury tourist hotspot that was also equipped to take bleisure travel to new heights. Through design lenses, it has completed that mission in style and has become a go-to destination in itself, further complementing the city skyline with effortless charm.

Editor checks in: December 2018

800 534 Hamish Kilburn

Colouring outside the trendy lines…

The sun is falling on 2018 – and this particular sunset is filtered in a warm, peachy orange glow, also known as Living Coral or Pantone 16-154.

Despite December traditionally being a month of reflection, it’s also a time to sprinkle a hint of optimism on the horizon as the industry turns its head to leading international colour experts to understand next year’s dominant shade predictions.

Dulux settled for Spiced Honey, a versatile hue that signifies warmth, positivity, purpose and transformation. Pantone, on the other hand, divided opinions by opting for Living Coral, a colour that it describes as an “animating and life-affirming coral hue with a golden undertone that energises and enlivens with a softer edge.” Having listened to both sides of the argument as to whether this is just another marketing ploy or something more significant, I have my own opinions. I believe that, regardless of anything, this colour choice has the power to raise much-needed awareness that 60 per cent of the world’s remaining reefs are now at risk of being destroyed by human activity. As far as I am concerned, a shade with that much competence in the wider context is a shade to stay. It wasn’t long before contract companies unveiled their sneak peek into how they are splashing Living Coral into their 2019 products.

“This month, Hotel Designs took its eagle reviewer eyes across borders and into the African wilderness.”

From colour to design in all five continents, one trend that isn’t going anywhere anytime soon is the timeless look and feel that many luxury hotels strive to achieve while balancing character and personality. This month, Hotel Designs took its eagle reviewer eyes across borders and into the African wilderness to unearth an unassuming luxury hotel in Zimbabwe. Matetsi Victoria Falls is the country’s answer to luxury in the bush. I will never forget the feeling of checking out of technology, checking in with myself and opening my eyes to the great outdoors in all its splendour. Leaving my phone on airplane mode for the duration, I captured one-off moments that will stay with me forever; we even saved an elephant’s life (a detail that was left out of the main review). My conclusion of Matetsi is that it is a hotel that through design evokes one-off experiences, which is the real ‘luxury’ in luxury travel.

As the year closes, and before we start layering peachy orange hues all over our walls and in our furniture, one cannot help but look back on 2018 as one of significant change. It’s been a sheer delight editing our ultimate throwback (part one and part two) to highlight this year’s most game-changing product launches. From Milan to Paris; London to New York and Dubai to Singapore, over the last 12 months, hotel design suppliers have drip-feeded us with inspiring new products that have helped our industry leap into a new era.

Exciting times are ahead of us at Hotel Designs. Optimism has been left hanging in the air since we reached more than half a million readers over the last 11 months, breaking several monthly traffic records along the way. Not only are we debuting new meet-the-buyers events next year (IDAS, HTI, CES), but we are also bringing you more juicy news and features, all of which will be displayed on a newly designed website as we continue to be the leading international hotel design website for designers, hoteliers, architects and key-industry suppliers.

Here’s to 2019!

Editor, Hotel Designs

 

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MINI VIEW: CANVAS Dallas Hotel reopens

768 511 Hamish Kilburn

The newly branded CANVAS has been reimagined by Studio 11 Design to paint a fresh industrial-chic perspective on the boutique hotel in Dallas that previously lacked colour and character… 

Guests checking in to the newly launched CANVAS Hotel Dallas should expect color outside the lines as they enter into a space where art and hospitality collide to create dynamic and contemporary interiors.

Formerly known as NYLO Dallas South Side, CANVAS Hotel Dallas is an art-centric base for modern trendsetters, an inspirational hub for relentless artisans, and a destination for locals to be creatively inspired while enjoying world-class dining and unparalleled skyline views.

“CANVAS Dallas Hotel is a timely addition to the burgeoning district of South Dallas,” said Jack Matthews, president of Matthews Southwest, lead developer and co-owner. “With a prime location in the heart of the Cedars district, and in close proximity to downtown and the convention center,
CANVAS is nestled in an eclectic neighborhood undergoing a renaissance in terms of culture, shopping, food, art, and music. This property is poised to be the destination of choice for modern travelers looking for an authentic Dallas experience that will inspire their creativity and satisfy their contemporary tastes.”

“CANVAS paints a fresh perspective of its original building.”

With 76 art-infused suites and guestrooms, CANVAS Hotel Dallas offers an authentic-yet unconventional Lone Star State adventure. As a blank slate for guests to create their own experiences, the rooms, suites, lobby area, and F&B outlets have been renovated and reimagined.

The fresh interior design, décor and artistic elements directed by Dallas-based Studio 11 Design, CANVAS paints a fresh perspective of its original building, a structure integral to the history of South Dallas that is almost a century old, that has been well-preserved, refurbished and now LEED certified.

Upon entering, guests are made to feel at home in the refreshed first-level lobby and restaurant with elements that portray a living room-feel. Intimate seating areas foster common social spaces in the eclectic industrial space, adorned with locally discovered and bespoke accessories from the Dallas area. The restaurant’s dining area converts into flexible meeting space, divided by a sliding glass partition.

The guestrooms and suites feature quirky, loft-style design and décor, with 10-12 foot high ceilings, pressed concrete flooring, exposed brick, and funky industrial elements and fixtures. New custom carpeting, two lighting and art has been installed in all public areas and guest hallways, and the lobby has been reconfigured to be more conducive to social gatherings, common work areas and meeting the needs of the modern hotel guest. More room renovations are slated for 2019.

From palette to palate, CANVAS Hotel Dallas brings two art-inspired restaurants and lounges to the South Side of Dallas. Chef’s Palette is the redesigned first-level lounge and restaurant where every plate is a tasteful expression of culinary creation.

Meanwhile, the rooftop bar formerly known as SODA has been redesigned and renamed The Gallery Rooftop Lounge. The indoor/outdoor lounge offers a sweeping 270-degree view of the Dallas skyline, but the vista isn’t the only masterpiece at The Gallery. From chef-centric food offerings, to handcrafted cocktails and eclectic art by up-and-coming Dallas artists, everything at The Gallery Rooftop Lounge is an ode to originality.

Whether guests are experiencing the hotel for the first time or whether they are locals enjoying the sharp and quirky public areas, the whole hotel has been lifted and redesigned to inspire. CANVAS Hotel Dallas will officially open on January 1, 2019.

 

Checking in to Matetsi Victoria Falls – Zimbabwe’s answer to luxury

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
Checking in to Matetsi Victoria Falls – Zimbabwe’s answer to luxury

Travelling 7,500 miles to Zimbabwe, editor of Hotel Designs Hamish Kilburn learns more about the design direction of one of the country’s most luxurious hotel offerings, the award-winning Matetsi Victoria Falls

Beyond the baobab trees – which are said to be sacred among the locals because of the natural healing powers they lock within their roots.

The dehydrated shrubs on the African soil, elephants, hyenas, zebras, warthogs, leapards and lions sits an award-winning luxury riverside hotel that is indubitably one of the most luxurious offerings in Zimbabwe.

After 15 minutes 4x4ing the dirt road into the heart of the 123,000-acre (55,000 hectres) reserve, we arrive at Matetsi Victoria Falls, a place that promises luxury, comfort and unmatched style. “I have the largest back yard in Africa,” jokes the owner John Gardiner who greets me on arrival. And with nothing between us and the natural safari, my experience in the African bush begins.

The entrance of the hotel is framed by three traditional Mokoro (dug-out) canoes, which hang from wooden beams and sway in harmony with the soft Zambezi breeze. With no need for a traditional lobby, guests are immediately welcomed into the indoor-outdoor public areas complete with a copper bar and durable outdoor sofas and chairs scattered in a home-from-home setting that has been designed around nature, and not the other way round. “We didn’t take out a single tree when designing these camps, because we wanted these areas to remain as close to nature as we could,” said interior designer Kerry van Leenhoff , a previous graduate from Cape Town University of Technology who was hand-selected by Gardiner and totally supported in all her decisions. Using the striking vista of the Zambezi River, which flows towards the tremendous Victoria Falls, dining tables are placed in such a way to make every meal one to remember. “The lobby areas have been designed in order to encourage guests to connect with people and nature,” adds van Leenhoff.

As we approach suite 17 – AKA, my home for the next four nights – I am reminded just how ‘in the sticks’ we are, catching a glimpse of an elephant and a giraffe just metres from each other as my key enters the lock. I open the heavy, black teak front door, which was recycled and polished from the previous lodge, and the room is immediately filled with light. Interestingly enough, though, this was not the case when the hotel first opened, as van Leenhoff explains: “When the hotel first opened and the guests gave us their feedback, we realised that we needed to revisit the lighting, especially in the public areas,” she says. “So we added some more outdoor feature lighting around the trees and columns in order to really pronounce what we felt were the important and dramatic areas of the hotel.” However, my immediate attention is not on the lighting. Instead, my imagination is taken over by the striking panoramic view of the Zambezi River, which I later find out is home to legend; the locals believe that a famous God is said to protect the flowing waters, and his name is Nyami Nyami. As legend goes, the spirit which is often depicted as half snake half fish, protects life in and around the river.

The River Lodge Suite is everything you would expect of a luxury lodge in the bush, and so much more. The skin of matepi latte creates an organic ceiling and roof – and this material does more than just give a nod to the location. This decision was made in order to keep the lodge blending into its location and celebrate Zimbabwean culture. “It was really important for us to work with skilled craftsmen and women from our culture,” explains van Leenhoff. “We have such a diverse culture with about 16 different tribes and languages. We mainly focused around the Tonga tribes as we were by the river.” The result is that from the far side of the river, you can’t actually see where the hotel starts and ends, which suggests even further that the whole property has been created with nature in mind.

Van Leenhoff decided to take Matetsi’s love for nature and the environment and inject it into the fabrics and the walls. The result is a naturally calming, peaceful abode, which empowers an everlasting feeling of total luxury and relaxation. Modern high-quality furniture and hand-scultpted trunks of trees used as tables create the perfect blend of modern, luxury and timeless décor.

All 18 suites have been thoughtfully curated and the hotel is a credit to the talent of van Leenhoff. The art, for example is by Helen Teede who spent much time on site at Matetsi in order to find the inspiration of a unique collection of 18 paintings entitled ‘Mapping Matetsi’. Having done extensive walks and drives in the area, Teede divided the cartographic map of Matetsi unit seven into 18 parts and drew it to scale on each canvas, adding her own impressions of the river, the landscape and the pathways walked in the area, both man and animal-made. These 18 paintings hang separately in each suite. However, put together and these pieces of art actually form the aerial map of the reserve.

With the privilege of space, the hotel shelters two camps: East Camp, West Camp and one large villa, River House, which sits in between the two camps. Interestingly, the whole team – chefs, butlers, housekeeping, back-of-house staff – alternate between both East and West camp every couple of weeks in order to maintain the property and keep service personable at all times.

Gardiner, who I first met in London just a few weeks before my trip, is the real visionary behind the property surrounding the reserve. A local Zimbabwean hotelier, Gardiner has transformed the reserve since acquiring it in 2014 and aims to “give back to Zimbabwe”. With the help of his team, who all share Gardiner’s love for nature, he has restored and conserved the natural wildlife within the reserve by building various watering holes, 15 in total with a further 10 in the pipeline, I am told.

Before I check out, I have an opportunity to exclusively discuss the future of Matetsi with the team and how it plans to expand its luxury arm. “We are working on a few things at the moment, which are really exciting projects,” adds van Leenhoff. “The design direction and our aim is to strike the balance between feeling isolated and feeling safe.” The new plans will further challenge conventional luxury lodges in Africa with a real focus on opening up the guests to undisturbed nature.

The future sounds exciting and it’s clear that the design team and the hotel are totally in sync with ideas, vision and what luxury in Africa should look like. I leave Matetsi and Zimbabwe having cemented my respect in African design and culture. I am grateful that the reserve’s calming atmosphere allowed me to relax and escape from the lively London scene, if not only for a few days.

Key suppliers

Guest Suites-
Tables/ Headboards/ Beds- Adam Seager Furniture (ZIM)
Upholstery – Fiona Edmunds (ZIM)
Desks/ Luggage racks/ Wardrobes/ Lounge chairs – Nigel Joselyn (ZIM)
Pottery Pendants and Chandeliers- Chart Pottery (ZIM)
Beaded Ottomans- CHIPO women’s group (ZIM)
Spring stone Basins- Tonderayi Mahachi (ZIM)
Bamboo Lights- STEP Trust (ZIM)
Floor lamps- Collaboration between Bruce Elliot & Tonderayi Mahachi (ZIM)
Porcupine wastepaper baskets- Lupane Women’s Centre (ZIM)
Basin Tops- Zambezi Roots (ZIM)
Bath- Euro trends (SA)
Sanitary ware- Antique baths (SA)
Nguni Cowhides- Holly Hudson (ZIM)
Ceramics- Marjorie Wallace: Mutapo (ZIM)
Mirrors- Brigette Lotter (ZIM)

Main areas-
Dining tables- Adam Seager Furniture (ZIM)
Woven Screens- Collaboration between Jane Taylor & Judith Ncube of Matabeleland Weavers (ZIM)
Curated Tables- Helen Teede (ZIM)
Bar and Interactive kitchen- Collaboration between Adam Seager & Copperwares (ZIM)
Woven Poufs – Lupane Women’s Centre (ZIM)
Wrought Iron lights- Misty Edwards (ZIM)
Pottery Pendants and Chandeliers- Chart Pottery (ZIM)
Reed mats- Newlands Craft Market (ZIM)
Shop – Nigel Joselyn (ZIM)
Sofas- Fiona Edmunds (ZIM)
Coco chairs- Coricraft (SA)
Chairs/ Bar stools- Weylandts (SA)
Boardroom table- Collaboration between Zambezi Roots & Complete Steel (ZIM)
Ceramics- Marjorie Wallace: Mutapo (ZIM)
Wine cellar Chandeliers- Basil & Lindy Rowlands (ZIM)
Wine cellar- Ruwa Furniture (ZIM)

Editor checks in: November 2018

Hamish Kilburn

And that’s a wrap!

Show Season 2018 was a delicious cocktail of all the freshest, and tastiest, ingredients. Served up in a number of containers, each event unique in its structure, content and general look and feel. Sheltering insights of the future as well as game-changing product launches, the whole season has been one to remember, as we will review in next month’s Spotlight On feature.

Following the incredible activities, exclusives and far too many after parties that surrounded Show Season 2018, the industry was in desperate need of a show-stopping climax. And that, this year, came in the fashionable form of The Brit List 2018, which showed up in an unlikely – yet warmly received – location and delivered an evening of celebrations and understated glamour. Deliberately designed this year take the industry outside of the hotel arena, The Brit List 2018 took place in a private members club, BEAT London. Enjoying that scene, and celebrating Britain’s leading figures in hotel design, were guests from the likes of Gleneagle’s Conor O’Leary, Ennismore’s Charlie North, HBA London’s Constantina Tsoutsikou, and Richmond International’s Terry McGillicuddy among many others; the room was heaving and further defined Britain as a major international hotel design hub. If you haven’t yet seen who the winners are (where have you been) click here.

Another event which settled into a new home this year, as it outgrew the Business Design Centre in Islington, was SLEEP + EAT which was warmly welcomed to Olympia London. Introducing what were, in my mind, the best Sleep Sets were four fabulous design houses, which all pushed boundaries under the umbrella theme of ‘collaboration’. HBA London partnered with the National History Museum, Yasmine Mohmoudieh linked arms with Penguin Books, AB Concept stirred the mix with Maison Pierre Hermé Paris, while Denton Corker Marshall kicked off a partnership with West Ham United. Each set was stunning and being in the audience of the Sleep Sets lecture, where each designer explained their concept, was inspiring as it was interesting; a real personal treat.

“This month has allowed our editorial team to mingle and meet up with old friends, while meeting new faces who are at the cusp of taking our industry forward.”

This month’s hotel review opened up our eyes to disobedient interiors in the shape of Hotel Gotham. Together with our photography partners, ACT Studios, we were able to bring you into the review with us. This, our second interactive hotel review, comes as the hotel group prepares to welcome a new member to the Bespoke Hotels family.

I believe that November 2018 was a significant 30 days in the calendar for designers, hoteliers, architects and key-industry suppliers for a number of reasons. The first being that it welcomed and encouraged the industry – through various means and methods – to network with like-minded people. Secondly, it invited a number of major product launches, many of which were from our Hotel Designs Recommended Suppliers (which can be accessed here). And thirdly, this month has allowed our editorial team to mingle and meet up with old friends, while meeting new faces who are at the cusp of taking our industry forward. Long may that continue!

Editor, Hotel Designs

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

Hamish Kilburn

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

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

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

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

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

2) The Brit List 2018: One week to go

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Don’t forget, you can keep up to date on all the latest happens and all the trends by following our social channels: Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram and LinkedIn

 

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Checking in to Hotel Gotham, Manchester’s decadent playground

768 513 Hamish Kilburn

As Manchester continues to turn heads on the hotel design scene, editor of Hotel Designs Hamish Kilburn checked in to check out Hotel Gotham’s bold and decadent interiors – all sheltered within a former bank…

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

Expect disruptive interiors that are balanced with effortless style and a narrative threaded throughout the whole building that will take you right back to ’20s glamour.

Manchester’s answer to Gothic-chic is often the heart of the action of the city thanks to the vivacious General Manager, Mario Ovsenjak. It’s this action captured within Hotel Gotham, almost on a need-to-know basis, that helped first raise the bar in hotel design in the North in order to compete not only against its London counterparts, but also against luxury hotels around the world. Because Hotel Gotham is, quite frankly, unlike anywhere else around the globe.

“Think Art Deco meets the Batcave.”

The concept was to create timeless luxury with the ability to take guests away from the city centre below they know and love and into a different universe entirely, all while remaining sensitive in restoring moments that capture the hotel how it used to be. Think Art Deco meets the Batcave.

The entrance, under the watchful focus of the building’s gargoyles, is surprisingly understated given its majestic shell. Designed to emphasise a theatrical greeting from magnificently dressed porters, as if themselves are part of wider performance or an extension of the interior styling, the doors to the hotel are more like a curtain to a stage. Look up and all is not what it first seems. The ceiling is made up of numerous upside-down umbrellas – not for the superstitious I must add – painted in black and gold. These elements are special because they didn’t quite work out according to the original plan. These items were supposed to arrive painted gold underneath and black on top, but it wasn’t until the interior designers erected the first one when they realised that they had been designed to be gold on top and black underneath. Today, the subtle reference to Manchester’s inevitable downpour is cleverly injected and hides the secret well.

Checking in on the sixth floor is an unusual experience to say the least, but an experience I have seen work before, at the W Amsterdam for example. Unlike the raucous, wild and fashion-forward W brand, though, Hotel Gotham’s lobby experience is private and provides and secluded and personal welcome. Just a few steps along and guests are greeted into a large and airy Honey Restaurant, with its own personality. The hotel describes this place as “Whatever Honey conjures up for you”, the 2 AA Rosette awarded restaurant offers guests to dine overlooking Manchester from an unmatched perspective.

Downstairs, the guestrooms and suites shelter the true character of Hotel Gotham. Disruptive interiors balance a seductive, playful misé en scene, yet still feel like a home from home – like a modern designer’s sanctuary… The zig-zagged, soft Newhey carpets and the striking pink accents in the furniture and the inside of the drinks cabinet add flair in all the right corners. Meanwhile, the oversized beds, complete with faux fur throws, make lying-in a privilege.

Challenging the convention of traditional luxury hotels, the most premium category rooms at Hotel Gotham do not boast the most premium views of the city – in fact they boast no view at all. Instead, cleverly I believe, the five Inner Sanctum Suites – each named after an iconic Manchester figure and featuring a huge ‘wonderwall’ screen – are vaulted within the core of the building. Windowless and worlds away from anything happening in the city below, the suites’ sharp cinema screen projections onto panelled wallcoverings offer various atmospheres, not just the one that Manchester wants you to see, including the intriguing narrative of Hotel Gotham characters.

The real showstopper is located on the top floor (floor seven), and is reserved for guests and members only. The history of the building is quite literally written on the walls in the bar. The surfaces are lathered in gold, giving more than just a subtle nod to the bank that the building used to shelter. The bar and lounge area naturally over-spills onto four separate terraces that together capture a jaw-dropping view over the city and beyond.

Bespoke Hotels recently announced that it was to open the 191-key The Brooklyn to Manchester, which will pay ‘homage to the Golden Age of New York City’. This follows Top Hotel Projects revealing a rather large development growth of luxury hotels in Manchester, with 18 first-class and luxury hotel projects listed for the city with 2,907 rooms in the pipeline – eight of which are slated to be unveiled in 2019. The Brooklyn, which will become the younger brother – or sister – of Hotel Gotham, is expected to share the same disobedience, and rightly so, as the hotel group arguably continues to lead the way in the city with endless possibilities that help to broaden the ever-changing landscape of hotel design in the North.

Key suppliers list: 

Carpets – Newhey Carpet
Lighting – RS Robertsons
Curtains –  Robena Contract Furnishings Limited
Furniture (pink seating)  – Style Matters
Desk – PTT design
Bathroom toilet, basin and shower – Marflow

Image credits: ACT Studios

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MINIVIEW: The Academy, London

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Editor of Hotel Designs Hamish Kilburn joins Alexandra Champalimaud herself to take a closer look of the new London boutique hotel that is on everyone’s lips at the moment…

Located in London’s more literary neighbourhood of Bloomsbury, The Academy Hotel, has revealed details of its million-pound interior design refurbishment. The hotel, which is part of YTL Hotels’ UK portfolio, has been designed by Alexandra Champalimaud and her skilful team whose portfolio includes The Gainsborough Bath and Spa and soon-to-open Monkey Island in Berkshire. The team worked close with the hotel group to convert the five Georgian townhouses into a charming, sophisticated and historical experience for guests who are checking in.

Inspired by the Bloomsbury Set who lived and worked there in the early 20th century, the interior design of the newly completed hotel is a tasteful blend of modern and vintage. The design team have perfectly balanced giving a nod to the building’s past while also drawing on inspiration from modern-day London.

The guestrooms

Each of the 50 elegant guest rooms have been designed to celebrate 240 years of the Georgian hotel’s history. High ceilings and sash windows give light-filled rooms an immediate sense of calm, which en-suite marble bathrooms and high king-sized beds (something I have noticed Champalimaud to love) add to the luxury. The soft furnishings of each guest room have been meticulously chosen to combine timeless glamour and fresh, contemporary city style. Statement walls feature fanciful wallpaper from Cole & Son, which arm chair, cushion and curtain fabrics have been sourced from Lee Sofa, a company that has been producing prints and fabric since 1823, and British brand Osborne & Little, among others.

Quick-fire round

Hamish Kilburn: What is your favourite colour this season?
Alexandra Champalimaud: I favour classic colours that don’t abide by trends. Rust orange, rich shades of blue, and green.
HK: What’s your advice to emerging designers?
AC: Believe in everything that you do.
HK: What is your number-one travel essential?
AC: Floracopeia Aged Patchouli oil
HK: What’s the secret to success in this world of hotel interior design?
AC: Challenges are opportunities to create something more awe inspiring than you may have initially thought – there are always changes, change in budget, change in schedule, perhaps the entire project gets scratched – but these are opportunities to bring more to the table. Charisma and good humour will also take you far.
HK: Biggest inspiration in your career?
AC: My team. At Champalimaud we have an unparalleled group of individuals in our New York based office, they make coming into work an absolute joy.

Beyond the guest rooms the hotel is brimming with personality and thoughtful design touched. On the ground level, the cosy Alchemy Bar which feature stunning olive-green velvet armchairs, marble-top tables and statement Liberty wallpaper, which leads out onto a sunlit-flooded garden, a rare feature for a hotel located in the centre of London. “Tapping into Bloomsbury’s storied past, we were inspired to create a space that is intimate, fresh and rich with charisma and narrative.”

 

 

Checking in to The Gainsborough Bath and Spa

800 537 Hamish Kilburn

Editor of Hotel Designs Hamish Kilburn checks in to the only hotel in Bath that taps into the natural thermal springs of the city, designed by the one and only Alexandra Champalimaud…

“First and foremost, the location is what really sets this project apart,” says Alexandra Champalimaud who, to me, looks far too composed and relaxed for two reasons as we meet for breakfast. For starters, although her soft English accent would suggest otherwise, Champalimaud is actually based in the loud, sleepless city of New York. And secondly, we are catching up at the same time of London Design Festival, when more than 450,000 designers, architects and creatives from around the globe descend onto the capital to catch the latest trends, discussions and product launches. Never before has the analogy of a duck above water been so apt than in this situation right now, and it’s inspiring to watch. “Bath is an actual treasure, a world UNESCO World Heritage Site, and frankly I think it’s one of the most magical places in the UK,” she says passionately as we begin to talk about The Gainsborough Bath and Spa, the five-star hotel that stole both of our hearts.

A few weeks before, I was checking in to the hotel for the first time. The precious interiors and renowned spa that are housed within The Gainsborough Bath and Spa are on a need to know basis. Tucked away from the rest of the town, yet very central in its address, the hotel among the locals is known for its luxury edge over the rest of the hotels in the area.

Just a two-hour drive from London’s thick smoke (and even quicker on the train), the feeling of tranquilly is immediately apparent upon arrival. “I can always tell if a guest is from London,” said Brian Benson, the hotel’s general manager as I arrived through the doors and into the large, open lobby. “Our guests from London always arrive in a hurry and look stressed. What I love about my job, and this hotel, is that guests always leave calmer than when they arrived.”

The lobby at The Gainsborough

Image caption: The lobby at The Gainsborough

Like many buildings in the hilly town of Bath, the hotel was once a Georgian-era hospital. The British painter Thomas Gainsborough had spent time there, which inspired the name. “The building itself looks grand, but it’s actually quite cosy,” says Champalimaud. “There’s an intimacy there that’s unmatched by other hotels in the area. The building is also Grade II listed; visitors will find that there are a lot of original details throughout the hotel.”

“Champalimaud and her team have created several dramatic scenes within the hotel’s public areas.”

The hotel’s look and feel is – like its staff – inviting, warm and naturally comfortable to be around. Deliberate attention to detail has been given to ensure that the modern hotel gives an appropriate nod to its storied past, with several references of traditional items evident in the public areas. Such as the Turin Portantina Seden Chair, which once in the 17th Century was used to carry royalty and now sits at the bottom of the main staircase in the lobby, creating a lasting first impression. The artefact is one of around 50 known to exist of its shape.

-The Gainsborough Restaurant

Image caption: -The Gainsborough restaurant

Champalimaud and her team have created several dramatic scenes within the hotel’s public areas. “We realised that we didn’t want to detract from the building’s historical charm, but simply enhance it,” says Champalimaud. “Whenever possible, we highlighted some of the hotel’s original features by employing design details that were reflective of the Roman and Georgian history of the city. Overall, the design is transitional – weaving in the classic English cosiness with a contemporary point of view.” One of these moments is the dynamically obscure chandelier that hangs in between the large main staircase. Another example of drama is quite literally written on the walls. Several pieces of contemporary art around the hotel, at first, look impressive and well placed. However, when learning that the artists are in fact local art students, the walls all of sudden have a different dimension. “What do you think it is,” said the waiter as I stood in front of a large abstract art piece which was full of dashes and colour. Tilting my head, I saw it. The piece of art, again imagined and created by local student artists was a contemporary representation of the restaurant we were actually stood in.

The Canvas Room at The Gainsborough

Image caption: The Canvas Room at The Gainsborough

On the lower level, the hotel’s main unique selling point is another classy reference to the town’s infamous past. The spa, which I have read about – and have wanted to experience – since it opened, is incomparable. It’s truly world-class, a feeling that has recently been shared by Condé Nast Traveller readers who have just voted it the second-best spa in the UK. That may well be because it is the only hotel spa in the city that actually taps into the natural thermal springs, meaning that the several therapy pools are all organically heated. “The spa is a dream,” says Champalimaud. “Located near one of the town’s thermal reserves the spa pool inside of the hotel contains the sought after precious healing waters that made Bath so famous.”

suite

Image caption: The Gainsborough

Although much of the attention at the hotel in the press is focused on the spa, the guestrooms and suites are equally as striking and impressive. Dressed to feel appropriately residential, with a colour palatte of duck egg blue, white and soft browns. My suite (room number 310) was defined as a junior suite, complete with a large living area, modest bathroom and a large bedroom. “Georgian design references are very much present in the guestrooms,” explained Champalimaud. “We wanted the rooms to feel comfortable, yet rich, so we focused on creating delicate layers with the tones, textures, and furnishings within them. The colours are contemporary and alluring while maintaining an air of subtlety – conjuring a sense of quiet. A number of the guestrooms have high ceilings that we accentuated with long curtains trimmed with a Roman inspired border, which complements the ornately patterned carpet. The furniture is all contemporary with a classic familiarity.”

guestroom

Image credit: The Gainsborough

Despite the design project running relatively smoothly, as with all grade II listed structures, unexpected delays in the design process were almost inevitable. “Since we were working with a Grade II structure, we had to be patient with the construction phase of the project,” explained Champalimaud. “The building had to be excavated as ancient artifacts were found while they were breaking ground – which was unexpected. From an interiors perspective, the hotel’s listing made us very mindful of maintaining the building’s original integrity with every design decision we made.”

Since experiencing the hotel in all its finery, The Gainsborough Bath and Spa has entered a special place in my heart – which is the same, it seems, for among many of its visitors who walk through its calming entrance. A little more than 100 miles from the centre of London, it is a South west gem, and certainly gives five-star hotels in the captital a run for their money. I checked out of The Gainsborough Bath and Spa and left with a much lower heart rate from when I arrived and a new-found appreciation for Georgian heritage buildings that shelter stunning hotels spas. The answer, perhaps, is in the waters.

 

 

 

Large suite in King Street Townhouse

Checking in to King Street Townhouse, Manchester

800 447 Hamish Kilburn

With hotel design in the north enjoying a major moment, editor of Hotel Designs Hamish Kilburn checked in to the design-led King Street Townhouse, to marvel over Manchester from a totally unique perspective…

“Manchester is a shrinking violet,” said no designer, ever! It’s impossible to ignore the scale of construction that is happening right now in the UK’s third largest city. It has become, in its own right, a hive for hotel design and is going through what is reported to be one of the largest city centre developments the north has ever seen. According to TOPHOTELPROJECTS, there are currently 18 first-class and luxury hotel projects listed for Manchester with 2,907 rooms in the pipeline. Seven of these projects are scheduled to open before the end of the year – and a further eight are slated to be unveiled in 2019.

This has pushed open the floodgates to the launch of new hotels and turning a page to a new chapter of class, character and style – and the striking hotels are making London just a little bit jealous with the city’s jaggedly jaw-dropping cityscape skyline as a major focus.

The building itself was originally designed by local Mancunian architect Edward Salomons

Cue the launch of King Street Townhouse, which adds to the growing portfolio of the Eclectic Hotel Collection. The 40-key boutique hotel is small enough to have its own quirky personality but not to ever be confused with insignificant in any stretch of the imagination – its trendy interiors certainly make up for size. Located on Booth Street, on the fringe of the city’s central retail district, the hotel has attracted more than just city travellers and the occasional editor. The hotel has become ‘the place to visit’ for those wanting to experience the city from a totally unique perspective.

The building itself was originally designed by local Mancunian architect Edward Salomons and originally built in 1872 for the Manchester Salford Trustees Bank. The Eclectic Hotel Collection unveiled the hotel at the end of 2015 with the aim to respectfully expand on the allure and unique qualities of this historic building with a baby grand hotel providing the need for new contemporary accommodation in the area.

“The rich history in each of our properties is a part of our charm at Eclectic Hotels,” said Eamonn O’Loughlin, Founder of The Eclectic Hotel Collection in a press release. “Our intention was to respectfully expand on the allure and unique qualities of this historic building with our baby grand hotel providing the need for new, luxurious, contemporary accommodation in the area.”

Checking in to the hotel is an intimate experience. Guests turn left to a small, functional check-in desk. Monochrome tiles lead the way toward the grand staircase and a single lift. The wallpaper in each of the corridors is fun and quirky.

Each guestroom at the hotel is different, I mean really different. Because of its boutique label, the hotel owners were able to play around with different looks in each of the 40 rooms and suites. The result is that in each room, something different stands out. For example, in one room I viewed, an intricate headboard immediately attracted attention, giving the room a delicate feel. In another, a large free-standing bath, positioned under the window frame, sits on a slab of tiles.

Room 10

With the hotel being sheltered within a grade II listed building, the modern architects AEW Architects were limited as to what they could change. Using this as an opportunity for the hotel to give a nod to the heritage, the team worked on ways of how they could balance modern into the sensitive project.

Art, as it should be in all hotels, is a major focus. Many of the pieces have been curated to obviously depict major milestones in the city’s history while avoiding looking and feeling too cliché. Although the theme is the city, each room has a different take on what Manchester means.

Upstairs on the seventh floor is where the real point-of-difference is situated. The hotel is the only one in Manchester to have its own rooftop infinity pool, offering a totally unparalleled perspective over the city that stretches out towards the iconic Town Hall, Beetham Tower and the horizon beyond.

Just below that on the sixth floor is an open terrace and a suitable meetings and events venue area that recently and appropriately sheltered Hotel Designs Meet Up North.

From up high to down low, the The Cellars are reserved for the best screening seats in the house. Its own luxury cinema, in fact, and a private wine tasting room, complete with original red-bricked ceilings and walls create a unmatched atmosphere.

The Eclectic Hotel Collection currently operates a total of four destinations within Manchester and has a wealth of knowledge in respectfully converting historic buildings.

Overall, King Street Townhouse is a striking example of how Manchester is cutting the ribbon on design gems that have been designed to create unforgettable moments – moments that help lift an Instagram feed to new heights. The small hotel with a big personality – and even larger heritage – certainly makes its mark and turns a new page of luxury in the cultural and eclectic city of Manchester.

Opposites attract at Wyndham Grand Phuket Kalim Bay

800 533 Hamish Kilburn

Nestled behind vibrant streets, where thousands of Gap-Year backpackers find shelter in cheap hostels, rises a luxury hotel with personality, style and unmatched ocean views. Editor Hamish Kilburn checks in to the Wyndham Grand Phuket Kalim Bay to see for himself how opposites in South East Asia can attract after all…

Perched on a hilltop facing south, with Phuket’s Patong Beach to the left, Wyndham Grand Phuket Kalim Bay’s location was certainly not compromised when local architect Rachapuk Sungkhaphunt from Greenity Co. Ltd designed the foundations of what was said to be ‘a new kind of luxury’ away from the wild, bustling and polluted streets behind Patong Beach.

Exterior of the hotel

Image caption: Exterior of the hotel

Opened in December 2016, the hotel offers 214 elegantly appointed guestrooms and private villas as well as large public areas throughout. The hotel’s structure was thoughtfully designed using the natural landscape as a tool to stagger the individual blocks so that from all corners of the hotel, guests can marvel over the sweeping ocean vistas that extend over the Andaman Sea.

Guestroom image with stunning ocean views

Image caption: The hotel has been designed to capture striking views of the A Sea

Approachable by design, simplicity, minimalism and copious amount of space, interior designer Voravee Puranasamriddhi from Bangkok-based firm 1328 Pt Ltd led the interiors throughout the hotel. Vast emptiness and unused space captured my first impressions of the public areas. That’s because at first there is little to see, as the finest areas are rightfully to be enjoyed by guests only, and clearly detached from the loud streets across the bay.

Tall floor-to-ceiling glass doors open into a refined, elegant space

Designed to reflect more of a terminal than a lobby, the first building guests walk into when checking in on the ground floor is bare and offers just enough facilities for a member of staff to tick you off the list and direct you on. It shelters a constant flow of traffic and once guests have been filtered through this system they are picked up by a car and driven to the main lobby, which is situated three floors above the first terminal.

Unlike the main entrance, the lobby is striking with a strong, solid check-in desk sat in the middle of a modern, light and airy room. Tall floor-to-ceiling glass doors open into a refined and elegant space, while intricate wallcoverings, designed to replicate corral, burst with personality. The furniture is simple yet comfortable with under-seat lighting reflecting off the ceramic flooring.

Image caption: Lobby area

All guestrooms and suites are Asian-inspired with a modern touch. Wooden floors, warm colours and floor-to-ceiling windows create a blissful sanctuary allowing guests to unwind and take in the jaw-dropping views.

A control panel next to the large bed allows guests to personalise the ambiance to suit every mood

Offering by far, though, the most luxurious experience is the Luxury Private Pool Villa Panoramic Ocean View, which sit in the middle of the complex. Designed to blend Asian decor with Western, modern, spacious living – complete with a private infinity pool and decking – the abode allows you to enjoy the panoramic vistas of the bay from a premium perspective – whether that be on the balcony or on the edge of your own infinity pool, accessible from the decking, the living room and the large bathroom.

Image caption:  Luxury Private Pool Villa Panoramic Ocean View

Each of the resort’s 152 pool villas, the most in the Kalim-Patong area, feature a private outdoor sundeck and a six- or nine-metre infinity pools overlooking the ocean, providing guests checking in with privacy and seclusion as well as ultimate comfort and relaxation.

The lighting in the room is tasteful and well-designed. A control panel next to the large bed allows guests to personalise the ambiance to suit every mood. In addition to spotlight lighting, two pendants hang from the ceiling either side of the large bed. This, I believe, adds another dimension to the minimalist setup.

The bathrooms are large and again offer unmatched views through floor-to-ceiling windows that open completely so that the panoramic view is never sacrificed. A large twin tub sits above the infinity pool. Next to it is the walk-in rainfall shower. Above the large twin sink is an oversized mirror that reflects a spacious home-away-from-home feel.

Outside seating area at L'atitude 98 restaurant

Image caption: Outside seating area at L’atitude 98 restaurant

Dining at Wyndham Grand Phuket Kalim Bay has been designed to capture a multisensorial experience with two restaurants serving authentic Thai cuisine and international favourites amidst breathtaking sea views.

What I respect most about this hotel is that it may be a stones throw away from provocative streets of Patong Beach, but it is worlds away from the ‘in your face’ attitude that’s evident across the bay.

Wyndham Hotels and Resorts now has more than 9,000 properties worldwide. Recently, Hotel Designs sat down with the new Managing Director (EMEA) to discover what the next chapter for the hotel group looks like.

 

Pastel palette in Legacy Suite

Checking in to Gleneagles, Scotland

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Intrigued to find out to what extent the power of interior design can lift a building, editor of Hotel Designs Hamish Kilburn checked in to review the one and only Gleneagles…

Positioned in 344 hectares of land, under Perthshire’s Ochil Hills, is a Scottish jewel. The ever-majestic Gleneagles first soared to be a natural star in the spotlight when it first opened its grand doors in 1924. Its ‘cutting of the ribbon’ was celebrated with Scotland’s first ever outside broadcast, and these moments of the hotel’s many milestones can be found injected into the fabrics of many pockets of the today’s Gleneagles.

Since the 1920s, ‘The Glen’ has served many important purposes and duties outside of being a luxury hotel in the country hills. During WW2, like many hotels of its time, it was converted into a hospital. In 2005, it witnessed world leaders tackle tough debates at the 31st G8 Summit. And most recently, in 2014, it’s famous golf course was the stage of the Ryder Cup.

With all great hotels, comes great renovations – and in this case even larger responsibility in maintaining a priceless charm throughout. In 2016, just after the hotel was sold to the ‘hipster team’ behind Hoxton Hotels, Ennismore, a multi-million-pound upgrade was announced. Calling for sensitive brushes and creative minds, the task to revamp the building fell onto the shoulders of four leading design firms under watchful eye of lead architecture firm 3D Reid. David Collins Studio, Timorous Beasties, Macaulay Sinclair and Goddard Littlefair together gave the hotel more than just a lick of paint. Instead, they bravely and boldly went about redesigning, re-crafting and to some degree restructuring the hotel to ensure that it created both a warm and inviting space which also gave an appropriate nod to its history in all the right places.

As I enter the building and walk up the steps, my pre-conceived perceptions of what I thought would be an overly stuffy and ‘far too posh’ hotel are immediately erased. Instead, thanks to the wonderful work of David Collins Studio, the large, airy lobby, which sits on luscious green carpet, creates the kind of first impression that many hotels from around the world can only strive to achieve.

Long corridors at Gleneagles

Image credit: Goddard Littlefair

The long corridors, designed by Goddard Littlefair and lit by Heathfield, are unlike any I have walked through before. It took 20 minutes for me to reach my suite. The fascinating art and original memorabilia, conceived by ARTIQ, hang on delicate gold chains as a further reminder of what the hotel walls have witnessed over the years. Although each piece is different, together they tell a tale of rich Scottish tradition, which is further explored in the rooms.

The guestroom experience

The Legacy Suite on the fourth floor is, like all the other 25 suites, aptly named after famous Scottish whiskey. The left door to room 404 opens into what is a large and comfortable living area, while the right door to 405 opens onto the bedroom. With a timeless pastel palette, the whole suite is outlined by wood panelling, which creates a high-end residential style throughout.

Formed of a lobby area, lounge, bedroom, bathroom and a dressing room, the overall look and feel of The Legacy Suite is that of a club lounge, where Chesterfield sofas and robust, hard-wearing materials reflect sporting activities and the feel of country life.

A sense of place is very much underlined in the design of the estate-like rooms. Goddard Littlefair worked with local craftsmen, fabric producers and upholsterers wherever possible, referencing the many classic fabrics Scotland is renowned for, supporting Scottish businesses and paying respect to long-standing links between the hotel and particular manufacturers.

The lounge is complete with an upholstered leather sofa, club chairs in olive-green buttoned leather, as well as a bespoke coffee table and a dining area that seats four people comfortably.

Separating the living area from the bedroom – something that not many other hotels can achieve because of lack of space – is a quirky corridor which leads to an unparalleled view which stretches over the estate. This area allows the suite to naturally breathe and very much makes the room look and feel large and spacious.

Image caption: The Legacy Suite (rooms 404 & 405)

The bedroom on the other side of the suite is a plush oasis with the same soft hues as what is in the living room, again creating a warm and inviting atmosphere. The oversized burgundy headboard is comforting, while natural light floods in through the panelled windows, which again look out onto the grounds. The flooring is a bespoke carpet and the rugs were sourced from India with varying colourways and designs selected individually to work the scheme. The rugs are in taupe with hints of green, a further nod to its luscious location.

The en-suite hand-picked marble bathroom is, quite frankly, fit and designed for a king. It is complete with a large bath on one side and a high-powered separate shower on the other, which is divided appropriately with vanity units and square basins from Villeroy & Boch with Perrin & Rowe brass finish taps. Completing the bathroom are ornate mirrors with an antique finish to communicate a timeless feel that marries up with the building’s age.

Image caption: The Birnam Brasserie

Elsewhere in the hotel, the public areas are equally impressive. The hotel shelters no less than nine bars and restaurants – of which the Strathearn is the main one and most formal. The Birnam Brasserie, designed by Ennismore Design Studio stands out as it is, unlike what I imagined, a casual dining experience designed in a conservatory-like space with many plants around the restaurant – including a full-sized living wall – playing on the concept of indoor-outdoor living to perfection.

American Bar

Image credit: The American Bar

Every decent hotel experience should end with a night cap in the bar. The award-winning American Bar, designed by David Collins Studio, is the perfect setting for such a thing. Layered with cashmere walls, the bar is a time machine taking guests back to the 1920s, complete with just the right injection of ’20s glamour, without the cliché glitz.

Meeting rooms

The glue that holds the whole meeting experience together, in my opinion, is the newly unveiled Ochil House. Inspired by the original private members clubs, Ennismore Design Studio has carved out each of the six rooms available to hire to create light, open and refined meeting spaces. Named after their original rooms in the hotel – including The Card Room, The Reading Room, The Writing Room and The Broadcasting Room – these spaces give an appropriate nod to the hotel’s storied history.

Image caption: Ochil House

“The overarching ambition of the design was to inspire, arouse ideas and stimulate conversation – encouraging guests to look around, explore and discuss, rather than sit at a table in a blank function room,” said Charlie North, design director at Ennismore. “It’s a reinvention of the meeting space concept – somewhere that’s not just practical but also beautiful, as well as homely, welcoming and fun – and a place where people naturally want to gather and enjoy conversation.”

Since checking out of Gleneagles, London – or anywhere for that matter – hasn’t quite looked or felt the same. The majestic countryside estate in the heart of Scotland made a lasting impression and it is as much a jewel today as it was in 1924.

 

Striking lighting adorns the lobby

MINIVIEW: HBA London completes a new jewel in Jerusalem

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We took a closer look at the timeless details that make up the new hotel on the block, The Orient Jerusalem by Isrotel Exclusive Collection…

Following Hotel Designs exclusive discussion with the design firm’s senior designer Constantina TsoutsikouHBA London has completed the interiors of The Orient Jerusalem by Isrotel Exclusive Collection.

Beginning with the cherished Song of Jerusalem ‘A timeless love song to the city’, the hotel’s interiors were inspired by the extraordinary layers of history, culture and artistry as well as the sheer beauty of the indigenous stone which bathes the city in a golden hue.

The Orient sits at the entrance to Jerusalem’s historically rich and increasingly cosmopolitan German Colony district. It combines two exquisite 19th century Templar houses, which have been restored and reinvented as a collection of more than 200 luxury guestrooms, with a modern nine-storey building crowned by an elegant rooftop pool and bar.

“We were particularly blessed with this project because we not only had the city to draw on, but the influences of the German Colony’s Swabian architecture,” said Inge Moore, the former Principal of HBA London. “Jerusalem is an amazing city for a designer to work in. Everything is embraced by the golden tint of the stone, interspersed with the green of foliage and plants and with bright punches of colour in the fruits, markets, textiles and ancient decoration. Over the centuries, Jerusalem has been a melting pot of peoples, each bringing their stories and crafts and leaving a great legacy of artisanal resourcefulness.

Striking sculpture in the lobby

Artwork plays a key part throughout the hotel. Art curator Sharon Toval has emphasised Isrotel’s belief in the essential role that art has in creating spaces full of powerful associations and beauty. Like the interior design, the inspiration for the artwork was Jerusalem’s history and the land, reimagined into contemporary expression. The result is a collection of sculptures, watercolours, prints and etchings by acclaimed and emerging Israeli artists as well as by the students of Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design who undertook a year-long project to each create a sculpture relating to the city and the hotel.

The Lobby 

The journey begins within a grand atrium of glass and Jerusalem stone. The high-glazed ceiling welcomes in an abundance of natural light, that is complimented by thoughtfully positioned lighting from Northern Lights. The public area is dressed with gently gathered drapery that lends elegance to the space while also shields guests from the midday sun while softening the acoustics. Inspiration for the illuminated mosaic tiles was taken from encaustic tiles found in the Templar buildings.  The reception desk is of bronze and a chandelier with hand-blown local glass cascades through the central stairwell, suspended above a reflection pool two floors below, to captivate guests on arrival.

Dark tones in the lobby

The grand lounge bar is designed to be the beating heart of the hotel and has, as such, become a favourite hotspot for hotel’s residents and locals alike. Located just off the entrance lobby, it is an atmospheric double-height space that is a symphony of reflective and textural surfaces. The bar itself is clad in a richly grained green marble, the pattern of which has been translated into the wall covering. A composition of framed verre églomisé mirrors, together with antiqued mirror to the back of the bar, play with movement and reflections within the space.

Plush banquet seating, elegant leather covered armchairs and local lace chandeliers soften the geometric pattering and beaten metal features, while screens on each side of the bar recall the many layered views to be found in the streets of Jerusalem. Through soaring arched windows, guests can access cosy balconies overlooking the delightful outdoor courtyard below.

Courtyard dominated by striking treeThe Smadar Dining Room and Courtyard Terrace

Jerusalem stone walls carry through from the exterior facade to meet silvered mirror clad walls and glass screens etched with the pattern of the old encaustic tiles, which together poses a play of reflection, transparency and opacity that is the experience of Jerusalem. Olive wood adds to the energy of the space and forms a striking assembly of suspended panels with acoustic insulation which manage the volume of sound in this imposing room.

The dining room flows out into the courtyard – an al fresco area designed to accommodate guests throughout day and evening. From here, guests can take in the architecture of both the new and old hotel buildings.

Guestrooms – The Templar Buildings

The guestrooms in the Templar buildings are each unique in their architectural form and detailing, representing, in effect, 39 individual projects for the designers. Within the idiosyncratic spaces, the guestrooms combine luxury with elements of local handicraft to bring the authenticity of these heritage buildings to life. The blue and ivory palette is both beautiful and meaningful. These are the colours of the national flag and the “tekhelet” blue recalls the biblical blue of Judaism which, when combined with ivory tones, captures the spirit of Jerusalem. Encaustic floor tiles that flow from the bedroom into the bathrooms are similar to those found in the original buildings during restoration. Crafted wrought iron bed frames are focal points in the bedrooms with a blue leather chaise longue at the foot of each bed adding a touch of opulence.

Locally crafted, antique-style mother-of-pearl inlaid cabinetry enhances the residential feel whilst the neutral palette, tiling and use of stone emphasise the simple beauty of the old architecture. Many of the bathrooms feature a large window through which light streams in, illuminating the fittings that include aged metal basins and mixer taps, as well as a traditional free-standing copper-clad tub by Cifal.

Guestrooms – The New Building

The 205 guestrooms and suites in the new building reference local heritage and craftsmanship but within the context of a contemporary background. Studded headboards hint at the old doors of the city, lamps are artisanal, and table tops are of olive wood. The naturally warm tones of the textural woven fabrics of the drapery and upholstery are instrumental in creating a sense of tranquil luxury. Sliding panels between bedroom and bathroom open up to allow guests to appreciate the balance of natural stone, olive wood, wrought iron and plush woven fabrics across the entire space.

The 24 suites bring even further materiality and detailing as well as the addition of a spacious sitting room with deep, comfortable sofas and, in some cases, a dining area or a terrace allowing outdoor lounging and dining. The 118 sq metre Presidential Suite enjoys a deep, fully glazed dual aspect outdoor terrace. Indoor and out, guests have uninterrupted views across the panorama of Jerusalem.

Large guestroom with studded headboard and dark, natural tones

Carmel Forest Spa

Light, water and stone work in perfect harmony. It is as if the cavernous space around the pool has trapped the very source of “Jerusalem Gold” between its faceted ceiling and Jerusalem stone walls. The grand design statements of the rough-hewn lava stone feature wall with its cascading waterfall and the golden crystalline structure of the ceiling capture elements of the volcanic. Shimmering bronze chain-link is suspended along a glazed wall to obscure the gym.

In contrast to this grandeur, the seven treatment rooms, including a couple’s treatment suite, are simple and calming. They combine warm timber floors with a stone envelope and a light projection wall to create spaces where the focus is all on guest wellbeing.

Large open pool on the hotel's rooftop
Rooftop Pool and Orientop Bar

The rooftop pool and bar tops out the new building at 10th level. Guests can take full advantage of the spectacular 360 degree views over the old city walls whilst lounging in cabanas and pergolas by the poolside, or sipping cocktails in the glamourous, electric blue and white tiled bar, which has been decked out with artisan ceramic tables discovered by the designers in a local market.

“We approach every project with an open and curious mind,” explained Constantina Tsoutsikou, Creative Director of HBA London. “Our designers love to immerse themselves not just in the history and traditions of a place, but also the contemporary local culture, borrowing from both old and new to craft exceptional spaces that uniquely belong to their location.”

The Orient opens not as a contemporary hotel, but more a timeless masterpiece that has been sensitively designed in every detail to reflect the charm and character of the historic city it surrounds.

Key Suppliers:

Lighting: Northern Lights
Carpet/flooring: Timber floors May Sharon- Carpets and rugs- Brintons, Renby and  Dikla carpets
Furniture: Ahsap and  Interdecor
Wallcovering: Bruno triplet; Elite Homewear
Fabrics/textiles: Etun Fabrics
Bath fixtures: Cifial
Artwork: Sharon Toval

Armchair in front of hotel window

GUEST BLOG: Four keys that will help unlock the perfect hotel experience

800 533 Hamish Kilburn

Marketing Executive from UK Trade Furnishings Ltd Ross King explains how to create the perfect hotel experience in four steps…

The hotel industry is one of the largest in the UK, with an average occupancy rate of 76 per cent as of 2018 alone. From business trips to family holidays, hotels are in constant demand, meaning that even the smallest of stays must be treated with the highest care and detail.

However what is it that goes into the perfect hotel stay, and what should you do to deliver the ultimate hosting experience?

Key number 1: Convenience

The first element to delivering the perfect hotel experience is convenience. Every potential guest expects the ultimate in convenience, seeking relief from the normal responsibilities of everyday life.

This can be simple things like asking to take guests’ bags to their room, and having a wide-ranging menu, suitable for all pallets. This can also be more luxurious convivences such high-end amenities and special welcome baskets for guests.

These elements combined add to the feeling of relaxation and relief that every guest should feel, whether they are staying for single night or a full week.

Key number 2: Comfort

Offering convenience is pointless if your guests do not feel comfortable during your stay. From the moment guests check in right up until they leave, they must feel as comfortable as possible.

Good service can contribute to this, as well as having high quality linen, towels and other essential items that guests now expect as standard when checking in to any hotel.

Another way to ensure and comfortable experience is within the design of the rooms themselves. Depending on the market your aiming for, your design and themes will be reflective of this target market.

However, even for those looking at a high-quality image without breaking the bank, there are options available for your room designs.

Simple changes like a fresh coat of paint or new wallpaper creates a rejuvenating atmosphere, along with stylish yet functional furnishings and fittings all add to the feeling of comfort. This even stretches down to the floor, from plush carpets, vibrant tiles and even wood laminate flooring enhancing the feeling of comfort for your guests.

Key number 3: Considering everyone

Not one human being is the same. Therefore, we all have different needs, tastes and demands, which as a hotelier you should aim to meet where possible.

Say for example you have a guest requesting to visit a local aquarium. Why not offer some recommendations to make them feel special and appreciated.

Perhaps you have guests with certain eating requirements? Offering a custom menu would leave a fantastic impression; even if such a thing may seem a little ad hoc for most hoteliers

Key number 4: Customise your approach

One reality of being a hotelier is that competition is everywhere; at times even on the same street. It is likely that your guests have stayed at dozens of hotels before yours, making an enjoyable stay even more of a challenge to achieve.

However consider what makes your hotel unique to you.

Portraying a professional and friendly image combined with a personable approach which you have customised, all go towards the hotel experience and can encourage positive reviews and repeat visits.

Quiz nights, an open bar, a free swimming pool (if you are in that market) are just some of the example of how you can create a custom hotel experience to meet your guests needs and expectations.

Dark-toned room with high ceilings mixes plush velvet and low lighting

Fitzrovia’s mysterious and magnificent The Mandrake Hotel

1024 681 Hamish Kilburn

Nestled under a canopy of plants in London’s Fitzrovia district sits The Mandrake Hotel, an unlikely yet very welcome neighbour to this part of town. Hamish Kilburn takes a peek inside…

Blink and you will miss it. The unassuming framed ornate wrought iron gates are the first of many indications that rules have been broken when designing the concept of The Mandrake Hotel. Unlike other luxury hotels in the area, such as Charlotte Street Hotel and The London Edition, The Mandrake’s entrance is very low key – almost as if its exact whereabouts is on a need-to-know basis, which of course it is.

Five years in the making, and a first for the Fustok family, The Mandrake Hotel sits in a former Victorian office block and has been artfully converted into the cool, urban boutique hotel that it is today.

During fashion week last year, when The Mandrake opened, its unique Bohemian-Gothic style led to it becoming the venue of choice for British Vogue’s editor Edward Enninful and a stream of A-listers who followed. The most recent neighbour to move in and name the hotel its premium local hangout spot is Facebook’s new swanky London headquarters in Rathbone Square.

One thing that is immediately apparent when entering the building is that the design elements of the hotel feel very personal. Interior designer Tala Fustok’s creativity literally runs through the walls of the hotel. “It was important to keep the honest feel of the building, and preserve its identity,” explains Fustok in a recent press release. An example of this can be found in the public areas that have been carefully curated with surrealist sculptures to portray the feeling that nothing in this hotel is what it first seems.

The Lobby. Image credit: The Mandrake Hotel

Striking pieces of art depicted by nature make a lasting impression when entering the strangely calming lobby. Industrial-style walls marry nicely with the understated yet stylish reception desk. The lobby hangs under a large gothic-style chandelier, lit by 30 wax candles, and the soft ambient lighting is well balanced to welcome guests into a curious new world.

The theme of outdoor indoor space has been well examined throughout the building, with natural light and the hotel’s incredible terrace being seen from almost all corners of the public area. A modest courtyard is poised and readily equipped for all occasions and looks up to the terrace, above which is a large living wall of plantation.

Outdoor terrace looks down onto a palm courtyard

The terrace. Image credit: The Mandrake Hotel

The dramatic Labradorite bar, at some 30ft in length, is the hotel’s source of energy. The dark Victorian panelled mahogany long bar is balanced by the room’s inspiration of nature. This area is rich in greens, with a gentle riot of Parisian fabrics and thick verdant palm textures of green, purple and red. Above the bar hangs the specially commissioned mythical-gazelcock (part-impala, park peacock) by Enrique Gomez de Molina, adding the mixture of eclecticism and humour.

The guestrooms

Considering the hype, only 34 guestrooms, three suites and one incredible penthouse are sheltered on three levels, each designed to unlock a chic, unique, cosy, quiet, high-ceilinged refuge, worlds away from the hustle and bustle of London life below.

All guestrooms are carved around the palm tree-studded interior courtyard, which centres the hotel and provides rooms with ample natural light. Designed with a mixture of maximalist bohemian throughout, the rooms create “a glamorous constructed garden of Eden” as Fustok puts it.

There is a sense of harmony as if two cities are colliding in the room’s interior fittings. Indulgent Parisian jewel-toned velvets, gilding mirrors and commanding metallic coffee tables add a flare of glitz in the interiors. This is balanced with a cool London city vibe of earthy-toned drape curtains, an curvaceous wing chairs.

Guestroom with statement circular mirror on the wall

Image credit: The Mandrake Hotel

“I wanted to keep the feel of the building’s natural, raw energy,” explains Fustok when describing the well-proportioned rooms and high ceilings of the Victorian shell. Clean lines have replaced the unusual period mouldings, resulting in bedrooms that envelop you in their infinity of moody hues. Striking vintage one-off pieces compliment the dark paint tones, while accents of colour are added by interesting artwork. Together, 33 different chandeliers and vintage panel screens covered with lush botanical plants in the guestrooms echo the bohemian vibes weaved around the hotel.

The pièce de résistance is The Mandrake Suite, painted in dark sultry tones that echo through from the bar and seductive hallways. The luxurious bed is swathed in Bedouin-style folds of fabric. A standalone bathtub set on a slab of black-veined marble adding to the majestic look and feel of the suite.


Image credit: The Mandrake Hotel

As I descend down the lift towards check-out, the courtyard emerges and the sense of coming back down to earth feels very real. My conclusion is that, among the hundreds of hotels to open in London, The Mandrake stands as a shining example of how taking risks and following the heart when injecting a hotel’s personality pays off. Bravo Tala, the rest of Fustok family and all others who were involved in creating what we hope to be the first of many truly transformational boutique luxury hotels.

Fitzrovia’s ever-evolving trendy hotspot is rumoured to soon welcome a new Bluebird cafe as well as one of London’s premium HIIT and spin studios, Digme Fitness, which will open directly opposite the new Facebook offices in Rathbone Square. With these major openings, I get the feeling that The Mandrake’s quirky shell could soon well become ‘the local’ for many premium businesses nearby.