Escape, Indulge and Experience — Embarking on hotel design

Whatever the reason for taking a few days away, business or pleasure, heading off to a hotel for a night always gives me a little thrill of excitement. Will my abode be a sleek and minimalist escape or a cosy transitional classic? My husband works away a lot so the novelty has somewhat worn off on him but not me! Everything from the in-room technology, what little biscuits or chocolates I’m going find, the mini shampoos and who knows if we’re going really posh I might even get a pillow menu, duck down or memory foam anyone? Every little detail contributes to the enjoyment, experience and success of my stay.

When we were asked to design and refurb a 20 bedroom independent hotel on the outskirts of Newcastle city centre the brief was to turn a standard ‘sleep and go’ clean but basic 10 year old interior into something special. The brief was for a boutique and eclectic look that appealed to a wide demographic of guests, drove up custom through the week and increased already steady weekend bookings. Our client wanted to make The Ryokan not just a hotel that provides a means to an end, but a destination hotel that becomes part and parcel of the visit experience. Whether appealing to people like me who love the novelty of a night away or the business up and out travellers hoteliers are upping their game in a competitive market to provide an escape that satisfies both taste and functionality, even if we are sat on a bed with a laptop!

This is a dream brief for me - free rein to play with fabric, pattern and textures and do what I love most, bringing together colour tones and motifs that have no relation to each other individually but yet blend and work cohesively.

Some of the fabrics and papers I have worked with in developing these designs are Tektura, Elitis, Ian Mankin and William Morris. Blending Tektura’s whimsical wallpaper with bold motifs and traditional wood panelling, contrasting this alongside furniture with a mid century edge. The hotel is going to have 4 bedroom styles currently all named after some of Newcastles iconic bridges although I might change my mind a million more times about this!

The Millennium
The Redheugh
The Tyne
The Edward

When designing, the rooms begin to emerge from perhaps one piece of fabric or a colour and begin to take on a personality all of their own. We wanted there to be something harmonious that tied all the rooms together and thats where the Tektura Tundra wallpaper comes in. This hotel grade hard wearing fabric backed vinyl will withstand the pressure of commercial use and the whimsical cloud like print evokes a feeling of lying beneath the clouds, perfect for creating a sense of calm and relaxation within the bedroom. Used in different colour forms in each of the 4 room designs allows the individual bedrooms to have their own unique flavour whilst retaining a sense of continuity throughout.

Initial mood boards and designs have been completed and work will be starting on The Ryokan in the new year, so brace yourself for the next instalment as we discuss all things build and fit out.

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And if you’re thinking of re-branding, refreshing your interior space, or want to expand your digital offer, we’d love to help. Feel free to get in touch


Neil Wilson Design