Well I don’t think we need to get Freud on board to see why I’m drawn to hotel decor at the moment but I will also say that hotel design has always been a key part of my design process. Ideally visiting but when that’s impossible then wandering round the corridors of the internet works too.
They may not be the place you go to learn about storage, as they mostly only have a fairly minimal amount, but for layout and style they often can’t be beaten. After all so many of them from the most affordable Premier Inn to the most luxurious boutique hotel will have to have a bathroom, a desk or dressing table and often an armchair or larger seating area so there’s a lot going on.
Last week I looked at layout and this week I wanted to just show you some gorgeous rooms which might inspire you for your own places and spaces in terms of colour and pattern. And, of course, if you can find a vacant room you may even want to visit in person.
Above is a room from The Mitre Hotel, which was done by Nicola Harding (and you can read an interview with her here). The reason I wanted to include this particular room, which you may find a little startling, is that it’a a great way to see how you feel about strong colour before you commit. So you could stay there for the IRL experience. Or you can just drink in the details above. The first thing I noticed was actually the double blind at the window as I have a similar issue in my bathroom and was contemplating using mirror or window film for the lower half of the window as I wasn’t sure about two blinds. Now that I have seen it done I think it could work and particularly since I saw this cafe curtain rail from Devol….
Of course the other thing is the colour. It’s all brought together by the plain upper blind and the colour blocking cushion while the darker greys knock it all back a little. Even the piping on the chair in the bay window is part of the overall scheme. Now you may not like orange for your own home but if you are drawn to bright colours and yet still a little scared, this is a good way to see how to do it – you can always swap the orange for emerald green, yellow or cobalt blue for example.
This is the Glebe Hotel in Devon, where the design was done by Studio Alexandra and, once again, there are ideas you can take from here. Baths in bedrooms were a thing of the early 2000s and while they have, largely, fallen out of fashion, you still see it in hotels – partly (and I’m guessing here) where you want to instil a sense of luxury but the room doesn’t allow for a bathroom big enough to add a bath.
But for our own home purposes, let’s forget it’s a bath and substitute a sofa. Then you can see how two high contrast colours might work for you and note how the rug brings all the shades together, while the flowers on the mantelpiece, the artwork and the bedside table in a stronger shade all help the yellow to feel like an integral part of the scheme and not just an outlier. While blue and yellow might not be for everyone (I can’t get beyond the gold trim on my navy blue school blazer) we’ve all seen it done with pink and green and even pink and yellow. If you love blue but hate yellow then substitute a strong green instead. This is the joy of a hotel, you can see a plan in real life and not only assess how you feel in the space (edgy? relaxed?) you can also more easily visualise your own room and furniture to see if you might want to take inspiration.
Same hotel different room (this is another angle of the top image) and here it’s a much calmer scheme – that soft pink is always a winner (and yes radiator???). However, what I wanted to draw your attention to here is firstly the under-rated power of the headboard. If you want a little decorative drama in the bedroom but don’t want to do a feature wall – and I have said before that a feature wall behind a bed can work really well as it brings something when you walk in but you mostly have your back to it or your eyes closed so it’s not going to dominate – then why not use the headboard in a more interesting way?
If you have a plain rectangle then you can do it yourself with an extra pair of hands (for stretching the fabric) and a good staple gun. Or you can enlist the help of a professional (look for either curtain makers or upholsterers near you. And for anyone near Margate I have mentioned Poh Maluna before. The point being that this bed is done in a fairly classic floral but it brings the room to a whole new level and pulling out the sea green in the cushions rather than the more obvious darker pink creates a slightly more disruptive look. You could, of course, use shades of pink or even change the cushions seasonally. A word of warning – blue lampshades as well would have tipped this over the edge into matchy matchy territory. The blue cushions are a single element and that works. You could have had shades of pink cushions and then blue lampshades but when pulling out a contrasting colour you can’t do it more than once. Otherwise it’s not a punchy disrupter it’s your parent’s bedroom in the 1980s.
Finally, before we leave this room, the brain is conditioned to find symmetry relaxing so the matching bedside tables and lamps work well in a hotel room where the point is to be relaxing (we’re talking furniture here not colour – these are sets of matching objects not repeating elements of a strong colour). If that doesn’t work for you then you can change this when it comes to your own scheme. As I said, the point of a hotel is to treat it like a clothes shop changing room and try on different styles of decor for size.
And so we come to the last room which is the cafe opposite Les Deux Gares Hotel in Paris, both of which were done by Luke Edward Hall. Here he explains that he wanted the cafe to look like it had been there a long time and enlisted Pauline Leyravaud, an artist specialising in Trompe l’oeil to paint a tortoise shell effect on the ceiling.
It’s a cool idea but look also how he has combined it with the rich red woodwork, the colour toning floor tiles and then thrown the whole thing in the air with the yellow and blue banquette. That’s clever. I’m not sure we could all have the courage to pull that off or even think of it in the first place, which is why I’m sharing it because it might just spark an idea or encourage you to take a brave step that you will never regret. Most of the time, regrets come from not being bold enough and don’t forget, if you do go too far you can always paint over it, or, in this case, change the banquette to a red and white mattress ticking which would still look stunning just be less adventurous. And that’s almost certainly what I would do.
I’m leaving you with this image from Little Greene, for anyone who liked the pink room this is their new pink Masquerade, from the Colours of England collection and you can see how it likes a dark blue or grey while that pattern kilim brings some fun to the party. It comes in this version above and a paler one – which you could use on the ceiling.