Toby Maxwell’s Hotel Focus Projects: A showcase of some of the hotel projects around the world
Showcasing some of the best and most innovative hotel designs from around the world, from the UK and Europe to as far flung as countries like Indonesia, China and even two unique examples from the Arab world
Words by Toby Maxwell
Mondrian Shoreditch London
GODDARD LITTLEFAIR were appointed to realise the interiors for the Mondrian Shoreditch. Acquired by the Reuben Brothers in 2020, the hotel has been transformed with ambitious schemes for the reception and lobby, the double height ground floor bar, rooftop bar, new BiBo restaurant by Michelin-starred chef Dani García, and bedroom refurbishment.
The reception and lobby are playful and reflective with significant artwork installations for guests to discover, in keeping with the typical style of the Mondrian design portfolio.
Mondrian Shoreditch features a double height ground floor bar that showcases artwork hand-painted into the concrete
The double height ground floor bar showcases large-scale artwork hand-painted onto concrete by Fred Coppin and the rooftop bar dressed with striped and festooned shade structures also brings a strong identity.
The new BiBO restaurant by chef Dani García was also designed by Goddard Littlefair who dovetailed the identity of Mondrian spirit with García’s culinary approach. The guestroom refurbishment encapsulates a luxurious, theatrical aesthetic with fresh white brick walls and artwork selections.
MeeHotel Shenzhen, China
The Sky Café has a church-like environment, with a pitched roof in the full-height bamboo structure
MEEHOTEL, a new urban resort hotel in the city of Shenzhen, China, aims to provide business travellers with a peaceful home away from home. Sited in an area known as Bamboo Forest, the design story began with that name in mind.
Starting from the lobby, bamboo was selected as the key material and contributes to a lobby space that greets visitors with light and shadow effects on the main wall.
Various on-site tests and experiments with traditional bamboo weavers were used to create full height screens to define the reception and lobby lounge areas. A pitched roof ceiling and natural diatom mud finished walls, overlaid by articulated light and shadow effects, all used to create a minimalist feel for the overall space.
Double height central courtyards were introduced on every two guestroom floors. A reflective lake with a bamboo installation of dancing curves appears to fall naturally in the centre. This ceiling-hung structure is curved by making use of its natural elasticity and traditional connection methods, intended to create a feeling for guests of passing through an abstract bamboo forest before arriving at their rooms.
The Sky Café is located on the top floor and is a zen and church-like space constructed as a full height bamboo structure. A skylight above allows natural light to descend through the middle of the seating area during the daytime. Ceiling-suspended circular LED lights form a set of endless glowing moons, providing a striking night time effect.
The bamboo and rattan applied to all guestroom headboards are in the same pattern as those in the lobby, but with different dimensions and thickness. Floated by concealed lights, it aims to provide guests with a peaceful environment and an elegant atmosphere.
The scheme was created by Panorama Design Group. Horace Pan, design director, said: ‘By celebrating the unique quality of bamboo, from the architectural to the interior levels, we continue to promote and allow business travellers to appreciate the beauty of traditional handicrafts that may otherwise have been ignored. It can ultimately form aesthetic, functional, and cultural enhancement in our busy urban lives.’
Triple Bay Yacht Club AMAALA, Saudi Arabia
An aerial view of the yacht club, set over a sprawling 7,900 sq m
AMAALA, a luxury development located along Saudi Arabia’s north-western coast, has revealed its design for the Triple Bay Yacht Club. Set within the Triple Bay Marina of the Prince Mohammed bin Salman Nature Reserve, the new Yacht Club is a development with a free-flowing structure that aims to create a meeting point between land and sea.
John Pagano, AMAALA CEO, said: ‘AMAALA is one of the flagship Saudi Vision 2030 projects and remains central to the Kingdom’s ambition to become a global tourism leader. We anticipate that AMAALA will become an international hub for luxury yachting, and as such, the yacht club required a world-class design, influenced by the surrounding natural elements and Arabic heritage, and underpinned by our commitment to sustainability.’
Designed by architecture firm HKS, the 7,900 sq m yacht club is set over four floors and features include terrace restaurant, infinity pool deck and rooftop cabana lounge. Drawing design inspiration from two sets of geometry, HKS first looked to the unique rock formations on the Saudi Red Sea coastline to create the club’s bespoke cantilevered terraces, which echo the natural shape of the surrounding cliffs, eroded over time by wind and sea.
Dan Flower, HKS design director and lead architect for the AMAALA Yacht Club, said: ‘We were clear from the outset that we wanted to create a building of its place, with the design drawing inspiration from local landscapes and culture, alongside the nature of the marine lifestyle. The team wanted to reimagine the yacht club as a modern concept, a home-from-home for nautical enthusiasts from all backgrounds, from leisure to elite sport.’
The second inspiration is drawn from mankind’s relationship with the sea and maritime history. The designers hope that this nautical edge will ensure the building sits seamlessly within the marina as a central hub and focal point. Alongside the ‘sea meets land’ concept, the design references the concept of a traditional Arabian house with a simple white exterior that is cut back to reveal luxurious metal externally and a palette of natural and locally sourced materials internally such as stone, timber and leather.
The whole development is targeting a minimum LEED Gold standard for environmental sustainability. The resort will be off grid, powered solely by renewable energy.
The Julius Prague, Czech Republic
Custom furniture has been used throughout The Julius, including in the upholstered bedhead and bedside tables. Image Credit: Gionata Xerra
NEW PRAGUE hotel The Julius opened its doors this year, bringing a new lease of life to a restored and expanded neo-renaissance building. Designed by Matteo Thun & Partners, The Julius Prague offers guests a range of 168 individual residences, many complete with living rooms and separate bedroom spaces, and featuring an open plan kitchen.
The hotel is housed within a large historic building in the heart of the New Town, close to the city’s Old Town gates. Aiming to provide guests with an authentic Czech experience, Matteo Thun & Partners selected a colour palette inspired by the art heritage of the country, celebrating artists such as Alphonse Mucha and František Kupka.
The bathrooms come in a luxurious marble finish. Image Credit: Gionata Xerra
Custom furniture designed by Matteo Thun & Partners can be seen throughout the residences, communal areas and restaurants, from the reception desk, bar and benches, to the marble bathroom, upholstered bedhead and bedside tables. Drawing on Kupka’s abstract pieces, the communal areas feature a vibrant colour palette.
The Emporium bistro and bar sits at the centre of the property offering lunch or relaxed working during the day, before the lighting dims to a calming atmosphere, for evening drinks and meals. Metallic finishes feature alongside modern tilework and coloured seating, combined with statement lighting above.
In the residences themselves, guests will find an individual living room and bedroom space, and in most cases an open-plan kitchen. Inspired by Mucha, Matteo Thun & Partners pulled together pared back and pastel hues for the guest rooms, working with natural materials and soft textiles, alongside features such as artisan-made carpets, oak wood floors, linen sheets and, of course, contemporary bathrooms.
The Emporium bistro and bar sit at the centre of the property. Image Credit: Gionata Xerra
Julius Meinl Vl, co-founder and CEO of Julius Meinl Living which owns The Julius brand, said: ‘We are delighted and honoured to work closely with Matteo Thun on this new venture. With a partnership that dates back over 15 years, it felt like a natural fit to come together to create The Julius Prague. Our aim is to set the highest possible benchmark in the hospitality sector.’
Matteo Thun, founder and designer of Matteo Thun & Partners, added: ‘The House of Julius Meinl is one of the most well-known Austrian brands with its origins dating back to 1862. I have been working with the Meinl family on various projects for over 15 years. The in-depth knowledge of the history and the strong connection with the family were invaluable in the design and branding concept for The Julius Prague, bringing together tradition and a contemporary lifestyle. With The Julius we wanted the historic palace in the centre of Prague to become a temporary home.’
Following the opening of the Prague location, The Julius brand has plans to expand internationally to several new locations.
matterothun.com | thejulious.eu
Park Hyatt Jakarta, Indonesia
Slatted screens separate the sleeping areas from the living and working spaces.
FOR THE development of the new Park Hyatt in Jakarta, architecture and interior design practice Conran and Partners aimed to capture the intricately-layered diversity of Indonesia and take inspiration from the vivid contrast between modern urbanity of the city and the country’s ancient natural environment.
The wealth of natural resources found in Indonesia’s more than 17,000 islands inspired the choice of material palette, from using copper – of which Indonesia is a prime exporter – to warm timbers and black stone referencing the lava of the many volcanos on the islands.
With some facilities located on the ground levels and the remainder on the top floors, Conran used a richer, darker palette on the lower floors, grading to lighter and brighter on the higher levels.
Guests enter the building through large ceremonial doors. Warm, natural timber, textured stone and a grounding black floor combine with a stone garden, a dramatic hanging sculpture of crystallised rocks, and carved architects to create a luxury space with dramatic high ceilings.
The check-in area is preceded by a dramatic passage with a stylised copper ceiling.
Visitors arrive via shuttle lift in the sky lobby located on the 22nd floor, facing a dramatic view over a landscaped void to the city below. This middle section of the hotel also includes the dining room floor and guest rooms, and is inspired by the rainforest canopy; an elevated, intimate environment filled with dappled light and pattern.
The lobby spaces wrap around the central core like branches around the trunk. Guests follow a dramatic passage with copper archways and ceremonial artwork to the study, a private check-in area where all desks are set into their own brick-covered enclosures. On the opposite side are a series of public areas, including a library, living room and cellar bar.
The rooms are typically large, with a minimum of 50 sq m or more of space.
The 222 guest rooms are located on levels 24–33 and again wrap around the central trunk of the core, all featuring views over the city in all four directions. The rooms are large – typically over 50 sq m. The H-shaped corridors to the rooms have daylight on all ends.
On entering, the room welcomes guests with an immediate route to the view out of the full height and width window, emphasised by a central corridor in black stone using polished and textured finishes against a darker timber colour. The dark core contains the functional spaces, such as dressing room, powder room, and a pair of bathrooms – one with a shower and the other with a large bath.
Daylight floods the rooms due to their high elevation
From here, guests enter the bright and airy living spaces, where slatted screens separate the sleeping area from the working and relaxing spaces by the window. Bespoke glass and copper pendants frame the bed and the desk is carved out of a tree trunk.
There are nine room types with a number of lock-off configurations, to give full flexibility for guests and their requirements. The offering includes one ‘presidential suite’ and several additional suites of different sizes.
W Dubai Miina Seyahi Dubai, UAE
The white leather bed headboards have ribs and shapes inspired by traditional Dhow boats. Image Credit: OWEN RAGGETT
INTERIOR DESIGN and place-making studio BLINK Design Group have been tasked with the creation of the UAE’s latest W Hotel.
Located in Al Mina al Seyahi – the ‘Port of Travellers’ – district of Jumeirah Beach, home to Dubai International Marine Club and its 300-berth marina, the modern yet bohemian W Dubai Miina Seyahi hotel is inspired by traditional Dhow boats, the romance of travel and the ancient Arabic storytelling tradition of halaqa.
Once a hub of the copper trade, where halaqa storytellers would weave their yarns to circles of spellbound travellers, the Port of Travellers has been BLINK’s overarching inspiration for the hotel, together with the swooping shape of the traditional Dhow boats.
The 31-storey eclectic-yet-retro property houses 291 guest rooms and 27 suites, a lobby facing the marina, an infinity pool and BAR-B spa, four meeting rooms and a selection of different dining concepts.
BLINK’s founder and creative partner, Clint Nagata, said: ‘Dubai transformed quickly from an ancient outpost into an ultra-modern city and one of the most famous travel destinations.
Despite this rapid modernisation, the thread of history is kept alive down the generations through the traditions of storytelling, one of the most sublime and respected forms of art that run through Arabian culture.’
Nagata added that the project had proved an eye-opener in terms of what was possible within the vivid brand universe of W Hotels: ‘Hints to the Arabic tradition and craftsmanship are peppered across the hotel, from treasure chest- like bedside tables to white leather bed headboards – with ribs and shapes inspired by Dhows – fabrics with motifs drawn from local calligraphy and lights that resemble the Arabian Nights’ ancient lanterns.
‘The suites have been envisioned as a place to gather with friends for pre-dinner drinks or casual meetings. The bedrooms have a luxurious seating area, with a tilted minibar in brass and dark blue lacquer, a social space where drinks can be served and a perfect place for lazy grazing.’
Sopwell House Hertfordshire
All the rooms are designed in a contemporary country house feel, with a welcoming and restoring soft colour palette
SPA, WELLNESS and hotel specialist Sparcstudio has developed a new design concept for bedrooms in the mansion house at Sopwell House, Hertfordshire. Following on from its design for the Sopwell House Mews Suites, the creative team were enlisted to create a new room category marketed as the ‘Chic’. Inspired by the natural themes and palette that Sparcstudio developed for the Cottonmill Spa at Sopwell House, the team has incorporated bespoke furniture and features panelling and lighting all designed with comfort in mind.
The brief was to create rooms with a contemporary glamorous country house feel that were both welcoming and restoring. The soft palette features a bright fresh feel with a lighting scheme designed to ensure that the rooms are still cosy on a winter’s night. Bespoke seating furniture is soft and curvaceous and includes a chaise lounge with mohair cushions in pastel hues. This design note is also reflected in the backlit upholstered headboard.
The furniture includes fluted timber detailing and contemporary panelling on the feature headboard and wardrobes. Sparcstudio commissioned bespoke lighting by Northern Lights for each of the rooms.
The rooms also boast concealed LED fittings which softly illuminate the customised vintage tree mural wall coverings.
Beverley Bayes, creative director at Sparcstudio, said: ‘Having successfully completed projects in the Mews Suites and the Cottonmill Spa, it was natural for us to infuse this style into the new bedroom category. We developed this bedroom concept with the aim of creating a relaxed tranquil atmosphere that is all about comfort. Soft lighting and bespoke furniture create an element of contemporary luxury, which can offer cosy comfort on a cold winter’s evening.’
The project includes furniture by RHA, and custom murals by Hovia. There are also reading lights by Chelsom Lighting and solid surface stone tops by Caesarstone.
The Knightsbridge Pavilion Penthouse, The Berkeley London
With solid oak and pistachio greens as part of the colour palette, Fu’s super suite has a signature language of relaxation. Image Credit: RAY MAIN
INTERIOR ARCHITECT André Fu has designed his fourth ‘super-suite’ for London hotel The Berkeley. The Knightsbridge Pavilion Penthouse. Set on the corner of Hyde Park, the new spacious suite takes inspiration from the natural sanctuary that the park provides in the heart of central London. The suite features a reception area, living room, entertainment bar, outdoor terrace, master bedroom and bathroom, study, walk in closet and guest bathroom, as well as an optional connecting twin room.
Set within a ‘glass box’ that is integrated within the hotel’s existing outside terrace, the Knightsbridge Pavilion Penthouse has echoes of mid-century design, grounding it in a sense of history. These historical connections are combined with a feeling of airy freshness, conveyed through the suite’s natural stone, foliage vignettes, organic lighting, and intertwining hand-crafted woodwork. Each of these detailed design elements has been chosen to connect the space with the green of neighbouring Hyde Park, highlighted by the selection of vivid green onyx, which integrates the lush colour of park into the suite.
The master bedroom overlooks London’s iconic Hyde Park, exuding luxury. Image Credit: RAY MAIN
The arrival foyer, which features floor-to-ceiling oak panelling, features a modernist screen hand-crafted with solid oak, sharing geometries with the adjoining dining table.
The sculptural table, comprised of an oak base and an ivory travertine top, is an artful installation in itself. The piece continues the sense of interconnectedness, working in conjunction with the interlocking, oak-bracket light fixture that hangs above. Framed by marble columns, the dining room setting serves as a focal point of the space, opening up to a terrace outside with a view of the park.
The glasshouse where the main living room and the bar area sits also enjoys lots of natural light. The onyx bar features a pistachio green hue which is echoed throughout the suite and also connects the space to the al fresco terrace overlooking Knightsbridge and Hyde Park.
The master bedroom exudes Fu’s signature language of relaxed luxury. The highlight is its bathroom overlooking Hyde Park, with a freestanding bathtub alongside a pair of timber screens that frame the view. The bathroom also seeks to maximise natural light with floor-to-ceiling windows and slits in the shower that maximize the reach of sunlight.
The suite’s colour palette and materials are inspired by the landscape at Hyde Park and its surrounding architecture. Solid oak and pistachio greens conjure up the flora and fauna of the park, while ivory, off-whites, mineral greys and plasterwork evoke the London streets that can be viewed from the suite’s terrace.
André Fu Living has created a series of bespoke furniture and decorative lighting for the suite. A key feature is the ivory travertine dining table for six, illuminated by suspended lanterns hanging from a timber frame. There is also the Swirl floor lamp, a result of Fu’s experimentation with bronze and links the idea of foliage and greenery.
The bedside lamp, HuaRui is crafted from cast bronze and inspired by an orchid, again reflecting the park’s ecology.