Velvet, Candlelight & the romanticised history of the maritime :: a hotel in Sweden with a rather fabulous new interior fit out…
I love going through the shortlists of various international design competitions,
because I reckon that some of the most wonderful treasures are those
which don't necessarily win, but which had enough eccentricity to make it onto the shortlist.
And this hotel in Umeå, Sweden, is a marvellous case in point.
The recent top to tail interior fit out has dived deep into Umeå's maritime history,
and weaved the romanticised version of the past
into a tapestry of fantasy, tactility and luxurious,
It made it onto the shortlist of finalists for the recent
International Hotel & Property Awards,
in 3 separate categories:
Best Hotel Design Europe, Best Lobby/Lounge/Public Area
& Best Hotel 50 - 200 Rooms.
Let's see if we can discover why, shall we?
Hmmm…is that a glamorous ghost passing on the stairs?
Her elegant shadow is captured on the wall, and her green heels are cast upon the steps...
The hotel was originally built in 1895 by the local Seamen's Mission,
and was intended to be the grandest hotel in the busy port town,
as well as the office for the mission.
Which is a rather odd mixing of society, for those times.
Imagine, royalty staying in the fancy rooms, crossing paths on this staircase
with the old sailors who had just returned to shore after months at sea.
Oh the romance, the stories, the tales to be told!
If only the walls could speak...
But perhaps, with this moody and elaborate fit out, they now do…..
Cosy corners, candlelight and a mix match of chairs,
although all are upholstered in tactile lustrous velvets...
This little bar area, off the main bar seen to the right,
seems just the very place for a Sea Captain to meet a young Princess
for a glass of schnapps, in a manner risqué,
but oh-so-exciting at the turn of the 19th century.
And of course, with a fit out which speaks of history and intrigue and mystery,
the hotel bedroom types should each have their own name,
fashioned after a passion of the heart.
Some are named for the sailor's obsessions : Adventure, Longing, Superstition.
This room is of the Passion persuasion.
Could those sailors of so long ago have imagined such luxury?
But let's return now, back down those extraordinary stairs,
with their original cast iron bannisters,
and festooned with a ship rope chandelier three stories tall,
to explore the public areas: the restaurant, the bar, the lobby,
because I think it is here that the romance of history truly comes alive….
Octopus with swirling tendrils of voluptuous arms wrap themselves
around the walls of the restaurant,
which, with its table layout, conveys the feel of a state dining room aboard a majestic ship,
as befits the maritime references.
While in the reception lobby,
shelves hold shells, map boxes and various maritime hats,
all beneath a glittering ceiling of sea glass.
I think what I love most about this clever fit out
are the contrasts the designers have worked throughout the hotel.
Inspired by the disparity between high-brow royal patrons
and the sometimes-foul-mouthed sailors of the late 19th century,
the designers have created a paradox of finishes,
mixing rough and refined, velvet and rope,
ship's lanterns next to crystal chandeliers.
It's glamour handled with care - no bling, no glitz, but lots of sumptuous,
seductive and tactile finishes - reflecting the wild beauty of the sea.
And who doesn't fall for the romance of that?