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    Top 5 stories of the week: New trends, emerging designers and a comic-book themed hotel

    800 533 Hamish Kilburn

    Hotel Designs’ editor Hamish Kilburn breaks down the week with the top five stories…

    This week at Hotel Designs we have identified fabric and soft furnishing trends, recognised two emerging design stars and reported on how a design firm worked to create a design hotel in Antwerp’s most iconic building.

    1) 5 soft furnishing and fabric trends of 2018

    Trends

    To kick-start our spotlight this month on fabrics and soft furnishings, here are some of the hottest trends we are seeing at the moment…

    2) Two dynamic designers chosen to bring creative vision and ‘story of sustainability’ to life at Cadogan Hotel

    Left: Mac Collin Right: Antonia Packham

    Young designers Mac Collins and Antonia Packham were chosen from more than 3,000 designers to bring their creative vision to life at the Cadogan Hotel…

    3) In conversation with Martin Pease, Managing Director WATG London

    Hotel Designs’ editor Hamish Kilburn caught up with new Managing Director of WATG London Martin Pease to discuss what’s next for the integrated design firm’…

    4) Tom Dixon launches AW18 accessories collection

    Tom Dixon studio

    Image credit: Tom Dixon

    Taking inspiration from nature and natural objects, Tom Dixon has unveiled its AW18 accessories collection…

    5) Converting Antwerp’s most iconic building into a design hotel

    Exterior shot

    Hotel Designs explores how Alex Kravetz Design used comic inspiration to create the interiors of Antwerp’s new design hotel on the block…

    Rome’s Palazzo Montemartini joins Radi­­sson Collection

    1024 683 Katy Phillips

    The philosophy of the newly launched Radisson Collection matches particularly well with the distinctive traits of Palazzo Montemartini.

    Radisson Hotel Group has added the Palazzo Montemartini in Rome to Radisson Collection, effective from June 2018.

    Built back in 1881, Palazzo Montemartini is situated near the Baths of Diocletian and the church of Santa Maria degli Angeli designed by Michelangelo.

    In terms of style and setting, the hotel combines modern design with a truly authentic flavour, and is made up of 82 rooms and suites, as well as events halls. The Senses Restaurant & Lounge Bar offers local fare, complemented by views of the Servian Wall – the very first wall of ancient Rome, according to boffins.


    There’s also the Montemartini SPA by Caschera – a lifestyle space with jacuzzi, heated hydro tonic pool, treatment rooms including a dedicated salt room, sauna and hammam, sensory and chromotherapy showers.

    Elie Younes, Executive Vice President & Chief Development Officer, said: “We couldn’t have asked for a more iconic destination than Rome to add a new Radisson Collection to the world. Palazzo Montemartini is a perfect addition to our portfolio. It’s a modern icon that respects the brand promise of Radisson Collection through its authenticity, design and exceptional service. We are looking forward to building on the heritage of this legendary hotel and showcase the true colors of Radisson Collection in one of the world’s most loved cities.”

    “The philosophy of the newly launched Radisson Collection matches particularly well with the distinctive traits of Palazzo Montemartini, focused on providing a friendly luxury experience,” said Giuseppe Marchese, CEO of Ragosta Hotels Collection that owns Palazzo Montemartini. “We are proud to join the Radisson Hotel Group and launch the first Radisson Collection in Italy.”

    Park Inn by Radisson, the colourful and dynamic mid-market brand, has announced the opening of its first property in Polokwane

    Park Inn by Radisson opens its fourth hotel in South Africa – in Polokwane

    555 322 Daniel Fountain

    Park Inn by Radisson, the colourful and dynamic mid-market brand, has announced the opening of its first property in Polokwane. The Park Inn by Radisson Polokwane is the ninth hotel in South Africa by The Rezidor Hotel Group, one of the fastest growing hotel companies in the world.

    Located in Limpopo, the country’s northernmost province, the hotel’s proximity to the neighbouring countries of Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Swaziland, as well as a convenient distance from Kruger National Park, make it the ideal regional gateway to South Africa.

    The hotel has 160 rooms with full-length windows to let in plenty of natural light and views to serene gardens. Park Inn by Radisson is only 9km from Polokwane International Airport and 3km from city centre of the Limpopo capital. Other facilities include a bespoke Smart Meetings & Events concept in three versatile event rooms that can seat up to 100 delegates. Park Inn by Radisson offers free high-speed WiFi access throughout the hotel.

    The new hotel’s all-day dining Live-Inn Room Restaurant provides a lively, welcoming experience to relish multicultural cuisine, incorporating the brand’s international flair with a unique African twist. In addition, the hotel also features an open plan bar that leads to the terrace and outdoor pool.

    Nisha MacDougall, General Manager of Park Inn by Radisson Polokwane, said, “My team and I are proud to bring Park Inn by Radisson – a brand that adds color to life – to Polokwane. We are looking forward to delivering a fresh, energetic and vibrant hospitality experience to our guests. We welcome the world to Polokwane to enjoy colorful moments and enjoy the best of South Africa.”

    Radisson RED Krakow

    Radisson RED to open in Krakow, Poland

    588 400 Daniel Fountain

    The Rezidor Hotel Group, one of the fastest growing hotel companies in the world and a member of international Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group, is proud to announce the signing of the first Radisson RED in the Central Europe, notably in Krakow.

    Radisson RED is Carlson Rezidor’s new lifestyle select brand that is inspired by the growing customer need for new experiences, fashion, music and art. RED boasts a forward-thinking focus on design and detail, the guest, personal interaction, individual choice and recognition of the increasingly important role that technology plays in facilitating the best of everyday life. The world’s very first Radisson RED hotel opened its doors in Brussels in April 2016, in Minneapolis in November 2016 and the brand plans to have 60 hotels operating globally by 2020.

    The newly built hotel is expected to be completed by fall of 2019 and will feature 230 rooms, signature restaurant and bar concept, meeting space and 24/7 fitness centre. The property will be an integral part of the development of the largest high-rise building in Krakow’s, Unity Centre, within walking distance to the central train station and Cracow University of Economics. The project is developed by Treimorfa Project, a joint venture entity of Eurozone Equity Company and GD&K Group.

    The Radisson RED Krakow will be managed and operated by The Rezidor Hotel Group. This property celebrates the 8th Radisson RED under construction in EMEA.

    Radisson RED comes to Tbilisi, Georgia

    Radisson RED comes to Tbilisi, Georgia

    1000 574 Daniel Fountain

    The Rezidor Hotel Group, one of the most dynamic hotel groups worldwide and a member of the Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group, is proud to announce the signing of the first Radisson Red in Georgia.

    The new build city-centre stand-alone hotel will be located in the heart of the city on Chavchavadze Street. The Radisson Red Chavchavadze, Tbilisi is expected to open its doors in mid-2019, and will feature around 100 rooms.

    Elie Younes, Executive Vice President & Chief Development Officer of The Rezidor Hotel Group said: “Eastern Europe is a very promising market for travel and tourism, and Georgia has one of the fastest growing tourism rates in the region. We are delighted to further diversify our contemporary offer in Tbilisi and bring our award-winning lifestyle select brand Radisson Red to the city. Radisson Red appeals to the ageless millennial mindset, is inspired by art, music and fashion, and breaks the traditional hotel model. We strongly believe that the property will take the Georgian hospitality scene to a new level.”

    “We are delighted and confident to partner with The Rezidor Hotel Group and to bring the first Radisson Red to Georgia. Rezidor is one of the strongest and most innovative hospitality leaders in EMEA. With the award-winning launch of Radisson Red in Brussels earlier this year, they have once again proven their capacity to operate successful brands and hotels internationally,” added George Gedevanishvili, Project Manager for LLC Commerce Group.

    The hotel will cater for business and leisure travelers and will feature a restaurant with an outdoor terrace and rooftop bar. The hotel will be ideally located in the prime city center, on one of the main avenues named after the writer Ilia Chavchavadze.

    The Radisson Red Chavchavadze, Tbilisi will be managed and operated by The Rezidor Hotel Group.

    Radisson Blu Santiago La Dehesa, Chile

    Radisson Blu opens its first resort and spa in Chile

    1000 537 Daniel Fountain

    Radisson Blu recently opened its first location in Chile. The opening of the Radisson Blu Santiago La Dehesa follows Radisson Blu Sao Paulo and Radisson Blu Belo Horizonte, Savassi in Brazil, which opened earlier this year.

    Formerly the Radisson Santiago La Dehesa, the hotel recently completely an extensive renovation and enhanced service training to become Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group’s upper-upscale brand, Radisson Blu. Renovations of the hotel included a redesigned lobby, updates to dining facilities and refreshed guestrooms.

    Radisson Blu Santiago La Dehesa, Chile
    Pablo Marconi, general manager, Radisson Blu Santiago La Dehesa, stated, “Prior to joining the brand, our staff underwent extensive, enhanced training to ensure that an elevated service culture is at the forefront of the stay experience and every staff member is driven to delight our guests.”

    Radisson Blu Santiago La Dehesa, Chile

    Combining elements of the Chilean culture with the style of the Radisson Blu brand, the hotel is situated near a variety of attractions and is 20 miles from Comodoro Arturo Merino Benítez International Airport.

    Radisson Blu Karjat

    Radisson Blu opens first resort and spa in Karjat, India

    1000 535 Daniel Fountain

    Radisson Blu Resort & Spa Karjat, located in the sub district of Raigad, is now open. Situated in the natural surroundings of verdant greenery and awe-inspiring landscapes of the nearby hills, Karjat is a popular weekend destination for regional tourism and international travellers.

    The 102-room, new build, Radisson Blu Resort & Spa Karjat is a convenient two-hour drive from Mumbai and Pune. The resort offers 360-degree views of the stunning Sahyadri Mountains which is nestled along on the banks of the Ulhas River.

    Speaking on the hotel’s opening, Raj Rana, chief executive officer, South Asia, Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group said: “We are excited to partner with Mr. Chakraborty to launch this upper upscale resort. This resort’s opening reinforces our commitment to enhance the brand’s portfolio and further expand our presence in resort destinations throughout India. With its unparalleled resort experience and commitment to excellence, we are confident Radisson Blu Resort & Spa Karjat will be a shining success.”

    The hotel’s award-winning design by Chapman Taylor predominantly features Eastern themes with nods to Thai and Balinese architecture, while retaining an internal narrative that celebrates Indian design, culture and spirit.

    Radisson Blu Karjat

    Designed to welcome the savvy, modern traveler, Radisson Blu Resort & Spa Karjat offers well-appointed rooms and suites, with modern amenities. 24-hour room service, high speed, complimentary Wi-Fi, a complimentary tea and coffee maker in each room, and a fully-stocked minibar all ensure a comfortable stay. Additionally, each room is fully fitted with a digital in-room safe, a digital clock with a docking station, Internet television, a hair dryer, independent shower cubicles and balconies with loungers.

    A multitude of dining options includes the Riverside Poolside Bar, which allows guests to dine under the stars, a luxury that most city-dwellers are unaccustomed to. The venue offers an extensive selection of grills and barbecues, accompanied by customized cocktails. The Blu Lounge is a cozy yet sophisticated bar where guests can unwind over an extraordinary array of international and domestic wines, spirits and cocktails, accompanied by a curated selection of small bites. An outdoor deck area encourages guests to enjoy being surrounded by the resort’s multiple water bodies, in a laid-back yet elegant setting. The Palms is the resort’s all-day dining restaurant, featuring some of the most popular dishes seen on menus both in India and around the globe. Guests can sample the executive chef’s culinary innovations while admiring the pool view and surrounding greenery.

    Radisson Blu Resort & Spa Karjat is designed to be the ideal choice for banqueting events of all types. Guests looking to host weddings at the property will have two outdoor sections, the Party Greens and Grand Lawn, to choose from. Spanning a vast 18,000 square feet, the areas allow guests the flexibility and space to create the perfect event of their choosing, fully supported by the hotel’s expert team of event professionals. Modern audio-visual equipment with drop-down screens and seamless Wi-Fi coverage, elegant décor with rich wood finishing, gold-leaf accents, carefully-curated artworks, mood lighting, and an expansive array of personalized menu options all ensure a memorable, on-property experience, be it for business or pleasure.

    The resort’s owner, Suhasish Chakraborty, said, “Radisson Blu Resort & Spa Karjat offers a beautiful balance between modern design and enveloping natural beauty. It is a first-of-its-kind luxury offering in an upcoming destination, complete with great connectivity, service excellence and quality standards befitting of the Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group. We are excited to introduce this property to a range of discerning guests.”

    With this newest addition, there are now 29 Radisson Blu hotels in India under Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group’s portfolio.

    Photos: Chapman Taylor

    chapmantaylor.com
    radissonblu.com/en/resort-karjat

    Radisson Blu, Edinburgh

    Radisson Blu, Edinburgh

    772 500 Daniel Fountain

    With all due respect to any of our readers who hail from the cities of Bath and Durham, I will tell anyone who will listen that I believe Edinburgh is the UK’s prettiest city. The breathtaking countryside to its south, its cobbled roads, its wonderfully archaic side-streets and UNESCO World Heritage-protected buildings – the Scottish capital is one of our country’s gems; always worth a visit and definitely worth celebrating.

    As someone who takes notice of such things for a living, design and architecture play a big part in the city’s allure. From Holyrood Palace to the famous castle and back up again around the Royal Mile, there are so many fantastic examples of both. With such striking and beautiful architecture at every turn, it figures that more modern projects – namely a Radisson Blu hotel – have to incorporate these stunning surroundings into their external appearance.

    This branch of the slick, business-minded brand ticks that box perfectly. Its neo-gothic, castle-esque exterior blends in with uniform ease to the rest of the street’s aesthetic. However, having paid homage to the city’s history on the outside, a reflection of a much more modern, corporate Edinburgh is revealed once inside. After a series of touch-ups and refurbishments since the turn of the century, the hotel’s interior looks very much ahead rather than to the past.

    When I arrive after a picturesque, but very long drive, I do have to manoeuvre my way around a rather complex route from carpark to lobby via a service lift. It’s here I am reminded how important – but sometimes overlooked – well-appointed signage is for guests. It’s not an ideal first impression to begin with, but I needn’t have worried as the rest of the hotel more than made up for it.

    Radisson Blu, Edinburgh lounge area (TripAdvisor)

    My roundabout tour of the lower levels takes me via the hotel’s main conference space – which is currently in turn-around mode between events when I sneak a peek. The room is a wonderful burst of monochrome tones in both carpets and wallcoverings, a clash of prints and the first sight I get of the ubiquitous locally-inspired artwork; it forms part of the eight meeting rooms the hotel offers, hosting up to 240 people for a range of event styles.

    Radisson Blu, Edinburgh Meeting space

    I am greeted at a busy but well-staffed reception area which also serves as an anchoring point between the hotel lounge-cum-breakout area and the food and beverage option Itchycoo Bar and Kitchen. One quick, seamless check-in later and I’m in my Business Class room – a room of the same standard as I stayed in when reviewing the Radisson Blu in Leeds, but one with a very different decor. It’s always fascinating to see how amenities remain the same, but how varied and different interpretations of the same brief can be. While Leeds relied on a metallic-inspired, blue-grey palette, Edinburgh goes for a more muted colour scheme of greys and browns in the bedroom and bathroom; with a splash of colour added by brightly-upholstered cushions.

    Radisson Blu, Edinburgh bedroom

    The living area is slightly smaller than I would normally expect for the price-range, but can be forgiven due to the fact the designers have managed to include everything required – and more – through good use of space. The room is dominated by the sweeping corner sofa unit, the double bed with its striking metallic headboard as well as the beautiful black-and-white artwork wallcovering of Edinburgh’s cityscape – it’s one of the better examples of a technique very much in vogue at the moment. If this is a taster of where Radisson Blu is headed with its BluPrint interior design concept, I can’t wait to see it rolled out across its global portfolio.

    Other pleasing touches are the wall-mounted TV set into the wall, a decent-sized dressing mirror and a modest desk unit with ample lighting and thoughtfully-placed sockets – this is a business-oriented hotel after all. The bathroom is tastefully fitted out, predominated by dark wooden finishes and simple but elegant bathroom fittings. So far, very good.

    Radisson Blu, Edinburgh bathroom detail

    I decide to take a look at the hotel’s brand new pool and health club – it had opened mere days before my stay – which on the way to the lower levels also gives me a chance to assess the marked difference between the newly refurbished corridors and the pictures I’d seen prior to them being redone. Of particular note were the carpets as I’d been warned by colleagues in the industry of the less-than-acceptable state of them beforehand, but was pleased to see a sterling job has been done in making sure of the quality during the refurb (see above).

    EDIT: The carpets throughout the hotel were provided by Newhey Carpets, who have built up a strong working relationship with the Radisson brand. They worked with Herefordshire-based Trevillion Interiors on the rooms and suites as well as the meeting rooms and event spaces. The designs were all created using Newhey’s state-of-the-art Colortec+ technology. Find out more here.

    And the good news continued when I took a look at the Melrose Spa and the Health Club. This is a fantastic example of leisure design – clean lines, soft finishes and brilliant use of lighting create the soothing and relaxed environment so required of such a space. While this is open to the public, considering a good number of the guests will be corporate only in town for a day or two – having this facility will give the Radisson Blu real pulling power in a competitive city market.

    Itchycoo at Radisson Blu, Edinburgh

    After a long day travelling up from Hertfordshire, I enjoy a cocktail or two and dinner in the Itchycoo Bar and Kitchen (FULL REVIEW HERE) – the décor of which further reflects the business orientation of the hotel. But much like the mixture of the clientele in the restaurant that evening, to say this Radisson Blu can, does or will solely cater for the corporate guest is to underestimate its appeal. Indeed, tourists contribute some £1.6 billion to the Edinburgh economy each year and this Radisson’s location will make it a popular choice for several of the 4 million+ annual visitors to the Scottish capital.

    Believe me, this hotel won’t stir any great reactions for its design or décor – but its fantastic functionality, comfortable and practical finish and more-than-ample amenities will ensure it remains a reliable choice for guests – either corporate or leisure…

    Based on a stay in April 2016
    radissonblu.com/en/hotel-edinburgh
    Photos: Daniel Fountain & Radisson Blu, Edinburgh TripAdvisor

    Radisson RED opens first property in Brussels, Belgium

    World’s first Radisson RED Hotel opens in Brussels, Belgium

    750 403 Daniel Fountain

    Rezidor announced this week the opening of the world’s very first Radisson RED hotel in Brussels, Belgium.

    Radisson RED is a new hotel philosophy and lifestyle brand that aims to reflect the millennial mindset. Inspired by art, music and fashion, the brand incorporates bold design and breaks the traditional model of hotels. Radisson RED recognises that today’s guests seek a DIY, customisable experience driven by technology. The hotel is operated by The Rezidor Hotel Group which is also headquartered in Brussels. The brand currently has 14 additional hotels under development worldwide.

    “Radisson RED is Carlson Rezidor‘s new lifestyle select brand inspired by the ageless millennial mindset. It boasts a forward-thinking design and offers a new guest experience fueled by personal interaction and personal choice. It is a true recognition of the increasingly important role that technology plays in facilitating the best of everyday life – home or away,” said Wolfgang M. Neumann, President & CEO of the Rezidor Hotel Group.

    “Today is a great day for us. We are tremendously proud to open the very first Radisson RED hotel in Brussels, Belgium. It is a clear statement of our trust and commitment to the European capital, whose love for fashion, music and art has inspired us to create a stunning addition to this great city. The entire Radisson RED cast is thrilled and all set to showcase a whole new hotel experience to the world,” said Eric De Neef, Chief Commercial Officer of The Rezidor Group.

    The new hotel brand appeals to tech-savvy guests by offering a non-traditional experience. Radisson RED is created for millennial travelers, who are thrill-seekers and have an outspoken desire for immediate gratification. They simply don’t understand why some hotels charge extra for high-speed internet, they love small surprises that leave big impressions, they are all about creating connections and sharing experiences, they live and breathe internet and mobile, they love flexibility and expect a cheerful personal touch. Radisson RED aims to deliver on all these expectations.

    Radisson RED Blog
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    Radisson Blu Leeds

    Radisson Blu, Leeds

    1024 768 Daniel Fountain

    The Carlson Rezidor hotel group, over the last decade or so, has been steadily building up and expanding its portfolio across the globe with strategic purchases and a prudent selection of locations – think Radisson Blu’s planned and continuing expansion in Africa. With nearly 1,500 hotels and 170,000 rooms, its progress has been successful despite being a relative ‘David’ to the ‘Goliaths’ of Hilton and the now-merging Marriott-Starwood group.

    And one of its brands in particular (since SAS pulled its partnership in 2009) has benefitted considerably. The Radisson Blu collection now boasts nearly 400 hotels open or in development in more than 80 locations around the world. And whenever I’ve visited a Radisson Blu property, from Dubai Media City to London Stansted, I’ve always found the brand’s offerings to be contemporarily designed and focused – usually with a lean towards the business traveller – and the service to be of a high standard. This recently revamped and refurbished Leeds chapter is no different.

    Radisson Blu Leeds
    The hotel is contained within the walls of the centrally-located and well-restored former home of the Leeds Permanent Building Society and directly neighbours the commercial complex ‘The Light’. As I arrive, I consider this fact might cause a noise pollution issue once inside the hotel, but my fears are allayed by the positioning of the public areas away from any of the main thoroughfares in the shopping complex.

    This location means sprawling space is at a premium, so the ground level of the hotel is split cleverly between lobby area and bar/dining area to create the feeling of two distinct spaces, despite the two bleeding into each other structurally. One quick check-in and warm welcome from the manager Valerie Donaldson later and I’m walking through the corridor to my room, which gives me a chance to get a glimpse of the ‘doughnut’ structure of the inner well of the building from where the near-150 rooms in the hotel branch away and explains how the majority of rooms aren’t disturbed by activity in the shopping complex next door.

    Radisson Blu Leeds
    The darker, warmer hues of the corridors – with their grey-brown carpets, olive green wallcoverings and slight vintage feel – contrast with the cooler, industrial palettes of my modern room. I’m staying in a Junior Suite and as soon as I enter I’m struck by the considerable size of the room, especially considering the architect has had to factor in a curve of the exterior wall of the building. And, as mentioned, the room interior stands out immediately as having been designed to reflect an image of the modernity that the brand prides itself on espousing.

    There are several little touches of clever design around the room; like the wooden-finished ‘pillar’, which quadruples up as a TV stand, a home for the mini-bar and tea and coffee facilities as well as a means of discreetly housing the mains sockets needed for the work desk – it’s a brilliant use of space and a tidy, well-thought-through solution to the question of where to locate all of these elements. As a rule, I’m a big fan of rooms with curved walls for the obvious aesthetic reasons, and it’s no different here with the designers having used the feature to great effect in order to light the room. (See image 2, below).

    Further touches such as the ceiling paintwork matching the fabric of the soft furnishing on the bed, the impressive headboard of which all add to the feeling of the room being in the hands of a thoughtful and thematically-minded designer. I am surprised to see the bold use of coal-grey floor tiles throughout the bedroom and living space – mostly because, while these complement the clinical and modern feel, it’s a vast space for the housekeeping team to ensure is always clean. I needn’t have worried, as both underneath the bed and under the 12’x6’ rug were spotless.

    The bathroom’s use of tiles creates a completely different feel, with tiling making up a dazzling three-quarter-wall of brilliant blue overlaid on a beige-brown, clear wall. (See images below) Likewise, the half-moon glass basin container and simplistically functional finishing of the bathroom fittings (provided by HD Directory members GROHE) work very well.

    Radisson Blu Leeds

    There are some tell-tale signs that this is a hotel designed with business users in mind; namely the ‘economical’ wardrobe space available – perfect for short stays but not practical for more than two people staying for several nights – and the good number of mains sockets strategically located around the room for the inevitable number of devices required on a business trip. Given this focus, it came as no surprise to see the level of quality in the design and finish of the hotel’s meeting facilities located on the newly refurbished mezzanine level. The space is flexible enough to offer a range of events – especially with the breakout room having the space for a full bar – and a touch I particularly like is the meeting room titles; each named after a Yorkshire-related theme and containing small items in each room to reflect its individual title.

    Radisson Blu Leeds
    The hotel is unique in the UK, and indeed outside of the US, in as much as it houses the only Fire Lake Grill House & Cocktail Bar – the flagship restaurant of the Minnesota-based hotel brand – beyond American borders. As a dining option for guests for breakfast, lunch or dinner, this ‘industrial chic’, left-field-decorated eatery is impressive. The conversation-starting focal points of design include the huge, striking wall display of Leeds-born actor Peter O’Toole brought to life by upward-facing lamps as well as a floor-to-ceiling fire pit. Having done prior research into the previous space and its interiors, which were classically-inspired and somewhat dated, this incarnation is a huge improvement. (A FULL REVIEW OF FIRE LAKE CAN BE READ ON OUR SISTER SITE PA LIFE)…

    Combine this four-star Leeds hotel with its restaurant and its meeting spaces and you have a convincing case as to why the wider Radisson Blu collection has to be one of the most consistent upper-upscale brands globally. Like the other properties in the chain I’ve visited and stayed in, this property will do a good trade with weekend-breakers and even more so with businesspeople. But make no mistake, this is a well-designed hotel where comfort hasn’t been forgotten in the planning-to-production process – indeed, who says business-like practicality can’t have a touch of luxury? Add to this the fact manager Valerie Donaldson has a professional, committed team working with her and you have the foundations for a very successful property for the Radisson Blu brand.

    Indeed, I’m reminded of a note I read when I arrived in my room under the heading ‘Manager’s Guarantee’ which said: ‘We’ll make your stay right or you won’t pay’. The manager can sleep easy because, on this evidence, she won’t need to be handing out complimentary stays very often at all…

    Based on a stay in January 2016
    www.radissonblu.com

    Radisson Blu, Frankfurt

    Radisson Blu, Frankfurt (Patrick Goff)

    1000 666 Daniel Fountain

    I have just featured two hotels (Cube and Ongava) where the guests’ needs, in terms of why they are at those locations, has driven the form of the hotel. In the case of Cube the operator has intelligently analysed a European market and completely reworked the form of the hotel to meet the function demanded of the building by the resultant guest profile.

    Operator and designer have worked together to provide solutions that result in the hotel running all year round at very high occupancy rates. In effect, the architecture has been driven by the guest profile and the building has been designed from the inside out.

    Award winning architecture, an iconic building, does not necessarily make for a good hotel. At Frankfurt the Radisson Blu is a classic example of where the function is dictated by the building form. The operator, Rezidor, has gained an iconic building with the added advantage of it being a highly visible position at the end of a motorway into the city, where it sits like an architectural full stop to the highway. The building is like a full stop in the sense that its form is circular, a form that then generates myriad problems for the interior designers and the operator.

    As an ex-designer of hotels I like to try to get my head inside the head of the designer and understand what was trying to be achieved. Here the designer definitely lost out in a confused and difficult interior space riven with slabs and columns by what I see as the usual architect’s indifference to operational criteria or internal functioning. The architect created a powerful external statement that gave presence to the hotel without enabling the interior to work. For example the services to the rooms in the arcs of the circular building probably drop straight down as a chord through the various floors, the rooms becoming longer and longer as they near the circumference, then shrinking again and losing height as they get towards the top of the arc.

    Radisson Blu, Frankfurt
    Why are the hotel groups so seduced by architecture that they forget that the guest experience owes little or nothing to this aspect of the building? I was recently asked by Marriott whether I would choose a modern hotel or a historic conversion/refurbishment. I replied I would choose the most comfortable with the best bathroom. What is it about these operators that they cannot see that architectural ‘genius’ does not necessarily equal guest appreciation? After all that has been written and said over the years about the need for hotels to be designed from the inside out, it saddens me to see an operation like Rezidor, led by Kurt Ritter – perhaps the greatest of our contemporary hoteliers, succumbing to the same old tired architectural blandishments. Yes, they have a landmark building, but internally and operationally it is failing.

    Maybe location is imperfect — falling between three stools. Close to but not a part of the business and banking district. Within sight of, but not close to, the exhibition halls. Close enough to the airport to have aircrew staying but not close enough to be an airport hotel. But such imperfections are commonplace and can be overcome by operational excellence. Given a malfunctioning poorly designed interior dominated by a visually intrusive staircase and a wine ‘tower’ that is not a tower, nor close enough to serve the restaurant, achieving operational excellence is made much more difficult to achieve.

    The wine tower is a device Rezidor have used in other Radisson Blu hotels (see Stansted for example) but as a spectacle this one is near useless as it is positioned half way up the staircase and is little more than a glass walled cellar. As such it would have made more sense both visually and operationally to be next to the restaurant, possibly in place of the glass screen that sets the food operation apart from the rest of the ground floor areas. As it is, it makes staff walk half way up the staircase to fetch wine, and is virtually invisible from anywhere except the conference breakout zone on the mezzanine.

    There are three restaurant areas. One with rose lighting, attractively set under seats and tables which leads from an adjoining bistro area that in turn runs off the lobby. Here the team are running a popular business lunch operation which makes me wonder why the third area, set at the front of the hotel, isn’t made similarly successful.

    Radisson Blu, Frankfurt
    My suggestion would be to turn this closed space into a typical Gästehaus bar/bistro operation. The food offering in this part of Frankfurt seems to be re-interpretations of Italian, Turkish or other nationalities. Given many guests are tourists to Germany it would seem something local would be profitable. It might also attract a beer and wurst local audience, making the space popular instead of it being dark – especially given its visible presence on the street side of the hotel. If this were a W it would be seen as the ‘Friday night millionaire’ corner of the hotel, the place to be seen, but original design has failed to attract a local trade and the hotel guests prefer the bar.

    The bar is successful and neatly designed although the delivery route for stock is actually through the bar itself which is obviously less than ideal. With a clear view of the terrace, staff are able to effectively service the tables and the area is quite stylish. In between the bar and restaurant is an area broken by grey concrete columns and the lift shafts. Here is the lobby seating and reception desks, but the space is dominated by a long staircase that cuts intrusively across the double height windows. The area attempts openness, seeks grandeur, but feels claustrophobic. The interior designer has created a clever seating ‘box’ the sides of which lift to reveal power points and shelf space for laptops. On top of the sides are blue LED light fittings linked to the ceiling area by fibre cables which create a beam of blue light from each fitting.

    Unfortunately the failure rate appears high, and the result is like a pretty girl’s grin when teeth are missing or blackened: disappointing and slightly shocking. It is also commented on negatively by guests. I know that Rezidor cut back on spending in the recession, but with the exterior signage missing lamps rendering it unreadable, this seems a somewhat dubious area of saving to make!

    The bathrooms in the hotel are amongst the best I have seen in terms of interior design, including things such as retractable washing lines, and should be the standard for any four star hotel to mimic. The bathrooms also use digitally printed wallpaper to great visual effect and the use of colour in the different bedroom types is also striking and strong. Again, the structure imposes itself, giving bedroom floor to ceiling windows and creating odd sizes in the curves of the ends of the circular building.

    Radisson Blu, Frankfurt
    Here are placed the business rooms and suites so the varying size can be used to great effect in changing the kinds of rooms created. Whilst the designer shows considerable expertise in the handling of the standard room this assured flair isn’t as much in evidence in the suites where the length creates a number of problems. The windows are all on the ends of these rooms so the lighting becomes important, especially during daylight hours. Stopping one end of the room being shrouded in gloom by comparison with the window end requires an assured handling of the lighting balance.

    The standard bedrooms reflect the brand standards, now also being rolled out in the US by the Carlson owners of the Radisson brand, They too have adopted the Radisson Blu naming, the Blu of course a reference to the original European brand owners SAS airlines whose logo was also a blue square. Indeed the previous design director for Rezidor, Gordon McKinnon, is now working in a similar role in Carlson US. For the first time we potentially have a mass market brand with standard room type across all continents.

    Bedroom schemes range from funky to somewhat masculine conservative in the business rooms.All are well laid out and thought through. Sockets are in the right places and lighting the lighting is good. At four star Rezidor get it right and this is probably as good as it gets – although as standards continue to rise it will be interesting to see where the upgrade comes – a separate shower perhaps as well as bath?

    All the more surprising then that the suites don’t carry the same conviction. Whilst bedrooms match the quality of the standard rooms and bathrooms too are well designed the lounge area seem a little at a loss as to how they should be to set out. Whilst everything is there they lack seem to me to lack some physical and emotional comfort, with large spaces with large pieces of furniture, but very masculine and corporate in feel.Even top businessmen need an environment in which they can relax.

    Radisson Blu, Frankfurt

    At the top of the circular building is the spa and pool area, taking advantage of the curve to place a glass roof over the pool and giving the area some of the best views of Frankfurt. There is a gym and some spacious well planned and detailed massage rooms. The wellness area is guarded by access via key card only, and I am continually surprised that this simple implementation of electronic key control isn’t a standard in all hotels to give added security to guests.The lift doesn’t move without key input providing some measure of security to all floors, and it also is needed to open doors in the spa.

    This is a high visibility building with its garden pool and terrace. The restaurants and spa ought to have been buzzing. During my visit in August 2010 Europe was emerging from recession and Germany had shown growth of 2% in one quarter. Although quite busy the hotel was by no means full. I know August is a holiday month and Germany is putting towels on loungers by pools the world over, but it does not seem to be attracting any local business. For reasons one has to look to the location and the design.

    Imposing from the outside the closure of one cafe shows that the interior is not targeted profitably on a suitable guest profile. Watching Korean, Nigerian, English and French guests struggling to master an international menu in a restaurant that was totally international in styling, I couldn’t help wondering if making it a little more German wouldn’t help with both the simplification of the menu and attracting the local community.

    But then I’m just a designer who dislikes grey concrete columns scattered carelessly through an interior. Criticising the food is just a reflection of the irritation I felt at the architecture.

    Words and Pictures ©Patrick Goff. Made after a visit in August 2010