Alfred and Georgi Akirov, the duo behind the Mamilla hotel in Jerusalem (W*127) and the Conservatorium in Amsterdam (W*157), are soon to complete a three year-long project with David Chipperfield Architects transforming the legendary Café Royal into a contemporary hotel, in readiness for hosting guests during the Olympics this summer. Opened in 1865, the Café Royal was the favourite haunt of bohemians and intellectuals such as George Bernard Shaw, Paul Verlaine and Oscar Wilde (who once had too much absinthe in the Grill Room and mistook a waiter stacking chairs for a man watering tulips), and later saw the likes of Virginia Woolf, Winston Churchill and, more recently, David Bowie walk through its doors.
Chipperfield’s team restored the original 1860s and 1930s features of the listed Domino and Grill Rooms, which will reopen as a private members’ club and restaurant respectively, and took inspiration from the apartment of Regent Street architect John Nash to create the interiors of the hotel’s spacious 155 rooms with marble, oak and bronze details, high windows and large lobbies. The five suites, meanwhile, have been sympathetically restored by Donald Insall Associates. Our favourites are the Empire Suite, which boasts a massage room, and the Dome Suite located under the building’s copper dome, which has two terraces overlooking Piccadilly Circus and Big Ben. Café Royal opens in September 2012
A former barrel and cask cooperage dating from 1901, this industrial building on the Brooklyn waterfront has now been converted into a 72-room hotel by trio Australian hotelier Peter Lawrence, local property developer Jed Walentas (of Two Tress) and celebrated restaurateur Andrew Tarlow (of Diner and Marlow & Sons). The original exposed bricks, arched windows and cast iron columns have all been preserved, while the reclaimed pine ceilings were used to make the beds. The hotel’s common areas and rooftop bar, located in a new glass box extension that sits on top of the old warehouse, have both been designed by Brooklyn design office, Workstead, while the restaurant, Reynards, serve seasonal fare and wood-fired dishes created by Tarlow
80 Wythe Ave. at N. 11th Williamsburg, Brooklyn, NY 11249; tel: 1.718 460 8000; wythehotel.com
Writer: Lauren Ho
Wythe Hotel, New York, USA
Wythe Hotel, New York, USA
Wythe Hotel, New York, USA
Wythe Hotel, New York, USA
Aquaxana, Las Caldas, Spain
An old, but recently rejuvenated thermal town in the north of Spain has just been updated with a new avant garde spa complex. With it’s clean design and panoramic views, the spa in Las Caldas Villa Termal is sculpted within the natural landscape and features a central pool that has a 15 metre high ‘cupola’ inspired by the ancient Roman Pantheon. A mix of classic and contemporary rooms are available, as well as a restaurant serving local, organic fare.
Take a vacant space in Cape Town’s Old Biscuit Mill, award-winning executive chef Luke Dale-Roberts from La Colombe – regularly voted one of the best 15 restaurants in the world – a post-industrial setting crafted with the best designers and artisans in town, and you get The Test Kitchen. From the start, the empty space was thought of as a ‘blank canvas’ and pieced togther with retro furniture, steel-and-timber shelving by Truly Fantastic, art works by Peter Eastman, interior design by Casamento and creative lighting by I felt Like It. Anchored in the city's revitalised Woodstock neighbourhood, the restaurant works, as its name implies, as a ‘creative hub’: as a place to innovate and sample, explore and share different views on modern cuisine. Therefore, the 30-seater restaurant provides guests with the option of a casual, 'kitchen bar' or 'dish-by-dish' experience, straight from the open kitchen, or a more formal dining experience climaxing with a perfectly tuned eight-course tasting menu. A perfect blend of gastronomic and hearty cuisine in a timeless, arty setting
The latest venture from the group that brought us The Ace Hotel New York, is a new lodging housed in a turn of the century Beaux-Arts building in the city's NoMad neighbourhood (North of Madison Square Park). Designed by celebrated French interior designer Jacques Garcia (the man behind Paris' Hotel Costes), the NoMad is Garcia's first New York hotel and is a re-imagined Parisian flat of the designer's youth, sporting traditional French mahogany writing desks, reclaimed maple wood floors and Deyrolle butterfly boxes on the walls. The grand two-level library comes complete with a mezzanine 'catwalk' and eclectic literary collection, while the restaurant is run by chef-duo Daniel Humm and Will Guidara and takes inspiration from their three-Michelin star restaurant, Eleven Madison Park
The 30th floor of Barcelona’s Hotel Arts is home to a new suite offering the most dramatic views of the Mediterranean Sea, as well as the city. Local architect Josep Juanpere of GCA designed the 150-square meter one-bedroom suite featuring a lounge area with a fireplace, dining room, kitchen and an open bar. The bathroom comes with dressing room and bathtub overlooking the sea. The décor is kept minimalist using cream, brown and stone colours, with furniture picked from B&B Italia. Highlights include the delicious breakfast, well-stocked minibar, butler service, use of the Hotel Arts Electric Smart Cars, as well as the multi-lingual staff that speak a total of ten languages
Fifteen years after it opened as Chelsea’s first ‘designer’ diner, Cafeteria has received a subtle yet substantial (and much-needed) makeover. Along with ‘refreshing’ the restaurant’s main dining room, bar area and lower-level lounge, New York-based architect Anurag Nema of Nemaworkshop - who worked with Cafeteria’s original designer, Studio Gaia - added a cosy, yet groovy, private dining room. The 20-seat space conforms to Cafeteria’s existing retro vibe with stainless steel and brown leather walls, creamy terrazzo floors, and a central butcher-block table, crafted from tropical Wenge wood. Similarly-styled tables fill the main dining room - which pours onto buzzy Seventh Avenue - along with white wall panels and cream coloured custom banquettes. Downstairs, Nema added brown chocolate floors and additional banquettes to create a sense of low-lit loucheness to Cafeteria's lounge. There's new food too: comfort classics such as shrimp and grits for breakfast and pulled-pork sliders for dinner. And out front, Cafeteria's new façade is punctuated with garage-like, industrial-styled windows that help prevent heat loss and perfectly frame the restaurant's pretty, young diners.
The recent opening of Tántalo in Panama City’s historic Casco Viejo quarter is shaking things up for a city that, till now, has been better known for being a nautical short-cut par excellence. Eschewing the area’s colonial Spanish and French flourishes, the American architect Andrea Steele has furnished each of the 12 rooms in a spare but modern palette of specially commissioned artwork, a lush two-storey high green wall and furniture made of recycled material and timber from the Panama Canal. The best views in the house are from Encima – the hotel’s rooftop bar that’s accessed via a staircase emblazoned with artwork by a local graffiti artist – which offers cotton candy mojitos alongside a startling 360-degree panorama of the city’s bristling modern skyline and Casco Viejo’s UNESCO World Heritage trove of cathedrals, churches and 18th-century architecture.
Corner Avenida B and Calle 8a Este, Esquina Ave., Casco Viejo, Panama City; tel: 507.262 4030; www.tantalohotel.com
Writer: Daven Wu
Photography: Stuart Hooper
Tántalo Hotel, Panama City, Panama
Hotel Topazz, Vienna, Austria
A polished port-holed façade gives little indication of the eco-ideology behind the Hotel Topazz, Vienna's latest upscale hotel arrival. The architecture and interior design is by Vienna-based Michael Manzenreiter and pays homage to Viennese art luminaries Moser and Dagobert Peche, and owner Martin Lenikus. The exterior meanwhile is by Viennese firm BWM Architekten & Partner, known for their extension to the Folklore museum in Graz and their restoration of the Otto Wagner Pavilion. Topazz seamlessly blends into the historic first District of the city and takes to the podium as Vienna's greenest hotel, with everything from construction materials to the bed linen locally sourced. Lying at the heart of the hotel is an intimate Salon where Lenikus' own eco-friendly wine is served and guests are encouraged to converse, read and share ideas in the space, updating the salon etiquette at the turn of the 20th century
The three owners of the Experimental Cocktail clubs have launched their first food joint, a restaurant dedicated specialising in meat, with a speakeasy cocktail club underneath. Located in a former butcher shop, celebrated during the golden years of the food halls of Rungis at Les Halles, the Beef Club is the answer to enjoying good meat in a contemporary setting. Mary Yves le Bourdonnec, one of France's finest butchers will personally cut and prepare the meat provided by Tim Wilson, legendary British butcher and founder of the Ginger Pig. Those with less carnivorous tendencies can enjoy seafood, including delicious lobsters, oysters or grilled fish. Young talented French designer Dorothée Meilichzon created the space using warm earthy ochre wallpapers mixed with white tiles, mirrors, original French drinks cabinets, kilim-inspired fabrics, wooden floors and furniture evoking the 1950s and 60s. Once you have finished your dinner, you can pop down through an old butchery to the flame-hued cocktail club, designed to keep you dancing until the early hours
Located at the western tip of London’s 1920s Aldwych crescent, on the site of the former Gaiety Theatre, ME London is the latest project of Spanish chain Meliá, which has recruited architects Foster Partners to design its 157-room luxury hotel. And the practice has overseen every detail of the project, from the shell of the building to the bathroom fittings. The triangular new build boasts a glass and Portland stone façade and oriel windows with views of the Strand and Somerset House. But the design’s centrepiece, a dramatic atrium, housing a white marble lobby, is hidden at the core of the structure. ‘The 11-storey atrium is the hotel’s elegant internal focus. Its pyramidal form follows the triangular footprint of the building,’ says Nigel Dancey, senior partner at Foster Partners. ‘Everything radiates from this core: the black marble corridors wrap around it; the rooms extend towards the street to take advantage of views; and the angled windows flood the rooms with daylight.’ The minimalist rooms come with white leather walls and black lacquered cabinets, while the duplex penthouse suite is topped by a glass cupola offering panoramic views. More stunning views of the city’s landmarks, from Big Ben to Canary Wharf, are on offer at the hotel’s glamorous rooftop terrace bar. ME London opens in summer 2012
New York’s nightlife pin-up Serge Becker has joined forces with London restaurateur Will Ricker and entrepreneur Ed Spencer Churchill to launch an unusual Mexican experience. Hidden behind a sex shop sign on Old Compton Street in Soho, you will find an underground speakeasy restaurant and tequila bar very much inspired by Serge’s legendary La Esquina diner in NY. The space is filled with art by Pierre Molinier as well as vintage furniture, including amusing children’s chairs that give the impression of being part of a surreal Alice in Wonderland film. An old grand piano has been taken apart to form an art installation and there is a private dinning area, as well as a couple of cosy alcove booths for more intimate soirées. The menu offers ceviche, tacos and tostados, as well as rotisserie delights prepared from a wood-burning grill. On the ground floor, a more causal taqueria and café is linked to a second road entrance on Moor Street. A good way to start the evening is with a Hibiscus Margarita.
Restaurant: 9 Old Compton Street W1D 5JF, Café: 16 Moor Street W1D 5NH; tel: 44.20 7758 4100; www.labodeganegra.com
Writer: Sara Henrichs
La Bodega Negra, London, UK
La Bodega Negra, London, UK
So Bangkok, Bankgkok, Thailand
Following on from the success of the Sofitel So in Mauritius, the second hotel from the group is a 30-storey property in the Thai capital of Bangkok. Inspired by the five Chinese elements of metal, water, earth, wood and fire, local architect Smith Obayawat, along with five celebrated Thai interior designers, teamed up with fashion designer Christian Lacroix to ensure each area of the hotel has its own mood. The restaurant is dedicated to the element of fire, featuring a handcrafted Molteni oven in the centre. Designed by Pongthep Sagulku, the water rooms feature bathtubs overlooking the city, while the earth rooms, by Vitoon Kunalungkarn, emanate warm colours inspired by indigenous etchings from the northeastern caves of Thailand. Nithi Sthapitanonda was in charge of the wood rooms, which echo the elegance and tranquility of northern Thai heritage homes and feature sketches of old Siam. Lastly, Somchai Jongsaen’s metal element-inspired rooms incorporate brushed metal Ramayana clouds that crown the beds. The rooftop (Hi So) bar has private cabanas overlooking the buzzing city, and the spa uses products from Cinq Mondes and Thai brand Ytsara