photographer: Peter Guthrie / David Darling
Ian Springford Architects have collaborated with Apex Hotels on a number of hotel projects and have been responsible for enhancing their visual identity and brand. The brief for the new hotel at Waterloo Place was to provide full architectural and interior design services to sympathetically convert a landmark Grade A listed Georgian building and 1970s extension into a 187 bed 4-star Hotel and Spa.
Situated in the heart of the city of Edinburgh, the building is the work of Archibald Elliot, a leading 19th century architect and originally opened in 1819 as Edinburgh’s first large purpose built hotel, attracting Princes, Earls and writers such as Charles Dickens. It ceased trading in 1889, yet despite being much altered throughout its history to create office accommodation, some remaining classical interior details remain and these have been accentuated in the most recent refurbishment.
The large historic Georgian rooms facing south onto Waterloo Place, provide the ideal setting for Elliot’s Lounge Bar and Brasserie. The design of Elliot’s Brasserie plays on the room’s classic Georgian symmetry with a fireplace at either end and six grandly arched windows looking out over the street beyond. To create an ambience of calm sophistication and classic, elegant design, the spaces have been opened up to reflect the original plan using strong colours within the Georgian rooms to accentuate their height and scale as well as emphasising the historic detailing within.
Textured finishes were selected, such as Glimmer mosaic tiles to walls and riven slate to floors to add depth. These were combined with patterned fabrics from Harlequin and Zoffany to furniture and curtains, which soften the front of house areas, adding a contemporary feel to the rooms and creating a rich and layered aesthetic. In addition, dramatic bespoke light fittings highlight focal points throughout the front of house areas, including the pendant fittings in the brasserie from Mike Stoane Lighting and the rows of modern Artemide Tolomeo cantilevered lamps to illuminate the brasserie tables in central areas.
Against the fabulous backdrop of two grand Georgian mantelpieces, over which hang ornate full height mirrors, the Sharon Marston chandelier, which emits light through its long fibre optic strands, is framed through an original historic opening into Elliot’s Lounge Bar, dramatically linking this space to the reception and creating the key focal point on entry to the building. The furniture in the lounge was carefully chosen to reflect the quality of workmanship expected in such a prestigious building, with hand crafted Lansdowne Chairs and Howard style benches from David Seyfried in London, mixed with contemporary chairs and tables from hb group and Tangram Furnishers.
In contrast to the scale and grandeur of the bright, double height Georgian rooms to the front, the extension beyond reception, which houses the bedrooms and links to Elliot’s Brasserie, has low level ceilings and a dark subdued colour palette to emphasise the transition between old and new, link the spaces seamlessly together and create a drama and anticipation on entry to the historic part of the building.
The continuation of textured patterns and key colours is evident throughout the hotel, taking them through the fabrics and furnishings, such as the Ege striped carpets, on into the feature graphics within the building, In particular, the main entrance screen and lift lobby wall graphics which are repeated in the patterns and colours used on menus and business cards. The result is a truly unified interior and graphics brand experience for guests at Apex Waterloo Place.
Client: Apex Hotels Ltd