11 Howard, which is shortlisted in five categories at the inaugural AHEAD Americas hospitality awards, is a renovation of a former Holiday Inn in Soho, New York.
Due to zoning regulations in that part of the city, the hotel does not feature a traditional lobby with check-in and concierge desks. Rather, guests enter a small space on the ground floor with a handful of tables and chairs and are checked in by members of staff with iPads.
“So we came up with the idea to eliminate the old-fashioned check-in desk.”
Andrei, who worked together with Danish design studio Space Copenhagen on the interior design, says getting rid of the check-in desk gave them the freedom to design the lobby like a “sculpture garden”, which features a mobile by artist Alexander Calder suspended from the ceiling.
“We developed with Space Copenhagen these very sculptural pieces for the lobby,” she says. “And we also have a beautiful undulating screen that’s very feminine and cosy.”
The rest of the public areas of the hotel are on the first floor, which visitors reach by climbing a giant spiral staircase.
These areas, which include a library and a bar called The Blonde, are furnished with a mixture of Space Copenhagen designs and vintage pieces.
“We realised that we needed to create a great gesture to bring everybody up,” Andrei says.
“We started working on another sculpture, which in this case is a stair. It’s a bit rough, made of metal. It belongs in Soho.”
The guest rooms feature a subtle palette of colours and materials such as wood and brass, which Andrei says were selected to wear well over time.
“We have small rooms but with 12-foot ceiling height,” she explains. “No one has 12-foot ceiling height in New York!”
“So you are in this very majestic space and Space Copenhagen came up with some beautiful designs for the furniture with a combination of different kinds of wood – they’re not matching sets at all. All of the materials will end up looking better in five years and not worse.”
Andrei adds that she wanted to create a “timeless” aesthetic in the rooms, rather than following the latest fad.
“If you ask me which hotel I would like to stay in, it’s this one,” she says. “It’s the one that’s super classic and homely.”
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