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Public areas inside Graduate hotel in Cambridge

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

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

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

Public areas inside Graduate hotel in Cambridge

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

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

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

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

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

Inside Graduate Cambridge

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

Public areas inside Graduate Cambridge

Image credit: Graduate Hotels

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

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

The Randolph Hotel by Graduate Hotels

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

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

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

Main image credit: Graduate Hotels

W Changsha

W Hotels arrives in Changsha with futuristic design scheme

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

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

W Changsha

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

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

Image credit: W Chenghsa

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Main image credit: W Hotels

Roca tap

Product watch: Roca introduces new colours to brassware collections

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
Product watch: Roca introduces new colours to brassware collections

Bathroom brand Roca continues to innovate with its brassware portfolio thanks to the introduction of two new finishes to its stunning Insignia and Naia ranges. Complete with Everlux finish, the two new additions are now available in on-trend rose gold and brushed titanium black – the perfect finishing touch for any bathroom in an era where colour is king (or queen)… 

Roca tap

The sleek, modern design of both the Insignia and Naia brassware by Roca already makes them a popular choice among designers, however with the introduction of two new colours, the possibilities are now pretty much endless. The addition of the rose gold adds a pop of subtlety – think chic colour – whereas the brushed titanium black adds a touch of sophistication and contemporary, industrial style.

With a square handle and a round body, Naia has a minimalist design, with a perfect combination of cylindrical and square geometric shapes to complement a variety of bathroom decors. It is available in a range of heights to suit a variety of basin styles including vanity, in-countertop and on-countertop.

With its soft profile and slim side handle, Insignia features gently curved lines and a sleek, elegant aesthetic. Insignia is a modern, single-lever brassware collection, that’s ideal for bathrooms with a clear urban design.

Both ranges feature Roca’s Cold Start technology to ensure the flow starts with cold water and hot water systems are only activated when the handle is turned to the left. This not only saves CO2, but also reduces consumers’ energy bills. Naia and Insignia are available in a variety of basin (different heights available), bidet and shower mixers, along with matching bath fillers.

David Bromell, Head of Marketing at Roca comments: “The extensive Roca brassware portfolio continues to evolve with innovative designs and contemporary finishes, providing a broad range of solutions, but with homogenised commitment to quality, functionality and environmental responsibility. The addition of these two new coloured finishes, further enhances our existing collections with an on-trend yet enduring design, that appeals to a wide market.”

The Insignia and Naia brassware collections also come with Roca’s innovative Everlux finish – a PVD (Physical Vapor Deposition) coating which has excellent durability as well as being resistant to scratches and impacts.

The sophisticated Everlux finish is obtained by the innovative physical vapor deposition (PVD) process via the ionization of metals and noble gases, which are combined to create a fine metallic coating. This coating, based on extremely hard metals such as titanium or zirconium, is uniformly deposited over Roca’s high-quality galvanized chrome plating, resulting in a surface with extreme hardness and extraordinary resistance to scratches, impacts and cleaning agents. Through this process, Roca has been able to offer multiple combinations in the creation of sophisticated and highly resistant bathroom spaces.

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

Main image credit: Roca

Lobby/lounge inside Pan Pacific London

Pan Pacific London – a new luxury wellness hotel is born

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

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

Lobby/lounge inside Pan Pacific London

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

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

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

What to expect inside

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

A minimalist lobby with plants

Image credit: Jack Hardy

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

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

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

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

A guestroom with neutral tones

Image credit: Jack Hardy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Main image credit: Jack Hardy

lodge in a hill

Case study: Szegzárd Lodge in the Hungarian wine region

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
Case study: Szegzárd Lodge in the Hungarian wine region

Deep in the Hungarian countryside sit a series of structures, which shelter a stripped-back interior design scheme that allows the materials – and killer views of undulating hills – do the work. To ensure luxury was not compromised, the designers specified Focus to add drama and warmth with contemporary fireplaces…

lodge in a hill

Szegzárd Lodge is spread across nearly two hectares of hillside in the Hungarian countryside. The estate includes small private woods, a vineyard, and a hundred-tree orchard. Each building’s wooden exterior with juxtaposing angular architecture blends into the landscape while providing all the necessary luxury amenities – this modern nomad style is complete with all the extras, including a heated pool, jacuzzi, outdoor shower and sun loungers. A magnificent treehouse is located high up in the small woods attached to the estate, which offers an unmatched hospitality experience. Don’t let the simple structure and paired-back design fool you, though. The hospitality experience is modern in its tech, catering to all traveller – and there are even charging points available for electric cars.

The guest houses have been designed by Ep Studio architects: Tamás Fialovszky, Gergely Kenéz and  Katalin Varga and interior designer Péter Dudás.  The lodges are sunk into the hillside sitting on top of a solid concrete pedestal, which is combined with the light wooden roof structure. This combination of the two structures is quite common in agricultural architecture and allows the lodges to blend into the landscape.

Fireplace in lodge

Image credit: Focus

The interior layout is quite simple – minimalist with a natural feel – with only sleeping and bathing areas being separated from the living spaces. According to the architects, “it was important to extend the interior towards the garden with covered and open terraces.” High quality natural materials were used throughout the construction most prominent of which is the larch structure, windows and shades.

Inside, the compact Ergofocus fireplace is suspended adding drama, comfort and warmth (when required) to the space, complementing the natural interior. Made in France, by Focus, Ergofocus is one of its best selling fires and specified for hotel and hospitality projects.

For more than 50 years, and across all continents, Focus has been shaking up the codes of design convention. The brand was the first company to move the fireplace away from the wall to the middle of the room, putting the fireplace centre stage. With its genuinely iconic fireplace, the Gyrofocus, Focus has entered into the realm of international design legends.

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

Main image credit: Szegzard Lodge

Ed Warner

Ed Warner: “Accessibility is not a dirty word in design”

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
Ed Warner: “Accessibility is not a dirty word in design”

In 2021, it is shocking that new design-led hotels are emerging in the global hospitality arena without the same level of consideration when it comes to the design of accessible, disabled-access guestrooms and spaces. In a purposeful interview with Ed Warner, the Founder and CEO of Motionspot, editor Hamish Kilburn only hopes to raise awareness for stylish accessible design…

Ed Warner

You may or may not know this, but before I was the editor of Hotel Designs, I was part of the British Paralympic Sailing Team, working proudly between the years of 2009 – 2016 as a shore and tuning crew member for the wonderful Hannah Stodel, Stephen Thomas and John Robertson – AKA, the performance team.

Looking back, it was an incredible experience for a 16-year-old who was driven by adventure – not much has changed really. There were so many moments that pivoted me into the lane that I am now in. For example, when I let slip that I wanted to be a journalist on a ferry from Harwich to Hook they helped me launch my first blog and called upon peers to help organise interviews with Paralympic legends in order to create a solid portfolio when it came to progressing further, which ultimately secured my place at university to study my passion and make it a career. I received a dreadful phone call once at the small hours in the morning, during a Paralympic qualifying event in Weymouth, about my beautiful cousin who tragically lost her life in a car accident. I was sharing a room with another athlete, Paralympic gold medallist Helena Lucas who was competing in the morning. Without any objection, she woke up and sat with me through the night. I felt terrible, and even worse knowing that Lucas could have really used those extra hours resting for her final race in the series. It’s not often as shore crew at an event you are the centre of attention. In short, though, that painful moment was when I realised that I was part of more than just a team; I was part of a family.

And strangely, when I tell people about my experience working with this perfectly able – no, formidable – team, I get asked how it was possible to train with the Paralympic team without myself being disabled. I’m not judging the ignorance, because transparency is best for us to progress, but it is surprising to me how segregated in society people who have disabilities can become. During my years sailing with the squad, I witnessed very capable athletes who happen to have disabilities being treated extremely differently. I noticed, among other things, hotel facilities not being adequate, and the views, at best, from the windows from the ‘disabled rooms’ would stretch out onto the concrete car park.

Five years after the team were forced to retire as sailing was, to much protest, taken out of the Paralympic programme for Tokyo 2020, my blood boiled recently when I noticed that the Team GB Instagram account, which has more than 491, 000 followers was not being used to promote the Paralympic Team GB athletes. Instead, the team were being amplified on the Paralympics GB account, which has just 46, 500 followers (more than 400,000 less than the Olympic Team GB account). Call me a modernist, but to really promote diversity and equality, isn’t Team GB just Team GB? What is the need for a second social media account if the aim is not to drive a wedge between the two events?

I digress, however these anecdotes can very seamlessly be linked to the design and hospitality industry’s attitudes towards creating spaces that are accessible for all – practically as well as stylishly. Until recently, I think it’s fair to say that designing such spaces was seen through very limited lenses. Instead of enhancing a design scheme, hotels wrongly ticked a box in order to offer disabled-access rooms that were usually on the ground floor of the hotel without even a hint of design consistency and – in some extreme cases – only ‘accessible’ via the back-0f-house areas of the building – classy.

Cue setting up my next interview, which is with a true pioneer and visionary (not terms I use lightly). Ed Warner, the Founder and CEO of design solutions studio Motionspot. In 2020, Warner and his team were an integral element in the design and completion of The Brooklyn in Manchester, which became the only UK luxury property that was truly accessible for all and has been named the most accessible hotel in Europe. The hotel’s unique design is leading the Gold Standard in accessible design, with 18 of the 189 rooms fully accessible offering both wheelchair access and ambulant accessibility and the first hotel in Manchester to offer ceiling track hoists for guests. 

Since then, Warner and his team worked on the recently opened The Londoner to design accessible and stylish guestrooms and he was recognised in 2020 as one of the leading British interior designer when he was profiled in The Brit List 2020. What’s more, Warner has been shortlisted for the second-year running for Interior Designer of the Year at The Brit List Awards 2021 for his continued efforts to promote better design for everyone.

Hamish Kilburn: Ed, it is a pleasure to see you again! Can you start with explaining to us what ‘accessible design’ is and why is it so important for the future of hotel design and hospitality?

Ed Warner: Accessible design is about creating meaningful spaces that everyone can use, removing the barriers that create undue effort, stress and separation of people. Accessible design is more than a tick box exercise to comply with local regulations. Truly inclusive buildings are only built by considering the needs of all guests and staff with physical, cognitive and sensory impairments, including design for neurodiversity.

“There are more than 14 million disabled people in the UK spending over £15.3bn on UK trips a year. Hoteliers who can make the right adaptations to their hotels will benefit.” – Ed Warner, CEO, Motionspot.

There is a misconception it is just about wheelchair accessibility. Disability is diverse. Just eight per cent of disabled people use a wheelchair. We help people to think about what they are doing for wheelchair users and the other 92 per cent with many other types of physical, sensory and cognitive access needs too.

Why is this important for the future of UK hospitality? It is a massive market! There are more than 14 million disabled people in the UK spending over £15.3bn on UK trips a year. Hoteliers who can make the right adaptations to their hotels will benefit from a significant boost in revenues and proven increases in RevPar and loyalty.

HK: Why isn’t stylish accessible design on designer and clients’ radars? 

EW: For many designers and clients, designing for access has traditionally been an exercise in covering ramps and wheelchair toilets. Some designers and operators have neglected it because they mistakenly believe  these rooms are not required (wrong, as 10 per cent of all new build rooms should be accessible). Previously the design options have not been aesthetically pleasing, so some designers have opted against making hotels more accessible.

Image credit: The Londoner/Edwardian Hotels London

In addition, many designers have steered away from the subject for a fear of getting it wrong. There is a misconception that access is complicated, but with the right advice at the right time it doesn’t need to be.

Motionspot can help designers to turn high-level building regulations into practical guidance on layouts and finishes on the ground. We work constructively with the design team to achieve a beautiful balance between access and aesthetics so the accessible rooms blend perfectly with the design intent.

As more great examples of accessible design become more prominent my belief is this will start to change.

HK: Why is it so important for you to amplify this message?

EW: We believe accessible rooms and hotel spaces should be inclusive for all guests and we feel it is important to prove to clients the social and financial benefit of getting access right. At Motionspot we give clients and their architects the right design advice and access to beautiful accessible products.

Once aware of what is possible, the benefits of positive change generally follow. Delivering a better guest experience is always the goal and our work can help provide solutions that are a great experience, more likely to be recommended and in our experience generate more revenue. Given we have an ageing society we think it is likely that the requirement for accessible rooms is going to increase steadily in the coming decade and beyond.

The inclusion and diversity agenda is becoming increasingly important for companies to address. It is a fast-paced and ever-evolving area and Motionspot can support businesses to not just meet minimum standards but surpass them and show themselves to be leaders in being an inclusive brand.

Hotels like Hotel Brooklyn in Manchester are leading the way and showing that improving access can look amazing and improve the guest experience for all. As more and more examples break through to the mainstream, I think accessible design will become a key part of design decisions. At Motionspot, we hope that one day it will become industry standard to design all spaces to be accessible to everyone.

HK: You were profiled last year as one of the top interior designers in Britain. This was due to your work on Brooklyn Manchester. Can you tell us more about this project?

EW: Of course! Bespoke Hotels engaged Motionspot as access designers for their Hotel Brooklyn in Manchester. Working alongside the interior designers Squid Inc, we advised on every aspect of the hotel’s accessibility credentials to fulfil the vision of a beautiful and accessible hotel.  We also specified and supplied accessible products that perfectly blended into this design  scheme.

The hotel features 18 wheelchair and ambulant accessible rooms, including two rooms with concealed ceiling track hoists which is a first-of-their-kind hotel accessibility feature (pic below). These devices are cleverly concealed within a lighting feature and are stored inside a specially designed compartment in the wardrobe when not in use.

The En-suite bathrooms feature fold-up shower seats and matt black removable support rails which allow a room to be adapted to each guest’s individual requirements. Also installed were easy to operate lever tap and shower controls, accessible flush buttons and carefully selected floor and wall tiles that minimised glare and provided fully slip-resistant surfaces.

Since opening, Hotel Brooklyn has won many plaudits, including recently The iNewspaper Staycation Hotel of the Year award.

HK: Is it expensive to design these spaces to be accessible and stylish?

EW: No, and if planned at an early stage, well designed access does not have to cost any more. This is a common misconception!

Where it does become expensive is if a retrospective adaptation like a level access shower, platform lift or accessible reception area has to be installed because of a problem a disabled guest experiences so please think of it at the start of a new build of refurbishment!

In our experience the commercial benefits of getting access right are significant. A great example of this is The White Horse Inn in Dorking.  When renovating this historic coaching inn, attention was paid to the design of the accessible bedrooms to ensure they would appeal to all. Subsequent room bookings have shown this investment to be very worthwhile: more than a 12-month period, the accessible rooms had a higher occupancy rate and RevPar and generated an additional £6,900 of revenue per year in comparison to a standard room.

HK: It feels strange to me that in 2021, ‘accessible design’ is probably considered as an afterthought in many studios. Why is this? 

EW: It is not taught as a compulsory module in interior design or architecture courses. This would radically change the industry if it were.  To try and change the tide, we provide CPD training to any architect or design studio wanting to learn more about inclusive design.

We need the industry to help shout about good examples of accessible design to raise awareness of what is possible and it is great to see high-profile hospitality awards like The Brit List recognising accessible design.

HK: What sets you aside from other design studios?

EW: Motionspot is more than an access auditor. We don’t just uncover access challenges with buildings, we propose creative design solutions that make spaces more inclusive.

We also design, manufacture and supply beautiful accessible products. Frustrated that there weren’t enough well-designed accessible products on the market that fitted our client’s design intent, we began designing and developing our own innovative solutions. Our range now includes hundreds of well-designed accessible fixtures and fittings for all environments. Every product is created in line with Motionspot’s ethos of design-led accessibility e.g. our removable grab rails and shower seats are ideal for the hospitality industry as they can be quickly added and removed between bookings depending on guest requirements.

Main image credit: Motionspot


Cove by edyn to arrive in The Hague in 2022

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Main image credit: edyn 

Hamilton Wide Rocker Switch

Product watch: Hamilton launches new ‘Gray’ plate finishes

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

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

Hamilton Wide Rocker Switch

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

New standout finishes

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

Hamilton's new Basalt Gray finish

Image caption: Hamilton’s new Basalt Gray finish

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

USB-A and USB-C – rapidly recharge

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

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

Wide Rocker – classic with a twist

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

Made to order

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

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

Perception CFX – distraction-free design

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

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

Main image credit: Hamilton Litestat (Wide Rocker Switches)

Hotel Designs LIVE: Social Spaces

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

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

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

Hotel Designs LIVE: Social Spaces

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

On the panel:

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

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

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

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

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

Since you’re here…

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

Click here to sign up to our newsletter.

Crosswater Artist

Crosswater introduces Artist – celebrating meaningful colour

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
Crosswater introduces Artist – celebrating meaningful colour

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

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

Crosswater Artist

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

Crosswater Artist in bathroom

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

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

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

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

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

Main image credit: Crosswater


GROHE wins Red Dot Award 2021 for GROHE X

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
GROHE wins Red Dot Award 2021 for GROHE X

Digital platform GROHE X, which has attracted around 222,000 visitors since it launched earlier this year, wins Red Dot Award…

Only a few months after its launch, which Hotel Designs was proud to be a part of, the digital experience hub GROHE X has been awarded the internationally renowned Red Dot Award Brands & Communication Design 2021 in the category “Digital Solutions“. Prof. Dr. Peter Zec, initiator, and CEO of Red Dot, emphasised the importance of digital solutions for the success of brands and companies, especially in today’s world.


“As an award winner, GROHE has proven that they think ‘outside the box’. The brand knows how to act quickly in times of crisis and use upheavals for new design approaches. In this way, they master important challenges and also make a valuable contribution to the further development of society.”

The brand experience of today and tomorrow

With GROHE X, LIXIL in the EMENA region has developed the first digital platform of its kind in the industry for its GROHE sanitary brand together with strong partners VOK DAMS, IBM and D’art. As a content hub tailored to the interests of industry target groups with zones dedicated to product, inspiration and know-how transfer alongside service-oriented offers such as tutorials and specialist events, and opportunities to connect with brand experts, GROHE X facilitates a unique user experience. Since its launch in mid-March this year, GROHE X has quickly proven to be a success. The current visitor numbers – currently 2,500 daily – prove that GROHE X is a successful creative solution that meets the communication challenges of both today and the future. GROHE X is thus seen as a driver of innovation in its own right, serving not as a replacement for traditional communication, but as a starting point for a new era of brand presentation and communication in the B2B world. GROHE X already presents itself as an alternative that is flexible enough to keep pace with the rapid developments in communication.

“GROHE X is much more than a digital trade show replacement and the 35,000 visitors and 70,000 views in the first week alone have proven us right,” commented Jonas Brennwald, Leader LIXIL EMENA and Co-CEO Grohe AG. “The platform is designed to perfectly position our communication for the future. We are delighted that with the Red Dot award we have now also received international confirmation that we have created something that is not only well designed, but also an extremely successful brand communication tool.”

Red Dot Award “Brands & Communication Design”

With around 20,000 entries, the annual Red Dot Award is one of the largest design competitions in the world. Its origins date back to 1955 and the famous Red Dot award has long since established itself as one of the most coveted seals of quality for good design. From products, brand communication and creative projects to design concepts and prototypes, the Red Dot Award documents the most important trends worldwide.

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

Main image credit: GROHE

Product watch: Here’s what’s new from Arte

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
Product watch: Here’s what’s new from Arte

In order to kickstart this month’s editorial spotlight on wallcoverings, Hotel Designs is taking a closer look at Arte’s collections that have launched over the summer…

Arte is known for creating outrageously creative – and magnificent – wallcoverings. Since building its foundations in 1981, the brand can be found adorning the walls of both residential homes, as well as commercial interiors in more than 80 countries worldwide.

Each year, an in-house team of experienced designers work on developing new collections, striving for perfection and trendsetting design whilst simultaneously surprising the design industry with what’s possible to achieve with wallcoverings.

With the aim to continues to inspire and challenge, setting the bar for innovative design, Arte’s latest collections that were recently launched take ‘art outside the frame’ to a whole new level of detail.

Mimic Moth

Mimic Moth is an exclusive preview launching this autumn, ahead of the full collection (and third collaboration) from Arte x Moooi set to launch for SS22, inspired by new Extinct Animals. Like the current Moooi Wallcovering designs, this collection will be made from unexpected and luxurious materials. A collection in harmonious colours that brings joy and balance.

This 3D wallcovering with a soft suede look is inspired by the Mimic Moth’s shape and habitat. The wallcovering’s design is made up of embossed Mimic Moths surrounded by their favourite flowers.

Queen Cobra

Queen Cobra is the next family member of the new Moooi Wallcovering collection, which follows the launch of Mimic Moth. The collection depicts majestic looking snakes that were called so because of their long coiling hairs resembling the hairstyle of Queen Tanjii of Kemet. According to old scriptures, the snakes were gold coloured and didn’t have scales. Their skin seemed made of dried grass.

The wallcovering Queen Cobra is made from hand-woven sisal fibres, inspired by the Queen Cobra’s rhythmic curves and grassy habitat. The design comprises round overlapping shapes in a pattern with a hypnotic feel to it.


Icons is a versatile wallcoverings collection, featuring seven designs across a variety of heavier textures including shagreen leather and boucle fabric, as well as lighter options such as real rattan and silk imitation on non- woven backing. With a combination of geometric block patterns, floral motifs as well as plains in a palette of rich earthy colours, on matt and glossy finishes, designs can be easily combined in a single space to add depth to any scheme.

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

Main image credit: Arte

The Other House Club Flat Kitchen in blue and mustard

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

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

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

The Other House Club Flat Kitchen in blue and mustard

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

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

Who’s who? 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hotel Designs LIVE: Surface Trends

Hotel Designs LIVE: Surface design trends

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
Hotel Designs LIVE: Surface design trends

The fifth edition of Hotel Designs LIVE, sponsored by and filmed from Minotti London, invited world renowned designers, architects and hospitality experts to, once again, define the point of hotel design on an global scale while keeping the conversation flowing throughout. The third session of the day looked at interior design surface trends…

Hotel Designs LIVE: Surface Trends

Trends… not the most popular word used by interior designers in the hotel design arena, but ignore them at your peril as we enter uncharted waters following the largest global cultural and behavioural shift the industry has perhaps ever experienced. Challenging conventional trend forecasts, for the third session during Hotel Designs LIVE, which was broadcasted from the Minotti London showroom on August 10, editor Hamish Kilburn invited a handful of interior designers from all corners of the design arena to discuss meaningful surface trends.

Other sessions of the day included:

  • A design assault on the senses – watch now on-demand.
  • Designing the perfect nights’ sleep – watch now on-demand.
  • Social spaces in 2021 & beyond – this session will be available to watch shortly

The third session of the day, which followed the panel discussion on sleep performance, went beyond colour schemes to identify real trends and talking points in surface design. More than ever, as a direct result of the Covid-19 crisis, surfaces have come under question in the debate around hygiene. But, in the exclusive panel discussion with leading designers and hospitality experts, we went beyond the clinical to explore interesting and vibrant surfaces – from paint and tiles to textiles and worktops – that give all areas of the hotel more personality and meaning.

On the panel:

The conversation started by addressing the elephant in the room. Kilburn wanted to know if there were products and materials on the market at the moment that answered both to the demands around sustainability as well as hygiene. “It’s actually quite difficult to achieve both,” explained George Couyas. “Let’s use paint as an example. Usually, when products are man-made to be durable, wipeable and hygienic, there is usually a process that results in the eco credentials somewhat diminishing.” Through his research, and day-to-day managing residential clients whose demands for eco have somewhat evolved over the last few years, a few brands have recently made it onto Couyas’ radar for being both sustainable and robust.

Next, Kilburn introduced Beverly and Dereck Joubert, the founders of Great Plains. What sets this dynamic duo aside from other hoteliers is their pure involvement in all of their projects; they design and source everything – and having fulfilled a career filming wildlife for National Geographic, the pair have a unique stance when it comes to sustainable development and design. “Through 40 years of travel and understanding different cultures, we have been able to tell some really interesting stories through design,” explained Beverly Joubert. “What we also like to do is design using up-cycled materials. So, for example, near one of our camps we heard that wooden railway sleepers were replaced by concrete. It was a great opportunity for us and those sleepers have become the flooring in that camp.”

Continuing the conversation around sustainability, but moving into the urban luxury arena, Shalini Misra agreed that re-using materials and items adds value to the overall design as well as the eco credentials of the project. “Every material can be sustainable if it’s a reclaimed version of it,” she said. “When it comes to hygiene, some materials are better than others. Bamboo, for example, is one of my favourites at the moment as it is highly renewable, very quick to grow and extremely versatile.”

When it comes to extraordinary surfaces, Fameed Khalique who was described by the Financial Times as “the go-to supplier of exotic and experimental surfaces for walls, floors, ceilings and furniture,” has a library full of creative surface design solutions. “We have this reputation, and we do the odd exotic thing, but realistic the majority of the work we do is driven by the client and a problem we need to solve,” he said. “We are working with a designer in the middle east who wanted to use straw marquetry on a mass scale, which isn’t sustainable, nor realistic. So, we worked with the designer and found a solution that used sustainable wood to create a wood-veneer finishing that looked like straw marquetry but can be used on a large scale. Interestingly, that actually led to us launching a new collection utilising those materials and that design.”

Here’s the full video of the panel discussion (on demand), which was produced by CUBE and includes Product Watch Pitches by Hamilton Litestat, Schlüter Systems, Mosaico and Milliken:

The full recordings of the first session (A design assault on the senses) and the second session (Designing the perfect nights’ sleep) are now available to watch on-demand. The final session (Social spaces in 2021 & beyond) will be available to watch on-demand shortly.

Since you’re here…

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

Click here to sign up to our newsletter.

The Brit List Awards 2021 shortlist

The Brit List Awards 2021: Shortlist announced

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

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

The Brit List Awards 2021 shortlist

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The shortlisted finalists for The Brit List Awards 2021 are: 

Interior Designer of the Year

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

Architect of the Year

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

Hotelier of the Year 

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

Best in Tech

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

The Eco Award 

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

Best in British Product Design

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

The Rising Star Award (new for 2021)

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

The International Award (new for 2021)

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

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

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

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

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

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

A guestroom inside M Social

M Social arrives in Europe with hotel opening in Paris

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

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

A guestroom inside M Social

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

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

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

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

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

Main image credit: Millenium Hotels and Resorts

Render of suite overlooking city skyline inside W Philadelphia

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

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

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

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

Render of suite overlooking city skyline inside W Philadelphia

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

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

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

Render of lobby/lounge at W Philadelphia

Image credit: W Hotels

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

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

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

Guestroom over looking the city of Philadelphia


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

Wow Suite at W Philadelphia

Render credit: W Hotels

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

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

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

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

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

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

Main image credit: W Hotels

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

Living like a local in Portugal – inside Lumiares, Lisbon

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

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

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

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

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

Guestroom - Lumiares Lisbon

Image credit: Lumiares Lisbon

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

Rooftop of Lumiares Lisbon

Image credit: Lumiares Lisbon

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

A gold and black and white open lobby in Lisbon

Image credit: Lumieres Lisbon

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

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

Main image credit: Lumiares Lisbon

3d illustration of modern hotel corridor .

Milliken’s role in this new era of wellness

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
Milliken’s role in this new era of wellness

Following delivering a successful Product Watch Pitch at Hotel Designs LIVE, Milliken explain how its floor tiles can go beyond being just beautiful products in the new era of lifestyle and wellness…

Milliken floor tiles help to create the wow factor and that Insta perfect first impression on arrival at a hotel.

3d illustration of modern hotel corridor .

The floor tiles that Milliken produce also have many practical benefits that set them apart from other flooring choices, such as sound absorption, reduced impact sound and improved well-being for those who work and stay in hotels and hospitality settings.

They help reduce unwanted airborne noise and increase the sound absorption of the hotel space by using Milliken’s patented Comfort Plus cushion backing, along with high-performance fibre that reduces noise reverberation time and therefore softens echo. Milliken Comfort Plus cushion backing is particularly beneficial in reducing the nuisance of impact sound, such as the sound of passing footsteps down a hotel corridor.

“We are able to support those hotels having a very bold design in some spaces together with a very tonal scheme in other areas of the hotel.” – Karen Burt, EMEA Strategic Accounts Director, Milliken.

The brand’s clear focus on wellbeing and biophilic design are extremely beneficial in the design and specification of hotel interiors. Good, clean air quality is important to the guest experience and carpet can have a positive effect on improving indoor air quality. Gravity causes dust particles to fall to the floor and collect in the carpet fibre, reducing the circulation of dust in the air we breathe.

Milliken’s global design studios can produce custom design on a very small scale which is a result of the patterning techniques that they have. “We have been seeing a real uptake in creative flooring – take the 25hours brand for example,” explains Karen Burt, EMEA Strategic Accounts Director, Milliken. “We are able to support those hotels having a very bold design in some spaces together with a very tonal scheme in other areas of the hotel.”

close-up of colourful rug

Image credit: Milliken

Kate Collier, Marketing Communications Manager at Milliken, comments: “In terms of wellness, the acoustics come into play as well. We personally feel we fit really nicely into this new era of lifestyle because of the flexibility and the global nature of our brand. In the US, we are now seeing our hospitality team introducing more modular design in public areas. We’re also able to be more creative in our ‘vision lab’ so that designers can use our tools to establish the right look for the right project.”

The brand’s carpet is engineered to the highest levels of specification. Selection of raw materials, robust design, development and manufacturing processes ensure superior quality, comfort, aesthetics and durability. Comfort Plus cushion backing ensures guest comfort and safety as well as protecting the carpet face from wear and can significantly extend its life.

Milliken carpet is supplied in modular tile format. This offers many benefits over traditional broadloom carpet. Modular carpet creates less installation waste than broadloom carpet, as well as being quicker and easier to handle and install. This in turn reduces disruption and the possibility of hotel downtime. Maintenance is easier as is dealing with spills and damaged areas. With tiles, replacement of soiled, stained or damaged areas is fast and easy as one tile is simply picked up and another quickly swapped in.

The Creo collection, Milliken’s latest hospitality carpet collection, has been designed with hospitality environments in mind. It’s inspired by Brazilian street art, featuring three vibrant colourways – Sao Paulo, Rio and Brasilia, offered in three lively pattern families – Avenida, Beco and Rua. The specifier can select the preferred pattern and colour combination for field, runner or rug combinations providing a multitude of design options.

Milliken was a Product Pitch Partner at Hotel Designs LIVE recently, which took place on August 10, 2021.

Main image credit: Milliken

Hotel designs LIVE senses

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

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

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

Hotel designs LIVE senses

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

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

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

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

On the panel:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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A reminder of the sponsors

Headline Sponsor: Minotti London

Lobby inside Riad Elegancia

Riad Elegancia, Marrakech – a traditional yet contemporary hotel

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

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

Lobby inside Riad Elegancia

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

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

Tiled lobby inside Riad Elegancia

Image credit: Riad Elegancia

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

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

Pool at Riad Elegancia

Image credit: Riad Elegancia

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

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

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

The spa inside Riad Elegancia

Image credit: Riad Elegancia

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

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

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

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

Main image credit: Cenizaro Hotels & Resorts

SVART in Norway - hotel concepts

Hotel concepts: Wild & wonderful hotel developments

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

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

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

SVART in Norway - hotel concepts

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

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

NOMADish – a conscious floating hotel

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

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

Tetra Hotel

Tetra Hotel

Image credit: Tetra Hotel

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

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

Image credit: Snøhetta/Plompmozes/Miris

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

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

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

The space hotel – will it happen?

The Axiom space station hotel - interior design

Image credit: Philippe Starck

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

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

GAIA hospitality concept

Render of floating hotel in Dubai

Image credit: AMA Design

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

Al fresco guestrooms

a room in the middle of nowhere

Image credit: Zero Real Estate/Appenzellerland

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

Main image credit: SVART

Exterior render of Tribe Budapest

Accor signs first TRIBE hotel in Hungary

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
Accor signs first TRIBE hotel in Hungary

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

Exterior render of Tribe Budapest

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

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

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

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

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

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

Main image credit: Accor

Leaflike collage of biophilia in design

First impressions: The importance of biophilia in social space

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
First impressions: The importance of biophilia in social space

Following presenting an engaging pitch at Hotel Designs LIVE last week, Leaflike’s Brandon Abernethie discusses the importance of biophilia in social spaces to create a lasting and vibrant first impression…

Leaflike collage of biophilia in design

Creating the perfect arrival experience is something Leaflike has been doing in hospitality for more than 20 years.

As specialists, we create a client proposal via a visualisation service, bringing the vision to life.

Working with the likes of SavoyHilton Park LaneLondon EDITIONShangri-La Hotel and The View from the Shard, Leaflike transforms venues and provides a new arrival experience.

Providing a connection to nature goes deeper than aesthetics. By injecting biophilic design into your interiors offers health, environmental and financial rewards in any space, especially at the entrance of a venue, the lobby, reception areas and entrance hall.

These indicators suggest:

  • Higher levels of social connectivity, improved wellbeing and reduced stress.
  • Increased footfall to the venue, enhanced worker productivity and increased spend.
  • Increased biodiversity providing better infiltration and reduction of carbon emissions.

Guests choose to visit and stay in hotels where they can rest and relax. Therefore, biophilia is such a key part of the design to achieve the right environment for guests to spend time, share their experience and ensure they return. Hotels can charge more per night for rooms with biophilia in the room, as well as a room with a view or greenery outside, green walls are used to hide unsightly features.

Its interesting to see how Terrapin’s 14 patterns of biophilic design explores a holistic view or biophilic design and the human connection to the natural environment.

Want to know more? Leaflike, which was a Product Pitch Partner at Hotel Designs LIVE recently, is hosting a webinar on September 9 with Guy Hilton, General Manager at Hilton Waldorf. To find out more, visit the website.

Main image credit: Leaflike

Virgin Hotels - collage of Las Vegas property

In pictures: Inside Virgin Hotels, Las Vegas

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

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

Virgin Hotels - collage of Las Vegas property

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Main image credit: Nikolas Koenig

Bed trends: A post-pandemic insight into future guestrooms

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

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

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


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

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

Hypnos Residence mattress

Image caption: Hypnos Residence mattress

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

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

Utilising in-room tech

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Image caption: Hypnos Sanctuary mattress

Air quality & space

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

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

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

Sustainable design

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

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

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

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

Working with the right partner

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Render credit: Viceroy Hotels & Resort

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

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

Bathroom brand GROHE publishes third sustainability report

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
Bathroom brand GROHE publishes third sustainability report

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

GROHE Cradle to Cradle visual diagram

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

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

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

Main image credit: GROHE

Raffles Doha - aerial

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

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

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

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

Raffles Doha - aerial

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

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

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

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

2021 unveils

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

Image caption: An aerial shot of Raffles The Palm Dubai

Image caption: An aerial shot of Raffles The Palm Dubai

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

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

Image caption: Exterior of Raffles Udaipur in India

Image caption: Exterior of Raffles Udaipur in India

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

Image caption: Exterior render of Raffles at Galaxy Macau

Image caption: Exterior render of Raffles at Galaxy Macau

2022 unveils (and beyond)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Main image caption: Exterior render of Raffles Doha, Qatar 

Guestroom in qingdao overlooking ocean

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

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

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

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

Guestroom in qingdao overlooking ocean

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

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

Image credit: Marriott International

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

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

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

Lobby Chandelier inside St. Regis Qingdao

Image credit: Marriott International

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

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

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

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

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

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

Main image credit: Marriott International

The Brit List Awards 2021

The Brit List Awards 2021 – entries close on Friday!

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

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

The Brit List Awards 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Main image credit: The Brit List Awards

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read more.

Virtual roundtable: Colour & personality in the bathroom

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

Read more.

Now open: Inside Ace Hotel Brooklyn

Guestroom inside Ace Hotel Brooklyn

Image credit: Ace Hotel Brooklyn

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

Read more.

Design London to make its London Design Festival debut in September

Design London

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

Read more. 

Bathroom trends: Black accessories for a touch of luxury

Bathroom black accessories

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

Read more.

Since you’re here…

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

Click here to sign up to our newsletter.

3D tech: Dernier & Hamlyn expands studio capabilities to meet designers’ needs

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
3D tech: Dernier & Hamlyn expands studio capabilities to meet designers’ needs

As part of its continued investment into the latest technology to provide the best service to its designer clients, bespoke lighting manufacturer Dernier & Hamlyn, which recently sponsored our roundtable on bespoke possibilities in luxury design, has increased its capabilities by adding 3D printing technologies to their already impressive studio services…

Although recently acquired, the 3d printer is already being used extensively to produce a wide range of prototypes that help designers and their clients to visualise what the bespoke components or light fittings produced in Dernier & Hamlyn’s factory will actually look like.

It is also successfully being used to produce patterns rather than the more traditional ways such as having them carved in wood or made from bronze or brass which is not only more cost effective, but also greatly reduces the lead times in getting the patterns to the foundry for casting. For some applications this process can also be utilised for elements of the actual light fittings themselves. Recent advances in finishing techniques now enable Dernier & Hamlyn to get these parts finished to suit the client’s requirements whether it’s a sprayed or a specialised metal finish.

This new service complements the existing wide range of skills available from Dernier & Hamlyn’s design team from the very traditional sketching of initial ideas and concepts, hand drawing of intricate designs, CAD drawings used to inform manufacture and finishing through to photo realistic renders.

“Up until now we have always had to outsource all of our 3d printing requirements,” said Mark Harper, Head of Design at Dernier & Hamlyn. “Not only was this an expensive operation as many companies have minimum order quantities but also meant timescales for delivery were out of our hands. Having this printing facility within our own studio means we can now provide a much more flexible and fast service which is key to our focus on quality and high levels of customer service and satisfaction.”

> Since you’re here, why not read the roundtable that Dernier & Hamlyn sponsored, entitled: Bespoke possibilities in luxury design?

While some designers approach Dernier & Hamlyn with fully formed designs and material specifications there is often still a need to work through the engineering challenges of how their bespoke lighting can be made, installed and maintained. In many cases the designers have a clear idea of what they want to achieve aesthetically but are looking for support and expert advice to help translate their aspirations into light fittings that not only look fantastic in their hotel projects but provide appropriate lighting levels, colour rendering, efficiency and vitally, can be manufactured within the required budget.

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

Main image credit: Dernier & Hamlyn

Collage of interior images of inside the Ace Hotel Brooklyn

Now open: Inside Ace Hotel Brooklyn

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
Now open: Inside Ace Hotel Brooklyn

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

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

Collage of interior images of inside the Ace Hotel Brooklyn

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Guestroom inside Ace Hotel Brooklyn

Image credit: Ace Hotel Brooklyn

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

Main image credit: Ace Hotel Brooklyn

Roundtable - colour and personality

Virtual roundtable: Colour & personality in the bathroom

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

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

Roundtable - colour and personality

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

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

On the panel:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Black and pink bathroom with brassware

Image credit: Bathrooms Brands Group

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

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

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

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

Modern bathroom with colour and personality

Image credit: Bathrooms Brands Group

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

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

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

Image credit: Bathrooms Brands Group

Image credit: Bathrooms Brands Group

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Image of modern bathroom

Image credit: Bathroom Brands Group

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bathrooms Brands Group is one of our recommended suppliers. To keep up to date with their news, click here. And, if you are interested in becoming one of our recommended suppliers, click here.

Flooring case study: Creating connection and flexibility at work

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
Flooring case study: Creating connection and flexibility at work

Leading Australian law firm Lander & Rogers envisioned a workplace that reflected its values of being authentic, connected and innovative. The brand required the attention of creative flooring brand Modieus to achieve their desired interior design scheme…

The recently completed Lander & Rogers workplace in Melbourne combines socially activated spaces for connection and collaboration with quiet work settings for privacy and focus. This contemporary space fosters creativity, whilst providing people with flexibility and adaptability in the way they work.

Image credit: Carr/Lander & Rogers

Melbourne based architecture and interior design studio Carr completed the base build interior design in collaboration with the Grimshaw studio. Joining the project in the early stages, initially on workplace strategy, Carr developed an intimate understanding of the client’s needs. The result is a holistic design outcome melding powerful functionality with a warm and natural aesthetic. Hotel Designs send their congratulations to Sue Carr for her appointment this week as a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) for significant service to interior design, to education, and to women in business in the 2021 Queen’s Birthday Honours list.

Leveraging the insights and learnings gathered through the strategy and briefing, Carr recommended an open plan, agile ready workplace, balanced with a variety of quiet spaces to retreat and reset. It was a radical change from the previous workplace, but one that responded authentically to the client’s needs. Key to successful planning was balancing the openness with moments of respite. “It was important the planning principles respected the need for privacy – both visual and acoustic – within the open plan and shared zones. The ratio of enclosed retreat spaces versus open plan settings was responsive to the client’s needs and data collected during the strategy phase,” says Associate Nicole Coutts. The final workplace model is flexible and diverse, allowing the Lander & Rogers team the ability to expand, change or contract as needed – a particularly important option in light of the events of 2020.

Modieus was delighted to supply the soft flooring, owner Xander Okhuizen said: “We designed beautiful hand tufted rugs to zone the open plan spaces and sumptuous Axminster carpets for the office areas, to create the perfect ambience and balance for this contemporary workplace. The soft flooring provides luxury underfoot and importantly it absorbs noise, so plays a vital part in creating the right acoustics in the office environment.”

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

Main image credit: Carr/Lander & Rogers


Bathroom black accessories

Bathroom trends: Black accessories for a touch of luxury

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

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

Bathroom black accessories

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Main image credit: KEUCO

A private outdoor bathroom and sunbeds overlooking sea

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

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

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

A private outdoor bathroom and sunbeds overlooking sea

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

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

Villas and guestrooms at the Crete hotel

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pastel colour scheme in luxury hotel guestroom

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

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

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

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

Sunbeds overlooking pristine sea

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

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

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

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

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

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

Design London

Design London to make its London Design Festival debut in September

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

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

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

Design London

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

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


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

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

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

Exhibitor highlights

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

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

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

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

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

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

Main image credit: Design London

Hotel Designs events not to miss in August

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
Hotel Designs events not to miss in August

In just a few days time, Hotel Designs LIVE will return (on August 10) and entries for The Brit List Awards 2021 will close (on August 6). Editor Hamish Kilburn explains how you can attend and apply, free-of-charge, for both…

Following what has been the most stressful 18 months in the hospitality and hotel design industry in living history, Hotel Designs is gearing up for a jam-packed August, which will include the return of Hotel Designs LIVE – the virtual conference for all designers, architects, hoteliers and developers – and the deadline for industry professionals and brands to apply/nominate for The Brit List Awards 2021 is fast-approaching.

The Brit List Awards 2021Click here to apply/nominate free-of-charge (entries close on August 6)

The Brit List Awards is back for another year to identify the leading interiors designers, architects, hoteliers and suppliers operating in Britain. The applications/nominations process is free-of-charge – but hurry because entries close on August 6. After that, entries will be handed over to our expert panel of judges before the winners and the top 25 designers, architects and hoteliers in Britain will be unveiled at the Awards Ceremony on November 3 at PROUD Embankment, London.

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

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

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

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

Hotel Designs LIVE – August 10 | Click here to attend.

Exclusively open to designers, architects, hoteliers and developers, Hotel Designs LIVE was first launched in June 2020 to keep the conversation flowing and the industry connected during the pandemic.

For the fifth chapter of Hotel Designs LIVE, the event will shelter four engaging panel discussions on topics such as sensory design, sleep performance, surface trends and social areas, with world-renowned hotel design experts joining us throughout the day in order to ensure the conversations we start are meaningful and unlike any other.

Here’s a reminder of the agenda for the day:

Click here to read more about the various panel discussions and speakers who will join us at Hotel Designs LIVE. Click here to secure your space in the audience (limited places available).

Two buildings owned by Union Investments

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

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

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

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

Two buildings owned by Union Investments

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

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

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

Main image credit: Union Investments

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

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

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

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

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

Accor announces the signing of SO/ Maldives

S/O Maldives - accor

Image credit: Accor

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

Read more. 

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

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

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

Read more.

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

Collection of 3D-printed chairs

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

Read more.

Locke opens first hotel in continental Europe

Image credit: Locke

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

Read more.

5 minutes with: Interior designer Biagio Forino

Biagio Forino Hilton Venice

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

Read more.

Trend alert: Scandi style in the bathroom

Modern scandi bathroom

Image credit: VitrA

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

Read more. 

Since you’re here…

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

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The Design Museum's Charlotte Perriand exhibition

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

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

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

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

The Design Museum's Charlotte Perriand exhibition

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

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

The Design Museum's Charlotte Perriand exhibition in London

Image credit: Felix Speller

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

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

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

Main image credit: The Design Museum/Felix Speller

Bette manages to reduce price of built-in washbasins – here’s how

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
Bette manages to reduce price of built-in washbasins – here’s how

The price of Bette built-in washbasins has reduced by up to 40 per cent following new optimised and automated production in the bathroom products…

Bathroom brand Bette has optimised and automated the production of three of its built-in washbasins and is passing the cost saving on to its customers as a price reduction of up to 40 per cent. The high quality BetteAqua, BetteComodo and BetteOne built-in washbasins are made of glazed titanium-steel and match baths and shower trays in the collections of the same name.

Bathroom products made of glazed titanium-steel from Bette’s manufacturing facility are a combination of high-tech industrial production and master craftsmanship. For the BetteAqua, BetteComodo and BetteOne built-in washbasins, the company has made a number of adjustments to streamline and automate the production process.

“Thanks to the optimisations in the production process, we have been able to further improve the price-performance ratio of the built-in washbasins, which benefits all our customers,” explains Sven Rensinghoff, Head of Marketing and Product Development at Bette.

The BetteOne built-in washbasins have been changed to the dimensions 600 and 800 x 495 mm, while the BetteAqua and BetteComodo built-in washbasins are available in the existing sizes. A new feature for all three washbasins is a uniform rim height of 20 millimetres. In other ways, the proven design, high quality and wide range of colours remains the same. The washbasins are produced in Germany, are durable, easy to clean and robust. They come with Bette’s impressive 30-year guarantee on the high-quality glazed titanium steel.

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

Main image credit: Bette

Leaflike flowers

A message from Leaflike: “The best is yet to come”

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
A message from Leaflike: “The best is yet to come”

Ahead of pitching at Hotel Designs LIVE on August 10, 2021, Leaflike, which has already been specified in a plethora of iconic hotels, has a message for designers, architects and hoteliers: stay tuned, as the best is yet to come…

Here at leaflike, we have been providing hospitality biophilia for more than 20 years and now is a great time to reflect and recognise what we have achieved together, plus look forward to good times ahead.

Leaflike flowers

Established in 1999, Leaflike has worked with some of the best names in the industry and sometimes get rather nostalgic about all the great projects over the years, helping customers create their perfect arrival experience.

We have a unique team of designers and a distinctive talent to combine all types of foliage including live, lifelike and preserved to create the most spectacular and sustainable solution to meet your requirement. We are not shy to share with you some of the great projects we have facilitated to ensure our customers get the finest attention to detail and create that stunning first impression: The Savoy, The Biltmore Mayfair, The Waldorf, Pan Pacific, The View from the Shard, Brown’s Hotel, The London Edition, Hilton Park Lane, Galvin at Windows, Copthorne Tara, The Franklin, The Arch, K West, The Queens Gate Hotel, K&K Hotels, Macdonald, De Vere, Village, Crown Plaza, Marriott, Holiday Inn and Yotel to name a few!

“We are delighted to see our heritage and strength in the market, supporting customers through tough times in the 2009 recession and again during the last 18 months, we are here to stay as a trusted partner for you, today and tomorrow,” commented Steve Abernethie, Managing Director, Leaflike.

More recently, Leaflike have been working with customers on their sustainable planting solutions, recognising that it is an essential part of the project. For example, switching to recycled planters made from recycled IT equipment or coconuts, hydroculture planting and from live to preserved planting. Recognising there is a maintenance cost too, cutting a weekly fresh cycle to a 12 week preserved cycle means the plants can be re-used and the maintenance is less frequent.

“We strive for the best for our customers and ensure our working practices are best of British, locally sourced and produced, our expert team of designers are amongst the most talented to ensure the handcrafted floral displays and planting solutions are the best they can be,” stated Brandon Abernethie, Head of Design, Leaflike. “We are always looking for the next trend and design-led solution that will fit the client brief, ensuring its bespoke, transforming any space with unique and sustainable planting solutions that give maximum visual impact.”

From the initial site survey to installation and maintenance, our horticulturists and master florists are ready to bring your vision to life and make it last.

Leaflike will join Hotel Designs LIVE as a Product Watch Partner in the ‘surfaces’ panel discussion. To attend the event, click here (designers, architects, hoteliers and developers attend free).

Main image credit: Leaflike

Crosswater Scnadi bathroom

Trend alert: Scandi style in the bathroom

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
Trend alert: Scandi style in the bathroom

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

Scandinavian interiors have taken the design world by storm as minimalist trends take inspiration from a blend of textures, soft hues, and sleek modern décor to encapsulate this sought-after style.

Crosswater Scnadi bathroom

Discover the following ideas that celebrate clean lines, utility and simple furnishings that are functional, beautiful, and serene.

Image credit: Bette

Combine statement shades and brass fittings

Introduce this season’s metal of the moment into your bathroom and provide an air of extravagance with distinctive palettes and dazzling finishes. Channel the epitome of scandi-style flare and paint a blank canvas as muted hues give a seriously calming vibe with neutral undertones that capitalise on natural lighting and a minimalistic feel.

Incorporating gilded furnishings and shiny brass accents present a serious sense of luxury into any room. Crosswater’s Gallery 10 Brushed Brass Walk-in Recess Shower Enclosure works wonderfully against moody hues, as warm metallics set against deep-tone backdrops. Rich jewel tones and shadowy neutrals evoke a luxury appeal and complement each other beautifully. Pair this with the Britton Hoxton Basin Mixer Tap, which promises to add a touch of style and elevate your bathroom. 

Master the minimal look with wall-hung accents 

“Scandinavian minimalism showcases simplicity, purity, and calmness and encourages your interiors to do the talking,” comments Graeme Borchard, Managing Director, UKBathrooms. “Exercise restraint in your décor choices, as this style speaks to tidy tendencies and a desire to live in an inviting and comfortable setting. Include light colour palettes and cosy accents, which is an approved trend in Nordic countries.”

Villeroy and Boch Subway 2.0 Compact Rimless Wall Hung WC is a chic option, creating room for extra space due to its wall-hung design creating a clutter-free environment. Compliment this with the Ideal Standard Tempo Wall Hung Vanity Unit in a beautiful white finish to help you make your “hygge” bathroom a reality. Hanging wall mirrors are also a renowned Scandi-inspired trend, as clean lines create a bold statement as they reflect light and make spaces appear more open.

Modern scandi bathroom

Image credit: VitrA

Introduce monochromatic colours and moody accents 

Borchard continues: “Marry these pieces with distinctive backdrops as moody Nordic-style bathroom fully clad with black accents provides a visual contrast to white fixtures as black adds drama to any space.  A black exposed shower kit is a great way to bring a touch of inky indulgence into your bathroom. Pair this with a matt black basin tap to radiate a showstopping theme you can carry throughout the bathroom.”

Say ‘yes’ to pops of colour and patterned flooring 

Mint greens and beautiful blues make a clever colour combination with their ability to brighten up a room and radiate timeless versatility as stark white walls, warm wood textures, and pops of colour are all solidly Scandinavian in flavour.

A contemporary white bathtub is a popular favourite, creating an environment that promotes positive energy, adding ambience to your bathroom space.  The Victoria and Albert Monaco freestanding roll top bath makes a stunning showpiece for any bathroom, oozing elegance and offering classic, neat lines that will seamlessly slot into any bathroom. Wooden units are an ultra-stylish way to bring a touch of texture into interior designs. Villeroy & Boch’s Avento large vanity unit in a gorgeous wooden finish, is a stylish space-saving option, creating a clutter-free laid back and airy ascetic. To complete this look, uncover a distinctive yet daring Scandinavian trend and opt for some patterned floor tiles.

Image credit: Villeroy & Boch

Incorporate understated accessorise 

Finally – invest in some wooden mats, tree stumps, cabinets, woven baskets, and boxes for added storage and incorporate some stone-style décor. Harness a stylish connection to the outdoors and ground yourself with natural colour schemes and plenty of plants, as bringing the outdoors into your home could decrease stress and blood pressure levels. Plants are also the perfect way to incorporate colour and natural touches into your interior and sets the scene for your Scandinavian-inspired sanctuary.

UK Bathrooms is one of the brands that has taken advantage of our Industry Support Package and Crosswater, Bette and Villeroy & Boch are all Recommended Suppliers. To keep up to date with supplier news, click here

Main image credit: Crosswater

THe lounge of the Bvlgari Suite in Milan

Suite dreams: Inside Bvlgari Hotel Milan

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
Suite dreams: Inside Bvlgari Hotel Milan

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

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

THe lounge of the Bvlgari Suite in Milan

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

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

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

Bedroom inside the Bvlgari Suite in Milan

Image credit: Bvlgari Hotels

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

Luxury bathroom inside the suite at Bvglari Hotel Milan

Image credit: Bvlgari Hotels

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

Main image credit: Bvlgari Hotels

Biagio Forino Hilton Venice

5 minutes with: Interior designer Biagio Forino

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

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

Biagio Forino Hilton Venice

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

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

Arial view of Hilton Venice

Image credit: Hotel Hilton Molino Stucky Venice

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

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

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

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

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

Dining area inside the presidential suite inside Hilton Molino Stucky Venice

Image credit: Hotel Hilton Molino Stucky Venice

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

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

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

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

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

View from terrace of Molino Presidential Suite

Image credit: Hilton Molino Stucky Venice

HK: How would you describe your signature design style?  

BF: Elegant, sophisticated and welcoming

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

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

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

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

Main image credit: Studio Forino/Hilton Hotels

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Brit List 2020

The faces above made up The Brit List 2020.

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

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

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

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

Main image credit: The Brit List Awards 2021

S/O Maldives - accor

Accor announces the signing of SO/ Maldives

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

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

S/O Maldives - accor

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

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

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

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

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

Arrival at S/O Maldives

Image credit: Accor

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

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

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

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

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

Main image credit: Accor

Geberit bathroom shot

Product watch: Geberit extends bathroom range

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
Product watch: Geberit extends bathroom range

Geberit, a European leader in bathroom technology and ceramics, has made a number of improvements to its product ranges across its Select and Aspire collections, bringing architects, designers and specifiers an even wider choice for enhanced design flexibility in the washroom…

Geberit bathroom shot

Following an insightful roundtable discussion on tomorrow’s perception of clean, bathroom designer and manufacturer Geberit has added two new colours, Lava Glass and Sand Grey Glass, which are available as both flush plate finishes and options for the front cover of Geberit’s Monolith range of sanitary modules. The Monolith range will also now include an additional two new finishes (Concrete and Stoneware Slate).

In addition to these changes, Geberit has extended its Renova Plan range of bathroom furniture, with two new colourways and a series of product enhancements across the series.

The range is now available in Hickory Light and Hickory furniture colours, in addition to existing White high gloss coated and Lava matt coated.

Image credit: Geberit

An improved slim drawer system on the vanity unit also delivers a 2cm height increase for users, with internal panels also upgraded to match the colour of external panels across all products.

Sarah Hillsdon, Geberit UK Category Manager, said: “These changes to our Geberit Select and Aspire collections enable easier upgrade solutions and bring a series of enhancements to add more choice for customers and clients. We are also delighted to be able to bring in a series of tweaks to improve the products for end users – demonstrating our commitment to continuously develop our bathroom products.”

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

Main image credit: Geberit

The innovation stage at Independent Hotel Show

Registration is now open for Independent Hotel Show 2021

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

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

The innovation stage at Independent Hotel Show

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Main image credit: Independent Hotel Show London

45 Park lane collage

Checking in to experience The Spa at 45 Park Lane

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

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

45 Park lane collage

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Spa at 45 Park Lane

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Main image credit: The Dorchester Collection


LXR Hotels & Resorts arrives in Seychelles

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
LXR Hotels & Resorts arrives in Seychelles

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

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


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

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

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


Image credit: Hilton Hotels

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

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

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

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

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

Main image credit: Hilton Hotels

Fiona Thompson Richmond International

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

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

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

Fiona Thompson Richmond International

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

image credit: The Cosmopolitan, designed by Richmond International

image credit: The Cosmopolitan, designed by Richmond International

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

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

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

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

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

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

The plush Sterling Suite at Langham London

Image caption: The Sterling Suite, Langham London

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

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

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

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

Large and spacious public area of plush suite

Image Caption: Penthouse of London West Hollywood

HK: What lessons have you learned during lockdown? 

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

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

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

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