Part five of the hotel focus looks at renovations to the Intercontinental Hotel Düsseldorf, The Pulitzer Amsterdam, Maison d’Estournel Saint-Estèphe
Words by Toby Maxwell
InterContinental Hotel, Düsseldorf
The Intercontinental Hotel Düsseldorf, located at the heart of the German city’s famous Königsallee district, has undergone a lounge, bar and restaurant transformation to create a day-to-night social hub. It has been designed by Virgile + Partners in partnership with local architectural firm Baran Projektpartner.
The redesigned space measures approximately 611sq m and provides a mix of relaxed and casual destinations alongside more intimate experience areas for guests, locals and visitors in search of a venue that can meet all their differing needs as they transition through the day and evening.
The new 142sq m lobby lounge situated at the heart of the vast hotel atrium is a comfortable and elegant meeting place that is connected to a new 469sq m restaurant, Kö59, offering 140 covers and launched by German celebrity chef Björn Freitag.
Virgile + Partners’ transformation of the lounge features elegant and comfortable seating, warm timber parquet flooring, and contemporary bespoke rugs, making it feel residential, warm and intimate. A communal table allows visitors to have a drink from the bar while also enjoying their own space to read or work. The transition between the lobby and the restaurant introduces a transparent architectural facade, allowing easy integration between spaces while still maintaining their own individual identity and character.
Kö59 combines different zones, from an open kitchen to a large, central, feature cocktail and dining bar and a more intimate wine-tasting space. The elegant and contemporary look and feel is conveyed through a collection of objects, art books and prints communicating the spirit of modern German art. The open kitchen creates a key focal point in the restaurant throughout the day and, along with the adjacent chef’s table, adds animation and theatre to the overall space.
The central island bar is split into two sections: a mixology cocktail bar and an eating counter. Key materials used include a combination of green marble, grey concrete, and dark timber, while the bar is a brushed bronze finish with a rough-edged bar top – a solid piece of wood combined with elegant detailing.
Carlos Virgile, director, Virgile + Partners, says: ‘Our objective was to create an all-encompassing concept that transforms the InterContinental Hotel Düsseldorf into a popular social hub. By making the hotel lobby more open and casual, and integrating it to Kö59, we have created an exciting, informal space that has a real buzz and provides somewhere to work, eat, and spend time with friends, without feeling under pressure to move to another destination. We are confident that the new space, along with Björn Freitag’s exciting new restaurant, will become a special destination.’
Ewald Damen, creative director and Partner at Virgile + Partners, adds: ‘The redesign of the Kö59 restaurant and the lobby lounge aims to reflect the local and eclectic spirit of the regional style, complementing the contemporary approach on traditional cuisine by celebrity chef Björn Freitag. The traditional and rustic design of the Rheinland was the inspiration and united within the luxury setting of the five-star InterContinental Düsseldorf hotel.’
The Pulitzer, Amsterdam
Lore Group creative director Jacu Strauss masterminded the luxury interior
The Pulitzer in Amsterdam has recently undergone an 18-month renovation by Lore Group creative director Jacu Strauss, who has delivered a visually stunning space.
Surrounded by some of the city’s high-end boutiques and restaurants, the hotel was originally created in 1970 from a combination of buildings, each on a slightly different level and connected by a maze of passageways, small flights of stairs and oddly shaped halls.
Lore Group creative director Jacu Strauss masterminded the luxury interior
The palette is that of the old masters: deep blues, rich greens and pinky-plums. Original stucco ceilings, antique Delft tiles and grand fireplaces are offset by an eclectic mix of oil paintings, old mirrors and vintage prints, and thrown into contemporary relief by custom-made furniture and patchwork Persian rugs. The design scheme features wood flooring from Havwoods throughout.
Among all the elegance is plenty of humour, too: the archway of books with a bicycle on top, a wall of 17 brass trumpets with a solitary purple one, and a bright yellow bulldog perched on a drinks trolley all show a quirkiness that is very much in keeping with Amsterdam’s off-kilter personality.
Maison d'Estournel, Saint- Estèphe, France
Architecture and design practice Michaelis Boyd was tasked with bringing La Maison d’Estournel in Médoc wine country back to life as a refined yet relaxed boutique hotel with a full refurbishment.
Inherited by Louis Gaspard d’Estournel in 1791, it was originally a private residence, despite being referred to as a hotel. Two centuries years later, it became a 10-bedroom Italian villa-style establishment, and the hotel was known as a house (‘maison’). Later, it was bought by hotelier Michel Reybier, founder of lifestyle hotels La Réserve Paris and La Réserve Ramatuelle, along with its surrounding 12-acre vineyard.
The hotel is located in the Bordeaux wine region
Spread over four floors, the interiors are based around the building’s original staircase and a series of reception and dining spaces, alongside 14 guest rooms. The result is a quiet haven that is both contemporary and sensitive to the original building, punctuated throughout with discreet references to the world of the vine.
Everything in the hotel is chosen specifically for each space. There is no formal reception area; instead, visitors enter the large ground floor hallway via restored carved stone arch doors, and are then free to flow between the living room and library into the bar and restaurant area.
Central to the ground floor is a carved timber bar topped with veined marble and bespoke leather, which invites guests to perch and take in the theatricality of the restaurant from beneath a glass chandelier.
In the kitchen, ornate fireplaces were restored and updated, with dark tiles drawing the eye to the delicate carvings and details of the original marble stone mantlepiece and contrasting with a more minimal second hearth, which has a contemporary open back, allowing vistas through the flames into both the restaurant and the library.
The library itself is an eclectic mix of furniture and patterned fabrics combined with a rich palette of materials. Wall-to-wall joinery creates a cosy backdrop collage for decorative items chosen for their visual quality, including books the client himself, Michel Reybier, would enjoy reading.
Upstairs, the bedrooms were arranged to maximise natural light and views of the outdoors. Light and colour from the natural surroundings enter the guest rooms through long windows. The series of rooms are a balance of traditional shapes and natural materials, with curving tiled showers that reference the round wine barrels that once filled the building. Dark oak plank floors and white timber panelled walls create a calm backdrop that contrasts with a subtle mix of colours and plush upholstery.
The renovation required to enable the vision to become reality was major, and involved excavating the original detailing and regal proportions, which had been obscured by partition walls and 1990s decor from the existing hotel.
The remaining grand windows and high ceilings helped restore the initial layout, while the original staircase, with its elegant iron balustrade, spindles and curved timber handrails that flank cantilevered stone steps, became central to the design.
The hotel's bedrooms were arranged in order to maximise natural light
A strong visual relationship between existing and newer features – monochrome tiled floors in the hallway, and new wall panelling and cornicing typical of the region, while timber floorboards and solid oak parquet appear throughout – bridges the house’s Italian and French architectural influences.
Alex Michaelis, co-founder of Michaelis Boyd, says: ‘Our approach to La Maison d’Estournel from the very beginning was to create a hotel where the staff could welcome the guests as though this was their home.’